AXTS A-DAC-F lower receiver.
The lower arrived with a 1.14” OD (“milspec”) receiver extension, fire control group, takedown and pivot pin, and Battle Arms Development BAD-ASS-ST 45* throw ambidextrous safety selector with standard length lever on the bolt-release side and short lever on the ejection-port side. The pistol grip is a Magpul MOE and the trigger guard appears to be the Magpul Enhanced. The lower parts kit has been indicated by AXTS to be Daniel Defense.
The lower appears well machined, with no flash remaining around the seam that is evident in many other lower receivers. The magazine well is well beveled, perhaps the best beveling I’ve seen and about as much as would be possible from a standard forging. In speaking with Josh from AXTS several months ago one of the limitations of this lower receiver is making the system work, and such improvements as possible, within the confines of a standard forging. This magazine well bevel would appear to indicate that not only have they achieved this but they have obviously paid attention in areas that are not directly related solely to their improved manual of arms.
I mated the lower to the upper receiver group from my Back in Black project. In short, it is a Colt 6520 which includes a 16” A1-profile barrel and I changed out the A2 upper for a flattop M4 upper carbine-length gas system and I shaved down the front sight base to install a 10.0 Daniel Defense M4 free-float rail over it. I removed the H-buffer and spring from the Colt lower and installed it in the AXTS lower along with the Vltor Emod stock body. I added a Viking Tactics sling to the complete package.
My first outing with the lower so-configured was at a TSSA SFDCC match, which means that I was required to unload & show clear the carbine three times. I had no occasion to clear a malfunction. Much like with the Magpul BAD lever this lower receiver allowed me to lock the bolt to the rear without breaking my firing my grip which was obviously more convenient than doing the typical hand dance with a standard lower receiver.
Magazine well comparison - AXTS on left, Colt on right
Note the relative amount of bevel front/back and side/side appears the same.
(the bolt catch operates independently when manipulated on the port side)(the bolt catch operates independently when manipulated on the port side) (the bolt catch operates independently when manipulated on the port side)
Magazine well comparison - AXTS on left, Colt on right
from this angle you can see the deeper bevel of the AXTS
AXTS lower receiver front strap treatment
AXTS lower receiver with Magpul trigger guard installed
In the past I have found the Magpul product fails to fill the gap, which is not the case on the AXTS
BAD-ASS-ST 45* thumb safety & appropriate markings on AXTS lower - port side
BAD-ASS-ST 45* thumb safety & appropriate markings o AXTS lower - starboard side
BAD-ASS-ST 45* thumb safety & appropriate markings on AXTS lower - starboard side
A few important clarifications appear to be in order. To that end...
What the ADAC-F does do:
What the A-DAC-F does not do:
To be clear, the bolt catch on the port side of the gun continues to function as normal. If the bolt is locked to the rear and you depress the top, paddle, portion of the bolt catch the bolt will go forward under the buffer spring pressure. If the bolt is forward, and the charging handle is pulled fully to the rear while depressing the bottom, nub, portion of the bolt catch the bolt will be locked to the rear. The two parts, the bolt catch and the magazine release button, coexist in a one-way relationship. In other words, the magazine release engages the bolt catch in the upward direction to lock the bolt to the rear, and not in the downward direction to drop the bolt, and the magazine release button is unaffected by the operation of the bolt catch in either direction on the port side.
I got to clear a doublefeed last night. While I'm not overly excited about the fact that one occurred, at least it gave me the opportunity to clear one "for real" under the clock. I hit the button as I was pulling back on the charging handle and the mag dropped out (rare for a doublefeed, but good for me). Now I didn't need the bolt locked to the rear so I ran the charging handle three times, and locked the bolt to the rear again using the magazine button. I got the fresh mag in the gun and dropped the bolt and went back to shooting. Never once did my firing hand leave the pistol grip. I consider this a successful "proof of concept" at this point. Obviously it will need to happen again to be sure, but I would prefer not to encounter another doublefeed for awhile. I am happy to report that I did not simply forget that I had this new lower and just completely melt down, but in fact managed to operate the lower in the way that it is intended, taking advantage of the design change, with essentially no re-training on the system.
I have been experiencing some short-stroke issues in this gun as-configured. I have no reason to believe that this is the fault of the lower. I have been using WPA ammunition and may need to change the buffer out to a carbine buffer from the H that is in the gun now.
I have also experienced a few bobbles at the "unload and show clear" command. For whatever reason my brain gets crossways and instead of grabbing the magazine as I hit the button (the first step of "unload and show clear" should be to remove the magazine) I'm grabbing the charging handle and pulling it to the rear. On the one hand this makes for a very efficient clearing as the magazine ejects, the round in the chamber ejects, and I can lock the bolt to the rear all at once. However it also means dumping the magazine on the deck and looking like a schmuck, and having to bend over to pick it up. For now I am content to consider this a training issue with my brain, but it may be related to having one button do two things. It will bear itself out one way or the other in more shooting and use.
I used the rifle last night at the TSSA Carbine Drills and was able to get 56 rounds through it without a failure to feed or any type of malfunction. The only thing I changed was to put in a carbine buffer in stead of the "H" buffer that was in the gun before. Ammunition used was the same WPA 55 grain FMJ. I have another range day planned for four days from now and will see how the gun, and ammo, runs then.
I got more rounds downrange on the AXTS lower. Shot ~75 rounds at the Cold Shot Steel match on Sunday and another ~100 rounds at SFDCC last night. The failures to feed have been tracked back to bad (worn) bolt rings in my upper which I replaced prior to shooting last night's SFDCC match and has nothing to do with the AXTS. However, no failures were recorded after changing from the H to the C buffer, so that's an interesting sidebar as a way to address worn bolt rings if you don't have the right parts available.
I am finding that there is something of a finesse issue to work out in locking the bolt to the rear. If I press in on the button prior to pulling back on the charging handle, the bolt catch will raise and the carrier will drag on the latch, which in turn tends to lead to not pulling the charging handle all the way to the rear and getting false positive when the catch engages on the carrier face instead of the bolt face. My suggestion, therefore, is to first pull the charging handle fully to the rear and then press in on the button, just as you would with the bolt catch on the legacy system. Having the button so easily accessible is what appears to be leading to my pressing in on it too early. Just part of learning a new system.
While I like the option for clearing doublefeeds, and appreciate the simplicity for unloading and showing clear at the end of a stage or drill, I am looking forward to trying the fully ambidextrous version with the bolt release on both sides as well. I have been using a prototype for the new all-aluminum Redimag on this gun and having the ability to drop the bolt from the ejection port side is something I've missed. Unfortunately the billet, fully ambidextrous version, of the AXTS will not work with the Redimag. I am, therefore, going to remove the Redimag from this gun and install it on another, and run the AXTS lower on it's own.