I’d been wanting to investigate the Del-Ton rifle line, but hadn’t managed to get around to it until now. And now I find that there is more to look at in the AR universe than I had previously thought. The Del-Ton carbine sent to me is a collaboration between Del-Ton and Tapco. Located in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, Del-Ton offers a dizzying array of rifles and carbines, as well as parts, accessories and all the goodies you’d ever want to bolt on to your AR.
Marked with the Del-Ton logo—a stylized “DTI”—and with the flattop rail slots numbered and filled, the carbine is smoothly finished and deep black. No purple or gray here.
The rifle itself is your basic Stoner-style carbine, with a 16-inch barrel complete with M4/203 barrel cut and a fixed front sight base. But, as with so many things, the importance is all in the details. The front sight is fixed, but it is “F” marked and the correct height for an M4. While the rifle as-sent did not come with a rear sight, any one you’d wish to bolt to it will line up correctly with the front sight.
Some makers overlook this and ship a flattop upper with a non-“F”-height front sight, which creates sight-in problems. Not so with Del-Ton. It is also held on with taper pins, another good sign. The barrel has a 1:9 twist, which isn’t mil-spec, but it’s common, and the barrel has a 5.56 chamber—a detail that is critical. I used my Michigun chamber gauge to check it, 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 Tapco Flat Dark Earth stock is standard M4, but with a twist. It slides on a commercial-diameter buffer tube, while inside of it is an “H” buffer. The buffer-tube castle nut is staked heavily and in two places. I used to be more concerned with mil-diameter tubes, but now that just about everyone who makes stocks offers them in both diameters, I’m not so concerned.
Inside, the hammer is a modified (the top auto sear lug is ground off) M16 hammer, and the carrier is a shrouded (M16) carrier with the auto sear shoulder ground back. The trigger pull is proper mil-spec; you can feel the overtravel when you dry-fire, but when actually shooting, you don’t.
The carrier key is heavily staked, and the interior of the gas tube and the carrier are both hard-chromed. While the carrier and bolt are not marked as to their manufacturer, they have no machining marks; surfaces are properly bead-blasted before being Parkerized. The extractor spring is correctly installed and has the black insert in it. The feed ramps are M4, and the lowered ramps and the machining were done before the upper was anodized.
The Tapco Intrafuse handguard is rigid but not free-floating, with a full-length rail 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.
The pistol grip is Tapco’s take on the SAW/M249 grip. The angle is different from the original AR, and the grip itself is wider, with a taper toward the bottom. Fans of the SAW will love this one. I’m not enamored of the M249 grip, but when I was shooting I never noticed it.
Along with the rifle in a Del-Ton-marked hardcase came a pair of Tapco Intrafuse Gen II magazines, also in Flat Dark Earth. The mags feature anti-tilt followers, with generous gunk clearance to allow unwanted debris to pass, a 17-7 stainless spring and improved feed-lip dimensions that make the Gen II drop free even when loaded.
As it is lacking a BUIS, I bolted on an EOTech sight to do drills with and added an Insight ATPIAL to check sight-tower clearance and function. The ATPIAL cleared the sight tower—good to go.
In blasting a bunch of ammo through the carbine, I found only one problem: One of the magazines was not happy with a 52-grain HP load I find to be quite accurate. To be fair, this is a varmint load, designed to be a prairie dog tactical nuke and not what you’d use in a defensive carbine. Only one of the magazines had problems and only occasionally. Everything else fed flawlessly.
To check accuracy, I clamped on a 30mm Famous Maker 4-12X scope in a LaRue mount. What I found was that this particular rifle loves Hornady TAP 55-grain ammo. I would have to seriously overindulge in coffee to give myself the shakes sufficient to shoot a group over 11/2 inches in size. Most hovered right under one inch. The rest of the ammo I tried shot equally gratifying groups.
One detail I wanted to check was accuracy with one of the new heavy bullet loads. Some 1:9 barrels shoot the 75- and 77-grain loads fine, while others aren’t so happy with them.
The Del-Ton showed a bit of accuracy drop-off, but still shot well. I would have to spend some time with it to see whether the accuracy improves as the barrel breaks in.
I didn’t have a chance to go out to the National Guard base and thrash the little plastic “ivans” on the computer pop-up course, but I have no doubts that with the Del-Ton I could’ve posted more clean scores.