Range Report: Core 15 M4 Scout

By Bob Campbell published on in Firearms, Range Reports

The AR-15 rifle is to me the Winchester ’73 of this century. Useful for hunting or personal defense, useful as a lawman’s gun and a great all-around rifle for building skill, these rifles serve thousands of Americans well. There are more-powerful rifles and a few more accurate, but none as versatile as the AR-15. The rifle featured is the newest AR in my modest battery. While best is a relative term, I do not own a rifle better made than CORE Rifle Systems Core 15 M4 Scout. Some have more features, but then so do the higher-grade CORE rifles.

Core Rifle Systems Core 15 AR-15 M4 Scout

Compact, powerful and reliable the AR-15 is quite an all-around rifle.

I have been prodded for the last year or so, not to test and evaluate this rifle, but to own and use an example. My oldest son, Alan, can do things with a rifle—and a lathe and press—I could never do, although I can still shoot with the best of them. Alan is also the best shot I know. Several times he has mentioned the fit and finish of the CORE rifle. They begin with Mil Spec, he says, and make it a little tighter. There is no one whose opinion I respect as much as this able young man’s.

The rifle highlighted is one of several models offered. The Scout is the base model. However, this is similar to a Colt 1911 Series 70 in concept. If you begin with a great handgun, you may upgrade the barrel and barrel bushing and have a match gun. You may add combat sights and have a good combat gun. On the other hand, you can just purchase a Combat Elite out the door.

Core Rifle Systems Core 15 AR-15 lower receiver

The CORE 15 rifle is tight and demonstrated excellent accuracy.

The CORE rifle offers much the same options. If you buy a cheap 1911 or a cheap AR-15, you will have to replace it at some point when you reach the skill level at which the firearm is limiting your performance. With the CORE rifle, you may add a superior optic or front rail later. In my case, I already own a heavier AR-15 with a heavy forend and a good quality scope. I like the Scout rifle for faster work and will probably leave it as is. When you consider the amount you will expend on ammunition and training during the course of a few years, the price of a good rifle over a cheap rifle isn’t that great. Besides, the CORE rifle is affordable and well made of good material.

I began my examination by popping open the receiver and checking the bolt. The bolt carrier key must be properly staked or the rifle simply isn’t worth having. The CORE carrier looks good. Next, I checked the trigger. The compression is smooth enough with some take-up and a clean break. The rifle is delivered without sights, so I added a carry handle with aperture sights. A good fit and all looked well.

Core Rifle Systems Core 15 AR-15 magazine change

The rifle handles smoothly and fast reloads are not difficult.

The rifle is supplied with a single magazine. I added a stack of PMags and various aluminum magazines from the ready drawer. They have been proofed by previous use, so any problems would be due to the rifle or ammunition, not the magazines.

Choosing my ammunition wasn’t difficult. The Winchester 55-grain FMJ USA White Box load is a great place to start. Accurate, clean burning and always reliable, this is my number one resource for checking function in a new AR-15 rifle. I lubricated the rifle well and locked the first magazine in. I loaded 25 rounds in the 30-round magazines. These first 25 rounds were far from boring, but uneventful. Every load fed, chambered, fired and ejected normally.

The rifle was sighted in at 25 and then 50 yards. Fifty yards is about the limit of my ability to register excellent groups, but the 100-yard groups are not bad, just below the potential of the rifle. It is no mean trick to keep three shots in two inches at 50 yards with iron sights, which I consider good off the bench rest. I fired a few of the Winchester Ballistic Silvertip loads. These are an excellent choice for all-around use in the .223 rifle. The Ballistic Silvertip is offered in 50- and 55-grain weight. Frankly, with an iron-sighted rifle, it is almost just making brass to test such a load at long range. However, each load proved more accurate by a margin than the FMJ load. I like to confirm zero with a new rifle—just in case I get a shot at a coyote or the broad side a deer. I also fired five rounds of a dwindling supply of the Winchester 69-grain MatchKing loading. This is a credible loading with much to recommend at the football-field mark.

Settling into a solid firing position off the benchrest, I kept the rifle as solid as possible and squeezed the trigger straight to the rear with concentration on the sights. I took about a minute per shot. I usually fire three shots at 100 yards, but fired five and took the long walk with anticipation. I did not earn bragging rights, but three of the five rounds were in two inches, the other two opened the group to a full 3.5 inches. The dog will run, but it needs good glass to see the way.

Once I confirmed the zero, my grandson and I fired four magazines at targets at known and unknown ranges. Paper targets are good to confirm sight regulation, but firing at this type of target builds field skill. The CORE rifle handles quickly and has proven completely reliable. You cannot ask for more than that.Click Here to Start Shopping Online at Cheaper Than Dirt

Core 15 does not always make the Top 10 list, but perhaps it should. Share your thoughts or experiences with the Core 15 M4 Scout in the comment section.

