Another Bushmaster ACR Review

Glenn M. Gilbert of American Rifleman reviews the ACR

Was the ACR worth the wait? To my way of thinking, the question is moot. Bushmaster didn’t tie up anyone’s money by taking orders it wouldn’t be able to fill or leave anyone hopelessly unarmed. The ACR also didn’t become obsolete or antiquated during the time it was in development. So I don’t see any point in judging the Bushmaster ACR on anything other than its merits. The gun certainly delivers on performance and handling, and given the speed with which one can change the barrel, it is certainly adaptable.

I do agree with Glenn’s sentiments. On the other hand, it is only luxury items such as Rolex watches, 8-ply toilet paper and diamond rings where the price:performance ratio not important.

Most people understood that theH&K MR556 was always going to be a luxury item. The Magpul Masada was supposed to be, or at least we thought it would be, a rifle of the people.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • Jim

    it’s just too expensive at $3100..

  • Brian

    You are correct that Masada was supposed to be the people’s reliable, flexible, next generation AR. Then Magpul sold out. Leaving us with a Bushmaster at 3X the price of a decent DI AR.

  • Jodie

    People are picking up the basic for 2000-2100 now, and it has a 2700 MSRP, The enhanced versions won’t be 3100.

  • Crapsworth

    I’m still hung up on that 8 ply toilet paper.

  • subase

    And let’s not forget it has more recoil and is heavier than an Osprey piston fitted out AR.

    If it performs, I could see special ops getting some good use out of it. Although even they may not be able to stomach the price. With an Osprey piston and hard lubricant coatings being a much cheaper option.

  • Vitor

    Well, from all reviews I saw, at least it seems very reliable.

  • Thomas

    If you want to improve on the AR15, M16, M4.. You have to improve on the caliber.. These new Rifles there coming out with do not.. They are just another, way over priced .223.. That dont offer any significant improvement over the AR rifles to justify high price tags.. A $3000 rifle with a molded plastic receiver !!! Guns like Glocks are low cost, affordable, and have kept there price low thru the years because of the molded plastic receivers.. The AR rifles, are popular because any one can reconfigure them.. Parts are cheap, and readily available.. Who really needs a quick change barrel any way.. I can change calibers, barrel lengths, barrel profile on my AR.. may take a little longer.. but who cares. Any firearm i have owned that had interchangeable barrels required re-zeroing. Our Military is never going to buy these high priced weapons.. I read some where the Marines have already changed there minds on buying any more SCAR`s..

  • Lance

    It was a good article, Steve. BUT the editior kept pushing on the now defunt follow on carbine compation which is now 2nd place to the M-4 upgrade compation. While readers of this web site know this many people dont have the internet and would get mislead by the comment. Besie that it was interesting and strang that a mass produced mostly plastic gun is soooooo expensive. any whay what do you think Steve??

    • Lance, there is going to be a next-gen carbine competition. Whether they end up adopting the winner of the competition is something else, at this point it does not seem likely.

  • John

    I expressed my disappointment with the MSRP in the first comment on this blog’s post that broke the news. Having said that, I’m still hopeful about the rifle, and tentatively intend to buy one when I go back to CONUS.

    Obviously, the projections about price and timeline Magpul made at SHOT 2007 were unrealistic. But if something had to give, I’m glad the decision-makers opted for price and timeline, rather than the quality. Time will tell if the quality does indeed warrant the price, but here’s my assessment:

    Magpul has always made it very clear that their top priority is to support the warfighter. Freedom Group has fully bought into that idea; their #1 goal is to have the ACR be the next US service rifle. Rather than risk damaging the rifle’s reputation before it’s tested, I’m betting leadership somewhere between Remington and Cerberus decided to do it right; they put in the necessary R&D, used the best materials and coatings available, and the price now reflects that. To my mind, that was the right decision.

    ACR-hating is very much en vogue right now, but personally, I’m over the fact that it isn’t the “people’s rifle.” From the beginning, it was meant first and foremost to be the best service rifle in the world. Apparently it can’t be both, but I’m done lamenting that reality. They had to pick one, and they made the right choice.

  • subase

    More like they went for the money and free marketing that a military contract brings just like all the big boys.

    But they were scooped by the FN SCAR. (which uses hard lubricant coatings too by the way)

    But they stuck with it, cause it all for the marketing, people will buy the ACR if it performs well in the test inspite of its price just like they buy the SCAR inspite of its price.

    Kel-tec actually makes rifles for the people and introduces NEW technology into the small arms market, like the RFB. A variation of that will be the next gen rifle for the U.S.

