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For the Love of Competition Competition Rifles

VLTOR TS3: Great for Work and Recreation

by Iain Harrison   |  November 29th, 2011 7

VLTOR TS3 with Browe BCO, Tactical Tailor rifle case and frickin' HUGE mag release.

In the last season of Top Shot, Chris Reed and I were invited back as honorary team captains for an episode where the players competed with a new carbine from VLTOR, the TS3. Unfortunately, other than plinking a handful of rounds into a berm, I never got the opportunity to see what the rifle would really do, so thinking it might be time to rectify that situation, I called the manufacturer and requested a T&E sample. The hardship I endure for my readers…

At work, I got a call from our armorer that a package had arrived marked to my attention, so I scurried on over to collect it. Wafting up from the cardboard box came that unmistakable new gun smell, and popping the lid brought back memories of southern California.

The specs on the TS3 are pretty much top-notch. Noveske barrel, Geissele trigger, VLTOR upper & stock, MPI bolt, etc, etc, etc.  A good rifle though is more than just a collection of parts, though. How they’re put together is just as important as the individual components (yes, Century, I’m looking at you).

I’ve built more than a couple of my own ARs, so I humbly claim a little knowledge of the subject, and I’m pleased to say that VLTOR did a bang-up job on this one.

It’s a duty gun, rather than a competition rifle, but it’s probably the softest-shooting of the bunch. I’ve never been a fan of 16-inch, carbine-gas system guns, as they’re almost always over-gassed. The VLTOR however uses a mid-length gas system, which softens the operating cycle considerably and teams it with one of their own compensators, and while the comp isn’t as effective as say, a Rolling Thunder, it’s nowhere near as obnoxiously loud.

Supplied rail covers, BUIS and VLTOR compensator

The upper and rail system are welded together during manufacture, which makes for an extremely solid unit. It’s heavier than a lot of the free-float tubes out there, but its heft and obvious quality lets you know you could definitely abuse the hell out of it, and it balances very nicely. For those of us that are hard on gear, a little extra mass is comforting. Other quality touches include the reinforced sling swivel sockets, Gunfighter charging handle and Diamondhead backup irons.

Shooting the carbine was as uneventful as you could imagine: mag in, bolt closed, squeeze the superb two-stage trigger, holes appear in target. Repeat.

It ate everything I stuffed in the mags and ejected the empties about 12 feet to the right and rear. Best groups were shot with Sierra 77gr  handloads and Hornady Steel Match, both hovering around an inch at 100.

As a carbine that could serve as both a reliable and versatile duty gun for someone who worked in harms way, and as a recreational tool, this one is worthy of consideration.


  • WerkinHard

    Oh, look. Another AR-15 review . . . zzzzzzz.

  • sgt.ret

    At least this review went better than the one for the LWRC AR15 in .308 in this months G&A mag. After the first few shots, the author wonders "did I break it already?" Seemed to jam every time..the cause? They claim it was the surplus ammo he was using, switched to premium Federal ammo, and worked fine. How many times have we all heard this story concerning the AR15 platform? Why is it still the golden child of the shooting industry? A quality design should eat up what ever ammo you use (with in reason) especially mil surplus. Just an old guys observation. :)

    • MadDog2047


    • Steve

      Could not agree more. Many years ago, when I took my first M-16 apart, I wondered why (actually, I was astonished) some idiot had approved this system. It obviously was the opposite of proven systems that ALL had pistons in them to operate an actuating rod. This one was actually built to spew heat and filth straight into the action AND it was a miniscule area that could not afford any filth. Made me laugh at the ejection port cover. Injury added to injury, it was chambered in a fly speck cartridge. Seemed more like a system that was built AGAINST us by some commie. After all this time, there are now attempts to at least correct the "gas system". For the military, forget it. Thanks to our wonderful "management" this country is now BROKE and BROKEN.

      • WerkinHard

        The M16 did not win the contract for being the BEST candidate, but the one that met most requirements at the lowest cost.
        Why use costly materials for a piston and linkages, when you can substitute it with a cheap gas tube, reducing production costs thereby under cutting the competition, and significantly increasing chances of winning the contract? Then market the break open design as a cleaning feature.
        That is one thing you never hear in a AR review (unless it is a piston driven action) is the time the author spent cleaning it after a few hundred rounds of mil-spec ammo at the range. Talking armory IG clean, not just wiping down the bolt and punching the bore.

  • GEO

    Hell…all they need is oil…oil…and MORE OIL!!!

  • 21stCentury

    No need to worry guys, as they won't work with black powder and mini balls, so you won't have to deal with them.

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