The Best New AR Products from SHOT Show 2016
Tom McHale 01.20.16
SHOT Show 2016 is here, so it’s time to check out all the latest gear. Let’s take a look at some of what’s new for the AR platform.
1. Timney two-stage drop-in triggers
This year at SHOT Show, pigs flew. I saw one in the Timney booth. For years, the company response to customer requests for two-stage triggers was “we’ll make one when pigs fly.”
Well, heat up the frying pan because the bacon is airborne.
When a Timney focus group tested two different varieties of the two-stage trigger with different first-stage pull lengths, preferences were about evenly split. Half of the shooters liked a longer pull and half preferred the shorter, so the company decided to make both.
They both have about a two-pound break for the second stage, so they only vary by the pull length. You can tell them apart as the shorter pull version has a red body and the longer as a blue case. As the Timney folks explained to me, “red” has three (fewer) letters, so it’s the short-pull one. Got that?
2. LaserMax Manta-Ray
Here’s one of those things that turns out to be insanely handy. The Manta-Ray is a rail-mounted light for rifles that will typically attach to the handguard somewhere. The different thing about the Manta-Ray is that it’s made from rubber, or, at least, the exterior is. You just snap it onto the rail wherever you like. It attaches just like rubber rail segment covers.
While ease of mounting is nice, what I like about it is that it’s low-profile and creates a comfortable gripping surface. If you want, you can plug a remote switch—also soft rubber—into the unit so the activation can be controlled from a different rail location. For example, you might want the light on the bottom, but the activation on the side so you can work it with your fingers.
The light goes up to 140 lumens, but by holding the power switch, you can adjust intensity from 20 all the way up to the full 140 level. It’s rechargeable via a standard mini USB port and will run about an hour at full power and more at lower intensity levels. It’s also super light at just 1.8 ounces.
Its MSRP is $219.
3. Brownells AR lower
If you’re building an AR yourself or just customizing an existing one, Brownells is the place to go. They have everything that’s ever been invented for the MSR platform. Heck, I think they even stock stuff that’s not yet built. Several years ago, Brownells started to make their own components starting with Brownells-brand AR magazines. They quickly gained a reputation as top-notch, reliable gear.
Now Brownells is making their own AR lowers. The one announced at SHOT Show is an M16A1 version, but it should still work with most any upper. If you want to make an authentic M16 build (minus the full-auto parts) this is the receiver with which to start. Coming soon is a Brownells brand M16A1 upper, so stay tuned for that. The lower’s MSRP is $150.
4. Galco Bungee Sling
The new Bungee Sling from Galco Gunleather can attach to your long gun with its HK-style hook or the included nylon loop.
Just loop the shock-absorbing elasticized synthetic bungee over your body cross-wise and you’re ready to go. If you need to transition to pistol, just drop your rifle and the bungee will make sure it stays with you. The elastic bungee doesn’t just reduce shock when you let go of the rifle; the stretch also allows you to shoulder your gun on the opposite side or whack someone upside the head with a muzzle strike. That’s embarrassing to try with a rigid sling if you run out of sling before reaching your target.
The Galco Bungee Sling comes in black or flat dark earth. It will retail for $67.95.
5. Cobalt Kinetics Buffer Kit
Walking the shooting line at Industry Day at the Range, I couldn’t help but notice the slick-looking rifles at the Cobalt Kinetics lane. It looks like something an Imperial stormtrooper might use.
In the AR accessories department, they now offer an innovative buffer replacement kit that will make your AR rifle perform. The kit includes a new buffer tube that’s lined with some mystical super slick material. A replacement buffer with different weight inserts allows you to tune your rifle. It runs like butter. First, the kits will be available for rifle-length systems, but the company will offer a carbine-length system soon. Pricing is not yet available.
6. Crimson Trace LiNQ System
Bluetooth technology now has a place in the MSR world. The new LiNQ System from Crimson Trace uses a Bluetooth-like wireless connection to connect the LiNQ AR pistol grip to a light and laser module that you mount way up front. Don’t worry, the LiNQ wireless mini-network is secure, and you won’t see it pop up on your iPhone—nor will it interfere with other nearby LiNQ modules.
Why, you ask? The wireless connection give you complete control over light and laser from your natural firing hand grip, much like the instinctive activation feature of traditional Crimson Trace Lasergrips. There’s no need to control anything with your support hand, so you can use that to secure your rifle, open doors, or play Angry Birds during slow tactical moments. Being wireless, the LiNQ system requires no wires so you don’t have to string cable from the light to the control buttons. Electrical wires are not ideal to have on hot surfaces and you certainly don’t want them interfering with the action of your gun or getting caught up on door frames you just splintered.
The light and laser module can be manually controlled by your support hand as a backup, so even if something should interfere with the wireless link, the light and laser module is still in the fight.
They’re looking to release the LiNQ around Q3 with an MSRP of $549.
7. UM Tactical RAGE Compensator
UM Tactical has come out with a nifty product for your rifle. The RAGE Compensator is completely adjustable, so you can tune it to your specific rifle, load, and compensation performance preferences.
Here’s how it works. The permanent part of the compensator has relatively small ports located in strategic positions. The small size means that the gas exiting moves at higher velocity and works a little bit like a jet engine. You slide three removable washers (for lack of a better word) over the compensator and fasten them in place with a screw on cap. The magic lies in how you arrange the washers. The have different angled ports so you can tune your rifle and load to compensate how you like.
Does your muzzle rise two inches high and to the left after each shot? No problem. Adjust the washers to eliminate that motion. The UM folks were showing a video of in their booth of a shooter performing a full mag dump from an Uzi with a RAGE Compensator installed. The muzzle didn’t move—because they had tuned it appropriately.
Each kit includes five tuning port washers so you can mix and match as needed. It will retail for $159.99.