Microtech Small Arms Research Closes Its Doors

msar_stg556_review_1

Microtech’s small arms division, MSAR, has ceased operations. Microtech Small Arms Research, or MSAR, manufactured variants of the Steyr AUG for the US civilian market starting in 2007. They announced their closure in a March 20 letter to their customers:

MICROTECH SMALL ARMS RESEARCH

| 3.20.15 |

It’s been quite the journey. We set out to share our passion for firearms with the industry and deliver an advanced, American-made bullpup rifle and accessories.
Knowing that our focus and energy lately has been directed towards the expansion and evolution of our 20-year knife line, we no longer felt it sustainable for MSAR to remain an active entity in our holdings.
That being said, we’ve begun to liquidate our remaining inventory. The existing inventory will be packaged into parts kits and sold on a limited basis. Contact and ordering information for those kits will be made available in the coming weeks. Repair services have been disabled with the release of this announcement. Rifles currently in our posession will be repaired and returned to the owners.
As the MSAR project comes to a close, arrangements will also be made to offer purchase options for our existing tooling to qualified buyers. Parties who wish to have their interests considered should submit a formal request, including a letter detailing qualifications and a minimum of three (3) industry references to tooling@msarinc.com. Please note that we will not be responding to any service inquiries or general questions sent to this account.
We learned many years ago that our customers are our lifeline; we thank you,, for your tireless loyalty and support of the MSAR line. You’ve given us the chance to explore the world of firearms on a new level, and for that, we’ll be forever grateful.

– The MSAR Team

It’s an unfortunate fact for those making alternative weapons that we live in a time where some models of AR-15 can be purchased for less than $600. In a market like that, the higher end rifles like those MSAR was making will struggle to find a niche. Sadly, MSAR was devoted to that kind of product, and it’s not all that surprising to me that they’ve had to close their doors. I certainly hope the US-made AUG does not die out with MSAR; maybe another enterprising company will purchase the tooling and continue production of those rifles.

Aftermath Gun Club has some additional information on MSAR, including some products that never made it to the market. I recommend readers click through and check it out.
Thanks to Daniel for the tip.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Bert Ernie

    Meh.

    Bullpups suck. Thats why they didn’t survive

    • Andrew

      They didn’t survive because they were even worse than Keltec when it came to getting people excited about new products…and then never releasing them. The Archangel pistol would’ve been a huge hit, had they actually released it after getting everyone hyped up. They teased the 9mm rifles for years, and eventually everyone got tired of waiting and moved on. MSAR made excellent bullpups at a reasonable price, but it always felt like their heart wasn’t really in it, and apparently it wasn’t.

      • KestrelBike

        They had huge problems with the guy running the show who basically sold off all the tooling or something and tried to make off with the $$$. Or so rumor goes.

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      They only suck when they aren´t made/designed in `murrica. When they are, they are like the second coming of Christ. Ref, D.Tech MDR.

      • Confused Carlos

        What do you mean, or what are you trying to imply by writing ‘murrica?

        • hipointguy69

          Seriously! I’m over the ‘murrica crap. If you guys want to disrespect the country, go somewhere else.

          • SP mclaughlin

            murica murica murica murica murica murica murica murica murica murica murica murica

          • anon

            ‘murica 🙂

            If you don’t like freedom of speech, go somewhere else.

          • schizuki

            Well said.

        • G0rdon_Fr33man

          What I´m saying is that I recognise “American exceptionalism” in the gun community, where “made in the US” is used as a marketing ploy. There are great firearms coming from Europe and the rest of the world.

      • mig1nc

        To be fair, the AUG was designed in the 60’s. As was the AR-15, but the AUG was not really evolved at the same rate as the AR-15. The MDR addresses the crappy trigger and side ejection issues of the AUG.

        I’m a fan of the AUG, but something like the MDR is more the future of the bullpup whereas the AUG is the past.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          I don’t disagree, but the MDR has a long way to go!

          • mig1nc

            Yeah, indeed I think that’s totally fair to say. Hopefully it lives up to its potential.

        • RealitiCzech

          Nothing’s going to evolve at the same rate as a rifle issued to millions of (often gun-savvy) troops for 50 years in a country going to war frequently all over the place, with a military budget that’s larger than the GDP of 150+ countries.
          We put a lot of emphasis on R&D, we have troops that know what a gun should handle like, we have scads of money to spend on making things better.

          • Curious_G

            The AR15 has not evolved that much. Rails and different barrel profiles? C’mon.

