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Product Review Bushmaster Carbon 15

07 Nov

Earlier this week I purchased a Bushmaster Carbon 15 rifle. Essentially it is an AR-15 with a fully Carbon upper and lower receiver. This makes the gun right around 5lbs unloaded. When I first saw this gun I really liked it but wasn’t sure about the carbon receiver  So I went home and did some research, everybody loved the receiver but complained about earlier versions of the gun that didn’t have the forward assist.

The newest version does have a forward assist as well as other improvements in the ramping of the chamber. I then called bushmaster to confirm that standard uppers will fit and they assured me that its all standard except for the barrel nut which is proprietary. I picked it up at Cabelas for just over $600 and it included a hard case and a Bushnell red-dot scope. The case is less than optimal and will likely be replaced soon. However the scope is pretty great. For a red-dot it was easy to pick up, easy to adjust and held zero at least through my 100 rounds I put in it yesterday.

The rifle shoots better than me, at 50yds my targets were essentially one ragged hole. When I tried it out at 100yds it was not great but I blame that fully on the fact that I was using a red-dot with a 6MOA dot. Which meant that my dot was the size of the target at 100yds. For this reason alone I may swap out the red-dot for a cheap 3-9 scope but not sure yet.

This rifle will eventually get a .300blk upper for hunting season that upper will have a nice scope on it, which means that I might leave this one as the red-dot which will be superior for home defense and most applications at the range. The gun ran flawlessly with the factory 30round mags from Bushmaster. I picked up a cheap Thermold 20rnd magazine and that magazine had issues. So I immediately returned that magazine to the store and ordered a bunch of PMAGS. Once I get those I will run them through this gun and report back.

More full report to come after I shoot it more, and of course being that I bought this before the election I am pretty sure it will have doubled in value by the end of the week. This gun truly is Tactical Tupperware.




I have noticed that this post has been getting a lot of hits lately. Likely simply for the fact that AR’s are selling lot cheap beer on a Friday night. I wanted to convey how much I love this rifle. Its functionally flawless and runs amazing. Its easy to maneuver with and I really can’t wait to use it beyond the range. I think it will be a really great coyote gun and once I get a .300blk upper on it, the Carbon 15 should make a damn good deer rifle this fall. If you have any specific questions about the carbon construction feel free to leave a comment.


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  1. Gear review add on- Carbon 15 Rifle « TacticalTupperware

    November 7, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    […] I wrote THIS POST which is basically a quick range review of my new Carbon 15 rifle. Granted I still have only 100 […]

  2. Pieth

    April 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    I have to agree, good review. There are lots of negative reviews of the Bushmaster Carbon15 online – i think most are the older model. I have the updated model – bought 10/2012 and has forward assist. I have about 1200 rounds through mine, .223 and some hot 5.56 (green tip, PMC, etc) and its been flawless.

    The barrel is lightweight so does get pretty hot after heavy use. I’ve dumped 30 round mags as fast as i could pull the trigger and aside from the hot barrel its been perfect. With that i take care of all my firearms, so it’s always well lubed and well cleaned after shooting. Longest session was probably 400 rounds within 3 hours, no cleaning or oiling in between.

    I upgraded the handguard w/ quad rails, put on a better grip, put a holographic scope on it and a vertical grip. I cant speak to long range accuracy as most of the shooting i do is more tactical, but on a sandbag at the 100 yard line i had about a 4″ group over 20 rounds with 2-3 flyers, probably my fault. That was after about 10-15 rounds to sight it in.

    I really like how light the thing is. Im no expert but I’m happy with the firearm, 0 malfunctions of any sort. I paid about 700 bucks for it out the door, caught a good sale, and for that price i think its a really good rifle.

    • j thompson

      April 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm

      I ran in to aproblem with the barrel nut not being a standard size durring an attemp to instaul a free float quad rail. Wondering if anyone else has had this problem and has anyone come up with any good fixes.

      • warren douglas

        May 27, 2013 at 8:09 pm

        As mentioned in the upper review the barrel nut has a NON-MILLSPEC thread pattern. . You will not be able to use a free float tube that comes with a replacement thread on barrel nut. Great news though there are three manufactures that make a free float tube that mounts on the existing barrel nut witch is MIL-SPEC on the outside. Samson evolution is what I mounted on my carbon 15 in the 10″ model but you can also get one from Midwest industries and troy tec but be prepared to shell out $160.00 to $250.00 depending on the length you buy> keep in mind u will have to be very carful with the toque(30 lb.) you put on the barrel nut since they are prone to stripping. I had to settle for (28 lb’s) torque to get the proper gas tube alignment .DYI you will have to modify a vice block with a grinder to fit the carbon 15 upper and be carful not to twist the barrel because the centering pin on top of the barrel will dig into the carbon upper so I recommend using a barrel vice to keep the barrel level with the upper.

