While perusing the “New Products” section at the SHOT Show looking for ideas, I happened across a complete AR-15 with the all new Magpul gray furniture (hand guard, grip, stock). Gray seemed to be a new move this year, as 5.11 had a full line of “tactical gray”. However, as I looked closer I saw something I did not expect to see. On the side of the magazine well I observed the famous Magpul name engraved in the metal receiver. The other side was not observable in the case. Could this be? Could Magpul be making their own brand of AR-15’s?
The recent changes in Colorado led Magpul to make a stand for their industry and move their headquarters from Colorado to Texas, and their manufacturing center to Wyoming. I won’t go into the politics, but hooray for Magpul standing firm behind their word and law-abiding gun owners. Magpul has become synonymous with polymer AR-15 magazines with their famous Pmags, having established what many consider to be the industry standard for polymer magazines.
So, was Magpul making an even bigger plunge into the black rifle arena? Perhaps Magpul decided to go “all in” to make a bold statement about the right to manufacturer products to lawful citizens. To say I was intrigued was an understatement.
I headed off the the Magpul booth on the SHOT Show floor and was met with the standard large crowd gathered to ogle the rifles with Magpul furniture, and the new accessory releases. I, however, quietly began searching the rifles that were displayed hoping to find the hidden gem that had wet my appetite in the “New Products” section.
There were plenty of rifles from a variety of the top AR-15 manufacturers, but each of those rifles were simply a rifle with Magpul enhancements. Where was the new Magpul AR-15? It took me several minutes of maneuvering through the crowd, but finally a familiar sight caught my attention.
There was the gray Magpul furniture I had seen on the “New Products” rifle. As I got closer my anticipation was rewarded with the vision I had hoped to see. There it was. On the side of the lower receiver magazine well was the engraved Magpul name in their recognized font style. I even ran my fingers across the word to make sure it wasn’t some kind of illusion.
I turned the AR-15 around and observed the familiar Smith & Wesson logo. Oh, so maybe this is a joint venture. That made sense, considering S&W already offered several of their rifles with Magpul furniture. I looked at the serial number, SP00011, and was even more convinced of my conclusion. Look at that low serial number! I wonder if the “SP” stands for “Special”, or “Secret Product”? And only number 11. I might be holding a collector’s item.
After taking a bunch of photographs I regretfully put the rifle back on the display and hunted down a Magpul representative. I began firing away with a multitude of questions. When did this happen? Was this a statement? When will the rifle be available? What is the MSRP, and so on.
The representative took my questions professionally, but only returned a puzzled look on his face. He said something incomprehensible like “what are you talking about”. Surely my excited questions had not been that garbled to be unintelligible. Alright, I’ll humor you, so I pointed to the rifle on the display and asked about the Magpul engraving on the mag well. The representative looked at the display and said something ridiculous like, “we don’t make rifles”.
Ah, yes, the old wink-wink, nudge-nudge game, I get it. So this was a top secret surprise announcement that was “unofficial” for now. Maybe Magpul wanted to see if people even saw the rifle, and if it garnered positive response, before they added hundreds of thousands of dollars of CNC machines to make rifle parts. That made sense, especially with the big moves they were already in the process of completing.
However, I couldn’t leave without a definitive answer so I drug the young representative over to the display, grabbed the “top secret” rifle, and proudly displayed my find – trying to be as nonchalant as possible so as not to attract other pesky media types. The representative looked at the rifle like I was trying to show him the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. What the heck is this guy’s problem?
Finally, the representative said something totally unbelievable like “no, we don’t make any firearms”, and then tried a very weak cover up story by saying, “it must have been done for some kind of demo or something”. I see. Taking the ignorant new guy approach. “Demo” you say. Right, right, I understand.
With that the representative walked off with a slightly irritated demeanor like I was asking for his sister’s phone number. Whatever! Or maybe he was a well trained floor operative, ordered into secrecy. Time will tell, yes, time will tell.
So, there you have it. While the “official” statement says Magpul is NOT making a rifle, the physical evidence leaves much room for debate, hoping, and perhaps groveling if needs be. If Magpul did venture into the AR-15 rifle business I’m confident the quality and features would match their reputation for excellence. The rifle would no doubt be outfitted with popular and new Magpul furniture, with a much cheaper price than even the other manufacturers who offer a “Magpul” version.
***NOTE*** This is the author’s pathetic attempt at humor after an exhausting week of working the SHOT Show floor only to return home to jump right back into his normal 12-hour shifts. The rifles are real, and the “Magpul” engravings were real, but comedy aside, the representative professionally and adamantly stated that Magpul is not in the business of making rifles. Too bad …