We are living in some of the best of times for AR-15 rifle fans. It isn’t difficult to manufacture a quality AR-15, given good materials and attention to detail. Just the same, the combination of reliability, accuracy, and handling isn’t often found in the price range of the Del-Ton Echo.
The AR-15 has been a model of ergonomics and efficiency in personal defense, competition, and hunting for decades. The rifle is America’s rifle, and millions are in use. Most of us find the AR-15 to be our favorite recreational rifle. 3-Gun competition, hunting varmints and medium-sized game, and personal defense may be handled with the same rifle.
Del-Ton is recognized as offering a good value for a modest price tag. It offers good-quality parts, barrels, and receivers as well. I was recently able to give the Echo 316M a good test session. I can only report to you my results in a week of shooting this rifle. However, past experience has been good with other Del-Ton rifles.
This rifle is my best performing Del-Ton so far. Entry level is often thrown around as a descriptor, and that’s okay. But it is very easy to update any AR with an aftermarket trigger and your choice of optics. Purchasing a rifle with a M-Lok rail and good ‘build quality’ is always the right way to go.
Del-Ton Echo 316M Specifications
- Platform: AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, optics-ready carbine
- Caliber: 5.56 NATO (also accepts .223 Remington)
- Magazine: 30 Rounds
- Barrel: 16-inch mid-weight medium barrel with M4 feed ramps
- 1:8 twist with a threaded muzzle and A2 flash hider
- Manganese Phosphate finish
- Gas system: Mid-length
- Receivers: Forged 7075 T6 aluminum
- Handguard: 15-inch M-Lok free-float
- Buffer tube: MIL-SPEC sized
- Stock: MIL-SPEC M4 collapsible
- Finish: Black hard coat anodized
- Overall length: 32.625 to 36.375 inches
- Weight: 7 pounds
- Flat top upper
- Phosphated 8620 steel carrier assembly
- MIL-SPEC chrome lined carrier
- Chrome lined, properly staked and sealed gas key with grade 8 screws
- Made in the USA
Del-Ton 316M: On the Range
I fired the rifle to the best of my ability, collecting facts and leaving interpretation for last. I can report that this rifle isn’t at the entry level. Instead, it’s closer to the middle range of things —a good place to be.
It’s easy to take a quality product and cheapen it to sell. Del-Ton doesn’t appear to be guilty of these cost cutting measures. Economy of manufacture is a different thing. They don’t scrimp on inspections and proper fitting. The rifle is supplied with a nice, free-floating M-Lok rail. Del-Ton barrels are famously good quality.
The twist rate is 1:8, a good overall choice for most shooting needs. The coated barrel is resistant to corrosion. The bolt carrier group is nicely coated, and the gas key properly staked in place. The bolt and bolt carrier are well machined. I don’t think durability will be an issue with this rifle. I have built rifles and spent more, but in the final analysis, did not have as nice a rifle as this one.
The anodized upper and lower receivers are well finished. Fit isn’t tight/tight, but it is good. The trigger action is typical stock AR, breaking at 6.0 pounds. The 16-inch barrel peeks out of a 15-inch handguard. The Echo 316M features a mid-weight barrel. Many middle weights and some lightweight barrels shoot very well.
The M-Lok rail is easily set up for combat lights or a vertical grip. The handguard responds well to a forward grip. The handguard is thick enough for a good gripping surface but thin enough not to overstretch your grip.
The stock is the typical, adjustable AR stock. It is as good as most, and properly attached with the castle nut staked as it should be. I look for slips and a lack of attention to detail. It’s what I do in a personal gun. With the Echo 316M, I found none.
Del-Ton has told us it takes pride in its inspection process, and it has paid off. The pistol grip is standard fare and works ok. I may replace it, if I decide that I care enough — after all the rifle performs well.
I am of the opinion the rifle is properly gassed. Over gassing is when the rifle is tuned to be certain to function even with off-spec ammunition. While it works ok, the result is greater wear on the reciprocating parts.
Function and recoil impulse, as well as ejection of spent cases, is normal for an in-spec AR-15 rifle. Since the rifle performed well with 40-grain loads, I would say it is versatile in many roles.
The rifle is supplied with a single aluminum magazine, in contrast to the usual polymer-frame magazine. The C Products DuraMag is very good indeed. I elected to test the rifle with a range of ammunition, but first I selected an optic.