        The carbon 15 is very sensitive to stupidity. I believe most of the complaints about this rifle are from individuals who bought the fist and second generation model before bushmaster revised all of the problems.

        My carbon 15 : 1200+ rounds no jams, tight groups, and no problems that couldn’t be fixed with a little no how

      • Jerry Vance

        September 6, 2015 at 6:46 pm

        Bushmaster has a proprietary nut (their own size).

  3. matt olsen

    May 20, 2013 at 2:04 am

    i just bought one myself. shot it the other day. i like it a lot. i’ve heard of people hunting deer with ar15’s and i’m curious to possibly trick mine out to that purpose. any tips or suggestions, or is it worthwhile in the .223?

    • Brad

      June 16, 2013 at 9:36 am

      To Matt-

      Yes, it is possible to hunt deer with the .223 or 5.56 NATO, as long as it’s legal in your area.

      Being a 1:9 twist rate, this barrel probably can’t accurately shoot the 70gr and higher weight projectiles. That said, I have hunted white tails up to 200 lbs with a .223 bolt action with Winchester Super-X 64gr pointed soft point. No problem, as long as you can hit where you need to hit.

    • timbohan

      March 15, 2014 at 1:45 am


  4. marty

    August 30, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    I bought a carbon15 a couple years ago on sale on a whim. I own several ar type rifles and have my own range. I figured I’d let my girlfriend shoot it or whatever. I installed a hogue grip and an eotech and she loves it, I didn’t think much of it until one day I started messing with it and realized the damned thing outshoots my others especially offhand because it’s so light. I can consistantly hit my 12″x18″ gong at 200 yds offhand from any posistion. I’m breaking clay pigions off the bench at that range 9 out of 10. I did install a delton two stage trigger. Really think the super light weight is an advantage for quick offhand shooting. Problem is she won’t give it back.

  5. mikey

    August 31, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    just bought one from grab a gun amonth ago.put about 50 rounds through it and got a 223 wolf hollow point jammed in the chamber .had to buy a brass rod at lowes to hammer it out.never had that happen with an earlier bushmaster upper

    • DeltaFox78

      October 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm

      Don’t use steel cased ammo on these. Your just asking to get a FTF or a FTE if you use that kind of ammo, I’ve seen rounds just stuck in the chamber like yours did. I’ve seen others where the rim on the casing gets ripped off. Just stick with brass and you’ll be ok.

      • DAVID

        November 28, 2013 at 1:01 pm


    • Ringo Lapua

      October 10, 2013 at 8:10 pm

      The only Wolf ammo that’s worth a damn is 7.62 x 39 that you shoot through an AK. I would put that crappy stuff in my AR-15 if you gave it to me for free. It’s the steel laquered casing that caused the jam. Buy some American brass ammo and get rid of that garbage.

  6. Ringo Lapua

    October 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm

    Great Review! I could have even heaped on more praise than you gave it. Mine is a flattop TACKDRIVER with a Nikon P223 3×32 bright scope, pistol grip, offset front and back sites, red dot laser and optional 1500 lumen cree light. My friend who owns 16 expensive AR’s told me that it was the most accurate AR-15 he’s ever fired. Oh forgot to add the Advanced Armament Suppressor which really stabilizes the rifle even more than it already is and totally eliminated ear protection.

  7. mikey

    November 28, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    fired steel case through my romy and sks,no problems

  8. Benny Medlen

    December 13, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I just purchased the carbon bushmaster. My only complant is the rail and sights are on one piece. I have called and tried to find another rail where i can put a carry handle or scope on it if i want but no luck. Looks like the rail for the flat top would work but i cannot find one.

  9. Ronnie Hunter

    December 30, 2013 at 7:31 pm

    My son is home on leave and just bought a Carbon 15. Regardless of what we do with the rear sight, it shoots 6-8 inches to the right. We are both new to ARs so any advice would be appreciated.

    • John J.

      January 9, 2014 at 11:45 am

      Send it back to Bushmaster to install the barrel properly. Usually when you run out of windage adjustment in the rear sight the barrel is torqued improperly! Used to be a problem on the older Bushmasters.

