Colt SP1 Vs Colt AR15-A2

Hey, guys, welcome back. Today we’re at the long range with a couple of Colt AR-15s. In my hand I have an older 1971 manufactured SP1.

The SP1 is chambered for 5.56 or 223 and has a 20 inch barrel, it’s a pencil weight barrel. It’s a very lightweight barrel and it has a one-in-12-inch twist.

These guns are really, you know—cool guns. They’re lightweight. This is what the M16 was originally supposed to be. A super light rifle that would replace the M14 in military service in Vietnam.

Again, this rifle was built in 1971. It has a shorter M16—M16-A1 stock. You’ll notice it lacks a forward assist, which came later in 1967 as the M16-A1. Even though this gun was built in 1971, the civilian model rifles did not adopt the A1 feature, such as the forward assist, until much later in the product’s life cycle.

Again, it has that that pencil weight barrel. One-in-12-twist, and what I want to do this afternoon is compare this rifle, accuracy-wise, with iron sights, to this rifle.

This is an AR15-A2, Sporter. This one has all the features of the A2 rifle. It does not have a removeable carrying handle, so that’s more like the A4. The carrying handle is integrated into the receiver, but it does have the combat adjustable—both windage and elevation rear sights.

20 inch barrel, one-in-seven-inch twist. Slightly heavier barrel profile and the sights are slightly different than the SP1. Same sight radius, but the aperture is a little bit more precise. The front sight post is square, versus round, and honestly, I slightly prefer the sight fixture of the A2. Of course, I’ve been shooting the A2 much longer than I have the SP1.

This has a slightly longer stock, which is an A2 type stock. Forward assist, brass deflector, all that good stuff, but again, it has that one-in-seven-inch barrel twist.

I’ve brought out some WOLF Gold, which is Taiwanese 5.56 spec ammunition. It’s a 55 grain ball, over 3,000 feet per second in velocity. Fairly decent stuff. I can’t get 2 inch, 2 ½ inch groups, typically, out of it with a scoped rifle that’s shooting good.

We’re going to use this ammunition, iron sights at 100 yards, and we’re going to see which one of these turns in the best groups. The reason I’m doing that is because I’ve seen discussions on the internet where people say the one-in-12-inch twist barrels of the old SP1 rifles aren’t as accurate as the one-in-seven-inch twist rifles like the rifle you see here.

Some folks believe, falsely so, that the one-in-12-inch twist barrel cannot properly stabilize the bullet, and when I say a one-in-12-inch twist, that means the bullet makes one complete revolution every 12 inches of travel and flight, and the one-in-seven, obviously, is making 7 inches of travel every time it makes one revolution in flight.

…so we’re going to take these rifles out, shoot them at 100 yards, shoot a couple of groups and see which one turns in the best groups with the same ammunition. Not a scientific test, but it should be fun. Let’s see how they do.

Alright, I have five rounds of the WOLF Gold loaded up. I picked this stuff up from I’m going to fire the SP1 first. I do not have Eye Pro on, because, honestly, I can’t get a good sight picture with it on, so I do not recommend you shoot rifles without eye protection.

I am taking a risk in doing this. I understand that, but I don’t recommend you do it. Alright, first five shot group, SP1. Got the target cam running over here that’s recording the target down range, and let’s see what we get.

Alright, five rounds. Stringing them out there. Alright. Not the best group. Let’s go ahead and grab the A2, load up five more rounds. Have to run down range and reposition the camera here really quick, and we will fire a group out of this one.

We’re not just firing one group each. We’re going to fire several and we’ll show you the best that each rifle turns in. A lot of it will have to do with the shooter. Not just the gun.

Alright, run down range real quick and readjust our range so we can see the next target.

Alright, so we got our target cam adjusted to the new target. Five rounds of the WOLF Gold and the A2. This is technically a Sporter target model. Alright.

Let’s see how this one does.

Alright. I definitely like the trigger better on the A2, probably because I just broke it in more. Let’s see what we did. Hard to tell. Take a run down range and take a look at the target.

I wanted to give you the history on this A2, which is technically a Sporter target model, caliber .223. This rifle, you’ll notice, is missing a bayonet lug, and it also has a big hole drilled here in the receiver and is plugged.

