Sunday, December 29, 2013

MMC Mennie Machine Company Tactical C16.1 AR15 Review

MMC Mennie Machine Company Tactical C16.1 AR15 Review

Let’s face it, the gun industry is amazingly incestuous from a manufacturing perspective and very few folks actually make their own parts.  Generally I am not a big fan of most “me too” AR15 companies that are popping up lately.  Most are just screwing together parts from boxes, however some offer something unique and/or have deep machining backgrounds and are actually making their own parts. In the case of MMC they have both.  They have been running AR15 parts for sometime as an OEM manufacturer, so offering completely in-house made rifles was not a stretch. I picked up a lightweight MMC Tactical C16.1 AR15 for something light and handy and to see what this newer firearm manufacturer was delivering.

Mennie Machine is not some startup CNC company popped up overnight in order to take advantage of the AR15 market explosion.  MMC was established way back in 1970 and became a prime contractor for the U.S. Government for building high-grade Military components. Over the years they have produced everything from military, automotive, diesel and heavy equipment industries and of course firearms parts. Today Mennie Machine Company has over 300 employees and a 225,000 square foot facility with approximately 180 CNC machines in a ISO/TS 16949:2009 certified facility. By contrast, most large firearms manufacturers are no where near this large or have all these in house capabilities and certifications. They know precision machining, manufacturing, assembly and even distribution. The challenge for MMC will be the name.

MMC is facing a bit of a confusing branding issue, for instance MMC Mennie Machine Company should not be confused with MMC Moores Machine Company who allegedly had some very serious challenges with quality, production, and customer service or MCC Matthew Carbine Company which produces extremely high quality 80% billet lowers, MMC Mennonite Central Committee which is against guns, MMC Firearms Incorporated, or even MCC Montgomery Community College… MMC and MCC are apparently popular acronyms. My advice to MMC, the Mennie Machine Company as a very new brand would be to re-brand quickly to maybe “Mennie Defense” since it is a separately operated division anyway and to avoid the confusion especially with the problematic Moore Machine Company legacy. But what do I know.. I just develop the marketing strategy at a senior level for a Fortune 100 company.

The first thing to note is that outside of the springs, trigger, Troy Forend, grips and stock, MMC is making all other parts 100% in house. Yes even the entire Bolt Carrier Group, buffer tube, receivers, and detents are made in house. Mennie could obviously make the forend as well and even the grips and stock due to its ability to form plastics as well. Only a couple other AR15 manufacturers can make this claim of in house production which absolutely ensures product spec and source quality. With that noted, MMC is delivering a top notch quality AR15.

The assembly was nice and tight and all the pins were driven in with care without marking up the receivers. All the aluminum bits were nicely Type III anodized which you would expect, however a major upgrade is that all the steel bits including barrel, gas block, even detents and pins are all nitrocarburized (i.e. melonited) for protection. MMC NiBo (Nickel Boron) coats their Bolt Carrier Group.  The BCG is a very nice component that is full auto rated, MPI tested, with a staked gas key. 

MMC own combat muzzle brake design on the Tactical C16.1 AR15 is excellent. It is basically the size of a standard A2 birdcage flash hider but still delivers excellent performance keeping overall length to a minimum.  The compensator even includes a wire cutting notch. I am sure MMC will sell these $60 comps by the truckload.

Mennie Machine includes their own Enhanced Trigger kit which is nitride coated and tuned to deliver a 5lb brake with minimal take up and a shorter reset. It is not a match trigger, but considerably smoother, crisper and lighter than typical stock triggers.  It reminds me of an ALG Defense trigger which are probably the best stock triggers around. With the nitride coating the trigger does take up smoothly and break cleanly.

The gas block is a clean standard melonited unit with a stainless gas tube mounted up to MMC’s own tapered 16.1” pencil profile.  The tapered barrel design drops a lot of weight even over a standard M4 design.  To maintain accuracy MMC has extended and tapered the barrel near the receiver to deliver a bit more stiffness and heat tolerance at the highest stress area on the barrel.  This longer extension seemed to enhance accuracy a bit during sustained fire or may be is was the all the high tech gadgetry MMC uses to chamber the barrels. They use four coordinate measuring machines and contour inspection machines to select the optimal chambering position instead of just ramming a reamer into chamber the barrel like a lot of companies do. Its a process that maximizes chamber to bore alignment on the barrel and improves accuracy.

