Frank McRae is a former SF instructor and NCOIC of SFARTAETC, the Us Army Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance Target Analysis and Exploitation Techniques Course at Ft. Bragg. During the course of a long and distinguished career he served with the 75TH Ranger Regiment, 1ST SFG and 3RD SFG in a number of combat operation billets (including the Combatant Commander’s In-Extremis Force/CIF OEF-P and Company MSG advisor, Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Force/ICTF). He deployed as an exchange instructor with the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Course and was honored for having the highest graduation rate in SFARTAETC’s 2 decade history. He now operates Raidon Tactics and remains heavily involved in the training and education of SOF personnel from across the spectrum.
He put over 16,000 rounds through the Specter Light before reviewing it.
GGP Specter Light Review
Frank McRae, MSG USA (Ret), Director of Training, Raidon Tactics
I was introduced to the Grey Ghost Precision “Specter Series” of firearms in Autumn of 2014 during a training evolution with an SOT-A. That element was deploying to conduct combat operations OCONUS; members of the team were using a GGP prototype rifle; my initial impressions of the weapon were extremely positive. GGP later attended and supported the Green Beret Pro-Am on Veteran’s Day, where I became acquainted with their staff and was able to shoot the production versions of the gun. Based on that experience I purchased one of the first 5.56mm Specter Lights “off the line.” Since that time I have become increasingly impressed with the weapon, enough so that I offered this review to them. GGP did not ask for the review and offered neither remuneration or trade. This is the first rifle I have reviewed—the weapon has certainly earned it.
The Specter Rifle feels exactly how a real rifle should feel—that is the best way to describe it. This is the closest I’ve seen to a SCAR in an AR platform. The weapon is weighty but not heavy and well balanced, with even weight distribution from the muzzle to butt. When firing, the recoil impulse is high, causing a perceived reduction in recoil shock to the shooter; this allows faster recovery time and quicker follow on shot placement with minimal muzzle rise.
The rifle is solidly built and, short of a left side ejection port, has all the amenities that belong on any ambidextrous rifle. The ambi bolt release is a welcome addition, allowing for more ergonomic magazine changes and letting the shooter watch what is going on downrange instead of looking at the other side of the rifle. It also allows the shooter to maintain a better high ready position and reduces the amount of movement with the non-firing hand. In the high ready position, a simple glance at the round entering the chamber when the bolt is released will tell the shooter exactly what condition the rifle is in. This ambi charging handle is solid, beefy and works great. Its design allows for faster immediate action correcting any malfunctions just as easily with either hand.
A Keymod free float hand guard comes standard; this will allow the addition of reduced weight, lower profile accessories as they become available, which will in turn reduce the overall weight of the rifle. More real estate and better ergonomics mean better shot groups and longer engagements from the standing position.
Most rifle manufacturers skip aftermarket muzzle brakes due to additional cost, but the Specter comes with a Gem-Tech brake already installed. Many shooters already have Gem-Tech cans in their arsenal, which makes this an even better value for some and if you were on the fence about buying a can for your rifle, now you will have one less excuse. With the Gemtech brake installed, there is a noticeable decrease in flash compared to other brakes, especially during our low light shooting and night time training courses.
Even better (and more significantly), I experienced a slight reduction in recoil and no increase in noise. Combining the Gem-Tech brake with the geometry of the rifle makes for fast, and I mean very fast, reduction in follow though time and putting the next shot on target.
I found the trigger geometry to be outstanding. The straight line with a slight curve at the bottom makes for better trigger manipulation and the additional room in the trigger guard allows a shooter to place his trigger finger in a lower position on the trigger itself. This allows for a better mechanical advantage on the trigger and gives a perceived lighter trigger pull. The reduced weight of the pull, combined with the geometry of the trigger itself, provides a very accurate manipulation of the trigger.
My experience has proven that most battle rifles have more perceived pull than the GGP Specter Light. The trigger pull scale I used easily validated that. I measured the pull at 4.8 pounds, which is excellent consistency for a mass produced rifle and is a ready example of GGP’s high production standards. The crispness of the break in the trigger is superb, with reduced pre travel and minimal over travel, with a solid and defining reset. You definitely know when the trigger is reset and ready to fire again.