          • RealitiCzech

            It has indeed. There were a lot of legitimate complaints about the AR’s failings in the Vietnam era, soon after it was issued – as a consequence, powder was changed, gas tube material was changed, bores and chambers were chrome lined, extractors have been improved, flash hider changed, barrel thickened, magazines improved, etc. All the changes were pretty minor, but half a century of minor improvements will get you an extremely reliable rifle at the end.

          • Curious_G

            Many of the changes were immediate. Beyond Vietnam use there have not been that many changes. Changes to ammunition are not the same as changes to the rifle. Don’t get me wrong – it is not a bad thing. The design is solid.

          • HSR47

            Actually, the military side of things is not the driver of the AR market; The REAL reason why the AR15 is king is the number of us normal folks who have them: People with disposable income, and the desire to have the best that our money can buy.

            As such, innovation around the AR15 platform has really become a self-licking ice-cream cone: Users go for the AR platform because it has far better pricing and far more options, and companies build parts for it because it’s the rifle everyone is using.

        • G0rdon_Fr33man

          Sure, I don´t disagree. But “made in the USA” seems to be used frequently in marketing. Good design and quality doesn´t have any borders.

    • Zach

      Me thinks your forgetting one very important rifle that goes by the name Tavor.

      seriously though
      The Tavor is a huge improvement in every aspect.

    • RealitiCzech

      Good troll brah.

    • Curious_G

      Um…the AUG is in service by various armies across the globe, as are several other bullpup designs.

  • Dracon1201

    This is actually incredibly sad for me. I was saving up my limited college fun money for one of the MSAR bullpups. Guess what isn’t happening now?

    Guess I have to buy a real AUG or something.
    *sigh*
    Guess it’s gonna be a few extra months of saving.

    • RealitiCzech

      I think Steyr’s re-entry into the US market with the AUG killed them. It capped their upper price limit, thus their profit margins. Also, many people would prefer to spend extra to go with the name brand, as it’s more likely to have lasting repair and parts support – which, for a rifle over 1K, is kind of a big deal.

    • Vhyrus

      Get a Tavor.

    • Cal S.

      Try a Tavor or Kel-Tec RFB.

      Or, you could try a cheap AK and put it in a Center Balanced Rifle Systems bullpup stock and save yourself $1,000. They seem pretty reliable.

      • Dracon1201

        Have a CBRPS Raptor for my .22 stock. Still have to machine a new trigger linkage. The one they start with is… not the best.

    • Yallan

      They were doomed anyway since the Thales F90 is being made by Steyr and will be arriving in a couple of years. They can’t compete against that enhanced Steyr Aug variant.

  • Seems as if there’s a business opportunity here to use the tooling to build something a little more unique. The 9mm Glock version that MSAR was showing off was really something that got folks excited.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    [but ARs only cost $600]

    AGAIN… GOOD ARs do not cost $600. And the prices are only what they are because of leveraging volume. The second anyone compares a nom-AR to an AR in terms of price you can immediately toss out what that person is saying. This isn’t Apples to Apples at all. if the AR-15 was released today, it would cost $2000. More than the MSAR for sure.

    Also, totally serious question, didn’t MSAR already shut down like a year or two ago? Did they just stop making guns? Sold the name?

    • Treiz

      The S&W M&P sport is a good AR that costs around $600. It will do everything that the MSAR will do, but also be lighter and cheaper and more ergonomic, etc. etc.

      • JumpIf NotZero

        The Sport used to be a good value with the original 1:8 melonite medium contour barrel, they significantly cheapened the barrel later on. It is not a “good” AR now it’s a cheap AR that isn’t bad.

        Does everything the same? Did it have the same OAL? No one is advocating replacing the AR with the AUG, well, no one should be advocating that, it’s fine to compliment. That’s pretty far from my points however.

        • Treiz

          The 1in9 barrel is different, not cheapened. It is a good AR that is not as great as more expensive contemporaries.
          OAL? lol So exactly how much moar ded are the bad guys when your rifle is 3.75 inches shorter? Must be a lot to make specific mention of it.

          • Zach

            I do believe that the barrel is made from 4140 CM steel though (poor quality). Not an issue for someone who will never shoot, but they reaaally shouldn’t go cheap on the barrel.

          • RealitiCzech

            4140 steel is not poor quality. It is not the best possible choice, but it’s a solid performer.

          • JumpIf NotZero

            7″ actually, and I’m not defending one or the other. You said there is no difference, there are plenty.

          • Treiz

            M&P Sort is 32″ – aug 28.25″ = 3.75″ so, no, actually, it actually is only a 3.75″ difference like I said.

      • John D.

