5.56 Timeline

Colt Accurized Rifle HBAR ELITE CR6724

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.



Accuracy Testing Vintage Colt SP-1 AR15 Rifle

Back in June I shot a vintage original Colt AR15 SP-1 carbine  to see  what kind of accuracy could be expected from one in good condition.  The results  got me thinking about the  M16A1 and  the accuracy it could deliver.   Of  course the internet and  gun magazine experts always like to remind us how the original M16s  didn’t impress when it comes to accuracy and you should totally feel good about paying 400 dollars  for modern barrels.  After all  they do have everything man can devise to make them more accurate.  You got gold coloring,  chamber dimensions that are a hybrid of the NATO spec chamber and civilian competition variations,  different materials  and methods and every contour and length you can think of.  Aren’t we lucky that we aren’t stuck with those old crummy barrels from the 60s?

The SP-1, otherwise known as the Colt AR15 is essentially an M16 in all but the fire control group.  The barrel is the same as was used on the M16 series.  Like the SP1 carbine, the  barrel is the 1/12 twist chrome plated ( bore and chamber)  milspec barrel.   The twist rate means you won’t be using any pet 69 or 77 grain bullets, but they didn’t really exist in its original day so your choices were simple.

I put the gun up on bags and use the original Colt 3X scope I have mounted on the gun for shooting the groups.  I wanted to stay within what some one would have used at the time but wanted to be able to squeeze more out of the gun than irons sights would allow me.

Most of the ammo I used were hand loads I have developed over the years that  have always given me great accuracy from bolt guns and semi autos.  I did shoot one group using M93 just to see, but since I wanted to test what the gun could do, I gave it the best ammo I had.

The first group shot ( above) is also the newest load I have developed.  This is one I came up with about 6 years ago with the exact purpose of using the SP1 for hunting  by my Dad. He wanted to shoot a deer with the same gun he carried in Vietnam. I selected the excellent Barness TSX solid copper hollow point for a deer load and it performs.  The TSXs are long for weight since they are solid copper. So you even with a 55 grain bullet you may end up with a bullet a little too long for the 1/12 twist to stabilize.  The 55 TSX will work  fine as it turns out but I wasn’t sure at the time and the bullets are very pricey so i went the safe route.  You can see the 5 round group above, fired from 100 yards.

The next group is an old fav.  The Nolser ballistic tip boat tail  55 gr bullet is a great bullet that seems to be impossible to shoot bad.   It lived up to what I hoped in the AR15.  As I labelled the picture, its 5 rounds at 100 yards.

This group was a little  bit of a surprise to me.  Sierra blitzkings   have always been interchangeable with the Nosler  for me.  It is still nothing to complain about  but i actually thought they would out do the Noslers  for some reason.  Maybe I didn’t let the barrel cool between shots like I had the other groups or  who knows what. That was the last 5 rounds I had with the blitz kings loaded though so I couldn’t shoot a second group.

The Hornady V-max is a great bullet. A short stubby basllistic tip boat tail that you can get going pretty fast in a 556 because of the weight.  Like the Sierra 53 grain flat base HP its short length seems to made for use in an AR15.  It is another load I have been using over 20 years and it always performs.  It really was exceptional in the old SP1.

M193.   No shock here.  Maybe that it even did that good.  But its only 100 yards and that is a 2 inch dot.

The final group.   A full 20 round magazine  of the most accurate lighter weight bullet load I have ever come up with. It’s the load I use in my heavy barrel  223 bolt guns for  crow hunting and varmints. The 50 gr V-max is a great bullet and there is not a .224 round made that won’t shoot it well in my opinion.   I should mention it took me about 35 minutes to shoot those 20 rounds.  I had taken a long break before i started this group and gave it my complete effort and I think it paid off.

