WORLD OF FIREPOWER JAN/FEB 2017
Featuring Industry Armament's Battle-Ready .300 Blackout Blaster. The best .300 Blackout AR-15 Pistol on the market. Check out this Issue!
There are a lot of AR manufacturers out there these days. Once you get past a few of the big names, it can sometimes be hard to wade through all the myriad makers.When I was first asked to take a look at Indus- try Armament (IA), I did a little research on its website. A couple of things stood out. First, IA offered some intriguing, made-in-the-USA designs in both pistols and rifles, including 5.56 NATO, .300 Blackout and 7.62 NATO options. Browsing the specs, you see a focus on top-quality parts and practical design, along with a commitment to law enforcement and military customers—although IA doesn’t discount the civilian market either.
Veterans from the defense industry head up IA, and they’re leveraging that experience to bring top-notch programs to your doorstep. The company's tagline is, “Trusted from the Home Front to the Battlefront,” and it was more than willing to get a test gun into my hands to give me a chance to see if IA lives up to that standard.
LEGACY MKI AR-15 PISTOL
IA makes two versions of its Legacy MKI AR15 pistol: a 7.5-inch-barrel version and a 10.5-inch version, both available in either 5.56 NATO or .300 Blackout. For testing, I received a 10.5-inch model in .300 Blackout.
My particular pistol was built on a Sun Devil Manufacturing upper and lower receiver.
Sun Devil is another Arizona company IA uses for some of its builds. The Sun Devil receivers are CNC machined from solid billets and feature heavier reinforcing than a GI specs receiver. The Sun Devil lower also features a tension screw that takes out any play between the upper and lower receivers, which is a nice touch.
With a solid billet receiver as a starting point, IA adds a top-end barrel made from BOSS 416R ordinance-grade steel. It exceeds NATO specs and uses a proprietary Caudle 3 rifling design. This three-groove system has a polygonal shape that increases velocity and reduces friction on projectiles.
The 10.5-inch barrel on my test gun uses a pistol-length buffer tube and is fitted with a flash can. The barrel and flash can are sleeved in a 12-inch, free-float rail with a full-length Picatinny top rail and shorter rail sections mounted at the 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. The only marking indicating this is an Industry Armament gun is a stylized "IA" located at
the receiver end of the free-float rail. The rail comes nearly to the end of the flash can, with only about 1/2 inch protruding past the rail. It makes for a rather menacing appearance, with its cavernous 25mm opening.
Moving to the rear half of the gun, IA uses an HPT/MPI-tested, black nitride-coated bolt-car- rier group with an extended charging handle that also features the IA logo. The company doesn't list anything particular about the trigger pack and safety, but all of the parts are specially heat-treated for peak efficiency and performance.
The trigger is a single-stage design, breaking cleanly at 5 pounds, 10 ounces on my trigger scales. The safety is an ambidextrous unit with a slightly shorter right-side lever—a welcome touch for right-handed shooters, because it doesn’t interfere with trigger reach. It also uses a short, 45-degree arc of travel, rather than the typical 90-degree arc, so flipping the safety on and off is fast, requiring a minimum amount of movement.
The magazine release and bolt hold open are classic AR-style controls. The lower receiver uses an Xtech pistol grip and a pistol-length Buffer Tube. My sample was a Thordsen Custom Enhanced Cheek Rest, complete with QD Sling Swivel.
When it came time to head to the range, I rounded up ammunition from Armscor, Barnes Gorila Ammunition and SIG Sauer. I stuck to supersonic loads ranging in weight from 90 to 147 grains. While the .300 Blackout is known for its supersonic loads, I didn't see the point to testing those in the MK1, because its flash can configuration precludes mounting a suppressor.
My testing took place during the summer, with my chronograph and bench work occurring on a clear, balmy, 83-degree day. For much of my general shooting, I used the excellent Shield SIS reflex sight; but to get the best out of the MKI, I mounted a Leatherwood CMR 4 1-4x24mm optic for accuracy testing. I like such a compact patrol riflescope on rifle-caliber pistols, because they still allow for fast shooting at close ranges while giving you a bit of magnification for shots farther out.
Because the BATF again allows you to shoulder a pistol with a brace, the Thordsen Custom cheek rest is a good option that allows you to get a good cheek weld without being tempted to tuck anything back into your shoulder. In this case, it worked well with the low-mounted Leatherwood. I tried a variety of holds with
the MKI and settled on a hold just forward of the mag well. I did try the C-Clamp technique. While it works fine, I found that on 1x, you would actually catch your thumb in the lower vision plane of the scope. I hadn’t previously worked with an Xtech grip, but I found it to be comfortable and with enough texture to provide a solid grip.
The Industry Armament MKI is a solid pistol at 6.5 pounds; the weight, plus the way the flash can throws the muzzle blast forward, made for a fairly soft-shooting gun. Reliabil- ity was 100 percent with all loads tested. I did my accuracy testing off the bench, from a Caldwell rest, at 50 yards.
The Thordsen cheek rest worked well withthe magnified optic and is one of the better setups for a buffer tube-equipped pistol. Inter- estingly enough, the IA MKI tended to prefer lighter bullets, with my best groups resulting from the Barnes Range AR 90-grain Open Tip Flat Base loads. My average group size was a meager 1.25 inches, but I had some groups come in smaller. More than once, they would have four rounds in 1/2 inch, with a flier opening up the group to an inch or better. Even the heavier loads were hitting in the 2.5-inch range—more than adequate for most practical purposes.
The combination of fast handling and .30-cal- iber punch make the MKI a prime candidate for a personal defense weapon (PDW). Also, because it is classified as a handgun, it can be carried on a concealed-carry permit on or about your person in many states. (But check your local laws to be sure.) I also think it would be an interesting choice for handgun hunters for animals such as hog and deer, especially
in heavy brush. If you’re willing to go the tax stamp route, it’s also a fine platform to build a short-barreled rifle. In fact, Industry Armament makes a factory SBR version, but if you’d rather have a pistol on hand to work with while you wait on your stamp, then something like our test gun is just the ticket.
My overall impression of the Industry Armament MKI is that it’s a very well-thought-out and well-built pistol. Reliability was flawless, and accuracy was very good. The pistol handled quickly and efficiently—thanks to some of the detailed touches, such as the 45-degree safety and extended charging handle.
I’m a big fan of flash cans, both in looks and performance, and I was pleased to see one
as a factory feature on the MKI. The blast
from rifle-caliber pistols can be obnoxious, so throwing it forward is beneficial to the shooter— and to the folks on the firing line with them. I don’t care so much about what anyone on the receiving end of the pistol thinks. If they’ve done something to deserve incoming rounds from an MKI, a little bit of forward muzzle blast is the least of their concerns at that point.
And speaking of being down range: If you happen to be staring down the muzzle of a gun so equipped, it’s an intimidating sight, considering that the 25mm flash can maw is even larger than that of a 10-gauge shotgun (that's never a bad thing to have in a defen- sive weapon). The Industry Armament MKI pistol carries a manufactured suggested retail price of $1,300, which is competitive with other quality-built, U.S.-made guns.
If you’re in the market for a compact and po- tent defensive handgun capable of tossing out rifle rounds, the MKI's features, along with its combination of reliability and accuracy, should make it one to add to your short list.
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