TEASER: A New Carbine in the M4 Mix

It’s one of those weapons that’s been whispered about around the net. Some small company in Baltimore, Md., that makes M4 uppers for Colt has this weird weapon they say can compete in the Army’s improved carbine competition.

Who is this ADCOR company anyway and what’s the deal with the B.E.A.R? We’re running a story tomorrow morning at Military.com on the company’s initiative to unseat Colt’s M4 and here’s a quick preview of what we’ve got.

It was in 2005 that Jimmy Stavrakis received an order to make components for Colt’s M4 rifles as they were being fielded to units in Afghanistan and Iraq at a fever pitch. In just a few days, Stavrakis and his engineers at ADCOR Industries, Inc., had carved out precisely-made upper receiver components for the Army’s individual rifle.

But when officials came to inspect the parts, there was one small problem. Stavrakis and his team had printed the logo upside down – ADCOR, which until then specialized in making precision components for the beverage industry, had never seen a completely assembled M4.

“We made the uppers in less time than they thought we could, and the components were right to specification,” Stavrakis chuckled. “But we had no idea how they actually went on the rifle.”

Despite the mix-up, it didn’t take long for this small manufacturer based in an industrial section of Baltimore, Md., to find a way to make Colt’s design better. After several years of building many of the rifle’s parts for Colt, ADCOR’s engineers decided to take a whack at making their own carbine.

Well, Kit Up! had the chance to take a look at this new weapon first hand. And from the info we got at the manufacturer, there are some interesting components our readers might want to ponder.

First of all, the BEAR that’s being offered to the Army is a gas piston operating system rifle. There’s a lot of technical mumbo jumbo that goes over my head on their piston design, but company officials say it’s a better mouse trap than their competitors:

  • A newly designed vent cover houses the piston exhaust ports, which protects the operator from exhaust heat and cuts down on the weapon’s signature.
  • Mounting the piston on the underside of the rail system allows the barrel to float freely, ensuring greater accuracy of the weapon.
  • The lower half of the rail system detaches with a unique tool free design for ready access to the piston and gas tube for operational maintenance and cleaning. The operating system can be cleaned faster than the existing weapon’s cleaning routine.
  • The operator in the field can adjust the piston’s cyclical rate to keep the carbine operating within control rate of fire parameters, resulting in less wear on the carbine’s critical parts.
  • The piston design is machined with close tolerances so that gas rings are not needed, eliminating another potential maintenance issue for the weapon.

They also say they’ve eliminated something called “carrier tilt” with their piston rod design by attaching it in a certain way to the bolt carrier. I’d never heard of this but some of you might be able to comment on it. The design also incorporates something kind of cool that’s attached to the bolt carrier that cuts down on fouling in the chamber.

After a typical AR carbine fires, the weapon is susceptible to contaminants because the ejection port door remains open until it is manually closed. Dust, sand and debris can enter the receiver and work their way between the receiver and bolt, potentially jamming the carbine. These contaminants also create wear and maintenance issues.

Adcor’s design solves this problem with a spring-loaded dust cover mounted on the carbine’s bolt carrier. Each time the weapon fires and the bolt carrier returns to the ready position, the dust cover moves into the ejection port opening, flush with the outside geometry of the carbine. No dust, sand or debris can enter the weapon.

There is a biasing device, comprised of two springs, between the bolt carrier and the shield for biasing the shield outwardly away from the bolt carrier so that the dust cover shield continuously engages the inner surface of the receiver during movement in the firing and rearward positions.

The shield is formed of a self-lubricating polymeric material that can withstand extreme heat and cold, and is extremely durable.

It seemed like a pretty simple, no frills solution to a potentially big problem.

And lastly, the thing that makes the BEAR really different is that it also includes a forward charging handle.

Adcor’s design permits an operator to charge, clear or forward assist the weapon without losing any engagement with the target. The operator reaches forward and pulls back on a handle (which can be located on either side of the weapon for right or left handed operators) without losing sight of the target.

If the carbine jams, the same handle clears the carbine with a single pull. It is an easy-to-use single mechanism.

The handle is detachable (without tools) and is ambidextrous for use on either side of the weapon.

It is equipped with a spring that returns the handle to a locked position once used, where the handle folds forward into a recessed area to keep it out of the way. To use the handle again, the operator reaches forward, swings the handle outward and back in a single motion.

The handle does not reciprocate when the weapon fires, but only engages when the operator charges or clears the weapon.

We had a chance to shoot the BEAR at ADCOR’s indoor range and honestly, I’m easily impressed just because I like shooting any AR, really. It was really controllable and pretty accurate, but there seemed like a hell of a lot of heat up front after a couple mags.

The forward charging handle was nice to have and is low profile, so if you don’t need it, it’s like it’s not even there. But I can see how Army evaluators might look at that and turn their noses up.

Anyway, the folks at ADCOR couldn’t have been nicer and Mike Brown is just a down to Earth machine maker who saw a better way to do something and said “why not give it a try?” We’ll see how this whole program shakes out, but clearly ADCOR is offering something that’s unlike any others we know about.

  • Feral Jundi

    Well they should check out PWS, if they are looking at piston systems.

  • Doyle

    I’ve seen “anti tilt” mentioned by other makers & as I understand it, when a piston has direct contact with the upper part of the bolt where the gas tube is on a standard bolt, it can “tilt” the bottom rear downwards. I found the pic interesting that the dust cover is blocked open by the operators gloves n the pic above. Can’t see the charging handle clearly but like the forward idea, which is overdue. Otherwise you have to raise your head when charging & lose your cheek weld

    • arias

      That is not a dust cover, it is an ejection port cover.

