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.
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.