by David Crane
Pete Kokalis has written an article in the latest issue of SAR(Small Arms Review) on a new rifle that’s designed to be sort of a quick-fix for the Colt M4 carbine.
Anyone intimately familiar with the M4 carbine knows that it has some serious problems. These include reliability problems which involve gas system blow-outs, barrels wearing out, high cyclic rate, etc… Arms Tech’s new Recon Rifle is designed to solve all these shenanigans, all of which have been plagueing military special operators in leech-like fashion. *Please click on "Read More" below for the rest of the story.*
As we all know, special operators are guys that absolutely have be able to rely on their primary weapon–their rifle–for their survival when far away from home, as help may not come along for a long time when the team is locked in an engagement. A full-on firefight, especially the kind involving a leapfrogging egress, is definitely not the kind of situation where one would want their primary weapon to go down.
The most significant feature of the Arms Tech Recon Rifle is its "gas trap" gas system that is very close to early .30 cal. M1 Garand rifles. What the heck does all that mean? Well, the Garand system is a longer and less problematic gas system than the AR-15’s/M-16’s. The Garand-like gas system of the Recon Rifle is basically supposed to be significantly more durable and reliable than the standard AR-15/M-16 system, reduce the cyclic rate from 850 rpm to 550-600 rpm with a 14" barrel, depending on ammunition, fouling, and atmospheric conditions(with the 9.5" barrelled version, the cyclic rate still goes down to about 643 rpm), reduce flash signature, provide for better burst fire control, and improve ease of maintenance. Also, since the Recon Rifle’s barrel has a 1:9" twist-rate, as opposed to the M4’s 1:7" rate of twist, the barrel will not wear out as quickly, but it can still shoot the 62 gr. M855 round accurately. The 1:9" twist rate has the added benefit of increasing velocity a little.
This last point is important, since when you decrease barrel length in 5.56, ballistic effect on a live target can start to get dicey. With 5.56, you have to keep the velocity to at least 2500 fps for the round to perform as it was intended(going frangible inside the target). The lower the velocity gets, the more chance that the bullet will not break up/come apart inside the target and create the type of wounding effect the 5.56 is theoretically capable of achieving. Below 2500 fps, the round has a tendency to stay intact and just zoom through the target without creating much of a permanent wound channel.
Now, to really reduce flash signature, the Recon Rifle employs a new three-prong Vortex Tiger Shark flash suppressor. Kokalis, in his article, writes that "the Vortex is the most effective flash suppressor I have ever threaded onto the end of an M16’s muzzle." According to him, the Vortex’s prongs resonate sort of like a tuning fork and create turbulence, disrupting the gases that cause flash signature. The Vortex is manufactured by Smith Enterprise, Inc..
Another product mentioned is the "Duckbill" pistol grip by Alamo Sales. The "Duckbill" is supposed to exhibit excellent ergonomics, and do away with the sharp corner you may be used to between the trigger guard and the grip, as well as the bothersome gap that’s often present. The "Duckbill" also has a front projection at the bottom to keep your hand from slipping down too far.
As is the norm these days, the Recon Rifle incorporates a flat-top upper receiver with a MIL-STD 1913 interface rail for mounting all kinds of goodies, like an EOTech M550 series optical sight, Aimpoint CompM Red Dot, AN/PVS-14 Monocular Night Vision Device by ITT Industries, and/or flip-up iron sights, like the MAD sight made by GG&G. GG&G, makes all kind of cool and useful gun-related gadgets and accessories. They also do custom gunsmithing on both rifles and pistols. Another interesting feature of the Recon is the short mounting rail it employs. This is unusual.
DefRev hopes to obtain a Recon Rifle at some point for some intense testing, so we can see just how well the gun runs. Arms Tech apparently also makes a shorter version of this weapon which the company calls the Compak 16, but we haven’t even seen pictures of this one yet. We’ll try to get some photos of both guns.
Here’s the info on the companies, neither of which has a website:
Arms Tech Ltd., 5133 N. Central Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85012;phone: 602-272-9045.
Alamo Sales, 1701 Waller Road SE, Huntsville, AL 35801;phone: 888-486-4840; e-mail: [email protected] You can also ask for Tiger McKee if you call.