  10. Brian

    January 2, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    I have a carbon 15 that I bought about 1.5yrs ago. I have had zero issues with it. It has excellent accuracy, love the light weight, and it fires anything you put in it. Brass, steel, ad with an adapter It chambers .22 long rifle as well as .22 short. I’ve never seen a semi auto rifle chamber .22 short, but this one does. Even after all day of shooting dirty .22 ammo it still fires .223 or .556 without any problems. People have said they prefer higher end rifles when their life depends on it. I say I prefer the rifle that will shoot reliably and accurately anything you can find to feed through it. Mine sure does

  11. Brad

    February 3, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Today is 2/3/14

    I’m in the market for my first AR and saw the BM Carbon 15 locally for $550 after mail in rebate, includes a red dot site. Should I be worried? Most forums are against this gun but it sounds like old news.

    • Eric

      February 4, 2014 at 6:34 am

      Where for 550?? Cheapest I’ve seen is 700 after rebate.

      • Brad

        February 4, 2014 at 8:35 am

        I’m in eastern WA, the Carbon 15 is at Sportsman’s Warehouse.

        • Jay

          August 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

          Cabela’s in Marysville, WA (about 35 miles north of Seattle, WA) currently has this rifle on sale for $559 + tax

          I’m thinking about taking the plunge into the AR world and getting one myself. One question that I have had is there were some problems I guess with the generation 1 & 2 models. What is the current generation model they are selling and how can I tell the difference? I don’t really want to spend the money only to find out I’m buying old stock that they’re trying to unload.

      • Ryan

        June 13, 2015 at 4:29 pm

        Bought mine at Surplus Arms & Ammo in Tacoma Washington, new in box with poly lower and aluminum upper for $475 before tax.

    • Brian

      February 16, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Brad….. Buy it!!! I love mine. It’s been a great rifle for me. The carbon fiber models are wonderful. They also run on less lubrication than the aluminum AR’s. This also makes the action smoother. They group at 3″ (on cheap ammo) at 100yrds. Even better with the good stuff. This is good with such a light weight barrel. The light weight of this rifle makes them a dream to shoot.

    • Warren douglas

      February 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Most of the bad reviews are on the older model rifles.
      If you are not buying it for the light weight, u might want to consider spending a little more on a aluminum upper AR.

      I didn’t care for the sight that came in my kit, Not Very fitting for a AR-15, but the hard case is worth using

    • Josh

      February 27, 2014 at 9:36 pm

      Brad, I purchased my Carbon 15 about 3 months ago for $550 here in Oregon. I love this rifle. It’s so light and very accurate. The only down fall to this rifle is the barrel. If you are going to be doing a lot of shooting I would recommend upgrading to an aluminum upper and better barrel. I now have an PSA upper & barrel with all new magpul furniture and Yankee Hill quad rail and I get so many compliments on this rifle. Still I’m only into this AR-15 for about $850, and it’s a lighter, more accurate, and better looking than any $1,200 AR-15’s out there. I will have this rifle for ever and pass down to my kids. That’s how confident I am about the duribility of the Bushmaster Carbon 15.

  12. mikey

    February 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    Some will not shoot steel case ammo,after about 30rnds you’ll get a failure to eject.spend the extra 50.00 and get the windham

  13. mikey

    February 4, 2014 at 6:40 am

    some will not cycle steel cases pay the extra $ and buy a windham

  14. Jack

    February 16, 2014 at 9:05 am

    will the accept magpul handguard midlength?…plan to gussie it up….

    • Warren douglas

      February 17, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Will take any mil spec drop in hanguard

  15. mikey

    February 17, 2014 at 5:35 am

    if you use steel case ammo you may expierience fte jams

    • Mambeu

      September 27, 2014 at 9:52 pm

      stop shooting russian steel case crap through a tight fitting gun. You shoot that crap through loose fitting AK/SKS no problem. If you really want to shoot steel case ammo through an AR buy Hornady Match. It defeats purpose of saving money.

  16. t. rowlett

    May 7, 2014 at 5:11 am

    my carbon,after the first 3 rds to group,i could cover with a dime.Then i tried to zero then everything went buffer tube wouldn’t stay tight and other things started coming i sent it back to be came back this morning so to the range,to fire it and zero my scope,hoping it stays together.

  17. great tips

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    September 10, 2014 at 4:40 pm

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  19. Denis A. Crowns

    October 17, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    I purchased a carbon 15 about 18 months ago and have used 5.56 as well as Russian steel 223 with out a single problem. Red Dot and Stream lite TLR 3 also the 45 degree iron site from Surefire. My only problem is that my wife has claimed it. She is a smaller lady and the weight is perfect for her. She uses Bushmaster magazines or Lancer L5 translucent smoke, both work great, she also has one 60 round from Surefire. Added a forward grip and a single point sling. It is sighted in at 50 yards and is more than adequate for accuracy. I believe it to be a good rifle and the cost is a plus

