By Todd Burgreen
I count myself as fortunate being involved in the gun industry for over 20 years. Not just for the access to firearms and associated accessories, but more importantly for the relationships established and the ability to follow the successes of certain companies/products. A*B Arms is one such endeavor.
A*B Arms recently held a Media Event at Panthera Training Center in Old Fields, WV. Experience has proven that a class act organization such as A*B Arms usually attracts similar company. Event participants included Oakwood Controls, Nightforce Optics, Keystone Sporting Arms, ELEY Ammunition, Viper Holsters and Gorilla Ammunition.
American Built Arms Company was founded in 2010. A*B Arms started out making parts and accessories for the AR-15 rifle. The company branched out to manufacture products for other firearms, such as the IWI TAVOR and AK. The parts quickly gained the attention of industry manufacturers for their quality and price point. A*B Arms then made the decision to go “all in” in terms of the weapon chassis business. After extensive prototyping and testing, A*B Arms arrived at the MOD X. The MOD X is now into its third generation of improvements; i.e., the MOD X Gen 3. A*B Arms has steadily expanded its lineup of models it can offer chassis for, including Mossberg 500, Remington 700, Weatherby Vanguard, Howa and Savage.
MOD X Gen 3
The MOD X Gen 3 delivers on providing a lightweight ergonomic modular stock that allows users to easily configure it as they see fit; i.e., bipod, tactical light, night vision, optics, etc. The MOD X can be used with Remington, Howa and Vanguard actions. Word is, this line up will be expanding soon. The A*B Arms chassis weighs only 3 pounds, 6 ounces thanks to its aluminum construction. It is MIL-SPEC Type III hard-coat anodized. A 1913 scope mounting rail is standard. A 20MOA rail is optional. Another enhancement is an 11.5-inch KeyMod forend that provides for a truly free floated barrel that assists in maximizing inherent rifle accuracy. KeyMod slots are found on three sides of the forend with a standard 1913 rail on the top. Barrel diameters up to the same size of the action can be used with the MOD X chassis.
A multipoint radial cut inlet is found in the MOD X for securing the action; not “V” block bedding. This promotes a stress-free action enhancing accuracy. The MOD X arrives with an A*B Arms Fixed-Adjustable Urban Sniper Stock and the A*B Arms SBR P*Grip. A side folding buttstock also exists. Other AR-type buttstocks can be fitted as well if desired. The same goes for the AR-style pistol grip. The A*B Arms pistol grip is made from high-heat-rated nylon with high strength fiber. The A*B Arms pistol grip offers a slim profile with unique ergonomics that needs to be felt firsthand to be appreciated. All of these listed items make it clear that the MOD X is a true upgrade on many levels; however, one more remains to be detailed.
The MOD X is configured for the use of detachable AICS spec magazines—depending on caliber. There are multiple products on the market that seek to convert bolt action rifles’ internal magazine into a detachable type. Frankly, most are problematic. The MOD X’s seamless integration of a detachable magazine makes it worthy of consideration in its own right even without all of the other enhancements. The MOD X’s mag well is designed to line up the detachable magazine’s lips with the action’s feed ramp. The MOD X chassis is configured to send rounds from the detachable magazine nearly directly into the chamber limiting the chance of feeding issues. It was crucial to eliminate any play forward or backward. Length tolerance within the MOD X magazine well is kept within +/-.0005. This is achievable via wire EDM machining techniques. This enables the action to be cycled rapidly without worrying about driving bullet tips into the feed ramp preventing chambering. Width tolerances were also considered with the MOD X chassis design. Too tight on the sides would cause problems with using both polymer and metal magazines. This is due to polymer magazines “swelling” when fully loaded possibly binding it up. A*B Arms sought to split the difference enabling the use of multiple AICS spec magazines albeit polymer or metal.
The Training Center
Panthera Training was a perfect host for the event. The 750-acre compound comprises eight live-fire ranges, a 6,000-sq-ft state-of-the-art, live-fire shoot house, a demolition range, a large force-on-force combat area comprising several types of buildings and shooting venues, a paved 1.5-mile training track, a 400-foot x 400-foot skid pad (wet or dry), a 2.6-mile unimproved roads course, 12 miles of off-roading venues, a helicopter landing zone and classrooms. Panthera was created by a DoD agency then leased out to a private entity. Panthera is located in the West Virginia panhandle only 120 miles from Washington, DC; most of which is over four-lane highways.
Panthera’s 60-foot rappelling tower served as the base for the hands-on event with access to fire over 600 yards via the Remington MOD X Gen 3 chassis rifle equipped with Nightforce optics and fed with Gorilla Ammunition. Firing was possible from different elevation levels including the ground. A key component of the event providing seamless electronic feedback was the Oakwood Controls target system.
