We keep pretty quiet this month, and let Lt. Col. Freddie Blish (USMC, Ret.), general manager of Robar, explain just why, when it comes to their 4.6-pound PolymAR-15 Titanium, we have nothing to add.
A1F: So Colonel, we were astonished when you gave us a few details about your lightweight carbine projects. Can you give us a little background?
Robar/Freddie Blish: The most obvious need comes out of the military and LE environments, though perhaps that’s not the largest pool–civilians too have all kinds of reasons to want a lighter rifle. Our Marines and soldiers have huge ‘kit’ burdens already; and as we say, “Ounces equal pounds, and pounds equal pain.” Law enforcement and civilians have another substantive consideration in common—shooters with smaller statures who may struggle with holding a heavier carbine for a required period of time while shooting.The M4, as good as it is, weights 7 pounds, but gets up to 10 or 12 pounds in a hurry with optics, lights and lasers. Quite naturally, we started thinking, “What if the carbine’s weight started out lower?"
The M4, as good as it is, weighs 7 pounds, but gets up to 10 or 12 pounds in a hurry with optics, lights and lasers. Quite naturally, we started thinking, “What if the carbine’s weight started out lower?”
A1F: And that’s how you got to polymer, logically enough. But aren’t there some track record issues there?
R/FB: In some cases, yes. But we worked with Kaiser US and came up with a meaningful improvement: a glass-filled, long- and short-strand fiber formulation. As tough as Glock pistols are, for instance, what’s in the PolymAR-15 carbines is three times stronger, and has a melting point over 700 degrees, about twice that of other firearms polymers.
We also increased wall thickness at key points, and supplemented the polymer with 7075 hard anodized forged aluminum inserts to strengthen the wear points—pin locations, barrel attachment and the stock/tube extension. The “net” tensile strength is actually higher than current aluminum uppers and lowers. We’ve got prototypes that are at over 60,000 rounds and still running. We shot a lower, in fact, and detonated an electric blasting cap inside an upper to study the effect. Both still ran.
A1F: And the steel components?
R/FB: Most are replaced with titanium. The steel parts remaining are plated with NP3 where it makes sense (like the bolt). In the end, we shaved over 10 ounces off the weight of the carbine on just the upper and lower. Some components were already about as light as they could reasonably be while still meeting our quality standards. This is also the big difference between the (4.6-pound) “PolymAR-15 Ti” and the “PolymAR-15L,” which weighs 5.25 pounds.
A1F: Those other components are the Magpul BUS, BCM stock/grip, charging handle and handguard?
A1F: What should we know about the barrel and comp?
R/FB: We believed we’ve “cracked the code” on consistent AR accuracy, though there’s naturally more to it than just a fine barrel. The PolymAR uses a lightweight Faxon Firearms Gunner contour with a 1-in-8 twist rate and a mid-length gas system. Chamber and feed ramps are optimized for 5.56, but .223 will run the rifle just fine as well. The important part is the sub 1 MOA guarantee—we mean it.
The comp is the new Battle Comp Enterprises BC 1.5 Ti, made from titanium. We were hoping to get to a flat 4.5 pounds with this expedient, but had to settle for 4.6 (laughing). It is, however, a superb compensator—a good, big chamber, but also plenty of small ports to dissipate gas without a large flash signature. It helps the rifle stay very flat through the entire firing cycle.
A1F: Because everybody will bug us both if I don’t ask: Trigger specs are …?
R/FB: We agonized over this, but in the end chose the best mil-spec that we could find. We had a few hiccups here, with components that weren’t as consistent as we wanted. Several considerations drove the final choice: Even with an “enhanced mil-spec” trigger, you won’t please everybody, yet it rapidly adds cost. We just didn’t see the sense in putting something in that demanding shooters would take right out.
Before we quit, do I get a question?
A1F: Let us guess: “We’ve shot it now, so spill!”?
R/FB: That’s it (laughing). We conclude with the slightly gloomy impression the PolymAR-15 Ti shoots a lot better than we do. We’ve nothing to add, as we said in our title, because we see no way of making it better.
You Marines are darn clever: Now you’ve got us shilling for the house. But I think you know, the rifle really is astonishing. Just picking it up, it fairly jumps out of the case; it’s that light. Range performance wowed us end-to-end. Even before we were happy with our optics mount (our fault), it still hammered 50-yard gongs with ~.40 second pairs. As we’ve said in the past, we’re not generally fans of ultra-light rifles: Their muzzles “hunt” too much for our taste, and don’t have their own inertia to counteract unwanted biologic movement by the shooter. But the good handguard and superb comp gave us outstanding control, hence those rapid hits.
Shooting for accuracy, we routinely got the promised MOA, but occasionally much more, with .560-.580-inch groups of three shots, plus a sub .700-inch, 50-yard group with the back-up sights. Finally, we shot five different bullet weights and six different brands of magazines with nary an issue.
We conclude with the slightly gloomy impression the PolymAR-15 Ti shoots a lot better than we do. We’ve nothing to add, as we said in our title, because we see no way of making it better.
MSRP for the Robar PolymAR-15 Ti is $2,295. Visit Robar at robarguns.com.
Nuts And Bolts
OK, we lied, but just a little ... we added a couple of things, at least temporarily: optics.
For starters, we plopped a Brownells/EOTech “CQB T-Dot” on the Ti. This might seem a little backward considering the arch-goal of a polymer plus titanium rifle is to cut weight: Why add back what some folks consider a heavyish sight? Suffice to say we couldn’t bear not to try the super tough dot-and-circle EOTech with its forgiving head/eye position on a rifle that swings as fast as the Robar. It was lightning quick—within our personal limitations—on every close-up test we tried. As with all sights that overlay a dot or reticle on your target, use your distance prescription if your vision is corrected. It’s the key to seeing a clear aiming point on your target.
You make us pick, though, and the 2.5-10x32 FFP Vortex EBR-1 is our favorite, hands down. Ten power in combination with first focal plane keeps adjustment math consistent and is sufficient to capitalize on the realistic range of 5.56/.223, while 2.5 power is—with practice—very manageable for two-eyes-open shooting in many circumstances (as that Cooper fella proved). It’s a crystal-clear, trim, elegant gem that will only add a smidgeon over a pound to the Ti, and had all the magnification we needed to shoot those slightly over half-minute groups.