Today we are going to take a look at an AR15 made by colt that is one of the best keep secrets in the gun world. It’s really a shame that it’s not more well know because it is an excellent precision rifle.
If you didn’t know by the image above, this is the Colt Accurized Rifle. Also known as the the CARA3 HBAR Elite according to its roll mark and Model CR6724 for everyone who works at Colt or those of us who are obsessive enough to refer to Colts by their internal model numbers.
This may very well be the first time a lot of people will have heard of this model but the fact is, Colt has been making it since around 1997 give or take a year. I first saw it in that years firearms catalog which I had received via the mail same as I did every year. On it was a 10x mildot Colt brand target/tactical optic. The optic itself was from a partnership with C-more sights and that year several other Colt/C-more branded optical sights made their debut to many of us. The 10X colt/C-more is pictured below. The optic did not come with the rifle but the rifle did come with a B-square mount that properly attached to a picatinny rail and had the correct height for an AR15.
I don’t own one of these optics and never got to try one but all accounts I have heard of the optic have rated it first class. Now a days a fixed 10x would not find much favor I’m sure.
At the time, the 6724 was pushed as a factory out of the box rifle ready to go for high power. It longer barrel perfect for attaching some of the front sights used in the national matches, and the flat top upper to house a rear finely adjustable rear sight. If you browse picture from back in the day, you will see a lot of rifles that look almost identical to the 6724 being used with various sighting systems. Of course the ad copy also stated the rifle would make a great varminting or target rifle. That was certainly a fact.
The barrel is a 24 inch match stainless steel HBAR ( heavy barrel) that is a larger diameter under the free float aluminum handgaurd tube. Along with the standard milspec testing colt does, the barrel has a 1/9 twist. Now, this seems unfortunate now, but at the time all the mfgs making commercial ARs really wanted to push the 1/9 twist. Bushmaster,stated in their literature selling their junk, that the 1/9 twist was superior and the 1/7 wore barrels out too fast and that it wasn’t as accurate. .. Yea… we see how that turned out. But that claim did take some kinda of hold obviously as we all still see cheaper guns usually almost always using the 1/9 twist. The topic is a long post on it’s own so i will move on. As the 1/9 was popular among many at the time and used in high power, colt opted to make the barrels in 1/9. The extremely long bullets we have no didn’t really exist as well known options back then or I am sure the gun would have come with a 1/7 twist.
Now, if you are thinking that you would like to have one of these guns but would change the barrel out, hold on a second. Over the years, ,many people have bought one of these rifles and tried 77 grain bullets in it just to see what would happen and found that it shot the 77s perfectly. What they had no real way of knowing, and what I only found out about 10 years ago myself from Colt employee is that the barrels are actually closer to 1/8.5 inch twist with the exact twist being a little on the faster side. That kind of barrel marking would have been gibberish to most buyers at the time. Probably even now. And it would be a lot easier and less of a headache to just stamp it 1/9. Why they decided to split the difference between a true 1/9 and a 1/7 I have no idea, and its likely lost to time. Point is, the gun’s barrel says 1/9 but you can shoot 77 gr bullets in it and even some of the bullets as long as the 75gr A-max . A fellow memeber of Arfcom once told me he one his local range’s 1000 yard F-class match using the Colt CR6724 and the Hornady 75gr A-max bullets.
The muzzle of the HBAR Elite has a nice recessed target crown to help protect it from damage. The gas block is a milpsec front sight’gas block shaved down to be low profile and it taper pinned in place. Not screwed on or some other lousy method that is not as tough and durable.
The FF tube is smooth with grooves running some of the length. Not likely to get as many cool gun prom points as M-lok or keymod, but completely usable and comfortable for shooting off bags or prone with a sling. The tube came fitted with two sling swivel studs for various styles. The front can be used for a bipod and the read the sling. Or you can use them to adjust how your sling fits to you when going from different formal shooting positions at a match.
The buffer is a standard rifle buffer and colt sends an “accu wedge” with each rifle. Luckily we all now know ( I hope) that the accu wedge is worthless except for people who can’t stand things like brass marks on their brass deflector or movement of the upper/lower for cosmetic reasons. The play of the fit of the upper and lower has 0 effect on accuracy. The lower in this case has been fitted with the newer colt safety selector that is capable of being switched to the opposite side for lefties.
What is a target/match gun without a better trigger? Well, colt has you covered there. In a time before drop in match triggers like the SSA existed for AR15s, Colt had the low mass match trigger that came standard in these rifles.
The trigger and pins are all stainless and while It isn’t really comparable to something like the SSA or the MBT or KAC match triggers, at the time it was like a miracle. It was safe, tough had a faster lock time and it did reduce the trigger pull weight quite a bit. It’s a single stage trigger and it doesn’t break like a glass rod, but it is far and away better than a milspec trigger. At one time it was possible to buy it from colt like an accessory, but that didn’t last long sad to say. Before triggers like the SSA came along I would have loved to been able to use the low mass colt part in my various carbines and rifles, Of course now you have your pick of a dozen match triggers. Colt still sells the gun with this trigger but I think it has more to do with knowing most buyers are going to replace the trigger with a more expensive model anyway and nothing they picked would satisfy everyone. Better for the gun to be 200 bucks cheaper than try to please everyone with whatever brand they chose.
