Tuesday, July 19, 2022

San Tan Tactical STT-15L Lightweight AR15 PILLAR Receiver Set

San Tan Tactical STT-15L Lightweight AR15 PILLAR Receiver Set

For those that exclusively scour the internet for the cheapest AR15 parts in existence to cobble together an AR15 build, this $470 San Tan Tactical SST-15 upper and lower set is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you appreciate a flawlessly made AR15 receiver set, loaded with well executed details and demand the best and don’t mind paying for quality then read on. This San Tan Tactical receiver set is the Bugatti Veyron or Chiron of the AR15 world.

Despite AR15s arguably outselling shampoo in the last few years, some companies are struggling to offer nothing more than clone ARs with a different logo. On the other side of that coin you see companies that are doing something different, setting a new bar for quality, features, and value and maybe even offering something we never knew we needed. Some are delivering great guns at an entry level and others like San Tan Tactical’s SST-15 AR15 Lower Receiver are dripping with sexy lines, precision, and features that set it apart from anything ordinary.

Before I jump into what makes the San Tan's billet receiver set special, let's wander through the red, white and blue Patriot AR15 build created based on this SST-15 receiver set. All in, this is about a $2100 build including optic which is in the range of an extremely well appointed and very accurate 3Gun rifle.

As I do with all builds, I started with truing the receiver. On quality receivers of this tier, I find it is not necessarily the billet milled aluminum that is not perfect, but actually the post machining anodizing which can need lapping to be perfectly square. I use the Brownells receiver lapping tool and compound and the process can net drastic accuracy improvements. The San Tan receiver only required a very quick touch of under a minute to square up.

Ballistic Advantage Hanson series stainless barrels are fantastic right out of the box, however I decided to do a little sanding and polishing work to bring the bead blasted 16” .223 Wylde Hanson barrel finish up to a semi-reflective luster. After a good 800-grit sanding and a few passes of Flitz polish, I was surprised how fast this process was.

HANDGUARD - If you have a barrel that is stunning, why hide it under a handguard, so the open and airy looking Odin O2 Lite Red freefloat handguard was used. Though the handguard looks delicate, it is structured to take the same abuse as any other handguard. Since we have a patriotic color theme going, I added a silver colored natural polished V7 titanium ejection port cover. A bit of copper anti-seize was used on the receiver thread and the Odin barrel nut assembly was timed and tightened to 50-ft/lbs.

GAS BLOCK & MUZZLE DEVICE - Since I had the plan to use a lightweight carrier, I installed a Superlative Arms adjustable gas block to deliver that nice light recoiling and flat shooting competition AR15 feel we all love. I hate extra noise just as much as anyone and decided to stick with one of the quietest muzzle devices made, a standard stainless steel Rousch Sports A2 style flash hider and crush washer. The SA adjustable gas block, lightweight carrier and A2 rifle length buffer drop the recoil to a point I don’t feel it's really necessary to also install a comp that will just require doubling ear pro.

To finish up the upper, a Faxon Ultra-Light bolt carrier, a design which has proven itself to me in many builds as a great quality carrier in a very light design. Geissele makes a lot of great products, but one of the great unsung products is the Geissele Super Charging Ambi-Handle used in this build.  

For the lower, I had a lot of parts looking for a great home including a Battle Arms Development Take-Down pins and bolt catch, Strike Industries selector, Geissele SD-3G - Super Dynamic 3Gun trigger, and KNS Anti-Rotate pins. A Magpul grip and rifle length Ace UL Stock were used to finish up the lower.  I also did a custom paracord wrap on the A2 tube.

OPTICS - There are certainly boatloads of fantastic optics now on the market which deliver outstanding clarity, broad 1-6 or more magnification and features like integrated throw handles, however I choose the Burris RT-6 for several reasons. First, the RT-6 for the price is a fantastic optic and from my perspective Burris hit is out of the park on a 3Gun worthy optic at a $360 price everyone can afford. Is it a $1000 Sig, Athelon, Eotech, or Vortex? No, but it is a damn great $500 optic for $360. My wife is likely going to shoot this gun and she has a RT-6 mounted on her other AR15 which she is familiar with. There was no reason to make the optics choice more expensive or complex if it didn’t need to be. Optics mounting was with an Aero scope mount delivering an elegant strong mount.

SanTan Tactical STT-15L Pillar Billet Receiver Combo - $429 - Mil-Spec is required on the battlefield, however not for the custom AR15 builder.  I have handled and tested just about every receiver set out there on the market and no one packs all the quality, fit, finish and features into billet 7075 aluminum like SanTan Tactical. On custom builds, it is good to see design details that will set the receiver apart from other builds. The STT-15L is their lightest set which drops the ambi-features on the lower, and omits the forward assist.

Each SST-15L set is milled from a solid chunk of 7075-T651 aerospace grade American aluminum milled on Haas CNC machinery which assures precision tolerances. Once milled, the finished receiver is then MIL-A-8625 Type III hard anodizing to assure the best corrosion resistant anodizing possible. 

