Rifle Review: Cobalt Kinetics ECLIPSE

Since its genesis, a lot of clever people have sought to improve the function of the Ar-15 rifle. Side-charging handles, ambidextrous controls, and “B.A.D levers”, just to name a few. Some of these features were adopted, and some were fads that quickly fell by the wayside. One company, Cobalt Kinetics, has brought to market some rifles with a suite of features that, in my opinion, greatly enhance the Ar-15 rifle.

Several months ago I was provided a Cobalt Kinetics Eclipse for testing. To date I have shot  300 rounds through the Cobalt Kinetics Eclipse. Distances ranged from 15 yards to 700 yards, and I found the rifle to have a match-grade level of accuracy. Before we get into testing, let’s look at the features that make these rifles special.

Key Features and specification of the Cobalt Kinetics Eclipse

The Cobalt Kinetic Eclipse is a “tactical carbine” and unlike its flashy, space-age looking brothers and sisters, who are more geared towards competition, this is geared towards law enforcement and home-defense. The Eclipse has a collapsible butt stock, A2 compensator, and 15 inch M-LOK handguard. The Eclipse has some features that are found only on Cobalt Kinetics Rifles. Lets look at these features closer.

Construction

The receivers and handguard on the Cobalt Kinetic Eclipse are made of 7075 aluminum. Military grade Ar-15’s are made of 7075 Aluminum, but the handguards are typically made of 6061 aluminum. Cobalt is using 7075 for all of the Aluminum parts on their rifles. This will raise the cost, but you are guaranteed to have one of the strongest handguards available. In regard to coatings, the receivers and handguard are type III hard coat anodized then re-coated with Cerakote. Essentially these rifles have 2 layers of protective coating.

Controls

The magazine release, selector, and charging handle are fully ambidextrous. The trigger is a drop in, single stage, and match grade. To me, the most interesting feature is the DUAL DROP mechanism found on every Cobalt Kinetics Rifle. The DUAL DROP leverages the forward assist, and not only does it push the bolt into battery if the rifle is dirty, it also activates the bolt-release mechanism if the bolt is locked to the rear. This function can speed up your re-loads, depending on the situation. The DUAL DROP appears as if the rifle has two forward assists. Both function identically. The first time I saw this mechanism was at the 2016 SHOT SHOW is Las Vegas. I thought it was a tad gimmicky until I got to shoot with it at night. This is an awesome feature that I will discuss later.

Barrel

For the Eclipse, Cobalt Kinetics used a 16 inch, .223 Wylde, 5R, 1/8 twist, button rifled, 4150 CMV barrel that is treated with a lithium-Iron surface conversion.  Lithium-Iron surface conversions are very similar to QPQ nitrocarburizing, but yield a stronger and more heat and erosion resistant finish. Lithium-Iron surface conversions are fairly new to the Industry, and to my knowledge Cobalt Kinetics is the only company using this technique on their barrels and bolt carrier groups. What is interesting is that Cobalt Kinetics will drill out their gas port, then do the Lithium-Iron surface conversion. This will mitigate gas port erosion and end users will get a barrel with a very long lifespan.

Operating System

Cobalt Kinetics rifles have a military grade bolt carrier group. The bolt carrier is made of 8620 steel and the bolt is made of 9310 steel. Like the barrel, the bolt carrier group also has a Lithium-Iron conversion. Lithium-Iron surface conversions are state of the art and, as previously mentioned, Cobalt Kinetics are the only company currently using this technique on their bolt carrier groups and barrels.

Cobalt Kinetics ECLIPSE rifle. Note the ambidextrous controls and the DUAL DROP feature incorporated into the forward assist.

Cobalt Kinetics ECLIPSE. The machine work on these rifles was perfect. There was no movement between the upper and lower receiver.

Cobalt Kinetics patented DUAL DROP system. Essentially it is two forward assists that will release the bolt when it is locked to the rear. While you are looking at this picture, note the staked castle nut.

Long range and Accuracy Testing

Long range and accuracy testing was done at the family ranch in the Highlands of Central New Mexico. The Eclipse is not touted as a long range weapon, but due to the construction of this rifle I could easily see it used as a “RECCE ” or “Designated Marksmans Rifle”. Prior to long range testing I swapped out the Mission First Tactical Battlelink Stock with a B5 Sopmod Enhanced stock and added some rail interfaces for a bipod as well as tripod mount. The Mission First stock is a good piece of hardware, but it does not mate well with a rear sandbag. For optics I used my trusty Bushnell HDMR. The HDMR is equipped with a Horus H59 reticle. Testing was done prone off of a loaded bipod. For accuracy testing, I used 69 grain, Federal Gold Medal Match ammunition. The Federal Gold Medal Match was loaded with the Sierra MATCHKING BTHP bullets.

