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FRANKENGUN with a SKELETONIZED X-15

Small Arms Review Frankengun Challenge

Small Arms recently published a review of their FRANKENGUN CHALLENGE.

What is a “Frankengun”?

A “Frankengun” is just what it sounds like – a cross between Frankenstein’s Monster and a gun, in this case a machine gun. The phrase goes back to the early Internet days when legal machine gun owners would cross-pollinate weapon designs using parts, and sometimes movie voodoo type add-ons, to create something that fit their idea of a fun gun. Frankengun contests are held occasionally, and we at Small Arms Review like to encourage our readers to participate, making sure it’s legal as they do so. Much like our fabled “MacWaffle” contest (Small Arms Review Vol. 2, No. 4), where readers had to make a working waffle iron out of MAC flats, this is about having some fun.
We received several entries but chose the top 2 presented here. The winner of the Frankengun Challenge will be judged by the readers and receive a 3-year subscription to both Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal. An RKI Certificate will be provided for those who put in an entry, which will be suitable for framing.

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The Monolith

Living the Dream with My Favorite Thing

By Walt Kuleck

Waiting a year (less a day) for the tax stamp on my Colt M4 (LE6520) to come back from the ATF game me a lot of time to consider what to do with the lower when it became a legal SBR. When I submitted the form I had planned to create a true M4 with a 14.5 Inch Colt upper; however, that seemed to be a bit mundane. So, I began to cast about for alternatives with the desire to remain in the Colt universe. I had done some familiarization training with our city’s SWAT team, introducing them to their 11.5-inch Colt Commandos. Thus, the thought of creating a Commando with a Colt law enforcement upper came to mind. While searching various suppliers to nail down one of those 11.5 Inch Uppers, I came across a 10.5 Inch Colt Monolithic Upper. LE6945CK. That struck me as the perfect complement to the now SBRM4 lower.


This right from ¾ view highlights the Manta very comfortable rail covers, as adopted by the USMC for the M27 AR. The front sight is integral to the Monolith upper receiver.

 

 

In the process of writing a number of books on the AR platform, I had formed some ideas as to the appropriate configuration for my 6945 SBR. I chose a Geissele trigger and a flat wire buffer spring and heavy buffer on the lower’s internals. Externally, I installed a Nikon reflex sight and INFORCE weapon light. I particularly like the INFORCE light because it can be operated conveniently without the trouble of wires and remote switches.


This left side close up highlights the Manta suppressor cover on the Elite Iron suppressor and the INFORCE weapon light. The Manta cover remains cool enough to handle even after three 30 round mag dumps on full auto, to which I can attest from personal experience. The integral switch of the INFORCE light makes it easy to activate without the trouble of external wires and switch pads.

 

Up front, I screwed on an Elite Iron can. To protect tender flesh, clothing and equipment from a hot suppressor, I covered the can with a Manta suppressor sleeve. Manta’s polymer allows safely grasping the suppressor even after multiple mag dumps. Manta supplies rail covers to the USMR for their M27 automatic rifle; I have come to appreciate the Manta rail covers, so they were a natural choice for the project. A Vickers sling from Blue Force Gear shoulders the load.


This upper front left ¾ view highlights the folded integral front sight and the Manta rail covers. At the rear, the Nikon P-Tactical reflex sight is on a UTG riser for center co-witness. The knob on the top of the INFORCE weapon sight in the tensioning screw for the sight’s integral rail mount.

 

 

Finally, I have become quite fond of X Products’ drum mags, so an X-15 was the natural choice for a high capacity feeding device. The skeletonized version may not be the most practical in a dusty or muddy environment; It saves a little weight and, well, looks cool.
So, there you have it; a year-long dream, culminating in the opportunity to bring together some of my favorite things from Geissele, INFORCE, Manta, X Products and others. “The Monolith,” as I call it, is a fun piece and one of my all-time favorites.

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Can Cannon Acquitted by the BATF! New Can Cannon Design!