The overall fit and finish is impeccable including the pitch black hard anodized receiver.  Stylistically, San Tan wanted to avoid the typical bulky billet look and instead develop an overall receiver that had a similar overall size as a forged lower.  Instead of a heavy extended magwell lip, they have created a huge funnel without adding much extra bulk and have worked hard to design a trim overall billet receiver set maximizing weight reduction.

The extended trigger guard is thin and contoured that actually flows into the grip instead of the unnecessarily thick .25” guards like I have seen some lowers. The San Tan Tactical SST-15 has been lightened and strengthened in key strategic areas to retain strength but minimize weight.  Ergonomics were enhanced with a lot of extra contouring and radiusing and mitering of angles to deliver a more comfortable fit in the shooters hand.  

And then comes the barrage of features. A huge magazine well, Shooter-Ready trigger finger rest just under the magazine release, oversized winter trigger guard, ambi-selector switch bullet pictograms, dowel/grub screws (no pins) assembly and extra grip on all the ambi releases. The non-ultralight models include integrated QD-Sling mounts on each side of the receiver with 45-degree anti-rotate stops, and integrated ambidextrous bolt and magazine releases.

If you are into higher end AR15s you are probably familiar with receiver tension screws and their ability to tighten up a worn or loose upper. San Tan has gone about it a little differently with a small nylon tipped screw that is barely noticeable looking into the receiver.  The tension can be adjusted via hex wrench after removing the grip. Also adjustable while the grip is off is the unique trigger over-travel adjustment which can make an OK stock trigger feel pretty good and tune up minute slack on a drop in match trigger. The trigger overtravel adjustment is a cool feature but probably the least used feature. If you are dropping $429 on this billet receiver set then you are probably springing for a high end trigger like the SD-3G Geissele used in this build which generally negates the use of an over travel adjustment.

SanTan is not just about offering an ambi-everything billet lower receiver with looks that deserve a supermodel to be draped over it - your choice of mental image male or female. SanTan put a ton of research into developing a design which offers all the features and cool factor with a design significantly stronger than mil-Spec forged receivers.

Their 6.9 oz billet upper receiver follows the same strategy with a design which is significantly lighter than even flat sided (non-forward assist) receivers but significantly stronger. In fact San Tan notes their upper as being the lightest on the market. Like the pocketed truss inlets on the lower, the upper is deeply trussed to reduce weight while delivering an overall stiffer upper receiver and it has the benefit of looking really cool. 

The upper receiver on the AR15 has to manage almost all the structural stress, the weight of the barrel and high tension exerted on the now fashionable barrel length handguards. San Tan's feelings were that the standard Mil-Spec upper receivers do not deliver the strength required to support the stresses of long modern handguards. Through 3D CAD modeling, San Tan Tactical removed material from unstressed areas and bulked up others, the result was an upper with an unparalleled strength to weight ratio which is both stronger and lighter than Mil-Spec receivers.

I have always liked the SanTan Tactical SST-15 designs and built a few builds based on the receivers. Sometime handguard compatibility can be challenging with some custom billet receivers, however the San Tan set has broad fit compatibility with many handguards and I have never had an issue.

Functionally the San Tan set offers many features beyond the standard AR15 receiver in addition to the weight reduction and significantly upgraded fit and finish. Sure, functionally this $429 upper and lower receiver set runs adn guns about the same as a mil-spec receiver set, however with the flared mag well, lighter overall weight, and some improved ergonomics, it becomes an enhanced experience but with better handling… you know like a Bugatti.

Upper Features:
* Model – STT PILLAR Lite Upper
* Caliber - Multi-Cal
* Weight – 6.9 Ounces / 195 Grams
* Material - Billet 7075-T651 Aerospace Grade Aluminum
* Finish - Matte Black MIL-A-8625 Type III Hard Anodize
* Component Compatibility - Works With All Mil-Spec AR-15\M16 Components Including ALL Known Handguard Options Currently Available.

Lower Features:
* Huge 1.38" Integrally Machined Magazine Well Flare
* San Tan Tactical Truss Pockets for Increased Structural Rigidity
* Bullet Pictogram Safety Selector Markings
* Set Screw Trigger Creep Adjustment
* Set Screw Upper Take Down Tension Adjustment
* Shooter Ready Finger Rest
* Oversized Winter Trigger Guard Perfect for Gloved Hands
* Dowel Screw Assembly
* Ultra-Grip Texture on All Controls
* Backed by STT’s Unmatched Lifetime Warranty
* Made in the USA

SanTan Tactical - http://www.santantactical.com

Other Manufacturers Featured
Burris - http://www.burrisoptics.com/
Geissele - http://geissele.com/

Midwest Industries MI Lower Receiver Blocks Build Better, Build Faster AR and AK

Midwest Industries MI Lower Receiver Blocks Build Better, Build Faster AR and AK

There are a lot of great tools to help you gunsmith and mount your upper for barrel and accessory mounts, but not many to work on lower receivers. If you were lucky enough to score some deals on AR parts this year, then you likely need something to lend a hand with your build and upgrades to your lower receiver. MI now offers a truly fantastic set of receiver blocks for both AR-15, SR25/DPMS, and AK spec lower receivers with a very unique set of features.

