Seekins Precision: The SPRO3G and Other High Quality Products Black Rifle Products
By Christopher R. Bartocci
Right after the sunset of the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban, the black rifle market has been on nothing but a sky-rocketing boom. It is hard to say whether it has even peaked yet due to continuous yearly sales records being made. Prior to 1994, it would have been foolish to attempt to start a business in something that was banned from production for the most part. There were pre-ban configurations but the market was saturated with them. With the sunset of the ban, the gloves were off. Not only was there a commercial market with money in hand but a new opportunity to redefine the Black Rifle and take it to the next incremental levels. In 2004, Glen and Katie Seekins opened Seekins Precision located in Lewiston, Idaho and have just celebrated their 10th anniversary as a company. When the company first opened, their maiden products were extremely high quality scope rings that went directly on the Mil-Std 1913 rail as well as various types of scope bases. For the next 8 years the product line would expand into upper and lower receivers for the black rifle, rail systems, flash suppressors, muzzle brakes and barrels. They developed receivers manufactured from billet aluminum as well. Then the company reached its next milestone, in 2012 they introduced their own line of precision rifles. Seekins Precision is an icon in the industry with a thriving original equipment manufacturer (OEM) business supplying many of the leading manufacturers with various products as well as the commercial market with high end enhanced components. This year (2014) at the SHOT Show, Seekins Precision unveiled at prototype of their first 7.62x51mm/.308 Winchester AR10-type rifle.
SAR was sent a precision made Pro Series SPRO3G 18-inch rifle for test and evaluation as well as some other Seekins made components to look at. This article will cover some of their premier products and OEM components.
The SPRO3G rifle is manufactured from numerous components designed and manufactured by Seekins Precision. This rifle is part of their Pro Series rifles, which are built on their proprietary ambidextrous billet upper and lower receiver. The rifle features their iRMT rail technology, which is a very rigid rail system. These rifles meet, and by far exceed, the standard military specification rifle with numerous improvements.
Starting with the lower receiver, the rifle has the Seekins Precision SP223 billet lower receiver. The receiver is manufactured from a billet of 7075T6 aircraft grade aluminum. The receiver has a unique look to it with an oversized trigger guard and vertical grooves on the front of the magazine well. The magazine well is beveled to allow for easier insertion of the magazine in low level light as well as no light conditions. The shape of the magazine well ensures interchangeability with about every type of magazine configuration on the market. The lower receiver has an excellent ambidextrous bolt catch located above and behind the magazine release button. It is easily accessible to the trigger finger of a right handed shooter. There is a diamond-type texture on the ambidextrous bolt catch to ensure the finger does not slip off in adverse conditions. The ambidextrous bolt catch is used for bolt release only and is not capable of locking the bolt to the rear. The magazine release button is also a Seekins Precision manufactured component. It is manufactured from billet aluminum and offers that same diamond texture as the ambidextrous bolt catch to guard against slippage in adverse conditions. The magazine catch is the standard Mil-Spec type catch. This was the only component changed out by the author on this rifle. It was replaced with the Norgon ambidextrous catch. Even for a right handed person, this is an enhancement. The receiver has an upper receiver tensioning screw located under the receiver above the pistol grip. By rotating this screw, the slack/play is taken up between the upper and lower receiver to ensure a tight fit and no rattle. The ambidextrous bolt catch and the left side bolt catch are held in place by set screws rather than roll pins. The rear takedown pin detent and spring hole in the lower receiver has been relocated to under the pistol grip. It too is held in place by a set screw. The spring has been modified due to the more compact dimensions from relocation of the hole. The bolt catch on the left side is also a Seekins Precision design. This catch has a much larger surface on the top as well as shares the same diamond texture as the other components. This texture is on both the upper and lower portions of the bolt catch. The selector lever is the Battle Arms Development Ambidextrous Safety System and has the standard length lever on the left side with a half lever on the right side. There is more gripping surface then the standard safety lever and is easy to manipulate even with heavy gloves. The takedown and pivot pins are the standard Mil-Spec type. The pistol grip selected for this model is the Ergo Deluxe grip. This is a much wider grip than most and has the rubber type feel rather than the plastic feel of most of the others in the industry. This was very comfortable to shoot regardless of the size of the shooter’s hand. The receiver is finished off with the Type III Class 2 Hardcoat Anodized finish. Total anti glare matte black in color finish.