        Please, the M&P Sport isn’t a “good” AR….it’s a cheap AR that’s not as junky as other cheap AR’s. A “Good” AR generally cost $1000+. Anything less is either stripped down (plastic handguard and a $30 stock, etc.) or it’s not good. Either way, a similar “quality” AR (compared to the MSAR) is going to cost about the same..

        • Cal S.

          The sport is an excellent AR, at least in the old 1:8, which it was when I bought it. I’ve put over a 1,000 rounds through it with only a few magazine issues (do NOT buy Korean AR mags). I’ve never regretted it, and maybe I don’t know what I’m missing because I’ve never owned a $1,000+ AR, but because of my experience I really don’t see the need for anything more than I’ve got.

          Perhaps you could enlighten me?

          • nadnerbus

            There is a train of thought that if you don’t get an AR in all things milspec, it must be garbage.

            Cheaper ARs tend to have small corners cut that can affect longevity at high round counts. Cheaper alloys for the bolt, extruded buffer tube/receiver extension, lower quality barrel that will shoot out sooner than a CHF barrel, batch testing instead of individual testing when HP and MP testing, gas key screws not staked, no parkerizing/anodizing under the gas block, etc.

            If you shoot your rifle for fun at the range casually, you will probably never have any issues with any of those things. By the time you shoot out the barrel, you will have gotten your money’s worth out of it. If a bolt lug cracks, they are not that expensive to replace. It is just not perhaps the rifle you would want to take into the battle of Kamdesh is all. I’ve got a Rock River A4 setup and I love it. Does what I need it to, is reliable, and it was economical.

            I don’t know how the microtech AUGs measured up as far as “milspec,” so I couldn’t make a comparison between them an an AR.

          • Cal S.

            Ah, I see. That actually makes sense, thank you. Someone who actually explains things instead of just equating pricetag with quality. Learn something new everyday. Yeah, knowing what I know now (I bought my AR a few years back when I didn’t know much about firearms at all) I think I’d build my own from scratch.

            However, the Sport came highly reviewed and recommended. Shoots like a dream and I’ve never looked back.

          • John D

            Hey man, if you think 1000 rounds is really running your gear hard, then all your need is a $600 AR.

          • billyoblivion

            1000 rounds is used up in 2 decent tactical classes.

          • Cal S.

            Yeah, in one day? Hence the ‘over’ part. I don’t keep logs, so it’s probably closer to 2,000. Stunning, I know…

            I don’t profess to be an ‘operator’, and I only buy the best gear I can afford. If I were a security contractor, or going off to war, then yes, I probably would have bought a $1,500 or more AR as long as I was sure it wasn’t simply brand mark-up. As it is, I trust my rifle implicitly for the role for which I purchased it because it’s never failed me, even through my little 900-round 4-hour trial of fire at my local training school.

          • John D.

            Ok in one day, then yes, that’s running it pretty hard. Hey, if your single sample $600 AR worked well for you then great! In the 30+ training classes I’ve taken, the AR’s that ALWAYS go down are the cheap ones. They’re cheap for a reason and if you happen to get a good one, then you got lucky and that’s great (honestly). I love nothing more than scoring a killer deal but experience has taught me (in a WIDE range of products, not just AR’s) and most cheap products are cheap for a reason.

          • Cal S.

            I prefer to think that Smith & Wesson knows how to produce good stuff a lower prices. But, yeah. That makes a lot of sense to me.

            I reckon my experience caused me to view most $1,500+ ARs as shameless mark-ups. The faulty reasoning has been revealed here in this discussion. Thank you.

        • limasierra1813

          The M&P is an excellent ar. So is the Colt sporter I bought 25 years ago. Still looks like the day I bought it. Stock everything! No gizmos or gadgets hanging off it. Thousands of rounds through it and still shoots well. I get a chuckle at the range watching all these “operators” with their $2k+ guns shooting off a bench because they have so many things hanging off the fore end they can’t hold it up. No one here is going to be kicking in any doors and clearing any buildings. Stop being an elitist. Just because you own a DD or a LMT doesn’t mean you can shoot, you just look good posing at the range.

          • John D

            LS1813-My argument is that Treiz is making a bad comparison. He’s comparing a bottom end AR (price wise) that uses commonly available parts to a more “boutique” gun with more specialized parts. If you want to do that comparison fairly, all I’m suggesting is that you use a more comparable (quality wise) AR. Having worked on several S&W M&P AR’s, I think they’re just mediocre.

            Also, you’re just as “elitist” as those guys at the range with $2K AR’s (trust me, I think most AR’s in the $2K+ range, pre-optics, are NOT worth it)…but instead of being a “high end” elitist, you’re being a “low end” elitist. It’s like a someone who bullies a skinny person calling out someone who bullies a fat person. Both of you are bullies.