Generally receiver blocks are usually good for one thing, securing a receiver for accessory mounting via a magwell, but generally little else and some are not rigid enough to handle the stress of pin setting jobs. Midwest Industries added a lot of beef to handle the heavy weight tasks and features for many other tasks that AR-15, AR-308/SR25/DPMS and AK builders face that need a third hand like gas block pin installation, trigger guard installation, fire control assembly and for AK owners sometimes a hrid hand to install the top dust cover. Midwest Industries also added some handy integrated parts trays for all these little parts that seem to be spread across your bench or lost. The AK version even has a handy bolt disassembly holder.

The mil spec AR15 version and SR25 spec receiver block versions have partial receiver and gas block insets for pin setting which is super handy versus the typical rolled up pile of towels approach to supporting and not scratching up your new receiver. For extra insurance to keep the MI receiver block stay put on your bench it even includes bench mounting holes. After using both versions of the receiver blocks for a few builds, they are also handy for installing the take down pins, setting the bolt release pins, and buttstock assemblies.

Gunsmithing supplies are many times expensive, but the MI versions are just under $40 and $45 each which is extremely affordable considering the quality. Frankly even if it just saves one slip of a punch that damages a new receiver it is worth it. Also consider MI Pro level receiver rods for AR15 and 308s and a pro level armorers wrench that should definitely be considered if you want the best tools available for AR assembly. While you are at it take a peak at all the other Midwest Industries products that include some of the best handguards in the business.

●    Models Designed to work with Mil-Spec AR15 and SR25 lowers
●    High-strength polymer construction
●    Allows for gas block roll pin installation
●    Mounting holes for attachment to bench or alternative work surface
●    Parallel edges for vice use
●    Trigger guard installation section
●    Allows lower to be held for multiple aspects of assembly
●    Fire control pin assembly
●    Able to hold complete firearm for maintenance
●    Small parts tray
●    Weight: About 12.0 oz
●    Height: 6.5”
●    Length: 5.0”
●    Width: 1.25”
●    Made in the USA

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Brownells Reintroduced the Legendary BRN-180 - Long-Term Test

Brownells Reintroduced the Legendary BRN-180 - Long-Term Test

When Dean, the President at PWS, was explaining to me the concept of his short stroke piston AR-180 redesign, in cooperation with Brownells back in 2018 dubbed the BRN-180, I frankly really didn’t get it, but shared his enthusiasm. I was vaguely remembering the AR-180/AR-18 as a rather rough looking piston driven stamped steel version of the AR and was not sure it was going to be the splash that Dean was expecting. Then I tested the BRN-180 and wondered why this did not become the standard instead of the AR15 direct impingement format.

Check out there BRN180 Here on Brownells

It is hard to believe the AR-18/AR-180 has become a somewhat forgotten firearm considering its design, amazing reliability, flexibility and accuracy. Brownells has brought the AR-180 back to market in a completely redesigned BRN-180 upper format compatible with any AR-15 spec lower. The BRN-180 was a collaborative design effort between Brownells, PWS, and FM - Foxtrot Mike to bring back a modernized version of the often forgotten short-stroke piston driven AR-180.  As a writer for Primary Weapons Systems and Brownells, I was privileged to have very early knowledge in 2018 of the new BRN-180 development and then proceeded to bounce off the walls muzzled by an NDA for another 6-8 months. I was excited but skeptical then, however in both my initial and long-term reviews, I have been thrilled with the flawlessly operating BRN-180 pistol and rifle uppers. Now that I have put both a rifle and pistol uppers through the paces long-term with a fairly high round count over the last four’ish years they deserve another look.

BRN180 Models

Currently Brownells offers .223 Wylde and 300 Blackout models in pistol uppers and .223 Wylde in 16 and 18-inch rifle upper variants. What makes these unique guns so cool and why is the AR-180 platform getting hot again? The short answer is the insane short-stroke piston driven reliability of the platform plus the negated need for any buffer tube, spring and buffer assembly. With the trend in the market for more compact and stowable firearms, the idea of not having to contend with an operable buffer tube delivers a potentially lighter and shorter folded firearm. 


From a reliability perspective, if you consider the AR-15 platform prefers to be cleaned every 1500 rounds or so before starting to have reliability issues, consider the pistol based BRN-180 can shoot for about 6000+ rounds before a cleaning is required… at least according to my total neglect and testing of the BRN-180 pistol upper. This puts the BRN-180 into interesting company with uber-reliable AKs and all the advantages of a non-operable buffer tubed receiver that can host a lighter and more compact non-operable fixed or folding buttstock or brace similar to Sig MPX and MCX designs.

