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.