The Can Cannon has been officially acquitted by the BATF and is not considered a short barrel shotgun, short barrel rifle, or “any other weapon” when installing it on an AR-15 lower receiver. Our new design restores the Can Cannon back to the status of “not a firearm” and “not a destructive device”. The best part is that there’s only one small piece of the Can Cannon that needs to be replaced in order to make it 100% street legal. Existing customers should go to our Can Cannon gas port swap program at: https://xproducts.com/legalize-my-can-cannon. If you’d like to see the response from the BATF you can click here to read the full BATF Approval Letter

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Can Cannon Update: Sodagate 2015

Date: February 11, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Soda-gate Update: The Can Cannon Strikes Back

Thank you to all our supportive customers and dealers that have been waiting patiently as we work through the final stages with the BATF. Below is a passage directly from the most recent letter we received from the BATF which outlines the minor modifications necessary to remove the short barrel shotgun classification of the can cannon. Based upon these detailed instructions from the BATF, we submitted an updated design that would prevent the chambering of a .223 Remington cartridge. This means that we are drawing ever closer to a final resolution with the BATF to make the Can Cannon street legal once more. So let’s talk about what this means for customers who purchased the Can Cannon. We see you, you’re awesome, and we’ll make sure you’re taken care of. Once we get the final green light from the BATF we will begin replacing the necessary part for our customers. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO MAKE ANY MODIFICATIONS YOURSELF. If you’re not already doing so, go and follow us on Facebook and Instagram as we will be posting updates via social media.

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X Products High Capacity AR15 AR10 Drum Magazine Review

When X-Products introduced their drum magazines in late 2012, they asked the market “Who wants a robust 50-round drum magazine for their AR15 and AR10 platform rifles?” “Uhhh, yeah” said nearly every AR15/AR10 owner… and then they immediately had a 12-14 month backlog of orders.

X Products High Capacity AR15 AR10 Drum Magazine ReviewArticle image 1

This is the reason that this article is more than a little bit overdue. Actually way back at the SHOT show 2013, X-Products booth was so swamped that I could not fight my way deep enough into the booth to even discuss their products. The crowd at the 2014 SHOT show was a bit smaller, but this time I did get a chance to chat with them about their very high capacity magazines. I was impressed and placed an order and then waited patiently through their backorder process until my X-25 for DPMS format 308 rifles and X-15, and X-15 skeletonized magazines for AR15 rifle arrived at my doorstep.  As I opened the packages, I felt like a spy with a new gadget… they are that cool.

ABOUT X PRODUCTS

Most of the firearm manufacturing community was founded by redneck good old boys who worked in a machine shop and created a new product.  That is one way to start a company. X Products was formed the other way around by a bunch of college educated gun nuts with one simple dream. That dream was to produce the firearm equivalent of a compact coil drum magazine; an idea first created for nail guns. To quote the “About Us” section on X Products site, “Formed by four gun loving Hillbilly’s with college educations. A diverse group of innovative intoxicated nuts who developed an equivalent of coil (drum) nailer for super sweet destructive weapons, that kick ass. MADE 100% in the USA, eat it china… and yes the lower case is for a reason.”

 

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After reading that and seeing their drum magazine, it should be clear that the founders are a very innovative and creative thinkers… and of course not afraid to take a risk.  The risk plus a few patents has paid off and I would bet all four of the original founders could walk out the door with fistfulls of cash and retire very well in Belize. These guys have been swamped since they introduced their first high capacity magazine… like, you know really, really busy, however they now have many new offerings including even an AR15 9mm Colt magazine version.

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WHAT IS A X PRODUCT DRUM MAGAZINE?

Traditionally most high capacity coil drum magazines are big and have a internal ammo separation/movement star. If you think of your typical round Thompson submachine gun magazine, they are huge dinner plate sized magazines which have ammo separators which help move the ammo alone. The problem is that these separators in almost any drum magazine historically also cause a ton of jams. The old fashioned drum mags also limited he rates of fire due to reliability issues. One solution has been to maintain a single stack, but just increase the radius of the drum.

 

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All these work arounds deliver a bigger and significantly heavier magazine. The guys at X-Products saw how tiny the huge capacity snail/coil drum magazines were for pneumatic nailers and decided the design the same thing the AR15 platform – after all if those could feed thin little nails and screws reliably, why not 5.56 Nato rounds. In essence X-products figured out a way to have 50-rounds of 5.56 ammo coiled up in a very small little space and still feed very fast and reliably. In fact the X-15 magazine can deliver rounds up to 1100 rounds a minute which is approximately 30%-40% faster than M16 cycles even when suppressed.

 

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FIT, FINISH, FEEL, & FEATURES

The X-products X-25, X-15, and X-15 Skeletonized mags I tested are just a sample of their line up. Not only do they have a huge variety of configurations and a few color options of AR15 and DPMS format 308 magazines, they also have models for other guns including the FAL, SCAR, 9mm AR15 Colt magazines and many others. They are even working on a version for an AK-47 – yeah!

