It took a few attempts to decide how to name and proceed with this article. I recently took on a project that wound up being more involved than I thought it would be. The cost became considerable as it progressed, but accomplishing the goal was important to me. It started with a concept drawn from a youtube channel that I watch. They build cars on that channel and had a special segment called Hi/Low. The idea is simple: they would get two identical stock cars and one would get modified with the cheapest parts and the other would get modified with expensive parts. The upgrades would be tested and assessed and they would decide “does more expensive mean more better?”. I liked this idea and wanted to apply it to the AR platform.

Over many discussions about this concept it was decided between myself and my friend, Roman, that instead of high and low cost rifles there should be something of a tier system to the builds. Tier One would be the most expensive build with the best parts, Tier Two would be a “Middle-of-the-road” build similar to a good quality build a person could get from a reputable manufacturer. Tier Three is what I affectionately call “The Garbage Rifle”. Most of the parts are what I had kicking around in the drawers I store bits in. Parts I didn’t have on hand I bought with the stipulation that they were the cheapest I could get. There were a number of parts I bought off for the Tier Three rifle that I would say are barely fit for airsoft use.

When it was decided to start the builds I came up with a set of specs. The most accessible rifle for just about anyone anywhere that would do the job is what is now almost an industry buzz word. The RECCE Rifle, or Recon Rifle, was developed by NSW Crane to provide SEAL snipers an M4-platform option that could produce the necessary accuracy and lethality for longer engagements while remaining portable and maneuverable. It is my understanding that the RECCE Rifle was actually a developmental predecessor of the venerable Mk12. That said, the specs hold pretty close to those of the RECCE Rifles:

  • 16″ Barrel with Midlength Gas System (Tier 3 uses carbine because of cost and availability)
  • 5.56 or .223 Wylde chamber
  • Birdcage muzzle device to A2 specs for suppressor compatibility
  • 15″ MLok handguard
  • Backup Iron Sights
  • Low Power Variable Optic
  • Weapon Mounted light with remote activation switch
  • M4 receiver set with forward assist
  • Adjustable carbine buttstock

Those are the basic parameters. The three rifles all meet those specs, the Tier Three being the exception as noted. The results of the project actually have exceeded my expectations as far as handling and operation go. Again, the exception being the Tier Three. It does not feel the least bit exceptional, but this was by design. I’ve not yet had a chance to range test all three rifles, but I suspect that the range results will be equally impressive.

Each rifle was built with a different selection of parts to compare the quality. Different receiver quality, different barrel quality, different bolt carrier group quality, everything is improved from one build to the next. The project should yield some interesting results. As this series of articles progresses I will go into detail on what makes each rifle an improvement over the last. Then I will make a point to get the rifles out to the range, get them sighted in, and see how each one performs.

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