The trigger on this rifle is the Geissele Automatics two stage trigger. This is one of the most popular trigger manufacturers in the industry for match triggers. There are numerous models depending on the particular need of the shooter. The nice thing about this trigger is that there are no set screws to come loose nor have to be Locktite'ed in place. The first stage broke at 2 3/4 pounds and the second at 4 pounds. Very smooth trigger with no creep.
The receiver extension is Mil-Spec in dimension but has 6 positions rather than the Mil-Spec 4 positions. The standard "H" buffer is used that indicates the use of two steel and one tungsten weight. The receiver extension uses a standard receiver extension end plate and nut. The stock chosen for this rifle was the Magpul STR stock. This is an excellent stock design that features two battery storage compartments that are accessed from the rear of the stock so the stock does not have to be removed to access the compartments. On the rear of the stock is two quick detach mounts (one on left and the other on the right side). The stock release lever also has a lock so the stock does not unintentionally move. The cheek weld is very comfortable; it has the triangular shape of the LMT SOPMOD stock. It is tactical beard friendly as well; no whiskers get pinched and pulled out.
The charging handle provided was the patented VLTOR Gunfighter charging handle. This charging handle is manufactured from 7075T6 billet aluminum and then Type III Class 2 Hardcoat Anodized finish. Total anti glare matte black in color finish. There latch offered is the Mod3. The strength of the charging handle and latch has been massively strengthened. When the standard charging handle latch is replaced with a larger tactical latch significant amount of force is placed on that small roll pin. With enough heavy racks that pin is known to break or for the charging handle itself to break. Eric Kincel at VLTOR took a look at the current charging handle and felt VLTOR could do better. With the Gunfighter charging handle latch design, the small roll pin is no longer the weak point. The system is much stronger and the tactical latch will stay intact even under repeated support side only manipulations. With the force kept inside the charging handle, when the charging handle is pulled rearward it does not angle off to one side but remains centered resulting in a smooth pull to the rear.
Seekins Precision manufactures their own bolt carrier groups. They manufacture a standard bolt carrier group but the bolt carrier group that came with this rifle is their Low Mass Bolt Carrier Group. Both the standard and low mass carriers are the full auto carriers. This bolt carrier group is 10.15 ounces, which is 1.4 ounces lighter than the standard. You can visually see the amount of material removed. The purpose of this lighter carrier (less mass requires less gas to cycle system) is in conjunction with an adjustable gas block, so you are able to balance the gas system with the particular ammunition you are shooting. In other words, you would allow just enough gas to properly cycle the rifle (hold the bolt open on an empty magazine). By doing this you decrease perceived recoil. On all Seekins Precision bolt carrier groups, the carrier and gas key are chrome lined then Melonite coated for extended wear and quick cleaning. The gas key is staked as per military specifications. The extractor spring uses the heavy black buffer to enhance service life. The rubber "O" ring was added to the extractor spring during testing just as insurance. SOCOM testing has proven that this is a great reliability enhancement with their MK12 SPRs and M4A1 rifles as well as their 10.5 inch barreled MK18 rifles.