As you can imagine, X Products has a number of patents on its design, however there is a lot more to the X Products mags than just a few patent ideas. Originally the X15 magazines were four axis machined from billet aluminum, however that took an insane amount of time for each and every magazine body. Not a great thing considering they needed to catch up from the backlog of orders. The smart guys at X-Products looked to technology to solve the problem and get product on shelves faster. They began using a High Pressure Die Cast (HPD) aluminum forming process to form the bodies. This delivered many benefits including a higher quality product with smoother operation, higher reliability, lighter weight, more radiused and comfortable handling magazine, and of course very high production capabilities to catch up on orders.

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X-Products also began using Crimson Trace to produce the glass filled nylon followers which further increased reliability and production capacity. The remaining steel and billet aluminum magazine parts manufacturing was kept in house.

These mags are heavy due mostly to the heavy duty coil spring which powers the X-products mags. The spring itself makes up a significant portion on the weight. The original X-15 empty weighs in at just under 2 lbs and the skeletonized version around 1.6 lbs. Add in ammo and you have a full mag which weighs around 3 lbs. “Light”, they are not, however there are some non-obvious advantages to the design which can outweigh (pun intended) the added weight such as size and on-hand capacity.

The X-15 for example is actually a bit shorter than your standard 30-round magazine which means that if you are snuggled up in position of cover or on the bench rest, you will have just a bit more comfort than dealing with a long magazine sticking out the end of your AR15. The X-15 mag is also compatible with almost all AR15 mag pouches; both the polymer 3-gun style and the velcro MOLLE style. It will look a little weird, but it will work.

Having the capacity of roughly two magazines on tap without the requirement for a reload can be a huge deal. If you don’t believe me, ask the buttload of 3-Gun shooters who are now running X-Product mags. Even if you are superhuman fast on your reloads, they still take time and also deliver an excellent opportunity for the human body to screw up the reload.

 

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The X-Products mags have also passed the typical Milspec magazine torture tests and performed as well as any other accepted mag. Interestingly, the Skeletonized version was shunned a bit by the forum commandos because it could get dirt inside. “Ohh no, my gun is dirty”, said the guy who has never ever got his gun dirty.  OK, admittedly the Skeletonized versions are more for the 3-Gun crowd, however not one skeletonized version has ever been returned for repair or warranty according to X Products . At least from my little dirt experiments, the dirt which entered through the holes in the magazine also falls out through the holes in the magazine without impeding function.

Admittedly the weight of three Mil-Spec mags is less than on of X-Products magazines, however if you need a more compact single high capacity magazine which is still reliable to drive your semi or full auto AR format rifles, then the X-Products mags are the only choice around. Some will ask “what about Surefire high cap mags?” Simply put, some steel cased ammo, does not feed well in the Surefire mags, however the slicked up Ceramic internal coating on the X15 and X25 mags had no issues at all with any steel cased ammo I tested.

FUNCTIONS

Functionally, I had zero issues with any steel, brass or nickel plated FMJ or polymer ballistic tip ammo I tested. While loading and hand unloading each of the magazines to get the “feel” of the mags, I thought that I would have some feeding problems with hollow point rounds due to some sluggish feeding/loading rounds however once in the gun, they feed without incident.

Loading is accomplished by cupping the magazine and releasing tension on the feed spring and load the rounds. The loading process does have a learning curve however it does go quickly considering it feels like you are loading rounds forever.

Once the X-Products magazines are loaded, the fun begins as it is slipped into you firearm.  For testing, I used several 5.56 AR15s platforms from Houlding Precision, Mega Arms, Aero Precision, Barnes Precision, and even an IWI Tavor. On the .308 AR format, I tested with my DPMS G1 format, a custom Mega Arms Ma-Ten DPMS format, and a new DPMS GII rifle.

 

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I did have two compatibility issues. If you planning on using the X15 with the Tavor, either expect a very snug magazine seating, or plan on whipping out the Dremel tool to take just a hair of polymer off the Tavor around the magazine well to make seating the X15 mags a little more reassuring. The other issue X-Products had already updated by the time I called them was the compatibility of the X-25 .308 magazine with the new DPMS GII format rifle. Technically your old DPMS mags should work perfectly on the new GII format, however, the maxwell is ever so slightly a tad tighter. The end result was that X-Products tweaked their X-25 .308 mag dimensions to comply with this new DPMS “standard dimension.”

Beyond those two issues, the X-Products X15, X-15 Skeletonized, and X-25 magazines all performed perfectly as advertised.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Some will see the X-Products coil magazines as a fun luxury AR15 accessory reserved for the 3-gun and zombie hunter crowd. Go ahead and thing that, because still almost three years after introduction, the company is still in a constant backorder on kick ass coil magazines for AR platform rifles, all while they are burning up leaf blowers from blowing all their cash around the office. For me, the X-25 seems to be a great option for a .308 hog hunting gun and the X15 series are the perfect mags for 3-gunners and that extra defense magazine… you know, in case the zombies show up.