    Maybe if we are lucky Magpul wiil pursue a partnership with Kel tec, them being so patriotic and all. Probably not though, not enough money in it.

  • jaekelopterus

    For the cost of two or three DI AR-15s, there is just no way that is is going to be anything but a status symbol for rich gun dorks. As someone who just isn’t that crazy about gas piston rifles in the first place, a bigger, heavier, plastickier, more expensive AR holds no interest for me.

    If I’ve had three grand to spend on a gas piston rifle, I’d go buy ten SKSs instead.

  • Lance

    I agree steve I wounder if any stuff on the ACR will follow on to the new M-4 upgrade compation.

  • subase

    It would be cool if someone enters a traditional AR rifle, with the Osprey Piston kit and a hard lubricated coated bolt and moving parts. (something like nickel boron) Into the next gen rifle competition.

    I’m sure such a rifle would not only be as comparably reliable as the SCAR and ACR (who use hard lubrication coated parts too), but significantly cheaper, without the need to retrain troops.

  • Lance

    Subase there is a M-4 upgrade compation and im sure Osprey and others like Remingto H&K and Ruger will be there with improved AR carbines. The Army has the next rifle compation on the books but since the new M-4 compation has been anounced few think itll go very much futher. I think thats waht Steve said to me about this.

  • Thomas

    Going to a whole new weapons system would be to costly.. I think they will adopt a larger barrel dia. under the hand guards, and a piston system..

    http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2009/11/22/army-requests-changes-to-m4-carbine/

  • Zach

    I handled an ACR for the first time yesterday and the rifle felt awkward to me compared with the ar15. The charging handle seems to get in the way if you have optics mounted. In addition I felt like my head was way to far away from the gun and I could do nothing about it because it does not even come with a collapsible stock. Both the SCAR and ACR have been unimpressive to me. I would rather get an piston ar15. The rifle is overprice and over rated for what it is.

  • subase

    Well, at least the ACR may have had popularized the use of hard lubricant coatings (used in the SCAR too), and tennifer/melonite, type treatments. These novel technologies are now affordable and eliminate rust as well as make the gun almost lube free in operation.

    Hopefully other firearm makers will follow suit. An RFB, tennifer coated with hard lubricant coatings on all it’s moving parts sounds very good, hehe : )

  • Thomas

    ARC.. SCAR.. all these other new weapons there coming out with.. WHO CARES !!! There all over priced for the average working man to afford.. and really dont offer much over the AR15`s..

  • Jesse

    jaekelopterus – 10 SKSs? That’s what I like to hear. Talk about a New York reload.

  • Phil

    I cannot agree with some of the posts here. When I first heard that Magpul agreed to have Bushmaster (aka; Remington, Cerberus) manufacture the rifle, my first thought was, great a rifle everyone can afford. To my surprise when the MSRP was announced, I knew that it would fail from the start. The first round of testing for the special forces is completed and FN SCAR is on top. The ACR or the Masada wasn’t even entered. Even if Remington builds it they have not had a firearm contract with the military since WWII and we haven’t even talked about HK yet!!!!!!!! Remember FNH and HK have a track record. No firearm is perfect, but how does the individual company handle the modifications and QC issues through their respective R&D departments to get the bugs taken out is the key. We just sit here talking about sporting rifles while the real “thing” is about our soldiers’ lives. I’d go with the proven track record and the history behind FNH, no ifs, ands or buts.

  • Woody

    Hopefully, the price will go down just like it has gone down on the SCAR. Both are fine rifles, though I cannot justify spending in the 2000$+ range for a 223 rifle (definitely a 308 or 6.5/6.8mm).

  • Matt

    Give me a 7.62×39 or 5.45×39 lower and price it at $1500, then we’ll talk.

  • Jim Bondy

    I bought an ACR Basic Configuration from Sportman’s Warehouse last week and love it. I have a Sig 556 Classic SWAT and the ACR beats it hands down. The ACR is lighter, quicker and with an EO Tech XPS-3, it is super fast on target. The best part is that it does not have a charging handle like the AR’s. The ACR’s charging handle can be reversed to match the Sig 556 handle or remain on the left side to allow you to keep a hand on the grip while clearing a jam. So far I have put a couple of hundred rounds through the ACR without any jams or any other problems. It is easy to disassemble and clean. The removable barrel is very convenient for cleaning and locks-up very tight upon reassembly and does not affect the “zero”. I think it is well worth the $2100 I paid.