  20. wrench13

    October 21, 2014 at 11:16 am

    just brought the AR carbon 15 and can’t say enough good things about this rifle,after a day in the field I wasn’t dragging it like and old log like I did with my Rem 700,the 223 is adequate for deer as I have two with this gun already,one at 50 yards and one at a little over 125.the red dot site cam off and was replaced with a 6X42 with bullet drop compensator ,if you never tried one with this BDC you’ll be surprised.i don’t miss iron sites on this rifle because I knew it would be scoped with something,like I said I’m real happy with the AR15

  21. Pussy Sniper

    November 4, 2014 at 12:45 am

    After reading some of the VERY positive reviews on the internet i decided to add the carbon 15 to my collection of AR’s
    I cant say anything about the aesthetics of the weapon. its has a absolutely gorgeous finish and looks spectacular… it Also seems to work just fine when user for target shooting, hunting, or just shooting around the bush….BUT…
    Thank god that i brought my trusty colt as a backup gun just in case.
    Just as i predicted, any-time a weapon is taken to a survival or adventure camp and 10,000 rounds are put threw the barrel of different quality ammo the bugs come out of the machine…
    Lets focus on the most important and CRITICAL failure i had at the end of the first day. don’t forget that even though the manufacturer calls this unit a carbon 15 it should really be named the (plastic 15) after about 1400 rounds over 5 hours which warmed up the gun nice we had a suppressive fire exercise and were required to empty 10 30 round mags onto a single target. The so called carbon at this point failed due to the enormous heat that a all metal weapon would never encounter, the upper began to deform and some of the pieces turned to blobs of unrecognisable plastic that took days of careful grinding away at with a DREMEL and removal was so difficult that i had no choice but to put some unwanted marks on surfaces i wished i had not to damage….this is the result of extreme pressure and heat applied to plastic(carbon) over a short period of time. In my opinion this is a great weapon to take to the range and pop off a few with your girlfriend to show how macho you are or as a safe queen but since the gun is not mill spec screwing on the existing barrel onto a metal upper you may find along the way will be impossible as the large bolt holding it together is NOT MILL SPEC. so, Way overpriced for a plastic toy, you will appreciate the weight difference at the end of the day but be careful of the PLASTIC!!!

    • Oregon vet

      December 26, 2014 at 11:50 pm

      “….taken to a survival or adventure camp and 10,000 rounds are put threw the barrel of different quality ammo the bugs come out of the machine…”

      “….we had a suppressive [sic] fire excercise, requiring 10, 30 round mags on a single target….”

      You then go on about “acting macho or impressing your girlfriend….”


      Pot calling kettle black? These online AR discussions are hilarious.
      The only people who go on “adventure camps” with loaded plastic weapons should be kids playing with Airsoft toys.
      Internet fat dudes who never joined the military “playing army.”
      Of course a $500 carbon fiber bushmaster AR .223 IS NOT MIL SPEC!
      Btw, it’s mil. Spec. For military specification. Not Mill Spec because you bought it at a special mill where they make flour cookies in the shape of unicorns.
      A military weapon such as the M16a2 ,3 or 4 or the M4 are NOT $500 bushmaster firearms sold at Sportsmans warehouse.

      Lastly, stop putting 300 friggin rounds into a single target. That is wasteful, unnecessary, uninformed.

      Ps…Who the f does “suppressive fire excecise at “Adventure Camp?”

      • Docduracoat

        January 13, 2015 at 5:24 am

        300 rounds is way more than even a mil spec Colt M 4 or
        Fn M 16 will handle.
        After the battle of Wanat, Afghanistan Colt did testing to destruction of military rifles
        They determined that 140 rounds was the maximum the gun could fire on full auto
        They also found that 15 rounds per minute was the fastest semi auto rate that could be continuously maintained.
        I refer you to to see the analysis and the video of the barrel bending and the gas tube melting after 140 rounds

        • Docduracoat

          January 13, 2015 at 5:41 am

          140 rounds was when ” cook off” occurred
          400 rounds was until the barrel burst
          You don’t want to come near those barrel temperatures as it will destroy accuracy long before com

  22. Mike Parke

    February 28, 2015 at 12:43 pm

    I purchased a Windham carbon 15 flat top not to long ago. Wonderfully rifle for just over $500.00 do not feed these or rifles like them with steel cased ammo…voids the warranty.
    As to accuracy no worse than my battle rifle back in the day. (Using xm855 ammo and my flip up sights) now when mounted with my LSR scope and quality ammo. The accuracy is awesome.

    • Mike Parke

      February 28, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Also these are not battle rifles. But hey, I’ve heard zombies can’t shoot and I’ve never seen a deer with an ak47. So if you don’t have an extra 2500 for a rifle and aren’t planning on taking it to a war zone. It’s a fun light weight shooter that gets the job done.