By Scott Smith
What seems like a lifetime ago, I swore to uphold and defend the Constitution by joining the Air Force Reserve (AFRes) as a security policeman. That was in 1981, nearly thirty years ago, and several duty assignments in AFRes and on active duty in the Army.
The first M16 I was issued by AFRes was ancient; it had the birdcage flash hider, triangle fore arms, and no brass deflector. It rattled something awful. As I recall it could never really be cleaned it was so old, but it did shoot. No, it wasn’t match grade accurate, but I could hit a B27 target at 200 meters all day long.
When I went on active duty with the Army I was issued yet another triangular handled AR. This time there was a brass deflector, round enclosed flash hider and a forward assist; damn, we were moving up in the world. M16s set up like this would be the standard issue for my military career. If the fancy A2s with the round hand guards and fully adjustable (and might I add easily adjustable) rear sight appeared that would have been high speed in 1981 for many us.
Today we see our troops and police using a collapsible stocked AR15 dubbed the M4 with the A3 removable sight/carry handle and red dots and optics of every sort. The great thing about the M4 is that it gives you a 16-inch barrel and is compact in size. I always thought it would be nifty if someone designed a carbine of this nature but with a fixed stock.
Lo and behold, a couple years back Cavalry Arms (723 West Commerce Ave., Ste. A; Dept. GWK, Gilbert, AZ 85233, phone: 480-833-9685, online: cavarms.com) did just that. Cav Arms even went one better and made the stock and receiver one solid piece. I found the one-part receiver to be a great idea; since there is one part there is less chance of breaking the receiver. I have had M16s and AR15s break at the butt/receiver bolt, where the recoil spring tube is. Anything that reduces the odds of breaking a major operating system of a firearm is a good thing.
Another thing that using the one piece butt/receiver group does, it allows Cavalry Arms to use a polymer receiver that reduces the weight by one pound. This may not seem like a lot of weight; however, that is roughly what a quad rail forward hand guard weighs. These days it seems this is a standard fixture for an AR-style rifle so I’ll opt for reducing weight any time I can, if there is no sacrifice in performance of the firearm.
A feature of the one-piece butt/receiver that many may overlook is its length. The one-piece assembly is approximately 5/8-inch shorter than a standard M16/AR15 A2. To most folks this won’t seem like a big deal but, if you are shorter in stature or wear body armor, this makes a big difference in how well the rifle fits you. Out of the box, the Cav Arms Scout seemed to fit a wide variety of folks that I asked to see how the rifle fit/felt. I had a broad spectrum of people fondle it too from a 5 feet 4 inch thin built female, to a 6 foot 3 inch lineman built male. With the exception of my one shooting bud that has what seem to be 6-foot-long arms, everyone else thought the rifle was comfy out of the box.
One thing that everybody commented on was the pistol grip. The AR-style rifle since its conception has had a narrow uncomfortable-feeling grip. The Cavalry Arms has a much more substantial grip. It is well rounded and fits the hand well and feels good whether you are shooting with or without glovessomething that can’t be said for many AR grips. The grip simply felt “right;” all the folks who handled gave it two thumbs up.
Before anyone wonders will this one-piece receiver, grip, stock survive, the answer is yes. The two halves of the unit are vibration welded; this gives you a joint that is stronger than the pieces. If you break it, I am sure Cavalry Arms will repair or most likely replace it. The weld is so smooth the only place I noticed it was right along the front of the pistol grip and trigger guard. To me it is one of those things that rates as a no-biggie. There are seams on other pistol grips; I can’t sweat the little stuff.
The Scout is sized like an M4 carbine. This is great because you can use M4 forearms from a number of manufacturers to add a rail system to the carbine. If you don’t want or like railed forearms, the factory standard works great. Using the factory forearm will keep the weight of your carbine to a minimum.
Cavalry Arms’ receivers are made for them by Sabre Defense and are a standard flat top configuration. The Scout ships with a removable iron rear sight. The barrels are chrome lined with a 1-in-9 twist rate. To feed the Scout, one Magpul polymer magazine ships with it.
Overall I was impressed with the Scout. It felt good, handled well and seemed to be well made. I liked the Coyote Brown color of the hardware.
