Savage MSR 15 assault rifle – the functional, strong and reliable replacement of M4

An amazing review of the assault rifle series Savage MSR 15 made by Viktor Litovshenko. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.


PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – Let’s start from the end. The true truth is that the Savage MSR 15 line is not the only one known for Recon. There is one more model (regular readers of our magazine, of course, know about it) with the name “very rare” for Americans – Patrol.

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Whatever is called by that name – from underwear to cars! The name itself, as it were, hints that this thing was created for the service, and the service one means functional, unpretentious, strong and reliable.

What else is an important criterion for a subject of official appointment? Of course, the price. Cheap and cheerful is about everything called Patrol. Especially if it’s a carbine. After all, the AR-15 for the police (and patrolling is their job) is, rather, a weapon of support, when firepower becomes the last argument, which happens extremely infrequently. And that means – to ride him in the trunk among things and tools … and at the same time not to let him down at the right time.

As for me, when choosing a name for Savage MSR 15 Patrol, the manufacturer was a little shy with the name. The characteristics of this model are not so significantly different from its more expensive and advanced counterpart:

  • .223 Rem caliber .223 Wylde chamber, universal twist 1: 8 ”;
  • the barrel is 16 ”long, the bore and the chamber are carbonitriated;
  • 5R rifling profile (yes, Savage Arms uses them even in the low-cost Patrol model! As mentioned in the previous article, this is a rarity even for bolt rifles – and then the budget AR-15!);
  • Classic Direct Impingement vent system of the same Mid-Length size;
  • chrome shutter group.

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As you can see, the main technical specifications of Patrol and the more expensive Recon are identical.


What are the differences? First of all, the Patrol gas-block is not low-profile – it is combined with the front sight, as we used to see on military samples M16 and M4; True, the fly itself here for some reason looks more like the fly of the AK – but we will consider this a figment of our specific imagination.

Just like the M4, Patrol uses a light polymer forend – but not the classic “banana-like shape”, but an octagonal, bumpy, from the company BlackHawk, all with the same M-LOK Magpool mounting system. USM Patrol – classic Mil-Spec, but performed by the same BlackHawk company. A trifle – but plus ten points to accuracy at least.

And what do we have in the bottom line?

Of the minuses:

  • the trunk is not hung out (though, the result of this “minus” still needs to be noticed – for which you will have to shoot very often and often, and this is a sport, not a “service” use);
  • a tighter trigger (although this is a minus mainly for sports; for service or combat rifles, a tighter descent is the norm, since it increases safety by insuring against involuntary pressing);
  • High fixed front sight (and this is a minus only when installing an optical sight).

The only detail that I do not understand is the lack of a rammer. The item is cheap, and everything is provided for it – but it is not there. This is clearly something of the author – from the series “the artist sees so.”

And now the pros:

  • definitely less weight;
  • a high fixed front sight (!), which allows the use of both folding pillars and military rear sights, combined with a carry handle.

In most cases, mechanical sights are used as backups, which the folding rear sight alludes to (the front sight is fixed and the rear sight is folding).

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Path to improvement

In principle, it is absolutely logical, based on the concept of a patrol rifle, that the manufacturer left a place for the installation of a collimator sight (now we have slowly got to the tuning).

Indeed, for short distances, the collimator of sights has not yet been better; and if there is a need for hitting a target at long distances, then for this purpose there are already specially trained all kinds of SWAT units that have “artillery of another system”.

Yes, a high fly is not a hindrance to the collimator. The ideal way to install a collimator is when the collimator point lies exactly on the tip of the fly (the so-called Co-Witness concept).

Almost all collimator manufacturers in the assortment have either special riser spacers for raising the sight to the “arched” height (Aimpoint, Vortex, Shield), or separate models of sights are produced that are immediately out of the box equipped with the correct height mount (Dong In Optical, EOTech, XD Precision … and again Vortex).

What else, in addition to the collimator sight, could and should be completed with this carbine?