            Interestingly, none of the “tier 1” guys (active and retired) I see run an “grunt” grade M16A4. I guess those tier 1 guys just don’t know that a M16A4 is all the gun they need!

          • limasierra1813

            Looks like I hit a nerve. Wasn’t trying to bully you, sorry if I hurt your feelings. By the way, those “tier 1” guys, ARE kicking in doors and clearing buildings, they need the best.

          • John D

            I wasn’t saying you were bulling me, I meant the general train of thought. So you think only tier 1 guys need the best? What about the guy who might want to defend his family? He shouldn’t buy the best he can?

          • limasierra1813

            Relax, man. You brought up the tier 1 talk. You want to spend a gazillion on an ar, go ahead, I could care less. My argument with you was your comment that the m&p was not a good ar because it ony cost $600.00. And I say bull. It will do just as good a job protecting your family as any other ar, that is if you know how to use an ar in the first place. The important thing with owning any gun is to learn how it operates and to practice.

          • Mr bear

            That was hilarious and so true. The range commando units crack me up. One step up from the Airsoft loons running around the woods shooting each other with plastic pellets.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          This. It’s a cheap AR that isn’t bad. As opposed to a Colt 6920 for $200 more that is an excellent AR that’s cheap.

          • Curious_G

            This. As good as those Sports are for the cash, a 6920 has to be the best no frills idiot-proof purchase there is. I have seen the non-moe version price differential be pretty small.

        • Curious_G

          You might want to do some actual research. it seems like most people disagree with you. Go ahead with your brand snob nonsense though …

          • John D

            You might want to do some research and brands like LWRC (a highly overpriced brand IMO) are selling as are other higher end brands. See, guys like you don’t get it, it’s not about being a “brand snob”, it’s about quality and getting value. Cheap doesn’t necessarily equate to value.

          • Curious_G

            Tell me more about “guys like me” since you know so much about me. I said nothing about LWRC and don’t consider it a value, nor did I suggest that cheap(as in inexpensive) is the same as value. Going back to the original context the sport is a decent value (though I believe the barrels in the newest ones might have changed). There is always a faster car.

          • John D.

            You might want to re-read my comment. I too **don’t** consider LWRC a value but fact is, they, and other high end brands sell quite well so it doesn’t seem like “most” people disagree when it comes to buying quality. Yes, there are always faster cars but when people say a car that comes with manual windows, a 3 speed manual transmission, a 8-track and solid rubber tires is as good as a modern Honda Accord EX, I call BS. If S&W changed the barrel, how do you know they didn’t change other items? I bet they’re using cheaper parts all around because like every company, they want to make more margin. So again, if your cheap AR works for you, good for you but that doesn’t make it as good as better quality AR.

          • John D.

            And yeah, “guys like you”. I don’t need to know you to understand your comments. I didn’t “know” Hitler but I’m pretty sure I understand him well enough. 😉

          • Curious_G

            Cool story

          • Curious_G

            Getting past the distance you have paddled beyond the context of the conversation – or the piles of supposition (I don’t personally own an M&p sport) – what is “low quality” on the rifle in question?

      • n0truscotsman

        I know two people that swear by them. I’ve personally recommended PSA if they are looking for a low price point, quality AR, although I’ve seen even DPMS ARs work very well.

        Its definitely hit or miss I think. Most ARs work pretty decently and are generally quality guns (unless you were one of those that “found” one of the vulcan arms specials).

    • Sulaco

      They did mostly shut down over a two years ago if memory serves and they had been trying to make a come back in the last year.

      • They closed from 2011 to 2012; they declared bankruptcy in that window.

        • I thought so. I really didn’t know they were still in business. I thought I was having déjà vu.

    • Vhyrus

      You can build a good AR for around $1000 which is still considerably less than any modern bullpup.

    • This looks like an AR to me.

      “GOOD” or not, these have an affect on the market.

    • MIstwalker

      They shut down several years ago, filing for bankruptcy, but making no announcements. People who had their rifles out to them for repair didn’t get them back until much, much later, and people who had rifles under warranty were just sort of boned if they had problems. Then, they started up again.

      The rifles sold at the beginning and end of that first run were plagued with reliability issues, including but not limited to failures to feed, failures to eject spent cases, and internal part breakage. If you got a rifle from the middle of that run, as I did, you most likely got a very good rifle. I bought mine for around $1100 new, at the time, and put perhaps 8k rounds through it, without a single failure. I sold it for $1800 when they weren’t making rifles anymore, when I was hurting for cash. I wish I hadn’t, though. Loved that rifle.

      [Edit] No idea how the rifles from their second run were.

