If you are looking for a unique, lightweight AR-15 style rifle, take a look at the Christensen Arms CA-15 carbines. No doubt, the firearms are pricey, but they offer some features that are simply not available on other rifles. If you are looking for a high end, semi-auto carbine that can run a variety of calibers from .204 Ruger to .300 AAC Blackout, you want to learn more about the Christensen Arms CA-15.
Christensen Arms is a unique firearms company based out of Gunnison, Utah. The company was founded by Dr. Roland Christensen, who obtained a Doctorate of Mechanical Engineering. Christensen initially started a small business that designed carbon-fiber material products for the aerospace and medical industries.
Taking from his experience in constructing products with carbon-fiber, Christensen applied his knowledge to his hobby of shooting firearms. The primary distinction with Christensen’s firearms is that his barrels are made of carbon-fiber, instead of the all-steel construction of almost every other manufacturer. For those familiar with carbon-fiber, the material has the dual benefit of being lightweight while also allowing for greater heat dissipation.
The barrels were such a success and had such widespread acceptance that Christensen decided to create complete firearms in addition to his unique barrels. Starting with bolt-action hunting and target rifles, that included a carbon-fiber stocks along with a carbon-fiber wrapped barrel, Christensen Arms has recently released their own AR-15 and 1911 firearms. This article will introduce the Christensen Arms CA-15 custom rifle.
CA-15 Recon Model
The Christensen Arms CA-15 comes with a match-grade carbon-wrapped barrel. This is the trademark difference with all standard Christensen Arms, and a great advancement for firearm production in general.
In essence, there is a match-grade steel liner allowing for standard rifling, but the ingenious difference is that the liner is wrapped in a carbon-fiber exterior. That carbon-fiber wrap secures the thin liner and provides the insulation needed to handle pressures during firing while providing for long-term stability. The end result is a bull barrel that is not even close to the weight of a standard steel bull barrel. The CA-15 also comes with a carbon-fiber hand guard. If desired, the shooter can select an all steel match-grade barrel in “cheese grater” or spiral fluting as well.
The CA-15 has options for either a proprietary gas-piston or gas-impingement operating system to meet the shooter’s desired preference. The receivers are custom machined from aircraft-grade aluminum. There are optional hard black anodized Type III or Cerakote receiver colors.
The rifle can also be dipped in a camouflage pattern. There is an ambidextrous magazine release that comes standard, with an optional ambidextrous safety selector. In addition, the CA-15 comes with an oversized bolt-release, extended charging handle, and Hogue over-molded handle as standard.
Handling the CA-15 was a nice experience. In addition to the slightly lighter weight on the fore-end, the CA-15’s custom receivers had a much tighter fit than some lower end AR-15’s I’ve held. There was no rattling while handling the CA-15. This definitely had the feel of a well made custom rifle, but the prices reflect that quality and the advanced materials used in manufacture.
Christensen Arms CA-15 Specifications
|Receivers||Custom machined aircraft-grade aluminum|
|Magazine Release||Ambidextrous standard|
|Barrel||Match-grade carbon-fiber wrapped|
|Operating System||Proprietary Piston or Gas-Impingement|
|Bolt Carrier Group||Nickel-boron coated|
|Trigger||Timney trigger (standard); Geissele (optional)|
|Muzzle Break Options||Titanium muzzle break or flash hider|
|Stock||Multiple Options – shown with Magpul|
|Cerakote Finishing||Green; Burnt Bronze; Green Reaper; Silver; Reaper; Black, True Timber; Desert Digital; Natural Gear Grey; and Tungsten|
|Hand Guard||Carbon-fiber with integrated carbon Picatinny rails (standard); Predator hand guard (optional)|
|Calibers||.223 Rem (1:9) and .223 Wylde (1:8) standard|
|Optional Calibers||.204 Ruger; 6.8 SPC; 6.5 Grendel, 300 AAC|
|Weight||6.2 lbs. for 16” version|
|Length||Options – SBR, Carbine, Mid-Length; Rifle to 24”|
I have not shot the Christensen Arms CA-15, however, Christensen Arms provides a MOA guarantee. I’m fairly confident that this smaller manufacturer would not give that guarantee without having the confidence in performance. The guarantee is contingent on proper break-in, appropriate ammunition, and proper use conditions.
The price is the biggest sticking point, as some quality piston-driven AR-15’s can be had (with upgraded stocks, sights, triggers, and pistol grips) for around $1000 less. However, if you are a serious shooter who demands only the best, then the Christensen Arms CA-15 could easily be on your short list of options.