The Knights Armament SR-15 E3 Mod 2 Review After 2,000 Rounds
I’ve known the Knights name for some time now but haven’t really paid much attention to their rifles. I’ve been shooting the AR15 platform rifle since 2008 and usually had some sort of variant over the years. Whether it was a Bushmaster, Aero Precision, Smith & Wesson M&P Sport II or some sort of parts gun that I threw together. I’ve usually had what most call a budget AR15 over the years and in the spring of 2018,I decided to go all out.
Why the Knights Armament SR-15
I looked at PWS, LMT, Lantac Raven, ADM UIC, KAC, LWRC, and a few others. What mattered to me was reliability, durability, functionality, and pedigree. I quickly narrowed my choices down to the LMT MWS or the KAC SR-15. Both of these rifles checked most of the boxes on my priority list. I ultimately chose the SR-15 because of the changes that they’ve made to improve the old design. Changes like the proprietary E3 bolt, proprietary gas system, and proprietary barrel make the SR-15 stand above all in terms of durability and reliability. It’s well known in the high-end AR15 market that the SR15/16 rifle can go 20,000 plus rounds without cleaning. Doing this with minimal issues, just keep throwing some lube at it and you’re good to go.
My SR-15 Set-up
My upper is a 14.5” barrel that has a Surefire three prong pinned and welded to it using the URX4 rail. The SR-15 lower I purchased is an IWS lower that features the LMT SOPMOD stock and Milspec A2 grip. The A2 grip was taken off and replaced it with a Magpul MIAD as soon as I got it. I bought the upper and lower separate, so I didn’t have to file a tax stamp for the complete rifle. I wanted the SOPMOD stock instead of the Magpul MOE stock so the IWS made sense. As soon as the upper receiver showed up, I threw it on a registered SBR lower and set out to function test it. I’m glad I did too because I had issues with the upper right from the get-go.
The Dude's Note: A folding adaptor like this LAW Tactical folder would really bring the rifle together.
Issues with the SR-15 Before 1st Shot
When I let go of the rifle the QD swivel popped right out of the URX4 QD socket. I tried 3 QD swivels, BCM, Blue Force Gear, some unknown brand and all of them would pop right out. It wasn’t just one of the QD sockets either, it was both in the URX4 MLOK rail. I emailed Knights and they asked me some troubleshooting questions to narrow down the issue. Questions like what brands of QD swivels I had tried and if I had done any modifications to the rail. I explained that I tried three brands of QD swivels that I had laying around and that I had just bought the upper. They gave me a shipping label to send it back to them. Two weeks later my upper shows back up to my door and the QD sockets now work with my QD swivels.
First Range Session and Following Sessions
I loaded up a thirty-round mag with Federal XM193, took aim and started to send rounds down range. The first thing I notice while sitting at the bench is the recoil of this rifle or the lack of. The muzzle didn’t seem to jump up at me as most AR15’s had done in the past. Over the course of 5 months, I pounded over 2,000 rounds through my SR-15 using all types of brass cased ammo I can get my hands on. Full auto, suppressed mag dumps, some lube, no lube and sometimes full auto with a suppressor. The one thing that really blew me away was shooting the SR-15 full auto suppressed. Not once did I get gas back in my eyes or show signs of being over gassed. It appeared as if the rifle thrived being shot in full auto while being suppressed. Perfectly gassed while suppressed and unsuppressed while retaining almost zero muzzle rise is what you get with the SR-15.
The Trigger Pull
I absolutely love the stock trigger that the SR-15 comes with from the factory. When I looked at reviews of the SR-15 a lot of people said that the trigger should be replaced ASAP. I don't find the trigger to be as bad as people said it was with SR-15 being made. The 4.5lb two stage trigger made me think of a Geissele right from the first pull of the trigger. As I pull the trigger I noticed very little resistance and then hit the wall of the second stage. When the second stage broke it felt like glass snapping on the tip of my finger. The reset of the trigger was also very smooth and noticeable and the entire experience starts all over. So before you take the trigger out and replace it with your brand, give it a try and you might just be surprised.
Final Thoughts on the SR-15
The SR-15 surpassed all the expectations that I thought I had for an AR15 type of rifle. The unparalleled reliability makes me never doubt if it will stop working on me. The amazing tried and trued durability of this rifle reassures me that in a time of need it will not falter. The functionality of the SR-15 makes sense for the casual shooter all the way to the duty rifle of an agency officer. The pedigree that follows the Knights Armament Co. name is cemented by the Knights family, Eugene Stoner, and employees. Knights Armament Co. looked to improve the AR15 platform and smashed it out of the ballpark with the SR-15 E3 Mod-2 series of rifles. I truly think the SR-15 rifle is the best you can get in the over-saturated AR15 market.
