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I'm a sucker for novel and unusual firearms, and also like "retro" sort of gear. Thus the weirdness and the Vietnam-esque lines of the M96 appeal to me.

I understand that the XCR is widely viewed as an overall improvement over the M96. However, setting aside the greater modularity and accessorisability of the XCR, in what ways is the M96 arguably better just as a straight-up iron-sighted .223 fighting rifle?


Part of the reason I ask: I may be going to work overseas for a few years, and if I'm going to buy a rifle and only shoot it a couple times a year when I visit the US on vacation, I want it to be a rifle that's worth buying and saving for the long run, rather than something hot 'n' new (Sabre/Steyr AUG) that won't be cutting edge in 3 years when I move back to the U.S., and rather than a plain ol' AK/AR like everyone else has.

One other question: I'm only 5'6", and kinda dig light and small weapons, like pencil barreled ARs, etc. I understand the M96 is kind of heavy, but a lot of folks say that due to the ergos it doesn't "feel" heavy. Any explanation there?

If RA does a run of Recon Commando carbines while I've overseas, I'll be tempted to call my FFL dealer and have on waiting for me when I come back to visit in the U.S.
 

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I shoot them both regularly... here's what I have found

XCR vs M96 barrel - The XCR barrel comes right out every time. The M96 barrel has never been "quick change". If they had made the design similar to what the XCR is now, it would have been much easier.

Receviers - The XCR's receivers are forged aluminum. They almost always come out perfect unless there is a programming error. The M96 receivers are made of steel, and 3 hours of welding are put into each rifle. There's a joke around here we use a lot... "M96 broken? Tap the sides with a rubber mallet."

XCR bolt vs. M96 bolt - the XCR bolt looks quite a bit like an AK bolt. If any of you own a VEPR, take a good look at the extractor and main bolt design. No lugs, solid extractor, and altogether a solid design. The M96 bolt has lugs - which can and do shear off, just like in ARs. I have had extractors break, bolt bodies snap in half, etc. (keep in mind this is just what I see come in for repairs)
As for the XCR... with the exception of a broken firing pin here or there (which has NOTHING to do with the design. It has to do with them not being properly polished during process) and a missing chamfer once in a while(again, a step missed in process), the bolt design is perfect. I have NEVER seen an extractor wear out.
One customer bought a used rifle that had not been turned in for proper recall upgrades. The poor guy shot it, it slam fired, and it ended up in my shop. The bolt had flown back so hard the carrier split into 3 pieces... and the bolt itself was still perfectly intact.

The XCR is easier to field strip and put back together, easier to clean, and more reliable. Statistics prove it.

Could the M96 equal it in those categories? Maybe someday. But it would require a lot of platform changes, a lot of R&D time, and a lot of money, which is key.

The M96 is a blast to shoot - don't get me wrong. But as far as versatility and ergonomics, the XCR wins.

This is all IMO, guys. ;)
 

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It's a no brainer the XCR is the better gun.

I would like the M96 but not because it's better than the XCR
 

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M96 vs XCR ? Here's my take.

The M96 is a great design but was discontinued for economic reasons. Although parallel in many ways conceptually,the XCR Is not a product improved M96. It is its own clean sheet design. The M96 could be switched to top feed and even though belt feed was never made it was designed. Not just a rifle but a reconfigurable truly multi role weapons system. The XCR was meant to be a rifle from the get go and nothing else, so no compromises were necessary.

M96 bolt has six lugs that are larger and have more bearing surface and shear area than the AR15 bolt and the stresses are evenly distributed. True there were a few that were a little too hard and cracked at the cam pin hole but only a few rifles were affected . Robinson made good on those. To my knowledge none have ever been publicly written about on the internet since 1999 as having lugs shear off so I suspect serious overpressure issues with what Terra has seen. XCR bolt is even more durable and has what I believe to be the near perfect extraction system. Winner, XCR.

Receiver; I like the joke "tap with rubber hammer". in a phone conversation with a Robarm factory person involved in the development in 2000 I asked how long the receiver was expected to last as its made out of heat treated Stainless with a surface conversion process for a finish. He would not answer directly but it did slip that the service life was expected in excess twice the service life of a FAL receiver. That said each one was essentially hand made. Difficult and more expensive to make to make than the XCR. M96 production never kept up with demand despite the M96 costing more then than the XCR does now. XCR has the integral rails on the fore end. Winner, XCR.

Barrel; The M96 trunnion and barrel extension are made to fit very closely. some barrels will pop right in and out. Some are a bit snug requiring a twist back and forth while pulling to remove. No screw to loosen just a lever to press. Winner,Tie.

Trigger and Ergos; Every M96 I have handled had the nicest out of the box production service rifle trigger I have ever seen bar none, period. XCR safety is a bit easier to reach and manipulate with smaller or gloved hands. Winner; Tie

Handling qualities; They are a subjective thing. In a side by side comparison you will find the M96 exhibits a not muzzle heavy but weight forward balance, centered right at the barrel latch. The XCR (light barrel) has more neutral balance. Winner, Take your pick.

Some like to describe the magazine as riding higher in the rifle for a more in line feed angle in the XCR.(That's a good thing) To my eye its the barrel that sits lower in the action and in relationship to the comb and toe of stock. I think that's why it has so little muzzle jump and your sights stay on the center of the target just like the M96 despite the XCR weighing less. They both exhibit the least muzzle jump of any 5.56mm platform that I have tested to date.

