I sometimes suspect readers might think my reviews tend to exaggerate just how good some of the products are because I rarely test a product that gets really bad reviews. The reason for this is that I simply don’t bother to test products I don’t think are high-quality. I’ve done this long enough to generally tell whether something will perform before I actually do the test. Having made this disclaimer, I’ll begin this review by saying the Colt CRP-18 is simply the best AR-15 rifle I have ever fired, and I’ve fired some really nice ARs including competition 3-gun rifles used by shooters with recognizable names.
Colt is probably the most iconic of the myriad of makers of AR-15 rifles. When I was offered a Colt for an extended test in 2012 for a series of different events, I suspected the CRP-18 would be very good. Having said that, I’ve been disappointed by a lot of guns that were “semi-customs” designed for competition. It amazes me that guns that cost two or three times the base-rifle price and purport themselves to be competition-ready sometimes have issues that need to be corrected as soon as they’re out of the box. Some guns simply stand out as almost-perfect as delivered, and the CRP-18 comes as close to that as any gun I’ve ever fired, and I’ve spent a lot of time with it.
My first competition with it was a trial by fire. My competition background is mostly in conventional High Power and I decided to use the CRP-18 in the National High Power Rifle Championship in the Any Sight/Tactical class. The rifles I was shooting against were purpose-built for High Power and featured 24-inch or 26-inch heavy barrels and weighted adjustable target stocks. They typically weigh about 14 pounds before an optic is added, as weight is an asset in standing and long-range shooting. Normal match rifles are tuned for accuracy and designed to shoot the 240-shot NRA National Match course that includes standing slow-fire and sitting rapid-fire at 200 yards, rapid-fire prone at 300 yards, and prone slow-fire at 600 yards. This is a severe test of accuracy and reliability. The CRP is a lightweight, seven-pound rifle, designed for 3-gun competition where speed is more important than accuracy.
I didn’t win with the Colt, but I did manage to finish fifth, and in doing so, I put several serious rifles in the hands of dedicated shooters beneath my name in the results bulletin. On one 600-yard stage, the CRP produced a 195-7x score, very respectable for a seven-pound rifle designed for much shorter ranges. During the matches, and all other shooting for that matter, there was not a single malfunction. I also won a local-club High Power match with it, shooting a 478-11x.
While I’m not a 3-gun shooter, I did use the rifle in several competitions. This included a local match where I finished in the top third on my first attempt at 3-gun. It’s capable of 10-shot one-MOA groups, it’s close to totally neutral in the recoil department, and it’s 100 percent reliable.
Bold Ideas builds the CRP-18, beginning with a Colt upper and lower receiver and using the best components to produce a flawless rifle. They use a six-position Magpul CTR stock, a Geissele match-grade two-stage trigger, a Surefire compensator, and an externally-adjustable gas block. The barrel is a six-groove, button-rifled, 1:8-inch right-handed twist. These components, combined with quality assembly and tuning, create a rifle that has no muzzle movement when shooting fast stages. Double-taps result in two holes within an inch of each other at 50 yards. It feels like you’re shooting a .22 rimfire AR. Colt Competition Rifles guarantees one-MOA groups, and the CRP-18 produces it with quality ammunition in several bullet weights.
Image by Cherie Jones