The original AR-180 is sort of like an AK and an AR hooked up and had some type of weird love child that fused all the ultra-reliable awesomeness of AK DNA with the trim ergonomics of the AR. On the outside, from a distance the original AR-180 looked a lot like an AR with similar ergonomics down to a very similar handguard front sight...etc. Up close, it was apparent that nearly every part of the original design was based on stamped steel construction similar to the AK but to a level far more detailed and complex than the simplicity of an AK.

Though the AR-180 starts with AR the original design was not cross compatible with the AR15 platform. Some parts were carried over into a cost effective likeness based on steel stamping dies however the use of stamped construction was extensive including nearly every firing and operational control of the AR-180 gun. The AR-180 also had proprietary magazines and receiver designs. According to many historical experts, the non-adoption of the AR-180 was in part due to it being yet another new form factor to support vs carrying over direct AR-15 magazine and lower compatibility. You start to see where the Brownells, PWS, and FM collaborative team saw some potential even just making the AR-180 design cross compatible and upscale the production to modern CNC machining based design.


The AR-180 platform also had the ability to get really short with a folding stock like an AK thanks to the dual captured internal springs and rod set nestled inside the upper receiver and the obvious omission of a buffer spring. Internally, there was also a very short and light bolt carrier with a recricating right handed charging handle, again, like an AK. One of the extolling features was an exceptional buttery smooth operation of the mini-carrier sliding on the dual spring and rod configuration. The AR-180 bolt is an AR15 style bolt and barrel lockup design, but the overall AR-180 or BRN-180 design does not permit barrel swaps. The AR-180 was also incredibly simple to operate with a large easy to find right handed reciprocating bolt handle similar to an AK.


One of the less discussed advantages of the AK format is it’s intuitive function where nearly anyone could pick up an AK and figure out quickly how it works all thanks to the single reciprocating charging handle. Unlike the AR, there is no charging handle thingy and bolt release thingy to contend with, just one handle to focus on. This is the same with the AR180 and BRN180 design which makes it really super simple and easy to use. What I really love about the BRN-180 is that I can hand it to anyone and within a few seconds, it is obvious how to charge and operate the gun. I also like that the BRN-180 is absolutely an AK-gunners paradise in an AR platform with over or under bolt operation that mimics the AK function.


The AR-180 was also one of the first short stroke piston driven AR-style platforms and it was famous for literally running forever without maintenance. With zero debris blowing back into the action, the gun stayed clean and could run perfectly between very long extended cleaning intervals. Allegedly, there are still some original AR-180s that have never been cleaned and run perfectly. In essence, the AR-180 was the Americans stamped steel receiver set equivalent to the AK but with a short stroke piston system vs the AK’s long-stroke piston system. Today the AR-180 are prized collector items with only around 22K actually manufactured and many future guns based their design on the short stroke piston system including HK G36, ACR, and HK416 rifles and continues to influence many modern rifle designs including some aspects of very futuristic guns like the Tavor.

Have your BRN and take it with you
A Hazard 4 PlanB Makes a
Great pack for the very compact
BRN180P 5.56
With MI Folding Brace


The original AR-180 gun was budget focused, not super sexy and had the stamped, folded and welded quality of an intricate, but very average AK. At that time, the vast majority of manufacturing was based on old stamping and folding machines that offered cheap production. At the same point in time, the milling required for the AR-15 format was quite expensive. Today that cost equation has flipped due to the old stamping tooling technology becoming discontinued and the greatly reduced cost efficiencies of current production CNC milling. The reality of the original budget friendly AR-180 was it was a bit crude with proprietary firearm parts and magazines, but it worked flawlessly. 

Brownells, PWS and FM delivered an updated AR15 compatible upper which carries through the functionality and DNA of the AR-180 in a complete and premium quality BRN-180 upper. The BRN-180 features modern billet machining, design, finish, quality, and accuracy all in a AR15 lower compatible format which represents a giant leap in quality and compatibility over the old AR-180 design. The AR-180 was circa 1960s industrial looking where the BRN-180 is definitively one of the most modern looking AR-15 uppers on the market. This is a premium-tier upper that is extremely reliable, long-running and cross compatible with any AR15 lower you have in your safe. Even your standard AR-15 firing pins can be used if something does break. The BRN-180 design is something that the market has been asking for… a 5.56 AK upper for your AR.

If you were going to redesign a piston powered rifle such as the AR-180, the market leading Primary Weapons System would be the clear choice. Dean Sylvester is widely regarded as the industry expert in AR format piston systems including developing their own PWS long stroke piston rifles famed for incredible reliability and elite tier quality. From my perspective, Brownells make the best choice of who to partner with wide distribution and retail sales footprint. Foxtrot Mike is well regarded as designing the most reliable 9mm AR15 PCC format on the market - mine will deliver 1” 100-yard groups so he obviously understands a thing or two about design.

The biggest departures from the original design is that the BRN-180 is only a complete upper and not a complete gun and a design based on modernized AR15 compatibility.  That modernization includes a free-float handguard, 5.56/.223 compatible match grade .223 Wylde chambered barrel, adjustable gas block, and of course the precision fit of modern machining.

