Today was Day Two of the Blue August Expo at the Gander Mountain Training Center in Orlando, and there were more exciting product reveals and discussions with numerous gun and accessory manufacturers, but to kick things off, here I am, lucky enough to shoot the Ares Defense MCR belt-fed light machine gun:
Ares was in Orlando, primarily to promote the ARES SCR rifle. Some of you may recall that I reviewed the SCR last December, with my chief complaint being that the SCR had an awful trigger. The good news is that ARES has made several modifications to the SCR, including a trigger upgrade that reduces trigger pull to 5-7lbs. It also has new options for sling mounts, and even muzzle devices that fit over the end of the non-threaded barrel (using a proprietary muzzle groove to circumvent threaded barrel bans). It will also be made in a piston format soon.
ARES also presented the MCR Sub-Carbine, a revolutionary short-stroke piston-operated AR with a fully functional folding stock (i.e. you can fire with the stock folded) and a quick change barrel – it takes literally three seconds for an experienced user to swap barrels. This allows the gun to conveniently fold into a suitcase for easy transport. MSRP will be $2500 without the suitcase, or $2800 with the custom case.
Finally, ARES of course brought the show-stopping MCR in a belt-fed config, which is a squad automatic weapon with quick-change barrels and the ability to switch from mag- to belt-fed instantly, accepting standard M249 “nut sacks.”
ARES will be rolling out a new $200 rebate program for the purchase of any SBR rifle, in essence buying the SBR tax stamp for the end user.
ATI (American Tactical Imports) brought some new products into the spotlight, but first announced that 40% of their product line is now going to me 100% US-made, including complete AR rifles for below $700 MSRP, including a lifetime warranty. Many of these rifles will come standard with the Rogers Super-Stock, barrels by DC Machine, and sub-MOA performance.
While these ARs will have polymer upper and lower receivers, ATI promised that the receivers were part of a new generation of polymer receivers, reinforced by steel subframes at critical stress locations. ATI recently ran one of its polymer upper-lower ARs though 399 rounds of continuous, non-stop full-auto fire before the gas block blew, and there was no separation of polymer from metal or warping of the receivers, despite the barrel being white-hot. Expect a full line roll-out in 2016, with almost any color combo imaginable available to the customer.
More to my interest, ATI also sowed off an aluminum receiver Glock-mag-fed 9mm AR in 16” carbine and 5.5” pistol lengths. These will have a $779-$799 MSRP, which includes a free-float KeyMod handguard, They estimate shipping the first of these guns before the year is out. As with all of the guns brought to Blue August, I was able to shoot the 9mm ATI, and I thought it worked as well as any other 9mm AR I had shot before.
ATI will also be importing some seemingly well-made over-under Turkish shotguns in the $700-$800 range, which include hardwood stocks, jeweled receivers, and some engraving. These will include a 21” model that is threaded to accept 9” extensions for a total of 30”, and each will have a lifetime warranty.
ATI is going to import a very interesting straight-pull .22LR made by ISSC in Austria, which will be a match grade rifle for a $500 MSRP.
ATI also discussed their “crown jewel,” a 100% made-in-South-Carolina 1911 with a polymer frame and a 416 steel slide and barrel. The first model will use the Government 5” length, with Commander-sized 4.25″ and subcompact 3” models on the way. All parts will be interchangeable with regular 1911 except the ATI 1911 will accept Glock sights – an innovative addition. MSRP will be “under $700.” At 1.6lbs, ATI is claiming that this is the lightest 5” 1911 ever made. Their first prototype has over 5000 rounds through it right now without experiencing any issues. The slide will be pre-cut to add mini red dot optics.
Finally, ATI is introducing the BB Tech BB6 9mm handgun line in 2016. The BB6 will be Austrian made, and was invented by an Austrian ex-Glock and ex-Steyr engineer. It will be striker-fired, with a manual safety in the trigger guard, interchangeable backstraps, “gutter sights” like those seen on the Steyr M-series, and the first will have a 5” barrel. MSRP is $739. I was impressed with the fit and finish, but I thought the trigger was stiffer than the Glock’s.
Heizer Defense brought along its well-known single shot pistols including the Pocket Shotgun (.410/.45LC), the Pocket AR (.223) and Pocket AK (7.62×39). All are retailing for a $400 MSRP. Heizer promises 1500fps muzzle velocity from the .223 pocket AR, and 1470 fps from the 7.62x39mm. Understandably, the 7.62×39 requires porting to tame recoil, but the .223 is surprisingly mild (although not incredibly pleasant, either).
