FN15 Tactical from FN in 300 BLK—Full Review

The FN15 Tactical in 300 BLK gives shooters a reasonably priced, impressive quality AR in a highly adaptable chambering. Shown equipped with a Burris XTR II 1-5X optic and a GEMTECH ONE suppressor.

To learn more, click this link: http://www.fnamerica.com/.

To purchase an FN15 Tactical 300 BLK on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=FN15%20Tactical%20300.

Having recently reviewed the FN15 Tactical 300 BLK from FN, I must say this is a remarkably average rifle. That’s not the kind of statement likely to get the FN marketing department all hot and bothered, and not something we hear often in the modern world of whiz-bang advertising. But it is also not an indictment of the rifle. I liked the rifle plenty, and it did exactly what it is supposed to do. Hear me out on this one.

I stand by my “remarkably average” statement. It was so true I had a hard time figuring out exactly how I was going to write this review. My inspiration came over the weekend when I was building a new patio, before I sat down to smash some computer keys into badly punctuated sentences. What do patio’s have to do with FN’s newest offering? That’s kind of an odd segue, don’t you think? It actually has nothing to do with the building part, and everything to do with the acquisition of materials.

As equipped from the factory, the FN15 Tactical in 300 BLK gives you everything you need and nothing you do not. Image courtesy of FN.

As equipped from the factory, the FN15 Tactical in 300 BLK gives you everything you need and nothing you do not. Image courtesy of FN.

SPECS

  • CHAMBERING: 300 AAC Blackout ( 7.62×35)
  • BARREL: 16 inch
  • OA LENGTH: 7″ (collapsed); 37″ (extended)
  • WEIGHT:6 lbs. (empty)
  • GRIPS: Magpul MOE
  • SIGHTS: Magpul MBUS sights
  • ACTION: Direct Impingement
  • FINISH: Matte black
  • CAPACITY: 30/60/100
  • MSRP: $1,479.00

One of my nephews had been drafted/shamed/ volunteered to help me with said patio build, and we set out using both of our trucks to gather parts. I drive a Ford F-150 Raptor, which is the best desert pre-runner ever built by God or man. It will do 140 mph across the desert without spilling my coffee, jump railroad tracks high enough to inspire local legends amongst school boys, and its so sexy looking men and women both routinely ask me for its number. It is also an absolutely abysmal work truck.

All the cool stuff comes at a cost of reduced bed payload and towing capacity, by a margin. It has plenty of engine. But all the neato racecar add-on suspension and what not suck at getting work done. In a purely working capacity, my nephew’s F150 XLT ran circles around it. This isn’t a big problem for me; I’m retired. I spend most of my days not doing work. But the fact remains… if I were a carpenter or brick mason, a truck that cost half as much as mine would actually be the better option.

The author equipped the FN rifle with a Burris XTR II 1-5X scope on a P.E.P.R. mount.

The author equipped the FN rifle with a Burris XTR II 1-5X scope on a P.E.P.R. mount.

This is where I see the FN15, and why I say “remarkably average” as a compliment. I am the first to admit, I am spoiled by years of being a sponsored shooter and teaching shooting full time as a profession. I have so many AR-15s I sometimes misplace them. I have a different one for every occasion, from weddings to preventing a wedding. I have the same rifle in two different colors. And all that has removed me, to some degree, to what the average consumer needs out of a rifle.

A big part of that equation is value, bang for the buck. The average consumer is never going to shoot out a barrel, test five different muzzle breaks to see how they affect accuracy, or purchase multiple optics that cost more than the gun. They need the gun to come out of the box, shoot and cycle well, and maybe have leather seats.

The FN15 retails for $1479.00, which puts it about middle of the pack in AR world. Can I find a $3,000 AR that will outgun the FN for accuracy? Yes I can. How about cheaper? Yep, I can stack up price-point guns under $1,000 all day long and twice on Sunday. What I don’t see, in the $1,500 price range, is a better deal.

The author noted that the fit of the upper to lower receivers was superb without a bit of rattle.

The author noted that the fit of the upper to lower receivers was superb without a bit of rattle.

The FN15 tested came out of the box wearing Magpul furniture, which is also boringly average in a modern AR. ( Oh, to have invested in Magpul back in 2001!) What is remarkable, though, is that it is not wearing the cheapest dress in the Magpul catalog. FN invested some money in a stock that locks up nice and tight, and has holes for QD mounts on both sides. Nothing to complain about with an MOE grip as well. One thing that did strike me as remarkable is the peen on the castle nut, which in this case is a work of art. I have much more expensive ARs that either didn’t come peened, or it looks like a gorilla did it with a sledgehammer. This is a small detail, but it shows me that the assembly goons at FNH are absolutely paying attention and putting some pride into their work.

The fit of the upper and lower is superb; not a bit of rattle. The takedown pins are snug, but not so tight you have to abuse them to get them out. A price of $1,500 out the door isn’t going to get you an ion bond or nickel boron bolt carrier group, but the parkerized one in the FN is smooth and free of burrs. For a handguard, FN opted to go with a Midwest industries LWM 12 inch with M-LOK. This handguard is small in diameter, which is really nice for moving the rifle around quickly from target to target when standing. There are enough M-LOK slots at the 12, 6, 9 and 3 o’clock positions to suit the needs and desires of any shooter. It also features QD mount holes at the front and rear of the hand guard, built in on both sides right and left. Smoothly machined into the front and rear of the top of the hand guard, 2 inches of picatinny rail, which is very helpful for front sights and lasers.