SPECS

X-15 AR 15 High Capacity Magazine  $239  – Skeletonized Version $299

The X-15 is one if not the most compact and versatile 50 round magazine ever produced for the AR-15 in 5.56×45/.223 and 300 AAC Blackout full length. Designed and built primarily from aluminum and steel, the magazine uses minimal plastics in it’s operating assembly to give it unparalleled function, and rigidity. Engineered using our proven coil magazine technology, which allows side by side staging of ammo in a single stack. The streamlined design allows for no separation of ammunition during function, preventing malfunctions and lending to it’s compact design. Our patent pending tension relief device allows the X-15 to operate nearly unlimited spring loads, allowing it to operate in weapons with capabilities 1100 rounds per minute. The profile is shorter than a standard 30 round magazine and 4-5 inches shorter than a surefire quad stack magazine.  User friendly ergonomics and the ability to use your sling makes this the choice magazine for 3 gun competitors. Coated in Cerakote for friction reduction and proven reliability without using lubrication, and given a liftime warranty. Manufactured in the USA, fit’s most M16/AR-15 rifles, Bushmaster ACR,  and Stanang Rifles with improved M4 feed ramps. Note: may require modification to work in Robinson Arms XCR. Will not work in SCAR 16 or IMI Tavor. No tools necessary to load or operate.

X-25 – AR .308 High Cap Drum Magazine – $285

Serious firepower in a small package. The X-25 is a .308 caliber 50 round drum built primarily from aluminum and steel, the magazine uses minimal plastics in it’s operating assembly to give it unparalleled function, and rigidity. Engineered using our proven coil magazine technology, which allows side by side staging of ammo in a single stack. The streamlined design allows for no separation of ammunition during function, preventing malfunctions and lending to it’s compact design. Our patent pending tension relief device allows the X-25 to operate nearly unlimited spring loads, allowing it to operate in weapons with capabilities 850 rounds per minute. The profile is shorter than a standard 30 round magazine. Easily loads and unloads by operating the front operating wheel. Magazine includes a lifetime warranty and instruction manual. Currently available in black, optional colors coming soon. Fits the following manufactures rifles:

Compatibility:

DPMS, Bushmaster, POF, C-Products, Fulton, Knights, JP Rifles, Remington R-25, PWS

LWRC, Sig Sauer 716,  Other models that take the Magpul P20LR style .308 magazine

Will fit basically all .308 AR15’s with exception of the AR10 style firearms.

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Gunstruction is Live, Build Your AR-15 Online

Want to build an AR-15 of your dreams, but you’re scared to waste money on a learning curve? The future is here and it’s looking bright! GUNSTRUCTION allows you to build the AR-15 of your dreams with parts that interact with each other.

The new 3D site allows the user to build a virtual AR-15 from scratch using top industry manufactures parts that are designed to function with each other. The program saves the end user a large amount of time, research and energy by having a large selection of parts from various manufactures at the click of a button.

Each part has a description including weight, cost, manufacture, material and basic description, and after selection accumulates the data to the build so the end user can price out and weigh their firearm.

The futuristic system allows the user to see a representative 3D version of the gun that can be rotated 360 degrees vertically and horizontally with High Detail.

The system does take time to get used to and depending on the speed of internet may require some time to upload, however it’s every bit worth the wait. Within 30 minutes I had assembled the gun below, where I was pleased to see that our magazines the X-15 and X-15 skeletonized were in the system for the end users selection!

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X Products has Skeletons in the Closet

Last year X Products rolled out their highly successful X-15 coil magazine as a compact all aluminum and steel alternative to existing magazines in the market place.

