What is a Lightweight Modern Sporting Rifle? TPF takes a look!
The origins of the much enjoyed AR-15 platform started back in the mid-1950’s with Eugene Stoner’s 7.62mm semi-automatic rifle design, the Armalite Rifle Model 10, also known as the AR-10. In 1957, Mr. Stoner and two engineers, Jim Sullivan, and Bob Fremont, were tasked to design a scaled down version of the AR-10 to use a .22 calibre cartridge and the result was the Armalite Rifle Model 15. Due to poor marketing of the AR-15 design, Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, the parent company of Armalite, sold the AR-10 & AR-15 designs to Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company in 1959. Starting in 1962, the AR-15 design was utilized and adopted by the military of the United States in both the original and a fully automatic version, the M-16; and saw the design’s first true widespread usage during the war of Vietnam. There were many issues, which were found during those years of abuse and extreme environmental usage. You may have seen the movies and videos of soldiers of that era equipped with an AR-15/M-16 who religiously cleaned their rifles in every moment outside of actual combat. There is a bit of truth in that, hence why those scenes were so common.
Fast forward, a half a century and the AR-15 platform has become the measuring stick for determining what construes the Modern Sporting Rifle. The widespread definition of a Modern Sporting Rifle, to be called MSR henceforth, came about in 2009, as Mr. Randy Luth, then retiring President and Founder of DPMS firearms, continued to promote the AR-15 platform as a viable firearm to the hunting market in the United States. A MSR is one of which has most, if not all, of the following features:
- Semi-automatic in operation. The redirection of a portion of generated energy to enable self-reloading allows for lower recoil, and thereby faster recovery and follow-up shots.
- Mounts a pistol grip. This allows for more comfortable hold as well as having more ergonomic access to operating controls of the firearm (safety, bolt release, etc…)
- Utilizes a detachable magazine as a means of reloading the firearm both simply and easily.
- Has an adjustable stock which enable the ability to allow for personalized “fit-up” for individual users.
- Incorporates accessory mounts that allow the installation of optics as well as possibly multitude of other accessories that are customized to the individual’s requirements.
With over 50 years of history and production of a wide variety of AR styled rifle platforms, it has become such a popular design that a seemingly endless number of manufacturers offer their own versions. With prices of a few of these ranging up to several thousand dollars before even buying a magazine, the AR runs the gambit for value for the consumer’s ability and desire to purchase quality and performance. The balance point for the individual user is the issue, but stereotypically firearms owners in Canada are somewhat frugal in nature. The old saying of “Knowing is half the battle”, applies to O’Dell Engineering, a Canadian distributor of firearms and accessories has taken that to heart with their recently launched Lightweight Modern Sporting Rifle, or LMSR. It incorporates modern polymers and proven designs to bring a quality AR platform rifle to the firearms community of Canada.
Here at Tactical, Practical & Fantastical; were delighted to acquire one of the original entry level LMSR’s offered by O’Dell Engineering and have brought it to you, our readers.. So without further delay let’s take a look at the intro level LMSR available in Canada.
The LMSR is an AR-15 platform rifle, which incorporates all the features mentioned about for defining a Modern Sporting Rifle, and like a typical AR-15 has three primary components. A lower receiver, an upper receiver and the bolt carrier group. The lower receiver in this case is manufactured by American Tactical and is comprised of injection-molded polymer and is machined to exacting specifications. The standard AR15/M4, six position polymer stock is mounted on the commercial diameter buffer tube and factory trigger comes set between four to five pounds of force. The controls are the standard common versions found on most basic AR platforms.
The upper receiver is an anodized black, A3 flattop profile, that is machined from cast 7075-T6 aluminum which is roughly 50% stronger than 6061-T6 aluminum for superior wear, stress resistance and fatigue levels. The barrel of the reviewed LMSR is hammer forged and 406mm (16.0″) in length. The barrel itself has a surface treatment known as Melonite Nitrocarburizing Process, which not only adds surface hardness, but also improves corrosion and wear resistance as well. Chambered in 5.56x45mm and sporting a 1 in 7″ rate of twist, the barrel also has a protected crown, also known as a recessed crown; and a bolt-on low profile, picatinny railed gas block located at the carbine positioned gas port. The receiver rail and the gas block rail are not co-linear in height however, so prospective users should be aware of this fact.
