It’s a natural progression for products to first be developed for the military and then later trickle down to civilians. The Internet is one example — it originally developed as an emergency communications network to be used in the case of a nuclear attack. Another example is the tactical rifle. Or is it a Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR)? Locked in a SWAT van or for home defense, it’s a tactical rifle. While chasing game in a national forest, it’s an MSR. What you call it all depends on its intended use, but with a few exceptions, the guts of the gun are identical.
Most people on the street equate the MSR with an assault weapon, often dubbing it a black gun or an M16. While MSRs do serve a strong role in tactical law enforcement and military operations, so do the Remington 700, Winchester Model 70, Mauser, Springfield 1903, Mossberg 500 — and the list goes on. With that being said, individuals will still fall on both sides of the tactical weapon versus sporting weapon debate. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, MSRs are here to stay. Here is a roundup of the hottest new tactical rifle/MSRs for 2012.
At Your Command
The MRAD rifle’s user-changeable barrel system is just one example of this hard-working gun’s modularity. The MRAD boasts Barrett’s easily accessed trigger module. The match-grade trigger is drop fireproof and combat-ready. The thumb-operated safety can be configured for left- or right-hand operation. The ambidextrous magazine release can be used intuitively while retaining a firing grip and cheek weld. Integrated into the MRAD rifle’s 7000 series aluminum upper receiver is an M1913 rail with 30 MOA taper and 21.75 inches of rail space. The MRAD rifle’s stock is foldable for enhanced portability yet locks in as solid as a fixed-stock rifle, creating a rigid platform for consistent firing. Made of a temperature-resistant polymer, the adjustable cheek piece also offers a consistent rifle-to-user contact point. The rifle’s length of pull can be set to five different positions with the push of a single button. No MSRP available.
Beretta ARX 160
Beretta’s latest AR platform is already getting notice. The easily interchangeable barrel makes the platform ideal for a host of different scenarios. With a simple push of a button, you can alter the ARX 160’s unique reversible ejection, making the rifle suitable to both right- and left-handed shooters. The ARX 160 has a lever in front of the magazine well that is similar in design to a Glock disassembly lever. To remove the barrel, lock the bolt carrier to the rear, pull down on the lever and pull the barrel free of the rifle. As heat is a concern with polymer rifles, the ARX 160 answers it with a ceramic heat shield; Beretta says that you’ll melt the rifle barrel before you damage the polymer. MSRP $2,128.
Ready for Any Varmint
Although primarily designed as a hunting rifle, the LE901 is ready for double duty when required. Chambered in the classic .308 Win., the rifle’s full-floated, 16.1-inch chrome-lined barrel and one-piece monolithic upper receiver, suitable for mounting your optic of choice, ensure exceptional accuracy. Keeping the varmint hunter in mind, the .308 Win. upper receiver group can be easily swapped out for any mil-spec Colt upper receiver chambered in 5.56 x 45 NATO. The fact that all the operating controls are ambidextrous, including the magazine release, bolt catch and safety selector, makes for versatility and ease of use. Special features on the Colt LE901 include a one-piece upper with backup iron sights, bayonet lug and flash hider. No MSRP available.
Double Star J&T Zombie AK
Because They Could
Cardio, sit ups, running, pull ups, drills, training … practice, practice, practice. Of course, it’s necessary in the quest to ensure that you are better prepared than your foe. But what perpetrator has unlimited energy, doesn’t sleep, is without fear and craves brains for a snack? The truly prepared patrolman or SWAT team should have at least one Zombie AK at the ready. Besides, think about the potential in a standoff. Some corner dealer pulls a .45 and you exit your patrol car carrying an AK with a chainsaw. The guys at Double Star brought out their J&T Zombie AK, fitted with an electric chainsaw on the barrel. The AK features a drum mag with an Aimpoint red dot sight, plus a rechargeable battery pack for the limb collector on the end — after all, when the zombies are mere feet away, there’s no time to set your gun down and crank away on a chainsaw. MSRP $1,250.