Having the BRN-180 mate to a standard AR15 also allows customers to do all the customization they want on a standard AR15 without having to worry about compatibility of yet another firearm platform. According to Brownells, the AR15 compatibility greatly reduced the cost and instead of a full $2700 gun, they are able to retail a complete upper with match grade .223 Wylde chamber for around $800. This is not bad considering many piston ARs are easily retailing over $1800. Brownells has now introduced a BRN-180S, for “short”. The 180S will feature a 10.5-inch barrel and a slightly modified gas block to accomodate for increased dwell time and more adjustment for suppressor use. Of note Brownells now offers a AR-180 style AR15 compatible billet lower receiver that features a shortened magwell, integrated rear stock/brace picatinny mount rail and other characteristic AR-180 style points.


The take-down is similar to the original, but has a buffer block that is friction fit to the rear of the upper receiver. Remove the upper and the buffer block is easily popped out during the bolt removal process. Remove the rods and springs, pull back the bolt, remove the reciprocating bolt handle, and remove the bolt carrier group. According to Brownells, that is really all the typical maintenance requires. Advanced maintenance is also simple - remove the handguard u-latch, slide off the handguard, remove the linkage rod, the piston cup, and then the piston rod assembly for deep cleaning. Notably after 6000+ rounds on my pistol upper, I still see no need for any bolt cleaning and certainly nothing that needs cleaning on the piston side… this is one extremely clean running gun. The barrel is permanently mounted using a trunnion system to 180 ft/lb.


My initial build was based on BRN-M16A1 prototype build a few years back, but more recently I have built a more purpose focused lower.  My new lower uses a standard Mil-Spec PWS lower, Hiperfire EDT Marksman, KNS Picatinny Rail Adapter Kit, and either Midwest Industries Side Folding Billet Brace or Side Folding Extruded Rifle Stock depending on the upper configuration.

Since I have both pistol and rifle uppers and the ATF says its legal to convert a pistol to a rifle and back again without paperwork, I built a PWS AR15 pistol lower first that I can swap to the rifle upper and then swap to the MI Extruded rifle stock. Anytime I want to go back to a pistol the process is reversed and I just swap the stock for the brace and then swap the uppers to the pistol lower. I stay all legal complying with idiotic ATF laws. Note - going from a receiver built first as a rifle and using that to convert to a pistol requires ATF form and tax stamps to be issued.

Notably the Midwest Industries Extruded Rifle Stock and Side Fold Brace Compatible extension are of supremely high quality. MI has assured that the folding stock mechanism is solid and also can be reversed for use with various types of weapons including the AR platform. The Rifle Stock is really light and well designed and like the Brace Extension is begging to have a custom paracord wrap. What I did like about the Pistol Brace Extension is that is has a bit of weight which helps to balance out a bit more of the pistol front heavy weight vs something like a lightweight SB Tactical brace.

With the Brownells AR180 style lower receivers, they include an integrated rear picatinny stock/brace mount. Since I was using a milspec PWS lower intended for a buffer tube mount, I leveraged the very handy KNS Picatinny Rail Adapter Kit. The KNS Pic Rail Adapter kit secures via the buffer tube threading and delivers a Sig MPX/MCX style rear picatinny mount for stocks or braces. In my case, I used the MWI’s folding pistol brace and extruded folding stock.

The BRN-180 are more like very well built AR uppers with most of my groups solidly in the 1-1.5-inch 100-yard group range and several groups nudged into the .75” range with the rifle upper. Functionally, my pistol upper is a tank that has yet to see even a patch pulled through the bore after my initial cleaning - wonderfully reliable. The rifle upper I have on a cleaning interval just to see if there is any accuracy impact which there is not.


The question I would ask buyers is why they think they need an AK, Galil, Tavor, SKAR or any other pistol operated firearm. Generally, buyers usually say reliability is their rational for purchasing onr of the proven piston driven firearms. I have owned all of the above and the reality is that the BRN-180 is compatible with that super awesome AR lower you already own, vs supporting yet another platform. With the BRN-180, you likely already own all the potentially consumable AR parts like magazines, triggers, and firing pins. The reason you should own a BRN-180 upper is that it is the most reliable AR-15 upper you can put on your gun outside of an obvious PWS MK107 upper, but at about ½ the price. If “it” does ever hit the fan, the BRN-180 uppers would be the AR uppers I would be rocking.