The furniture is basic and black, with a standard A2 grip and two-piece, carbine length, hand guards. With the rear take down pin movement being extremely snug to insert and remove; the upper and lower fit together so securely that there is absolutely no need for an accu-wedge or shimming to have a solid, rattle-free, assembly.
The Specifications of the LMSR – Intro level (as reviewed)
Classification: Restricted firearm
Action: Semi-automatic, direct impingement gas system
Calibre: 5.56x45mm/.223 Remington
Lower: Black polymer, 6 position M4 style collapsing buttstock, commercial diameter buffer tube, 4-5 lb trigger
Upper: Anodized black 7075-T6, A3 picatinny rail flat-top profile
Barrel: 16″ black melonite finish, carbine length 2-pc hand guard, picatinny gas block, recessed crown, 1:7 twist
Mass: 2.6kg (5.73lbs) w/o magazine & optics
As this specific rifle is to become the test rifle for many future accessories to be reviewed here at TPF, it was only fair for the author to put this rifle through it’s paces and season it. So over the course of the last year this rifle has had several hundred rounds fed through it, both to test accuracy and durability of what is a value priced, entry level AR platform for the Canadian marketplace. For our labour of love the author mounted an Eotech 512.A65 far forward on the upper’s picatinny rail to ensure that there was minimal possible distortion. Once dialed in, the rifle spit 45-55 grain projectiles downrange and consistently was able to shoot 20 cm (8″) diameter steel plates from offhand shooting positions @ 91m (100y) and engage all forms of targets in local 3-Gun scenarios. TPF’s LMSR in the factory configuration has been tried with a variety of magazines, several hundred factory and reloaded rounds of ammunition and has suffered zero failures to fire and eject at the time of this TPF installment.
The LSMR (Intro Level) comes with a 16″ barrel length, which has an MSRP of $899.99 CDN and is assembled and distributed throughout Canada by O’Dell Engineering Limited. To find a retailer near you access their Dealer page. There is a premium version available that is outfitted with a High Standard, chrome lined barrel in 16″, 14.5″ or 10.5″ length options; all of which have a 1/2″-28 threaded A2 flash-hider “birdcage” mounted and sport an bayonet lugged A2 gas block with a fixed front sight for true co-witness ability. The question is whether you the reader feel that the LMSR is Practical, Tactical, or Fantastical.
P.S.: The LMSR has, as of mid-2014, been upgraded with a second generation lower with added features and manufacturing advancements. The new rifle designation is the LMSR2. If you want to ask the Distributor questions you can reach them on facebook HERE.
ATI’s Akita Adujstable Hunting Stock – One stock for all?
Advanced Technology International (ATI) has been making aftermarket accessories for many years. Especially in the market of plastic/polymer aftermarket stocks for all sorts of classic military rifles such as SKS’, Enfields, and Mosin Nagants. They also dabbled into the tactical aftermarket for shotguns with top folding stocks as well as collapsing stocks that were based on those used on AR15/M16 Carbines. Not content with the tactical aftermarket for popular shotgun brands, ATI decided to venture a product which can be used in the casual hunting market. A very much adjustable stock replacement set for common shotgun models. That product line is known as the Akita Adjustable Stock and currently are manufactured to be mounted on the following varieties of Shotguns.
- Mossberg 500/535/590/835, 12 Gauge
- Maverick 88, 12 Gauge
- Winchester 1200/1300/SXP, 12 Gauge
- Remington 870, 12 Gauge (& Norinco Clones)
- Ithaca 37, 12 & 20 Gauge
- CZ 712, 12 Gauge
The CZ 712 version can currently only order the adjustable butt stock portion, the other listed shotguns are covered with the basic Akita sets. However newer Mossberg’s & Mavericks (post 2006) cannot use the Akita forend due to action bars being molded into the forend tube).