    • HSR47

      I’ve seen used Colt rifles going for ~600 in the recent past — I picked up a used 6520 for under 600 out the door on Black Friday of last year.

  • Max

    Many other issues here that are obvious to those of us who worked in the firearms industry for many decades:
    1) no marketing expertise in the gun industry
    2) no advertising campaign, no creative compelling advertising, no ads run for that matter
    3) no branding or image building
    4) no cross marketing with ammo companies, accessory companies, etc.
    5) very ineffective distribution plan
    6) no PR to speak of
    7) no sales plan
    8) product development should have taken them to a shooter’s hand may release – that combined with drop free magazine would make it 3-gun match/combat comparable with AR-15 type rifles.

    Not bad quality though- I have had one for years.

    • Max

      I meant “mag” release not may release.

    • Anonymous

      There were some quality issues here and there…I saw several models sent out for demonstration back 4-5 years ago that had severe issues out of the box. And the magazines were a total mess.

      All of the listed issues are correct, and then some. Microtech lacks solid leadership at the helm, and it shows through in their decision making processes. Cool products, but not enough competency to overcome the failures. When they decided to drop retail prices >$500 and totally screwed over countless dealers and distributors, the writing was on the wall. The banic was the only thing that kept this from happening 3 years ago.

  • Dual Sport

    While the platform is arguably overpriced in relation to a similar quality AR I still say the real problem even Steyr faces is a lack of options that would be easily produced and make the AUG even more versatile.

  • Dan Atwater

    The AUG is a better gun without question than the Kel-Tec RFB.

    Also last I checked (about a month ago) AUG A3s were going for about 1600-1800. About the same as Tavors.

  • Rog Uinta

    Tony Marfione, Microtech owner, is the only reason MSAR failed. He certainly knows how to make a product that that inspires lust…but he doesn’t know how to stop being a giant steaming pile of dung. He is legendary for his shady business practices and numerous character flaws.

  • Hank Seiter

    Pony up and buy the real deal Steyr AUG, own the real thing. I was tempted a few years back to buy the MSAR AUG but I knew it was just a matter of time before a reasonably priced AUG comes along. They’re selling all day long for $1700 on Gunbroker … and sometimes less. Get the NATO version AUG so you can use all your AR Pmags.
    However, I’m still partial to my Tavor which I believe to be just as well-made and more ergonomic.

    • Curious_G

      That was not an option until recently. You could not buy a genuine AUG for sane money, let alone a flat top model.

  • Hank Seiter

    Dollar for dollar ARs can be the cheapest 5.56 platforms, but when does cheap equal “good”? Back in the day I built up an Olympic Arms AR kit for less than $400 and several years ago I mated a really light-weight, functioning second generation Plum Crazy complete lower to a complete Delton upper for about $535 (including tax and dealer transfer fee!) but I sure wouldn’t put my life on the line in a long-term apocalyptic scenario with either one.

    If we’re going to compare apples to apples in the bullpup vs. AR debate, one needs to start with comparing a higher-end Rock River AR or Daniel Defense AR with the Tavor/AUG or whatever. You would then see only about a $200 to $300 difference in the pricing. And you have to love the national match trigger on the higher-end Rock Rivers.
    But when it comes to straight up cool-and-price-is-no-factor, owning a SCAR 16, Beretta XR100 and the Bushmaster ACR can be really fun on the weekends though finding spare parts for either one is their downfall in the world of gritty reality where things break.

    • Yellow Devil

      That’s the point. Most people don’t care about an end of the world scenario, which is why a 500 dollar AR15 will suffice for most shooters. For the minority of shooters looking for something more rugged (and thus expensive) the competition is much more cutthroat. The Steyr Aug may have had the monopoly on rifles that were bullpup, but the release of the better marketed, more available and arguable highly anticipated Tavor probable put a damper on the already limited demand.

      • Curious_G

        That wasn’t an option until recently – you really couldn’t get an AUG for sane money.

  • CJ

    Goodby to bad rubbish. For Gods sake, we never saw this coming? This company was a BIG mess. I bought two rifles from these idiots.
    It was the first mistake I made. Trusting them to repair it was the second. If you Bought a used one, shot yourself in the head with it. Don’t worry it will only misfire.

  • William Taylor

    So you have a very expensive rifle in a very heavily covered caliber, for which there is very little ammo available. Yep, helluva recipe for success, no boutadoubtit……… Sheesh…..

  • The Brigadier

    I just hope I can find a semi-match grade M1A for around $1500. The Armory had one for that price about a year and half ago.

    I understand somewhat put out a blueprint for a fully automatic P90. Does anyone have a link for this? This looks like a wonderful project for a cnc machine.