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Review of the Colt Competition CRP-18 GEN2

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Well, I went and bought another 3 Gun rifle.  To be fair, I had actually ordered the Colt Competition CRP-18 well before I purchased my HM Defense HM-15, but it took Colt Competition several weeks to get in their barrel blanks needed to complete their rifles.  So now I have two 3 Gun rifles…which isn’t a bad thing.  More on that later….

For those unfamiliar, Colt Competition is sort of competition and high-end rifle division of Colt Manufacturing.  I say “sort of” because the relationship between Colt Competition and Colt Manufacturing is a bit more complicated than that of a tradition company division.  A company called Bold Ideas out of Breckenridge, TX actually produces the rifles sold under the Colt Competition name, which is licensed from Colt.  The two companies work closely together and are very well integrated – Colt Competition’s website even has the came look and feel as Colt’s, and the two companies manufacture parts for one another.  But Colt Competition can do some things to meet the requirements of competitive shooters which Colt Manufacturing simply can’t do well on their own.

The CRP-18 is the flagship rifle produced by Colt Competition, and the “Gen 2” model is new for 2016 with several new upgrades over the previous iteration.  Here’s a look at the rifle straight out of the box, both left and right side:

FY7A2233-Edit-Edit-EditSpeaking of the box, KUDOS to Colt Competition for actually including a hard rifle case (as opposed to simply a cardboard box) with their rifles.  This is a premium product and as such deserves to premium packaging which has much more utility than the cardboard boxes sitting in a closet in my basement:

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The Colt “Pro” CRP-18 is not just another pretty rifle – it’s Colt’s flagship competition rifle. It’s all about features and performance: competition ready, right out of the box!  The CRP is currently in its fourth year of production and has become a favorite choice on the 3 Gun circuit.  The CRP-18 has been revamped for 2016 and this “Gen 2” iteration has several changes from previous models.  Here’s what the Colt Competition CRP-18 brings to the table:

MSRP: $1,999
Caliber: .223 Remington
Barrel Length (in.): 18″
Bore: 1 Turn in 8”, Button-Rifled, 6-Groove, R.H. Twist
Front Sight: None
Rear Sight: None
Extended Length: ~38.10”
Collapsed Length: ~37.00
Weight: ~7.00 lb Without Mag.
Action: RIFLE-Length Adjustable Gas System
Finish: Matte Black

CRP 18 Special Features

  • Guaranteed SUB-MOA Accuracy
  • Triple Chamber Steel Muzzle-Brake
  • Tool-Less Adjustable Gas System
  • Extended Charging Handle
  • Polished 18″ HBAR 416R Stainless Steel .223 Barrel
  • M-LOK 15″ Aluminum-Alloy Float-Tube Handguard
  • Magpul Enlarged Trigger Guard
  • Magpul 30-rd P-Mag
  • CMC 3.5 lb Drop in Match Trigger
  • Ergo Tactical Beavertail Grip
  • Luth Adjustable Rifle Stock

In terms of the main differences between the Gen 2 CRP-18 and the previous model, there appears to be three main changes.  The biggest is the replacement of the Magpul CTR stock with the Luth Adjustable Rifle Stock.  This is a pretty big upgrade as the Luth-AR MBA stock is upwards of $100.00 more in retail price.  It does add quite a bit more in weight (9.3 oz. for the CTR vs. 26.9 oz. for the Luth-AR) but you get a lot of added capability – particularly for precision shooting.  So from my perspective, two thumbs up on the new Luth-AR stock.

FY7A2246-EditAnother nice upgrade from the previous generation CRP-18 is the grip – the previous Magpul MOE has been replaced with an Ergo Tactical Deluxe grip.  The Ergo grip retails for about $43.00 vs. about $20.00 for the Magpul MOE, so this can be seen as an upgrade.  I didn’t think I’d personally like it as I’ve been happily shooting Hogue AR-15 grips for several years..but darned if I don’t like it quite a bit.  They say that this grip is particularly good if you have large hands.  While I don’t have large hands, the texture and “beefy” feel of this grip is fantastic.  It’s a bit more of a stretch for me to reach the safety, but it’s still quite manageable.

