FNH USA, a division of FN Herstal of Belgium, is no stranger to high quality firearms. They have also produced some of the finest military weapons and weapons systems that are currently on the front lines of today’s battle for freedom with dozens of countries, including the United States.
For years FNH has impressed with the FN SCAR, FN TSR precision rifles, and FN series of pistols. The FN P90 and FN FiveSeveN pistol were incredible designs and technological advancements when released. So when FNH announced their jump into the AR-15 market, there was quite a stir, as one could imagine.
FN even had a lot of advertising at the SHOT Show this year. The FN15 was displayed on a huge wall banner, and there were mentions in other literature as well. When I finally made it to the FNH booth I by-passed the more familiar lines of rifles and handguns and went right to the “new” FN15 Series stand.
There they were – the FN15 rifle, and FN15 carbine!
Uh, O.K., is this some kind of joke? Surely this cannot be the only options in the new FN15 Series? Unfortunately, that was my initial and lingering opinion of what I saw. FNH is more than a little late to the AR-15 market. That’s been fine for them because of their other very popular lines of firearms. So most, like myself, were expecting a much more impressive launch than what FNH had on display.
The “new” FN15 Series of rifles is anything but new. The only claim to “new” is that they are new to FNH production. The FN15 rifles probably would have been a hugely popular product if they had been released, say, 10 years ago! At that time the American market, the largest in the world, was exploding in growth with the expiration of the “Assault” Weapons Ban.
Now, however, the FN15 Series is about as basic an AR-15 platform as you can get. About the only, advanced features are the basic collapsible stock, and the detachable carry handle exposing a Picatinny rail on the upper receiver. Yeah, that’s about it!
Here you go … the “new” FN15 Carbine:
- Caliber – 5.56x45mm
- Action – Semi-auto only
- Overall Length – 35.2” (extended); 31.9” (collapsed)
- Barrel – Button-broached, chrome lined with A2-style “birdcage” compensator
- Barrel Length – 16”
- Barrel Profile – Standard Government
- Weight – 6.94 lbs. (empty)
- Upper Receiver – Hard-anodized aluminum with M-1913 MIL-STD top rail
- Sights – A2-style front sight, removable carrying handle with rear sight
- Twist Rate: 1:7 RH twist
- Stock – Matte black collapsible 6-position with sling mount
- Hand Guard – standard oval 2-piece dual heat shield
- Comes with (1) standard 30-round metal magazine
- MSRP – TBA
And the “new” FN15 Rifle:
- Overall Length – 39.5”
- Barrel Length – 20”
- Weight – 7.97 lbs.
- Stock – Fixed with sling mount and storage compartment
- All other features match the Carbine
- MSRP – TBA
I have no doubt that the FN15 Series rifles will be high quality firearms that meet the stringent standards from a world firearms leader. Obviously the FN15 Series can be upgraded with after-market accessories. I just don’t think FNH can get a pass for introducing such basic models in a saturated market.
FNH could have made such a more powerful jump into the AR-15 market with superior match-grade barrels, stocks, hand guards, grips, receiver and bolt materials, compensators, match 2-stage triggers, or at least special combination packages with some of the most popular accessory manufacturers.
Unfortunately, the FN15 Series may be short lived, at least on the civilian side of the market. Perhaps, the civilian market was never really their motive in the first place. FNH has a long and successful history making military weapons.
Recent U.S. Government decisions to stay with the M4/M16 platform for the immediate future may have led FNH to enter the market in hopes of winning a contract for perhaps tens of thousands of rifles. FNH submitted the SCAR rifle for consideration before, but only in very limited circumstances (mostly Special Forces), has the U.S. Armed Forces accepted its use.
Time will tell, but for now the “new” FN-15 Series gets a big yawn from me.