Robinson Armament Ultracompact XCR-M .308 SBR Review

In this episode of TFBTV we’re back in the Great White North taking a look at the XCR-M pistol.

The XCR began its life as part of the USSOCOM SCAR contract, but has since found a home in the civilian market. Edward O takes the compact .308 blaster through its paces, and compares it with the fullsize variants more commonly found in Canada. Part of the design of this firearm is specifically to address the laws surrounding magazine capacities in Canada, so that 10 round pistol mags can be made available to rifle owners.

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Transcript ..

– Hi, I’m Edward O. for TFB TV, and today we’re taking a look at a Robinson Arms XCRM.

This is the ultra-short SBR/pistol variant.

A quick note on that before we get into things, this is something that differs slightly between the U.S. and Canada.

In Canada a handgun is defined by its receiver, so it doesn’t really matter what additional things we put on that.

That won’t affect its status.

Both SBRs and handguns are restricted in similar kinds of ways.

The only difference that’s a key difference is when it comes to magazines, pistols have the advantage.

(gun firing) So this little guy is a.308 with a nine-inch barrel.

We’ve also got a full suite of ambidextrous controls on here, so we’ve got a 45-degree safety, and then a left and right side magazine release.

And then the bolt release that’s right inside the trigger guard there.

The only part that isn’t really ambidextrous is the charging handle on the left-hand side.

That is non-reciprocating, but it is something you still have to work with.

A few quick stats, this rifle weighs seven pounds, 11 ounces, and has a 4 1/2 pound single-stage trigger pull.

The XCR is something of an anomaly in a world full of AR-15 variants.

It does have an interesting origin as far as you have to go all the way back to 2003, to the U.S. SOCOM Scar contract.

Now if you hear the word scar and you think of this rifle, that’s because that rifle won that contract.

But before that while the competition was still ongoing you had manufacturers submitting all kinds of interesting rifles for consideration.

Some of the key requirements for the special forces rifle were enhanced reliability, ambidexterity, and a quick-change barrel system.

(gun firing) (gun firing) The other requirement of the SOCOM contract was to have a 5.56 and 7.62 rifle, which is where you get the SCAR-L and SCAR-H, or the XCR-L and the XCR-M.

One of the initial requirements which was eventually dropped but still gets a ton of attention was the idea of a alternate lower receiver that would run off Kalashnikov pattern magazines.

That’s where you get the whole battlefield pickups concept and where you get some of those interesting prototypes that you occasionally see floating around.

The XCR was developed by Robinson Arms as the XCR-MWS or Modular Weapons System and it was submitted to compete for that contract.

Now depending on who you talk to, part of the reason they didn’t get that contract was either a lack of blank firing adapters or the fact that U.S. SOCOM added a grenade launcher requirement at the last minute.

There’s tons of really good articles out there and it is a really interesting contract to look at as far as something that kind of went off the rails.

But one of the good things that it birthed was a really interesting rifle platform.

(gun firing) So we’ll do a quick field disassembly of this.

You can see there’s a lever at the back here that compresses our recoil spring ever so slightly.

That allows us to separate our upper and lower receiver, and then our piston and bolt carrier group will slide out the back.

And that’s pretty much it.

While this bolt carrier group might look like an AK long-stroke piston system, this is actually a short-stroke piston.

The piston hits the bolt carrier group, but doesn’t move with it.

We can also use a 10mm alan wrench to loosen this screw in the bottom, and then slide the entire barrel and gas system out the front.

Now, XCRs take a lot of flack for this online, as far as having one screw to retain the barrel, but it is how they decided to address that quick-change barrel requirement in the original SOCOM contract.

(slow rock music) (gun firing) You can see this is one of the newer models with a key MOD 4 end.

Some of the early XCRs were quite heavy up front.

My first experience with an XCR was actually a full-length 7.62 by 39 version, and it would seize shut.

This was back in I’d say 2008.

And essentially what you had to do to clear the gun, is you had to grab it by the barrel and kick the action open with your boot heel using that charging handle.

Which is kind of funny as a Canadian, because our troops in World War I were doing the same thing with the Ross rifle.

It was a notoriously bad setup before they moved to the Lee Enfield.

(slow rock music) (gun firing) I’m not gonna sugarcoat this.

I didn’t get great accuracy results from this rifle.

It is.308 out of a nine-inch barrel.

I wish I had a chronograph to figure out what our feet per second was.

(slow rock music) (gun firing) Whether I was shooting a Barnall military surplus or Federal Gold Match I was still getting sort of four or five inch groups at 100 yards.

Enough to ring the gong with.

The biggest advantage this rifle sees in Canada is that it’s not an AR-15.

Because of that, we can get the full-length 19-inch barreled units and we can take those anywhere as they don’t have to be registered with the government.

So they are quite popular in Canada.

One of the nice things is that we do get the pistol variance as well, so we get 10-round magazines that can be transferred over to the rifle version.

Because it is that restricted pistol variant, I can’t take this out and hunt with it, but of course the place where this really shines is heavy metal three gun.

Part of the reason for that is because almost everybody who shoots heavy metal in Canada is using an M14 variant of some kind.

A system that’s not very optics friendly, a little bit tricky on the magazines, a little bit tricky on the reloads, that kind of thing.

Here you’ve got a really ergonomic platform in a short lightweight setup.

Particularly in heavy metal, you only need to make one hit on a cardboard target to neutralize.