  • Johnny Darko

    I remember when I first saw this design. I love the forward assist. That alone is a huge improvement.

  • Brent Sacks

    The thing I find very interesting is the ROF adjustment. The only other system I know of that’s anything like that is the gas tube lever on the SCAR, for suppressor use, that keeps the ROF down if a suppressor is attached. Very, very interesting.

  • michael

    go with lwrc…accuracy, reliability, some of the best barrels in the business, forward assist, proven design

    • jon

      Lwrc is Proven stateside in swat, had issues in the Stan with dea fast.

      • Johnny Quest

        What issues?

  • Jon

    I don’t like or trust piston ARs, maybe…..maaaaybe this will change that. More moving parts, more things to break. Look at BCM ARs and you got a direct gas system more reliable than any piston AR than I’ve ever used.

    IMHO they just need to go with a new design versus continuing the bastardization of stoners AR.

  • FormerSFMedic

    Carrier tilt is an issue that came with the first AR15 piston designs. Personally I have my doubts that its a “real” problem. Anyway, the AR15 BCG (bolt carrier) was never designed around a piston system. When the op rod strikes the strike face, where the gas key used to be, it exerts force at the top of the BCG. The rear of the BCG is then tilted down which can make contact with the back of the receiver or the inside of the receiver extension (buffer tube). This tilting can cause reliability related problems and excessive ware on parts. The problem is usually countered by adding “skis” to the back of the carrier or beefing up that area to tighten the tolerances to the point where the carrier can’t bounce or tilt. Other manufacturers have attached the piston to the carrier to fix the problem as well.

    I have yet to see this problem in a piston gun, but experts say that high speed video has proven the problem exists. I think the best fix is to just go with a DI gun, but that’s me. It also sounds like the automatic dust cover could be more of a problem then solution. Not having a visible chamber could make status checks a problem. Shooters should be training to close their dust cover any chance they get anyway.

  • Ricardo Almeida

    Hello there!

    I have seen this weapon on Youtube at SHOTSHOW 2011 and I was really impressed! I think the polymer dust cover is there just to add a second protection against dust, and it is attached to the bolt carrier, not an additional dust cover, meaning that you can always check your chamber as usual, FormerSFMedic… Just check the ADCOR SHOTSHOW 2011 overviews by former FN reps-now ADCOR reps Ken Flood and Gary Weyland on Youtube… The gun looks solid, it is a very interesting concept and a somewhat breath of fresh air in the overcrowded AR-15 clone market! It also appears from the Youtube vids that this weapon performs, from the tests conducted… But only time will tell…

    Have a great day, guys!

  • TheDude

    This “we build better M4” bs gets kind of boring…. no need for this article or this weapon, there is better stuff already out there

    • Neal

      If there’s something that is substantially better than the M4 pattern, enlighten us.

  • G-man

    Just buy G36s or an updated Steyer. Might make the Colt people unhappy, but US shooters will have a weapin that goes bang when they need it to.

    • Raptor1

      While I agree, H&K and Steyer make fantastic weapons, it would be nice to see them buy and use an American made and produced weapon, even if for economy reasons alone. Flood American tax dollars into the American economic system rather than into foreign countries. I have zero problems with Germany and Austria, but we seem to be depending more and more on foreign rather than domestic imports.

      Not specifically addressing you G-man, but the M4 seems to have earned a bad reputation for whatever reason. Reminds me of Crystal Pepsi. Mine functions just fine. Never had single FTF/FTE/ etc. with over 1500 rounds and basic maintenance. I have fired the cheapest of steel-cased to the nicest of brass cased with excellent results.

  • Lance

    Thankfully we are not getting Steyer crap the AUG us a awkward and mostly plastic gun which is crap. H&K has addressed the issue with putting the G-36 gas piston in the M-4 in the H&K 416 which is being used by the SOCOM and the USMC in various forms.

    2nd I don’t think the whole stupid ICC competition will be the be all and end all in guns since its already delayed by months (suppose to be started last June it didn’t start) and most gun makers find it over complex and inflexible. and with BIG budget cuts hopefully be cancelled. The fact is the M-4 is being improved anyway with new features.

  • Moore

    The polymer door closes when the weapon is empty? If so, are there any visual indicators to show when you’re empty?

    • Moore

      Derp, read comments.

  • CavScout62

    Barrett REC-7. Reliable, familiar, fires a real round,(6.8SPC) and is just as modular as the AR system. It’s all just a matter of politics. We need a Sec-Def with the Cojones to do what McNamara did when he implemented the M-16 way back when. Just tell the procurement folks “You will issue and use this weapon, Make it happen” end of story. End of money & politics over troops lives and weather or not we carry the best combat rifle in the best caliber for killing the bad guys. It’s a simple solution to a simple problem but of course nothing is simple when dealing with a greedy political organization. Disgusting and Deplorable behavior.

  • Nobody

    I’ve shot this upper during a week long evaluation. It performed well and the forward charging handle was interesting. They seemed to recoil a bit heavier that DI guns. Strangely the standard mil spec charging handles broke in 2 of the test guns (the upper has both the forward charging handle & one in the usual spot below the rear sight). Like most M4 whizbang it seemed like a solution looking for a problem to solve.