The more exciting news from Heizer s the upcoming PKO45 – a semiauto .45ACP. It is a straight-blowback gun with a very low bore axis, as the barrel is part of the frame, not the slide. It will have no plastic parts, and weigh 27-28oz in steel format, and 23oz in titanium. To put this into context, the Glock 26 weighs 22 ounces. The .45 will take modified 1911 mags, flush-fit 5+1, with the option to add 7+1 mags with more grip length. Heizer claims that it will be the slimmest .45 available on the market. I was able to shoot one of the prototypes, and I am jockeying to get a prototype to do a sneak preview for TFBTV.
Battle Rifle Company brought many, many of its new ARs to the show. The main focus of BRC’s presentation was to emphasize the quality of the BRC rifles versus other rifles available on the market, underscoring that all of its barrels are cryo-treated, that all guns use milspec components, including 158 Carpenter bolts that are high pressure tested and magnetic particle inspected. They lap and hone the inside of upper receiver for a smoother, more reliable action, and barrels are all custom fitted to make sure that the BCG runs in a truly perpendicular relationship to the barrel.
BRC says all of their “combat grade” guns will be good to go out of the box, including iron sights. They are all test fired, cleaned, and lubed, and are ready to run as soon as they are opened.
BRC also showed their new LIT Carbine – a “three gun solution” with an 18″ stainless cryo-treated barrel, rifle-length gas system, .223Wylde chamber, a 15.5inch hex rail, a two-stage trigger, and an MSRP of $1795.
One of the most exciting products of the day was the Trident 11.5” SBR. This AR is novel in that it has no ferrous-to-ferrous metal contact in the entire gun – ALL parts are either Duracoated, nano-coated, or made of stainless steel. This gun was made specifically for salt water maritime operations, inspired by the one month tanker trip route from Houston’s port to Abu Dhabi, which most ARs can’t make without rusting. It will have a $1600 MSRP, and BRC is going to market it by submerging a prototype in a barrel of salt water for thirty days, then removing and shooting it.
BRC also pumped up its .308 ARs, which they claim have shot as well as quarter-MOA, and they expect the consumer to get .5-.75MOA. These rifles have a sub-$3000 MSRP
Finally, BRC 1911s are going into production, and they will bear a $2495 MSRP. BRC says these will be comparable to the very best 1911s available to the consumer.
Two of the writers at the convention attended a Battle Rifle hands-on demo where BRC employees and the writers shot ten thousand rounds through a BRC rifle in eight hours, with a re-lube every 2500 rounds and gas rings changed at 5000 rounds. Only three stoppages occurred. The rifle used in that test now has over twenty five thousand rounds through it and is still running.
CompTac demo’d their hybrid holsters, which are a kydex/leather blend, with a kydex retention holster over a leather paddle. The leather paddle will be more comfotable for the concealed carrier, while the kydex will offer the same durability and excellent retention properties it is known for.
CompTac emphasized that every holster they ship out is fit checked against a real handgun – not a blue gun – in order to assure perfect fitment. CompTac keeps over 350 pistols at their shop for this fit check. CompTac holsters MSRP at $39-99.
CompTac is also introducing the Trojan case, which holds two AR15s (or comparable carbines) up to total of 35 lbs, all in a bag that looks like a tennis racket case. They have a $90 MSRP. They are foam-lined to prevent any printing and feature interior MOLLE, velcro, and zippered interior pockets.
CompTac noted that all of their holsters ship out in 3-5 business days, and they enforce a max ship time of 8 days to make sure you get your holster as promptly as possible.
At the end of the show, LUCID’s owner/operator, Jason Wilson, discussed the LUCID product line at great length. While TFB has covered LUCID’s product line favorably many times, I wanted to point out that Jason was comically knowledgeable about optics – and what I mean by this is that he knew so much about glass that it was practically funny. This is a man who knows his stuff. He says he makes no apologies about LUCID’s optics being made in China, as he says he regularly visits the factories and inspects the products to make sure they meet his stringent quality standards. While LUCID seems to acknowledge that more expensive optics on the market exceed LUCID’s products in some ways, Jason said that they offer the best bang for the buck – a moderately priced product that competes with high-end optics in many facets.
Before I left, I managed to take a few more pictures of the American Manufacturing AR-AK, the AK magazine fed AR rifle, similar to the CMMG Mutant:
That’s it for Blue August this year! Look forward to a video wrap-up on TFBTV in the coming weeks.