The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Radian Dracos Custom

Build Concept: A defensive build based on the newly available Radian Weapons receiver that serves as a testbed for the Dracos Straightjacket barrel and Cerakote’s new Elite coatings.

Radian Weapons recently got back to producing its AX556, featuring the ambidextrous A-DAC control system. We were fans of the setup back when Radian was known as AXTS, having shot a few AX556-based builds years ago. We added it to our wish list, but as the company rebranded and focused on building complete rifles, our chances to get one evaporated, only intensifying our desire to own one.

Fast-forward a year and imagine our excitement as Radian catches up with rifle demand and releases full receiver sets. Sure, they’re spendy, but our lust was fully fueled by all those discussions board convos about them. And, when it comes to cost, let’s just say we always knew an AX556 build wasn’t gonna be a budget build.

We’d also heard about a little company called Teludyne and its Straightjacket process. They’d take your barrel, turn it down to its barest outer diameter shove it in a tube and fill the gap with goo. The result, according to Teludyne, is a longer-lasting, lighter barrel with reduced harmonics and an immunity to thermal loading that increases its accuracy. As neat as the concept was, we didn’t have the patience to wait on a barrel conversion, or deal with the company if something went wrong. But when Falkor Defense bought in and made its line of Dracos barrels using the Straightjacket tech (and guaranteeing the barrel for life), we figured it’d be the perfect way to offset the AX556’s beefy barrel nut/handguard interface. And was it.

With our setup, the rifle’s balance point is exactly at the base of the handguard/upper junction. We accessorized the rifle with Aimpoint’s new CompM5 so we’d never have to worry about breaking our optic or changing the battery. We’ll skip the BUIS with an optic as tough as the CompM5, but we’d never run a non-competition carbine without a light. We got our hands on a prototype SureFire M600DF light that puts out 1,500 lumens for more than an hour using an 18650 rechargeable lithium-ion battery. We’re stoked to see SureFire get off its watchlight kick and build exactly what we’ve been begging for!

The coating is Cerakote’s new Elite series. We’ve used it on a few components, but we’d yet to see applied in multiple layers. We know Radian holds ridiculously tight machining tolerances, so tight that they account for the thickness of the standard Cerakote used on all their parts. They don’t normally do patterns on their guns because the added layers of Cerakote can make things too tight. But we worked with Radian and Blown Deadline Custom Cerakote to measure the difference and found the new coating had no effect on fit, even built up in layers needed for the MultiCam Black effect, above.

Note, we tested the AR Gold in our trigger guide and noted similar findings. The company’s claims about short reset are true. This trigger is incredibly fast, clean, and reliable, but the trade-off is the absence of tactile reset.

As shown, the rifle shot five five-round groups using Federal Premium 223 Rem 77-grain GMM that all printed better than 0.65 MOA. The best was 0.52 MOA. Recoil was negligible, and we haven’t had any stoppages. Though, we’re still shy of 1,000 rounds.


Barrel: Dracos StraightJacket Barrel, 16-inch 223 Wylde, $850
Bolt Carrier Group: Radian Weapons Enhanced BCG, $150
Buffer Spring: JP Custom Operating Spring OSC, $20
Buffer Weight: Brownells H2 Carbine Buffer, $30
Charging Handle: Radian Weapons Raptor SD, $99
Grip: Magpul MOE Grip, $20
Handguard Covers: Magpul M-LOK Rail Cover Type 1, $16
Magazine: Magpul PMAG 30 GEN M3, $15
Muzzle Device: Surefire WarComp-556, 1/2-28, $149
Receiver Endplate: Radian Weapons Ultralight QD Endplate, $26
Receiver Extension: Brownells AR Receiver Extension, $26
Receiver, Lower: Radian Weapons AX556, $370
Receiver, Upper and Handguard: Radian Weapons 15.5-inch, $600
Safety: Radian Weapons Talon Ambidextrous Safety, $50
Stock: Magpul MOE SL-S, $80
Takedown Pins: Radian Weapons, $26
Trigger: American Trigger Corporation AR Gold, $279
Total: $2,790

Coating: Blown Deadline, Cerakote Elite MultiCam Black, $440
Light Mount: Magpul M-LOK Offset Light/Optic Mount, $35
Optic: Aimpoint CompM5 and AR Mount, $1068
Weapon Light: SureFire M600DF Scout Light, $299
Weapon Light Battery: SureFire 18650 Li-Ion Battery, $50
Handguard Covers:Magpul M-LOK Rail Cover, Type 1, $16
Rail Sections: Magpul M-LOK Aluminum Rail, 5 Slots, $20
Total: $1,928

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