Bushmaster's New Camo-Finished  Predator AR-15 Semi-Auto Rifle in .223/5.56mm

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

August 28th, 2007

 

 

 

It has been several years since I first wrote about Bushmasterís then-new Varminter AR-15 rifle. I received one of the first ones built, and it proved to be everything that I ever wanted in an AR-15 varmint gun. The trigger pull was great, and the accuracy outstanding. I liked it enough to send a check to Bushmaster instead of their rifle back.

Since then, I have received emails from numerous readers who have read the review, purchased the Varminter, and found it to be everything that I said it was.

With the Varminter, Bushmaster got everything just right. It is well-balanced with a heavy, but not too heavy, twenty-four inch barrel. Most AR builders get their varmint hunting rifles too heavy. The Varminter is not. Another feature that I love is that it does not have a chrome-lined bore. If I was using the rifle for social work in a remote South American jungle, I might want a chrome-lined bore, but I am not, and do not.  The Varminter is all about accuracy. If chrome-lined bores were more accurate, every bench rest and Olympic target rifle would have a chrome-lined bore. They do not. Thankfully, Bushmaster realizes this fact. I wish that others would also.  The Varminter trigger is adjustable, and is an excellent unit for accurate target and hunting work. I detest a heavy trigger pull on a hunting rifle. I like the trigger on my Varminter. It is a two-stage unit, and works very well. Without going into every detail of the Varminter, I refer the reader to that previous article.

The rifle featured here is, basically, a Varminter with a shorter barrel. Some hunters prefer a shorter tube, and this new Predator has a twenty-inch barrel that is, thankfully, the same profile as the Varminter. It is free-floated in the aluminum handguard, and fluted to promote quicker cooling, reduce weight, and just plain look good.  Bushmaster also gave the Predator a rifling twist on one turn in eight inches, instead of the one-in-nine of the Varminter, to better stabilize long, heavy bullets.  I am also thankful that the handguard of the Predator and Varminter rifles are not cluttered with chunks of Picatinny rail all over it. The Predator comes with no sights, but a flattop Picatinny rail makes mounting a good hunting scope easy. The shorter barrel makes the Predator handier than the Varminter to maneuver in brush or woods, and it results in only a marginal loss of velocity compared to the Varminterís twenty-four inch barrel. The Predator weighs in on my scale at 7 pounds 14.7 ounces.  The overall length is 38.25 inches, and the trigger pull releases cleanly at 4 pounds 1 ounce. Most of the trigger pull weight is in the take-up, making the actual release feel much lighter. It is a good trigger.

The finish on this camo Predator sets it apart from the standard Predator. The receiver, stock, pistol grip, and forend are all camouflaged in a very effective pattern for varmint hunting in various terrain. The steel parts such as the barrel and gas block are a matte black. Overall, it is a very unique and good-looking rifle.

I mounted a Leupold 8.5 to 25 power Mark 4 scope atop the Predator using Leupold rings, and it made for a very effective and accurate package. The optics are superb, and clearly seeing the target was easy to do. I fired the Predator using a variety of ammunition, and accuracy was very good, ranging from just over an inch with Lake City ball, down to just over one-quarter inch with Winchester Supreme 55 grain Ballistic Silvertip, as can be seen in the picture. That Winchester load would duplicate that group all day long in that rifle.

Thereís not a lot more to say about the Predator that I have not already said about the Varminter. The camo finish on this Predator makes for a very good-looking rifle, and the four inches shorter barrel makes the Predator a little handier than my Varminter. I love my Varminter, but if there has ever been a .223 rifle that just might could take its place, this new Predator would be it. There are many good AR-15 rifles now on the market, and choosing one out of the many can be difficult. This Bushmaster Predator excels in so many ways, it is easily one of the better choices. If you want to hang a lot of flashlights, lasers, flip-up sights, particle beams, and other gear on your rifle, there are better choices.

However, if you want a superbly accurate, perfectly balanced, good-looking AR with a great trigger, the Bushmaster Predator might be your best bet.

Check out the Predator and other Bushmaster products online at www.bushmaster.com.

For the location of a Bushmaster dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER icon at  www.lipseys.com.

Jeff Quinn

For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to:

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Bushmaster's New Camo-Finished  Predator AR-15 Semi-Auto Rifle in .223/5.56mm.

 

 

The Predator (right) is basically a shorter-barreled version of Jeff's favorite AR-15, Bushmaster's excellent Varminter rifle (left).

 

 

 

 

Barrel is free-floated and fluted.

 

 

 

 

Sling attachments are included.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjustable trigger.

 

 

Buttstock features a storage compartment.

 

 

The Predator comes with a five-round magazine, but Jeff prefers military 20-round mags.

 

 

 

 

A great gun deserves a great scope, such as Leupold's 8.5-20x variable, mounted in Leupold rings.

 

 

100-yard 3-shot group shows the superb accuracy of the Predator.