Review: Frontier Armory Polymer AR
Pat Cascio 03.14.15
I guess some would call me an “old timer” in the gun and knife writing field. I’ve been at it since 1992, and I’ve written for many of the major firearm and cutlery magazines. It was only a few years ago that I “retired” from writing for the printed magazines and turned my attention to writing for on-line websites.
Being an old timer, I find change comes hard for me–real hard–and I’m not afraid to admit it. Polymer handguns took a while for me to accept, starting with the GLOCK 17 back in the mid 1980s. But now they’re everywhere, and I accept this, hard as it is for me understand how “plastic” framed handguns can be so strong.
Some years back, I remember Bushmaster firearms started producing polymer AR-15s with both the upper and lower receivers made out of some kind of polymer. It wasn’t exactly a big hit, and there were reports of the barrel actually breaking completely off the “plastic” upper receiver. Not a good thing, and Bushmaster no longer produces polymer ARs. However, my wife has one and loves it. She wouldn’t give it up for the world.
About 3 or 4 years ago, I ran across a super-deal at my local gun shop on Bushmaster AR-15s with the upper and lower receivers made out of polymer. I snapped one up at a great price only to be totally disappointed with the accuracy from the gun. It didn’t print groups; instead, it patterned like a shotgun. Got rid of it the very next day!
Enter New Frontier Armory–Firearms Manufacturer, Retailer, & Wholesaler out of Las Vegas, Nevada. The company operates a 6,000 square foot retail gun store, as well as producing polymer AR-15 lower receivers. My local gun shop actually had one of these ARs in stock, used, but as-new. I hesitated, but purchased the gun a day later. The lower receiver is made out of a very strong polymer with the typical M4-style set-up: 16″ barrel, flat top receiver, telescoping stock–the whole ten yards. It was just a typical M4-style gun with the exception of the polymer lower receiver. After some checking, it appears that New Frontier doesn’t manufacture whole ARs, just the polymer lower receiver. So someone added the more traditional Aluminum upper receiver, making this a complete AR.
The New Frontier Armory’s polymer lower receivers seem to be manufactured with a much stronger polymer than the Bushmaster and some other poly ARs that I’ve come across. The darn stuff actually appears, at first glance, to be anodized black Aluminum, not “plastic” material. What I didn’t expect was that the fire control group was also manufactured out of polymer, except for the hammer spring. One would naturally assume that the fire control group would be metal. I’d never run across a plastic fire control group, and I was more than a little worried that it would easily break. I did some research and found some videos where New Frontier Armory thoroughly tested the fire control group, simulating more than 75,000 “firings,” and there were no problems, There was no breakage at all. I was starting to be more than a little impressed.
The barrel on my New Frontier Armory AR had a 1:8″ twist. I like that it can handle heavier bullets than the 1:9″ twist, and there was the standard front sight set-up. All I did was add a detachable carry handle, and I was ready to hit the range for some testing.
I had a great assortment of .223 ammo to fire through the “plastic” AR. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their outstanding .223 69-gr JHP “Sniper” load. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 50-gr Hornady V-Max, 55-gr FMJ, 55-gr Soft Point, 60-gr Soft Point, 68-gr Heavy Match Hollow Point, and their 75-gr Heavy Match Hollow Point fodder. So, I had a lot of different ammo to run through this AR. Due to weather conditions, I limited myself to only shooting from 50-yards, using a rolled up sleeping bag as a rest over the hood of my pick-up truck.
If I did my part all the time with the open sights on this gun, I could get 1″ groups all day long from most of the ammo. This was impressive, to say the least. The winner was the Black Hills 68-gr Heavy Match Hollow Point round, and right on the heels of this ammo was the Buffalo Bore 69-gr JHP “Sniper” load. I mean, it was right on the heels of the Black Hills round. If I was doing my job, I could break the 1-inch groups with the above two rounds. I was surprised that the different bullet weights all performed so nicely, and I’d take any one of the above loads with full confidence that I could hit what I was aiming at. I’m sure that if I scoped this rifle I could easily get an inch and a half group without trying to hard.
Over several weeks, I fired more than 500 rounds of various ammo through this AR-15 with zero malfunctions. There wasn’t even a hint of a malfunction. I was totally impressed, and when I broke the gun down to clean and lube it, I didn’t notice any wear and tear on the polymer fire control group. It worked as advertised. The polymer fire control group didn’t give me the nice crisp let-off I’m used to, but I can’t complain with the results of the accuracy testing.
There is a little bit of weight saving with the lower receivers being manufactured with polymer over aluminum lowers, but nothing really worth mentioning. I paid $599.00 for the New Frontier Armory AR that I got at my local gun shop, and considering the performance I don’t think I over-paid for the gun. I haven’t seen another AR with the New Frontier logo on it, but that’s not to say your local gun shop doesn’t have one or can’t order one for you. Sometimes, you get a little more than you paid for, or you get surprised with the performance from a “plastic” firearm.
I don’t know how this New Frontier AR will hold up over the long term, but from my short testing and comments I’ve read about the gun, I see no reason to believe it will fall apart on you. So, if you’re in the market for something just a little bit different in an AR, take a look at the New Frontier Armory AR. You might just like what you see.