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Colt Pro CRP-18 Review

Sara Ahrens’ Offbeat: Where Sara reviews the Colt Pro CRP-18 — a 3-Gun ready, modern sporting rifle.  

 

Last summer I had the opportunity to learn how to compete in 3-Gun for an episode of The Outdoor Channel’s “Shooting Gallery.” Not having any prior experience in 3-Gun competitions, I found myself scrambling to obtain the necessary gear and equipment. One piece of equipment that is necessary in order to give myself a fighting chance in a competition is a sporting rifle outfitted for 3-Gun competitions.

 

Out-of-the-box impression

I contacted Colt Firearms in search of a sporting rifle for 3-Gun, because it manufactures a full line of competition rifles. I selected the 3-Gun ready CRP-18. I immediately noted the 3-Gun customizations. The first characteristics I observed included the match-grade, polished stainless-steel barrel, adjustable gas block and extended charging handle.

The extended charging handle requires installation, so I immediately attempted to separate the upper and lower receivers. The upper and lower receivers are so tightly fitted that I struggled to disassemble them … I felt like a weakling and I’m grateful no one witnessed my struggle! The upper and lower receivers are precision forged, making them structurally solid.

I eventually succeeded in disassembly. Upon removing the bolt carrier assembly, I noted that it lacked lubricant, so, I disassembled the bolt carrier group to inspect and lubricate it. Again, I noticed very tight tolerances. Now, understand that the majority of my experience in working on rifles has been as an armorer for law enforcement. Our rifles are old and abused. So, aside from my own personal sporting rifle purchase, this is only the 2nd sporting rifle I have handled that can be considered “brand new.” So, my astonishment in the tightness of the upper and lower receivers and the bolt carrier assembly may be misguided, since I’m comparing it to only 1 other gun. The Colt Pro CRP-18 is notably sturdier and the tolerances are tighter than what I have.

 

Sara Colt_1

Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

 

My first range experience ends in defeat

The Colt Pro CRP-18 is stamped as “.223,” but, the manual indicated that either .223 or 5.56×45 ammo, can be used. I used 5.56×45 factory ammo. I fired my first round from the firearm with ease. With my second shot, I heard a “click” but no “bang.” I attempted to perform a malfunction drill, but couldn’t cycle the bolt. I could see that the locking lugs were locked up in the chamber and the charging handle stuck. I suspected there was a live round in the chamber, so I removed the magazine, placed the weapon on safe and fought with the charging handle, before eventually admitting defeat. I took it home and asked for my husband’s help. My husband also is certified to work on this platform, and I felt redeemed when he, too, struggled. With teamwork we unlocked the locking lugs and cleared the round.

I contacted Colt and sent the firearm back. They advised that the gas block had rotated slightly … in all fairness, this may have happened when we forced the charging handle back to clear the round. Since this malfunction, I have researched my experience, and found many such instances online. Most of the forums I read described this issue as occurring “during the break-in period,” and correcting itself after firing rounds. I didn’t observe any obvious signs of pressure problems with the spent casings, but suspect that the 5.56 ammo may have contributed.

 

Sara at the range_1

Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

 

Second trip to the range ends on a happy note

Colt sent me a replacement firearm. And, just to make sure, I changed ammunition to .223. I experienced no further hiccups. The tolerances on the second rifle are just as tight as the first, might I add. I took the firearm to the range, and realized its potential.

I enjoy the balance of the Colt — it’s not front heavy. The barrel has a thin profile and is fluted, this adds to the feeling of balance. The Geissele, 2-stage trigger has a clean break and no “take up” or “travel.” It is a mere 3.5 pounds — not too heavy or too light. Although the CRP-18 doesn’t come with sights, it does come with a Picatinny rail. I mounted my EOTech optics and I am able to shoot a respectable group at 100 yards. Colt guarantees an accuracy of 3 rounds, within a 1-inch grouping, at 100 yards. I didn’t quite get those results (closer to 3 inches, but that’s the operator, not the firearm). Once I had a grouping I was comfortable with, I moved on to shooting drills at closer distances.

