Review: KE Arms Team Rifle

Last year Russell Phagan, of KE Arms, brought me to Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun under a media sponsorship to review and shoot some prototypes they had. This year he invited me back to run some new products, and even better, he shipped them to me ahead of the match so I would have more time with them.

In this article, I am going to discuss the KE Arms Team Rifle, an “off-the-shelf” competition grade rifle, solidly built with high-performance components.

Construction

Team Rifle staged on the deck of Huey during one of the match stages at SMM3G.

Team Rifle staged on the deck of Huey during one of the match stages at SMM3G.

The rifle is primarily composed of KE Arms components, components that they build in-house.

Handguard

The hand guard is their 15″ Delta-S MLOK: http://www.kearms.com/rail-delta-s-mlok-15. Constructed of 6061 T-6 aluminum that has been Class III (type 2) hard anodized, it has a 37-slot, 1913 Picatinny rail at 12 o’clock, and 8-slots of M-LOK at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, and 9 o’clock. It is lightweight coming in at 12.8 ounces (including the barrel nut and spanner ring) and is generously vented which allows for rapid cooling as the gun heats up.

Barrel

The barrel is their 17.7″ 5.56 BALLISTIC ADVANTAGE (3-GUN) MID-LENGTH AR-15 BARREL http://www.kearms.com/barrel-ballistic-advantage-17. Chambered in 5.56, the barrel is machined from 4150 Chrome Moly Vanadium steel with a QPQ finish and a 1:7 twist rate. It is setup for a mid-length gas system and is ported at 0.750 with a pinned gas block. The muzzle end is threaded in the standard 1/2×28 and comes with an A2 Flash hider so you can swap to your muzzle device of choice.

Bolt Carrier Group

The bolt carrier group, done by Young Manufacturing, is the SLC Super Light Carrier: https://kearms.americommerce.com/bolt-carrier-slc. You can use a standard recoil buffer and spring (which is what comes in the Team Rifle). The weight of the complete assembly shaves 2 ounces from their standard BCG, coming in at 9.2 ounces. The SLC has a hard chrome coating for better cleaning and maintenance.

Lower

The lower is KE Arms Flared Magwell Billet Lower: https://kearms.americommerce.com/lower-flared-mag-well. It is machined from a 7075 billet master plate to mil-spec standards (so you can run it with mil-spec uppers) and is type III, Class 2 hard anodized. The lower also features a broached mag well for a reduction in fumbling. The Team Rifle includes the KE Arms Big Button Mag Release and assembly.

Trigger

KE Arms DMR Trigger is installed in the Team Rifle: https://kearms.americommerce.com/drop-in-trigger. The DMR has a 4.5 lbs adjustable reset, is Titanium Nitride coated, and is precision EDM wired from A2 tool steel. Paired with the DMR trigger is KE Arms Ambidextrous Selector: https://kearms.americommerce.com/selectors-category, which is constructed of 6061-T6 Billet machined with a 17-4 Stainless Steel heat treated shaft.

Observations

Yes, I should have use a support, but the rifle was so light and easy to shoot I really didn't need to. Plus the targets were only at 200 yards.

Yes, I should have used a support, but the rifle was so light and easy to shoot I really didn’t need to. Plus the targets were only at 200 yards.

One of the downsides to a lot of reviews is just the lack of time and ammo we normally get to run the weapons (mainly due to return dates and just cost of ammo). We may only get to run the rifle a range session (or two), and rarely get to put more than a hundred rounds or so through it, which as you know, doesn’t give any sort of real feel for how a gun is going to perform.

In this case, I had the KE Arms Team Rifle 2 months before Superstition Mountain Mystery 3-Gun which allowed me plenty of time to run the rifle and get some training done with it—just as if it were my own. In addition to range time, I was able to hop in a local 3-Gun match.

Initially, the rifle was pretty dry, but I expect most guns I get to come that way. After some application of my favorite lubes and greases, the Team Rifle ran smooth. It definitely was not a budget rifle—all of the parts were well fitted and operated smoothly.

I wasn't the only one running a KE Arms Team Rifle at the match. Mine is on the left on top of the Explorer Cases 3-Gun Bag.

I wasn’t the only one running a KE Arms Team Rifle at the match. Mine is on the left on top of the Explorer Cases 3-Gun Bag.

Honestly, the rifle ran well enough that it was an extension of me—at no time did I have to fight with the rifle, nor notice it during the competition. It just ran. It happily ate the ammo I fed it and didn’t exhibit a single malfunction.

I ran it solely with Magpul PMags and fed it with Hornady 55 gr Steel Match, which is what I run through my PWS rifle. It fed and ran perfectly, over the course of about 500 rounds I used during training. At the match, I was provided with Fiocchi 62 gr ammo by KE Arms.

I added on a Vortex Strike Eagle 1×6 Scope and Vortex Scope Mount as my optic. Yes, I’m branching out and trying not to be too much of an optics snob. The scope did great, especially during the match where I was able to use the reticle to engage the distance targets with ease using the reticle hashes. I did have a problem with the scope mount that basically loosened all of the ways during on of my stages during the competition. This was totally user error (by not using Loctite, nor rechecking the bolts). Fortunately, this happened before the long range stages, so I had time to re-zero with the different ammo.

Conclusion

A good shooting rifle, light and accurate.

A good shooting rifle, light and accurate.

The KE Arms Team Rifle performed admirably well. One of the biggest compliments I can give a rifle is that I don’t “notice” it—meaning none of the features cause some annoyance (like parts that feel gritty, or bind when moving), or force me to examine the rifle to correct an issue. The “no-mind” of operating a rifle is even more important during competition (or, ahem, combat)—you don’t want to fight with the rifle to get the job done.

The Team Rifle ran flawlessly—the issue I had with the scope mount was all on me. For around $1900 (MSRP), it is competitively priced (adding up the competition grade components it is built with). My biggest disappointment with the rifle was that I had to return it to KE Arms at the end of the match…

If you are interested in the KE Arms Team Rifle, you can find out more information at their website: http://www.kearms.com/team-rifle



Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he has embraced his inner “Warrior Hippie” and assaults 14er in his sandals and beard, or engages in rucking adventure challenges while consuming craft beer. To fund these adventures, he writes medical software and builds websites and mobile apps. His latest venture is as one of the founders of IronSights.com; a search engine for all things gun related. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it–he is known (in certain circles) for his curse…ahem, ability…to find the breaking point of anything.


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  • Vitor Roma

    Since the bcg is light and the barrel almost 18, why not a rifle length gas system to make things even smoother?

    • Anonymoose

      And an A5 buffer system.

      • iksnilol

        AND AN OBNOXIOUS MUZZLE BRAKE!

        • glenn cheney

          and as you would expect, the only kind of muzzle brakes I own, of which there are copious quanties, of both….

  • Mrninjatoes

    Looks like a nice rifle. Wish TFB covered more shooting events.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      Second the request for more shooting event coverage.

  • Jack Perkins

    I heard KE was being sued by BCM and several other makers for stealing their designs.

    • valorius

      Stealing AR designs? Everyone and their mother makes them.

      • UpOnTop

        No, not like copying designs. Straight up counterfeiting the BCM charging handle, with the BCM logo, using fixtures given to them to make handles and selling them out of package at AZ gun shows and meets at a discount. Heard there are emails detailing this, measurements for their engraving machine or laser and a sample in the hands of BCM. Also, that ex-employees are willing to come forward if they need to.
        Not copying by a long shot.