Cobalt Kinetics ECLIPSE rifle configured for long range testing. I swapped out the Mission First Tactical Battlelink Stock for a B5 Sopmod Enhanced stock. The B5 Sopmod allows for the use of a rear sand bag when prone.

Proning out behind the rifle, I dialed down the power on my Horus H59 reticle, aimed at a nearby hill adjacent to my paper target, found a rock, and fired off a round. I observed the “splash” in the grid of my Horus H59, dialed a few mils of elevation and windage, found my original target, fired, and was satisfied when my round impacted very near to my point of aim. Transitioning to an RE Factor Tactical Hitman Target, I aimed at the center of the target, and squeezed off a round. Getting a zero with a Horus reticle and 21 power scope is a breeze, and within 5 shots I had a solid zero.

RE Factor Tactical Hitman Target! You can do so much with these targets. Check tracking, compare clarity between rifle scopes and most import, zero very quickly.

The steel targets I used for testing. An 8 x10 inch steel target that I have had forever, as well as a stand and 18 inch gong from Grizzly Targets.

During the long range portion of testing, I began to appreciate the DUAL DROP feature. The first time I used it, I was reloading from the prone. After ejecting an empty magazine, I inserted a new magazine, and since I float my thumb when I shoot precision rifle, I found that my thumb was immediately in-line with the right forward assist button. Pushing the button, it closed the bolt and I was able to commence firing. Another instance where I appreciated the DUAL DROP feature was when I was reloading my magazines, and experienced an aggressive burst of wind. I looked down and noticed that my bolt carrier was locked to the rear. Wanting to keep dust out, I simply reached down, pushed the forward assist and the bolt closed, thus keeping dust out of the receiver.

During the long range portion I used 10 round P-Mags. They functioned 100%.

Lightweight semi-automatic rifles lend themselves well to being shot off of a tripod. This is a good setup for a mobility impaired shooter, or for a hunter that needs to get above tall grass. Tripods are nice to have for extreme high angle shooting. Please note, the majority of testing was done in the prone position.

The Highlands of Central New Mexico tend to be a very windy place. Conditions were typical for Spring. Temperature hovered in mid-60’s, and I had constant full value wind that fluctuated between 8 to 15 miles per hour. Shooting tiny groups in full value wind is less than ideal, but the Eclipse was engineered for real-world application, and wind is often a constant. I could probably have shot sub .5 MOA had I shot through a tunnel, but overall I was pleased. I tested two brands of ammunition, the previously mentioned Federal Gold Medal Match, as well as some 55 grain PMC Bronze. I shot 3, 5 round groups of each ammo type. At 100 yards the average 5 shot group of the Federal was .75 MOA, and the 55 grain PMC Bronze had an average 5 shot group size of 1.5 inches. After shooting the three, 5 round groups, I loaded a magazine with 10 rounds of Federal Gold Medal Match and did a drill that I refer to as “10 Rounds in 10 Seconds.” The point of this drill is to fire 10 rounds as fast as possible at a target 100 yards away. You want to be accurate, but the point is to rapidly heat the barrel to get an idea of functional accuracy. According to my timer, I shot 10 rounds in 12 seconds and had a 1.5 MOA group. Impressed by the accuracy of this rifle at 100 yards, it was time to start moving back.

Federal Gold Medal Match. Five round group. .75 MOA at 100 yards.

55 Grain PMC Bronze. Five round group, 1.25 MOA. The 1/8 twist barrel on the Cobalt Kinetics Eclipse is very versatile. Being a 1/8 twist it can stabilize bullets from 55 to 77 grains.

The group from my “10 rounds in 10 seconds” drill. Not bad.

For long range testing, I hung two targets, an 8×10 inch steel plate as well as an 18 inch gong from our TFBTV Sponsor, Grizzly Targets. At this point of my testing, the wind picked up and I had to contend with 12 to 15 mile per hour wind. I shot at 500, 600, and 700 yards. I had a 100% hit ratio out to 500 yards on the 8 x 10 inch steel plate. Hitting the 8X10 inch plate became very difficult at 700 yards, but I was able to get solid hits on the 18 inch steel gong. I probably could have pushed it to 1000 yards with some 77 grain Sierras, but for all practical purposes, if you want to shoot past 700 yards you need an Ar-10 and a high B.C round.  Below is a video of my 700 yard shot.

