By J.B. (Federal LEO)
All photos (except for the first two/top two photos) contained in this article were taken by DefenseReview.com, and are copyrighted. DefenseReview.com owns the copyright on these photos. The photos were shot with a Canon PowerShot S90 10-megapixel digital camera (still camera with video capability). You can identify DR’s photos because they were taken at SHOT Show 2011. The top two photos were taken by by the author, “J.B.”.
April 24, 2011
I recently picked up one of the Samson Manufacturing Evolution Series rails/tactical handguards for my Adams Arms (AA) 7.5” PDW gas piston/op-rod AR SBR, which is a personal defense weapon-style 5.56x45mm NATO (5.56mm NATO)/.223 Rem. short barreled rifle. I was looking for something to make the gun as light as possible. My original plan for my AA PDW 7.5″ was to put a muzzle can (silencer/sound suppressor) on it , making it a dedicated suppressed SBR. I used my Adams Arms PDW in a Vehicle Interdiction class put on by Matt Graham of Graham Combat. The gun was a dream to shoot and maneuvered easily within the confined space. So, I was happy about that, the problem was shooting a 7.5” in my home or in a vehicle would certainly lead to permanent hearing damage and would basically really suck. So, I wanted to put a can on the gun to mitigate the suck factor. One of the cans I have on-hand is a Gemtech G5 (5.56mm NATO/.223 Rem.).
Here was my concern: If I mounted a suppressor on the end of the gun, it would be so front-heavy it would defeat the purpose of a having a SBR set up as a lightweight close quarters rifle. Additionally, I don’t need a square hand guard with rails all over it. This is just added weight I don’t need. My guns have a light (tactical white light), sling and combat optic on them, and that’s it. I have no need for additional rails, because I just don’t use them. I have small hands, so I having a smaller-diameter handguard makes the gun more comfortable for me to shoot. So, my mission was to find a free-float handguard that would suit my needs, but that was also compatible with the Adams Arms Piston System (gas piston/op-rod system). Enter the Samson Evolution Series rail system (Mil-Std-1913 “Picatinny”).
I had heard that Samson was going to be making a free-float non railed hand guard that was compatible with the Adams Arms system. So, I would periodicallycheck the Samson website, and just before SHOT Show (2011), I saw that the Evolution rail was available, so I ordered a 4” extended model which is perfect for the PDW 7.5″. I got it in about three days from Samson. Upon first inspection I noticed it was very light and appeared to be well made. I had a range day coming up, so I went to my armorer to have it installed. The rail is designed to mount on a standard mil-spec barrel nut, so you really don’t need to have it installed by an armorer. It looked pretty easy to install, but I didn’t have the tools to remove the Adams Arms gas block correctly, so I figured it’s better to be safe than sorry. My armorer put it on for me with no problem, and the thing is ROCK SOLID.
A quick note on that: READ THE DIRECTIONS! The thermal bushings look like they are interchangeable, but THEY ARE NOT. They must be put on in the correct manner, or the rail will be loose. If you install the rail and it’s loose, switch the positions of the thermal bushings, and that will lock the rail on solid. I put the upper on the lower, mounted the suppressor, and did some dry fire. It was exactly what I wanted. The upper was not front heavy. In fact, it felt very evenly balanced. More importantly, it was still very light. I then installed the accessory rail, attached my two point sling, and I was done.The rail has the ability to attach rail segments to the hand guard, so you can easily customize the rail into whatever configuration you want. Now all I had to do was sight the thing in, and I was done. I still had one major concern: Being that the rail was so light, and narrower than a traditional free-float rail system, I was worried that it would heat up faster than a more conventional rail system.
I decided to call my friend Rich Mason from the Direct Action Resource Center (DARC) about this rail system. Rich and some of his cadre have some experience with of the Adams Arms Piston System, and Rich had nothing but good things to say about the system. I wanted to see if he had any experience with the Evolution rail on a Adams Arms Upper. I knew he had a Tac Rifle Class going on at the time and knew he would be putting high round counts though the guns in that course.
On a side note, if you ever get a chance to go to DARC, GO! It is worth every penny, and Rich and his crew offer NO BS real world firearms training. There is absolutely no super ninja BS going on there. You shoot a lot, and the entire training platform is designed to make you lethal with a rifle. Anyway, I was curious to hear how the Samson Evolution rail would hold up in that course, knowing the high round counts involved in the course. Rich told me that he allowed one of his students to run the Standard Adams Arms Upper with the traditional Samson S.T.A.R. Rail System and one to run an AA PDW with an Evolution Rail. Rich told me that the Evolution Rail ran cooler than its conventional counterpart! The students who shot the guns loved them, especially the PDWs with the Evolution rails.
After hearing this I decided to take out both of my guns to the range and see for myself. I had my Adams Arms 7.5″ PDW with the Evolution Rail and My 11.5” Tac Elite with the Samson STAR rail system. I decided to shoot 7 magazines of 28 rounds through each guns and the course of fire would be Failure Drills. This is just under 200 rounds per weapon. I decided to go with this because this is the standard load out for a US Soldier and is significantly more magazines than I would ever shoot in a US/Domestic Operation. I varied between 3 round failure drills (Two to the body and one to the Head) and 5 round failure drills (Four to the body and One to the head). I fired all 7 magazines back to back to see if weapon would become uncomfortable to operate without gloves. I shot the drills at a brisk pace but this was in no way “Rapid” or “Full Auto” mag dump rate of fire. I shoot the drills in at a speed that I could maintain accuracy but not so slow it defeated the purpose of the drill. I had shot the 11.5” and the PDW in the past for round counts higher than this so I knew the standard rail would hold up fine.
The Samson Standard Rail always remained comfortable to operate at moderate rates of fire for higher round counts then 200 rounds so I was curious to see for myself if the Evolution Rail would hold up as well. I shot the drills with both guns without gloves and at the same rate of fire. My opinion is the Evolution rail ran cooler than the standard rail. This was in no way scientific but was proof enough for me. I went home and ordered a 7” Extended Evolution rail for me 11.5” Tac Elite. While on the phone with Samson the sales staff told me that the thermal bushings were designed to absorb the heat and keep it off of the handguard.
When you look at the quality, price (MSRP: $145 USD), the fact that the rail attaches to a standard mil-spec barrel nut, ease of installation, and it’s ultra-light weight, the Samson Evolution Series rail system is hard to beat. If you don’t need a lot of rail space to attach a lot of accessories to the handgaurd, I think you need to take a hard look at this rail and pick one up. You won’t regret it.
Company Contact Info:
612 Florida Ave.
Palm Harbor, FL 34683
Toll Free: 877-461-2572
Email Sales: [email protected]
Email Jim Granger: [email protected]
Direct Action Resource Center (DARC)
6302 Valentine Rd.
North Little Rock, AR. 72117
Email: [email protected]
Website 1: http://www.darc1.com
Website 2: http://www.austeremedicine.com
Author’s Bio: J.B. is a U.S. federal law enforcement officer (LEO), avid shooter, and tactical firearms enthusiast.
© Copyright 2011 DefenseReview.com and J.B. All rights reserved. This content/material may not be republished, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without first receiving permission and providing proper credit and appropriate links.
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