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SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

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Comments (22)

  • icantu

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    I’ve had my Scout for a year now and have shot well over 1000 rounds through it. I had one miss-load due to a malformed 5.56 round from american eagle. I have a long range scope atop of a carry handle with the iron site, red dot on a quad rail to the side and is very fun to shoot.
    Very happy with mine

    Reply

  • jerry

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    I am a former Marine. I bought a core ar 15. i was very disappointed in it. it has a lot of play. it didn’t even come with a rear sight post! there’s no way to fire this accurately unless you spend more money and get a sight. also it jammed an average of once per magazine! my old m16 jammed less than that when filled with mud! very disappointing.

    Reply

    • Mike

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      Jerry, That is a bummer that you had those problems. I bought a rear standard sight and have had great experience with zeroing and getting good grouping at 25-100 yards. So far have fired about 1200 rounds of 5.56 with 100% success.

      Reply

  • Tracy Perman

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    Bought mine 3 years ago. It was my 2nd AR15 and I had plans on doing a full 300blk upper for it so I decided to beat it like the proverbial redheaded brat: 5,000 rounds before cleaning. steel case, brass case, cheap reloads, lots of military loads, etc. After 2500 rounds I decided to really hurt it: 500 rounds in rapid, fire suppression mode. partially melted the hand guard, barrel and A2 front sight permanently ash colored. gas tube practically welded itself into the front sight. Then shot another 2000 rounds through it. NOT A SINGLE FTF OR FTL! Front sight pins are effectively welded in place now, gas tube got mangled taking it apart to clean. So I made my long awaited 300blk upper and threw it on the lower. 6 months later and I still regret taking it apart. Gonna buy another one and sell my other AR15 which though treated properly has NOT been fully reliable.

    Reply

    • Bill F

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      Now that is a torture test; thank you for reporting on that so none of us will have any need to replicate!

      Reply

  • robbie

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    My core 15 scout keymod has been nothing but a lemon. I have ran wolf steel, wolf gold brass, aguilla, and winchester white box hollow points through it. Only ammo I ran that had no problems was aguilla 223. All others had stuck casings, most on extracting but some on feeding. Cant get through a magazine without a stuck casing. I tried cleaning and lubing before shooting and between each type of ammo so I know its not from dirty ammo. Took a different magazine each time and also ran these magazines and ammo through my other rifle without a hitch. After disassembly and cleaning I tried dropping bullets directly into the chamber to see if the bullet fit and it gets wedged in 3/4ths of the way in with some of the brass case stuff. Hopefully core gets this resolved. Tighter tolerances are not always a good thing, especially in the chamber.

    Reply

  • Wm French

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    I bought a Core 15 Scout about a year and a half ago; added a MWI FF rail and VTAC sling and have been very happy with it. I reload most of my ammo using various powders [IMR 4064,4198, 3031; Benchmark, Win 748…] and mostly Hornaday 55 gr FMJ and SS 109 rounds. In the past year I cannot recall a single malfunction, Not one. This rifle also comes with an M16 BCG which is not the case with many competitors, including Colt who gave us the “half round” bolt carrier. I recently used it in a 3 gun competition and it performed flawlessly, When I first bought it thought I might eventually “trade up” to something higher end; now I cannot see why I should.

    Reply

  • ocgunsmith

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    “Several times he has mentioned the fit and finish of the CORE rifle. They begin with Mil Spec, he says, and make it a little tighter.”
    What the reviewer never mentioned was if he tested if other quality “MIL SPEC” uppers would interchange with this lower. There is a term most people do not understand, it’s called “Stacked Tolerances” . I see 8 to 10 riffles a month in my shop for this reason. If the weapon is a true “MIL SPEC” than ANY other MIL SPEC parts will fit it. If this weapon is built outside of that tolerance range “tight or loose” my assumption is a mixed bag of other uppers may or may not fit it. Most of my customers have 3 to 5 uppers to one lower and true interchangeability is a must have…..

    Reply

  • oni

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    ive had my core15 scout for almost 3 years now. i bought it because it was incredibly cheap i and had intentions of adding to it and making it my own. ive shot the hell out of it in stock configuration, then tore it apart, put all new magpul acs and miad furniture on it, a new bolt in it, a 13 inch quad rail on it, an eotech 512 on it, an insight m6x on it, gunfighter ambi charging handle in it, a noveske 60 degree selector in it… it went from an awesome carbine to an overly outstanding carbine! even with the cmmg .22 conversion and blackdog mags, it still feeds and functions flawlessly. i cant say the same for friends who have the s&w mp15, bushmasters, dpms, or colts and shoot with me as they are clearing malfunctions as i keep on shooting and reloading. i cant recommend them enough.

    Reply

  • Sloop

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    My Core15 is nothing but awesome in my book and I’m an old guy that’s shot them all.

    Reply

  • Ray

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    I love this rifle. My old eyes need a scope but have no problem with 2″ grouping at 200 yds. Haven’t taken it to the range for anything farther. I have a lazer on it for close work and its very accurate and fun to shoot.

    Reply

    • Edwin

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      What sight did you finally settle with. I just bought a scout & will need a scope for it, any suggestions?

      Reply

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