Range Report: Core 15 M4 Scout

Core Rifle Systems Core 15 AR-15 M4 Scout

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.

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, 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.

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.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (28)

  1. I bought a Core 15 M4 Scout back around 2015 and the rife is an excellent rifle. I dropped about a $150 scope on mine and sighted it in at 100 yards, and can lay down some pretty decent groups with it. The only problem I have with the rifle is it definitely does not like Gen 3 PMags, because I get a lot of FTFs with them no matter the ammo I use. It does well with steel mags and Hex mags though.

  2. Hellow, brothers and sisters. I am know part of the CORE family. I have read many post and believe that each post has merit. While the first operation of the gun. I have experienced minor faults, although contacting the Core Warranty Department giving them [Core] the opportunity to help the situation. The facts that our VETRENS make ,mill,press,paint and so on, these guns is truly honoring for my self. The company has a no Bs warranty for the life time of purchasing. I will use this to help the company advance in the global gun market. ALL PARTS ARE MADE IN AMERICA. This is truly uncommon in the gun business, parts are mass produced. I truly believe if you give them [CORE] a opportunity to fix these problems they will. I have videos of how my first range day went and it was not perfect although 150 yards open sight is not bad. I wait to see how great the true relationship between CORE and the customers can truly be..

  3. to all those experiencing a core scout 15 getting a bullet stuck in it –

    I had the same issue with my gun when brand new ( yes I did the initial cleaning / oiling)
    was a real bummer. I was 2 hours away at a camp, had several jams that I had to clear by prying the bolt back using the gun as leverage.the normal methods would not unstick it. put some little imperfections on my gun first editing day! -WAS NOT HAPPY!

    thought maybe I shoulda spent more money on a gun!

    took the gun to a local gunsmith. he fired several shots through it, took it all apart, measured everything including some bullets I had marked that were getting stuck. He hands me a bullet and says this bullet is 2 thousandths of an inch too big around – which may as well be a mile. Your Gun is perfect!
    (it was wolf brass ammo)

    returned the wolf bought something else (also inexpensive target range stuff)

    gun has been flawless ever since. My faith has been restored in my CORE – but be weary of really cheap ammo.

    one vote for a CORE from me. love it!

  4. I have owned one for several years now…. maybe 10 years by this point??…. and the Core15 MOE edition I run is an excellent gun. I have made some upgrades and mods to it, and except for very early on with maybe the first or second trip the the range and some cheap steal case ammo, never had a problem.

    Happy to run this for a long time, and have zero complaints.

  5. I just bought the Core 15 rifle this weekend.
    (First one).
    It came with a carry handle installed.
    I know alot of stock rifles with carry handles cant be replaced/removed.
    I see a Picatinny rail, so before i muck with it, i wanted to confirm the the carry handle can be removed for scope installation.

  6. I’ve always been a “bolt guy”. I love shooting long range. I’ve though for a while that I should pick up a good gas gun. I researched, visited countless local gun shops, read some more and finally went with the “Scout”. I mounted a “flip up” rear site and a Nikon 1×6.5 with good rings and headed to the range. At 50 yards, I was dialed in with 5 shots and impressed. I stretched it’s legs out to 100 yards and zero’d my scope. I ran a test from cold bore shots (5) then tested it hot. I was impressed at 1/2” MOA cold and 3/4” Hot on .223 Remington 55 grain ammo. It’s well made, comfortable and with a few accessories, it’s everything I wanted for under $800. I appreciate that their factory employees veterans. I’ve run around 1000 rounds thru it, I keep it well oiled and will give it a good cleaning after another 1000 rounds. Would I recommend Core 15? Sure will. Great all around rifle.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. “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…..

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

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

  15. I bought this gun to customize with my son. He changed out the hand guard with a quad rail, installed a fore grip, bi-pod and scope. Once we shoot this weapon, it shoots great. Reliable, well built and overall a very solid platform. I bought this rifle on sale and you can’t beat this quality for the price. We are very pleased.

  16. I own one of these rifles and I use it almost every weekend at 125 yards. Though I have fired many different AR15 platforms this one is in my opinion the finest rifle of it’s type. I have put over 5000 rounds through it and it still fires like the first day I bought it. I have not had to rep ice one single part of this rifle. I am proud to own it and it is my favorite firearm to date. Great job to the folks at Core!!

  17. I have had several contacts with Core15. Always positive! They are knowledgeable, polite, take the time to explain things in terms a layman can understand and they strive to deserve your business. That is, they go the extra mile to ensure the trust you have placed in them is earned.

  18. I recently purchased the Core15 rifle. I had my Vortex Spark2 sighted in on 50 feet. I was shooting PNC 55 grain FMJ. The group was very tight at that range. I can’t say enough about the Core15 rifle systems. It relievers what is advertised and I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Campbell. This is a great quality system.

  19. I presently own a Bushmaster XM15 for several years. Wanted a flattop. Look a few over, went to the Gun Shop and looked at the Core 15 Scout; Light, well made, bought it!. Took it apart, inspected it, oiled it up a bit and took it to the range. DIASTER!!!!! Miss feeds, bent cartridge, jammed feed. Took it home, found a cartridge in breech, removed it and found the collar of the .223 broken off!!!!! WTF! Took it apart again, inspected all parts, oiled it up and took it back to the range. Single fire, using different ammo to see what it did and finished sighting scope. Ran 90 rounds of American Eagle through it, rapid fire( the best I can do, living in NJ) FLAWLESS…….I’m sold, can’t wait to fire it again and again and again.

  20. Bought it, love it. Fortunate to drive by the home office by Ocala FL and added a few accessories. No complaints here!

  21. I own the Piston Core15 M4 Scout with 3 gas adjustments. It runs great with any ammo Ive used!!!! You do not find a better rifle anywhere for less then $700!!!!!
    I let a NC State Trooper shoot mine and he said it was 10 times the rifle his issued rifle is. So that should tell you something.

  22. Interesting look at this! Not sure it’s by any means my favorite, but I would like to give it a shot to see how it feels. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

  23. I don’t know.

    I mean, I love the AR platform and own 2 M4s and an AR in 5.56, an extra varmint upper, plus another M4 in .45 ACP, and a .22 conversion, so there’s no question I like the platform.

    But, it’s getting a little boring seeing the next M4 review. I know they’;re good guns, and I’ve carried both a Bushmaster SBR and a Colt M4 in private security work in Iraq, and I know how they stack up against the AK platform. So, I will just leave it with . . .

    Yup, this is a nice looking M4 gun and I’m sure it works as well as most of the other other looking M4s.

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