FN Decides to build ARs

FN's FN15 Carbine and Rifle

FN's FN15 Carbine and Rifle

Who would have ever guessed that FN would make the leap to manufacturing AR-15 based carbines and rifles? Seems like everybody is jumping on that bandwagon these days. Though they’ve produced the guns for quite a while, they’ve only had a few regular customers. Still, it looks like they know how to build them. Maybe it’s the hundreds of thousands of guns they’ve built for the US military that has given them a little practice.

New this year is the FN 15, the commercial version of the company’s AR. Initially, it will be offered in two versions, a rifle with a full stock and 20″ barrel and a carbine with an adjustable stock and a 16″ barrel. These are decidedly no-frills guns. In fact, I expect that some are going to complain about the underwhelming nature of yet another “base” AR model. But the fact that these are coming out of the same South Carolina facility as the proven military model means a lot, and when it comes to mil-spec, these guns are built by people whose livelihood depends on earning the stamp of approval. And my guess is that these two base models are only setting the stage for a full-fledged entry into the wild AR market by someone who knows a thing or two about building the things.

Where once companies with large government contracts often ignored the civilian side of the market, we’ve been seeing them decide that there is money to be made by catering to the commercial sector, as well.



Shelby Murdoc

Murdoc is a freelancer who writes at various publications and web sites including Shooting Sports Retailer and GunPundit.com.


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  • Ju Con

    “Who would have ever guessed that FN would make the leap to manufacturing AR-15 based carbines and rifles?”

    They’ve made M4’s for the military for quite some, now.

    • Your Sarcasm Radar needs some adjustment.

  • Joshua

    Just a FYI, FNH is not making these…They are building them. Legally they cannot make parts for the AR-15 and sale them to the civilian market while they posses the TDP that belongs to Colt. They sourced all the parts and had other companies build to their request specs and are simply assembling them in their plant.

    • José Pulido

      Even Colt doesn’t make their own parts, Joshua. Pretty much every company except maybe MEGA and a few others outsource their parts, then mill/mark them themselves.

      BCM doesn’t make their own, Colt doesn’t make their own, H&K doesn’t make their own, since the facilities to make every single part would be far too expensive.

      There is no reason they can’t produce the rifles the same way Colt does. The law at present only requires that FN pay Colt a royalty for guns sold in government contracts, not civilian sales. Public patents held by Colt were lost when they accepted the government contracts.

      • Joshua

        You do not understand the legalities of possessing the TDP. Yes Colt sources raw forgings and does does all the machining work, but due to FN possessing the TDP they cannot legally do any machine work in their plant that produces rifles for the military, so either FN will have to open a new shop or they will have a different company do all of the work including machining and finishing the parts.

        FN chose to do the latter. Colt is the sole source owner of the TDP until 2050 due to a breach in contract some times in the ’90s with their M4 in which Colt sued and won.

        The only thing the Military can do is bid out the TDP to have other companies make their rifles, but this bars those companies from making AR-15’s for the civilian market.

        • José Pulido

          Source. Your information seems terribly flawed.

          • Joshua

            http://www.dodig.mil/audit/reports/fy97/97-165.pdf

            Because of that Colt became the sole source supplier of the M4 and M4A1 until 2009, in which the Army won the ability to compete the production of the M4 and M4A1 to different vendors. The Army only has the ability to second source the M4 and M4A1 as they do not own the TDP.

            The manuf. who do make rifles for the Military are then forced to also pay a 5% royalty for every rifle sold, this royalty goes to Colt.

            The issue is that because the TDP is Colt’s sole property no manuf. who makes rifles for the Military can legally produce parts in the same plant that is making parts for the Military as there would be no way to prove they were not using the TDP in the manufacturing of these parts and using the TDP outside of parts for the Military would be a breach of contract, this is why FN is forced to contract out the parts to be milled and finished outside of the FN plant.

          • Steve_7

            Colt’s turned over the TDP for the M4 to DoD in 2011 as per their contract. Bear in mind the M16A2s and M16A4s that FN already make were made under contract using a TDP developed by Colt’s but Colt’s weren’t as smart with holding onto it as they were with the M4. Anyway these aren’t covered by the TDP because they are significantly different in design, because they are semi-autos, not military guns. The only thing that really matters are the patents which are long since expired.
            Anyway there’s a video showing the M16 under production at the FN plant, it was on some History channel show as I recall, sure it’s on Youtube somewhere.

  • Lance

    Nope Ju Con they only last year won the M-4A1 contract from the Army Colt was the only previous maker of full M-4s for the military. They did and still are making M-16A3s and M-16A4s for the military though.
    PS buy a Bushmaster or Olympic or Stag arms for a lot cheaper and get the same darn gun paying $500+ for the FN stamp like the Colt stamp is NOT worth it.

    • Don’t Drone Me Bro

      Lol same gun. Maybe when Shrubmaster can build guns with staked full auto carriers and castle nuts, it might be the same. If they can’t get small stuff right, why trust them with anything else? Also aside from the polymer Bushmaster when was the last time they were $500. When a Colt can be had for $900-$975, which is less than quite a few Bushmasters then maybe it IS worth it for the extra quality control/quality assurance and testing those rifles receive.

  • flyingburgers

    I think it’s a huge assumption to say that sold to the military = top quality.

    • José Pulido

      They’ve been making them for decades, nobody’s ever complained about them, and everything they’ve sold to the civilian market has been top quality, or remedied with great customer service. Being sold to the military probably doesn’t mean much, but it’s more than hair above an assumption since they’ve been doing it for so long without issues.

  • gunslinger

    ok. another ar15.

    • José Pulido

      Another quality AR-15, at hopefully not such an inflated price as a Colt.

  • Zach

    Is the carry handle fixed or removable on the 20″?

    If it is fixed, I’m going to be one of the first in line for that rifle.