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The other major change is the loss of the Geissele Super 3 Gun (S3G) trigger from Gen 1 in favor of the CMC Match Trigger in Gen 2.  At the retail level, the Geissele Super 3 Gun is a $250.00 trigger, while the CMC trigger is $195.00.  Having tried the CMC trigger, I wasn’t thrilled.  It’s not a bad trigger per se –  as single-stage triggers go, it has a crisp break at about 3.5 lbs.  For precision shooting, it would be fine, but for “stand and deliver” 3 Gun stages that are close up and require rapid fire, I wouldn’t use this trigger as I found that I could “outrun” the trigger.  This isn’t a huge deal as triggers are an extremely personal choice, and there are a ton to choose from.  Putting a single trigger on this rifle from the factory that everyone will be happy with just isn’t going to happen.  My trigger of choice for shooting 3 Gun is the Elftman Tactical 3 Gun Trigger which was installed after I found the CMC Match Trigger to be not to my liking:

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Once I got the rifle home, I mounted an Aero Precision ultra-light weight scope mount, and installed a Leupold VX-6 1-6x Multigun scope.  Here’s a photo of the race-ready rifle:

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Colt Competition proudly advertises this rifle as having “sub 1 MOA” accuracy.  In fact, when it’s test fired at the factory (by a human and not in some sled machine set up) the test target is signed, laminated and sent with the rifle:

target

It’s little touches like sending the laminated target which helps separate the CRP-18 from other offerings in the marketplace.  It really adds to the “special” premium product experience.  When I zeroed my optic at 50 yards, I got very similar results shooting plain old 55 grain Wolf Gold, using the 30 round magazine as a monopod (I hadn’t yet ordered an M-LOK adaptor for my bipod):

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I was pretty blown away at those results – this rifle is incredibly accurate and certainly lives up to the factory hype.

Once I got the optic zeroed, the next task was to dial in the adjustable gas block on the CRP-18.  The toolless adjustable gas block is a joy and literally could not be any simpler to use.  The purpose of the adjustable gas block is to reduce recoil controlling the flow of gas through the system.  If too little flows through, there won’t be enough pressure to cycle the bolt carrier group, and you’re left with a single-shot bolt gun.  On the other end of the spectrum, with the gas block wide open, the carrier group cycles just fine, but you have maximum recoil and muzzle rise.  If you can adjust the gas flow and subsequent pressure there are tremendous advantages – a large reduction in recoil, faster recoil recovery, faster sight picture acquisition between shots, heat reduction at the bolt, and a bit cleaner running.  My other rifle has a Seekins Precision low profile adjustable gas block – it accomplishes the same task, but you have to first remove the rail and use a tool to make the adjustments.  That’s not nearly as convenient – particularly if you’re at a match.  So the Colt Competition design is particularly attractive.  Once properly adjusted, the CRP-18 shot very flat with little recoil – no doubt the Colt Competition designed and manufactured compensator aided in this regard.

Besides the trigger, the only other component I replaced on the CRP-18 was the bolt carrier group (BCG).  The stock BCG was fine – a magnetic particle inspected (MPI) Mil-Spec BCG not manufactured by either Colt Manufacturing or Colt Competition.  I’ve been impressed with the race-ready BCG’s currently being produced by Iron City Rifle Works, having used the EVO in another rifle I own.  For my CRP-18, I chose their top of the line Black Diamond BCG:

FY7A2259-Edit-EditThe Black Diamond BCG has a proprietary DLC coating applied which makes it slicker, harder, and more wear resistant than a standard Mil-Spec BCG, and weighs just 6.9 oz.  Not only is the performance enhanced, it looks great with the black upper and lower receiver, and black compensator.

With a base price of $1999.00, the Colt Competition CRP-18 is a premium rifle that competes with a select few offerings from some upper echelon specialty manufacturers of AR-15’s used for competitive shooting events.  Many 3 Gun shooters will prefer to do their own builds, cobbling together parts from a dozen different manufacturers to suit their own needs and budget.  Still, for many like myself, one-stop shopping has its appeal – I’m not a very “hands on” mechanical guy, so the CRP-18 was a very good option for me in this regard.  For the most part, the CRP-18 is a no-compromises solution that will be a great option for shooters of every skill set – it’s one of the best on the market of a very short list of manufacturers.  There’s also the “cool” factor of having a “race gun” with the Colt name on it which sets the CRP-18 apart as well.  While the CRP-18 is set up to be competitive with any 3 Gun rifle task required of it, I think I’ll primarily use it as my long-distance gun, and opt to use my other 16″ 3 Gun rifle (which is also a tad lighter) as my run-and-gun close-up rifle.  As I mentioned before, having two rifles means having an available backup, which is a great thing in competition.  If you’re in the market for a high performance 3 Gun rifle, do give the Colt Competition CRP-18 serious consideration.

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About John B. Holbrook, II
John B. Holbrook, II is a freelance writer, photographer, and author of ThruMyLens.org, as well as LuxuryTyme.com and TheSeamasterReferencePage.com. *All text and images contained in this web site are the original work of the author, John B. Holbrook, II and are copyright protected. Use of any of the information or images without the permission of the author is prohibited.

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