A rifle that looks as cool and as good as the Cavalry Arms Scout, has to shoot good, so it was off to the range to see. I gathered up some Black Hills (PO Box 3090, Dept GWK, Rapid City, SD 57709; phone: 605-348-5150; online: black-hills.com); CorBon (1311 Industry Rd., Dept GWK, Sturgis, SD 57785; phone: 605-347-4544; online: corbon.com), and Hornady (3625 Old Potash Hwy, Dept GWK, Grand Island, NE 68802; phone: 308-382-1390; online: Hornady.com) as well as some mixed GI .223 ammunition to see just how well it shot.
I was shocked; right from the box to the range the Scout was nearly dead-on for me. I needed to make a couple of elevation adjustments on the front sight but the Scout was quickly hitting the “X” ring of the Birchwood Casey (7900 Fuller Rd., Dept GWK, Eden Prairie, MN 55344; phone: 952-937-7933; online: birchwoodcasey.com) Shoot-n-C Targets at 100 yards. I like it when a rifle makes me look good.
The Scout showed no preference for bullet manufacturer, shooting them all well. I prefer the heavier weights and opted to battle sight zero the Scout with 60-grain bullets. I have found using this weight the point-of-aim point-of-impact varies less than an inch with 55-grain GI ball. With heavier 68- and 75-grain bullets at ranges of 200 yards or less the variance is also insignificant. No, I am not planning to shoot CMP, Benchrest, or even shoot varmints with this rifle. However, for 3-gun matches or personal protection I can run whatever ammo I have, and it will be sufficiently accurate.
What surprised me about the Cav Arms Scout was not only did it not have a preferred ammunition manufacturer, but it also shot all styles of bullets. Bullets ranged from standard full metal jacket to GI green tip to A Maxeven heavy match hollow points; no misfeeds, no jams; nothing. It was damn boring to shoot, which is a good thing.
Accuracy with the Scout was good. At 50 yards with iron sights I was getting 10-shot groups under 2 inches. Sorry, I have aging eyes and that front sight gets fuzzy. At 100 yards, 10 rounds stayed inside the 10-ring of a standard B27 target. I am sure this rifle is capable of sub MOA, just that my eyes with iron sights can’t do it. I hung my head when I admitted this.
On another trip to the range, I mounted a C More (PO Box 1750, Dept GWK, Manassas, VA 20108; phone: 703-361-2663; online: cmore.com) Tactical Sight on the Scout. This allowed me to see how the carbine performed. First I sighted the Scout in at 50 yardssaves leg work you know. With the addition of the simple red dot, the Scout was a tack driver, clover-leafing rounds at 50 yards.
Once I was satisfied with the 50-yard performance, I zeroed the C More at 100 yards. Using Shoot-n-Cs from the bench with my GI spotting scope, I quickly dialed the sight in. From there on the Scout simply shot great. I quickly saw a group that was in the 10-ring with iron sights shrink to under an inch and a half. Cavalry Arms has a rifle that will shoot and shoot well.
I would like to see Cavalry Arms offer a carbine/rifle without a front sight or flip up sight so you could mount a telescopic sight not just a red dot or 4-power ACOG so we old guys can shoot little glover leaf groups at 200 and 300 yards. Doing this would allow you to take the Cavalry Arms carbine/rifle from a 3-gun/personal protection weapon into a fine varmint rifle.
I was impressed enough with the Cavalry Arms Scout that I purchased it. I only have one AR and this would be the perfect brother for it. However, it needed a couple of items to fit my wants.
First I mounted a Meprolight (1 Lawton St., Dept. GWK, Yonkers, NY 10705; phone: 914-964-0771; online: kimberamerica.com) Reflex M21i sight on it. This is a fiber optic and tritium powered sight with an amber aiming point that works well in all lighting conditions. It is tough, fast and accurate. The sight I mounted on the Scout has been tossed into many range bags to T&E various weapons over the last few years. This M21i is trusted enough I know several departments that use them on the department’s or individual officer’s long guns. For all round use the M21i will fit my needs.
