Unit Solutions Debuts the Unit 4 Training Rifle – Reality-Based, Training Aid
Eve Flanigan 10.19.21
Reality-based training – aka scenario training – has gained wide credibility for both mental and physical preparation for defense; whether its for professionals or private citizens. It provides for the application of planned tactics and testing plans against experiences. Especially for civilian home defenders whose lives don’t necessarily revolve around guns and tactics, scenario training is unequaled in its ability to reveal the effects of stress on the best-laid plans. It can instill what Colonel David Grossman refers to as “stress inoculation,” or the ability to think logically and function effectively in urgently trying circumstances with minimal negative after-effects. A tool to help work through stress inoculating scenarios recently debuted by Unit Solutions is the Unit 4 Training Rifle.
As an instructor and practitioner, I can attest there is nothing like experiencing, and later watching, what amounts to a wake-up call that is induced by scenario training. Lots of people talk about what they might do in a moment of necessary self-defense, but generally those boastful statements fade away after actually experiencing reality-based training. It instills both insight as to how the individual reacts under duress, and often provides humbling understanding that no one can sufficiently absorb all of the information about their environment, all of the time. The importance of casual situational awareness becomes especially apparent for many participants. For some, post-scenario discussion even reveals the gaps in memory that are famously risky when opting to speak to law enforcement in the immediate aftermath of an encounter.
Having good tools to create realistic experiences is in important component of well-designed training. So, it was encouraging to see an improvement in this area that’s on the verge of wide availability. A company called Unit Solutions started in 2016 with one purpose in the reality-based training arena: to address what they see as a critical equipment gap. The company stayed in development for about four years, and is at last announcing their first product. I got to meet company reps and their ‘wares at the 2021 Outdoor News America Gun Writers’ Conference near Dallas.
The problem: using simulated cartridges in real weapons are subject to extreme restrictions and accessibility issues. Potential clients within military units complained they didn’t get to use simulated munitions enough due to supply and location restrictions. The same can be true of police agencies. Civilians who want to hone their home defense skills often feel hampered by ammunition availability and price. For all these interest groups, paintball gaming is usually accessible, but lacks realism in terms of handling and overall feel.
Enter Unit Solutions’ Unit 4 Training System, a CO2-based system that uses a realistic, but non-ATF regulated M4 or AR-15 “rifle.” The rifle can accommodate marking or non-marking biodegradable rounds that ride in a realistic-looking magazine that is quite different in function: it encases a CO2 cartridge and through a hinged bottom, holds the seal between the gas and the gun.
The loaded Unit 4 mimics the M4 platform as closely as possible including weight. It can be accessorized with the same “furniture” and accessories such as optics and slings with the correct rail/attachment points as an everyday rifle. It does make noise, but it is not “so loud that the neighbors are going to call the police.” Until now, Unit Solutions’ clients have been military and police agencies. In 2022, they will bring 50 civilian (with a two-setting selector switch) kits to market.
Attendees at the conference got to shoot both the military/police blue-muzzle Unit 4, and the orange-tip civilian model; both ran well. Some getting-acquainted time with powering up the guns using the novel CO2 magazine was required. The things this writer found to be dramatically different was the sensory experience. To a degree, the Unit 4 closely mimics suppressed shooting in that there is recoil, and at the indoor range at least, sufficient noise to inspire attendees to wear ear pro. In comparison to the airsoft rifles I am accustomed to in simulator training, the Unit 4 is a definite step in the direction of realistic weight and feel. It does lack a last-round hold open feature for the bolt.
Especially in today’s ammunition-short environment, the Unit 4 is attractive. The company has broad capacity to produce millions of simulated rounds. The Unit 4 fires an 8mm pellet which the company has tested to be safe at distances as close as five feet. The pellet travels at approximately 350 feet per second. It can still bruise and deliver a punishing sting, that’s part of realistic training. Users must, thus, be sure to protect the head and neck for safe use.
The official launch of the Unit 4 is November 1, 2021. The civilian version, like the military/police model, has mostly black furniture with a bright, royal blue receiver. Unlike the government models, the civilian version has an airsoft gun-like orange “flash hider.”
The starter kit, whether in M4 or AR15 style, is priced at $1,199 including the gun, two magazines, and twenty marking cartridges. Ammunition is priced at 35 cents per round and is shipped in 600-round boxes. Starter 30-round capacity CO2 cartridge inserts, called T-Paks, are included with initial purchase. They’re disposable. Refills can be ordered direct at the price of $210 for a 20 T-Pak case. In addition to the Unit 4, a handgun version is in the works. Distributor networks for civilian use are in development. Currently, Unit 4 gear is distributed by Amchar Wholesale of New York and Salt Lake Sports Wholesale of Utah.