I mounted a SIG Romeo7 red dot sight. I have used this red dot on at least a half-dozen rifles with excellent results. When rifles come and go for testing and evaluation, and you need a dependable optic, the Romeo7 is my go to. In this case, I may leave it on the Del-Ton and find another optic for the next project.
I didn’t wish to break up the train of thought on the rifle, so I added an in depth description of the SIG Romeo7 on the tail end of this monograph. The Romeo7/Del-Ton combination was sighted in at 25 yards, hitting a bit high, making it easily sighted for the final test at 100 yards.
I fired the rifle in fast-paced drills, moving from single shots to double taps at 25, and then, 50 yards. The rifle responds well to a trained shooter. Most of the loads used were inexpensive FMJ loads. I also put a magazine of Tula steel-cased ammunition through the Echo 316M. Results were good.
There is little, to no, discernible difference in practical accuracy when firing for accuracy at 50 yards with any .223 load. All will go into 2 inches from a rest, some will cut less than an inch. The rifle handles well, making the most of the AR’s legendary ergonomics. During this stage, I added a rail from Magpul and attached an Inforce combat light (using the M-Lok option).
Once the rifle was sighted in, I tested several loads at the standard 100 yards. The first was Federal’s screaming 55-grain FMJ, (fastest of the test for this bullet weight), followed by loads in the 40- to 70-grain range. The work was so interesting, I added a few of my favorite handloads.
I enjoy firing the AR. Naturally, I enjoy some more than others. The Del-Ton likes some loads more than the rest, but none were dogs. Would it perform with greater accuracy with a different optic? Possibly, but the Romeo7 suits me for the type of shooting I do.
A better trigger? Sure, that would make a difference. A sharper trigger would make the most difference in fast, off-hand shooting compared to target shooting.
3-Shot Groups at 100 yards
Group Size (inches)
|Federal 55-grain FMJ
|Remington UMC 55-grain FMJ
|Hornady 68-grain V Max
|Fiocchi 69-grain Sierra SMK
|Winchester 62-grain FMJ
|Black Hills 77-grain MK262
Group Size (inches)
|50-grain Nosler CFE 223 powder
|60-grain Nosler CFE 223 powder
|60-grain Nosler CFE 223 powder
The experience was positive. The Del-Ton Echo 316 M is a credible rifle that is well worth its price. In the future, I expect it to become a sturdy friend and trusted companion.
Romeo7 Red Dot
The Romeo7 full-size red-dot sight provides the civilian and armed professional with a robust 1x aiming solution optimized for today’s MSR platforms, regardless of caliber. The battery life lasts an amazing 62,500 hours (on medium setting) and the low AA battery compartment allows for quick battery replacement without having to remove the sight from the firearm.
The high performance lens coating allows for not only excellent light transmission and zero distortion, but also the highest possible dot brightness. The Romeo7 features a Low Dispersion (LD) glass lens design with high performance coatings for excellent light transmittance and zero distortion.
– Low Dispersion (LD) glass lens design with high performance coatings for excellent light transmittance and zero distortion
– 2 MOA dot is optimal for close quarters battle to mid-range target engagement
– CNC machined 6061 aluminum body for extreme ruggedness and durability
– Manual illumination controls
– MOTAC (Motion Activated Illumination) powers up when it senses motion and powers down when it does not. Provides for optimum operational safety and enhanced 62,500 hours of battery life in medium illumination setting
– Ready to mount with a low profile cross bolt M1913 STANAG-compliant mount and 1.535-inch QD riser mount
– Dependable waterproof (IPX-7 rated for complete water immersion up to 1 meter) and fog-proof performance
- Magnification: 1x
- Objective lens diameter: 30mm
- Battery: (1) AA
- Reticle: 2 MOA red dot
The 2 MOA dot is optimal for close quarters battle to mid-range target engagement. The Romeo7 includes both a standard QD mount and a low-rise fixed mount to fit a variety of systems. Dependable, waterproof (IPX-7 rated for complete water immersion up to 1 meter) and fog-proof performance. The Romeo7 was engineered with the centerline of the optical axis at 1.535 inches above the top of a M1913 Picatinny rail interface for night vision compatibility.
How does the Del-Ton Echo 316M compare to your favorite AR-15 (price and performance). Share your answers in the Comment section.
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