September 23, 2010
Les Baer Custom's latest AR has everything you need and nothing you don't.
Les Baer Custom is no stranger to the AR market. But until now, the majority of the firm's super-accurate offerings have been intended for competition shooters and varmint hunters. With its fixed front sight and removable carry handle/rear sight, LBC's new Police Special carbine is clearly built for a different market.
According to Les Baer, the Police Special was designed to do everything a law enforcement or defensive carbine should without adding any unnecessary fluff. I've always believed that a rugged, reliable carbine with good sights, a good trigger, and a weapon-mounted light is all you need in a defensive gun. The new Police Special certainly fits the bill.
The Police Special's controls are straight AR-15, but the quality of the components used to build it make the carbine a cut above production-grade ARs.
Like all LBC's ARs, the Police Special is built from the ground up with all Baer-made parts, except for the pins, trigger, and plastic parts. The Police Special starts with Baer's forged upper and lower receivers of tough, aircraft-grade 7075 T6 aluminum. The forgings are hard-anodized and precision machined, then paired up during the manufacturing process so that they can be perfectly fitted for the utmost accuracy. It clearly works, as my test gun's upper and lower receivers mate up perfectly with absolutely zero play. That's a good thing because that's the kind of fit and finish necessary to ensure each Police Special meets Baer's accuracy guarantee of one MOA or better with factory match ammunition.
The lower receiver has a standard, A-2-style pistol grip and a five-position collapsible stock. Controls are standard AR fare, except for the trigger, which is the excellent modular, single-stage unit made by Timney. The trigger on my carbine broke at a crisp, creep-free 4 pounds.
The Picatinny-spec upper receiver readily accepts standard 1913 scope mounts and accessories, and like I said before, the Police Special comes with a removable carry handle with an adjustable rear sight. The front sight is a standard, fixed unit.
The author says the supplied carry handle rear sight, when combined with a tritium front, is all you need to handle most defensive situations.
The Police Special's bolt and extractor are Baer's precision-made parts, while the carrier is a Baer mil-spec part. The 16-inch, M4-style barrel is button-rifled. It has a 1:8-inch twist for the utmost accuracy with a wide variety of bullet weights and is tipped with a standard A-2 flash hider. A bayonet lug is also standard.
The new gun is marked ".223," but according to the manual, the Police Special will digest 5.56mm ammunition just as well. While that is standard for most ARs, Baer's other rifles and carbines are designated as being for .223 only. That's fine for target guns, but Baer did the right thing by specifying a more versatile chamber for the Police Special.
Disassembling the Police Special was pretty straightforward, but the tight fit of the upper and lower receivers required Rodriguez to use a little more muscle than
usual to pop the disassembly pins.
The carbine-length aluminum handguard is Baer's own free-floating tube; it has two cooling slots cut into it at 5 o'clock and 7 o'clock. It also has four Picatinny-spec accessory rails around its circumference at the top, bottom, and both sides. Although Baer claims the rail is Picatinny-spec, I am not so sure because a few of my Tango Down Picatinny-spec accessories would not go on the rail. However, I had no trouble with several scope mounts or rail-mounted flashlights, so it is possible that my accessories are not to spec.
A Sweet Shooter Indeed
Les called me a few days before he shipped the test gun to tell me a little more about it. During our conversation, he mentioned that he had just finished shooting it, and that he was getting incredible accuracy with it. Needless to say, I was anxious to get the gun to the range, though I didn't plan on mounting the kind of scope I needed to match those tiny, half-inch groups Les was getting.
I started off with some 25-yard offhand shooting to verify that the supplied fixed sights were zeroed. They were, as evidenced by the tight, little, center-mass group I punched with Hornady's 75-grain TAP load. At 100 yards, my groups opened up a little, as I expected they would, but the gun was just about dead-on; most of my bullets landed at the top of the 10-ring.
Once I verified the sights, I removed the carry handle and mounted a Trijicon TA312RCO-M4 optic for the rest of my testing. The rugged ACOG is built specifically for the M4 platform, so it has an integral mount that clamps right onto the Picatinny top rail and a holdover reticle designed for the military's 14.5-inch M4 barrel. Though the civilian-legal 16-inch tube produces slightly higher velocities, the reticle should work just fine on the Police Special.
I got the ACOG dialed in fairly quickly before settling down for some serious accuracy work with Hornady's 75-grain TAP load. I suspected that the 75-grain load would shoot well based on its iron-sight performance, but I was thrilled to see the first five-shot group land in a tight, sub-inch cluster. Subsequent groups revealed that the Police Special really liked that Hornady load; its 0.71-inch average was very impressive considering the 4X optic and chevron reticle.
I also tried Hornady's 60-grain TAP load as well as Federal's 55-grain Ballistic Tip and 69-grain MatchKing offerings. All produced averages around 1 inch for five, five-shot groups, though none bested the 75-grain TAP load. Since I prefer heavy bullets anyway, that suited me just fine, so I repaired to the 25-yard line to begin some fast-paced drills to test the Police Special's reliability and close-quarters performance.
According to the author, the Police Special is a simple, rugged, and extremely accurate carbine that is suitable for law enforcement or defensive use.
Greg fired this 0.68-inch, five-shot group with Hornady's 75-grain TAP load. That's pretty respectable, but it wasn't the best group he fired. In fact, it was pretty close to the five-group average of 0.71 inch with that load.
Ammunition is scarce these days, so I couldn't test the rifle as hard as I have in the past. To make up for it, I loaded all eight of the 30-round magazines I'd brought with me and set them down on the 25-yard line. From there, I began a series of rapid-fire drills, including box drills and failure-to-stop drills.
It sounds organized, but in truth, there was no method to my madness; I simply wanted to fire all my ammunition as fast as I could to see if I could make the Police Special choke. I failed miserably, but the rifle didn't miss a lick.
Baer's newest AR is more affordable and a bit different in appearance than most of his other AR offerings, but it gives up nothing in the reliability or accuracy departments. As for its lack of fancy doodads, well, that's okay with me. The Police Special has everything I'd ever want in a defensive carbine.