Other features on the Tactical C16.1 AR15 include the proven Troy 13” Alpha Rail, ambidextrous charging handle, and a standard AR grip. MMC does include my favorite Rogers Super-Stoc multi-position buttstock which locks down solid unlike any other stock out there. One very unique tweak Mennie Machine does to its 6-position buffer tube is to polish the interior. This internal buffer tube polish smooths out the feel of hand cycling and significantly quiets cycling noise as rounds zip downrange. unique looking but very durable  MMC does not make the waffle cut 30-round polymer magazine which performed perfectly on the range.

MMC is starting to do some of their own molding such as the and extended polymer trigger guard. I think they did a great job on the trigger guard as well. All cool touches made in house which I hope they will expand to develop their own grip. A smooth fatter finger-grooveless grip similar to the Magpul grip would be my vote.

Overall quality from part to part was excellent for good reason.  MMC environmentally stabilizes all parts prior to measurement in a lab environment on top of tool, machine inspection schedule intervals and post part inspection and quality control of parts rolling out of machines.

Each rifle is assembled in a precision jig to assure alignment of each part and minimize damage to the rifle.

In these days of ammo shortage, I simply cannot toss 1000 rounds at a gun to test it like I used to, however I did run a couple hundred rounds of reloads and factory ammo through the MMC Tactical C16.1 AR15. A Eotech 512 was mounted up and I went to work killing paper and steel. What I found was a very consistent shooting AR with surprising accuracy and zero functional issues.  Everything worked as it should and the compensator delivered a noticeable reduction in both recoil and muzzle rise. As equipped the C16.1 is a nice light and fast shooting gun.

For accuracy I broke out boxes of the usual suspects with ammo from Hornady, Federal and Winchester to see what the rifle could do. Even with the less expensive Federal American Eagle ammo, I still managed ragged 1”-100 yard groups with my Nikon 8-32 Monarch Gold topping the gun for accuracy testing. Moving up to the premium target/match ammo lines, I still saw very good consistency, however my groups dropped down to the .75” group range with one good group with Hornaday 75gr TAP ammo coming in at .72”. I am sure some of this accuracy is due to MMC’s tapered barrel design and high tech chamber centering/cutting features, but frankly I was a little surprised that a light weight barrel delivered this accuracy.

MMC is definitely going head to head with high quality/high value brand name companies.  The $1600 MMC Tactical C16.1 AR15 adds Nibo BCG, Nitrided trigger, Troy Alpha rail, ambi-charging handle, and of course the Rogers Super-Stoc over the equivalent $1500 Daniel Defense DDM4LV. 

Mennie Machine does have more high tech machining capabilities at its disposal to assure very high tolerances between all components. The result is a very good deal on a base rifle with the solid base upgrades that deliver a premium high grade military-spec rifle.  The premium battle rifle market MMC is targeting is a tough space to be in and requires a deep investment in machining, technology, quality, and as we know from Bravo Company and Daniel Defense “Branding”. MMC’s featured, machining technology, quality, and prices are all in line, but I think their next hurdle will be getting the word out in a very crowded space… maybe this article will help.

The MMC Tactical C16.1 AR15 shot well, functioned perfectly, delivered surprisingly good accuracy for a lightweight barrel profile, and the compensator was excellent.  If you see an MMC AR on the shelf, pick one up. I think you will be impressed with the overall fit, finish, and quality of this new rifle company.  If you see Mennie on the side, you can be assured you are getting a very good quality rifle.

UPPER RECEIVER - Machined from 7075 T6 to Mil-Spec, Indexing Marks, M4 Feed Ramps, hard coat anodize
LOWER RECEIVER - Machined from 7075 T6 to Mil-Spec, Flared Magazine Well, hard coat anodized
BARREL - 16.1" 4150 CrMV Steel 1:8 twist, Mid-length Gas System, nitride treated, M4 extension, modified Pencil Barrel
TRIGGER - Enhanced nitride treated Mil Spec single stage trigger, creep adjusted, polished engagement surfaces, crisp 5 lb break
MUZZLE - Compensator
BOLT CARRIER GROUP - Nickel Boron coated (lubeless operation), full auto rated, MPI test, staked gas key
GAS BLOCK - MMC Armory Low Profile Gas Block
CHARGING HANDLE - Ambidextrous, hard coat anodize
HANDGUARD - TROY 13" Alpha Handguard
BUTTSTOCK - Rogers Superstoc & 6 position Mil-Spec Polished Buffer Tube
MAGAZINE - 30 round polymer in black
PISTOL GRIP - Polymer A2 Style Grip
TRIGGER GUARD - Flat trigger guard
MSRP $1639


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