Every skilled trade requires specialized tools to get the job done right, and the shooting sports follow suit with dedicated equipment for competitors seeking the top of the leaderboard.
Modern shooting competitions such as those hosted by 3-Gun Nation require semiauto rifles that are capable of engaging targets from 5 to 500 yards. Colt Competition, licensed to Bold Ideas Texas, recognized that wide range of needs with its “Pro” CRP-18 rifle. Designed on the AR-15 platform, the CRP-18 offers a number of custom-tailored enhancements to make it a race-ready workhorse right out of the box.
Each element of the CRP-18 was carefully massaged into a rifle capable of handling anything the competition can throw at it. Starting with its forged lower receiver, the fire-control unit consists of a Geissele Super Semi-Automatic-Enhanced (SSA-E) trigger. The two-stage trigger breaks at 3.8 pounds (as tested) and allows shooters to pinch off quick double taps at close range or carefully stage the trigger for a more surgical approach when distances stretch beyond 100 yards. Its crisp reset is consistent and feels like it has already had thousands of rounds of quality break-in time.
The lower features a six-position collapsible Magpul CTR stock that is adaptable for shooters of all sizes. Other Magpul furniture includes an MOE grip, an enhanced triggerguard and a 30-round PMAG magazine.
While the CRP-18’s lower receiver gives shooters everything they need to engage targets at varying distances, the gas-operated upper receiver group is where this rifle truly stands out. A modular free-floating handguard allows competitors to attach accessories at nearly any location, such as secondary mini-red dot optics or quick-detatch slings. With 15 inches of forend real estate, offhand grip options are virtually unlimited with the vented aluminum handguard.
Under the handguard resides an elegant 18-inch fluted 416 stainless steel barrel. With a .223 Wylde chambering and 1:8-inch twist, this barrel is capable of handling nearly any bullet weight from 40 to 77 grains. The barrel is threaded with a Colt Triple Port muzzlebrake that has extra porting on the top right section to compensate for the right-hand rifling that typically causes ARs to recoil up and to the right.
Combine the versatility of its match-grade barrel with a toolless adjustable gas block, and competitors can fine-tune their CRP-18 to function perfectly from one load to the next. With an adjustable gas block, the goal is to tune the rifle to cycle reliably with the least amount of gas, allowing the bolt carrier to reciprocate with minimal force, resulting in a softer-shooting rifle with less perceived recoil. Gas-block adjustments are an added bonus in competition because shooters can change bullets for different tasks. Long-range stages might demand a heavy hollowpoint bullet, while close-range stages are typically less picky about ammo, and shooters can get away with shooting a lighter, more affordable FMJ. Because tuning the CRP-18 gas system requires no special tools, users can immediately adjust how their rifle functions from one stage to the next simply by pulling the adjustment knob and turning it clockwise or counterclockwise. With one simple adjustment, the CRP-18 accommodates many types of ammo while maintaining soft recoil and similar ejection patterns.
Colt Competition guarantees sub-MOA accuracy with every CRP-18 rifle it sends out. In fact, rifles ship with a signed, serial-numbered, dated test target to assure you that the rifle met accuracy requirements of three-shot groups at 100 yards.
This accuracy guarantee was proven during the long-term performance of our test rifle. Throughout regional matches with 3-Gun Nation and local practical rifle events at the Aurora Sportsmen’s Club (ASC), Guns & Ammo editors fired approximately 10,000 rounds through this particular CRP-18. Accuracy was always distinctly better than the competition with a variety of ammo and bullet weights. When paired with a Leupold Mark VIII CQBSS 1-8X, this rifle was as versatile with short- and long-range stages as any shooter could demand.
Watch how it performed in sub-freezing conditions when one of our editors wore a GoPro Hero 3+ mounted to head strap during a rifle match at ASC:
Several types of ammunition were used, with results varying from .62-inch groups with 75-grain Hornady Superformance Match to 1.87-inch groups with 62-grain M855. Steel-case ammo also ran reliably, even when temperatures dropped into the single digits during a midwinter match. Overall, the CRP-18 reliably chewed up and spit out anything we fed it.
The only issues encountered with functionality had to do with the general weakness of any direct-impingement rifle that uses an adjustable gas block. When the gas block is turned down very low for soft recoil, failures to extract become more common as the rifle gets dirty after firing several thousand rounds. A simple fix is to take pride in your rifle and clean its bolt and chamber thoroughly after each competition; this problem then becomes a nonissue.
When firearms come in for test and evaluation, we always give them our full attention. However, this particular CRP-18 was used in long-term testing over an entire calendar year, and, true to its Colt name, it became the trusty workhorse that was always ready to get out and run. The CRP-18 is the thoroughbred that should be in every shooter’s stable, just waiting for the next chance to saddle up and ride to the top of the leaderboard.