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DefRev Quick Hits 1 from SHOT Show 2006. Quick Hits 2 On the Way…

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by David Crane
[email protected]

DefenseReview is going to be publishing articles (with photos and possibly even audio interviews) on a good number of technologies that interested us at SHOT Show 2006. But, just to get the ball rolling, the following are some "quick hits" on these items, just to get the ball rolling:

Vltor Weapon Systems blew a lot of people away with their new VIS-1 one-piece upper receiver/rail system (upper receiver with integral rail). Actually, the Vltor VIS-1 is constructed of two pieces that are bonded together in such a way that it’s virtually seamless and super-strong. No doubt, the VIS-1 will be going up against the Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT) Monolithic Rail Platform (MRP). The difference? The LMT MRP utilizes a proprietary barrel and gas tube assembly for it’s QCBS (Quick Change Barrel System), while the Vltor VIS-1 utilizes commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) AR-15/M16/M4 barrels and gas tubes. According to Vltor, the VIS-1’s quick change barrel system is similar in speed to accomplish as the LMT MRP.

The VIS-1 is a hot system, and anyone…

looking for a "monolithic"-type setup should definitely give it serious consideration, along with the LMT MRP, which is also excellent. By the way, the “VIS” in “VIS-1” stands for two things: 1) Versatile Interface Structure, and 2) In Latin, VIS means "force" or "to use force". While we’re on the subject of Latin, Vltor (pronounced “Ooltor”) means "revenge", "avenger" or "vengeance". The "1" designation in “VIS-1” is for Vltor’s carbine series. Vltor’s mid-length series will be called VIS-2, and their rifle-length series will be designated “VIS-3”.  The process Vltor uses for bonding the two pieces of the upper receiver into one piece is salt dip brazing, which utilizes a molten salt vat.  According to Eric Kincel, salt dip brazing is a dying art form.  It creates a one-piece unit that has the same strength and rigidity as solid piece of aluminum. The mating joint (bonded surfaces) are actually stronger than the parent metal (parent material).

Knight’s Armament Company (KAC) had a REALLY cool little thermal/IR optical sight for mounting on Mil-Std-1913 rail systems, called the UNS-T (Universal Night Sight-Thermal). Small (4.4” long) and relatively light (23 oz, max), the sight as multiple viewing modes (white on black and black on white) and has a lit reticle. It’s a neat piece. It also has a projected cost of approx. $30,000 (per-unit cost). So, neat, but not cheap. Defense Review also viewed and handled a model of a fusion sight, which integrates I2 (night vision) and thermal/infrared (thermal/IR) capability. DefRev’s prediction? KAC is about to become a serious player in the night vision (I2) and thermal/IR combat optics field(s).

– Defense Review recently wrote about the Stag-15L Lefty Carbine (5.56x45mm). Well, not content to sit on their laurels, Stag Arms introduced their Lefty 6.8mm (6.8x43mm) carbine (M4/M4A1-config) at the show. We believe they also have 6.8mm standard (righty) M4/M4A1-config carbines available as well (unconfirmed/unverified).  We don’t have a lot of info on the 6.8 Lefty carbine yet, but for those who have been waiting for it, it’s here. The new 6.8mm carbine is a welcome addition to the Stag 15L Lefty Rifle/Carbine line.

A.R.M.S. was showing off their S.I.R. 50MCV system which locates the Mil-Std-1913 rail on the same plane as the upper receiver rail (doesn’t raise the height of the Mil-Std-1913 rail), which was developed for USSOCOM’s SOPMOD2 program (through Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, a.k.a. NSWC Crane). So, the latest optics–like the Aimpoint CompM3, Trijicon ACOG RCO, EOTech 553, and Elcan SpecterDR 1-4X sight–can all be mounted according to SOPMOD2 specifications. The system looked real solid, and DefRev recorded a very informative audio interview with A.R.M.S.’ Marco Gonzalez that explains the 50MCV S.I.R. System. We would have to get permission from A.R.M.S. to publish that recording.

– This brings us to optics: EOTech introduced the EOTech 553 HWS (HOLOgraphic Weapon Sight), which utilizes an A.R.M.S. throw-lever mount to mount it at the correct height per SOPMOD2 specs. Aimpoint was showing off the new Aimpoint CompM3 Red Dot Sight. The CompM3 is a 2 MOA sight, as opposed the Aimpoint CompM2, which is a 4 MOA sight. Trijicon displayed the Trijicon TA31RCO (Rifle Combat Optic) ACOG (4×32). The TA31RCO ACOG uses a dual illumination system comprised of a fiber optic element and a tritium reticle, so it doesn’t require any battery power. And, that brings us to the Elcan SpecterDR (Dual Role) Optical Sight, which was on display at the Armament Technology Incorporated booth. The SpecterDR is a 1-4x combat optic that moves between viewing modes via the flip of a left-side-mounted throw lever. While perhaps very cool (it’s pretty slick, actually), at approx. $1450 US, the SpecterDR isn’t exactly inexpensive.  The SpecterDR is also a little heavy.

Click here to view the SpecterDR spec sheet (PDF format).

Click on this link to view an Elcan SpecterDR product demo.

Colt Defense LLC was showing off their LE1020 semi-auto-only 5.56 carbine (5.56x45mm). The LE1020 features a one-piece upper receiver with integral Mil-Std-1913, and is gas piston-driven (gas piston/op rod). The 6 o’clock rail is removable as per SOPMOD2 requirement, so the operator can mount a M203 underbarrel-mounted grenade launcher quickly and easily. The weapon utilizes flip-up front and rear back-up iron sights (BUIS). One note on this: The front folding sight is permanently mounted, rather than being rail-mounted. DefRev would prefer that Colt Defense change this so the operator can choose any front BUIS he wants (like the Troy Industries front BUIS, for instance). The takedown procedure for the LE1020 is fast and simple, making maintenance pretty easy. We don’t have reliability/durability info on the LE 1020 yet, but a Colt Defense LLC representative told DefRev that they’ve done a lot of testing on the weapon, and they’re very satisfied with its performance.

More quick hits are on the way…

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DefRev Quick Hits 1 from SHOT Show 2006. Quick Hits 2 On the Way… by
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About David Crane

David Crane started publishing online in 2001. Since that time, governments, military organizations, Special Operators (i.e. professional trigger pullers), agencies, and civilian tactical shooters the world over have come to depend on Defense Review as the authoritative source of news and information on "the latest and greatest" in the field of military defense and tactical technology and hardware, including tactical firearms, ammunition, equipment, gear, and training.

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