first published on August 26, 2021 by Josh Brooks[mashshare]
In the past, we have reviewed a bolt action rifle from Savage Arms. The capability of that bolt-action rifle really made me want to see what else they can offer. That’s why I jumped on the opportunity to get some time in behind the MSR15 Recon 2.0. This opportunity was afforded to me courtesy of Vista Outdoors at their latest media shoot out in Wyoming. So, I want to throw a big shoutout to them, and all of the other gun-writers who were present, for having Full30 out.
For the purpose of this review, we fired two MSR15 Recon 2.0 rifles with a Bushnell TRS-26 and TRS-25. I was able to get in the ballpark of 500 rounds total through two different rifles from ranges of 0 to 300 yards on the range. The targetry set out from 0-50 was paper, and from 100 out we shot unknown distance steel targets. All of the ammunition we used was provided by Federal.
Contained in this article, you’ll find a brief overview on what you should look for in an AR platform. You will also find an introduction to the MSR 15, my results with the two rifles out on the range, and my personal opinion on the MSR 15 versus the Daniel Defense M4a1. If you want to read more about Savage Arms, you can follow this link to read a previous review. I wrote a section of the article dedicated to who Savage Arms is.
Buying an AR15 is a whole process. Almost every company in the firearms industry produces one, and the quality of each individual platform can vary greatly. While I could, and probably will eventually, write an entire article just on choosing an AR15, for this article I’m just going to give you the quick down and dirty. This is specifically for first time AR15 buyers, but hopefully some of you will navigate to the comments section and add your two cents as well.
As with anything, the first thing you need to do is decide on your budgetary constraints. If you’re in the sub $500 camp, there is still hope for you. You might not end up with an out-of-the-box ready AR15 platform that you’ll want to carry into a gunfight like the MSR15 Recon 2.0 here, but you can still do pretty well for yourself. Once you have decided on your budget, the next thing you need to do is find a company you can trust.
You already know the big name brands by now. In the AR15 space specifically, I’d highly recommend checking out Daniel Defense, Savage Arms (Duh), Next Level Armament, Ranier Arms, Bravo Company, Larue Tactical, Noveske, and Yankee Hill Machine. I’m sure I missed at least one or two amazing companies there, but I’m sure someone will tell me down in the comments. If you really want to get into this process though, you can always build your own AR15, which is an entire article on it’s own as well.
Finding a rifle from one of these companies within your budget is your best bet without getting too in-depth. Like I said, this is just the basics. Here’s a video from Big Shooterist on why the AR15 is so popular.
The MSR15 Recon 2.0 from Savage Arms is the rare out-of-the-box battle-ready AR15 platform. It features a custom forged lower receiver that gives it an amazing profile, as well as a Nickel-born coated trigger and a free-float M-LOK® handguard. The rifle also features an upgraded Savage barrel with a 1 in 8 5R twist, and a Melonite QPQ finish to ensure the rifle remains accurate and consistent in all-weather conditions.
If you’re a serious shooter, looking for a serious rifle, and you want to avoid the process of building your own, this is a fantastic option for you. The MSRP price point sits at $1,119.00, which leaves you with almost an extra $100 in a $1200 budget to throw towards extras like optics and forward grips. The build quality is also fantastic in my opinion, leaving you with a rifle that will last you for many years, and tens of thousands of rounds.
Over the course of five days at the Silver Spur Ranch in Wyoming I was able to shoot the MSR15 Recon 2.0 at a variety of different targets. I had two rifles available for use, one with a TRS-26 Red Dot Optic mounted, and another with the TRS-25 mounted. Target ranges were from 5 to 300 yards, and we even took the two rifles out to help the Ranch with their prairie dog problems. Yes, I killed about a dozen prairie dogs with the MSR15 Recon 2.0, and it was fantastic. (Sorry to hurt your feelings, PETA.) We fired red box Federal American Eagle ammunition from the rifles, for those who like to know that kind of thing.
Overall, the rifle worked. That’s to say, with 500 rounds spread through two rifles over four days on the range, and an unknown amount of ammunition fired while out prairie dog hunting for a full day, we experience zero stoppages or malfunctions. The rifles were accurate, which is to be expected out of any modern manufacturing company, and it was of course quite an enjoyable experience to shoot because the ammunition was free.
The rifle itself was consistent to shoot. Shot placement boiled down to me as the shooter, which is always a bonus, and the rifle did everything that a rifle can to assist me as a shooter. Durability was never a concern as well, because the rifles we used got tested in the dusty atmosphere we were working in, and one of the rifles may or may not have even been dropped out of the back of a vehicle. This, if it did or did not happen, had no impact on the rifle’s ability to tag prairie dogs out to 100 yards with an RDO.
I’m going to run a little test here with the review in short form. Let me sum up the above paragraphs in one sentence for those of you looking for a quick answer.
In short, the rifle is consistent, accurate, and comfortable to shoot in it’s out-of-the-box configuration.
Just as Savage Arms intended.
How do I personally think the MSR15 Recon 2.0 holds up against the DDM4A1. If you’ve been following my musings for any length of time, then it’s probably no surprise to you that I am a Daniel Defense fanboy. The first rifle I ever personally purchased for myself was actually a Daniel Defense. I had owned and operated a number of firearms beforehand through gifts and the military, but it was an OG DDM4 that was my first ever personal purchase. Since that time, I’ve been absolutely in love with the brand, and their rifles.
Allow me to nit-pick for a second.
The MSR15, when put right next to a DDM4A1, only has a few minor differences. The rifles both fire like an AR15. They both work flawlessly directly out-of-the-box. Both rifles are incredibly accurate, probably more-so than the shooter behind them, and both rifles accomplish their mission. The only real major differences in function and form are the buttstocks and pistol grips, which is something that is easily changeable by anyone with 10 minutes of time and a little bit of experience.
I’m a huge fan of the DDM4A1 buttstock. So much so in fact, that I even mentioned it in the title of our review for it. That said, the MSR15 Recon 2.0 has a great Magpul stock on it, and these rifles are all made like Lego.
Where the MSR15 stands up however is the Magpul pistol-grip. Straight out-of-the-box, I think I’d need to hand the Magpul pistol-grip of the MSR15 Recon 2.0 the win. It’s comfortable, and just large enough to where I can get a perfect grip with it every single time. Like I said above though, these rifles are built like Lego.
At the end of the day, gun reviews come down to one thing, and one thing only. Do I, as a gun-writer, recommend this rifle to you, as a shooter? The answer to that is a definitive yes. While, I know I’m a Daniel Defense fanboy and that will probably never change, I can honestly say that my time with the MSR15 Recon 2.0 from Savage Arms was an enjoyable one. The rifle worked exactly as intended, and was quite comfortable and enjoyable to shoot. If you’re in the market around the $1200 price point for an AR15, and don’t feel like building one yourself, I highly recommend you check out the MSR15 Recon 2.0.
As always, that’s just the opinion of one person. Let me know down in the comments section if you’ve had a different experience with the MSR15 Recon 2.0 from Savage Arms. Also, what’s your thought process when you head out to pick yourself up a new AR15? Shoot a comment down there, because we love to hear from you guys and it really helps out the community at large when we come together with our thoughts and opinions.