It’s clear that anything is the “arch”. But is it worth it? As for me, this rifle lacks only … a belt. Not in the sense of putting a belt on the ass, but the most ordinary weapon belt. Patrolling / fighting with a carbine in the handles, to put it mildly, is inconvenient. Neither check your documents, nor answer by walkie-talkie, and any burger “stop” without interruption from service – no way.

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There are a lot of belts, as well as ways to carry carbines on this set of belts. My definite favorite is Magpul MS4; it is equipped with swivels like QD (Quick Detachable) – well, a brilliant thing! I personally use this second-generation belt (Gen2), and in a two-point form.

Here you can debate, but I came to an optimal scheme for myself: a two-point, where one attachment point is located on the butt, and the second on the forend, closer to the receiver. It seems that Savage Arms designers (or BlackHawk hardware from them) agree with me, because they placed the base for attaching QD-swivels on the butt and provided for its installation on a plastic fore-end – limiting, however, only to the seat on the fore-end, without base, but on both sides of the forearm. Installing the base yourself is not a problem, and the bases themselves manufactured by the American company GrovTec are on sale and are not expensive at all.

On this I would have finished tuning Savage MSR 15 Patrol. The collimator, the QD attachment base and the belt with the same attachment are all. We get a wonderful military / service / patrol carbine, and let the saved money go to consumables – shops and cartridges.

For many, the question clearly flashed through my head – how? It’s all? And the pens, and the lights, and the lasers? What do you want. If only you liked it – the carabiner will endure everything, since you can hang a lot of this stuff on the M-LOK interface.

Back to intelligence

It seems like it’s time to get back to my favorite – the Savage MSR 15 Recon.

The topic of the name of this model we have not yet disclosed. If Patrol agrees, then why Recon? This word is a common abbreviation for Reconnaissance, which means “reconnaissance, reconnaissance.” Intelligence service? Apparently, Americans randomly give names like Recon, Scout, Patriot.

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Although if I had in mind reconnaissance in the world of “arches” – then yes. I have already said and will repeat again: Savage MSR 15 Recon is the best candidate for the first “arch”, with which you can grow in any direction, both in tactics and in sports.

Immediately I want to answer a question that probably already arose in the minds of readers. Can it be made from Patrol Recon? It is possible – but not necessary. Even if we neglect the absence of a rammer, the absence of a back plate (I did not forget about it, just in the case of the .223 Rem caliber, such a back plate serves more as a butt extension than a recoil softener, which is still there) and the difference between the lower receivers (to the question of which of them is more beautiful, I will answer – of course, from Recon), then the calculator will ask: “Do you need it?” It will be necessary to change the forend, the gas block and the trigger. And the cost of this replacement will obviously be more than the difference in the retail price.

Why change the trigger, an attentive reader will ask – after all, in the magazine World of Hobbies: Hunting & Arms, No. 4 (74) for 2017, they wrote that the descent at Patrol and Recon is the same? Indeed, we wrote about this.

And they didn’t lie – since in the first batch of Savage MSR 15, which arrived in Ukraine, both models really had identical USMs. In addition, the gate groups were not chromated, but phosphated. Now, as I wrote in the previous article, the Rekons are equipped with an excellent two-stage descent.

So, tactics. In principle, the same tuning as for Patrol will easily turn the Recon into a fully official / tactical / military / patrol rifle. With the only difference that you will need to install a different type of base for QD-swivels – not threaded, but on the M-LOK interface. The manufacturer is the same – GrovTec.

Of the minuses – the mass of weapons will come out a little more than that of Patrol, and the front sight will be folding. True, the aiming line will turn out longer – due to the long cantilever forend.

At the same time, an optical sight will be quite appropriate for Recon. The folding fly in this case will definitely not “go into your eyes”, but this is not the main thing – the main thing here is a long cantilever forend and a hung trunk.

Such paired with an optical sight already provides a clear advantage over the unloaded, and a long forearm allows you to comfortably place the bipod – which, with proper preparation and the right cartridge, will allow you to work at a distance of 300-400 m and beyond.