  • Brian

    Jim, did you have any problems with the magazines feeling loose, or even not sticking in the well. I have not fired my acr yet but I tried putting a fully loaded pmag in the well and had to slam it in there. Seems way harder than a standard ar. I have metal hk mags that seem to work a little better in the acr but they still feel loose, not tight like the ar. Also the mag release button seems way easier to push in than a standard ar. Any thoughts or info would be appreciated, thx.

  • sirs:

    i read all this stuff about the rifles to replace the ar-15 direct gas impingement systems, and, quite frankly i am reminded of the old saying about those who labor mightily to render a mouse.

    i have two ar-15 d.i. uppers, and quite frankly, i see very little that would cause me to go out and buy the bushmaster acr or the fn scar or any of the hk stuff. my .223 upper from bushmaster is super accurate. and, after fussing w/ loads for a couple years on the 6.8mm rem sp cartridge for years, so is the 6.8 upper.

    first, as to the piston systems. they are demonstrably superior in the m-4 carbine length barrelled rifles, having more control over firing rate, and not cooking the innards or the front of the receiver.

    two observations.–

    1.)that’s great if you are involved in “close quarters combat” and firing long automatic weapons fire.

    2.)in the use of weapons with rifle length barrels, and longer distances to the gas ports, it is not really much of a difference maker, in terms of weapons reliability or wear. in that situation, the direct impingement system works just fine, exacting no undue strain upon the extraction system or undue heat sink related wear on the rifle system.

    and, for my last point. i am a civilian, and older doofus poop. if you think that i am going to get involved in house to house close quarters combat with anyone, you are outa your mind. it has been my observation, that when you put multiple people in close quarters firing auto weapons at each other, someone is bound to get hit every so often. and, you know, in those situations, there is very little of a constructive nature that you can do to prevent it from being you.

    no, if i go to battle with anyone, it will be on my terms, at a distance, and under circumstances where i can fire a limited number of rounds and ske-daddle, before anyone figures out who and where i am and how to go get and kill me. he who shoots and runs away, lives to fight another day.

    i do not need a gas piston system rifle capable of firing at full auto for extended periods. period. and, i sure as hell do not need “combat situations” of that nature. they are dangerous in the extreme!!!

    now, let me tell you a little secret about this “direct impingement systems” are dirty thing. something i learned the hard way, developing loads for my 6.8mm remington spc upper.

    it goes like this.– if you do not want dirty operating systems in your direct impingement ar-15 rifle, don’t use dirty powders/propellants. use a clean burning powder, of a relatively quick burn rate, and all this crappola over a dirty/hot operating system becomes almost totally a moot point, for chat room knotheads to argue about.

    in my 6.8mm i used h-335, rl-15, w-748 and something else, achieving minute of grapefruit accuracy in all cases with all bullet weights, and suffering loads of goo to be cleaned up after minimal expenditure of rounds. that was o.k., because i was used to it in my .223, using those powders to achieve pretty good and accurate loads.

    in search of accuracy, i went to quicker rate powders in the 6.8mm, and found what i was looking for in imr-4198 and h-322. the h-332 is giving me 1 moa or less accuracy, is putting the cases on the ground in a little pile immediately to the right of the firing point, and cycles the action wonderfully.

    and, it is remarkably clean. and, the cases are cool to the touch when i pick them off of the ground. and, i am getting about .001 to .0015″‘s of case expansion over the sized cases, with good case life.

    i am not going to get into any full auto fights with anyone. the notion is ridiculous. and, why would i? you cannot hit a damned thing on full auto anyway, unless the elephant is standing on your toe.

    i will stay with what i have. ar-15 uppers with 20″ heavy barrels, full length gas tubes and the direct impingement system, and moderately powered leupold scopes on the flat top receivers mounted with quick release mounts, and back up irons.

    and, i will clean them. and, pay some attention to detail in reloading ammo.

    the fn-scar. the bushmaster/remington acr. the hk 556. all the rest of ’em at $2500 to $3200 a pop. they are, as the saying goes, answers to questions and problems that i don’t have, that most civilian shooters will never ever have.

    now, for marines and soldiers shooting those dumb assed m-4 carbines, and actually standing toe to toe with opponents on full auto, … , fine, the piston/operating rod systems make some sense. which is fine. let the military pay for the additional tariff in this situation. but, not me, for me. it simply is not needed, nor, particularly desirable.

    but not, in 10 million years, to me. i only have but “one combat expectancy” to give my cause(s), and it sure as hell is not gonna be given up on full auto!!

    john jay
    milton freewater, oregon usa

  • p.s. and, you can be very sure, that the next time i get around to reloading any .223, i am gonna try a can of h-322, to see if i can get a “shooter,” and get the benefits of a clean powder in the .223.

