[SHOT 2018] Franklin Armory Reformation Follow-Up: Performance and Ammo

    In this SHOT 2018 Floor Day Interview, James gets further in depth with Jay Jacobson, the President of Franklin Armory, about the Franklin Armory Reformation, an 11.5″ AR15 with a standard buttstock that skirts the definition of “short barrel rifle” via omitting traditional rifling. Franklin also discusses Reformation-specific ammo that will give near-MOA accuracy from the unrifled bore.

    As TFB’s own Nick Chen reported about the Reformation:

    Since the announcement last week, there has been a lot of rumor and speculation about the secret behind Franklin Armory’s Reformation. Many people thought that since Franklin Armory is known for their Binary Trigger, then the NFA work around must be trigger related. This is incorrect. The Binary Trigger has been out for a while now and does not alter the classification of the rifles or pistols you install then into. But wait, what about “release” triggers. Ok those do exist and are most commonly found in competition Trap or Skeet shotguns. However they are still considered shotguns.

    The next possibility is the barrel or ammo. Some hypothesized that perhaps the barrel has a smooth bore and the Reformation would need to use rifled ammunition. This does not work either since a smooth bore would put the Reformation into the classification of shotgun.

    Here is the definition of a rifle according to the ATF.

    The term “Rifle” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed metallic cartridgeto fire only a single projectile through a rifled bore for each single pull of the trigger.

    And here is the definition of a shotgun.

    The term “Shotgun” means a weapon designed or redesigned, made or remade, and intended to be fired from the shoulder, and designed or redesigned and made or remade to use the energy of the explosive in a fixed shotgun shell to fire through a smooth bore either a number of ball shot or a single projectile for each single pull of the trigger.

    So what makes the Reformation sit outside of these definition?

    . . . projectile through a rifled bore. . .

    That is the key component. The barrel is neither rifled nor smooth so the only option left is straight lands and grooves. Yes, Franklin Armory is bringing back black powder technology. This means the projectile does not spin.

    How accurate is it? You can easily hit what you are aiming at out to 50 yards. Then out to 100 yards you are getting 4-5″ groups. Could an AR pistol or SBR beat that? Of course. But this was made for two distinct reasons.

    1. CQB distances
    2. Loophole against NFA

    The Reformation we shot on Range Day was chambered in 5.56×45 but Franklin Armory will be releasing a .300blk version first. They find the round seems to group better than the 5.56version. MSRP will be similar to their SBR Libertas at $2095. That is a bit pricey but the Reformation does come with a binary trigger. The version I shot had the Black Friday limited edition straight bow trigger. Binary BFSIII triggers cost $430. That makes the rifle only $1665. Now the price does not sound so bad.

    Franklin also has some ideas about ammunition for the Reformation. Aside from your stereotypical spun projectile, the other method of stabilizing a round is either fin stabilization or flair design like a badminton shuttle cock. They are working with an ammo manufacturer to develop said rounds.

    No word on when these will be available but stay tuned for more info.

    A very special thanks to BROWNELLS – check out their new Retro line here:


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    James Reeves

    • NRA-licensed concealed weapons instructor, 2012-present
    Maxim Magazine’s MAXIMum Warrior, 2011
    • TFBTV Executive Producer
    • Former Regional Sales Rep, Interstate Arms Corp., MA
    • Champion, Key West Cinco De Mayo Taco Eating Competition
    • GLOCK® Certified Pistol Operator, 2017-2022
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