A Rifle You Will Regret Not Grabbing :: Guns.com
An exciting modern sport rifle on the market that is different from your average AR and AK MarColMar CETME You don’t see L every day, but you should.
Who is MarColMar?
MarColMar Firearms, based in Richmond, Indiana, has been a huge hit with collectors for the past two decades as they have recreated unusual, rare, and unique military rifles. By nature, they make only a limited number of high quality firearms which have a good reputation when they are introduced and which are usually in high demand once the supply has been exhausted.
Known today for its CETME L rifles, MarColMar began making semi-automatic versions of the belt-fed PKM – Kalashnikovs – in the early 2000s and then switched gears for a while to make Bulgarian AK-74 clones. From there, in 2013 they took action against the UKM, the universal machine gun from the Cold War era in Czechoslovakia, and manufactured around 350 rifles that collectors threw bananas at. They have been in the CETME game since 2019.
What is a CETME L?
The Centro de Estudios Técnicos de Materiales Especiales (CETME group) was founded in Spain shortly after the Second World War and housed several exiled German firearms engineers, including Ludwig Vorgrimmler, who died in Mauser, where he was involved in the development of the MP43 during the war was /MP44/Stg.45 rifles. Vorgrimmler soon had a retarded rifle prototype developed for tests by the Spanish army, the Modelo 2, which competed against a rifle developed by a team of former Rheinmetall engineers who had submitted their gas-powered Modelo 1. The Vorgrimmler rifle was adopted by the Spaniards as a wood-trimmed CETME 58 in 7.62 x 51 mm, then in the next year with some improvements by HK from the West German army as a polymer-filled G3. Collectors in the US know the G3 as the HK 91 and clones of it, of course.
While the Germans downsized the G3 to produce the 5.56 NATO HK 33 and the 9mm MP5, the Spaniards restarted the roll-locking design in a clean 5.56 NATO carbine as CETME L in the early 1980s.
The original Select-Fire-CETME L as used by the Spanish military in the 1980s and 1990s. (Photo: MarColMar)
Since the gun wasn’t just a shrunk G3, its internal parts like bolts, carriers, and rollers are all smaller compared to the HK 33, and the gun has softer recoil due to its lighter reciprocating mass. It also has a shorter hand guard which results in more air circulation and a simplified visor instead of the drum style HK visor.
The Spanish army deployed over 50,000 CETME L in various variants until the rifle in front service was replaced by the HK G36, which had been built in the country since 1999. (Photo: MarColMar)
The MarColMar CETME L.
The commercial version of the CETME L from MarColMar is still a roll-delayed recoil of the NATO caliber 5.56, which is a dead alarm clock to the original – the product of a $ 2 million R&D process to recreate the weapon for a US market. With a cold-forged 16.1-inch nitride barrel, it has a fluted chamber and uses standard AR-15 / M16 magazines with a metal housing.
Your receivers are made in-house and use a robotic welder with a Fanuc arm instead of an orangutan with a Harbor Freight MIG welder.
Using the new stamp steel receiver and nylon 66 furniture, the guns contain relatively few Spanish parts – and those that are upcycled are carefully selected and reworked. The MarColMar pistols have all of the new American-made springs, new trigger boxes, and several small parts, plus the newly made semi-automatic receiver and furniture to ensure 922 compliance.
Parts and 922r Compliance for the MarColMar CETME L. You use eight Spanish surplus parts when the limit for 922 is 10. So you can add another one or two and still be legal. (Photo: MarColMar)
One thing kept away from the old world is the original Spanish three-pronged flash hider which has a definite SP1 1970s feel to it. (Photo: Chris Eger / Guns.com)
The MarColMar logo is on the right side of the receiver and is an ode to the Spanish gear and sword logo used by General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas, on which the original CETME L was made in the 1980s. (Photo: Chris Eger / Guns.com)
Previous CETME L constructions by other manufacturers that are in circulation often used Spanish parts kits to knock in 30 year old furniture. The MarColMar version available on the market now uses new nylon 66 furniture. (Photo: Chris Eger / Guns.com)
If you’re using a small ejection port for ARs and AKs, it will have a port flare on the receiver that you won’t see in HMG builds. In particular, the port is too small for loaded 5.56 cartridges to come straight out, which can make some jams a problem. It’s good that that’s rare. Also note the latch button on the visor. (Photo: Chris Eger / Guns.com)
The L-shaped visor is a simple flip-up, L-shaped sheet with two openings of 200 and 400 meters. (Photo: Chris Eger / Guns.com)
The bayonet lock is above the barrel, and we’ve found that it accepts a standard Spanish surplus pig sticker available from Apex for about $ 40 that works as advertised.
We ran the gun without cleaning and it proved extremely reliable even when it was dirty. (Photo: Chris Eger / Guns.com)
The whammy card on the magazine is that it is long and built very straight. Made to accept STANAG magazines and comes with an Okay Industries magazine.
Likes compatibility with the CETME L is a little fun. In short, it runs on most metal M16 magazines and eschews plastic. (Photo: Chris Eger / Guns.com)
We have found that most metal-cased magazines work well with the weapon, including those from D&H and C-Products. Ironically, excess Spanish CETME L magazines won’t snap into place (possibly for 922 compliance reasons?), And plastic magazines like PMAGs won’t snap into place due to the angled shape line that matches the bottom of the Magwell AR-15 / M-16. Still, metal-cased AR / M16 magazines are cheap and abundant. If you have a number of PMAGs, these can be easily adapted to your CETME.
We cut the shape line on a PMAG and adjusted it to fit and function so that this can be done. Lancer magazines are said to work on the CETME L without modification, but we didn’t have any of them to try out. (Photo: Chris Eger / Guns.com)
MarColMar emphasizes that the CETME L was developed for SAAMI Spec. 5.56 / 223 ammunition. The 1-in-7 twist barrel prefers 62-point bullets, but 55-point bullets can also be used. The manufacturer also recommends using only ammunition with a brass housing and copper jacket for the CETME L, as steel housing ammunition can fill the barrel flutes with varnish.
When it comes to reliability, we shot around 1,000 cartridges through our borrowed CETME L test pistol (thanks Alex!) And found no reportable issues. We used Winchester 55-grain bulk and Federal Green Tip for testing.
The worst problem we have to pass on is that the gun can sometimes frustrate those used to ARs when it comes to mag changes. You have to deliberately present the magazine to the fountain instead of rocking it. The short rechargeable handle left a funky jam twice when we stroked a full magazine. Both are training problems rather than weapon problems. We also found that downloading the magazine worked on 28 rounds instead of 30 and seemed to reduce the short stroke over a complete magazine problem.
The gun is incredibly soft and feels like a SCAR 16 or Bushmaster ACR.
It’s also very accurate, although the trigger for a military rifle is creepy.
Like a golf ball exactly 50 meters from the bench. (Photo: Chris Eger / Guns.com)
The CETME L is now even available with a welded Picatinny top rail and in four different Cerakote versions: original Spanish green, black, gray and FDE. There are currently three out of four in stock. (Photo: April Robinson / Guns.com)
The MSRP is $ 1,495, but we’ve topped that a bit, at least for now.
How long will the CETME L from MarColMar be produced? Well, they say they bought around 10,000 sets of parts in good to excellent condition, but intend to select only the best of them to make into finished rifles so you can expect it to be a little less than that number.
While they may be little available now, the chances are they are already on the endangered objects list, making this rifle a “man, I wish I had bought one of these when they are around”. Just saying.
The CETME L certainly looks different, but it feels good and shoots great. (Photo: Chris Eger / Guns.com)