The “recce” (rhymes with Becky) rifle is the SEAL Recon Rifle built in-house by U.S. Navy SEAL Team armorers that is more portable, lightweight and accurate than the standard M4 carbine. Pinning down exact specs is a bit nebulous, as a recce is more of a concept for a lighter, more compact package with increased accuracy than it is an exact blueprint.
Because a recce is effective at close range while still offering the kind of accuracy needed to make solid hits out to several hundred yards, it has just the kind of versatility a predator hunter needs. Whether a call-shy coyote hangs up at a distance, or an earnest one ends up in your lap, a recce’s combination of greater maneuverability and accuracy handles the task.
In general terms, a recce is a carbine-length rifle with a full-length modular free-floating handguard for easy mounting of a variety of optics and accessories. That handguard houses a mid-length gas system for increased reliability, while a 16-inch medium profile barrel with a 1:7- or 1:8-inch twist stabilizes nearly any length bullet. Beyond that, recces are accessorized to suit personal preferences and create the interpretation of what a multi-purpose M4 should be according to the actual user.
The Mk4 RCE SBN chambered in either 5.56 or 300BLK is CMMG’s interpretation of the recce. “The ideal customer is someone who is looking for a really versatile gun, because that is what the Mk4 RCE is,” says CMMG representative Tim Zick, when explaining the benefits of the design. “It’s extremely versatile in the sense that you can take it out one day to the range and shoot close quarters, and then switch and shoot long range. That same person [who] wants to take the gun hunting can do that … it’s lightweight so it’s easy to carry with you.”
CMMG recently sent a sample of its Mk4 RCE SBN in 5.56 for evaluation as a predator hunting gun. “One thing that differentiates CMMG from a lot of their competitors in the AR market is that CMMG sources all of their own parts that have been proven over time,” says Zick, when explaining what makes CMMG guns unique. “CMMG is not just using other peoples’ components to build rifles and ship them out to consumers. And when you’re buying a CMMG, you’re buying a configuration that is proven and is also backed by CMMG’s lifetime guarantee.”
New for 2017 is the option of colored Cerakote finish on the forged upper and lower receivers and handguard in snow white, titanium, burnt bronze, sniper grey or flat dark earth. The coating is an additional $150, but has the convenience of being done by the manufacturer so you don’t have to detail disassemble your rifle and send the parts off for coating.
Features follow the recce concept including the 16.1-inch 4140 chrome-moly medium taper barrel that has a 1:7-inch twist to stabilize all conventional bullet weights. It’s topped with CMMG’s own SV muzzle brake that’s designed to direct muzzle blast up and to the sides so no downward blast blows up dirt while shooting in the field. “The medium taper barrel squeezes out repeated accuracy time after time without compromising the weight. It also has CMMG’s SV brake on it for quicker reliable follow up shots,” explains Zick. The barrel has a super tough salt-bath nitride (SBN) treatment and if you want to equip the Mk4 RCE SBN with a suppressor, the muzzle is threaded ½-28″.
CMMG chose to equip the Mk4 RCE SBN with the popular aftermarket Geissele SSA two-stage trigger and Magpul’s MOE pistol grip, MOE trigger guard and six-position CTR buttstock. “CMMG has long standing relationships with both Geissele and Magpul,” says Zick. “They’ve used those components for quite some time and are pleased with the relationship. They also feel like the quality of those companies’ products matches the quality of CMMG rifles.”
Geissele reports that its triggers have a 2½ pounds pull on the first stage, plus another 2 pounds pull on the second stage for a total of 4½ pounds pull. The trigger pull on the sample seemed rather average at 4.8 pounds pull, but it was crisp with no creep or overtravel and the weight is a good compromise for a multi-use rifle where you might be taking careful aim at a hung up predator or snap shooting a “shark dog.”
The MOE grip is ergonomic and at the same time hand filling without being fat and its anti-slip texture was a welcome feature in the hot Arizona sun where I shoot. For shooters in colder climates, the MOE trigger guard features a shallow “V” shape for better use with gloves and, as Zick points out, “not having an integral trigger guard allows the customer to customize that component.
In addition to being adjustable for length of pull and having multiple sling attachment points, the CTR buttstock features a supplemental friction lock system that minimizes excessive stock movement — and it works well. Because the stock telescopes, there is necessarily some clearance between the moving parts that usually causes perceptible play in the butt. The friction lock simply minimizes that play.
A slender RKM14 KeyMod hand guard from CMMG is clamp mounted around the barrel nut and offers plenty of KeyMod locations along the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions for adding accessory rails. If you’re using night vision, doublers or other forward-mounted optics or accessories, the full-length Picatinny top rail offers enough room to accommodate literally anything.
There are also some very subtle features that I like including the two QD sling swivel holes at the forend’s rear that provide convenient mid-point sling mounting locations without having to buy any mounting hardware. Another is the extended takedown pins so you can more quickly and easily break the gun open for cleaning or maintenance.
For testing, I topped the CMMG with a Bushnell Trophy Xtreme 4-16x44mm scope and fired SIG 77-grain Match loads. There were no malfunctions of any kind and accuracy averaged 0.82-inch for five consecutive three-shot groups at 100 yards. Clearly, CMMG nailed the accuracy element with its version of a recce. “I think a lot of shooters are surprised at what kind of accuracy this rifle delivers along with the overall value for the price,” explains Zick, as we discussed how the gun shot.
As for maneuverability, firing from various field and offhand positions revealed a very responsive and nimble gun. The SV brake does an excellent job of mitigating gun movement under recoil and the rubberized buttplate locks solidly to clothing so the gun doesn’t slip.
When asked what customers think of CMMG in general, Zick said he thought people would say that CMMG makes “great guns” at a “reasonable cost” and that they work reliably as advertised, and that was my experience. CMMG’s Mk4 RCE SBN, then, checks a lot of boxes when it comes to emulating the features of the SEAL Recon Rifle. With those features, it has the accuracy and maneuverability necessary to take predators at long or close range and the versatility to be a “do-it-all” predator rig.