Black Rifles & Tactical Guns

Gun Test: AR-15 Les Baer Police Special Carbine

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By Jay Langston, Gun Digest

Les Baer Custom’s Police Special Carbine chambered in .223 Remington was such a success that the renowned rifle and pistol builder quickly followed up with additional AR models in new calibers.

“The Police Special is a 16-inch AR that was designed to include every important feature a police officer wants but none of the stuff he doesn’t,” Baer said. “I knew there was a need for a high performance rifle that could serve as either a patrol carbine or a high-energy tactical rifle.”

Most recently, Les Baer Custom added a few additional high-demand LE features, including a new LBC National Match carrier, a new collapsible stock and pistol grip package and an LBC flip-up front sight. And, the Police Special is now available in three high performance calibers instead of just one.

It’s loaded with businesslike features, and it’s intentionally devoid of the accessories that distract from its intended purpose.

Some of the features included in the newest version of the Police Special are such things as the LBC forged and machined upper and lower receiver, and a chromed LBC National Match bolt carrier.

One of my favorite features is the removable carry handle, which of course incorporates a rear sight. It can be quickly removed to expose an M1913 “Picatinny” flattop rail.

At the heart of this rifle are a precision bolt and extractor, and a 16-inch precision button-rifled steel barrel with a 1:8 twist to stabilize heavier .224 bullets.

Its six-position ATI collapsible stock has an adjustable cheek piece, and the grip is ATI as well. The steel parts are bead blast blued, and the aluminum parts are anodized. Two 30-round magazines were included in the setup tested.

Les Baer Police Special Review.

At the muzzle, you’ll find a run-of-the-mill A2 style flash hider, but that’s where “standard” stops and the customization in manufacturing starts. This rifle features an LBC National Match chromed carrier.

“We have the patent on our carrier,” Baer said. “After the upper receiver is hard anodized it gets hand fitted. The little groves in the carrier keeps it centered in the receiver bore.”

One of the benefits of a Les Baer gun is the break-in process. Before it is shipped, every button-rifled gun is fired 60 to 80 times. After every five shots, the barrel is cleaned with Bortech solvent. That’s repeated eight to 10 times.

“On our single-point-cut barrels we average 120 rounds for a break-in,” Baer said. “It takes a lot longer to break them in. The break-in process seasons the barrel. You can tell a lot of difference on the long-term life of the barrel. If you don’t break it in they don’t group as tight, and after a thousand rounds, that’s where you see a difference. The barrels shoot tighter groups for a lot longer. It’s a time-consuming process, and it takes all day to break in just eight guns.”

All of this precision work wouldn’t perform to the standard of a guaranteed sub-MOA gun if it had a mil-spec trigger, so Baer added a single-stage Timney Match trigger group.

“All of our other guns have two-stage triggers, but nobody wants a two-stage in a patrol rifle,” Baer said. This trigger breaks at a clean four pounds.

Police Special at the Range

To run this rifle through its paces, I tested 10 different factory loads. The course of fire was five 5-shot groups at 100 yards.

Throughout the day temperatures ranged from the mid-60s to the low 80s, with winds from the north gusting up to 16 mph creating a cross wind. Near the end of the five-hour shooting session, the winds shifted to out of the west from the target to the shooting position and it rained for 30 minutes.

Changing atmospheric conditions didn’t seem to have nearly as big an impact on group size as did heat mirage coming off the barrel.

When the mirage got excessive, the weapon was cooled for a few minutes. Firing for groups was conducted with a Trijicon 5x-20x variable optic. Velocity data was recorded with a Shooting Chrony chronograph.

Les Baer Police Special AR-15.

While testing, I found that switching loads caused the first five shots to print larger groups. When I discussed this with the veteran gunmaker, he echoed the same findings.

“For some reason, until a load fouls the barrel it doesn’t shoot as tight,” Baer said. “I don’t know if it’s the change in bullet jacket material or change in powder, but it makes a difference. I shoot four or five shots off target with a new load before I fire a couple of five-shot groups and it shoots much tighter.”

After accuracy testing for all loads I swapped scopes to a Trijicon 4x ACOG, and an additional 10 rounds were fired with each load to measure velocities.

I fired an additional 150 rounds off-hand at steel targets at varying ranges. More than 500 rounds were sent down-range during this evaluation with only two stoppages, which was the fault of a worn out surplus 30-round magazine.

Ten factory loads were tested in the Patrol Carbine. Ammunition from Black Hills, Summit Ammunition, Federal, Hornady, Winchester and Silver State Armory was included. The top performer was Hornady’s 55-grain TAP load that produced a five-shot group at 100 yards and measured 0.515 inch. Loaded with the right ammunition, this rifle is sub-MOA capable with ease.

Les Baer Police Special Carbine
Caliber:    .223 Remington
Action Type:    Semi-auto, gas impingement
Receiver:    Anodized, blue steel
Barrel:    1:8 twist, 16.25”, button rifled
Magazine:    2 30-shot magazines
Trigger:    Timney Match trigger group
Sights:    M1913 Picatinny rail, removable carry handle rear sight, LBC flip-up front sight
Stock:    Six-position, M4 style adjustable stock
Weight:    7 lbs., 9 oz.
Overall Length:    37 inches with ATI stock extended
Accessories:    N/A
SRP:    $1,690

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