Seekins Precision manufactures 4 different upper receivers. The first is a standard 7075T6 forged Mil-Spec upper receiver (SP15). This forged upper receiver is cut with extended feed ramps. This is a no frills upper receiver that includes the forward assist and ejection port cover assembly. The second is their billet upper receiver (SP223), which has a unique look to it and accepts a standard barrel nut. This in turn makes it compatible with numerous factory standard rail systems. This receiver is manufactured from a billet of 7075T6 aluminum. This too has extended feed ramps cut. The third and fourth model upper receivers are based on the iRMT technology or integrated Rail Mounting Technology. This integrates the rail mounting points into the receiver retaining the stiffness of a monolithic upper receiver while allowing for modular rail systems. Replacing the standard barrel nut is an externally threaded, titanium barrel nut with 1 1/8 inch wrench flats on it for simple installation. The iRMT-R upper is designed for the round MCSR and BAR handguards and the iRMT-3 upper is designed for the SP3R triangular shaped rail system. The iRMT-series uppers are only for use with Seekins Precision SP3R, BAR and MCSR rail systems. Included on them are also forward assist and ejection port cover assembly. These are also cut with extended feed ramps. All Seekins Precision upper receivers are Type III Class 2 Hard Coat Anodized finished. The T&E rifle was equipped with the MCSR or Modular Combat Suppressors Rail. This rail is manufactured from 6061T6 aluminum and has a seamless top rail that has a 1.8 inch inside diameter and has anti rotation tabs. This rail was 15 inches long. However, it is offered in 12, 10, 9 and 7 inch lengths as well. The rifle came with Keymod Rail Sections of Mil-Std 1913 rail in 5, 9 and 13 slot sections. This enables the shooter to determine what rail is needed and put that on - no more and no less. This will decrease weight by having unnecessary rail on the handguard and also prevent damage to unused rails. On the T&E rifle a 13 slot rail was placed at the 12:00 position for installation of a bipod and a 9 slot at the 3:00 for addition of a flashlight and laser range finder.
Seekins Precision manufactures their own match grade stainless steel barrels that are button cut. The barrel on the T&E rifle is their 16 inch stainless steel barrel with a midlength gas system. The midlength gas system is a major reliability enhancement over the standard carbine length gas system. With a standard 20 inch barrel with a 13 inch gas tube the rifle’s port pressures are approximately 13,500 pounds of pressure per square inch. The M4 carbine with the shorter 7 inch gas system is increased to 26,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. This major increase of pressure speeds up the cycling of the rifle causing the bolt to unlock sooner and extract while higher residual pressure in the cartridge case remain. This causes great wear on the extractor and with the higher cycle rate wears more of the components of the rifle. At worst, failures to extract come later down the road once excessive gas port erosion takes place. This will increase the cyclic rate even more causing the bolt to unlock and extract even sooner. The midlength gas system finds that sweet spot right in the middle of these two with a 9 inch gas system. This decreases port pressure from the carbine from 26,000 to 19,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, which significantly drops the rate of fire allowing for more dwell time so the cartridge case can be easily extracted. What makes this barrel unique is a couple points. First the chamber is in the .223 Wylde chamber. This cartridge exploits the accuracy advantages of the .223 Rem chambering without pressure problems or compromising the functional reliability of semiautomatic weapons such as the AR-15 family when using 5.56x45mm military ammunition. It has the external dimensions of the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge and the 0.2240 inch freebore diameter as found in the civilian SAAMI .223 Rem cartridge. Both types of ammunition may be fired in this chambering. Secondly, the barrel twist rate is a 1 turn in 8 inches and utilizes the precision 5R rifling profile found in some of the most accurate bolt rifles available. These stainless steel barrels are offered in 8, 10.5, 12, 14.5 and 16 inches. They all utilize extended feed ramp barrel extensions. While the T&E rifle was chambered in .223 Wylde, Seekins precision also offers a 300 AAC Blackout barrel with a 1 turn in 7 inch twist. This fast twist is necessary to stabilize the heavy subsonic projectiles. For the supersonic 125 grain projectile, 1 turn in 12 inch twist would be ideal. However, due to this dual purpose, the twist has to be dramatically sped up for those heavy 208 to 220 grain projectiles.
The gas block on the T&E rifle is the Seekins Precision made adjustable gas block. This 1.80 ounce gas block bolts to the rifle with two locking bolts. On the side is an Allen key screw, which adjusts the gas flow. There is a brass set screw to lock the gas screw into place without marring the threads. This eliminates the need to use Loctite. Not adjusting properly can be very bad for the rifle. The primary reason for this adjustable gas system is as stated earlier when discussing the low mass bolt carrier. They are used to balance the gas system to decrease perceived recoil and to add to the longevity of the rifle’s components by not over-gassing the system and increasing the cyclic rate needlessly. This system is very popular with match shooters including 3-gun shooters. Attached to this is a Melonite coated mid-length gas tube.