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However, in a tactical application, I would still leave this task to SWAT units. And in sport, this is it. The main thing is to believe in yourself and not be stingy when buying optics. Moreover, in addition to the HiEnd-class devices designed for the most powerful rifles from, say, Swarovski and NightForce, there are many lightweight sights designed specifically for the AR-15, for example, from Vortex Optics.

The collimator, slider bases and belt are the most obvious and necessary tuning for the MSR 15 Patrol

That’s how smoothly we moved to the “sports” section – in which there is no and cannot be averaging, suitable for absolutely everyone. Therefore, we touch only on key points.

We start from the bow and move to the stern

Both Patrol and Recon are equipped with a classic army bird cage type flame arrester (eng. – “bird cage”). It’s not at all in vain that it has been in service for so many years – and it copes with the function of extinguishing the flash perfectly. If the MSR 15 is purchased for sports, then the standard arrester should, of course, be replaced by a full muzzle brake compensator.

Here, for extinguishing the recoil and reducing the barrel toss, of course, retribution will follow – a significant increase in the thunder of the shot. But your firing range colleagues will forgive you – it’s not just sitting in one trench (but it’s also possible to use a helmet for constant micro-contusions).

The choice of DTK for AR-15 is a limitless process, and if desired also endless; even in our market the proposed options can not be counted. My favorite (do not rush into slippers) – DTK from POF-USA. At its affordable price (unbelievable, but the product from POF-USA is one of the most inexpensive branded DTKs on sale), its small weight and modest size, this compensator shows excellent results.

Gas block. With Patrol, in this sense, everything is clear, but with Recon, not everything is so simple. For tactical use, the native is more than enough – even if you use a sound moderator. He, in principle, is enough for most sports. But if you are drawn to the struggle for a pedestal, then you can experiment with adjustable samples.

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Hanging barrel and long forearm MSR 15 Recon provide more options for tuning

Optics and other sights. Everything is good with optical sights – except for short-range shooting. Here, the use of classical optics will require lengthy training, so for simplicity and greater convenience, you can install a collimator. Yes, both optics and a collimator. Breaks in, do not hesitate.

In rare cases, the collimator is mounted directly on the optical sight itself, while autonomous inclined mount on the carbine is more often used. As a rule, the angle of inclination of the bracket in this case is 45 °, but recently arrows have come to an angle of 30 °. In 90% of cases, an open type collimator is used.

Free life hack – when choosing a collimator, pay attention to the location of its controls. If you are right-handed and plan to put the collimator to the right of the sight, then the controls located on the left side of the collimator will not please you, to put it mildly.

At the moment, the best backup sight is Noblex – statistics, nothing personal. No panic, Noblex is the new name for the famous Docter brand. Do not like the new name – try Shield SMS or RMS.

In addition, you can experiment, of course, with forends, butts, magazine reset buttons, recoil buffers and return springs, and even with bolt groups – how many AR-15 owners there are, so many opinions, not to mention budgets.

For me, for example, the native handle of the BlackHawk production is uncomfortable; would change it in the first place. And in the second I would change the cocking handle to an enlarged one. No one will argue that this is the necessary upgrade.

But there are times when, as they say, you won’t get away from geometry – unless with the help of “dremel”. There are spots even on the sun; There is such an unusual feature (I already hinted above) and the Savage MSR 15 Recon.

The shape of the lower receiver of this model (namely, the “author’s” rib above the trigger guard) will become an obstacle to the installation of levers for quick reset of the shutter lag. True, not so often such levers are installed. Those owners who want to install will probably find how to overcome this obstacle.

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I almost forgot. Among the owners of the Savage MSR 15 Recon there are also those who plan to participate with this carbine in competitions in target shooting (popularly called “high-precision”). Perhaps, this will seem to some to be an extremely optimistic statement – however, we will find out about this and tell a little later.


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