By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
December 20, 2010
Updated on 12/24/10.
In his January 2008 article for DefenseReview (DR) on the LaRue Tactical Stealth 16″ Stealth Complete Upper Receiver Assembly, DR contributor Mike Pannone discussed Next Generation Arms’ (NGA) Advanced Ceramic Technology (ACT) protective and self-lubricating internal ceramic coating tech. ACT is designed to take direct-gas-impingement (DGI) tactical ARs (AR-15 rifle/carbine/SBRs) to the next level of adverse-conditions-at-high-round-count performance by keeping NGA “extreme environment” tactical AR rifles/carbines/SBRs (Short Barreled Rifles) permanently lubricated by built-in ceramic lubrication, obviating the need for wet lubrication for internal moving parts like the bolt carrier group (BCG)
Next Generation Arms utilizes the direct gas impingement system, taking advantage of all its benefits and effectively removing the sole disadvantage – fouling. Our Advanced Ceramic Technology (ACT) creates a micro-smooth surface, strongly bound to the moving and bearing parts, that prevents carbon and particle buildup. ACT, together with expert craftsmanship and the highest quality components available, yields a level of reliability never before achieved in the AR-15 platform.
That’s great, except–and this is one’s for the cheap seats–internal fouling is NOT what causes the bulk of reliability issues with DGI ARs (direct-gas-impingement AR-15 rifles/carbines/SBRs)! Got that? Just in case you didn’t, I’ll repeat it: fouling ain’t the major problem with DGI guns. As long as a DGI AR is adequately lubricated, it will keep running dirty for thousands of rounds. Once you take bad magazines out of the mix, the bulk of AR malfunctions can be traced to timing issues caused by the weapon not being properly “sprung”, or a lack of proper lubrication, or both.
In fact, while not advisable, a non-internal-ceramic-coated DGI AR carbine can run for thousands of rounds without ANY lubrication whatsoever, provided its sprung right, as has been proven by the aforementioned Mike Pannone. Specifically, Mr. Pannone ran 2400 rounds of M193 55gr 5.56x45mm NATO (5.56mm NATO) ammo through a Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) 14.5″ M4/M4A1-type upper receiver group (complete upper receiver). That fact aside, it’s generally inadvisable to run any firearm without at least a modicum of wet lubricant, particularly a DGI AR-platform weapon. That includes the NGA X7, even with its fancy internal ceramic coating. Pannone wrote the following to DR on this subject: “ALL machines where parts rub together outside of a few peculiar devices require an externally applied lubricant. I would not recommend nor ever practice utilizing a lubrication-free rifle no matter what the design, operating system or environment. That is coming from a guy that has worked with weapons from -50F to 140F.”
The trick? I’ll let Pannone tell it:
The difference was that I used a heavier Sprinco buffer spring (correctly called an action spring), a DPMS Extra-heavy buffer (.2oz lighter than a Colt H3 buffer), and a 5 coil extractor spring with a Crane O-ring for added extractor tension. Those drop-in parts made my rifles obscenely reliable, and still do. The spring-and-buffer combo I use works in mil-spec-size gas port rifles (.062” as per NAVSEA Crane a.k.a. Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division) with 14.5” or 16” barrels and a 7.5” carbine gas system.
Theoretically, the NGA ACT (Advanced Ceramic Technology) self-lubricitous internal ceramic coating should allow weapons-testing maniacs like Pannone to run even more rounds through their ARs under even more adverse conditions at high round count with less cleaning, wet lubrication, and maintenance, because the ceramic coating attenuates/mitigates heat build-up, internal carbon fouling, and parts wear. The ACT ceramic coating tech should theoretically allow you to have your cake and eat it too with a gun like the NGA MP168 SPC or (new) NGA X7 mid-length tactical AR carbine, as you supposedly now have a direct-gas gun that runs as cool and is as easy to clean as a gas piston/op-rod gun, while retaining the lighter weight and smoother shooting aspect, and superior accuracy of a DGI gun. It’s also virtually impervious to rust and corrosion, since both the inside and outside of the gun are completely ceramic-coated, albeit with different types of ceramic coating.
Speaking of the new NGA X7 AR tactical carbine, we don’t know much about it, yet, because Next Generation Arms hasn’t sent us anything on it, yet. Heck, we don’t even have any photos of it, yet. We do have some preliminary SolidWorks images, specs, and video on it, however, which we found on the web, and are providing for our readers. In the video, Mike Pannone demonstrates the NGA X7 with a pile-o-mags.
Next Generation Arms X7 “Extreme Environment” Tactical AR Carbine Specs:
“- OA Weight: 6.6 lbs weight
– In-house-manufactured 7075 T6 aluminum billet lower receiver and forend
– ergonomic design for improved operator performance
– continuous flat top MS1913 rail
– Nordic Components forged 7075 T6 aluminum upper receiver
– 4 stainless steel, polygonal rifled barrel options, all sub MOA
– faster, more reliable magazine reloading with low friction,
flared mag well and new design mag catch, as well as 50% reduction in magazine movement in the mag well
– 4 ceramic-coated Geissele Automatics trigger options
– Advanced Ceramic Technology (ACT) internal ceramic coating
– Wiltec Industries bolt carrier group (BCG) with C158 steel bolt and ‘staked and double-staked’ gas key/bolt carrier key/strike key/tombstone
– improved buffer system with engineered, stronger, long-life
chrome-silicon spring with increased operating margin
– sound and flash reduced, neutral muzzle flip compensator
– price: $1950 – $2810 (depending on options)
– warranty: guaranteed for your lifetime”
Defense Review is curious as to how the Advanced Ceramic Technology tech stacks up against the FailZero nickel-boron coating tech. Somebody’s just going to have to test it. Fail Zero now offers an AR-15 Extreme Duty Kit, which ads an A3/A4-type EXO fully-coated AR-15 upper receiver w/M4 feed ramps (matte grey finish, black finish available for an additional $20) and
EXO-coated charging handle to the FailZero AR-15 Basic Kit.
Image(s) Credit: Next Generation Arms (NGA)
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