Monday, February 20, 2012

Troy VTAC Rail TRX Extreme Review

Troy VTAC Rail TRX Extreme Review

Originally I picked up the Model1Sales.com Dissipator Upper as a rifle kit for use as a long range gofer hunter.  The 1:8 twist ER Shaw barreled upper was impressively accuracte for a kit rifle however with no disrespect to the Dissipator, guns three times the cost with greater accuracy now fill that duty. This upper has been laying around waiting patiently in the bottom of my Liberty Safe for a project and lower receiver. What to do with a very accurate upper that I still love? The front sight way out near the muzzle is an advantage for iron sight shooting and my idea was to convert and update the upper to a fun iron sighted battle rifle.  

Fortunately Troy has a couple cool looking long rail options that could help me drop the lardy heavy un-fluted rail in favor of a lighter forend which is also optics and accessory friendly.  I ended up choosing the 11” Troy Vtac TRX Extreme rail in Flat Dark Earth, and decided to add a three pack of the new Troy BattleMags in FDE in the process to update the look and function for a very unique rifle build. To make the build even more unique, I mounted the upgraded Dissipator to a $99 complete polymer lower from New Frontier Armory.
FIT, FINISH & FEEL
Troy gets “fit” as the image showing the amazing fit at the transition point from upper receiver to forend. I have seen some receiver to rail transitions which are just horrible, but Troy’s fit is perfect and it locks up with absolutely no wiggle.  This is saying something for an 11” long rail, however part of that credit goes to the deeper Troy barrel nut which adds significant support for the cantilevered rail. 
The finish is the same famously durable and consistent Mil-Spec Type III hard anodizing with Teflon used on all the other Troy products. From a feel perspective, I love the new style of slim forend handguards such as the VTAC Rail TRX Extreme; they feel better in the hand, are more comfortable to grip, and somehow feel faster handling to me.
FEATURES
The Troy Vtac Rail TRX Extreme provides a lightweight 11.2 oz. free float forend which can improve accuracy over a standard handguard and provides accessory rail mounting flexibility.  Included with the VTAC TRX Extreme is the forend, barrel nut, barrel nut wrench, and two short and one long piccatiny bolt on accessory rails with a Allen wrench.  
The rail features a continuous top picatinny rail with T-markings along the top.  The handguard’s cool look is due to the ribbing which shaves weight and improves grip. Barrel heat is dissipated via the cutouts which also provide mounting points for the included accessory rails.  Sadly the 1:30 and 10:30 positions will accept the accessory picatinny rails however the top rail interference will not allow use of those positions for mounting offset sights.  All the other 3, 6, 9, 4:30, and 7:30 o’clock positions can be used to mount the accessory rails.  As the intent of the Troy VTAC TRX Extreme is not to be covered in rails, but to be lean and mean, I respected the design and only mounted one small rail to mount my SureFire Tactical Light when required.
FUNCTIONS
Typically swapping forends is a simple process that starts with removing the front gas block, old tube or forend, and barrel nut and then installing the barrel nut supplied with the new forend and then attaching the new forend. Although all the free float Troy tubes install in the same typical manner, I would term this swap as an advanced upgrade for a couple reasons all due to me and my Dissipator.
The Troy rail would have been an uneventful install on any typical AR besides a Dissipator build, however I decided to take the less traveled path of customization. The Dissipator has two taper pin mounted gas blocks.  The functional hidden Carbine length gas block and front non-functional front sight gas block both need to un-pinned for handguard removal.  A couple taps with a hammer and punch and both the gas blocks were removed along with the front A2 flash hider.  The Model1Sales Dissipator forend unscrews with proper application of torque in the form of a strap wrench and then removal of the stock barrel nut.  This entire process goes far easier when your have the upper mounted in a PRI upper vise mount which is in turn locked into your shop vise and a giant PRI barrel nut wrench... never though I would use these handy tools so much.
Once we have all the specialty Dissipator parts removed from the barrel, the Troy VTAC TRX Extreme forend resembles any other free-float forend install.  The supplied Troy barrel nut is installed with up to 60lbs of torque with either the supplied Troy barrel nut wrench and your torque wrench or a standard barrel nut wrench such as the PRI wrench I used. Once you have torqued the barrel nut to the point where the gas tube hole is aligned, the gas block can be installed, however my install was not that easy.  
The Model1Sales Dissipator gas block is not low profile and is full width from top to bottom.  This required cutting and grinding the gas block sides down with the Dremel into a true low profile gas block.  Once finished, I applied bluing compound to prevent rust and make the finished part look good.  While I had the gas block apart, I decided attempt a homemade JP Enterprises style adjustable gas block by drilling and tapping a hole in the side of the gas block.  
Generally, most AR’s are seriously over gassed and the result is less comfortable shooting and more red hot gas blasting back into the action than needed. By simply adding a grub screw in my gas block’s new tapped hole, I can access the grub screw through a cutout in the Troy VTAC TRX Extreme forend to tune my gas pressure for much more pleasant shooting. Works perfect, though it did take a little fiddling to find the setting which was reliable with various rounds.  The setup has about half the felt recoil as before.
Once the newly ground and updated gas block was installed, the Troy forend keys on the barrel nut and is aligned and tightened down via two hex head screws.  Of course if you have a Dissipator, the front gas sight block has to also be re-pinned in addition to reattaching the A2 flash hider.

I have been a Magpul fan since the Pmags cured a magazine related functioning issue on my 308’s and now own quite a few 5.56 mags for various ARs.  That said I like the feel of the Troy BattleMags better.  They feed just as well, but the fishscale grip and and rubber floor plate lock provide a much better grip than even the much loved Pmags.  The result is I can get mags in the gun faster and smoother with more control.

Although I will review the $99 New Frontier Armory complete AR Polymer lower receiver in a future article more completely, the receiver provided all the functionality of a standard AR with no one problem and a trigger better than any stock trigger I have ever tested.  Go polymer!
FINAL THOUGHTS
The net of the swap was a 2.4 oz weight savings, but now with an accessory rail, greatly improved comfort, and the FDE color which transformed the look of the Dissipator.  The feel of the smaller Troy rail is drastically easier to grip and the weight reduction forward of the receiver helped the Dissipator point faster. All the way around the Troy VTAC Rail TRX Extreme delivered on a top notch rail system with features that worked perfectly for this AR re-make and update.

SPECS

  • Compatible with any M16/AR15 Mil-Spec AR Upper
  • Length 11”
  • Weight 11.2oz
  • Includes:
  • Barrel nut wrench
  • 2 - Short rails
  • 1 - Long rail


SOURCES
Troy Industries
http://troyind.com/
Model1Sales
http://model1sales.com/
New Frontier Armory
www.newfrontierarmory.com

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