The muzzle devise on the T&E rifle was another of Seekins Precision proprietary designs. The muzzle device is called the ATC or Advanced Tactical Compensator; designed using sophisticated computer software to be the best on the market. The design of the side ports minimize recoil as well as muzzle rise. The muzzle brake has through holes that allow all of the cross baffles to all be equally effective. It also directs more gas away from the shooter. The front ports spread out the load to minimize felt recoil and reduce muzzle flash. The ATC is offered in both stainless steel and Melonite coated black and is offered in both .223/5.56mm caliber as well as .308 Win/7.62mm.
The T&E rifle did have a few things added to it. First was the Harris bipod mounted on the A.R.M.S., Inc. #17 throw lever mount. This mounted right to the Keymod Rail Section on the bottom rail front of the handguard. The second thing was iron back up sights were added to the rifle as well. The iron sights chosen are the extremely durable and reliable A.R.M.S., Inc. #40L-P rear back up sight with a .50 MOA adjustment at 100 yards. There are two apertures – one that folds so the shooter will have both a standard long range aperture as well as a larger 0-200 meter close range aperture. Also, the top of the sight has a blade cut for quick fire purposes. The front sight is the A.R.M.S., Inc #40L-F folding front site. These are both good metal back up sights that can be used if the scope becomes damaged and inoperable. The scope mount chosen is an extremely lightweight 6061T6 aluminum 1-inch scope mount manufactured by Aero Precision (UL1913.1). This has to be the lightest in the industry weighing in at 2.98 ounces. There are three Torx screws that hold the mount onto the Mil-Std 1913 rail.
The optic chosen for this rifle is the Bushnell AR Optic 3-9x40mm Rifle Scope with the Drop Zone-223 BDC. The Drop Zone provides aiming points out to 500 yards. The scope is finished in a matte black color. The optic weighs a light 21 ounces and is 12.2 inches long. The eye relief is 3.7 inches with a click value at 0.25 inches at 100 yards. These fully multi-coated optics are clear and well made. Adjustments are made easily with windage and elevation knobs whose adjustments are clearly marked. On the left side of the optic is the bullet drop compensator – the lever is marked in increments from 7.5 yards to 300 yards.
There were two types of match grade ammunition used to test this rifle. The first is Black Hills Ammunition MK262 MOD1 Special Operations Forces ammunition. This is a 5.56x45mm load using a Sierra 77grain open tip match projectile at 2,750 feet per second. This ammunition is the most accurate 5.56mm ammunition on the market for military use. It has proven itself in the Global War on Terrorism in the MK12 Special Purpose Rifle family of weapons as well as in the M4A1 and MK18 short barrel rifle. The second is the Remington Premier Match .223 Rem 77gr Sierra MatchKing hollow point projectile with a muzzle velocity of 2,788 feet per second. Both of these loads have proven to be top match grade loads.
It was a brisk 3 degrees F with a wind chill of -23 degrees upstate New York day when Police Officer Mark Allen, a sniper team leader for the Rochester Police Department Emergency Task Force (ETF), put the Seekins Precision match rifle to the test. Allen has been on the ETF since 2003 and a sniper since 2007. The rifle was fired at 100 yards. The Black Hills MK262 shot a group of .220 inches and the Remington shot .245 inches with a 3-round group. The interesting thing noted was the Remington ammunition felt hotter than the Black Hills in both sound and recoil but shot comparable. Officer Allen was asked to give his professional opinion as a highly skilled sniper. He felt that the rifle was lightweight and has an appropriate/consistent trigger pull and had very light recoil, which made it easy to remain on target. The gas system was tuned for this ammunition. He felt the weapon system was quite light overall and very easy to handle/manipulate. He also was quite fond of the Magpul STR stock. He was not fond of the canting bipod and he felt although the muzzle brake was effective it would be extremely loud to those surrounding the shooter and an increased flash signature in a tactical environment. The rifle was reliable with no malfunctions during testing.
Overall this is an extremely well made precision rifle. The match grade barrel performed as expected with the high quality ammunition it was fed. The adjustable gas system and low mass bolt carrier tuned for the rifle decreases perceived recoil and assisted in faster follow-up shots. The muzzle brake/compensator was excellent for reducing recoil and keeping the muzzle down. This no doubt added to the overall accuracy of the rifle. The fit and finish was absolutely superb. The Seekins Precision enhancements were just that, enhancements to the weapon system.
