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Preview – Adcor Defense A-556 Elite

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Photos by Shoot to Thrill

Hot, Filthy, and Suppressed, This Piston Gun Just Keeps Running

You might assume by the nearby picture and title of this article that it’s all about another AR variant. Like us, you’re probably sick and tired of hearing about the “groundbreaking new” AR that, in essence, is the same as every other. Well fear not! Not only are you about to see firsthand what separates a company making dodgy gear from those companies making a quality product worth the extra bucks, but Adcor Defense’s A-556 Elite operates completely differently from any AR rifle ever made. The Elite is the world’s only free-floating gas piston AR — in fact, it’s arguably the only truly free-floating AR on planet earth. You call bullshit? Well so did we. More on that later after an appropriate analogy.

When AR shopping, how are you supposed to tell the difference from so many similar-looking rifles? What makes the difference between a $600 entry-level AR and a quality, well-manufactured gat? Is that expensive rifle a quality product, or some well-marketed mediocrity by a company who just got themselves a CNC machine and barrel nut wrench, then slapped a graphic featuring a Spartan helmet and “Melon Labia” on the side of the receiver? And just what the hell is a melon labia, and would we appreciate one if we encountered it? All Latin jokes aside…


The necessary ingredients for a great firearm lie in the company’s ability to efficiently engineer products, precisely manufacture components, mass produce while maintaining quality control, and take feedback collected from the end-user and use it to improve their products. Adcor has the manufacturing boxes well and truly checked, because it’s always been a precision manufacturer. The company specializes in making soda bottling machines, which run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are vastly more complicated than any semi-auto carbine. Adcor made the leap from soda-bottling machines to rifles when other major firearms companies approached them to manufacture AR internals faster and more accurately than they were capable of. Lest you doubt that soda-bottling equipment has any relevance to the business of making things that go bang, once word got around of its quality, orders for components for Trident nuclear missiles and F-16 radars started rolling in, so turning out a quality rifle is a comparative walk in the park.

During our tour of the facility, men in white lab coats were using large, complicated, and expensive equipment to measure tiny details of parts down to a gnat’s ass. There was a room full of engineers quietly adjusting CAD drawings and poring over a myriad of numbers. Though engineers often look down from their lofty perches on knuckle-dragging end-users like us, they’re a necessary evil. They understand the black magic of physics and can calculate boring but critical things like loads and stresses that ultimately allow them to make rifles more accurate and reliable — and to use materials more efficiently, thereby cutting down on unnecessary weight, which, despite us being strong like tractor, we appreciate.

All of these factors mean nothing if the consumer is not a part of the process; otherwise you end up with a well-manufactured tool that’s as useful as a baseball cap with sleeves. All too often, we see firearms or accessories with features that probably made perfect sense in the bright, clean environment of the design lab, but which fall on their ass when given to a cold, wet Marine who hasn’t taken a shower in weeks and just ran out of dip. Oftentimes manufacturers, engineers, and QC technicians are not shooters, so it’s important to include the end user in the feedback loop.


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