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A need for a general militia was established in the early days of the American colonies—back when the Gadsen flag was first woven and waved. The general militia’s most well-known purpose was to defend the colonies during the Revolutionary War. What is sometimes misunderstood, though, is the role played by Minutemen. Generally, they are blended into history as a part of the militia, with few consequential details attached. The story of the Minutemen is intriguing, however, as they were our country’s first quick-reaction force.

The Minutemen were specially selected from the ranks of the general militia muster rolls by their commanding officers. They were generally 25 years of age or younger and in excellent physical shape. These were elite soldiers, and less than 25 percent of all of the colonial militia qualified for the Minutemen. They were proven marksmen, reliable and capable of being ready for battle in 30 minutes or less. They would be the stopgap that protected the colonies until the larger regular militia could be assembled and brought into the fight. The formation of Minutemen units predates the Revolutionary War and goes back as far as 1645. These men would see extensive action in the French and Indian War in the 1750s. Their greatest feat, though, was when they were assembled in February of 1775 and engaged the British in Concord. Their trademarks were accuracy, reliability and resiliency.

Patriot By Design

These are the same traits that are found in the new Midwest Industries SSK12 Minute Man rifle. These similarities are not coincidental but by design.

I had the opportunity to visit with Troy Storch of Midwest Industries at a recent industry trade show. He passionately detailed his new rifle project and explained why he was entering what most people consider a flooded market. He feels that the spirit of the Minutemen still exists in America and, ultimately, is still needed. He designed the new rifle as a tool for those who embody the American ideals.

Storch explained, “We wanted a rifle that represented freedom and a top-notch, made-in-the-U.S.A. product. When we planned the construction and the component layout for this rifle, we wanted it to be of nothing but the highest-grade components. We also wanted to price this rifle extremely fairly and have a list of features that was hard to improve upon. We wanted a rifle that the end-user did not have to buy and start over by adding better quality parts.”

He wanted to build a rifle that held the same characteristics as the Minuteman’s rifle: reliable, accurate and affordable to the average citizen. It became clear that the goal here was much more than just trying to sell another rifle.

The Minute Man rifle is a careful balance of cost and performance. Midwest’s goal is to provide a rifle with world-class components that is still affordable to the average shooter. There is very little in the space between “entry-level” and “high-end” rifles. It is obvious, though, that Midwest has done its homework.

Meet The Man

The SSK12 Minute Man is an AR-platform rifle chambered in 5.56mm NATO. It all starts with matched, billet-machined upper and lower receivers. Perfectly cut from 6061-T6 aluminum forgings, they are also mil-spec hardcoat anodized. The upper receiver has M4 feed ramps, and the flattop rail is conveniently laser-engraved with T-markings for returning optics to the same place.

Midwest Industries equips the upper with an FNH-USA-manufactured, 16-inch, mid-length, hammer-forged, chrome-lined, medium-contour barrel with a 1-in-7-inch twist rate. The barrel comes fitted with a Midwest Industries low-profile gas block underneath its prop­­­­­rietary, 12-inch, free-floating SSK KeyMod handguard. A popular item in the MI inventory to begin with, the SSK handguard is a great addition to the rifle. Smooth and clean cut, this handguard comes in at only 1.5 inches in diameter. Combining a top Picatinny rail and KeyMod slots at 3 and 6 o’clock, it provides the rifle with a high-end feel. One last note on the handguard: Midwest has included two quick-detach (QD) sling attachment points on the left and right sides that are thoughtfully designed to eliminate over-rotation of the QD mount. This small detail may go unnoticed by some, but to serious shooters it is a welcomed inclusion.

Departing from what many builders are doing, Midwest has built its own bolt carrier group made from Carpenter 158 steel. This steel has a higher chromium and nickel content in it than steel found in other bolt carrier groups. Once again, the company is demonstrating solid attention to important details. Matched perfectly with that is the Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) Gunfighter charging handle.