Check out there BRN180 Here on Brownells

and the MI Folding Stocks Here


BRN-180™ has 16" barrel with matte black Nitride finish

BRN-180S™ has 10.5" barrel with matte black Nitride finish

Ultra-reliable AR-180 piston operating system

Compatible with current mil-spec AR-15 lowers

Machined 7075 T6 aluminum receiver & handguard - hardcoat anodized finish

.223 Wylde chamber

Button rifled bore; 1-8" twist

1/2"-28 threaded muzzle

Replica 3-prong AR-180 flash suppressor

Molded polymer ejection port cover

The BRN-180™ and 180S™ upper receivers are fully compatible with any standard, mil-spec AR-15 lower receiver

Common Features:

Action Type:Gas Piston


Twist Rate:1:8

Finish:Anodized Black

Muzzle:3 Prong Flash Hider

BRN-180S™ 300 BLK Specifics:

Chambered:.300 Blackout

Barrel Length:10 inch

Length:18.57 inches

Weight:4 lbs 10 oz

BRN-180S™  Specifics:

Chambered:.223 Wylde

Barrel Length:10.5 inch

Length:18.7 inches

Weight:3 lbs 15 oz

BRN-180™ 16" Specifics:

Chambered:.223 Wylde

Barrel Length:16 inch

Length:24.57 inches

Weight:4 lbs 10 oz

BRN-180™ 18.5" Specifics:

Chambered:.223 Wylde

Barrel Length:18.5 inches

Length:24.57 inches

Weight:4 lbs 13 oz

Sunday, July 10, 2022

Walther Reign UXT .25 Pellet Gun PCP Repeater

Walther Reign UXT .25 Pellet Gun PCP Repeater 

A few years back, the clouds parted, the heavens opened up and I experienced PCP - Pre-Charged Pneumatic airguns for the first time. My first experience was with single shot Airforce airguns, another premium range $1000+ airgun brand, and I was just blown away at the insane accuracy, zero recoil, and the experience of no charging or pumping between shots. I could just keep loading pellets and shooting until the tank was low. Recharge the tank and I was in the back yard shooting again in just a few minutes.



This PCP world was different and wildly better after getting over purchasing the supporting equipment which could have been as simple as just a $250 PCP high pressure hand pump… but why only go ankle deep in the pool? I of course also purchased a scuba tank for instant refills and a compressor to charge the scuba tank or any onboard tanks. Now, I need nothing when adding another PCP gun to the stable, and for my “needs”, the Walther Reign UXT was the perfect .25 Caliber thumper to add to compliment my other airguns.

The Walther Reign UXT is a PCP .25 Caliber bolt action style pellet gun with a removable 9-round pellet magazine. Its short, light, fast handling and shooting with great accuracy with a glass smooth bolt cycling feel that resets the trigger and feeds the next pellet


Dealing with a sudden scourge of starlings this year plastering every inch of my property with their chalky crap, I literally could not load pellets fast enough on my single shot pellet guns and at least a few times I just pulled out a suppressed 10/22 and went to work. Despite true blissful happiness with my other single shot pellet guns, the reload speed really killed second shot opportunities. Living outside of the city we also get a lot of unwanted pests that need to be taken care of including some that could need a quick second shot like skunks. I wanted a compact accurate magazine fed pellet gun for faster follow up shots that delivered plenty of thump. 

I also wanted quality. Frankly you get spoiled with the high tier stuff and really don’t want to own the entry level guns except for some level of sentimentality, but I also didn’t want to drop $1000-$1500 either. The MSRP of $700 for the Walther Reign UXT would be considered a mid-priced gun for someone wanting to jump into PCP Pellet Airguns and considering the quality, it is an excellent value.

With the exception of a few brands and models of airguns, airguns have become monstrously gigantic and very heavy which is fine for a bench gun, but beyond that use, they are cumbersome. A Benjamin Trail XL NP I sold was nearly 4.5 feet long and almost 10-lbs with the optic - I have .308 Winchester precision rifles that weigh less and are shorter. Though very accurate, the Benjamin Trail XL was not a convenient or easily maneuverable field gun and it was sold in favor of a much less expensive but 50% lighter Gamo Whisper Cat. 

As you are standing holding the screen door open with your foot to take a quick shot at a starling, the requirement is a short fast handling and light gun which is pre-charged and ready to go, instead of requiring 4.5-feet of maneuvering room and a tripod to support the weight. The bullpup format 34-inch length and 5.5-lb weight of the Walther Reign UXT .25 caliber pellet gun fits that requirement perfectly.

From a magazine and power perspective, the Walther Reign UXT in .25 Caliber features a removable high quality 9-round magazine (extras about $30) and delivers around 40-ft/lbs of energy on average. Walther does offer a .22 caliber option, but the .25 caliber model only reduces the overall magazine capacity by one pellet and almost doubles the downrange energy. 

Historically, I have been a very big fan of .22 caliber pellet guns due to the power jump over .177 and enjoy the .25 caliber power for the same reason. That power range is about half what a .22LR rimfire would deliver and about twice what I expect from my .22 caliber pellet guns. 

I would buy a .357 or .457 pellet magazine fed option in the Reign in a heartbeat if they offered one - wouldn’t that be an awesome format. For this application, this .25 Cal is the right power range with enough power to drop even raccoons with a head shot. If I did need higher penetration, there are always H&N Hornet or PolyMag pellets available which in my test will pass through ¾-inch plywood. 

Putting that power downrange in a 9-shot succession is fast with just a quick butter smooth bolt cycle between each shot. Again the Reign UXT format fits the need perfectly and provides the fast follow up shots and power I needed to drop more than one starling at a time as “The Scourge” flew in.


