AR-15 Review: Del-Ton Tapco

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A reliable rifle, but one thing I’d have to change is the SAW-shape grip. As you can see, the extra length and swell doesn’t do anything for my grip.
A reliable rifle, but one thing I’d have to change is the SAW-shape grip. As you can see, the extra length and swell doesn’t do anything for my grip.

by Patrick Sweeney

There are those who spend an inordinate amount of time producing lists that rank items. The top 10 this, the bottom ten that, the “good” the “bad” and the “ugly.” Okay, that last one is a movie, but even movies get ranked. In the AR-verse, those who rank go to a lot of trouble to rank rifles and producers. Woe to the manufacturer who does not make the top of such lists.

Combining with Tapco, Del-Ton offers a nicely-spec’d rifle that is a good starting point. Or just a good rifle, period.
Combining with Tapco, Del-Ton offers a nicely-spec’d rifle that is a good starting point. Or just a good rifle, period.

Well, there are makers of ARs you should avoid. But a lot of the talk is based on assumptions, small sample sizes and just plain “I had a bad rifle, so they are all bad” reasoning.

I’ve wanted to investigate the Del-Ton rifle line, but I never managed to get around to it, until now. And in case you haven’t made the connection, Del-Ton is one of the companies that some list makers love to hate. The Del-Ton carbine sent to me is a collaboration between Del-Ton and Tapco.

Located in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, Del-Ton offers a huge array of rifles and carbines, as well as parts for them, accessories and all the mouth-watering goodies you could ever wish to bolt to your AR. Many of the items they list are made by manufacturers who are on the tops of lists of “good” ARs, so it is kind of hard to square that with “Del-Ton isn’t good” venom.

Tapco comes in for its share (fair or not) of dislike, and again, I can’t see it. Sure, they may use different polymers, formulations that won’t stand up well to NATO-spec chemical, biological and radiation warfare decontamination. Do you really need that? And if you do, let me know where you live, so I can stay the heck away.

Marked with the Del-Ton logo, a stylized DTI, and with the flat-top 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, direct gas impingement with a 16” barrel complete with M4/203 barrel cut, and a fixed front sight base. The important parts are all in the details. Not that the details themselves are always critical, but attention to detail tells us a lot about those who make an item.

The front sight is fixed, but it is “F” marked and the correct height for an M4 carbine. While the rifle as-sent did not come with a rear sight, any you would wish to bolt to it will line up correctly with the front sight. Some makers overlook this and ship a flat-top upper with a non-F height front sight, presenting problems in getting the thing to sight in. Not so with Del-Ton.