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ATAC Defense ADER Review: Titanium and Tungston

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You may not have ever heard of ATAC Defense before, but you’ve definitely seen their wares. This Mississippi-based company started out more than two decades ago with automotive parts manufacturing before moving into the firearms realm eight years ago. Automotive and aviation manufacturing companies transitioning to firearms has become something of a common refrain over the years; it’s almost like a natural progression. For nearly a decade, ATAC Defense was the man behind the curtain, OEMing more than 300 parts for different companies, but now they’ve decided to make their public debut under their own name. 


ATAC Defense has three different initial offerings, all with their own variations. Featured here is the ADER: the ATAC Defense Enhanced Rifle. It has all of the bells and whistles, while the ADBR (ATAC Defense Basic Rifle) is for those just getting their feet wet. They also have 9mm pistol builds with 4.5- and 8.5-inch barrels. All are available with a wide variety of Cerakote finishes, and the enhanced models have several triggers to choose from. 

ATAC Defense ADER Ambi controls

The ADER is crammed with custom parts. Many companies call their rifles ambidextrous when there’s actually nothing ambidextrous going on other than the safety selector. Not so with the ATAC ADER, which has an enhanced and ambidextrous mag release, ambi safety, and oversized and ambi charging handle — all of ATAC Defense’s own design. Even though the safety has a 90-degree throw instead of the increasingly common 45- or 60-degree short throw, it won’t rub against the trigger finger when using a high hold (a common issue for me personally). 

ATAC Defense offers three different triggers: a 3.5-pound single-stage with either a straight or curved bow, or a two-stage with a 1.5-pound first stage and 2-pound break. The two-stage ATAC trigger is a total standout — among the very best produced for an AR-15. If ATAC Defense ever decides to sell these separately, you should snatch one up. 

Other specifications get high marks for quality too. HPT/MPI bolts cut from Carpenter 158 steel. 1/7 twist barrels formed from 4150 steel blanks per Mil-B-1159SE specifications and then black nitrided. The entire bolt carrier group is also NiB treated.

The receivers themselves are basic 7075 forged affairs. In the future, we’d like to see integral trigger guards and an ambidextrous bolt lock/release à la ADM, Grey Ghost Precision, and Knight’s Armament. 

ATAC Defense Ader charging handle

For furniture, ATAC Defense turned to Mission First Tactical, the other polymer accessory company, for their Minimalist stock and Engage grip. ATAC’s own M-LOK handguard has a continuous top rail and integral QD sockets. 

The gas system may give you pause, as the ATAC Defense ADER features a 16-inch barrel with a carbine-length gas system. However, it’s not an immediate deal-breaker; while mid-length gas systems generally make for a soft shooter, carbine gas systems are incredibly reliable. ATAC says that longer gas systems will be an option in the future. We’d like to see ATAC implement an option for an adjustable gas block as well. 

Dead Air Nomad-Ti Cover

The ADER ships with a three-chamber brake that curiously features external threads at the base. We asked ATAC Defense about plans for their own suppressor line in the future; it was a little hush-hush but with a wink and a nod. While the brake is effective, it’s also very loud just like all other brakes. We removed it to affix a Dead Air Nomad-Ti (Here's the Review)


We attached a US Optics TS-8X first focal plane 1-8x24mm with a 5.56mm Plumb Precision reticle (see RECOIL Issue 49 for a review) in a Midwest Industries mount. A set of Dueck Defense offset iron sights served as backups, and a 1,500-
lumen SureFire M600DF riding on an Arisaka inline scout mount with an SR-07 remote switch made for a helluva light beacon out front. 

We then added a Magpul MVG to use in conjunction with an Arisaka finger stop to ensure consistent hand placement. Some may consider that a suspenders-and-belt setup — but our pants certainly aren’t falling down.  


The trigger was exceptional; you can go fast as needed but also utilize it for precision work. The recoil impulse unsuppressed is fast but gentle — an adjustable gas block for the ADER is in our near future for suppressed use; it was workable but not optimal. Though the Nomad-Ti is low-pressure, we’d still like a bit more control of the increased gas pressure. For testing, we rolled with basic-bitch 55-grain M193 ammunition, which turned in perfectly acceptable 1.5-inch five-shot groups. Undoubtedly, match ammunition would result in tighter groups, but this essentially is a fighting rifle, not a DMR. 

atac defense ader controls

Hearing safe? Welp, we didn’t even consider adding ear protection when shooting outdoors; indoors is a different story with 5.56mm of any stripe or barrel length. 


While the ADER is the first rifle ATAC Defense has produced, it’s far from a freshman effort. Over the last eight years, they’ve clearly learned what right looks like and put it all out there. While there’s some room for changes and improvements, dollar-for-dollar the ATAC Defense ADER is more than a solid choice. 


Caliber: 5.56mm
Overall Length: 31.5 inches
Weight Unloaded:  6 pounds, 4 ounces
Barrel length: 16 inches
Magazine Capacity: 20, 30
MSRP: $1,399

ATAC Defense ADER Owner's Manual is Available Digitally Here.


Dead Air Nomad-Ti


Dead Air Nomad-Ti: $1,099
Surefire M600DF: $299
Surefire SR-07 switch: $112
US Optics TS-8X Plumb: $895
Dueck Defense RTS sights: $200
JMAC Customs X-37: $120
Arisaka Finger Stop: $28
Magpul MVG: $23 ($21.80 on Primary Arms)

Price as Featured: $4,175

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