Short Range Testing

Short Range testing took place at some BLM land near my home outside of Albuquerque. For the short-range portion of the test, I re-attached the Mission First Tactical Battlelink Stock and installed a mini red dot sight. For this test I used a smattering of Federal XM193 and PMC Bronze. The Cobalt Kinetics Eclipse handled very well. The ambidextrous controls, crisp lightweight trigger, BeatenZone AMBI-7 charging handle, and enlarged magwell all melded together for a nice-handling rifle that was very efficient to operate.

Cobalt Kinetics Eclipse setup for close range testing.

After zeroing the red dot I did some static shooting on an 8 x 10 inch piece of steel at 25 yards to familiarize myself with the ambidextrous controls.  I really appreciated the DUAL DROP feature when I started do shoulder transitions. For example, I manipulate fire control with my right hand.  If I was behind a barricade and shooting around the right side of it, my left hand would be on the handguard and my right hand would be running the trigger. If I went to shoot around the left side of the barricade and I wanted to minimize my exposure, I would switch shoulders. This would place my right hand on the handguard and my left hand would be operating the trigger. I found that, if my magazine ran dry while shooting around the left side of a barricade, all I had to do was eject the magazine with my right hand, place a new magazine in the rifle and hit the right forward assist button to activate the DUAL DROP feature. These rifles are truly ambidextrous, and if an end user were to lose the use of one hand during a violent confrontation, they could run one of these rifles one handed. My respect for the DUAL DROP feature multiplied ten-fold when the sun dipped below the mountain, and I started shooting around barricades at night. While doing reloads in the dark, I found that I was a lot faster when using the DUAL DROP feature to close the bolt after reloading a new magazine. I found it was especially helpful when wearing gloves. 

Below are some videos taken while shooting at night. In both of these videos I was practicing shoulder transitions.

Closing

Cobalt Kinetics makes excellent hardware. If you were to compare these rifles to any other Ar-15 in existence, in my opinion, these rifles would be in the top percentile. Cobalt Kinetics is making military grade rifles that are state-of-the-art, and their quality control is second to none. When I first saw the DUAL DROP features at the 2016 SHOT SHOW, I thought it as a tad gimmicky. After shooting north of 300 rounds and spending 9 hours on the range with the rifle I think it is an awesome feature that a certain segment of the market could appreciate. The DUAL DROP’s are just big buttons that help you reload faster. People that get in gun fights, especially at night, could appreciate this feature, as well as Users who have musculoskeletal injuries. If the need arose, these rifles can be operated one-handed. The Cobalt Kinetics Eclipse, as demonstrated, would shine in a variety of roles. This year Cobalt Kinetics is bringing their patented CARS system to market. The CARS system ejects an empty magazine, then when a new magazine is inserted in the rifle, the bolt will close. I got to shoot a CARS equipped rifle at SHOT SHOW and it was pretty neat. If you live in the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area, and you want to check out a Cobalt Kinetics Rifle, BMC Tactical in Albuquerque has them in stock. Cobalt Kinetics rifles are very pricey.The Eclipse model I tested has an MSPR of $2,395. If you cannot afford one, contact BMC tactical and they can build you a custom rifle. It may not be state-of-the-art, but it will be nice and very reliable. BMC Tactical has a world class armorer on staff.

Cobalt Kinetics is fairly young company. It is staffed by a dynamic group of people who are passionate about innovation and quality. With their knowledge and capabilities, everything Cobalt does will be top notch. I look forward to what the future brings for this company, and I am keeping my fingers crossed for an Ar-10 derivative. Perhaps a .260 Remington with a 22 inch barrel…

A big thanks to Grizzly Targets and Cobalt Kinetics. Be sure to check out our YouTube Channel, TFBTV. As always tips, questions, comments and jokes are welcome in the comments below.





Thomas Gomez

Thomas Gomez currently resides in the mountains of central New Mexico. He has an M.B.A, an Ar-15/M16/M4 armorer certification from Specialized Armament Warehouse as well as a Glock armorer certification. Aside from writing for The Firearm Blog he works as a Clinical Analyst for a large Hospital. He spends his free time farming, ranching, hiking, fly-fishing and hunting in the beautiful forests and prairies of New Mexico. He can be reached at LOADTHATBIPOD@gmail.com


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  • Form Factor

    Finally a proper longer text on a Rifle! Really enjoy these. Would like to see more of such sort.