For a new competitor, purchasing a firearm like the Colt CRP-18 eliminates the guesswork in customization options. Unfortunately for me, several weeks after getting comfortable with the rifle, I broke my back. This injury interrupted my plans to compete in 2013 … but there’s always 2014.

 

Sara Colt 2

Photo courtesy of Mike Ahrens

 

MSRP: $2,019

Visit Colt Competition Rifles for more information.

The Conversation

7 Comments
  • Marco Florio says: February 2, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Thank you Barbara for your response. I would like to add I would prefer, and don’t expect my forthcoming comments to be posted. If It were up to me I would have initially made one simple post. If I may continue. I have a deep appreciation for shooting sports and I am a life long professional in this regard. I believe any entity that promotes the safe and responsible use of firearms to be positive. I make observations of published material in the hopes of furthering my knowledge. With the advent of the internet anyone can express whatever it is that they believe irregardless of validity. Often in general forums this information has little credence as far as increasing peoples knowledge of firearms. . I would hope that material published from a reputable online source would refute the often misinformed gibberish so often presented in common online forums. It is not my intention to suggest this is your publications position. I would like to be specific in regards to my observations regarding the above review. Firstly I respect Sarah in regard to her past experience and I truly appreciate the fact that she is, along with your publication, promoting shooting sports. Let me also add that I am not employed by Colt Competition firearms. My critique of the above mentioned review simply stems from placing myself within the context of a layperson. As a layperson my interpretation of the review would lead me to believe that the rifle reviewed was inherently flawed. flawed in a manor in which was documented by other online sources. None of this to be true in my research. Of further concern is how this information was presented. With a true understanding of the operating system of the rifle, the statements made would not make sense. With a true understanding of the gas system a person would know that any ammunition would not function properly given the condition of the rifle. As a simple analogy it would be the equivalent of testing an automobile without the gas tank hooked up and suggesting it was fuel sensitive. In the review it was stated that she thought that the 5.56 mm ammunition used might have contributed to the malfunction. This is simply not true. When she makes reference to the rifle not functioning properly due the lack of a break in period that should resolve itself, this is also not true. If the gas block was loose from the factory the only thing that would make the rife operate correctly is properly positioning and tightening the gas block to the barrel. In conclusion, I mean no ill will, I am simply trying to put myself in the position of a person that does not know better, and I would not want them to be misinformed by what they would believe to be a reputable source.

  • Marco Florio says: January 31, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    *gas port hole.

  • Marco Florio says: January 31, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    To clear up any misunderstanding to your readers, The gas block being misaligned has nothing to do with the “break in” process, nor is it a condition that can cure itself. The reason your rifle had a failure to eject is because the gas that would ordinarily be directed up through a opening at the top of the barrel upon firing, into the gas block and then through the gas tube exiting at the bolt, in turn forcing the bolt back and ejecting the spent cartridge casing, was not functioning properly due to the misalignment of the gas block in relation to the gap port hole on the barrel. If I may add, It had nothing to do with the ammunition you were firing. I would not want people to believe this rifle is not capable of firing 5.56 NATO ammunition just as well as .233 Remington. I do very much enjoy seeing woman promoting shooting sports! I hope as I previously stated that you may have a speedy recovery.

  • Marco Florio says: January 31, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    I might add that is very unlikely that any manipulation of the charging handle would disrupt the gas block. the gas block is located on the opposite end of the weapon, shielded by the handguard. I would like to wish you a speedy recovery.

    • Barbara Baird says: February 1, 2014 at 8:54 am

      Marco, We believe that Sara is being fair in her review. It could have been a rifle or an ammunition problem. To be able to continue to evaluate the rifle, she switched ammo, to make sure it wasn’t that specific ammo that was causing the problem. Even though something, as you write, is “very unlikely,” it is not impossible. Thank you for reading The WON, and again, Sara delivered a very thorough review and did not focus on the ammo, but the gun.

  • Marco Florio says: January 31, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    It looks as though the rifle you are pictured with is actually a Colt Competition model CRP 18. To the best of my knowledge the CRP 16 is not offered with a fluted barrel and is equipped with a different handguard.

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