The SU-16E, shown here with Insight Technologies MRDS optic, Magpul AFG2 foregrip and CAA Countdown mag, is a light and handy duty-ready 5.56mm carbine.

For those paying close attention, a subtle but significant shift is happening within the law enforcement and military communities these days regarding the configuration of tactical carbines. No, it is not a new gadget, widget or technological trinket. It is not a new chambering, optic or ammunition-feeding system. This move is more conceptual than concrete—but it is nonetheless extremely significant. What I am referring to is the move away from carbines equipped with every manner of optional accessory on Picatinny rails, with seemingly every square inch of space on the weapon covered, and toward a lighter, more streamlined approach.

The SU-16E feeds from AR-15/M16 magazines and employs polymer upper and lower receivers.

I, too, initially fell in with the rest of the firearms world and busily began outfitting my carbines with foregrips, lights, lasers, optics, iron sights, etc. at the beginning of this fad. The logical but absurd conclusion of this exercise was the
transformation of light, handy AR-pattern carbines that usually weighed somewhere around 7 pounds into the 10-pound behemoths that weighed the users down and slowed reaction times. Spend an hour on the training range with one of these and you will begin stripping everything off that is unnecessary.

Obviously, my learning curve on this was while I was fiddling with ARs—mostly M4 Carbine-inspired semi-autos with the commensurate heavy-profile barrels. Once I learned my lesson and began stripping them down to the basics, I got the average weight of my guns back to around 7 pounds (keeping a red dot optic and iron sights would push me back toward 8 pounds). Not heavy, but no lightweight by any stretch of the imagination.

The upper receiver features an integrated strip of Picatinny rail for mounting optics such as this Insight MRDS.

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The SU-16E, shown here with Insight Technologies MRDS optic, Magpul AFG2 foregrip and CAA…