By Bryce M. Towsley, Gun Digest contributor
Three-gun shooting is the fastest growing competitive shooting sport in the nation. As the name suggests, competitors use three guns; pistol, shotgun and rifle. Of the three, the rifle is called on for the widest range of use. A shooter might engage multiple close range targets very fast, and within seconds transition to precision targets at long range. I have shot at rifle targets from as close as 18 inches to as far away as 800 yards in a single match. The key is to do it with speed and precision, as the guy who hits all the targets the fastest wins the match.
For a long time competitors had to spend time and money to modify their rifles to make them suitable for competition. But rifle makers have noticed the growth in the sport and several are now offering “competition ready” rifles in their catalogs. Here are three that I have been lucky enough to test.
Colt Competition Pro
Colt Competition was started with the concept that 3-gun competitors needed rifles that were ready to shoot. The Pro model is the higher grade of the two Colt Competition .223 Remington rifles offered. It was designed by hardcore shooters and tested extensively at national 3-gun matches.
It has an 18-inch long, match-grade stainless steel barrel. The custom fluting on the barrel is unique and exotic looking with a series of interrupted flutes. The barrel is six-groove button rifled with a 1:8 RH Twist. The 1:8 twist is preferred by most 3-gun shooters as it will stabilize heavy bullets but also handle light bullets, so it provides the widest range of ammo options for shooters.
The gun has a .223 Wylde Match Chamber and uses a rifle-length gas system. This longer system is more reliable and smoother than a short “carbine” length gas system. It has the Colt Competition Fully-Adjustable Gas Block, which allows the shooter to tune the rifle to the specific ammo used. The result is a smoother action cycle, which can aid in speed and accuracy. The smoother the gun runs, the less disturbance on target and the faster the next shot can be taken. Those tenths of a second in split times add up in a game that’s won or lost by seconds.
Mine is an early rifle and came with a Sure-Fire muzzle brake. This is a very effective brake that’s also designed to attach a suppressor. The current rifles are being shipped with the new Colt Competition Triple-Chamber Muzzle Brake while the Sure-Fire is still offered as an option.
The Colt Competition uses a proprietary 15-inch floating handguard, which is the perfect length for the extended arm grip favored by a lot of shooters.
The upper and lower receivers are forged and machined for a precision fit. The upper is a flat-top with a Picatinny rail on top. The lower has the Colt Competition logo laser engraved into the side of the magwell.
The rifle has a proofed and magnetic particle (MP) inspected bolt. The charging handle has an extended latch for fast operation. Meanwhile, the two-stage trigger on my gun breaks at 2 pounds, 12 ounces; lighter than the advertised 3.5-pound trigger and great for precision long-range shooting. It has a short and positive reset for fast work.
The gun has a Magpul CTR 6-Position Adjustable Stock, Magpul arched Trigger Guard and a Magpul Grip. As you might guess, it comes with a Magpul 30-round magazine. The safety is a standard, two position AR-15 safety.
The rifle is extremely accurate and with the light trigger it’s easy to use for precision long-range work. The average for 12, five-shot groups at 100 yards with three different ammo products was just .9-inch. The best groups were .65-inch for five shots.
When shooting speed drills to test my time, my best effort with this rifle was 1.6 seconds, which is the second best I have ever done.
This is a gun that you can take out of the box, add optics and ammo and win matches. I know that to be true, not just hype; because I have several shooting buddies who have done it.
Colt Competition Pro Specs
Caliber: .223 Remington Wylde chamber
Action Type: Semi-auto
Receiver: Forged, precision-fitted with forging mark
Barrel: 18-inch, match grade barrel with a 1:8 twist
Magazine: 30-round magazine
Trigger: Geissele Two-Stage Match Trigger
Sights: Rail for mounting options
Stock: Grip, forend and stock are Magpul
Weight: 7 lbs.
Overall Length: 38.25 in.