Caracal CAR816 A2 Impressions

The Facts

Enter the CAR816A2. I’ll skip the history lesson, instead watch an informative Youtube video by Small Arms Solutions to get educated.

Highlights that set this apart from your average AR style rifle

  • Piston-driven
  • Manufactured for Caracal USA in New Hampshire by Wilcox
  • Passed NATO testing standards
  • OTB safety feature in the barrel extension
  • Powder-filled buffer
  • Anti-tilt carrier with sand cuts
  • Spring-loaded pin (in lower) to keep tension between lower and upper

Opening the box you receive a number of items in addition to the rifle itself:

  • OTIS cleaning kit
  • Two-point sling
  • Lock
  • Instruction Manual
  • Lancer AWM L5 30 round magazine

The OTIS cleaning kit is nice. It includes everything you need to maintain the rifle from a cleaning and lubrication perspective in a nice portable package.

The sling is less impressive but functional. This sling has QD sling attachments, both of which are noticeably thinner than Daniel Defense or Magpul equivalents. The strap material is acceptable.

Upon inspection of the rifle it was immediately obvious it is well made. The rifle was well oiled from the factory, including grease on the safety selector, buffer tube, and buffer spring. For comparison, the fit-and-finish rivalled a factory-new Daniel Defense M4V5.

The bolt carrier and inside of the upper was wiped down and lubricated with LSA (Lubricating Oil, Semi-Fluid) prior to taking to the range.

The First Few Rounds

175 rounds were put through the rifle; a mix of steel 62gr Wolf .223 and brass Federal .223 55gr. Weather was intermittent rain and cold (approximately 36F), with no wind.

Initially there were several failure-to-feeds with the Wolf .223. After firing a round, the bolt would completely slide over the next round without extracting it from the magazine. Recharging the rifle would fix it until the next failure-to-feed.

The gas setting was changed to adverse which fixed the issue for 20 rounds, afterwhich the problem returned. I was handed a spare Magpul PMAG M3 magazine which proved reliable for the remainder of the shooting session, even when changing the gas setting back to standard.

The brass Federal ammunication did not cause a problem during the shooting session, even when used with the Lancer magazine.

Interestingly the rifle did not require sighting in. The iron sights were on the money out-of-the-box and hits to a 12” target at 110 yards were immediately possible. Nice.

Recoil was slightly more than a carbine-length direct impingment gun, nothing that would cause you to change the way you shoot.

In closing

Obviously 175 rounds isn’t enough rounds to make any reasonable determination of reliability, but I doubt I’ll be reaching the round counts needed to pass NATO testing anytime soon. Between that and the combined pedigree of the designers, I’m confident in the rifle.

Something that I would like to see from Caracal is an extended handguard option. The included handguard works, but it is short. The current length is perfect for the 11” upper, but we’re missing out on several inches of real-estate with a 16” barrel. Food for thought.