By Brian McCombie, Gun Digest
What to know about the new Mk12CF Special Purpose Rifle:
- The Team Never Quit (TNQ) MK12CF SPR is a nimbler version of the MK12 Mod-1 SPR.
- It retains all the excellent accuracy of the prior model.
- A best group of .431 inch was achieved at 100 yards.
- The Mk12CF SPR comes in two models, one with a Proof Research carbon-fiber barrel.
- The other features a more traditional stainless-steel barrel.
Most Americans know Marcus Luttrell through Lone Survivor, Luttrell’s autobiographical book about his time as a Navy SEAL, and which was later made into the movie of the same name starring Mark Wahlberg. The central action of the book and the movie concerns Operation Red Wings, a mission by Luttrell and three other SEALS to find a top Taliban leader in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush in June of 2005.
Unfortunately, Red Wings did not go as planned, with Luttrell and his compatriots fighting a running battle against Taliban guerillas well before they found their intended target. Greatly outnumbered, the SEALS were killed one by one, except for Luttrell, who escaped by falling down the side of a mountain, literally, and was found and given sanctuary by a local Afghan villager.
When Luttrell retired from the Navy, he returned to his home in Texas and, among other things, continued to participate in three of his life’s passions: firearms, shooting and hunting. This led Luttrell to team up with friend and ex-SEAL Team member Garrett Golden. Golden is co-owner of the gun-making concern G2 Precision of Porter, Texas, and the two went to work on re-designing their duty rifle, the Mk12 Mod-1 SPR rifle. It was a fine rifle — very accurate and reliable — yet it weighed more than 10 pounds.
What they created is the Team Never Quit Mk12CF Special Purpose Rifle (SPR), built by G2 Precision. The Mk12CF SPR concept was to keep all the original rifle’s accuracy, precision and reliability, but with considerably less weight. Plus, Luttrell and Golden added a number of enhancements to increase the original’s functionality.
Recently debuted to the shooting public, the Mk12CF SPR comes in two models: a Proof Research carbon fiber-barreled Mk12CF SPR that weighs just 6 pounds, 11 ounces; and an Mk12CF SPR with a stainless-steel barrel that’s exactly 1 pound heavier.
As Luttrell said when the rifle was introduced, “This is the rifle I would want to take with me into battle.”
Less Beef, More Bite
I was fortunate enough to have access to both models of the Mk12CF SPR, among the very first production rifles, and spend a good deal of time with them at the range.
The Mk12CF SPR is chambered in .223 Wylde, so it can fire both .223 Rem. and 5.56x45mm rounds, and it operates on a rifle-length direct impingement gas system. Both models sport 18-inch barrels and feature the same set of controls.
Before the end of my first magazine, my initial impression of the rifle was that the Mk12CF SPR just feels right. In hand. On the shoulder. Over a rest. Part of that good feeling has to do with the relative lightness of these ARs, and it’s easy to forget this about the AR-15 rifle as it was imagined and created: It’s supposed to be fairly light.
Somewhere along its evolutionary path, the AR-15 got heavier and heavier, even as it became more and more popular. More metal. Longer barrels. Full-length handguards. Stouter receivers. What had been a standard 6.5- to 7-pound rifle quickly became an 8-pounder. And then a 9-pounder. Today, you can still pick from a rather large selection of 10-pound AR-15s. Often very accurate and fine shooting rifles, these ARs are still a far cry from what Eugene Stoner’s original design sought to accomplish: a reliable combat rifle that was nimble and rugged.
The Mk12CF SPR feels like the rifle Stoner created — with numerous upgrades of course.
For example, the mag release, bolt catch and fire selector on the Mk12CF SPR models each have a dimpled texture on the contact surfaces that makes them easier to use and manipulate than standard Mil-Spec options.
The full-sized Raptor Ambi charging handle lets you pull back the bolt smoothly and without the need for much force. The handle is easily reached, too, even with an optic mounted atop the rifles. The ERGO Pistol Grip molds to your hand, even when that hand is wet, sweaty and dirty, and the CMC Curved Two-Stage trigger snaps off cleanly and easily, and resets very fast.
The Mk12CF SPR also has a forward assist. Many AR makers are foregoing this, but I’m always glad when an AR I’m using has the assist. Shoot any AR long enough and hard enough, and you will find times where you want and need a forward assist. What if you don’t have one and are in a situation where pulling back at the charging handle isn’t an option? Then you invariably find yourself trying to push the bolt forward with all sorts of things definitely not made for the job, including car keys, screw drivers or empty brass cases. Your scratched up bolt will bear witness to what you really needed: a forward assist!
Accuracy In Spades
While in no way qualifying as a torture test, I did run more than 300 rounds through the two rifles without a single failure to feed or eject. I would also note that I used seven different types of .223 Rem. and 5.56x45mm ammunition, some of it made with high quality components, some of it not so much. The rifles handled all of it without a hiccup, and the bolt stayed open at the end of every magazine.
I shot approximately 150 rounds with each rifle, starting with the carbon fiber barreled model. Then, for my accuracy and ballistics testing, I switched to the stainless-steel barrel model and shot another 150 rounds. For an optic, I mounted a Leupold 3-9x40mm Mark AR scope on it, securing it with a one-piece Leupold Integral Mounting System mount.
I used three types of ammunition, all in .223 Rem., for my accuracy testing with the Mk12CF SPR stainless rifle: Browning BXV Predator and Varmint with a 50-grain poly-tipped bullet, Dynamic Research Technologies (DRT) Terminal Shock and a 55-grain HP frangible bullet, and Hornady’s 55-grain FMJ/BT load. All groups were fired at 100 yards from a sandbagged rest. The range was located outdoors; the day was sunny, with temperatures in the low 70s, with a light breeze quartering from left to right through the shooting.
For the five-shot and three-shot groups, the DRT ammunition took top honors. My best three-shot DRT group came in at .431 inch, and .866 inch for my top five-shot spread. The other two ammunition brands also posted numerous sub-MOA groupings, including the Browning load that drilled four shots into a group of just .463 inch.
Once the accuracy evaluation was done, I set up my PACT Professional XP Chronograph from Brownells, and fired 10 rounds of each ammo brand through the device. All three brands of ammunition came in right where you’d expect them to be, taking the SAMMI-rated fps velocities recorded with a 24-inch barrel, and adjusting for the somewhat diminished velocities you achieve with the Mk12CF SPR’s 18-inch barrels.
What’s the only thing I wish were different about the rifle? The compensator brakes. While they certainly work to lessen recoil and do direct the muzzle blast away from the front of the rifles, they also tend to direct that blast back toward the shooter. A couple of shots on a hunt won’t be a big deal for the shooter. But when you’re firing dozens of rounds at a time, the smoke and debris coming back into your face — and going into your nose and lungs — becomes quite uncomfortable and distracting.
And what about uses for the Mk12CF SPR rifle? Given its lighter weight and long-range potential, the rifle will be a first-rate predator and varmint rifle, especially for the hunter walking a good number of miles during a day. Those same features make the rifle a good fit for various competitive shooting events, too, and an AR platform is usually a solid all-around choice for home defense.
The Team Never Quit Mk12CF SPR rifles can be ordered from the G2 website at G2Precision.com or through select authorized dealers.
In Gunsmithing the AR-15: The Bench Manual, author Patrick Sweeney covers every component that makes up the versatile firearm — from buttstock to muzzle brake. This is essential information, given that the sea of potential upgrades available today can swamp even veteran AR users. Click here to get your copy.