Now keep in mind, I did some warm up shooting with the gun and most of those loads before I got down to the “record” strings.   Since the barrel on the original guns are much thinner than what people are used to using now it has to be taken into account when you are trying to  get everything out of it you can.  It took most of the day to shoot those 6 groups.   Letting the barrel cool and slowly firing. Even using that 3x scope took a lot of effort, It is still clear and find but the crosshairs are not what you would call fine,  this being the reason i adjusted the rounds to impact below  my aiming point It was hard enough to see the dots from 100 through it as it was.    The trigger on the gun also was a great help since it is not the factory trigger.  The lower and the FCG  used to belong to a now long retired AMTU armorer and he  had worked the parts over in the 80s  before mass produced match triggers for an AR didn’t exist and not many people ever thought they would exist.   It is a single stage trigger that breaks so light and clean  that you would wonder if its even safe.   I have no idea how he did it  but I have not felt a modern match trigger for semi autos that feels better.  I can honestly say its the best feeling trigger I have.

So, those old barrels and guns aren’t so bad after all, assuming its in good shape and not worn out, shot out or pitted out.  Ammo selection as usual was the limiting factor.  I kinda like the idea of a  varmint precision AR with a 1/12 twist barrel now that i think about it.  Even if it existed though there would not be much point to it, as the 1/7 or 1/8 will shoot these lighter bullets just as well or so close  it isn’t worth debating but the 1/12 will not shoot the heavier more useful  bullets.



Colt Lightweight Commander Review Part 2 The Accuracy Test


I know it seems like it’s been forever ago since I  did the first part of this review , but a lot has happened.  Sorry about the delay for those of you waiting on this.

In the time between these sections I have had a lot of time with this gun. It has taken over duties as my every day CCW piece, replacing the XSE Gov model I carried for the last 11 years.  That is how much I have grown to love it and trust it.   Believe me, replacing the Colt XSE was not an easy thing to do. Besides the quality and accuracy of that gun, there was a lot of memories and sentimental value that went with it.    Maybe that  was the final reasons I did put it in semi retirement as a constant carry  gun.

While shooting it these months I really appreciate the new dual recoil spring system colt has started using in all of their pistols.  No, it’s not some complicated thing if that’s what you are thinking, just a spring in a spring that can be easily taken out for cleaning just like normal. Its the same setup in the M45A1 and Delta Elites.   It does really well softening recoil on hotter rounds like the 10mm, and on the light weight frame commander it helps a lot with hot rounds I like to use for carry like the Corbon +P  solid copper hollow points.

I fired all my stand by accuracy loads in the commander to test it for groups and one ball round loading just to see,

Groups were fired from a bench with bags, slow fire as is my usual method.    I fired five rounds groups other than the 10 round group in upper right using ball. Only did this cause I had a wilson 10 round mag loaded with ball in my pocket when i went to do this. The ranger T load is upper left

These three groups are my carry load in upper left, my back up carry load upper right, which is the winchester DPX .  Bottom group is the excellently accurate hornady 185 match semi wadcutters.  A load me and a friend have been using for years for the most accurate handload we can come up with.


As requested recently, I have started shooting extended ranges ( for handguns) as part of my standard test and review.   This request was made by a reader curious to see what modern handguns could do if needed to shoot beyond distances most think of as normal handgun  ranges in the event of active shooter or terrorist attack. The idea being you HAVE TO made a longer shot for some reason, Maybe because the nut bag is wearing a vest that may explode and kill you if you are too close or the bad guy has a rifle and has ballistic advantage over you.   Either way, the testing has led to some pretty surprising results.   I may be paranoid and crazy but this has made me think it would be wise to start integrating longer shots into regular training  to prepare for that potential since modern handguns and ammo are up to the task with a shooter who can milk it.

First I need to say I did shoot at a man shaped paper target at 75 and 100 yards and  thought I took pictures of it.  Apparently I didn’t because I am an idiot.   Even more so because I burned the paper targets to clean up the area at the strip job we shoot longer ranges at.   So , trying not to litter means I can’t even go back and get the target.

I did take pictures of the 200 yard target.  Luckily.    The groups at 100 were so encouraging it made me try 200.  Bare in mind, it took me  20 or more rounds to get the right hold on the target, I didn’t just walk back 200 and fire for record.  It took some  careful hold and fire and see,kinda thing.   It is doable though and once I had the hold over figured out, it was repeatable. I used a steel gong to get the range down and after the record target we all took turns hitting the gong at 200.   This was a real revelation to a couple of the guy who thought a 45 ACP round  from a pistol wouldn’t even travel that far.