LWRC International PSD 300 in .300 Blackout
Micro Sized, Max Power
If you’re looking for a short-range rifle that’s reportedly quieter than the MP5, LWRC has the answer with its PSD 300 chambered in .300 Blackout. LWRC shortened the PSD 300’s buffer tube to 5 inches and developed a new stock to take advantage of the shortened buffer tube. With an 8½-inch barrel, the PSD 300 is equipped with an AAC 51T Blackout flash suppressor and will easily accept a suppressor with a few turns of the wrist. Designed for shooting subsonic ammo within 50 yards, the PSD 300 is also capable of shooting supersonic rounds at about 2,400 feet per second and will engage targets out to 150 meters. The PSD 300 was designed for maximum maneuverability when entering and clearing a room but is also ready to engage targets at a distance with a quick magazine change. No MSRP available.
Olympic Arms K3B AR-15 Carbine
Olympic Arms, Inc., unlike some other AR companies, makes all their major components in-house, rather than getting them from outside sources. This gives Olympic Arms direct and total control over its manufacturing processes, which results in high-quality products. Couple that with very competitive prices and you have a recipe for business success. The K3B 11.5-inch AR-15 Carbine is an LE Class III SBR model only. The receiver is forged from 7075 T6 aluminum anodized with a black matte finish. The K3B uses a non-chromed bore, 11.5-inch barrel, A2 upper and M4 collapsible stock. MSRP $968.
Olympic Arms K23B
For those looking for maximum firepower in a minimal package, Olympic Arms offers the K23B Tactical Stubby. The K23B features a gas-operated, semi-auto action with an A2 upper, fully adjustable rear sight and elevation adjustable post front sight. The stock is a six-point collapsible, M4 Fiberite model with M4 Carbine handguard. The K23B is LE-Only Class III SBR. Additional features include: flattop w/detachable carry handle, 6.5-inch barrel, 5.56 NATO chambering, FIRSH rail handguard, vertical pistol grip and M4 collapsible stock. No MSRP available.
Rock River Arms
Celebrate the Southpaw Rock River Arms (RRA) has released the RRA LAR-15LH LEF-T Elite Operator-L, which is designed exclusively for use by left-handed shooters. Delivering all the quality of the company’s standard RRA LAR-15, the LEF-T has been reconstructed for left-handed operation. But it’s not just a left-handed upper attached to a standard lower receiver; it’s a gun that is tailor-made for left-handed shooters from start to finish. The RRA LAR-15LH features a two-stage trigger, 16-inch chrome-molly barrel with a 1:9 twist and tactical muzzle break. The handguard is RRA’s Half Quad Free Float and comes with three rail covers, while the buttstock is RRA’s Operator CAR stock with an ERGO grip. The RRA LAR-15LH tips the scales at 8 pounds, spans a full 37 inches and prints one-MOA groups at 100 yards. MSRP $1,050.
Sig Sauer M400
The SIG M400 Series Tactical Rifle is designed for use in law enforcement and military operations, on the sporting field and in competitive shooting. The SIG M400 is a true AR-platform tactical rifle and provides maximum accuracy, with a 16-inch chrome-lined and phosphate-coated barrel that provides maximum durability and corrosion resistance. A 7075-T6 aircraft-grade forged-aluminum lower receiver adds to the durability and reliability. Other notable features on the M400 include a direct-impingement gas operating system with rotating locking bolt, two-piece aluminum quad-rail, M16A2-type flash suppressor, detachable carry handle and M16A3-type rear sight. MSRP $1,100.
Smith & Wesson M&P 300 Whisper
The Legacy Continues — Just Quieter
Many of the guns at the 2012 SHOT Show were buzzed about, but few caused the stir Smith & Wesson’s M&P 300 Whisper enjoyed. Smith & Wesson’s latest M&P model builds upon the brand’s established M&P line and offers subsonic and supersonic capabilities with consistent performance and accuracy. The M&P 300 Whisper is, of course, chambered for the .300 Whisper cartridge, but it will also fire the .300 AAC Blackout. The effective range is short (about 200 yards) and possibly a bit less with the AAC Blackout round. Thanks to the innovative design and characteristics of the cartridge, the M&P 300 Whisper features low recoil and muzzle blast and is at home with or without a suppressor. MSRP $1,119.