Sabre Defence Industries AR-15 .223/5.56mm Light Varmint Rifle


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

August 18th, 2005




Sad music ainít the only thing to come out of Nashville. In addition to the rare really good song to rise above the same old rehashed drivel pumped out by the big record moguls, Sabre Defence Industries of Nashville, Tennessee builds some of the best small arms in use by our military around the world. Aside from their M2 .50 Caliber machine guns, they also manufacture barrels for the electric Minigun. On a recent visit to Sabre Defence, I also saw some interesting products that I cannot mention. One product of Sabre Defence that I can share is that they are producing an extensive line of AR-15/M-16 rifles for civilian and military use.

Sabre Defence (this spelling is correct, by the way, regardless of what my spell-checker tells me) builds its weapons using a combination of some good old vintage tooling along with state-of-the-art CNC technology to produce weapons and system parts to the highest standards. Featured here is a variation of the AR-15 that they call their Light Varmint Rifle.

The AR-15 system in general makes a very good platform for a varmint rifle, if done correctly. Most builders of AR-15 rifles have one or more varmint rifles in their lineup. However, most just stick a bull barrel on a basic AR and leave it at that. Besides a quality barrel, a good varmint rifle must have a light, crisp trigger. Most manufacturers ignore this fact, and put a seven pound trigger on a "varmint" rifle. That donít cut it. Also, most makers build their rifles too heavy for field use. They might be fine for a prairie dog gun that is fired from one position all day, but they are a beast to handle and carry. The Sabre Defence Light Varmint Rifle uses a barrel that is of a smaller diameter than most, and they equip the rifle with a match grade trigger.

The Light Varmint Rifle is set up nicely for what is referred to as a "walking varminter", which is a weapon that is actually carried in pursuit of vermin and predators, such as groundhogs and coyotes. The rifle weighs seven pounds and three ounces. It wears a twenty inch black oxide finished stainless steel barrel with a one-in-eight-inch twist that thankfully has no apparatus of any kind attached to the muzzle. The muzzle is finished with a recessed target crown. The barrel diameter forward of the hand guard measures .725 inch in diameter. The ventilated aluminum tubular hand guard free-floats the barrel, and is drilled and tapped to accept accessory mounts, such as the bipod mount pictured.  The Light Varmint Rifle has exceptional balance, and the superb two-stage trigger and ergonomic grip make it easy to shoot well. The trigger pull measured just two pounds and eleven ounces. The rifle is of flattop configuration with a Picatinny rail integral with the top of the upper receiver. The receiver upper and forged lower fit tightly, with no perceptible play between the two. The upper has standard A2 features such as a round forward assist and built-in case deflector.

For testing, a Leupold VX-1 4 to 12 x 40mm variable scope was mounted in Warne rings. This is an excellent scope for the Light Varmint Rifle. It is not too large, has very good optical quality, and ample power to handle just about any varmint hunting need.  The turrets are low-profile, and the power ring operates very smoothly. It is also reasonably priced, and has Leupoldís great lifetime warranty.

Shooting the Sabre rifle with a variety of factory ammo, functioning was flawless. Every cartridge fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. Accuracy varied depending upon the ammo, with five-shot one hundred yard groups ranging from a worst of one and five-eighths inches to just under one-half inch for the best group fired. Again, the trigger made a world of difference in the ability of this rifle to shoot well. Buying a target grade rifle with a standard trigger, it is very hard to realize the accuracy potential of the weapon.

In building the Light Varmint, Sabre Defence has done everything right. They use the highest quality parts, assembled precisely, to achieve the ideal walking varmint rifle. Itís weight, balance, accuracy, and flawless functioning also make it very well suited as a rifle that can do double duty for social work. This is an AR-15 that handles exceptionally well, and can precisely place its shots on target with ease. Whether the varmint is a coyote raiding the hen house, or a felon intent on ruining your life, the Sabre Defence Light Varmint rifle will serve you well.

Check out the extensive line of Sabre Defence products online at:

For more information on the full line of Leupold optics, go to:

Jeff Quinn


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Sabre Defence Industries AR-15 .223/5.56mm Light Varmint Rifle.













Leupold's excellent VX-1 4-12 x 40mm variable scope mounted in Warne rings proved to be just the ticket for taking advantage of the inherent accuracy of the Sabre Defence Light Varmint AR-15.



Grant Morgan of Sabre Defence Industries with a rack of M2 .50-caliber machine gun barrels.



Sabre Defence Industries combines cutting-edge technology with "old-world" craftsmanship to create their product line.



Sabre Defense Industries' corporate philosophy is evident from this sign posted on their machinery.



Worker with a Sabre-produced barrel for an electric Minigun.



A rack of receiver plates for the M2 machine gun.