Almost without fail, as rifles and other weapon systems reach a point of consistent operation, the next step is lowering their weight. Soldiers are always concerned about their “combat load.” Weight slows you down, causes injuries and makes it difficult to move quickly under stress.
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Those engineering equipment for this task try to shave every ounce possible from their products, including rifles, and it’s the same in the law enforcement environment. Twenty years of carrying necessary equipment as a police officer takes its toll, something I can attest to personally. Many of my aches, pains and injuries today stem from wearing body armor and a duty belt for over two decades. Officers tasked with tactical operations add plate carries, rifles, helmets and an array of other equipment to that load. But, much like a patrol officer, you spend most of that time carrying and training with that equipment. In many cases, you spend hours standing or kneeling in place in preparation for movement. After the enthusiasm wears off and operations stack up, you quickly realize that every ounce matters. Your rifle may not be the heaviest piece of gear you carry, but it weighs more heavily on your body. After a couple years, you start shedding anything not absolutely necessary, no matter your assignment.
Less Is More
Over the past several years, the 5.56mm NATO AR platform has reached its zenith of engineering. Today, well-built rifles are accurate, reliable and rugged. Many of the differences between models are more cosmetic than pragmatic. Improvements in machining and materials keeps them strong, and many companies are now trying to make their rifles as light as possible.
Lessons learned in the competition world have produced slim and trim handguards increasingly devoid of Picatinny rails and the weight they bring. Military users may stack all kinds of stuff on their rifles, but police officers seldom do. At most, you might see an optic or reflex sight, a light, some backup sights and maybe a bipod. In many cases, you’ll only add a light and iron sights. Here the “less is more” philosophy prevails—rails are added only where needed to keep a rifle as lightweight and streamlined as possible.
One company making strides in this area is Seekins Precision. Starting with a simple set of scope rings, the company has blossomed into one of the most sought-after AR manufacturers on the market. Along with unique and innovative receivers, Seekins Precision manufactures some of the strongest, lightest and most useful handguards. Looking to build a handguard that meets the latest trends while maintaining its well-known attention to detail, Seekins introduced the free-floating NOXs (“No Excess”) handguard. Strong yet lightweight, it features an ultra-thin profile, integral anti-rotation QD swivels, and either M-LOK or KeyMod slots along the sides and bottom for adding accessories. And it was only a matter of time before Seekins Precision decided to put its new handguards to use on complete rifles.
Seekins Precision is currently offering SP15 NOXs rifles with either billet or forged receivers in .223 Wylde or 300 Blackout, and I got my hands on a forged model in .223 Wylde for testing. These rifles were built to be high-performance tactical carbines exceeding the all but antiquated “mil-spec” standard.
As its name implies, the SP15 Forged NOXs starts with upper and lower receivers that are CNC-machined to precise tolerances from 7075-T6 aluminum forgings before being hardcoat anodized black. The upper receiver features a 16-inch, stainless steel barrel that comes equipped with Seekins’ Melonite-coated, three-pronged flash suppressor. Each barrel is also inspected four times to ensure match-grade tolerances, and M4 feed ramps are included. The gas tube, gas block and M16 bolt carrier group are all coated in Melonite to resist corrosion and increase lubricity, and a Bravo Company Gunfighter Mod 3 charging handle is another enhancement.
Of course, surrounding the barrel and gas system is a 15-inch NOXs handguard. Precision machined from 6061-T6 aluminum, it features a seamless top Picatinny rail and M-LOK slots at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions for mounting accessories where needed. Dozens of lightening cuts help the NOXs handguard achieve such a light weight.
The lower receiver features ALG Defense’s proven QMS trigger along with a Seekins ambidextrous safety and a machined mag release. As for furniture, my test rifle came with Magpul’s MOE pistol grip and STR buttstock, providing solid control. Finally, the rifle came in a very nice nylon case with a 30-round Magpul PMAG.
Sticking with the lightweight theme, I didn’t add much to my rifle. I installed a Trijicon SRS red dot along with a SureFire Scout light in a LaRue Tactical mount. I also used my Blue Force Gear sling when necessary.
The NOXs rifle’s accuracy was commensurate with every Seekins Precision rifle I’ve tested—excellent. These are easily some of the most consistently accurate rifles I’ve used. With the NOXs, everything grouped under an inch, but the rifle really liked the Black Hills 69-grain TMK load. Black Hills’ 77-grain TMK load has become my go-to 5.56mm round, but it wasn’t as accurate in testing given the rifle’s chamber and twist rate. The 69-grain TMK load should work across a broader range of rifles with similar terminal ballistics, and the NOXs sure liked it, with groups consistently in the 0.6-inch range at 100 yards and best group clustering four rounds inside 0.5 inches.
Along with the typical accuracy testing, I spent a great deal of time using the NOXs around my vehicle, an FJ Cruiser. While it may not always be the best place to fight from, it is often all an officer has. Learning what works well (and doesn’t) when deploying from a vehicle is critical for anyone, especially patrol officers. So, to test the rifle’s practical accuracy, I fired it from the hood of my truck using a pad. At 50 yards—a more likely police distance—the rifle created a five-round cluster just under 0.5 inches. My guess is that bench testing may provide even tighter groups, but for police work, this kind of accuracy is superb.
Several magazines were used during testing, including those from Brownells, Lancer, Magpul and a few stray magazines sitting in my shop. Magpul’s PMAGs were the most reliable along with both 20- and 30-round Lancer AWMs. At first, all of the aluminum magazines experienced an occasional failure to go into battery after reloading, but it was cold—12 degrees at most—so things dried up quickly. Keeping the rifle wet eliminated most issues, but it definitely liked PMAGs the most.
Extraction and ejection was consistent, with no failures to fire, extract or eject. Working from underneath the FJ Cruiser, I fired the NOXs with the ejection port in numerous positions, including towards the ground, and it never failed to eject.
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Overall, the NOXs handguard should be perfect for most shooters these days. It offers plenty of hand space for various positions. Working on the square range, transitions between targets were fast, especially when I kept my support hand forward on the handguard. The rail accommodates pretty much any preferred shooting position. It even worked well against barricades and fences, in close quarters, and inside and out of my vehicle.
Seekins Precision designed the SP15 Forged NOXs as a tactical rifle, and it’s just about perfect for the patrol rifle task. You get top-notch parts with an attention to detail most run-of-the-mill manufacturers just don’t have. The rifle’s accuracy and reliability were excellent. With a retail price of $1,275, it is competitive with most higher-end duty rifles that lack many of the same features. In other words, if you’re looking for a high-quality patrol rifle, make sure you add the NOXs to your list. It may just be the best of the bunch.
For more information on the SP15 Forged NOXs, visit seekinsprecision.com or call 208-743-3400.
Specifications Seekins Precision SP15 Forged NOXs
- Caliber: .223 Wylde
- Barrel: 16 inches
- OA Length: 33.25 inches
- Weight: 6.5 pounds (empty)
- Stock: Magpul STR
- Sights: None
- Action: Direct impingement semi-auto
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 30+1
- MSRP: $1,275