Defensive Edge’s SLR15 Rifle: For Gunfighters, By Gunfighters

The author’s rifle has an SOC-C sling on an Eagle Industries Combat Integrated Releasable Armor System (C.I.R.A.S.) vest.


I first met Greg “Sully” Sullivan—President of Defensive Edge Training & Consulting—while attending an AR-15 armorer/carbine instructor course hosted at Valhalla Training Center. I came away with a wealth of new skills. I was also impressed with Sully’s opinions (a SWAT cop himself) on what should and should not be included on a fighting rifle.

Defensive Edge Training & Consulting (DETC) has taken the concept of what a fighting rifle should be one step further and now offers the SLR15 manufactured to their exacting specifications. Four different configurations are available.

Denny Hansen runs the SLR15 through its paces.

The SLR15 Commander Rifle™ uses a sixteen-inch barrel with a full-length sight radius and full-length hand guards. The full-length sight radius is very user friendly and helps many shooters achieve more consistent hits on their desired target. The barrel on the SLR15 Commander Rifle is covered by the handguard. Some consider a covered barrel a plus, because if the barrel is touched to anything during the firing process, the harmonic vibrations of the barrel will be interrupted, and the shot may not go where the shooter intends. Stock choices include a Sully Stock or a six-position collapsible stock.

The SLR15 Operator Rifle™ uses an M4-type contoured sixteen-inch barrel (14.5” for law enforcement) with relief cuts and short handguards making for a lightweight, well-balanced carbine. Stock choices include a Sully Stock or a six-position collapsible stock.

The SLR15 Entry Rifle™ is a lightweight rifle designed for close-quarters work. With its 11.5” barrel, this rifle is available for law enforcement only. Stock choices include a Sully Stock or a six-position collapsible stock.

The SLR15 Classic™ 20” features a twenty-inch barrel with a military A2 stock. The SLR15 Classic 16″ features a sixteen-inch barrel and a military four-position collapsible stock.

All versions are available with black, olive drab or coyote brown furniture with the exception of the “Classic” models, which are available in black only.

The model used for this evaluation is the Operator, with olive drab furniture and equipped with a Sully Stock. While I had planned on evaluating an SLR15 in the future, I was flabbergasted when Sully presented this rifle to me after my house fire with the simple explanation, “You need a rifle.” The rifle bears serial number SWAT-01 on the left side and the S.W.A.T. logo on the right side of the magazine well.

Standard carry handle and SLR15 carry handle. As can be seen, there are no knobs on the SLR15’s handle to hang up or tear flesh.


THE SLR 15

The lower receiver is made for DETC by Superior Arms. The receiver is forged from 7075 T6 aluminum and then hard anodized to military specifications. A grip enhancement similar to skateboard tape on the front of the magazine well offers a superior hold on the weapon when the magazine well is used for an improvised vertical foregrip.

DETC uses an Ergo Grip® with a slightly rough texture for a good grasp. The shallow “finger grooves” do not preclude use by shooters with unusually large or small hands. A plug at the bottom provides storage inside the grip. The Ergo Grip and TangoDown’s BattleGrip™ are my personal two top picks in aftermarket grips.

Standard on SLR15 rifles is an oversized trigger guard that permits shooting even while wearing heavy gloves. Yes, I know ARs have a flip-down “winter” trigger guard, but this design is much more practical. Additionally, it covers the gap between the grip and trigger guard. That eliminates the chewed up middle finger during extended use such as during a carbine class.

Indentations on the fire control are marked with a dot of red (fire) or white (safe) paint. This is not really necessary, but it is a nice touch, especially for beginning shooters using the AR-15 platform.

Finally, trigger creep can be adjusted with a screw for those who wish to take all the play out of the trigger for a clean crisp break.

The upper receiver, like the lower, is forged for additional strength rather than cast. An A1 type, the upper has a brass deflector and forward assist. The flattop upper allows the use of a detachable carry handle, detachable rear sights and optics.

The upper receiver is ambidextrous as SLR15 rifles have a milled charging handle latch on either side. Defensive Edge is the only manufacturer that offers this option.

Most knowledgeable shooters consider the standard A2 stock (top) too long to be efficient on a fighting firearm. The Sully Stock is a better choice.


While there are some true left-hand AR-15s available—including left-hand ejection—the bolt and bolt carriers of these weapons are not interchangeable with standard bolts and carriers. The problem of not being able to interchange these critical components should be obvious to anyone going in harm’s way. DETC offers a left-hand charging handle that is user-friendly to southpaws. With the addition of an ambidextrous safety and magazine release a wrong-handed shooter is good to go.

The charging handle used on SLR15 rifles, be it right- or left-handed, is the PRI M84 Gas Buster. This charging handle does not stick out far enough to hang up on other equipment, but can be manipulated with one hand.

Knobs to remove a detachable carry handle are normally located on the left side. This has been the industry standard for years. There are no knobs on the carry handle of SLR15 rifles. Attachment to the flattop upper is made by using a unique two-piece base, held together with screws fore and aft that go through the rail slots. The result is no knobs that can get hung up on load bearing equipment or tear flesh when operating the charging handle quickly with the support hand. Is this carry handle as easy to change as the standard type? No, but then again the carry handle is not switched out for optics very often while in the field.