Oakwood Controls H-Bar LOMAH is a mobile target system weighing in at 15 pounds. The Oakwood system detects and locates shots via a combination of acoustic, temperature and electronic sensors with an accuracy levels of +/- 5mm throughout the scoring area. The system is capable of detecting both hits and misses and is designed to work both on stationary and moving targets. The only caveat is that bullets need to maintain supersonic velocities for detection. The trajectory of the round registers through supersonic shockwave. Multiple sensors are arranged in different patterns, depending on the targeting application. When a bullet generating a supersonic shockwave passes over the sensors, each sensor trips a timer. That information is sent to a master target station which forwards the information to the shot processing computer. The position of each shot is then displayed on a computer next to the shooter. This is all done more quickly than it takes to ready the description.
Group sizes can be tracked in inches, centimeters, MOA and/or Mil along with rate of fire, bounding box data, location on target and mean radius. If other types of tracking/scoring are needed, Oakwood can easily accommodate thanks to their experience in programming and software engineering. Due to its mobile nature the H-Bar is powered by rechargeable batteries featuring a 6-hour run time. If set up in a more permanent format, buried 12V cabling can be used if a user finds this more convenient.
The system processes millions of acoustic samples per second making shot placement accuracy indistinguishable from punching paper. The electronics are manufactured to MIL-SPEC requirements with NEMA 4X enclosure rating around sensitive components. Any entity or individual that has a chance to experience the Oakwood Control’s different target systems will be a convert based on simplicity of use and instant feedback of rounds on target no matter the ranges involved.
A crowd favorite was the Keystone Sporting Arms Model 722 Precision Trainer (PT). Keystone is the parent company of the Cricket and Chipmunk youth rifles. Their Model 722 PT is the evolution of the 22LR utilizing the Keystone 722 action combined with the A*B Arms Mod X chassis. It offers the feel of a full-size rifle while still allowing for the economy of firing a 22LR. The combining of the Keystone 722 PT rifle with ELEY Ammunition assures the user that the performance generated will give reliable feedback during shooting. This provides practical training input.
ELEY was established in 1828 in Great Britain. ELEY is world renowned for quality 22LR ammunition used at the highest levels of competition including World and Olympic championships. ELEY utilizes patented methods to ensure world class performance.
Nightforce Optics has an established reputation as a premium rifle optic manufacturer. This has been hard earned over the last 25 years. Nightforce is a noted high-end optic manufacturer with numerous products in use by elite military and police forces around the world. A quick visit to their webpage makes clear the variety of optics offered. Another must on the Nightforce webpage is the tab describing the technology and methods used that separates Nightforce from their competitors. A Nightforce ATACR™ was mounted on the A*B Arms test rifle via Nightforce rings. The Nightforce ATACR can be fitted to the biggest magnum boomers due to constant 3.5-inch eye relief at all magnifications. The Nightforce’s tough construction is perfect for recoil resistance due to inertia forces experienced during recoil. The ATACR has 120 MOA of elevation adjustment and 60 MOA in windage. All of this lends itself well to long-range shooting adjustments.
The Nightforce ATACR features multi-coated ED glass. Based on research for this article, ED (Extra Low Dispersion) glass prevents or lessens chromatic aberration because it concentrates and directs the wavelengths of light more effectively. Generally speaking, the better the aberrations are controlled, the cleaner and brighter the image will appear. This is especially important at long-range high magnification observation. ED glass is usually reserved for premium optics due to the cost associated with it. Other notable Nightforce characteristics of the ATACR optic are the second focal plane reticle, ZeroStop elevation adjustment, .25 MOA or .1 Mil adjustments, high-speed elevation adjustment with windage knob capped, separate parallax adjustment with distance markings, digital reticle illumination, enhanced engraving, integrated power throw lever and XtremeSpeed diopter adjustment. Many of these items are proprietary Nightforce features.
The combination of MOD X Gen 3 chassis rifles, Nightforce Optics and Gorilla Ammunition demonstrated incredible accuracy from the Panthera rappelling tower. All participants were able to place rounds on target at 600 yards as verified with the Oakwood Controls target system. Gorilla Ammunition’s quality control and in-house ballistic laboratory produces high-end ammunition perfect for long-range accuracy. The key with Gorilla Ammunition is its manufacturing consistency along with use of premium components.
A*B Arms and participating partners have learned that putting its products in the hands of knowledgeable users is the best way to demonstrate capabilities. This avoids the inevitable advertising hyperbole that raises doubts. After attending numerous A*B Arms events in the past, one thing has remained constant—attendees come away with increased knowledge and appreciation of the items present and look forward to the next opportunity to participate.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V22N3 (March 2018)
and was posted online on February 9, 2018