Review of the HM Defense HM-15
As I’ve mentioned in recent articles, I’ve been bitten hard by the 3 Gun bug this year, and I’ve been acquiring some gear to make me more competitive in the sport. Earlier this year I purchased a new 3 Gun shotgun – the Benelli M2 3 Gun Edition. I also bought a new scope in anticipation of getting a new rifle to put it on, as I have up to now been using my Colt 6940P. It actually took me well into July to acquire a 3 Gun rifle due to Colt Competition’s inability to get barrels in and make more CRP-18’s. I then got to know local 3 Gun Semi-Pro Arlie Branham who introduced me to one of his sponsors, HM Defense. I wasn’t familiar with HM Defense, and as it turns out, they are headquartered in my own state of Ohio, and only about an hour drive from my home. After getting in touch with me, HM Defense invited me down to their Mount Orab Ohio headquarters and production facility.
HM Defense is a division of Luxus Arms – a manufacturer of extremely high-end hunting rifles. So doing upper echelon quality manufacturing is something that is baked into the DNA of HM Defense. I was taken on a brief tour of their production facilities (I was there on a Saturday morning so nothing was up and running) but it was clear to me that HM Defense isn’t just another “Me too!” AR-15 shill that has components manufactured by other companies and slaps their name on it. If you’d like to get a glimpse into their impressive manufacturing capabilities, have a look at this YouTube video:
After we took a brief factory tour (I visited on a Saturday so no production was happening that day) I had a chance to get “hands-on” with some examples of their products – I was blown away by what they showed me. These guys are doing their own billet aluminum receivers, as well as their own barrels. In fact, they’ve actually created an innovative integrated gas block/barrel design for the AR-15 they call the “Monobloc.” It’s a fascinating design and one which I think has strong military application. Every example of their rifles I handed exhibited the same vault-like fit between the upper and the lower, with absolutely no hint of play or “rattle.” Some manufacturers try to duplicate this ultra-low-tolerance fit by playing with the radius angle of the takedown pins which usually translates into takedown pins that you can’t pop out without a hammer in order to clean or maintain your AR-15. This was not the case with the HM Defense products I handled – the captured pins could be easily popped out without tools.
Finally, the time came to take delivery of my very own HM-15. I was tempted to buy one of the Monobloc HM-15’s (and would love to have one) however the rifle I was purchasing was to be a 3 Gun rifle and as such needed to have an adjustable gas block. So I opted not to purchase a non-Monobloc HM-15. It should be noted that the HM Monobloc patent includes an adjustable gas system version that I’m told will soon find its way into production. The rifle I purchased is essentially this variation of the HM-15, with a 16″ stainless spiral fluted barrel, and a full 15″ M-LOK rail. Here’s a look at my HM-15, complete with the modifications and parts that have been added for 3 Gun competition:
I have to say – the experience of visiting the manufacturer of your rifle, and shaking hands with the guys responsible for it was a unique experience I won’t soon forget.
The modifications to my rifle were made by my friend and Semi-Pro 3 Gun competitor Arlie Branham – he’s as good at working on guns as he is shooting them. Here are some range photos I took of the HM-15 after Arlie transformed into a 3 Gun masterpiece:
Before I dropped the rifle off to Arlie for him to work his magic, I did take it to the range to zero the Leupold VX-6 Multigun scope I purchased for the rifle. I didn’t even bother putting a bipod on the rifle – I just shot using the 30 round magazine as a monopod. To my amazement, the HM-Defense barrel produced sub-1 MOA groups from 50 yards – with just a Mil-Spec trigger installed! The HM Defense spiral fluted CrMo barrel produced absolutely amazing results. Here’s a target I shot from 50 yards which shows less than an inch between the two furthest impact holes:
The only thing I can mention as under the heading of “something to be aware of” (not necessarily a negative) is that there are some Magpul PMAG Gen M3 compatibility issues with this rifle. Let me preface this by saying that this issue is far from unique to HM Defense – POF, Noveske and Spike Tactical billet lowers have been identified as having this issue as well. The over travel stop (protruding tab) on the Gen M3 PMAGs can prevent them from being inserted into some precision AR-15 lowers. The Gen M2 PMAG is really better used with less expensive forged lowers, which is why incompatibility is being seen with high-quality, high-precision lowers. Again, I see this as simply something to be aware of – there are PLENTY of other magazine choices besides the PMAG Gen M3 (Gen M2 PMAGS spring immediately to mind which the HM-15 was designed to be used with).
I’ve had several range sessions with my HM-15 and even shot a couple of matches with it, and it’s been absolutely flawless. It’s proving to be an absolutely perfect rifle for me to use in 3 Gun competition – I’ll be doing a separate article on the modifications which have been made for this purpose. If you haven’t yet, you really should check out HM Defense – one of Ohio’s best kept secrets!
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.