The lower receiver enjoys the same professional focus as the upper. With a reinforced buffer tube, an integrated triggerguard and thicker walls, it is the perfect fit for the hearty upper. Special details include a flared magazine well for quicker reloads that is wire-EDM cut for precision. Other quality components are included in the lower as well. These include the BCM Gunfighter pistol grip, the B5 Systems SOPMOD Bravo stock and a 45-degree, ambidextrous safety selector from Battle Arms Development. The inclusion of this safety is one of the many features that stick out in my mind. In a time when a majority of builders are cutting corners to save costs or improve their profit margin, Midwest has taken the time to include an accessory designed for the serious shooter. The finishing touch is a subtle tip of the hat to the Minuteman ideal. Laser-etched onto the front of the lower receiver is a Gadsden snake set above the quote “Don’t Tread On Me.”

The rifle we received from Midwest was an out-of-the-box version of the SSK12. Even with a hearty billet upper and lower, the rifle still only weighs in at 7 pounds unloaded, making life easier. We promptly attached an Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (PRO) and headed to the range. After a lube session and brief zeroing, we were ready to roll on testing.

Range Wringout

For this session we used the Midwest Industries metal, 30-round, 5.56mm magazine included in the kit. The first order of business was shooting to test the Minute Man’s accuracy. We fired several five-round groups from a supported bench position to see what the rifle could really do. I used Federal’s 69-grain Sierra MatchKing ammunition for the first string of fire. At 100 yards, the best group I managed was a breath over 1 inch. This is impressive performance for this platform. I believe I could have succeeded in getting a 1-inch or smaller group had I been using a magnified optic. Knowing that most people will not be shooting match ammo, we then moved on to readily available PMC 55-grain ball ammo, once again shooting five-round groups from a supported bench. As expected, the 55-grain ball ammo had wider groups. My best group on these strings, however, was still a very pleasant 1.5 inches. This is solid performance beyond what most would expect from a “stock” rifle.

The next section of testing focused on the rifle’s handling and ease of manipulation. We ran a series of barricade drills that forced me to shoot from a variety of positions with little time to get from Point A to Point B. It also included long strings of fire requiring multiple reloads. One of the luxuries I enjoy is having done these drills hundreds of times. With that in mind, it is easier for me to notice differences in the gun I am running. What I found was that the Minute Man rifle was very quick to run and easy to manipulate. The SSK KeyMod handguard was a real pleasure on this rifle. Being small in diameter and completely dehorned helped give this fighting rifle a fine-tuned 3-Gun feel. The Minute Man was as easy and fast to run as some other guns I have tested that cost almost twice as much. The flared mag well made reloads on the move much easier, and the inclusion of the BCM Gunfighter pistol grip made shooting a pleasure.

I moved smoothly from barricade to barricade with several changes in shooting angles and grips. Through portholes and around corners, the rifle was easy to handle and bring onto target. I took the time to run one of my range officers through the course with the rifle as well. It is one thing to do it, but another to watch someone shoot it. His report was identical to mine, as I suspected. His change in grip as he moved from obstacle to obstacle was fluid, which I attribute to the ergonomics of the design. Times were fast and shots were on target.

Still Fighting

In total, we ran 500 rounds through the rifle, with a majority of it being 55-grain ball ammo. In that time, we did not experience any malfunctions of any kind. It is difficult and somewhat reckless to judge a rifle’s durability on only 500 rounds. What I can deduce, however, based on experience, is that the components in this gun and its solid design will give it an exceptionally long lifespan. With lubrication, regular general cleaning and maintenance, this rifle will be a solid shooter for a very long time.

Midwest Industries is a prolific company with a variety of components for a variety of weapons. There is a good chance that your AR or AK has at least one Midwest Industries item on it. The company has a positive , well-earned reputation and is seen as a leader in the industry. This will only be expanded as it moves beyond rails and sights into actual rifle production. The SSK12 Minute Man is certainly more than a safe queen. It successfully represents everything that a modern-day Minuteman needs. It is truly the modern musket.

For more information, visit midwestindustriesinc.com or call 262-896-6780.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • CALIBER: 5.56mm NATO
  • BARREL: 16 inches
  • OA LENGTH: 32-36 inches
  • WEIGHT: 7 pounds (empty)
  • STOCK: B5 Systems SOPMOD Bravo
  • SIGHTS: None
  • ACTION: Direct impingement semi-auto
  • FINISH: Matte black
  • CAPACITY: 30+1
  • MSRP: $1,500

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