AR-15 Review: Del-Ton Tapco

Del-Ton makes good rifles, even though some shooters are so class-based they won’t acknowledge any rifle not made by the “best” or “mil-spec” companies. Their loss.

Del-Ton makes good rifles, even though some shooters are so class-based they won’t acknowledge any rifle not made by the “best” or “mil-spec” companies. Their loss.

It is also held on with taper pins, another good sign. The barrel has a 1/9 twist, which isn’t mil-spec, but common, and has a 5.56 chamber. And yes, that is a detail that is critical, as I mentioned in the chapter on the differences between this and the .223. I used my Michigun chamber gauge to check, and while I can feel a little bit of rubbing at the rifling leade, the neck and throat are 5.56 length and diameter. Well done, Del-Ton.

The stock is standard M4, but with a twist: it is sand/desert color (aka flat dark earth), made by Tapco and so-marked. (And just as a small departure from my usual dispassionate, reasoned and detached observation, who the heck named this? I mean, “dark” earth? Where would this color be dark? Some place with white sand beaches? Okay then, in the Caribbean it is dark. The rest of the world calls it tan, beige, sand or worse.) The stock slides on a commercial-diameter buffer tube, while inside of it is an “H” buffer. While military-diameter buffer tubes are theoretically better, I’ve given up caring about which is which. Does it fit? Yes, this one does fit well. Then we’re fine. The buffer tube castle nut is staked, heavily, and in two places.

Inside, the hammer is a modified (the top, autosear lug is ground off) M16 hammer, the carrier is a shrouded (M16) carrier with the auto-sear shoulder ground back. The trigger pull is proper mil-spec, in that you can feel the over-travel when you dry-fire, but when shooting you don’t.

The Tapco handguard offers rail estate, albeit a bit portly for my tastes. But some of the shooters who tried it loved it, so it simply proves you should try things for yourself.

The Tapco handguard offers rail estate, albeit a bit portly for my tastes. But some of the shooters who tried it loved it, so it simply proves you should try things for yourself.

The carrier key is properly (read: heavily) staked, and the interior of the gas tube and the carrier are both properly hard-chromed. While the carrier and bolt are not marked as to the manufacturer, they have the typical machining marks that you’d see on carriers by any of the top-quality makers. That is, none, as the surface is properly bead-blasted before being parkerized. Obvious care has gone into these parts. If Del-Ton doesn’t make them themselves, they take care in obtaining them from someone who knows how to tend to details. The extractor spring is correctly installed and has the black insert in it.

The feed ramps are M4, lowered down into the receiver cross-section ramps, and the machining was done before the upper was anodized.

The handguard is the Tapco Intrafuse handguard. It is a rigid but not free-float handguard, with a rail the full length on top and bottom, and half-length side rails. The bottom and side rails have covers, while the top rail is left alone. You can leave it as-is, or take the cover or covers off and mount gear there. With the covers on, the handguard is a bit portly. But some like that, and if you find it is just a bit biggish, you can take the covers off. Me, I like to run handguards as small and trim as I can, so leaving them off would be my choice.

However, I left them on for testing simply because it makes it easier to keep everything together when it comes time to send stuff back. (Yes, I send stuff back. Manufacturers are not commonly in the habit of sending out expensive freebies, and in the early years I would get requests for the missing bits and parts, if I wasn’t careful to keep things all together.)

The pistol grip is one of those things that just puzzle the heck out of me. The Tapco pistol grip on this rifle is their take on the SAW/M249 grip. The angle is different from the original AR, and the grip itself is wider, with a taper out towards the bottom. Those that love the SAW will love this one. Me, I am not a fan of the M249 grip.

To be fair, while every time I handled the Del-Ton carbine while not on the range, I curled my lip a bit whenever I had to hold the pistol grip, when I was shooting it I never noticed what kind of grip is on it. Always go by what improves your score or performance and not what feels or looks good at the moment. And especially don’t go with what is “tactical” cool, or mil-spec. If it improves your score, it is good. If it doesn’t, it isn’t. And if it hurts your performance…..well, ditch it.

Along with the rifle, in a Del-Ton marked hard case, came a pair of Tapco Intrafuse Gen II magazines, also in flat dark earth. Tapco has continued to compete in the magazine arena, and the Gen II magazines feature anti-tilt followers, with generous gunk clearance to allow unwanted debris to pass, a 17-7 stainless spring, and improved feedlip dimensions that make the Gen II a drop-free magazine even when loaded. I was not to the stage of AR abuse that I later began, so I didn’t have a chance to abuse either the Del-Ton or the Tapco magazines.

4 thoughts on “AR-15 Review: Del-Ton Tapco

  1. Turnagin

    Why the sour grapes Jeffery T? Any rifle or parts are scarce right now and if you read the article the author states that the rifle was on loan and will be returned to the manufacturer. They make a great gun and is very reliable and fun to shoot and neither Delton or the author has anything to do with the inflated prices.

  2. rath150

    I have been trying to buy Del-Ton’s Echo 316 w case – can’t find anyone who has in stock – I’ll even take the sport or olne of the others if anyone knows where to acquire one let me know.


  3. wildbill65

    I agree.The DEL-TON was my first choice a couple of years ago when purchasing my first AR-15 type carbine,I looked it over pretty good and handled it,broke it down and the price back then was not to bad,plus it did not hurt to see that the weapon was made about a 40 minute drive for me from where I live at.The gun shoots great and I am very satisfied.Thanks for the review,now maybe more shooters will have a look at it as well.

  4. Jeffrey T

    Yeah to F-ing bad you cant get ANY parts or guns from this company. The author is snorting or smoking someting if he thinks any of these things are readily available for purchase. And of course they would supply him with a gun if ordered because he is the one reviewing it making them look good but for the regular guy like me who just needs an upper to finish for my oldest son I can forget ever getting that done brcause of the other companies buying mass ammounts of parts if and when they do become available or the person who is hoarding parts not for a personal build but to resel at inflated prices this article should address that