I’d guess most people who know of Christensen Arms of Gunnison, Utah, do so because of their carbon-fiber wrapped barrels and their various bolt-action rifles. Understandably, as both have wide-reaching reputations, especially among those of us who like the longer-distance capabilities of bolt actions like their Modern Precision Rifle or MPR.
But Christensen also makes AR-style rifles, and last year debuted the CA5five6, an AR-15 chambered in .223 Wylde. I saw the carbon fiber barrel and carbon-infused handguard and thought it looked interesting and cool and requested one. Soon after my CA5five6 arrived, I used it to review Trijicon’s then-new ACOG 1-8x rifle scope. The rifle worked fine.
Then, after many months, I finally got around to reviewing the rifle itself. In shooting over 300 rounds through the rifle, I did not have a single failure to feed or eject. I am a fan of the Trigger-Tech trigger, too, and I still think the rifle looks cool—which has nothing to do with a rifle’s functionality, but all other things being equal? I like cool looking silverish-bronzed receivers and rails over straight black-on-black and blah.
But there is a potential knock against the rifle. The CA5five6 is backed by the Christensen Arms Sub-MOA Guarantee. But despite a couple of MOA groups, I couldn’t get consistent sub-MOA out of my CA5five6.
Now, the accuracy issue could be a problem with me, of course, as the shooter. It could also reflect the reality that some rifles do very well with specific brands of ammunition and not so well with others and, in this case, I didn’t end up using the brands that might work best in the CA5five6.
Now, to be clear, it wasn’t as if I was pegging five-inch groups. Definitely not. But my average was much closer to 1.5-inches at 100 yards, not sub-MOA.
That said, here’s what I experienced.
For my accuracy testing with the CA5five 6 is used: American Eagle .223 Rem firing a 62-grain full-metal jacket (FMJ) bullet, from Federal Premium; Norma Tactical .223 Rem loaded with a 55-grain FMJ bullet; and Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection .223 Rem loaded with a 62-grain Gold Dot Soft Point.
My best five-shot groups, at 100 yards and firing from a rest, were with the Speer Personal Protection. The top group here scored .85 inches, for five shots out of six taken, while the average was approximately 1.20 inches.
The very best I could do with the Norma Tactical was 1.30 inches, and the American Eagle averaged right at 1.40-inches. In both cases, I had groups of 1.70- to 1.90-inches also.
During my first testing, I became frustrated with the groups I was shooting. When this happens, I’ve found my best move is to leave and return in the next day or two. Which is what I did.
Part of my frustration was because I have used Christensen bolts in the past, specifically, the Modern Precision Rifle and the Ridgeline, and both shot .5 MOA groups all day, with whatever ammunition I ran through them. Fair or not, my expectation was the same for the CA5five6.
So, I returned to my shooting range two days later with the CA5five6 and I still shot nearly the same exact groups.
Now, I don’t consider any of these groups of 1.5 inches terrible. And if other shooters and reviewers have fired better groups, got better accuracy, that’s fine. No arguments from me. I know many of the people at Christensen Arms, too, and they are honorable folk. I have to assume they scored sub-MOA groups in their testing or they would not have placed their sub-MOA Guarantee on this rifle.
But I couldn’t do it, not consistently.
The CA5five6 weighs in at just 6.3 pounds, unloaded. Credit that lighter weight to the carbon-fiber wrapped stainless steel barrel and the carbon-aluminum hybrid handguard. As is pretty much standard for AR-15s, both the upper and lower receivers are made from forged 7075 aluminum.
According to my Lyman Digital Trigger Pull Gauge, my CA5five6’s TriggerTech trigger averaged a crisp 2 pounds, 3 ounces of trigger pull. The trigger had a very slight uptake, and it did reset immediately.
The recoil from the CA5five6’s direct impingement gas system was minimal. The flared magazine well made quick magazine changes easy and intuitive. And I loved the CA5five6’s two-tone color pattern of silverish-bronze and black.
The CA5five6 is a lightweight and nimble rifle that feels great on the shoulder, too. I wish I could have scored better groups with it, true, but the rifle will certainly do the job for most shooting, from plinking and home defense needs, as well as for hunting medium-sized and smaller game.
Specs: CA5five6 from Christensen Arms
Caliber: 223 Wylde.
Action: Semi-Auto, direct-impingement gas system.
Barrel: 16” 416R Stainless Steel Aerograde Carbon Fiber Wrapped.
Twist Rate: 1:8.
Bolt Carrier Group: Black Nitride Finish.
Handguard: 15” Aluminum Hybrid Carbon Fiber, available in M-Lok®.
Trigger: Single Stage, TriggerTech.
Upper and Lower Receivers: Forged 7075 Aluminum, silver-bronze tone finish.
Stock: MFT® Minimalist, adjustable.
Length: 33.25” to 36.25”.
Weight: 6.3 Lbs.
MISC: ½ × 28 Threaded Muzzle, Stainless Steel 3-prong Flash Hider, Flared Magwell.