  • bagun

    I like the rifle, beauty and acurate, but i dont like two foward assist detail.

    • Thomas Gomez

      You would like it if your left hand got shot in a violent confrontation, and you had to stay in the fight.

      Hope this finds you well!

      • CommonSense23

        How much time do you really think this is saving you over a standard AR15 with one handed reloads.

        • Thomas Gomez

          During normal daylight hours I didn’t see an increase in speed. I found the DUAL DROP to be a lot more ergonomic was when shooting prone. At night, I was a lot faster, especially when shooting “weak side”. My reloads were faster overall when I was wearing a night vision monocle. If I had a job where I shot people on a regular basis I would want the DUAL DROP feature on my rifle, especially if I were to potentially lose mobility, even temporarily, in one of my hands. Good to see you in the comments!

          • CommonSense23

            I’m still not seeing how you are really saving any time on a battlefield. The major issue with reloading is storing and pulling mags from kit. Or how much time this is going to save with only one arm. You already got to let go the weapon. Slapping the bolt release isn’t hard.

          • Thomas Gomez

            Your left hand gets wounded and you have to do everything with your right. Hopefully your gun is slung. If the bolt is locked to the rear, you simply strip the magazine, insert a new one, hit the right side forward assist and get on with it. You don’t have to flip the rifle over to fumble with the bolt release on the left side of the gun, or try to cycle the charging handle. If your right hand gets damaged. You can pick up the gun with your left and do everything I just mentioned, except with your left hand. I found the DUAL DROP to shine when I was doing everything but standing on a flat range shooting steel at 25 yards.

          • Leon Sandcastle

            Thomas, I’m not sure the ‘wounded hand’ hypothetical makes a whole lot of sense. If your left hand is so mangled that you can’t even slap it against the side of your receiver hard enough to send the bolt home, how in the world could it support the forend of your rifle well enough for you to actually engage targets and return fire?

          • bagun

            I dont like dual drop or the two foward assists in the same rifle, but for the “wounded hand” hypothetical, like say Leon Sandcastle i think that in the future they could opt for more little foward assist in the left side and maybe in the middle of the upper……….more discreet, its only my opinion, but i preffer classic right fwrd assist.
            But i like that rifle soo much, and the accuracy is…..

          • CommonSense23

            It’s pretty easy to shoot a AR from the should one handed.

          • Bradley

            How is that any different than having an ambi bolt release?

      • LGonDISQUS

        Six years, 10k rounds and I’ve never needed my fwd assist.

      • Edeco

        To each theys’ own, but I basically have all my eggs in the hand-not-blown-apart basket.

  • Nicks87

    These rifles look cool but for the price you could do better.

    • Thomas Gomez

      Yeah? What is better? There are maybe two companies that are making anything similar in regards to quality. Knights and LaRue. These guns have the best triggers, barrels, aluminum, bolts and a feature that are not found anywhere else.

      • Nicks87

        You could probably build something more accurate. Better barrel, better trigger? You could add Noveske, LMT, BCM to the ones you mentioned. I just don’t think there is a market for Cobalt and dual forward assists is just jumping the shark IMO. 15+ years of shooting AR style rifles and I’ve only used a forward assist maybe a handful of times. The difference in reliability and accuracy between a $1500 rifle and a $2500 rifle is negligible.

        • Cymond

          Did you miss the part about how it’s ​also a bolt release? That’s the real purpose of the Dual Drop system.

    • USMC03Vet

      In a market where AR15 rifle is almost given away buying boutique AR15 with some flair is poor choice indeed.

  • Ok, but here is the million or more correctly the thousand dollar question.

    Is it worth the $500-1,000 premium over rifles with similar features? Like the many rifles with an ambi-bolt releases, or simply putting an extended bolt release lever (like Phase 5 or BAD).

    • Thomas Gomez

      If you want a state of the art rifle that is built like a tank and to a degree “over engineered” get this rifle. If you place a premium on your barrel and bolt carrier group lasting a long time, get this rifle. If you have a mil grade rifle that is working good….rock on. Cobalt rifles are expensive. For me the feature I liked the most was the DUAL DROP. If I could buy just the DUAL DROP upper receiver, I would get one in a heart beat.

