The question many of us who attended SHOT Show 2016 in Las Vegas this past January was “What’s Next For The Saturated AR-15 Market?” We had a team of people that spanned all four major branches of the United States Military and had well over 100 years of combined experience with firearms, so it’s safe to say we had a good pool of talent and resources to draw from. We walked for miles up and down row after row at the Sands Convention Center and we began to jokingly ask each other “How many AR’s did you see today?” It seemed that almost every other booth had some special or limited edition AR15, all using the same tired old buzz words, “MPI bolt, Mil Spec Receiver, Cerakote finish, custom drop in trigger”. I understand its a cutthroat world in the gun industry and everyone is grabbing for the same piece of the financial pie. I also don’t take anything away from the manufacturers, but after seeing literally hundreds of AR-15’s it just became a blur. It was shortly after my return from SHOT Show that I began looking for myself.
NEW ADVANCEMENTS ?
Eugene Stoner designed the AR-15 decades ago and yes things have progressed much in the four plus decades since it’s design but most AR based rifles are using the same impingement system he designed. A few years ago the piston driven system came onto the scene and was hailed by some as an amazing and wonderful advancement that made the AR-15 a “clean” weapon. I never understood that thought process because any gun you fire will need to be cleaned at some point. The two problems with the piston driven AR-15’s is one of proprietary technology, and higher cost. These two things currently hamper sales and might ultimately in my opinion be its doom. Many top makers such as Heckler & Koch, Barrett, Colt, Adams Arms, and Sig Sauer make some variety of a AR-15 based piston rifle. When you compare the cost of any of the mentioned manufacturers direct impingement (traditional AR-15) and their piston driven AR-15’s you will see the cost difference is staggering. In some cases you can almost buy two completely built direct impingement rifles for the cost of one piston driven model.
CONTENDERS FOR NEXT LEAP IN AR-15 CATEGORY
We have seen several rifles that have come on the scene and were touted as the “Next Great Leap” in AR-15 development and none have really gained traction. Below is a small list to get the discussion going. In no particular order mind you, just a few models that jumped into my brain from various manufacturers around the world.
#1.) Fabrique Nationale SCAR
#2.) Sig Sauer MCX
#3.) Sig Sauer 556Xi
#4.) Heckler & Koch MR556A1
#6.) CZ-USA Model 805 BREN S1
#7.) Israeli Weapons Industries Tavor SAR
WE WANT YOUR THOUGHTS
We want you, our readers to share your thoughts and ideas on the apparent dilemma that is facing the AR-15 world. The problem in a nut shell is that the AR-15 has turned into the Pick Up truck of the gun world. What it does it does extremely well, but its just very plain at this point in its evolution. Most of them are all very similar and while that makes getting parts and being able to use them very easy it just leaves most shooting experiences with them rather boring. So write in the comments section and let us know your thoughts on piston vs direct impingement and how you see the future of the AR-15 developing.
(Feature Image Courtesy: Tyrant Designs & Downrange Photography)