Primary Weapons Systems has been building some of the best piston-driven AR uppers for a few years now. They also make muzzle brakes and flash hiders for many of the big name brands. Their accessories are some of the most well thought out devices being made. Most are geared to make any system better, not just look cool. They have come to be respected by many who take these weapons to war or work. Their systems have been proven reliable and are of high quality. To top it off they have always been priced fairly and the company has some of the best customer service in the business. Having met pretty much everyone involved in this company they are all good, hard-working people who just plain love guns.
Many other companies make and have made fine piston-driven guns, but they can be close to two grand just for an upper. That may be what a good chunk of the market may bear, but it is just too much for most in the law enforcement or contracting world. For years anything that even approached a grand was pretty much the ceiling for most cops. Troops certainly don’t make any more real money and contrary to popular belief not every contractor out there is a rich former secret squirrel. The vast majority of those working in the executive protection field, whether here or abroad are hard-working folks who need to save where they can when buying their weapons just like any weapons carrying professional.
With the dive the AR market has taken in the last year or so, complete rifle prices for piston-driven guns are generally in the $2,000 to $2,500 range with uppers ranging from about a grand all the way up to two grand. Either way it is a ton of money extra to justify the piston system given that a good gas impingement system will do just fine for most everyone out there. What was really needed was a complete gun with all the attention to detail that PWS provides at a reasonable price. It looks like PWS has come through with just what the doctor ordered.
When PWS said they were sending me their first ground-up complete gun, it really piqued my interest. Too my surprise not only was the first gun sent my direction, but gun serial number one. Now that takes some confidence for sure. This gun is truly a PWS gun with pretty much everything but the stock, grip, charging handle and barrel being made in house. It is definitely a rifle designed with the operator in mind. It is all about simplicity, easy of care, and ease of operation. It starts with their proprietary handguard that allows each rail to be replaced as needed without removing the barrel nut. It also includes cups for quick-detach swivels on both sides and the bottom. TangoDown SCAR rail covers are provided for the rails. The bolt group is their own design including the carrier and bolt and both are “Micro-slicked” for operational reliability. The barrel is hard-chromed and button- rifled with a 1-in-8-inch twist.
The lower receiver includes their enhanced buffer tube and internals. This tube has proven to be an excellent upgrade on my existing lowers. It is made from one-piece of CNC machined aluminum and eliminates the castle nut and aligns the buffer to the carrier. There is an ambidextrous quick detach as part of the tube. It also has a support for the bolt carrier that helps to deal with carrier tilt on some piston-driven systems. It is indexed, fluted, and very nicely made. The trigger is a nice Mil-Spec single-stage and the lower is very nicely melded to the upper. It is topped with the Magpul MBUS sights. Their newest version, these do not have that annoying gap between the base and the post. They look like pretty much any flip up sight from behind the rifle. Having tested a few rifles with these sights they are more than adequate for most, but any rail type sight could be added to suit the user. If you really feel the need for metal sights they will work just fine.
The stock is a Magpul MOE and is well suited to any real duty use. The barrel on this gun is a 14.5 inches with a permanently attached SM556 flash hider. This was a bit disconcerting to me at first, as suppressors are usually on my guns. But, this particular flash hider will accommodate the KMC QDSS-NT4 and Gemtech HALO suppressors. Honestly though, those of us that use suppressors comprise a very small percentage of overall rifle users, so for most it is just a fantastic flash hider. What it gives you is a true 16.1-inch platform that can accept two of the most popular suppressors out there without modification. It comes with one Magpul 30-round PMag and that ever so important locking device. Here is the best part — the list price on this rifle is $1,549.95. Considering that several companies sell uppers for more than that, it is a great price for what looks to be a great rifle.