Modular and Marketable: Black Rifles Still Hot In '09
DSA continues to concentrate on its excellent line of Spartan AR-15 rifles. Featuring a mid-weight fluted stainless steel barrel, NP3 Robar-coated critical parts and a choice of dura-coat finishes, the Spartan is perhaps one of the smoothest operating ARs I have ever handled. For 2009, DSA is planning on introducing a Lewis Machine Tool Piston upper on their MRP rifle systems, whose current conventional direct impingement uppers are already made by LMT. As most readers know, piston guns, despite their increased cost, are gaining in popularity thanks to their cool, clean, and reliable operation. LMTís is one of the best on the market and combined with the fact that each DSA rifle is built by one gunsmith doing the entire operation from start to finish, including hand-held test firing, one can be assured that this new rifle will be one of the top contenders. They are on the web at www.dsarms.com
L and G Weaponry
L and G is a California firm that specializes in California Legal (10-shot fixed magazine, which requires opening the gun to reload each time, and no flash hider) AR-15s and conversions as well as a wide range of barrels, parts and accessories. I include them in this piece not so much as they will be introducing a brand new product or products in 2009, but because of the fact that they make the only type of ARs that would be available in an Obama presidency, and you need to see what is about to happen if we donít unite together under the NRA banner. Actually we would be lucky to have even the California Legal ARs if President Obama has his way. The California variants work, giving you a shooting feel of the AR 15, but not the operational feel. You can't reload them in the original style; you know, drop mag, insert mag drop bolt, without having to break down the gun each time. Beyond the basic AR components and receivers that L and G provide, the most interesting product that they produce is a 37 mm flare launcher. Modeled after the M204 military grenade launcher, the Flare Launcher fires 37mm, 26.5mm or 12-gauge flares with the Duplex adapter system. The launcher can be mounted on a standard AR with round military handguards or on a quad rail AR with L and Gís special mounts. The flare launcher is also available as a stand-alone device with a folding shoulder stock. The launcher is popular not only with people who want them just for fun and display, but also as a serious device for Californiaís ocean-going boaters. These single-shot weapons, especially with 37mm flares, can be used as a weapon by boaters against the pirates who run the area. Yes, pirates arenít just coming from Mogadishu, but have been operating out of Mexico for 40 years. You just donít hear about them as much because they attack smaller ships, not oil tankers and ocean liners. While a full-blown AR-15 or other rifle would be the best weapon for defense against these marauders, many boaters regularly venture out into waters belonging to other countries where a real firearm is illegal. Flare guns (projectors, really) arenít. A few well-placed 37mm rounds at (or in) a pirate's boat would certainly cause some disruption while those under assault could run away. I would also think a direct hit to a person could be lethal. Interesting stuff.
Finally, in the final prototype stage and ready for production and sale is L and Gís M105 AR-15 muzzle brake. It is a scaled down (obviously) replica of the muzzle brake on the U.S. military 105mm howitzer, the M105 brake will definitely add a distinctive looking ďchicks dig itĒ factor to your AR. Check them out at www.lgweaponry.com
For late 2008 and 2009 Les Baerís custom shop is promoting a unique AR variant with cool potential, the Police Special. Les bills it as a match-grade gun at a non match-grade price. The Police Special (itís not marked that way unfortunately, such a marking would add to that cool potential) features an extremely accurate button-rifled barrel with a 1-in-8 twist. Button rifling is a much more economical way to rifle a barrel than standard cut or hammer-forged rifling, but tends not to have the accuracy potential that cut or hammer forged rifling has. The folks at Les Baer have apparently found a way to do both. The result is an M4 AR that will consistently hold 1-inch groups at 100 yards with an attached standard A2 flash hider. Accuracy is also enhanced due in part to the free-floated quad-rail forend. There is an A3 style removable carry handle with flattop rail in case optics are used. The Police Special comes equipped with a six-position adjustable stock. For 2009, the trigger will be a single-stage Timney. Price is a very reasonable $1690. The other Les Baer news is that they have moved from the firearms-restrictive state of Illinois to the much more free state of Iowa. Check them out at www.lesbaer.com
Les Baer Police Special 5.56 Patrol Carbine
Midwest Industries is a longtime manufacturer of AR-15 accessories, including outstanding quad rails all made right here in the U.S. in MIís shop. This year, MI is expanding their line to offer variations of CMMG uppers as either basic stand-alone components or as package deals with handguards and other accessories such as MIís MCTAR-ERS (Emergency Rear Sight). The upper I received for testing included MIís new M1 low-profile mid-length gas block, M4 feed ramp, 16-inch barrel with chrome-lined bore and 1-in-7 twist, mid-length free-floated quad-rail system, and standard AR bird cage flash hider. The mid-length gas block configuration position seems to enhance the reliability of M4 style weapons because the gas travels a longer distance from the port into the carrier, letting it run slightly cooler, like a full-length AR A3 rifle. I mounted the upper on a Sun Devil custom manufactured M4 style lower receiver and some backup irons (with an XS tritium big dot front sight), looking to build a ďrural patrol and search rifle." I wanted to keep the rifle as light as possible, for hauling over long distances in extended search operations Ėwhich means keeping to a minimum the amount of accessories hung on it. As searches and most patrol work occurs at night, a weapon-mounted light is a must ( after all you have to put SOMETHING on a nice quad rail like that). I decided on the 120-lumen Surefire X300 weaponlight which is essentially designed for pistols. However there is now a very cool remote rail pressure switch available for rifle mounting. The switch is way cool as it easily snaps onto any rail position. This means no vertical foregrip is used or needed. Foregrips have their place, but I think mostly they are at their best on entry rifles. The Surefire switch has a separate on/off switch button along with the momentary pressure pad. I was able to mount this small but powerful LED light directly under the bore, with the rail switch on the left side rail where it is easily accessed by the left thumb. The switch placement would serve well when the gun is used in patrol work or in area search. It also works well if the gun were to be utilized in dynamic entries. The Sun Devil lower had already been equipped with a Tactical Link brand single point sling and M4 collapsible stock. The rifle was essentially ready to go, with the exception of optics. While the irons would serve well enough, especially with the XS Big Dot front sight, I also had available a Nightforce NXS Compact 2.5x-10 variable illuminated reticle scope which I mounted on the MI and tested for another article. This proved to be an excellent combo. 2.5 power is low enough, with the lighted reticle for close-range work, but with up to 10x available the MI could be used as a precision marksman rifle. One thing that really stood out in testing was the smoother shooting feel provided by the mid-length gas block. A standard M4 feels downright abrupt in comparison. You really have to try it to appreciate it. What you end up with is the smooth-shooting operation of a full-length AR-15 20-inch A3 rifle, combined with the handiness of the 16-inch M4 carbine. The best of both worlds. This MI would really serve well with the Nightforce scope in rural terrains where unbroken wide-open spaces abound, particularly in man-hunting operations. I also mounted an Aimpoint Comp II red dot sight, an excellent option for rural jurisdictions with broken terrain that measure in the area of 100 yards or less of wide-open area. Find these great rifles at www.midwestindustriesinc.com