The Akita reviewed by TPF is Model AHS0100, which contains both buttstock and forearm and can and will be used to change-up the author’s Mossberg 500 from an old-fashioned tactical version to a more dual purpose shotgun. The current Mossberg 500 stared life as a typical 28″ version complete with wood buttstock and forend, which has for the last several years been outfitted with an older ATI set of furniture. However, all components have been kept as those at TPF are pack rats in regards to firearms related items. The only complaint the author had with the old system was that there was no adjustment for the comb of the stock. The design put the stock’s collapsing tube to such a high elevation that the author could not line up the beads with the top of the receiver. Later versions came with a wedge which allowed for the whole buttstock to be shifted downwards on assembly.
The common version of the Akita comes with multiple mounting components which allow for component mounting on a variety of receivers and action bars/forend. Thankfully the instructions provided with the Akita are simple and clear, so that nearly all shotgun owners should be able to do the conversion themselves. The Akita stock has a four position extendable length of pull that has a range between 315mm to 365mm (12-3/8″ to 14-3/8″) and is simply operated by pressing up on the recessed lever and pulling or pushing the tail end of the stock to one of the four desired lengths before releasing the lever to lock it into place. The buttstock itself includes a sling swivel stud and a decent looking recoil pad. Included on the rear stock is an adjustable cheek rest which has nearly 13mm (1/2″) of variation, and is modified by removal of two cover plugs and the corresponding screws underneath them (one on each side). Adjustment is done by pulling the rest backwards it unlocks the check piece from the adjustment grooves and then the piece is elevated to a more ideal height. Re-install the screws and replace the cover plugs. All done. This specific build required that the cheek piece remained at the factory preset which equates to the lowest possible elevation.
As an individual who has had much experience mechanically and with machines, the entire process for converting to the Akita was very simple. On top of the brand adaptors for the buttstock and the additional spacers/mounts for the forend, the Akita kit also included a sheet metal key/wrench to use on the forend retaining nut. HOWEVER! There were two areas which the author can see as being problematic for the DIY individual.
- First was the actual mounting of the rear stock to the receiver. In order to install the stock you need to remove the butt place/recoil pad, then remove the adjustment lock, and slide off the back portion of the collapsing stock to expose the mounting area for the remaining front portion of the stock. Now up to this point the efforts to disassemble and prep are very simple to do. At this point a socket on an extension must be used and is less simple in trying to align, install and torque the stock retaining bolt into the receiver. I needed to shim inside my socket to ensure the bolt did not slide back into the socket during line up and initial threading into the receiver. Second, the angle which the bolt resides during tightening is not straight and requires a very small universal or flexible extension. The author used a 1/4″ socket driver with a 6″ flex extension to install and torque the bolt. Re-assembly of the components was as simple as the initial removal.
- The second trouble spot was the installation of the forend components onto the action bar assembly. While installation of the rear portion of the forearm was easy, putting in the front portion required some small tapping with a hammer to ensure that the adaptor was fully seated. Not really an issue, but when everything else goes so smoothly…
The biggest concern now is that the author will need to relearn how to shoot without a pistol grip stock, but that is a challenge being looked forwards to. Since obtaining this product from ATI in the spring of 2010, some design changes have occurred. (Yes, TPF has stockpiling items for reviewing, many months in advance. Some are still waiing on a firearm to mount on…) A newer, more absorbing recoil pad has been included as part of the Akita Stock and there are over a dozen varieties of colouration/camouflage available as of the time of this posting.
The reviewed Akita Adjustable Hunting Stock/Forend Kit in black is available from Brownells at a MSRP of $159.99 USD, with the camouflage having an MSRP of $179.99 USD. Canadian retailers like Ellwood Epps and Al Simmons are among the many Canadian gun stores where the Akita can be ordered in all options.
Advanced Technology International’s Akita Adjustable Hunting Stock – Practical, Tactical or Fanstastical?