When you name a rifle “Extreme Duty,” you are setting the bar pretty high.
The name suggests a robust rifle that can take plenty of hard knocks yet keep on running in arduous conditions. When the team at Del-Ton Inc. designed the Extreme Duty 316, it appears they were intent on building just such a resilient rifle.
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I had the chance to spend a few weeks with one of these rifles in the Florida sand, heat and humidity. While I did not go out of my way to abuse the rifle, it was certainly exposed to all of the typical environmental hazards that a cop might encounter in the area. It was exposed to salt air, dropped in the sand, rained on and ran in the hot afternoon sun. So, how did it fare?
To The Extreme
Before I jump into how the gun performed, it might be best to explain a little more about the gun so the evaluation has some additional context. The Extreme Duty 316 is a semi-automatic, AR-15 rifle. In many ways, it will be familiar to anyone who has experience with the AR-15/M4 platform.
For this build, Del-Ton uses an upper and lower that are forged of 7075-T6 aluminum and hardcoat anodized. It is chambered for the 5.56mm NATO cartridge and uses M4-style feed ramps.
On this gun, Del-Ton uses a 16-inch, hammer-forged barrel with a 1-in-7-inch twist. The fast twist rate helps ensure the rifle will stabilize heavier bullets. The barrel bore is chrome lined. Del-Ton threaded the barrel and added an A2-style flash suppressor. Although there are many aftermarket options for muzzle devices, I’ve found the A2 works reasonably well and doesn’t add a huge number to the bottom line.
The front sight is located in an A2-type tower and adjusts like any other standard AR front sight. The rear sight is a folding Samson Manufacturing sight mounted on the Picatinny rail atop the receiver. The sight folds flat yet quickly flips up into place when it is used as a backup sight. It also performs very well as a primary rear sight with fully adjustable dual apertures. For my range testing, I used the stock iron sights exclusively.
Del-Ton built the Extreme Duty 316 to be relatively light. Unloaded, the gun weighs 6.4 pounds. Compared to a lot of AR-15 rifles that weigh 7-plus pounds, this gun feels like a featherweight. For a patrol officer who is on a perimeter position for a long period of time, shaving ounces can make a huge difference in comfort.
One of the ways that Del-Ton helps keep the rifle light is by using traditional handguards instead of a quad-rail handguard. The downside is that this limits how accessories can be added to the gun. Other than a sling, the only rifle accessory I consider very important is a white light. Fortunately, Elzetta offers a made-in-the-USA solution with the ZFH1500. This polymer mount allows you to attach a tactical light to the rifle by locking it onto the A2 sight base. It sells for less than $30 and is worth every penny.
User manuals are included with every new gun purchased, but far too many are poorly written and offer little benefit to the owner. However, the Del-Ton manual included with the Extreme Duty 316 is a solid reference on the company’s AR-15 rifles. It has plenty of clear diagrams and is written in a way that is easy to understand for even the beginning shooter. Many manufacturers could learn a lot about the right way to write a manual by studying the Del-Ton example.
At The Range
Even though the AR-15 is generally considered debugged technology, the real proof of a gun is on the range. It has been my experience that Del-Ton rifles run well and deliver respectable accuracy. The Extreme Duty 316 was very much in keeping with my experiences.
Out of the box, the rifle was on paper at 100 yards. I ran five different loads through the rifle: two different 55-grain ball loads, the Gorilla Ammunition 69-grain match load, the 55-grain Hornady TAP load and an HPR Ammunition load using a 60-grain V-MAX bullet. All of the rounds were reasonably accurate with the iron sights, grouping 4 inches or less. The best groups were all less than 3 inches.
While I did not drag the gun behind my boat through some swamp, it was dropped in the sand, bounced around the inside of my vehicle on some back roads and sucked up lots of salt air. The gun did not appear to notice any of it. Every round fed and fired, as I would expect. Also, after several weeks, I did not see any sign of corrosion or other problems.
At the moment, the black rifle market is relatively quiet. Recent panic buying is just a memory and shooters can find any number of AR-15 rifles on the dealers’ shelves right now. For a shooter, you are not likely to find a better time to buy an AR-15 than today.
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My sample Extreme Duty 316 ran great and I am happy to recommend it if its features meet your needs. Something to keep in mind is that Del-Ton has been around for years, uses all U.S.-sourced parts and backs its guns with a lifetime warranty. A lot of small shop AR builders popped up during the buying craze, but will they be here in a few years should your rifle ever need service? Del-Ton will.
For more information, visit del-ton.com or call 910-645-2172.