Functionally, the Walther Reign UXT is similar to other magazine fed PCP pellet guns. Connect your hand pump, high pressure tank or compressor to the onboard Reign UXT tank and very slowly fill until the gauge needle is under the Red Overcharged Range which is about 3300 PSI. For the first fill, I very gently fill and take a few pauses during filling to let the tank pressure equalize a bit and usually just charge around 60-70% of pressure - a hand pump is a great option for the first fill. 

A little quality brass nozzle adapter extension is provided that connects perfectly to my quick disconnect scuba tank hose and that slides into the gun. The pressure relief valve is closed on my scuba tank kit and I can slowly open the scuba tank valve to fill the UXT tank. Another option is to use my Umarex Ready Air high pressure compressor which can fill the Reign UXT in about seven minutes. If you are in the mood for a workout, a high pressure hand pump could be used, but frankly that is some work, and I would rather just use the near instant refill ability of the scuba tank, which I refill when needed with the compressor, or use the Umarex Ready Air if my scuba tank is empty. Once pressure is achieved, the bleed off valve is opened and then the quick disconnect can be removed. Obviously eye protection is a must during this process.

Walther has made loading the magazines easy with a very high quality magazine that includes a thumb wheel and a ratcheting mechanism. With the bolt open, magazines can be inserted from the left or right supporting ambi shooting. Notably the changing bolt handle is also able to switch the left hand operation. Lefties will appreciate this feature… but being correctly handed by God, the factory right hand configuration was perfect for me. Operation is simple from there. Insert a magazine shoot, work the smooth and light cycling bolt, shoot, work the bolt…etc. The Reign UXT is a pleasure to shoot with very fast follow up shots. 9-shots later, you can slide in another magazine (if you purchased extras), and you are back at shooting. 

Given the size and format the Reign UXT has a smallish sized tank which means that it will deliver about 40-shots per fill in the optimal power range, but I did push that to about 80 shots and was still connecting but accuracy suffered a little. For best accuracy you do want to be in that optimal power range, which oddly enough is not at full charge but around 2400 PSI or about the cardio max for most people with a hand pump.

Even though the power was dropping off it was still dropping birds nicely after 70-75 shots. 99.5% of people will likely never shoot 8-magazines of pellets in a row, so from my perspective it has more than enough power for an afternoon of fun without requiring a refill. When you do, a high pressure PCP hand pump and a few calories burned pumping is enough to get the tank up to the 2500-PSI mark which is a good sweet spot for the Reign UXT.


Walther quality has always been very high even all the way down to their airsoft guns. Walther really works hard to put quality in the guts and then uses injection molding technology and modern design to save cost on the chassis. The chassis is injection molded from a similar material they use on their PPQ handguns, other firearms, and airguns and is a high quality polymer. 

Cracking the chassis open to adjust the adjustable trigger pull and sear engagement, you do see the quality within and that Walther did not build the Reign on a budget. The namesake “Reign” should speak for itself that Walther wanted to assure this was a top quality PCP as their flagship US PCP rifle. Quick fills are simple and fast with the supplied QD brass fill adapter and the integrated gauge is a very nice addition that not all PCPs in this range feature. 

Where I think Walther was legally forced to miss the mark was with the moderator. In my head, I kept thinking it should have been way quieter. I ran a borescope into the moderator and it is nothing more than a hollow tube with no baffles. I would have preferred a removable moderator for the potential to upgrade later but the ATF laws on airguns have been so inconsistent. I understand the reasoning for not making it baffled or removable as a German made import product and dealing with ATF and import restrictions. The report of the Reign UXT does not seem to turn neighbors heads when I take a shot, so it appears to be neighborhood friendly enough, but it could be a world quieter. Perhaps there will be a future upgrade option at some point. 

Bullpups are a different animal and people either love them or hate them. Usually people have a difficult time with the larger scope offset, however I personally love this format. The stock is well designed and comfortable. Little design elements are nice such as the carryover 2020 PPQ grip pattern, very solid aluminum scope rail mount, and lower integrated picatinny rail for lights and bipod mounting. I mounted a centerfire spec Magpul bipod was mounted to the lower rail. I would have liked a little sound deadening in the polymer stock, but the quality, design, and finish is really very high. Walther put money where it counts. The bolt assembly is all metal as is the aluminum top rail and of course the barrel is solid steel vs being a plastic shroud.

Some of the Euro shooters will note they have a higher tier version of the Reign with a “real” removable moderator which this version is not, an upgraded Lothar Walther match barrel which this is a good quality Carl Walther barrel, and an adjustable regulated air supply which the US version is an unregulated air supply. However that upgraded Euro version is also around $1200+ USD and is hard to get into the country due to the evil threaded and suppressed barrel. 


I love the form factor, size, weight, quality, power, magazine feed system, and accuracy. There is also a fun quotient to the Walther Reign UXT gun that screams put a red dot or low power variable optic on me and blast away. The Reign UXT is more than accurate enough to take advantage of higher power magnification, but still fun just blasting away. 