I used a 200 yard NRS bullseye rifle target.  Twenty rounds were fired and I got 8 rounds in the black. I only managed 14 hits total on the paper in the black and white.   Still pretty good I think if I do have to say so myself.

Obviously all shots were from a bench and bags not off hand.  But with enough practice I’m sure a man sized target could be hit with a pistol off hand or from some kind of support like using a car hood or truck bed.

Selection of round used would make it harder or easier as well.  A hotter and lighter  165 or 185 would shoot flatter than a 230 grain bullet fired from a walmart plinking loading.

Making these longer range testings part of the review process has really got me thinking though.  I  have in mind to try some 9mm handguns with some of the hotter self defense loads to see what can be done I think the lighter faster round may show some impressive results  and a future article will definitely be a test of various handguns and rounds at 100 yards and beyond to see the absolute limit to what you may be able to hit if you really need to.

To wrap up,  Colt LWT Commander is super  nice and as I said is now my standard carry gun.  It’s weight and handling make it a real joy and it’s got all the accuracy I need.  It has had 1876 rounds through it this summer of all kinds  of ammo with no problems.   It has lived up to be everything I asked out of it and more.




Inland MFG/Bond Arms “Liberator” Test & Review


Earlier this year I received the Inland/Bond Arms  “liberator”   derringer pistol.   With Inland making a lot of WW2 era guns over the last few years and them teaming up with other companies like Ithaca to make others,  it isn’t a surprise the name was brought back as a homage of the old single shot pistol dropped in occupied areas for friendly underground forces to use to  get something better.

So now we have a sort of tribute to the idea.     You can see the  liberator is still quite big for a two shot pistol.  Here is is beside a Colt Defender, sub compact 1911.  This being the first bond arms pistol I had done more than look at as I walked by a display, I was not prepared  for how heavy duty this things are .

Inspecting the piece you can see that they are made very well.

Above is the roll mark and name.  A moniker that pays tribute to the original cheaply made junk gun that was a single shot.  No doubt the Inland’Bond Arms is made to a much higher standard  to say the least.

The wooden grips have a nicely engraved Inland Logo. Though the down side side is , the grips making shooting  sustained fire painful. The beauty is, if you fire your two shots, the guns are strong and tough enough to beat some one to death with it.

Attention to detail is impressive on these pistols.

The trigger is as heavy as you probably guessed considering the type of gun this is and what roles its meant to fill.   I tried on and off for a few months to really master it off hand.  The idea was to get  as good as I could with it and  fire it like I would if I had to in a life threatening situation.    I did manage to keep  all the shots on a  FBI Q target, at the ranges you would use a gun like this after much practice getting use to it.    But that didn’t demonstrate the accuracy of the pistol so i went to the bench and punished my self.

Above is 4 shots of federal HST from 10 yards off the bench.   The trigger is tough to master so it takes a lot of concentration to shoot a type group but the gun can be accurate.

This is a 5 shot group at 15 yards from a bench.  I would have done just four rounds but I pulled one and though I could do better, so I fired an extra round to make up for it.  Easy to get tired with this gun as it is punishing to shoot and the trigger is like bending a nail.

Last we have 10 rounds fired off hand at 15 yards.  This was still slow fired.  I never could get the hang of doing the two fast shots like the guy on the TV commercials.  I squirm at the thought of having to shoot that gun enough to be that good with it.

Bottom line is, the gun is very well made.  The company takes pride in these pistols and their skill at making them. You can tell that by a close inspection.    While had to shoot fast, they can be accurate.  This one showed much potential and if I was the kind of guy who is used to bog bore revolver recoil, I’m sure I could have done better for everyone with it.   I’m not though, and the wooden grips and recoil of such a small gun firing full power 45ACP rounds was more than I could take for long period.    I do see why the bond arms guns are popular with a lot of people though.  They are nostalgic and certainly finely made.