This gun was made just before the 1994 ban, which was enacted by President Clinton. It was known as the Assault Weapons Ban. Colt was producing these rifles. They purposely neutered them without any directive from the government. They were doing it in hopes that the government wouldn’t pass the Assault Weapons Ban.

A lot of people got mad at Colt for doing that. They, again, took the bayonet lugs off voluntarily, they put this block in here, which made it very difficult to convert the rifle either legally or illegally into a machine gun. You can see the big block they put in here, and they weakened the receive, some folks would say, because of the size of the hole they had drilled and plugged in the receiver, but this gun is almost impossible to convert to, obviously, a machine gun.

Yeah, I thought that was kind of interesting that this gun was made just before the ban. This is not a ban rifle, this is actually a pre-ban rifle, and one of the cool features is it looks like it has a pushpin here in the front, but you’ll notice it actually has a screw holding the pin in place.

It is a pushpin, but you have to remove this screw piece, then you can push out the pin, which looks normal on the other side of the rifle.

Alright, so how did the two rifles perform this afternoon? Let’s take a look at the groups. We shot quite a few groups this afternoon with both rifles.

I’ve taken the best and worst group that each rifle printed. Let’s talk about the SP1 first. The best group the SP1 printed today was a 2 inch group. Five shot group with WOLF Gold ammunition.

Not too bad. The lighting conditions kept changing throughout the afternoon, and as it got darker, the groups definitely started to open up and we started to see groups like the next group. The worst group that the SP1 printed, and this one measured 3 3/8ths of an inch. That’s the worst it did. Five shots, 100 yards.

Alright, so how did the A2 fare? Well, the A2 printed the tightest group this afternoon, just 1 ½ inches. Three rounds, pretty much through the same hole here. I was really impressed by that. Now, that’s the best I’ve seen the WOLF Gold ammunition shoot ever, even with a scoped rifle, so I got pretty luck with that one. I was really happy with that group. 1 ½ inches.

The worst group—so the A2 not only printed the best group, but it also printed the worst group. The worst group was turned in by the A2 with a five shot, 4 inch group at 100 yards. I’ll guarantee you, that was all the shooter. This was when it started raining and getting dark outside. A thunderstorm was rolling through, so there you have it.

Which one of the rifles was more accurate? I think it’s pretty much an even draw. With 55 grain ammunition, they’re both capable of putting down similar sized groups, and that’s what it kind of boils down to.

In my personal experience in dealing with one-in-seven, one-in-eight, one-in-nine, and even 1-in-12 inch twist guns with 55 grain ball, I see similar results. I can’t find any empirical data that proves that the one-in-seven consistently shoots M193 ball type ammunition any better than the other twist rates that are slightly slower.

What I will say is the one-in-seven is definitely better suited for shooting heavier bullets. 69 grain, 77 OTM, things like that. We did fire off one five shot group with the Black Hill 69 grain match.

The one-in-12 inch twist SP1 and we saw that it shot about a 3 inch group at 100 yards, a little over 3 inches, which actually is comparable to some of the groups that we shot with the 55 grain ball.

What I did note, though, is that I did stabilize the bullet. The bullets did not keyhole or strike the paper sideways, so in the end, both rifles, about the same in terms of accuracy. One thing I did find is that—I’ve guess I’ve always known is that the A2, with its combat adjustable sights, it’s definitely easier to shoot at range.

It’s easier to dial in elevation. You have a drum here that’s marked, and you can dial it out to six—I think it’s marked out to 800 meters. I was dialing it up to just under six and shooting and hitting a steel plate that’s 24 inches in size at 500 yards. I found it very easy to do to repeatedly hit that with the WOLF Gold ammunition using the iron sights.

…so the gun is definitely well suited for extending those ranges where the SP1 kind of has a fixed sight, and you can flip your aperture over. You can’t really dial in precise elevation. The A2 definitely has better sights, but again, that’s a matter of personal preference. When it comes down to just raw mechanics and which rifle is more accurate, you know, it’s a tossup.

Either rifle, I think it more or less depends on the shooter than it does the gun.

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