In looking at other products of Seekins Precision, they offer complete rifles in various configurations. Their Battlefield Rifles consist of Magpul MOE stocks, Ergo Grip pistol grip and forged receivers. They offer 16 (SPBEv2) and 14.5(SPBRv3) inch barrels. The handguards used can be either the BAR, SAR, MCSR or SP3R rails. The barrels are topped off with the Seekins Precision Flash Hider, designed to protect the shooter’s night vision and reduce flash signature to the enemy. This is a three prong design engineered to reduce harmonic ping noises. Just the upper receivers are offered as well. They offer a 16 inch barrel with the 15-inch SP3G handguard (SPBRv4), the 16 inch barrel with 12 inch SAR handguard (SPBv2) and the 14.5 inch barrel with the 12 inch MCRS handguard (SPBRv3). Also offered is the Combat Billet Rifle (SPCBRv1). These high quality billet receivers offer an ambidextrous bolt release and ambidextrous BADASS safety and 16 inch match barrel. This also offers the Magpul MOE stock but also offer the Ergo Deluxe pistol grip, melonite coated adjustable gas block and gas tube, SP flash hider and either the BAR/SAR/MCSR or SP3R rail. Billet upper receivers are also available. There is a 16 inch barrel with a 12 inch BAR handguard and SP flash hider (SPCBRv1), a 16 inch barrel with 12 SAR handguard and SP flash hider (SPCBRv2) and a 10.5 inch barrel radial fluted match barrel with a 9 inch MCSR handguard and SP flash hider (SPCBRv3). The Pro Series Rifles are billet receivers using the iRMT receivers, which add substantial rigidness at the critical areas surrounding the barrel supposedly increasing the strength and accuracy of the rifle. They feature Melonite coated gas block, gas tube and bolt carrier group. These rifles also sport the ATC Brake but can be fitted with the SP Flash Hider or suppressor ready. This rifle is offered in .223 Wylde or 300 AAC Blackout. There are four basic models offered. The major differences are what type of handguard the end user wants and barrel length. They are offered in 18, 16, 14.5 and 8 inch barrel lengths.
Seekins offers 4 different rail systems. The first is the MCSR or Modular Combat Suppressor Rail Keymod. This lightweight rail is designed with having a suppressor in mind. Most suppressors will comfortably fit inside of the rail protecting the shooter’s hands and clothes from contacting a hot suppressor. These rails come in 15, 12, 10, 9 and 7 inch lengths. All use the detachable rail segments. The SP3R Keymod Rail is unique in that it is more triangular shaped designed more for 3 gun competitors and sniper competitions. These are steady on various barricades and the flat base of the rail provides a sturdy shooting position on a barricade. These are offered in 15 and 12 inch lengths. The SAR Quad Rail is a lightweight rail with quad Mil-Std 1913 rails and uses a proprietary titanium barrel nut with a 1.5 inch inside diameter. These are offered in 13, 12, 10, 9 and 7 inch lengths. The final rail is the SP BAR Quad Rail. This offers a larger 1.8 inch inside diameter to accommodate a sound suppressor and cutouts for rapid cooling.
Seekins Precision offers a wide variety of precision made scope rings. They are made from 7075T6 aircraft aluminum billets and use Torx screws. They are available in 1 inch, 30mm, 34mm and 35mm tube sizes. They also manufacture Mil-Std 1913 scope bases for Remington and Savage bolt action rifles. They have designed an Aimpoint Micro T1 standard height mount, which are available in absolute and 1/3 co witness with iron sights. Previously discussed, the Seekins Precision billet magazine release buttons are also offered in a wide variety of colors including black, blue, aluminum, flat dark earth, olive drab green, red and zombie green. Also offered are the billet Trigger Guards. These drop in to any Mil-Spec lower and are designed for use with winter gloves and fill the trigger guard in front of the grip eliminating the gap.
At SHOT Show 2014, Seekins Precision unveiled their new 7.62x51mm rifle, which is an AR-10-type rifle. SAR looks forward to the opportunity to test their new rifle. Seekins Precision has grown dramatically in its short 10 years from a two product company to a large manufacturing company with full lines of products. They enjoy many OEM contracts and continue to bring out new products. Their high end products will enhance any black rifle.
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