Damn Josh, go cry a river that none of the rifles you own were mentioned in this article... Great job keeping it professional Chris, thank you for your information and feedback!
"I’m glad I did too because I had issues with the upper right from the get-go." So besides the sling swivel holes, what was or were the other issues. Plural case means more than one and your phrasing makes it sound like a big deal.
Proprietary bolt, gas system, and barrel--OK fine but how about some explanation beyond "proprietary". That is akin to saying the gun is super-wonderful because it is really expensive and some after market parts won't work on it. What make the new bolt better? What makes the gas system better? What makes the barrel better
Lack of recoil--nice observation but are we to believe it is magic? No ideas on why?
I appreciate your decision to make longer term assessments and subsequent reviews on stuff but the write-up needs to be more than "it's wonderful and proprieatary"
This unfortunately read like someone who spent a lot of money on something and needs to justify it to everyone else. I have no doubt that KAC makes great stuff, but saying it’s the absolute best and unreservedly gushing over it after 2000 rds just seemed fan-boyish.
Pedigree was mentioned a lot, and is a common priority of the brand obsessed, though it has little to do with a rifle’s performance. BCM and DD’s pedigree is short, yet most professionals choose this even when money is no object.
I don’t mean to sound like I’m trying to insult you, this is just an attempt at legitimate feedback from a new Firearms Rack reader. The way your conclusions seemed to be reached before you even fired the rifle (despite initial factory quality control failures), and then after a relatively short (though intensive sounding admittedly) firing session, gushed over it and saying how it is unquestionably the best....All that makes me personally less likely to click on Firearms Rack reviews in the future.
Please keep in mind that there are different writers here and each take a different approach to their content. The opinion expressed in the post is the writer's, not that of the site. Could Chris have a slight bias since he purchased the rifle? Sure he could, but that is the pitfalls of reviewing gear that has been purchased by the end user.
I personally believe that there are several brands out there that I feel can hang with the Knights, Sionics, SOLGW, Hodge, FN, some Colts, BCM, DD, and LMT all come to mind immediately.
What I can tell you after being in the gun media world for several years is that most reviews on other sites are done after a single range session and less than a couple hundred rounds. The fact that Chris put a couple thousand rounds through the rifle over 5 months is far beyond what you will get from any reviewer. Hell, even when I do several thousand rounds in a pistol and do a video or write it up, it is often over a two to three month time period.
I do appreciate the feedback, I hope that you continue coming back to the site and share your feedback so that we can be better. If you like, you can always email me at email@example.com directly.
All fair points and well stated. I certainly didn't mean it as an attack and hope it didn't come off like that.
I just meant to convey that with the seemingly (to me) unjustified conclusions about it being the best AR in a sea of extremely high quality manufacturers (like the ones you mentioned), it read like one of the gun magazines of twenty years ago: a paid or sponsored fluff piece to draw readers but with little to back up its spuriously ebullient conclusions.
Just my opinion, but I do think most people want to hear the requisite disclaimers, especially in a shorter duration weapon review. Statements such as "of course this is only a sample size of one", "I know this is far from a torture test" (or similar) go a long way, I think, to prove to the reader that the author is endeavoring to keep an open mind, even if they don't seem worth saying.
Did the author pay full price for his rifle from a dealer, or was it any of it provided to him gratis or with a discount? Was the ammo provided by KAC? Were they aware of his occupation as an industry writer? Was the rifle grouped for accuracy? If so, is there ANY data? Details like these matter in forming a big-picture impression of the tester's thoroughness, thus building reputations.
"It’s well known in the high-end AR15 market that the SR15/16 rifle can go 20,000 plus rounds without cleaning." I own LMT, Spikes, BCM, PWS, Sabre, Ballistic Advantage, DD and Colt AR15s, and I have never heard this. Cite a source? Its not supposed to be a peer-reviewed scientific publication, I know. But throwing a phrase like "well known" around implies your mind was already made up prior to purchase on the issue of reliability. Kinda like a Trumpian "Knights builds the best guns. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it."
I want to stress again that I am not trying to attack anyone, and obviously, I am an audience size of one (see what I did there?). So just my two cents on the type of article I personally am drawn to and more likely to show to friends - thus increasing your potential reader pool. Just feedback from a reader, nothing more.
Thanks for the quick reply, Patrick. A good sign from an editor!
"It’s well known in the high-end AR15 market that the SR15/16 rifle can go 20,000 plus rounds without cleaning." I own LMT, Spikes, BCM, PWS, Sabre, Ballistic Advantage, DD and Colt AR15s, and I have never heard this. Cite a source?
Garand Thumb IMO does the best review of the SR-15
Ballistic Radio did a thing a while back where they put 20k of Freedom Munitions through a SR-15 Mod 2 without any malfunctions or cleaning and saw 1.1" groups at 100-yards when the test was concluded.