X Products High Capacity Magazines

The compact magazine holds 50 Rounds of .223 and 5.56×45 Full Metal Jacket and .300 Black Out, and does not compromise forearm or prone shooting positions
Since Its inception, demand skyrocketed and put the magazine on a one year back order, requiring X Products to invest in production technology to keep up with demand. After the start of the new fiscal year X Products began producing the magazine’s housing from a high pressure die cast (HPD) aluminum, and used a sub-contractor for Crimson Trace ® to produce the followers from high impact glass filled nylon. All other parts remained the same and are built from billet aluminum and steel.
During the transition X Products found that the HPD aluminum was markedly improved from the original, as the product held better tolerances in production and lost a few ounces of weight as the process removed un-necessary material. The change also improved aesthetics by adding radiuses to all external edges and made the magazine easier to handle. The durability of the magazine exceeded the standards and proved equally reliable, submersion, mud and drop tests were all passed with flying colors.
Although priced a bit higher than most magazines, the X-15 is built around the principles of quality and lasting a lifetime. The majority of the magazine is built from high grade components: aluminum, steel, and very few plastic parts. In an era of Ipad Airs, thin cell phones and plastic molded magazines, the X-15 is not light, in comparison to most magazines it’s a tank. Empty it weighs 1lb 12 oz. and 3lbs loaded, so there is an element of heft. The majority of the weight comes from the powerful .55 inch clock spring that drives the single stack magazine. The spring alone weighs over 1 lb. although heavy it allows the magazine to feed at a factory guaranteed 1100 rounds per minute! Most AR-15’s and M-16 in full auto operate at 650 rounds per minute and about 850 rounds per minute suppressed depending on the rifle, so it may be overkill; Yet I think all of us prefer more than less when it comes to performance in our guns. The philosophy, “just enough” doesn’t apply here.

X Products High Capacity Magazines

The New X-15 Skeletonized “The Bling Model”
Unlike most manufactures X Products tends to think outside the box and likes to bring new, innovative and just plainly cool looking products to market that work. For instance two years ago they introduced to what many would consider an unconventional and controversial product the X-25-S (S for Skeletonized) a 50 round drum for .308 / 7.62×51 AR style rifles with light weight 4th axis cuts through the main body. Instantly it was a hit, and as usual anything that new and unusual came with a lot of controversy. Specifically references from internet arm chair warriors about similarities between the X Products Skeletonized drums and the infamous WWI problem child the Chauchat machinegun.
If you’re not familiar with the history of the French Chauchat it was the world’s first infantry light machinegun. While the Chauchat was an infamous failure on the battlefield, it has about as much in common with the X-25 S, as a model T does with a modern Rolls Royce.

The only common feature they share is ammunition visible through a cut out magazine, though some might think this is a problem, X Products has proven it is not.
The Skeletonized X-25 S and X-15 S were never meant for the battle field, they were built to be an object of desire that made you salivate at its appearance, kind of like fake breasts, “they look good, but functionality suffers after child birth.” The X-25 S and X-15 S were designed for the guys kicking ass in the 3 gun circuit, when they’re showing off their rifle they had an extra inch. I mean who wants to get their ass kicked by a guy with a Chauchat magazine!

X Products High Capacity Magazines

X-15 S in Rainier Arms RUC Rifle
Regardless of its appearance it has proven time and time again that it will take just as much punishment as the next magazine. There are multiple videos of the magazines being submerged in muddy water and fired without a hitch and it makes sense. Mechanically all the debris that touches the magazine would fall out while the ammo rotates, the holes face 280 degrees towards horizon so it would never be caught in the critical areas.
To date none of the Skeletonized Magazines have been returned to X Products for warranty repair; it’s a testament to their reliability. The reality for most if not all of us is that we do not roll in the mud with our rifle, it’s just not ethical and to some it’s sacrilegious, but to each their own and for that reason they offer enclosed models.

X Products High Capacity Magazines

Picture of PWS MK 114 and X Products X-15
Many shooters question the purpose of a drum magazine and many would rather strap two 30 round magazines together for less than $30, and try to quickly modulate between them before justifying the cost of $239 for a single unit. However, when time is critical and a magazine change can cost you valuable seconds it will be hard for top competitors not to find a home for the X-15 50 round capacity.
Many 3 Gun competitors in the open class have been using quad stack mags, and mag extensions for that very reason. However many elite competitors are making the switch to the X-15 because it eliminates the need for a quick mag change, and easily maneuvers around obstacles due to its compact profile, allowing the user to comfortably fire from the prone position, which many shooters will agree is extremely critical for maintaining accuracy.

X Products High Capacity Magazines
X Products High Capacity Magazines
Creative Solution! 3 Gun Competitor on the left with a home-made Kydex mag holster. Right: new holster for the magazine coming at the end of the month.
X Products is looking forward to action at 3 gun matches in 2014 and the manufactures representatives will attend many competitions with sample models in hand and product knowledge to assist competitors. The events should provide critical field use data that will be used to improve their products and future offerings. X-Products believe that this information will help confirm the magazines durability and will help with developing their products for military use.
We will see what the future brings!
X products plans to deliver several new products at Shot Show 2014 Shot. In the works are drums for the MP-5, and AK-47 and a couple items that we cannot talk about this early in the game…