Bushmaster’s Carbon 15 Type 97S 5.56mm pistol, shown here with its standard Hogue grip and equipped with an ArmaLaser Stingray SR1 and an EOTech XPS2 sight, is lightweight, powerful and extremely enjoyable to shoot.
When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary to open up a can of you-know-what… there are few can openers better than the Carbon 15 Type 97S pistol from Bushmaster. Let’s face it—short-barreled black rifles just look cooler. Unfortunately there is a fair amount of time and paperwork that goes into legally obtaining one. However, one clever alternative is to simply construct an AR without a buttstock so that it cannot be shoulder fired, and then it can be classified as a pistol and manfufactured with a barrel shorter than 16 inches.
The Carbon 15 is modeled on the basic AR rifle and operates as a direct gas impingement, semi-automatic, .223 caliber pistol. As the name implies it uses what Bushmaster calls “Carbon 15 composite,” for both the upper and lower receiver. This carbon fiber composite material is both lighter and stronger than aluminum, and is impervious to moisture or corrosion, with no finish to wear off over time.
A short buffer tube extends out from the rear portion of the lower receiver.
At 20 inches in overall length and over 3.5 pounds in weight, this is certainly no pocket pistol. However, the weight savings of the carbon material are significant and make it much easier to fire with a two- or even one-handed hold. Bushmaster offers several models of its Carbon 15 pistol, but the Type 97S includes many enhanced features that I found very desirable.
The standard A2 flash suppressor proved to be quite effective on the range, despite the short barrel.
Across the entire length of the top of the pistol, from the back of the upper receiver to the flash hider, is a full-length aluminum Picatinny rail with permanent iron sights built-in. It offers more than 10 inches of space for mounting optics or other accessories. The sights are standard AR-style, with the rear being windage adjustable and having the 0 to 200 meter and 300 to 800 meter flip up peep sights. The front sight is the standard Mil-Spec post, which is adjustable for elevation using the spring-loaded detent inside.
I mounted the ArmaLaser Stingray SR1 laser unit on the front of the bottom rail to aid with aiming. It features a 5mW red laser and 3 hours of continuous run time. The unit activates with a switch from either the right or left side and is made from a reinforced polymer for durability. The Stingray will mount easily on any accessory rail and looked good on the Carbon 15 pistol. It certainly made it easy to fire accurately, with both eyes open.
An extended range session produced no malfunctions of any sort while using a mix of ammunition ranging from 55-grain FMJ to 69-grain hollowpoint. Accuracy at 25 yards was respectable for a pistol of this type and the best group measured just under 2 inches using Black Hills ammunition.