The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Can the Hacksaw Save Bushmaster’s Unloved Bastard?

Photos By Kenda Lenseigne


Everyone had high hopes when Remington/Bushmaster announced the Adaptive Combat Rifle. It was a carbine that was the embodiment of everything the consumer should’ve wanted, according to current thinking — and yet somehow, it was met with a collective yawn by the vast majority of the American gun-buying public.

Those few adventurous souls willing to be early adopters will probably never do that again, as the upper echelons of Freedom Group management did the same thing to firearms development as Nickelback did to music. We can only speculate as to why, but perhaps “Not Invented Here” syndrome might have had something to do with it, as the gun was originally designed by Magpul.
In a marketplace currently saturated with $400 AR-15s, the ACR has a hard row to hoe, and despite entering its second decade of production, there’s still virtually bugger-all in the way of factory support. Need an upper receiver or lower parts kit? Good luck with that.

While there’s a galaxy of AR parts suppliers willing to separate you from your cash, Bushmaster currently lists a total of 19 ACR components on their website. And although there have been a few product announcements in recent months, notably long-awaited caliber conversions to take advantage of one of the ACR’s major selling points over the AR-15, Remington’s leadership decided to chamber them for cartridges no one cares about. Here’s a quick thought exercise for you. What calibers other than 5.56 that’ll fit in a STANAG magazine are currently in vogue? If you said 300 BLK and 6.5 Grendel, congratulations, you win a product manager position at a major firearms company. Remington instead rolled out their new barrels in 6.8 SPC and 450 Bushmaster.

Field testing against live targets with a combination of optics validated the concept of a compact, hard- hitting carbine and resulted in about 300 pounds of fresh pork. Bonus!

You could be forgiven if, looking in from the outside, you came to the conclusion that the board room at Freedom Group was actively working to make the ACR a commercial failure, while a small team of mid-level gun nuts somewhere in the Remington hierarchy was struggling to thwart those goals. Take, for example, its initial introduction. After being teased at the 2007 SHOT Show with a $1,500 price tag, it took another three-and-a-half years before the rifle was released for commercial sales, with an MSRP of almost double the original estimate. A recall followed soon after.

Remington Defense took a basic ACR and placed it into the hands of a few talented individuals who knew a thing or two about using carbines to reconfigure the anatomy of America’s enemies, coming up with the ACR-IC in 2012. This showed the true potential of the platform, but any impetus to fully develop it and recoup some of the R&D costs quickly dissipated.

And yet, it doesn’t have to be this way. The ACR’s design premise — that of combining all the best features from already proven rifles — still holds true. There’s the basic operating system, stolen from Stoner’s most influential design; no, not that one, the short-stroke gas piston and rotating bolt from the AR-18, which has spawned way more offspring in the panoply of firearms evolution than the AR-15’s linear piston ever has or will.

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