As a side note colt did for a small run make a custom shop target rifle that was even higher quality than the 6724. It has a full 1 inch diameter match barrel with a Jewel trigger and choate A2 stock with butt hook, hogue firing grip. The barrel was made by one of the big match barrel makers at the time, either hart or douglas I forget which. The roll mark on the lower was not the usual style but the Sam Colt family crest “Armsmear” . Picture of the rare gun below . Sorry to say I not only do not own one, but I have never seen on in person.
Back to the point. The CAR-A3 comes with standard M16 bolt carrier group. Fully MPC tested and milspec.
Unlike the vast majority of it’s “peers” at the time and even a lot now still, the key is properly staked like all colt rifles and carbines. Being a target rifle is no excuse to cut corners.
This rifle has been fitted with the magpul PRS rifle stock and the rear monopod that fits to a 1913 rail. The masterpiece from magpul is a perfect pairing with the gun and one of the few after market parts a person can get for an AR15 that actually improved its performance in some meaningful way beyond just looking cool. The other addition is a rubber ergo grip which is preferred by my Dad. The gun in it’s box stock form comes with an A2 buttsock and A2 grip which are perfectly usable. The A2 stock is lighter so I wouldn’t advise changing it unless you have to. Or really really want to.
Normally this gun has an 18x Leupold target/varmint scope in a larue mount, but for testing out the optic for review and some other points, it is wearing a Night Force 5.5x-22x in a ADM mount. More on those in another post.
So. It’s a match target gun that Colt also no advertises as a LE sniper solution currently so the question is, how does it shoot?
To show the accuracy of the rifle I followed my usual habits. I fired the gun off the bench with a rest and bags using my handloads and some factory match ammo. This time I am posting the groups from 100 and 200 yards. This is going to be a two parter and the extended range testing will be in part 2. I have fired this gun for years at very long range and I am saving that for a post on its own in the next week or two.
To start with, I fired the bullet the gun is mostly used to shoot since the majority of owners think it can not handle the heavier stuff. The 69 gr bullet is the one conventional wisdom says is the heaviest you can go in a true 1/9 twist barrel and it be stable in all temps and at all reasonable velocities. In this case it is the old reliable 69 gr Sierra match king. The gun fires it as well as you can ask. If it was a 9 inch of 7 inch twist either one, I can’t imagine any complaints.
Now we have the 75gr TAP round above. Ten rounds of a bullet weight that often works pretty well in even true 1/9 twist rifles. The black box stuff isnt marked as match ammo per se, but it is accurate enough to nearly be match often enough. If you do have a true 1/9 twist and wish you could use heavier bullets, give this stuff a try as the bullet itself as a length and profile that makes it more forgiving of the slower twist. It is good stuff and and by all accounts the bullet has good terminal performance even on wild hogs in the hundreds of pounds.
No surprise here. The tried and true bullet and load to get the most accuracy out of an AR15. The Sierra 53 gr flat base HP. Match or milspec barrel and chamber. At ranges from 0 to 300 you can see what your gun’s barrel is made of with this load.
This is a fairly new load and bullet. It is the new ELD bullet that has replaced the older A-max from hornady. The 73gr bullet is still a bit long and I have my doubts about it working in a true 1/9 twist even if the weight makes it seem like it would. it is after all the length not the weight. I have to say I think its a lot easier to load this bullet. I always found the 75 gr A-max bullets really finicky about seating depth.
I did shoot some sierra 77gr HPBT matchkings and they shot as well as the 69s but I apparently forgot to take a picture of them. Like an idiot .
Last we have the twenty round group at 200 yards. I used the 69s only because I had 20 of those left with me. And some out there thinking of buying the gun may still have reservations about trusting the gun to shoot the 77gr stuff. So I wanted to show what it can do with the bullet weight that the 1/9 shooters stick to mostly.
That is 20 rounds, with one “flyer” that the case neck had split when it fired. I apparently let a case I had reloaded one too many times get into the ammo I took with me for testing, I make effort to stick with virgin cases or close when i shoot for groups for review but unlike obama, I am not perfect. That is a pretty good group if I do have to say so myself. That should make you feel not too bad about the 1/9 twist even if you won’t take my word that the colt twist is actually faster or some gun counter expert tells you some half backed story. I wouldn’t feel a bit shorted if this was the bullet I was actually stuck with using.
On another side note, all the thinking about 1/9 twists got me thinking about what bullets a person could use if denied the ability to use the 75-80gr stuff that 1/7 twist excels with. I have started using the sierra 63 gr flat base and Berger 60gr FB HP and some others for a future article.
The Colt CAR-A3 HBAR Elite CR6724 is an EXCELLENT precision AR15 that you can buy straight ready to go. It doesn’t have a rail or some of the other new fad hand guard but for a gun like this, it’s not needed. Not everything has to have a keymod or rail on it contrary to popular opinion. I like the sleek smooth looks on this gun. If you have to have a tactical HG and or you want to use it for LE sniping or zombies or commies or what have you, colt does make a version with a modular HG that will accept mission necessary accessories. They even make a version with a 20 inch barrel instead of a 24 inch, which I have long though would make an excellent starting base gun for 3 gun use.
Part 2 will be coming and it will be about the rifle being shot for group and performance out to 300-800-1000yds as soon as I can depending on weather or unforeseen events.