The rifle uses the excellent, robust sight of the M16-A1.


The sight used on the carry handle is the A1-type—major kudos to Defensive Edge for choosing this sight. While the A2 sight may be great for target shooters, the elevation drum can too easily be twisted inadvertently with the result being a rifle that is not zeroed. The A1-type sight requires a tool or the tip of a cartridge to change the zero.

The aperture used in the SLR15 rear sight is a same plane aperture. The standard A2 aperture has a large hole for shooting from point blank to 200 meters, and a small hole for shooting at longer ranges. Many shooters, however, will switch to the small hole at closer ranges for increased accuracy. The problem with the A2 aperture is that the holes are drilled on different planes. Hence, if a shooter were to switch from the large hole to the small one, the point of impact at one hundred yards would be approximately six inches above the zeroed line of sight. With a same plane rear sight, the holes are bored on the same plane so there is no change in zero—use the large hole (“ghost ring”) for up close and personal shooting, and the small hole for farther, more accurate shots.

Standard equipment includes Falcon Industries’ Ergo Grip®. Also visible here is the oversized trigger guard.

The industry standard on bolts is a three-piece gas ring. SLR15 rifles use a one-piece gas ring with no gap.

A signature mark of the SLR15 is the extractor. It is chrome plated for reliability and durability. DETC uses a black, heavy-duty extractor spring insert which is denser and stiffer than the standard blue inserts. This insert helps keep the extractor spring in line during compression and expansion, and also adds tension to the extractor resulting in more reliable extraction. A “quad ring” rides on the outside of the extractor spring. This helps keep the extractor spring in line during compression and expansion, and also adds tension to the extractor.

Moving forward on the upper receiver we come to the barrel. SLR15 rifles use a Wilson chrome-lined, 1:9 twist barrel with a NATO 5.56 spec chamber. The 1:9 twist will adequately stabilize bullet weights from 55 to 68 grains. This was a good compromise choice in my opinion.

The chrome lining aids in extraction under heated conditions and is more corrosion resistant. According to some folks, a chrome-lined barrel also is easier to clean, though I have not truthfully noticed much of a difference between lined and un-lined barrels in this regard.

At the muzzle of the SLR15 is an A2 flash suppressor. While it is efficient, DETC will install other styles upon request.

This close-up of the left side of the receiver shows the one-of-a-kind serial number on the author’s rifle.


FIELD EVALUATION

I am a firm believer in having a sling on all long guns, so the first thing I did was to equip my rifle with the excellent SOC-C Sling™ manufactured by Blue Force Gear. This sling can be configured as a standard two point, single point or three point “tactical” sling. I set mine up as a three-point.

Ammunition used for the evaluation was Black Hills 68-gr. Match hollowpoints. I’ve used Black Hills Ammunition exclusively for years, and consider it to be the finest firearm fodder available. The round to round consistency is remarkable and after firing tens of thousands of rounds from Black Hills, I have yet to have a bad round—not one!

The trigger on my rifle was just a tad on the heavy side, but still very workable, breaking cleanly with no creep or overtravel. The trigger reset with a positive feel and click.

At a hundred yards I managed to fire a group that was roughly six and one half inches from sitting. While some may scoff at a group that size, I can live with it considering I was using iron sights and my eyes are half a century old. And frankly, while I hear about sub-MOA ARs fairly frequently, I have yet to see but a couple of folks shoot that well on demand.

Considering that I’ve made you, the reader, aware that this rifle was a gift, I was almost hoping for something negative to report in regards to its functioning—almost—to avoid any appearance of favoritism. However, the rifle ran through more than 500 rounds—without cleaning or additional lubrication—flawlessly.

Special logo markings are available on SLR15 rifles.


What would I change? Very little. This is a rifle made by gunfighters, for gunfighters and is very well thought out. However, there are a few things I would modify.

First, and the only thing aside from personal preference that I think needs to be addressed, are the two screws that attach the carry handle. These screws have hex heads and I think slot-headed screws are more appropriate on a battle rifle. Slots that could be turned with the rim of a cartridge would be ideal.

On a personal note, I will probably change the A2 flash suppressor out for a Vortex® from Smith Enterprises. The A2 suppressor is effective, but the Vortex is even more so. I may also change the standard front sight out for one of XS Sights blade with a white stripe, as I like the sight picture it gives me.

As is evidenced by my rifle, special logos are available upon request.

Would I recommend the SLR15 to others? Without hesitation.

SOURCES:

Defensive Edge Training & Consulting, Inc.
Dept. S.W.A.T.
P.O. Box 682
Anoka, MN 55303
(763) 712-0123
www.defensive-edge.net
Or
http://www.slr15.com

Black Hills Ammunition
Dept. S.W.A.T.
P.O. Box 3090
Rapid City, SD 57709-3090
(605) 348-5150
www.black-hills.com

Blue Force Gear, Inc.
Dept. S.W.A.T.
P.O. Box 853
Pooler, GA 31322
(877) 430-2583
www.blueforcegear.com

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