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GUNS Magazine March 2013 Digital Edition - Page 42

OuT OF THe BOX™ JOHN CONNOR tHe Barrett reC7 an all-weatHer warrior here’s hardly a soldier on the planet who doesn’t know about the big Barrett .50 BMG sniper rifles, and if they’re lucky, they’ve never been on the receiving end of one of these 2-kilometer killers. Far fewer know that when Ronnie Barrett began sketching out the design on his kitchen table, he was creating a first in ordnance history: a 1-man portable bolt action .50 BMG precision rifle. Even fewer know Ronnie also designed and produces a superb little AR clone chambered in 5.56mm NATO and 6.8 SPC— the Barrett REC7. I had never seen one. When my Uncle John invited me to help evaluate a REC7 for our sister publication, American COP Magazine, I jumped on it. This was a quick turn-around assignment, “due yesterday,” and we had no choice on shooting weather. It was -22 degrees F, still and sharp when we left for the range at dawn. The previous evening’s forecast called for a high of 8 degrees F above. We missed by minutes a countywide broadcast warning listeners to remain indoors due to wind chills of -20 to -40 F and dangerously icy, windy road conditions in a few hours. It would be an interesting day. T A B C D E (A) From desert to arctic conditions, the Barrett REC7 is a carbine you can count on. (B) SLiP 2000 Extreme Weapons Lubricant kept the REC7 running slick in sub-zero temps. (C) The big knurled adjustment knob of the 1-4X US Optics SN-4S scope turned as smoothly at sub-zero as at higher temps. (D) For snapshooting, the Pride/Fowler SOPS-33mm Red Dot Reflex Sight proved fast, accurate—and freeze-resistant! (E) The 1-piece hardened 17-4 stainless steel op rod/piston is simple and strong. Ronnie Barrett’s connections in the SOCOM sniper community run wide and deep. When the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts boiled up, he began hearing stories from the troops about malfunctions and failures of their M4s and M16s due to sand, dust, carbon fouling and heat, and ineffectiveness of the issue M855 5.56mm round in stopping unarmored troops. At about the same time the Department of Defense got a whiff of the coffee, and very tentatively indicated they might be interested in a more reliable variant of the platform, and perhaps even a more effective round. Remington Arms, in collaboration with members of the US Special Operations Command, had meantime developed the 6.8 SPC (Special Purpose Cartridge). That was enough for Ronnie, and he broke out the pencils again. He worked fast, but not fast enough. DoD’s wandering eye drifted away, and a breeze blew the door closed. But the Reliability Enhanced Carbine 2007—the REC7—was born nonetheless. First runs were chambered in 6.8 SPC, with 5.56mm added later. It’s available in variants from an 8"-barreled PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) to a 16" like our test model, Model 12257. It was and is a lowproduction item, first, because Barrett’s efforts remain focused on his big-bore, long-range rifles, and second, because few will pay the premium price for a premium AR. Most are snapped up by customers of the “Very, Very Serious” variety (people with no room for error). In appearance, general dimensions and controls, the REC7 conforms closely to the AR/M4/M16 mold, but as they say, “The devil’s in the details,” and so are the delights. The goal was a cleaner, cooler running carbine, and Barrett’s proprietary gas piston system, a paragon of strength and simplicity, contributes heavily to that. The op rod/ piston is one piece of hardened 17-4 stainless steel, with no teensy parts to leap into the weeds. It can be removed easily from the front. The patented, fluted gas block is chrome-lined, as is the barrel and chamber, and the stout forward-venting, 2-position gas regulator is nitride treated for extreme durability. The process of switching the regulator from normal to suppressoruse mode only requires depressing a spring-loaded detent and rotating the plug to a positive stop. It’s designed to be accomplished blind, under foul conditions. The short-stroke piston whacks an integral impact face on the bolt carrier, eliminating a staked gas key, which can work loose. It is an anti-tilt design machined from a single block of 8620 42 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • M A R C H 2 0 1 3

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