    i haven’t tried varget or imr-8208 (does this stuff exist outside a marketing department, anywhere), but you can be sure i am gonna. and, you know, good old fashioned imr-4198 is pretty damned good, too. as is imr-4895 in my .308 m1a springfield.

    you want a clean rifle. use a clean burning powder. no muss, no fuss.

    i refer to all this as “my immaculate conception.” jjjay

  • and, one final p.s.

    i will tell you what the absolute best operating system in an ar-type assault rifle is, hands down.

    it is the one in good operating order, and well maintained, that you have in your hands when you need it.

    caliber, cartridge, operating system, brand, … , and all the other myriad factors, don’t mean a damn thing if you don’t have the weapon available, instantly, when needed.

    in that regard, join the n.r.a. and pay your dues, and join in the fray.

    no, i didn’t switch subjects. think about it. john jay

  • Bobby

    I own an ACR enhanced, and I have to say that it is by far the best rifle I have ever shot! Yeah the price tag is a little high, but after firing over a thousand rounds through it and even landing a shot from 500 yards off open sights, I’m impressed. I’ve fired alot of battle rifles but this is my favorite, and check with your gun stores because I got an enhanced for $2800 not $3100…

  • James West

    I recently purchased an enhanced ACR. I have not noticed the loose mag problem some have talked about. The weapon shoots and handles very well in my opinion. I am comparing it with a Rock River Operator Elite, which is an excellent weapon, and I prefer to shoot the ACR. Do not get hung up on the price, the enhanced version was $2495 at the show I purchased it from. The market will dictate price. Remember, anything is negotiable!

  • Dean Vandall

    Well, I just picked up my ACR Enhanced three days ago. I had puchased the Basic model fore end a couple weeks prior because I 1) like the look better than the rail fore end and it keeps the weapon looking like MAGPUL’s original design, and 2) it allows me to put rails where I want them, and in what length I want them. I purchased three 11 slot rails from MAGPUL along with their RVG vertical grip. It’s short length is ideal to me, and it’s shape offers a level of comfort I have yet to find in the several others I’ve used both down range and state side. This was my first use of MAGPULS MBUS sights, and I have to say I was very pleased. Although a little chunky, they work like a charm. I am a huge fam of EOTech sights and mounted the XPS version compatible with NVG’s. Now, I have used more weapons than I car to list here, both down range and here state side. Gas and piston alike. I haven’t had my hands on a SCAR or one of HK’s 416’s at the range, but I have had my hands on them. I had a piston driven M-4 prior to this ACR and enjoyed it a lot. Reliable, cool running, and accurate, it was the way the M-4 has always needed to be. But it was still the M-4 operating system…charging handle, non-ambi controls, etc. Sure, there are designs out there that have employed some ambi controls and even a side mounted charging handle, but this thing…AMAZING! After watching how MAGPUL took the basic M-4, striped away everything that they wanted changed and built a whole new weapon around the front sight post, barrel, and trigger assembly, I found my curiosity peaked. Once I had the chance to actually handle one at a local sporting goods dealer, I was sold. I handled it side by side next to a SCAR (my other possible purchase) and there was just no comparrison. The modularity of the ACR blows the SCAR out of the water. The complete ambi control set up it caveman proof (sorry to bite off that insurance commercial). Once I got her home, the first thing I did was to break it down. Let’s just say simple and FAST! The caliber swap or just a barrel swap it toooo easy. Took it out to Vandall range (the back yard) in a tasty 6 degree sunny Alaska day and did the standard 25 meter zero using the M-4 zero target. Now I’m no ace, but she kept all her groups under 1/4 inch with the EOTech. Once dialed in, I zeroed the iron sights. same thing with an occasional flyer which opened it up to 1/2″. That’s me, not the weapon. With the EOTech I could hit the corners of the target on call. I read somewhere that they found the recoil to be slightly more than the M-4. Not so with me. Soft and direct. She stayed on target like a champ during 15 meter “UP” drills, doing both contolled pairs and double taps. Shooting rounds from the 42grn to 62grn wieght class was no problem. I found little to no change in accuracy. To put it simply folks, I love this rifle. This one will never leave the inventory. My hat is off to the inovative minds of the folks at MAGPUL. SUre, Remington and Bushmaster may have tweaked it here and there, but this is MAGPUL’s baby, and they deserve all the credit. Was it worth the incredible weight. I didn’t think so a year ago. Now, I have to say yes. Being a southpaw rifle and right handed pistol shooter this is THE rifle for this old soldier. I can say without hesitation, that if Uncle Sam droped this rifle in my hands, I would feel like I had just been equiped with the best rifle the world had to offer.