Rare AR: Barrett REC7 AR15 Pistol Build
Major Pandemic 06.14.17
Here we have a rare Barrett AR15 Pistol. I know you are thinking, “Barrett doesn’t make an AR15 pistol,” and well, you would be right. This Barrett-based AR15 pistol is probably one of just a few in existence, but more importantly this build makes for a rather interesting story.
There I was sauntering into my local gun shop and I see about ten stripped un-released lower receiver sets strung out across the counter. Among the names were Saber Defense, Manroy, and oddly enough, Barrett. I snapped up the two naked un-anodized Barrett receivers and asked “how the hell did you get these?” Those poor REC7 Barrett receivers had been on an interesting journey.
Barrett did not make their own AR15 receivers initially, they actually used Saber Defense (the company which also made many parts for the M2 Browning Machine gun and Minigun, stellite .50 caliber barrels, and a number of sundry military defense parts).
The journey of this receiver started when the old Saber Defense owners allegedly illegally imported suppressors from Finland and illegally exported firearms to Saber Defense’s sister UK division. As it was conveyed to me, Sabre and its executives were named in a 21-count federal indictment in 2010 that accused the owners of falsifying shipping labels and using false-bottom crates to hide firearms. Then the ATF raided them, shut down the company, filed charges, and allegedly threw people in jail.
This poor little receiver and its brothers were left in limbo as inventory until Manroy USA beat out Colt in an auction and purchased the assets of Saber Defense for around $5 Million and restarted the company in 2011.
There seems to be some discrepancy on what happened next. One version of the story is that Manroy USA continued the illegally export firearms, allegedly shipping thousands of AR15s labeled as “farm equipment” to Russia and other Soviet-bloc countries.
Another version is that Manroy USA was in essence a shell company supported by creditors and manufacturers of Saber Defense to keep the company afloat and fulfilling military contracts while other sources for the critical military parts could be found. Of note, FN did actually purchase some of ManRoy’s assets between 2011 and 2016.
Yet another story was that the financial damage of the initial ATF closure was so severe that it damaged sales beyond recovery. Whatever the reason, Manroy sold off the remaining brand and Saber Defense assets in 2016 to New Empire Industries of Lincoln Nebraska. New Empire wanted to focus on premium barrel manufacturing but from my understanding they also still own all the other Saber Defense assets and brand.
The legacy inventory of AR15 Saber Defense, ManRoy ad Barrett receivers ended up on the counter of my FFL dealer, being sold off by New Empire who also happened to still be in the store while I was buying my receivers — very interesting discussion. Sometimes the story is more interesting than the build. I only paid $75 for each receiver and left happy.
The Barrett REC7 AR15 Pistol Build
The Barrett receivers were both in perfect condition, but understandably were heavily oxidized from sitting around for nearly seven years. After discovered that the last stripped Barrett REC7 sold on Gunbroker for $650, I will confess that I briefly considered selling off the receivers, but I spared them that fate. My best idea for the receiver was to do something really different that was based on showing a weathered look in recognition of the hard road they had traveled. After looking everywhere for a matching non-anodized upper receiver, I was rescued by PWS/Bootleg LLC who was nice enough to bead blast two anodized Bootleg uppers for me.
The problem is that fresh bead blasting does not match well aged seven-year old oxidized aluminum.
The process to get “the old aged oxidized aluminum look” on the upper required 1000 grit sanding, dremel sanding, Scotch Brite pad and dremel polishing, and hand Flitz polishing which I repeated about four times to get the new rough bead blast finish down to the smooth level of the Barrett. The upper and lower receivers were then pinned together with KNS Push Button Pivot Pins, hand polished to assure the sheens of both receivers matched, then carefully rubbed with a Scotch Brite pad to give them that well-worn look. The two receivers were then carefully wiped down with a 50-50 bleach and water solution to deliver the heavy “old oxidized look” in certain areas. After a rinse, the set was placed in my Hornady Ultrasonic cleaner for an hour. The exposure to the Hornady cleaner solution and water smoothed out the work of the bleach and mellowed the finish with the additional more subtle oxidizing. A little coat of oil on the receivers was all that was used to protect the receiver from any other significant oxidation.
If you have a cool receiver set such as this, you might as well splurge on the build parts. It seemed to me the finish was subtle enough that only black accessories would do which included: Mission First Tactical extended magazine release, trigger guard and pistol grip. (At some point MFT is going to either send me a nasty letter about chopping down their grips for AR pistol builds or start producing shorty AR15 pistol grips – I am hoping for the latter.)
Other goodies were KNS Anti-Rotate pins, American Defense Ambi Selector, Mission First Tactical trigger guard, extended magazine release, and magazines, Strike Industries Bolt Release, Timney Match trigger, Phase 5 Tactical Egg Plate QD mount, Hex-One Pistol buffer tube, and Phase 5 billet charging handle. A Fail Zero Bolt Carrier Group was used to drive the brand new 2017 Ballistic Advantage Modern series Pencil profile 11.5” barrel. An ALG Defense Keymod forend and muzzle brake were added to complete the front and of the rifle. For optics I wanted to used something different which ended up being a Sampson Fixed Front sight and MaTech 200-600-yard back up sight with a Burris AR-F3 red dot.
Shooting the Little Barrett REC7 AR15 Pistol
At the moment ATF was not frowning on shouldering an AR15 pistol with just a buffer tube, so I left this build without a Stabilizing Brace in case some accidental contact to my shoulder happened. As I have found with pretty much every well-thought-out AR15 pistol build, the accuracy is seriously impressive. I was able to keep the 6-inch hostage swinger swaying all the way out to 300 yards and with the MaTech rear sight zeroed, precise shots on silhouette steel torsos all the way out to 600 yards were far easier than expected from a light gun that can be stowed in a standard backpack.
Barrett is likely none too happy about these receivers still floating around out there, but I personally could not be happier. I have a custom Barrett AR15 pistol; who else has one of these? The result is a loud, compact, flat-shooting, extremely accurate, sub-five-pound gun that can be easily stowed into any standard backpack when unpinned, and it even has a cool story to go with it.