EYE ON THE TARGET

The FN15 also arrived wearing Magpul  flip up … plastic sights? The temptation to call them irons is overwhelming, but not the point. I have no complaints about the Magpul polymer flip ups, but we wanted a grown boy optic for this rifle. Burris stepped up with an XTR II 1×5 with an illuminated mil-dot reticle. This was my first rodeo with anything Burris, and I must confess I did not know what to expect. I should have realized that with Steiner under the same corporate umbrella, glass was not going to be a problem.

the GEMTECH ONE suppressor was a nice addition to the rifle for the author, and performed flawlessly.

the GEMTECH ONE suppressor was a nice addition to the rifle for the author, and performed flawlessly.

The glass in the Burris scope is remarkably clear, and I was very impressed. But even better news is the illumination. I have gone to the dance with a few illuminated scopes, and what separates the winners from losers is daylight brightness. The Burris was incredible in this regard. Standing in the Idaho desert at high noon, I didn’t even have to use the highest setting for quick shooting. A lot of scopes look good in the dimly lit local gun store, and are near useless in actual sunlight. Not this bad Johnson. I would dare to say this Burris illuminates better than a $3,000 short dot scope I own, and several I have been issued over my career. I cannot overstate how impressed I was with this component.

The P.E.P.R. mount from Burris worked extremely well with the XTR II scope for the author.

The P.E.P.R. mount from Burris worked extremely well with the XTR II scope for the author.

The reticle in the XTR is mil-dot, which is very handy for 300 AAC. My zero difference between supersonic and subsonic ammunition was 4 mils at 100 meters, and its nice to be able to switch without dialing elevation. Also impressive, the XTR offers 1/10 mil elevation and windage adjustments, which is awesome for dialing in a very refined zero. The XTR also seemed to track correctly; it passed the box drill with no hiccups. Burris also provided a mount, the P.E.P.R. or proper eye position ready mount.

Mine was not the quick detach version, though I would like to try that in the future. If you have never run a forward cant set up on your AR, it will change your life. The mount puts the optic two inches forward of the last picatinny slot in the upper, and changes the eye box of the scope drastically. The P.E.P.R. mount perfectly positions the scope for the best eye relief, and gives enough clearance that the folded irons are not in the way. Not a lot of companies provide a solid mount to match their optics, but the Burris set up ran like a champ. I was very happy with the mounting set up.

Once set up on his drag bag and with all his gear, the author ran the FN15 Tactical 300.

Once set up on his shooting mat and with all his gear, the author ran the FN15 Tactical 300 BLK.

Note the 300 BLACKOUT chambering marking as well as the numbered picatinny slots.

Note the 300 BLACKOUT chambering marking as well as the numbered picatinny slots.

The FN15 came standard with a Surefire ProComp, and that was the one thing I changed on the review configuration. 300 BLK shines best suppressed, and I buy GEMTECH suppressors. Off went the ProComp, on went the 7.62 Quickmount for my GEMTECH ONE suppressor. The ONE is absolutely fantastic—one suppressor to run all of my calibers; all I need is the proper muzzle device. With my SIG subsonic 220 grain bullets, this set up was as quiet as a church mouse (or a Clinton on the subject of uranium deposits and Russia when she was Secretary of State). Just saying. The quick detach set up of the ONE made for an easy day of testing suppressed and unsuppressed, and all in all it is an excellent set up for this rifle.

The author swapped out the standard muzzle device with a GEMTECH quickmount with the ONE suppressor.

The author swapped out the standard muzzle device with a GEMTECH quickmount with the ONE suppressor.

So, the elephant in the room; how was the accuracy? Well, it isn’t going to win any awards, but it certainly wasn’t bad. I was able to coax 1.5 inch 100m groups out of the rifle, and one 5/8 inch 50m group. This is another function of being spoiled by custom-built guns. My editor had to remind me that 1.5 inches isn’t a deal killer, and particularly in this caliber. And he has a very good point. That translates to 4.5 inches at 300, about the distance I expect subsonics to go. 1.5 is also well below battle rifle standards, and more than good enough for most people. If you aren’t happy with that, prepare to slap in a $300 Krieger barrel. Oh, and a gunsmith charge if you don’t have the tools and know how on hand.

The SIG Elite Performance ammo once again did not disappoint. Just like last month’s 10mm ammo I used, the 300 BLK functioned flawlessly in both super- and subsonic. Proven by the chronograph, this ammo is well put together and holds a standard deviation that is enviable by other ammunition makers. It is no wonder they just won an award for ammunition maker of the year, and I think we will continue to see some incredible innovation from this company. While not a fan of their pistols, I continue to be amazed by the direction this company is moving, from ammunition to range finders.

The Sig Sauer Elite Performance ammo ran without a hitch in the rifle and produced this 50 meter group.

