Customized Bushmaster XM-15


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

October 23rd, 2002




Bushmaster Firearms in Windham, Maine has long been a supplier of high quality AR-15 type rifles in their excellent XM-15 line. About a year ago, I tested and fell in love with one of their new Varminter precision rifles. It is, to this date, the most accurate .223 caliber rifle that I have ever fired. If anyone tells you that an AR-15 is inaccurate, they obviously have not fired a Bushmaster!

While most shooters know that Bushmaster makes a wide assortment of XM-15 configurations (over a dozen different catalog models), many are not aware of the vast number of accessories available from Bushmaster to fully customize an AR-15 type weapon. Bushmaster offers add-ons and accessories to fit not only their line of weapons, but those of other manufacturers as well. The rifle shown here in this article is not a standard Bushmaster catalog item. It was assembled on a Bushmaster receiver from parts readily available from the Bushmaster parts catalog.

One of the more noticeable features of this rifle is Bushmaster’s new match grade stainless steel heavy barrel. Many precision shooters prefer a high quality stainless barrel, and this is one of the best available. It features a one-in-nine-inch rifling twist and a recessed crown to enhance accuracy.  From the accompanying photograph, it is easily seen that this barrel can shoot! Five-eighths of an inch groups at 100 yards were regularly fired using my standard varmint hunting load. Good quality ammo using a match grade bullet will no doubt  group a bit tighter.

Bushmaster’s new hand guard featuring the BMAS (Bushmaster Modular Accessories System) configuration is built to accommodate the great plethora of accessories and sight systems available to mount on an AR-15 type weapon. There is an almost endless list of attachments to fit an AR, and the BMAS allows great latitude in mounting them along the entire hand guard. The BMAS hand guard is free-floated from the barrel nut forward so as not to interfere with accuracy or point of impact. The BMAS has four mounting rails spaced ninety degrees apart and running the entire length of the hand guard. This offers great latitude in mounting a bipod, laser, scout scope, flashlight, infrared, red-dot, or a multitude of other accessories. 

The sights on this rifle are also part of the BMAS line of products. They are precision made aperture sights that fold neatly out of the way when not in use. The rear sight attaches  to any flattop receiver and the front attaches easily to a rail-top gas block, such as the BMAS three-rail gas block shown here. For attaching  a scope to any flattop AR, the Bushmaster Mini Riser blocks are indispensable to allow proper clearance with standard scope rings. These are the same risers that are supplied with the superb Varminter rifle, and are just the right height for a high powered scope sight.

One unusual accessory on this customized XM-15 is the pistol grip. Upon first inspection, it looked out of place on an AR, but it proved to be the most comfortable pistol grip that I have ever used on any AR-15 type rifle. It is the Pachmayr Vindicator grip, and is also available from the Bushmaster catalog.

In addition to the items featured here, Bushmaster has hundreds more available to fully customize your existing rifle, or you can build your own from the receiver up from the Bushmaster catalog. They also offer complete upper and lower receiver assemblies, scope sights, stocks, and assembly tools, in addition to accessories for other weapon systems such as the Mini-14 and Uzi.

Check out the complete line of Bushmaster rifles and accessories online at:, or call toll free to request a catalog at: 1-800-998-7928

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Jeff thinks Bushmaster is making some of the finest AR-15 style rifles ever made, and this XM-15 is no exception.



The BMAS (Bushmaster Modular Accessories System) free-floating 4-rail handguard accommodates virtually any of the seemingly-endless number of rail-mount accessories available for the AR-15.



Even the gas block is available with three mounting rails! Shown here is Bushmaster's excellent BMAS rail-mount folding front sight.



Bushmaster's mini scope riser blocks are perfectly-suited for mounting a high-powered scope sight.



The customized XM-15 features a Pachmayr Vindicator pistol grip. Author considers this to be the most comfortable grip he's ever used on an AR-15 type rifle.



The stainless heavy barrel features a 1-9" twist and recessed crown as an aid to accuracy.



Speaking of accuracy, the Bushmaster XM-15 is as accurate as Jeff has come to expect from Bushmaster rifles. 5/8" groups at 100 yards were the norm with Jeff's favorite varmint loads.