So suddenly that 10-round magazine capacity isn’t such a limiting factor anymore.

I didn’t really expect this gun to be very comfortable to shoot, but the muzzle break on the end actually makes a huge difference as far as its recoil and blast.

For the shooter, it’s great.

If you’re standing beside it, then you really need to double plug.

(slow rock music) (gun firing) Although the XCR didn’t win that contract or become the special forces rifle, that competition did create a firearms platform that has a real home in the civilian world.

I want to do a quick thank you to Wolverine Supplies, they’re the importer and distributor of Robinson Arms in Canada.

And to Black Leaf Industries for the DI optic that you see on this rifle.

And thanks to you for watching.

(slow percussion music)

Edward O

Edward is a Canadian gun owner and target shooter with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. Crawling over mountains with tactical gear is his idea of fun. He blogs at TV-Presspass and tweets @TV_PressPass.


  • Robinson Armament? I’d rather have a kidney stone.

    • BillC

      Every once and a while, you’ll hear of some distant person getting a Robinson Armament rifle just to be different, believing it the perfect blend of Ar and AK or something. Then regretting it. Que the one person to pop up to say his/her’s is awesome-sauce; or it was great, but/except for…

      • Oh, it’s not the guns. It’s Alex Robinson. He’s a jackass.

      • Dan Atwater

        I got one back in 2009 ’cause I’m a special snowflake and thought it was cool.

        Had it for 5 years, had zero reliability issues and enjoyed shooting it. Good rifle, has a lot going for it.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          I’ve been in classes where people ran them great and had zero problems under really heavy use. I’d sure as hell opt for an XCR before a lot of other guns!

        • BillC

          I ALMOST bought one in 2011. I wanted to be special too, I just didn’t know much about them, beyond the typical gun rags saying everything they get their hands on are “The Latest and Greatest™”. Looked on my phone at the gun shop and saw nothing but weird issues and no company support.

          Took a hard pass and still wanted to be special so I bought a Ruger SR556 (because you know, pistons). I still have it, but it’s not my regular use rifle because it’s heavy and after running the piss out of my DI ARs, I observed no benefit of pistons in ARs (but you can adjust the gas! The Ruger is still over-gassed on the lowest settings).

      • mig1nc

        The perfect blend of AR and AK… Daewoo K2 🙂

        • BillC

          I forget that there are a good number of great rifles outside of the US/AR15s. Just really can’t get them here and/or or a competitive price point that warrants something else.

        • randomswede

          The XCR field strips almost identical to a K2, but the ergonomics are more modern.

  • Steve

    I find myself checking out Robinson Arms every couple of years, read some recent reviews, and quickly dismiss them…

    Have they gotten any better? Really?

    I had a friend that got one in like, 2010-2011 or something and he regretted it from day 1. Not trying to bash on the company, but truly wondering if they have moved out of the beta-testing phase.

    • They’ve definitely had their rocky patches, and I still hear “locktite jokes” making their way around. But it is an interesting little firearm, especially in Canada where AR-15 alternates have the advantage of not needing registration with the Federal govt.

      • The_Champ

        Yep definitely an advantage in Canada when it comes to the gun registry. That said I don’t think you mentioned price tag here in Canada, it’s a little steep on the XCR.

        And I should also point out that it is yet another great opportunity to highlight the nonsense of our firearms legislation. The non-restricted XCR(or Mini-14, or VZ58, et al) are all functionally equivalent to the dreaded AR. Yet one is restricted, and one is not.

  • I’ve always been interested in Robinson. I held their latest XCR competition at SHOT las year, very comfortable with an ingenious ambi bolt release that is activated by the trigger finger.

    • I’m actually looking at a similar bolt release solution for the Vz58 right now. Who says your trigger finger can’t do other things?

      • Sepper

        I also use mine to pick my nose! 😀

  • A bearded being from beyond ti

    Why won’t Mr Mister over here not look into the camera? Is the RCMP standing behind it?

    • I had no idea reassuring eye contact was so important to viewers until I started doing videos for TFB TV!

      • ostiariusalpha

        Just so long as you don’t do a soul stare like Billy Birdzell does, apparently it makes weak-minded people really uncomfortable.

  • Joe

    He reminds me of Daredevil

  • toms

    How is the reliability of the system? I like the .308 version a lot and think the platform has potential as a non-AR .308. Hard to beat a scarH though.

  • Havok

    I remember ordering one of these for a customer, and then our order getting bumped supposedly for a LE Purchase Order. Haven’t mentioned this companies name in polite conversation since.

  • Kelly Jackson

    Honestly didn’t know they were still in business.

    Their website looks like it did back in 2003.

    • Curious_G

      Except for all of the new products. And the new design of the site. Pretty much the same though.

  • That little pocket monster looked surprisingly controllable for a 9″ .308. The brake is also kind of amazing; given the Hollywood level of muzzle blast from the (unbraked) short .308s I’ve fired, I was expecting the camera to blank out a bit from the fireball wrecking the auto-contrast settings.

  • jay

    Another cool movie! Thanks! Sad that we can’t get a pistol and put a stock on it. Without the $200.00 tax stamp. Btw, I kept on expecting the shooter to angle his gun up and take out the drone! ;-}

  • John Burridge

    Hello Edward! How do you like that DI Optical EG1 optic you were using? I like 1X prismatic scopes over red dots because of my astigmatism.