The Sig Sauer Elite Performance ammo ran without a hitch in the rifle and produced this 50 meter group.

the author took the FN15 Tactical 300 BLK to the range and put it through its paces at a variety of distances.

the author took the FN15 Tactical 300 BLK to the range and put it through its paces at a variety of distances.

All in all, how did this go? Overall this is a great rifle for the price. It functioned flawlessly, not one malfunction or failure to go bang. I also stand by my theory that the 300 BLK will grow as a police caliber. It feels a little silly in the open country of Idaho, but as a subsonic it is fantastic. For night shooting or the heavy brush of the south and eastern seaboard, 300 is very hard to beat. The FN15 as configured is an excellent choice for a hunting or home defense gun. And I for one think we are going to see further evolution of the AR platform under the FN banner. For one thing, only they can truly call upon the spirit of Saint John Moses Browning.

To learn more, click this link: http://www.fnamerica.com/.

To purchase an FN15 Tactical 300 BLK on GunsAmerica.com, click this link: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=FN15%20Tactical%20300.

{ 14 comments… add one }
  • D. B. Mangum August 31, 2016, 9:15 pm

    How can it be considered ‘tactical’ (Gawd, I’m getting tired of that term!) when it looks to be about five feet long after adding a can! Can you imagine clearing a house while swinging that length around corners and door jambs?

    • clay September 1, 2016, 3:24 pm

      yep, because I have cleared a house with an SR-25. shorting the gun actually doesn’t change anything, if your technique is correct.

  • Notso August 29, 2016, 4:37 pm

    You really need proof readers, or else you have stumbled upon the pocket AR that collapses everything into the upper receiver! 7 inch collapsed length. I want one.

  • gipb August 29, 2016, 2:41 pm

    Im sorry BUT CAN WE ALL STOP WITH THE LARRY FLINT STIFFY ARM EXTENED WAY BEYOND FUNCTIONAL GRIP NOW!?? It not only looks full-on retard but have you EVER seen it in battle or used by a swat team doing a raid or anywhere in a “REAL” offensive engagement other than a target shooting environment!?? It’s because it is way unnatural and completely unnecessary!!! Its ok you can all STOP IT ALREADY!!!….

    • Archangel August 31, 2016, 12:23 am

      Yeah, what is with the funky left hand reaching over the barrel?
      It looks uncomfortable and more than a little stupid.

    • david September 1, 2016, 9:52 am

      Thank you for saying that. I have no idea where people picked this up as a shooting stance. My guess would be the tacticool YouTube coast guard airborne recon marine guys. Yeah making fun of the guys that want to make more of there service then what they did. Anyway. How long can you hold that thing before your arms are useless? From what I was taught you don’t use muscle like that. Bone on bone support as much as possible. Tuck in the chicken wings. Are people being taught differently now. Maybe he is doing it this way with the can on there makes the front end heavy???? I don’t know but hard to take someone serious looking like that.

    • clay September 1, 2016, 3:26 pm

      I actually have seen it used in battle. Every night when I was assaulting like that. It absorbs recoil better than any other way, and that matters when you are trying to ventilate a tango 3 feet in front of you.

  • Ethan August 29, 2016, 12:09 pm

    So, the seller of that FN-15 300 blackout really needs to take better photos. Everything is out of focus, background isn’t any good, and using flash kills some of these photos

    • mach37 August 29, 2016, 4:58 pm

      I saw no out of focus photos here, and I’m a photographer who picks nits about sharpness. Mr. Martin is a reviewer, not an FN employee (as far as I know), and I wouldn’t expect his user-quality photos to be sales brochure perfect.

  • BJG August 29, 2016, 10:41 am

    The price seems silly to me I got one for less than $500 with scope. Groups better that what is shown. I like the 300 Blk.Out ,but appears to be an improved .30 Carbine. with a fast twist barrel. Just my 2 cents worth.

  • pete August 29, 2016, 9:21 am

    Looking at photo #1 here, and from my own experience with many diff AR’s, am I the only one who finds AR’s (almost no matter what stock/barrel configuration) to be uncomfortable and non ergonomic? I guess I should feel lucky – I save a lot of dough not liking AR’s very much!

  • Martin August 29, 2016, 8:50 am

    Good write !
    FN makes outstanding guns and the SCAR 17 is one too!!
    Only concern and it’s a BIG one…….customer service is the poorest you can ever deal with…..
    Beware if you have issue with a Scar 17 and send to FN be prepared to wait MONTHS for its return……I’ve been
    Waiting since April and after calls , email, and arm wrestling, have FINALLY been told I MAY get it back in mid OCTOBER !
    PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE WITH THIS BUNCH !!!

    • Mike August 29, 2016, 11:46 am

      Why would you do business with a company that has a no customer service policy? Easier to buy Daniel Defense.

      • Dee tee August 30, 2016, 3:48 pm

        If you didn’t realize it, he is trying to warn people of the customer service. In other words he didn’t know their customer service sucked until he had already bought from them. I’m sure he would like to go back in time and make a purchase from a different company. Why are you heckling someone who is trying to help others make a wiser choice?

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