Here we have a very rare Barrett AR15 Pistol. I know what you are thinking… at the moment Barrett does not make an AR15 pistol and well, you would be right. This Barrett based AR15 pistol is probably one of the few in existence anywhere, but more importantly this build makes for a rather interesting story.
There I was sauntering into my local FFL dealer and I see about ten stripped un-released lower receiver sets strung out across the counter. Among the various names were Saber Defense, Manroy, and oddly enough, Barrett. I snapped up the two naked un-anodized Barrett receivers immediately then asked “how the hell did you get these?” Those poor REC7 Barrett receivers had been on an interesting journey. As still happens in the industry, Barrett did not make their own AR15 receivers initially, they actually used Saber Defense which was the company who also was making many parts and mounts for the M2 Browning Machine gun and Minigun, stellite .50 caliber barrels, and a number of sundry military defense parts. Saber Defense was indeed one of “the” go to arms manufacturers internationally. Saber Defense was very well regarded as producing one of the most accurate AR and M16 rifles made complete with hand fitted premium match barrels.
The journey of this receiver started when the old Saber Defense owners allegedly illegally imported suppressors from Finland, and also illegally exported firearms to Saber Defense’s sister UK division. As it was conveyed to me, Sabre and its executives were named in a 21-count federal indictment in 2010 that accused the owners of falsifying shipping labels and using false-bottom crates to hide firearms.… ya know and then the ATF raided them, shut down the company, filed charges, and allegedly threw people in jail.
This poor little receiver and its brothers were left in limbo as inventory until Manroy USA beat out Colt in an auction and purchased the assets of Saber Defense for around $5 Million and restarted the company in 2011. A short time after the acquisition, there seemed to be some discrepancy on what happened next. One version of the story is that Manroy USA continued the illegally export firearms allegedly shipping thousand AR15s labeled as “farm equipment” to Russia and other soviet bloc countries. Another version is that Manroy USA was in essence a shell company supported by creditors and manufacturers of Saber Defense to keep the company afloat and fulfilling military contracts while other sources for the critical military parts could be identified.
Of note, FN did actually purchase some of ManRoy’s assets between 2011 and 2016 which was rumors to be the majority of the non-AR15 military parts. Yet another story was that the financial damage of the initial ATF closure was so severe that it damaged the sales beyond repair. Whatever the reason, Manroy sold off the remaining brand and Saber Defense assets in 2016 to New Empire Industries of Lincoln Nebraska. New Empire wanted to focus on premium barrel manufacturing but from my understanding in talking with New Empire they also still own all the other Saber Defense assets and brand.
The legacy inventory of AR15 Saber Defense, ManRoy ad Barrett receivers ended up on the counter of my FFL dealer being sold off by New Empire who also happened to still be in the store while I was buying my receivers - very interesting discussion. Sometimes the story is more interesting than the build. I only paid $75 for each receiver and left very happy.
THE BARRETT REC7 AR15 PISTOL BUILD
The Barrett receivers were both in perfect condition, but understandably heavily oxidized from sitting around for nearly seven years without anodizing. After briefly realizing that the last stripped Barrett REC7 sold on Gunbroker for $650, I will confess that I briefly considered selling off the receivers, but I spared them that fate. My best idea for the receiver was to do something really different that was based on showing a weathered look in recognition of the hard road the lower receivers traveled in the last seven years. After looking everywhere for a matching non-anodized upper receiver, I was rescued by PWS/Bootleg LLC who was nice enough to take two anodized Bootleg uppers and bead blast them for me. The problem is that fresh bead blasting does not match well aged seven-year old oxidized aluminum.
The process to get “the old aged oxidized aluminum look” on the Bootleg bead blasted upper required a process of 1000 grit sanding, dremel sanding, Scotch Brite pad and dremel polishing, hand Flitz polishing which I repeated about four times to get the new rough PWS bead blast finish down to the smooth level of the Barrett receiver finish. The upper and lower receivers were them pinned together with KNS Push Button Pivot Pins, hand polished to assure the sheens of both receivers matched, then carefully re-Scotch Brite pad rubbed to give them that well worn look. The two receivers were then carefully wiped down with a 50%/50% bleach and water solution to deliver the heavy “old oxidized look in certain areas”. After a rinse, the set was placed in my Hornady Ultrasonic cleaner and run for an hour total. The exposure to the Hornady cleaner solution and water smoothed out the work of the bleach and mellowed the finish with the additional more subtle oxidizing. A little coat of oil on the receivers was all that was used to protect the receiver from any other significant oxidation.
If you have this cool retro aged looking receiver set such as this, you might as well splurge a little on all the extra parts. It seemed to me the finish was subtle enough that only black accessories would due which included: Mission First Tactical extended magazine release, trigger guard and pistol grip. At some point MFT is going to either send me a nasty letter about chopping down their grips for AR pistol builds or start producing shorty AR15 pistol grips - I am hoping for the later.
Other goodies were KNS Anti-Rotate pins, American Defense Ambi Selector, Mission First Tactical trigger guard, extended magazine release, and magazines, Strike Industries Bolt Release, Timney Match trigger, Phase 5 Tactical Egg Plate QD mount, Hex-One Pistol buffer tube, and Phase 5 billet charging handle. A Fail Zero Bolt Carrier Group was used to drive the brand new 2017 Ballistic Advantage Modern series Pencil profile 11.5” barrel. An ALG Defense Keymod forend and muzzle brake were added to complete the front and of the rifle. For optics I wanted to used something different which ended up being a Sampson Fixed Front sight and MaTech 200-600-yard back up sight with a Burris AR-F3 red dot.
SHOOTING THE LITTLE BARRETT REC7 AR15 PISTOL
At the moment the ATF is not frowning on shouldering an AR15 pistol with just a buffer tube, so I left this build without a Stabilizing Brace so if the accidental contact to my shoulder happened, ATF would not come parachuting down from the sky to fine and jail me. As I have found with pretty much every well thought out AR15 pistol build, the accuracy of these AR pistols is seriously impressive. I was able to keep the 6-inch hostage swinger swaying all the way out to 300-yards easily and with the MaTech rear sight zeroed, precise shots on silhouette steel torsos all the way out to 600-yards were far easier than expected from a light gun that can be stowed in a standard backpack.
Barrett is likely none too happy about these receivers still floating around out there, but I personally could not be happier. I have a freaking custom Barrett AR15 pistol, who has one of these? The result is a very loud, flat shooting, extremely accurate, little sub-five-pound gun that can be easily stowed into any standard backpack when unpinned… and it even has a story to go with it.
Barrett - http://barrett.net
Bootleg Industries - http://bootleginc.com
V-Seven - http://www.vsevenweaponsystems.com
Mission First Tactical - http://www.missionfirsttactical.com
Ballistic Advantage - http://ballisticadvantage.com
Timney Match Triggers - http://www.timneytriggers.com
ALG - https://algdefense.com
KNS Precision - https://www.knsprecisioninc.com
Phase 5 Tactical - http://phase5wsi.com
Strike Industries - http://www.strikeindustries.com
American Defense - http://americandefensemanufacturing.com
Fail Zero - http://www.failzero.com
Sampson - http://www.samson-mfg.com
Burris - http://www.burrisoptics.com