My advice is if you can get both do it.

If you can have only one get the XCR.
 

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Call me crazy, but any gun you can take a mallet to for fixing gets a big thumbs up from me :D
VB,

If you don't stop talking about the M96 :blah: , I'm going to tell your XCR the next time we go and shoot.... ;D I have to agree with Terra on this...

The M96 is an awsome rifle, I am still kicking myself for not buying one when I had the chance about 7 years ago. Very stable platform, very smooth, really easy to shoot. Given the choice I would take an M96 over and AR and the XCR over the M96.
 

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M.V., Dredd, The 96 is not obsolete, just out of production. It is still a valid G.P.R. platform.
 

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I've had a few hours to play with the M96 and XCR side by side and weigh some of the strengths and weaknesses of each.

On the downside

The M96 is older, tougher to build and heavier. It obviously isn't anywhere near as modular. It's complex too. The bolt is a more fragile design, and the ejection isn't as robust. My M96 also lacks the ambi bolt release (will be resolved shortly). The safety isn't as well placed, neither is the mag release and the grip has some gaps and edges that eat skin. The M96 is a pain in the ass to take down compared to the XCR as well. The LOP is too long as well

The charging handle is way too high, which sucks on the SCAR, and the ACR. If you add a top rail optics placement will be affected

It has a QD barrel system that is far more complex

On the upside...

The M96 takes a much greater craftsmanship to get right and it shows. There is a certain refinement you don't get from aluminum, assembly line guns like the XCR, AR15 and SCAR. If you have ever played with a SIG 551, FNC or HK roller locked gun you know what I mean.

The M96 modular magwell can, if utilized, offer functionality greater than the XCR. The M96 has native sights and a nicely molded stock to ensure tight shouldering and lock up even with rapid shots

The M96 trigger buries the XCR trigger. It's very light and smooth, without being spongy and flaccid like the SIG 556, with no trigger slap.

The M96 also shoots smoother at the expense of being harder to take down and maintain. The M96 BCG isn't pushed forward by a return spring like an AR15 or XCR. Instead, it is pulled forward. This changes the recoil impulse dramatically. The XCR has a mild, light but sudden and sharp recoil pop. The M96 has smooth evenly distributed impulse that feels gradual in build up.

The M96 balances slightly better, but then again my XCR's Eotech skews things

Lastly, the proportions of the M96 Recon are better which translate to a more aesthetically pleasing lines. No long barrel jutting out the front end like the like an M4, XCR or SCAR

So all in the the XCR is the better gun, but the M96 is a very good gun. It's SCAR-ish features are nice for re-barreling or changing barrel lengths. Hell I would take the M96 over a SIG 556 without question
 

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I've had a few hours to play with the M96 and XCR side by side and weigh some of the strengths and weaknesses of each.

On the downside

The M96 is older, tougher to build and heavier. It obviously isn't anywhere near as modular. It's complex too. The bolt is a more fragile design, and the ejection isn't as robust. My M96 also lacks the ambi bolt release (will be resolved shortly). The safety isn't as well placed, neither is the mag release and the grip has some gaps and edges that eat skin. The M96 is a pain in the ass to take down compared to the XCR as well. The LOP is too long as well
It gets real fast and easy with a bit of practice
Email me for drawings and the procedure to shorten LOP by a half an inch
The charging handle is way too high, which sucks on the SCAR, and the ACR. If you add a top rail optics placement will be affected depends on your mount

It has a QD barrel system that is far more complex you will get used to the push button

On the upside...

The M96 takes a much greater craftsmanship to get right and it shows. There is a certain refinement you don't get from aluminum, assembly line guns like the XCR, AR15 and SCAR. If you have ever played with a SIG 551, FNC or HK roller locked gun you know what I mean.

The M96 modular magwell can, if utilized, offer functionality greater than the XCR. The M96 has native sights and a nicely molded stock to ensure tight shouldering and lock up even with rapid shots

The M96 trigger buries the XCR trigger. It's very light and smooth, without being spongy and flaccid like the SIG 556, with no trigger slap.

The M96 also shoots smoother at the expense of being harder to take down and maintain. The M96 BCG isn't pushed forward by a return spring like an AR15 or XCR. Instead, it is pulled forward. This changes the recoil impulse dramatically. The XCR has a mild, light but sudden and sharp recoil pop. The M96 has smooth evenly distributed impulse that feels gradual in build up.

The M96 balances slightly better, but then again my XCR's Eotech skews things

Lastly, the proportions of the M96 Recon are better which translate to a more aesthetically pleasing lines. No long barrel jutting out the front end like the like an M4, XCR or SCAR

So all in the the XCR is the better gun, but the M96 is a very good gun. It's SCAR-ish features are nice for re-barreling or changing barrel lengths. Hell I would take the M96 over a SIG 556 without question
VB, not quoting to piss on your shoes or any thing. just easier to share insights. my hand hurt pm you later.
Welcome to the club.
 

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I would really like to get an M96 some day. If they do a limited run on them I will be on one like booze stink on a Kennedy.
Ted Kennedy's car has killed more people than my XCR!

SheepDog :2rifle:
 

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David's Gun Room, in Norcross, GA, had an M96 up on the wall when I picked up my XCR late last year. Wonder if it's still there...
 

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Terra, nice review. Well put.
 
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