Trigger pull adjustment without partial chassis disassembly would be super awesome. I have to wonder though, how many warranty claims result from disassembly and trigger monkeying by unqualified newbies. I tweaked the trigger pull down a little, but it was good enough for me out of the box for what I wanted to do with the gun.

The hollow can posing as a moderator/silencer does something, but very…very little. The “single chamber brake” does take a slight bark out of the .25 caliber pops, but could be loads better if it had even a couple washer style baffles. Given that the Euro airgun market is so far ahead of us on suppressed airguns and the extra $1 cost on a few polymer baffles is a bit disappointing considering there are other airgun brands that manage to import fiex suppressor airguns. Add in the fact that the brake is non-removable is pretty infuriating, but is tied to ATF and import laws. Yes, it does matter who you vote for folks. 

The need of a fill adapter that could get lost is a bit annoying vs just having a fill nipple. Why no one considered a storage recess somewhere on the chassis is surprising...I am going to lose this if I don’t figure out a way to mount this to the gun. Though an adjustable regulator would likely add $200+ to the price, it would have flattened out the pressure curve a bit and allowed extended shot strings. The Reign UXT tank is 3300 PSI, but without a regulator that is really not its happy place and seems to like to get charged to only about 2500 PSI which delivers good first shot accuracy and still the maximum velocity. 

With an adjustable regulator, it would have allowed full charges to 3300 PSI with the ability to adjust that pressure down and ultimately have a wider and longer running optimal shot window. Option B for Walther would have been to just increase the size of the tank by a few inches. A marginally larger tank is more forgiving and would have extended and widened the pressure window a little. 

Would the still maturing US airgunners pay for all those extras to nearly double the price to well over $1200? Well, Walther did not think so and we get what we get with this Reign UXT. For the price and target market, I think Walther made the right compromises. It would have been a hard sell at $1200+ for a polymer chassis airgun that is now going head to head with all the other premier tier US made guns which do not have all the goofy import restrictions.


With any bullpup, the scope to bore axis is high which can seem awkward, however really these days so many of us are dialing in the turrets for distance anyway that it makes little difference. The aluminum picatinny top rail mounts solidly into the action. 

I mounted a Hawke Optics Sidewinder 30 SF 6-24 SR Pro Reticle for testing which delivers outstanding clarity. I have used Hawke Optics on many builds and believe they are a real value with a lot of features, excellent clarity and quality that are built to handle recoil on any firearm or airgun caliber. I just recently tested their higher tier Frontier line and the Frontier and one step down Sidewinder line are worth every penny. 

Accuracy was extremely good, with some 5-shot 50-yard groups under ½-inch. Even hastily shot ½-inch’ish 50-yard groups were the norm when inside the power curve. With that noted, it is not like everything goes totally to hell outside of that window. 

Even in the 50-80 round count range, I was still dropping starlings at 50-yards with a little more holdover, so good enough. Generally, I like the mid-weight 25.5-ish grain pellets such as the proven Diablo and Diablo Field domes, however the 35+ grain heavyweight pellets noticeably packed a more audible thump in the pellet trap and could be useful at longer distances.

Walther did a fantastic job with the sleek format with very well thought out ergonomics that make the Reign UXT very fun and powerful to shoot across a lot of applications. A really good fun optic range for the Walther Reign would be either a low power variable optic or something in the 3-9 or 4-16 range with a low enough bottom magnification range that you can still do some fun blasting and enough higher magnification to take advantage of its accuracy potential which I was frankly a bit surprised by.

If you think about the crazy designs the firearms market has thought up, the often wacky airgun designs easily top those. “Function” seems to wildly trump “form” often with some airguns delivering harsh and ergonomics with designs that look like they were cobbled together with random parts. Especially with PCP airguns, many tend to look like movie props from sci-fi films. By contrast, the Walther Reign UXT really has exceptional ergonomics, a US button style safety, with a design that feels really comfortable and shoulders naturally. The ambi configurable bolt handle, left or right side magazine port, all work and feel natural.

From my perspective, shooters are not going to buy the Walther Regin UXT for insane accuracy, they are going to buy it because it's a high quality, short and light maneuverable PCP form factor that is very accurate, powerful, and capable. Most importantly, the Reign UXT can put 9-pellets downrange accurately enough in around 10-seconds (my best time) all for a very fair price. All around a fantastic gun. 

 Walther .25 Caliber Reign UXT Bullpup Air Rifle Features

  • 9 Shot .25 caliber Rotary Magazine
  • Compact Bullpup design
  • Fully Ambidextrous
  • Lightweight Design
  • Integrated Picatinny rails
  • Quick Detach Sling Mount
  • Tough All-Weather Polymer Stock
  • 3,300 PSI Capacity HPA Tank
  • Up to 40 Shots Per Fill
  • Adjustable Trigger
  • Distinctive Walther Grip Texture
  • Fast Action Cocking Lever
  • Integrated Pressure Gauge
  • Made in Germany
  • 32.75" overall length
  • Fixed muzzle brake
  • Solid Picatinny rail
  • Very ergonomic
  • MSRP $700