Next I like a railed forearm so I contacted GG&G (3602 E. 42nd Stravenue, Dept GWK, Tucson, AZ 85713; phone: 800-380-2540; online: gggaz.com). The reason I wanted to use this quad rail is the offset rail that comes with the forearm. I am not a fan of using pressure pads to activate a weapons mounted light and this offset puts a tactical light right where you can activate it with your thumb.
The other reason I wanted to use the GG&G is the halves of the forearm are secured with set screws, four of them to be exact. This ensures the forearm will not separate and that weight is evenly distributed when adding a light, vertical grip, etc.
GG&G also gives the user flexibility. You can use “smooth” inserts over the Picatinny rails if you don’t need rails all the way around or you don’t use a vertical grip; I know how yesterday to not use one. Simply GG&G allows you to adapt their equipment to your needs, something others don’t; and I like that feature. Little intangibles like this make all the difference in the world and GG&G is thinking of them.
The next add-on was a light. Since I don’t need one all the time I wanted one that offered useful light out to fifty or so yards and is easy on/off. The perfect light for this use Blackhawk’s (6160 Commander Pkwy., Dept GWK, Norfolk, VA 23502; phone: 757-436-3101; online: blackhawk.com) Xiphos. It is a 3-volt battery (1 CR123A), has a 65 lumen output and runs for over two hours.
Unlike other lights on the market, the Xiphos uses a toggle to lock the light to the rail. This means all you have to do is flip it on and flip it off; that fast.
The light operates on a small throw lever that rests right at my thumb when a vertical grip is used. So not only does the light mount quickly but it is easy to operate and it weighs 2.6 ounces.
Since I like a vertical grip, I mounted a Command Arms Accessories (76 Vincent Cir., Dept, GWK, Ivyland, PA 18974; phone: 267-803-1517; online: commandarms.com) Vertical Grip with Bi Pod. This is a polymer grip that mates to the railed forearm with a thumbscrew to secure it.
While the grip is beefier looking than others on the market it weighs in at a svelte 8.9 ounces. Yes other grips will weigh less but at the push of a button, this grip deploys a very useful bi pod. This little bi pod gives you a secure platform when shooting prone, or supporting the Scout off a shooting bench. A truly useful addition to a work or play carbine.
The next thing all long guns need is a sling. Since the Scout has a molded slot for a sling in the butt stock, and I am not a fan of using the sling loop on the barrel to attach a sling I contacted Brownell’s (200 South Front St., Dept GWK, Montezuma, IA 50171; phone: 800-741-0015; online: brownells.com) to get a quick release rotating sling mount that attaches to the forearm rail. This allows a three point sling to mount easily and the weapon lays flat across your chest with it. If you use a railed forearm, I recommend them because it will keep your sling flat and your rifle will lay closer to you.
For a sling I chose to use a Spec Ops (PO Box 475, Dept GWK, Monahans, TX 79756, phone: 432-943-4888, online: specopsbrand.com) Mamba. This sling can be used in a number of ways and adapts to most all long guns; I haven’t seen one it won’t work on. The Mamba has virtually endless adjustments to properly fit you.
I set the Mamba up as a three point sling because it’s what I have used for years. This keeps the Scout out of my way when I transition to a handgun, and locks it in when shooting unsupported. I like this sling well enough that it is on my M4 as well and an 870.
The very last thing I wanted to do was make all the stuff on my Scout match. When I say match I mean color wise. To do that I obtained a paint kit for Multicolor which is much like Multicam® from Lauer Weaponry (3602 129th St., Dept GWK, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729; phone: 800-830-6677; online: lauerweaponry.com) coatings, hardener and stencil to airbrush the Scout to this multipurpose pattern.
To do this pattern on the weapon it will take approximately a week to allow each coat to cure. If you use only one color on a weapon it is useable in two days; for hard use let it cure at least a weeka month is better.
If you are looking for a truly affordable AR that performs reliably, Cavalry Arms has one waiting for you be it as a carbine like the Scout or a standard 21-inch barreled rifle. You can leave it box stock or dress it up to fit your needs/wants as I did. If you have an upper looking for a lower, Cavalry Arms has that for you too, contact them on what your options are. No matter the choice you make, it will be a good one, and I am sure you will be one satisfied owner like me.