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 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.
About the Author: Patrick Sweeney is the author of many of Gun Digest books' best-selling titles, including Gun Digest Book of the 1911, Vols. I & II; Gun Digest Big Fat Book of the .45 ACP, Gun Digest Book of the AR-15, Gun Digest Book of the AK and SKS, Gun Digest Book of the Glock and Gunsmithing: Pistols and Revolvers, among other titles. A master gunsmith, Patrick is also Handguns Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine.
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