Cold Dead Hands Reviews: Renshaw Firearms RF-15

In Reviews by Patrick JamesLeave a Comment


So first I’m going to give you a bit of background on the rifle itself: They call their AR-15 the RF-15-B Ranger (they also offer an RFC bull barrel and a Magpul MOE). The heart and soul of this baby, the receivers, begins life as solid blocks of 7075-T6 aluminum (an aluminum alloy with zinc as the primary alloying element. Its strength is comparable to many steels, with great fatigue strength and average machinability, but with much less weight. It has more resistance to corrosion than many Al alloys, but it’s high cost limits its use to applications where cheaper alloys are not suitable). Of note; “If you have Aluminum uppers and lowers on your AR’s, and they haven’t used at least 7075… you might want to check and make sure they’re made from some type of solid stock.
Now they also hard-coat anodize their receivers. HCA is an electro-chemical process that applies a corrosion resistant coating, chemically bonded to the surfaces of Aluminum, creating a surface coating with hardness characteristics, second only to diamonds and it also allows them to create the “matte-black” finish.  This coating it what truly helps prevent the corrosion that all Al alloys are susceptable to, but combined with the more expensive and corrosion resistance of 7075-T6 alloy and you have a superior upper and lower…  the heart and soul of all ARs.
Now I know that any manufacturer can start with these materials, done in the same configurations and create the uppers and lowers for a mil-spec AR, but this is where Scott and crew have become “overachievers”. They have taken this billet, which is 60% stronger than an aluminum casting (99.9% of receivers are cast with the rest being billeted or forged), used insanely tight tolerances and created perfection. Most shooters know that casting creates weaknesses in the structural integrity of the metal and is the cheaper process, thus cheaper overall cost to the consumer and a higher fail rate in performance. Which is better as far as; “forged vs billet”? Well, that discussion needs to be left for another day, as we need to get back on track
Scott Renshaw has applied his vast years of experience in the medical community, combined it with the many years of military experience his team has, and then using the precision surgical tools of his trade, via their state-of-the-art 4 axis milling machine, created an “upper and lower” receiver with tolerances of +/- .0002″. The magazine well is broached to an extremely tight tolerance, providing an excellent finish that ensures proper capture and release of the mag… “every time, for its lifetime.” (their claim). They are MIL-SPEC (of course there’s no auto feature), but the tolerances have been adjusted for a tighter fit between the upper and lower, resulting in improved accuracy… “You can literally feel the quality of our rifles when you shoulder one.” This is another one of their claims, so I must start addressing my impressions of their creation.

The RFC came shipped in a soft-sided, foam fitted hardcase (Bull Dog 595) with “desert tan” furniture by Magpul as well as two complimenting pmags and a tan EOTech 553 optic. Now, I know having all the matching goodies does not a “shooter” make, but she sure was pretty… and nobody minds a few compliments from their buddies regarding the sexiness of a new toy. They also sell all the accessories you could want to complete your package, at dealer cost including furniture, scopes, optics, bi-pods… you name it, all at a no-mark up price.

The first thing I did was shoulder this new “lass” (as most every one of us do), and without a doubt, she was comfortable. I then proceeded to make a quick phone call, to secure 1,000 rounds of IMI 5.56 ammunition (my preferred mass-produced ammo, whose review will be coming soon) and made plans to take a trip to our private range. Now, I’ve shot quite a few different manufacturers AR’s (although I make NO claim to being an expert with them), since the many years of my experience was relegated to hunting with bolt or lever action rifles. Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t state the obvious; the AR platform can and does make a great hunting rifle. 

It took a few weeks to get our plans together, which was frustrating to say the least and then life got in the way with the loss of my wife, but we finally managed to get this little darlin’ throwing some lead downrange and she did not disappoint.

I sighted in the EOTech (at 60 yards since I intended to do most of the reviews in a CQB type scenario), even though I know she is accurate at much further ranges; but the way she feels in my hands, smacks of a “door kicker’s” tools. The first day we ran 250 rounds of the IMI ammunition through an unfired receiver that had simply been lubricated with FrogLube. Scott, of course warned that it may require a “warm-up, break-in” period, but she got NO mercy from myself or my buddy, Robbie Allmon from Patriot Protection (Lead Instructor, former Marine with two Afghan deployments, LEO and SWAT instructor) as we ran her through her paces.

From beginning to end… The Renshaw RF performed flawlessly. We did not experience any failures to feed, eject or misfire (which speaks volumes for the ammunition and the precision machining of this finely crafted firearm). We took her out to 120 yards and experienced success all the way in to the 10 yard range that met or exceeded our typical shooting abilities. With the addition of a Magpul, single point sling, Robbie ran her through some of his CQB drills and the smile on his face relayed his appreciation for the attention to details Renshaw has incorporated into their AR platform RF. He stated that out of all the AR’s he has used (he wished she was full auto; and to note, she maybe be available this way in the future) this little lady is rapidly becoming one of his all-time favorites. She is comfortable and compact… Lightweight and durable… and it does not take long for her to become a complete extension of your body.

Is the Renshaw Firearms RF-15, the best thing since “perforated toilet paper”? I may not go that far, although I believe when ArmaLite had their vision back in the early 50s, they hit upon one of the most prolific platforms of all time (barring Mr. Brownings 1911), what can I say? I’m a 1911 fan. The Renshaw version of that prolific design is absolutely beautiful in looks and functionality. Is it the BEST? That is a claim I would be unwilling to put my name on, but one of the best? I can confidently place that distinction without hesitation. As for their claims: I can say, one of the biggest complaints I’ve seen on billeted lowers is their “finicky” attitude toward different magazine manufacturers. I used 5 different mags with this girl, and I didn’t see anything that I would consider “finicky”. She was able to accept steel, right along with the composite mags and she released them without incident. As for their claim to “being able to feel the difference when you shoulder their AR’s” I would tend to agree with that claim. There is a noticeable difference in the feel of this rifle. She is tight (alright, quit thinking like a teenage boy), and there is absolutely no play in the upper and lower receivers. She has a very good throw to the shoulder and is very well balanced in the shooting or carrying position.

All in all, I would say that Scott and the rest of the boys from Renshaw Firearms are “right on target” with their claims as well as their workmanship. As for their pricing, although in the upper range in the world of ARs ($1450-2000) depending on what you want them to do with it (as well as what you expect from your weapons), is extremely competitive with a majority of the custom AR manufacturers. I can only assume that with time, Renshaw is going to capture a significant portion of the custom AR market.

In this on-going review, I will continue to give my impressions as I find new and interesting ways to test her in extreme conditions. I will also be putting her in the hands of shooters who are much more capable than myself, such as Robbie Allmon and get their impressions as well. Video reviews will be forthcoming, so keep your eyes open for them as we bring them to our YouTube channel Finally, I want to thank Scott Renshaw for sending me this little gem… She is all your promised and more. The problem for you now is… prying her from my Cold Dead Hands and all I can say about that is: Good Luck!

Until next time…

Gun Up and Carry… Because this country needs more Patriots that bleed; RED, WHITE AND BLUE!

Patrick James

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