The ambi safety is rigid but not hard to manipulate, so there is no mistake when it locks into position. You will know that it is on safe or ready to fire. This is topped off with a Magpul grip that gives a more neutral grip angle than a standard AR grip, which makes it easier to reach and engage the safety, a definite advantage for the shooter with smaller hands. I am normally not a fan of Magpul products, but the grip set-up on this rifle made it a better value for more shooters by reducing the sweep of the grip to allow for this extra reach capability.
The tolerances between the billet cut upper and lower receivers are second to none. The upper receiver has m-4 feed ramps cut for reliable feeding and chambering every time. Though it is no longer or wider than any other MilSpec mag well, the Specter’s mag well is built beefier than those on a typical lower receiver. The edges also feature a slight bevel, making for faster magazine insertions. The fit of a magazine into the mag well is secure and feels good in the rifle. Balance of a firearm is important for everything from shooting long distance from a standing position, moving in and around cover, or just carrying when out on a mission. With a billet cut lower, the weight distribution of this rifle gives it the ideal balance for all of these. The buffer tube and spring assembly are held in securely, and there is a noticeable absence of the typical grinding sounds from the buffer tube when firing. A Magpul stock finishes out the lower receiver as an integral part of the overall balance of the rifle.
The only parts I felt the need to add for my own edification were the Armaspec Tactical Combat Button and the Troy industries Bolt Release. I have been using these parts for as long as they have been out on other rifles so it only felt natural to include them on this one.
I admit I hate to clean rifles but the black nitride coating makes the chore of cleaning easy and requires just a wipe down with a cloth. I use very little oil in this rifle and I have put around 16,000 rounds through this rifle in the past 3-4 months using it as a rental for our gun club and as an SOF skills weapon for training my students. I am happy to say that I have had no malfunctions that were not caused by my own intentional abuse. I fired 12000 rounds before even the first cleaning and then let the carbon, dirt and oil build up till it fails. All it took was a wipe down and the GGP Specter was back up and running like it was new. The bolt is nitride coated as well, which makes for very tight tolerances with parts like the cam pin and the cotter pin. I believe the tighter a bolt carrier and bolt are, the longer you will have tighter shot groups. There is a point when a bolt wears that you will also notice the shot groups beginning to relax a bit as well.
The direct impingement system is flawless. I fired over 3000 rounds in the first month of using rifle number 00013, with no cleaning, and zero malfunctions. No double feeds, no failures to lock on an empty magazine, nothing. With cheaper Wolf ammo, I experienced a few light strikes, but with good ammo, this rifle shoots great. With match grade ammo, the Specter Light holds a sub minute group at 100 yards. I am confident that this is easily a 650 yard gun.
I am a shooter and instructor, not a gunsmith by any means. The amount of work my gunsmith has to perform on the typical AR platform is almost shameful due to malfunctions and gas system problems. I have many ARs come through my pro shop in the $1900 to $3500 range, straight from the gun show or other gun shops, and seen them fail on the first round. I am talking high end, high priced rifles. Names will be withheld to protect the innocent, but I would put the GGP Spector Light up against any of these rifles any day. In a shooting endurance test, I would bet on the GGP rifle to be in the top 3 every time. For the money, this is by far the best AR platform in 5.56 that I have had the pleasure of owning. Out of all the rifles I have in the same class, I grab my GGP Specter when I want the gun to work and shoot true.
Learn more about Raidon Tactics online at http://raidontactics.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RaidonTactics. You can also follow Raidon and Range 37 PSR here on Instagram: https://instagram.com/37psrgunclub. Range 37 PSR can be found on line at http://37psr.com or on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/37PsrGunClub.
Consilio, quod respuitur, nullum subest auxilium.
Learn more about Grey Ghost Precision online here: http://www.greyghostprecision.com or follow GGP on Instagram here: https://instagram.com/greyghostprecision. Grey Ghost is also on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreyGhostGearGGG.