LWRCI’s Six8-UCIW is purpose-built to deliver 6.8 SPC knockdown power in a package that, with the stock collapsed, is only 24 inches long.
The Six8-UCIW utilizes a short-stroke piston operating system that runs cleaner and cooler than traditional direct-impingement systems.
The lower features a flared mag well and ambidextrous controls. The mag release is low profile to prevent inadvertent activation.
The flip-up front sight is similar to an HK design, with a sturdy semicircular guard that draws your focus and indexes on the rear aperture.
The rear sight, shown in the down position, features a square post that can be rotated to select two different aperture diameters.
For its overseas contract, LWRCI ships the Six8-UCIW in a hard case with three Magpul PMAGs, a Blue Force Gear sling, a cleaning kit and an operations manual.
The four-prong flash suppressor at the end of the 8.5-inch barrel was specifically designed to reduce flash and muzzle rise.
LWRC International is an innovative and rapidly moving company that is at the forefront of several major projects.
The most exciting involves the new Ultra-Compact Individual Weapon (UCIW) in 6.8x43mm Remington SPC. In late 2011, as I was working on a review of the LWRCI UCIW 5.56mm, sources hinted to me that there was something big in the works. The most they would say was that it wouldn’t be “just another black rifle!” A bit later, I found out that the new rifle was a redesigned LWRCI PSD in 6.8 SPC that was developed for an “overseas contract.”
In early 2013, LWRCI rolled out the new Six8-UCIW for the world to see. The project started at the request of a foreign military security unit operating in the Middle East. The unit approached LWRCI about providing a suitable replacement for the unit’s legacy personal-defense weapons, such as the MP5. The potential size of the contract justified a substantial research and development effort by LWRCI.
While the project was based off of the PSD, for the United States domestic market the 8.5-inch-barreled version of the Six8 PSD was redesignated as the Six8-UCIW. Its sibling, the PSD, will continue to be available in 5.56mm/.223 Remington. The new Six8-UCIW represents an evolution in the M4/PSD design, and it involved a collaboration between LWRCI, Magpul Industries and ammunition-maker ATK. The 6.8 SPC cartridge has long been recognized for its improved terminal ballistics over the 5.56mm NATO round. The result is a handy and powerful select-fire carbine ready for LEO duty.
In developing the weapon system, LWRCI made the decision to reengineer its existing PSD carbine specifically for the 6.8 SPC. After extensive research and development, a new lower receiver was designed with a magazine well that was both longer and wider than that on a standard M4. The new receiver changed the geometry, allowing for improved feeding and reliability in all conditions.
Both the upper and lower receivers are forged and then struck twice, once before and once after being heat-treated. This processing is known in the industry as “coining,” and it allows LWRCI to maintain extremely tight tolerances. The lower receiver features a flared magazine well for faster reloads and a magazine stop to eliminate over-insertion of the magazine. The design includes ambidextrous controls that are both functional and low profile. The magazine release on both the left and right side of the receiver is recessed to prevent inadvertent activation. The safety/selector position is marked with colored pictograms, with the “semi-” and “full-auto” markings in red and the safe position in white. The ambidextrous controls also extend to the newly designed charging handle.
Like other LWRCI rifles, the Six8-UCIW features a patented, self-regulating short-stroke piston system. The design eliminates gas and carbon buildup in the receiver and bolt carrier group, enhancing reliability while reducing recoil and muzzle rise. Even with the piston system, LWRCI rifles retain substantial parts commonality with traditional direct-impingement rifles. Users can access the piston by loosening two retaining screws and removing the top portion of the rail assembly. The design captures the retaining screws and allows for easy maintenance in the field.
The 8.5-inch, 41V45 steel alloy barrel is forged from an oversized barrel blank using high-pressure rotary hammers. This process results in near-perfect rifling that is stronger molecularly than other forms of rifling. The barrels are also treated with NiCorr, which, according to LWRCI, is “more lubricious, harder wearing, more heat and corrosion resistant than
normal hard chrome.” The company advertises a barrel life of 20,000 rounds, as compared to 6,000 to 10,000 rounds for standard mil-spec barrels. The one-piece bolt carrier is designed to operate with the short-stroke piston and is finished with a proprietary nickel coating to prevent corrosion and provide increased lubricity. The Six8-UCIW uses a specially designed, four-prong flash suppressor.
The Six8-UCIW utilizes the shortened buffer tube and specifically designed buffer introduced with the UCIW series. When combined with LWRCI’s proprietary stock, the Six8-UCIW collapses to a mere 24 inches. A free-floated Picatinny rail provides an ample mounting area for accessories. An LWRCI folding foregrip comes standard on the weapon. The Six8-UCIW is also equipped with the company’s excellent backup iron sights. The rear sight is a square post with two different aperture diameters that can be selected by rotating the post. The front sight consists of a post that is adjustable for elevation and features a semi-circular guard that is reminiscent of the sights found on an MP5.
The contract rifles will be delivered with EOTech XPS2 holographic sights. The XPS2 uses a single, transversely mounted CR123 battery to provide approximately 600 hours of run time. The XPS2’s design only requires 2.75 inches of rail space, making it ideal for the Six8-UCIW.
LWRCI initially worked on developing a specific magazine for the new rifle. However, given the scope of the contract, the company wisely decided to partner with Magpul Industries. The new magazine was specifically designed to the dimensions of the LWRCI magazine well and is distinguishable from the 5.56mm PMAG both visually and to the touch. A new follower was developed for enhanced reliability, especially in full-auto mode.
The contract was a turnkey project, with each rifle arriving ready for issue. Each unit is shipped in a hard Storm case with a custom-molded insert and comes packaged with three magazines, a Blue Force Gear sling, an Otis cleaning kit, a bottle of lube and an operations manual. Two padlocks are also included, and each case receives a security seal prior to final packaging.
The ammo giant ATK also signed on to develop an optimized 6.8 SPC round for the project. A 90-grain Speer Gold Dot bullet was selected to maximize the effectiveness of the 6.8mm round out of the 8.5-inch barrel. The powder was specifically blended to remain within a safe pressure range in a wide range of temperatures. The new round produces 1,199 foot-pounds of energy and has a muzzle velocity of 2,450 feet per second (fps). ATK announced that it will be producing the 6.8 SPC round for the U.S. commercial market in both its American Eagle and Fusion lines of ammunition.
I had an opportunity to visit LWRCI’s plant in Cambridge, Maryland, and speak with them about the project. Touring the plant, I was impressed with the organization and effectiveness of the assembly process. LWRCI basically doubled its production staff in just a few months to fulfill the contract. In order to do so, the company established specific production cells and made extensive use of purpose-built fixtures and quality-control stations.
On the range, the carbine proved to be robust, controllable and accurate. The recoil impulse, while not abusive, definitely lets the shooter know that they are sending a potent round downrange. The flash suppressor, combined with the flash-retardant powder, minimized the visible signature. Full-auto bursts were surprisingly controllable given the potency of the round. Engaging steel targets at 100 yards or so proved easy, and hits were rewarded with a respectable ring! By the end of the morning, we had expended several hundred rounds of the 90-grain Gold Dot load without experiencing a single malfunction. During the development phase, the Six8-UCIW was fired for accuracy at 50 yards, producing an average group size of a very tight 1.16 inches. The 90-grain Gold Dot produced an average velocity of 2,450 fps from the 8.5-inch barrel.
While initially designed for the foreign contract, LWRCI was quick to share its opinion on the viability of the new rifle for the U.S. law enforcement market. The Six8-UCIW offers a significant increase in versatility and capability over the 5.56mm/.223 Remington M4 rifle. Even with its shorter barrel, the Six8-UCIW offers improved terminal ballistics at CQB and extended ranges. For departments and officers who do not require a short-barrel rifle, LWRCI will be offering a 16-inch-barreled (non-NFA) 6.8 SPC rifle—a potent patrol carbine for officers in both urban and rural settings.
The relationship between LWRCI and its partners has provided both law enforcement and the commercial market with a viable alternative to .223 Remington/5.56mm carbines. As the Six8 project comes online, I predict that many of the agencies and individuals who had previously passed on the 6.8 SPC will take a serious look at the cartridge and the LWRCI platform. With ATK and Magpul as contributors, the Six8 is a project that is worth watching. For more information, visit lwrci.com or call 410-901-1348.
CQB-ready, 55-grain .223 offers devastating power with reduced risk of collateral damage!
by Dave Bahde / Jan 2, 2014