      I like BAD levers, and I used to run them on all of my rifles. Over the years, I have found that they get in the way and have started to take them off my rifles. If it works for you….rock on. Fellow writer, Miles Vinning used a BAD Lever on a deployment to Afghanistan and he loved it. Hope this finds you well.

      • RSG

        I’ll tell you what I find needlessly confusing (although I get it). if Cobalt is known at all, it is known for its auto mag release function. Now, they are calling their dual bolt RELEASE (where the forward assist is usually) a dual DROP. It’s confusing because it conflates a drop when it should be release. Also- you write that the CARS system will be coming to the market this year. I’ve been under the impression that ALL of the Cobalt rifles on the shelves in the stores this past year have the CARS system. This needs some clarification. Thx

        • Thomas Gomez

          From my recollection, the CARS prototypes debuted at the 2016 SHOT Show. At that time the DUAL DROP was for sale, but the CARS was still in development. The gun media by and large has given more coverage to the CARS, even though it is not available. The CARS will be available this year. Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any more questions.

        • Cymond

          I almost agree about the drop/release issue, but I’ve heard people drop bolts and release magazines. It’s confusing no matter what.

  • Holdfast_II

    I like that Dual Drop system. Like it a lot.

  • Vitsaus

    $2,400 and still comes with a regular old parts kit dust cover? I at least want some Molon Labe or “Shall not be infringed” on the dust cover for that kind of money.

    • Thomas Gomez

      Right?! Have a great weekend!

  • USMC03Vet

    .223wylde? is that super duper .223 rem?

    • LGonDISQUS

      Errthang I read is that it is a dimension and pressure middleman between .223 and 5.56×45.

  • RSG

    It’s expensive, but I’m still impressed by the accuracy. When I was reading this, “Short Range testing took place at some BLM land near my home outside of Albuquerque”, my excitement piqued when I got to the word “land” as I was hopeful it would read “rally”. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.

    • Paul Rain

      This is the BLM that’s been F**King us for a hundred years, unfortunately.

  • Don

    The dual drop system is too big, ugly and it adds more unneeded weight plus it takes your hand further away from the grip/trigger to use it. There are a heck of a lot of better solutions out there. All my ARs have ambi controls that you can operate with your index finger as you are grabbing your grip in your said “one armed” scenario, none of them are the BAD levers. So instead of loading your mag and then moving past your trigger and grip to hit the bolt release and then moving back to the grip before you can raise your rifle to your shoulder in your scenario, all I do is load the mag and reach for the grip and hit the bolt release with my index finger as it moves to the trigger all while I raise my rifle to my shoulder into firing position. It’s a no brainer.

    • Thomas Gomez

      That is with a BAD lever? BAD levers work, but they are some downsides as well.

  • Vitor Roma

    We need a picture of the bcg, I’m really curious about the lithium-iron finish.

  • iksnilol

    To be honest, if I’m dropping a ton of money on a fancy AR I’d go for this one due to the auto-autoloading.

    EDIT: Oh, this isn’t that rifle. *shrug*

    • Huh

      But isnt the EDGE the auto bolt closing and mag ejecting, not the Eclipse?

      • iksnilol

        Yep.

        • Andrew Martinez

          The Eclipse is offered in the C.A.R.S. system as well. To clarify, the C.A.R.S. System is a model version that’s offered in the Team, Edge, BAMF, and Eclipse rifles. So when you order or purchase a rifle, you get the standard version that has the Dual Drop, or you order it with the C.A.R.S.

  • James Young

    Good thing your ~$2300 rifle has that fancy coating and all 7075 parts. Who’s going to put their expensive rifles in mud and dirt and throw it on rocks and in the river? Cool but it seems unnecessary.

    • Thomas Gomez

      Professionals would.Weekend shooters…probably not.

    • Dakota Raduenz

      I started to build myself a quality AR from a nice lower with a picto I liked. I got over treating it like a safe queen when attempting to put the bolt catch roll pin in (amateur hour tip: buy the special pin punch for this purpose). That awful silver gash cured me.

      Working rifles should be used, dirtied, and scratched. Few ARs are worth being actual collectable “safe queens”

  • Charles Valenzuela

    Great article. This gun has a lot of very nice cosmetic enhancements. It is unfortunate that they didn’t enhanse the appearance of that ordinary crappy butt-ugly ejection port cover though. What were they thinking? Like rusty steel wheels on a new Jaguar.