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Preview – Faxon Redux

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Photography by Kenda Lenseigne

Its Switch-Barrel Piston Gun Is All Grown Up. We Shoot the First Production Model.

Way back in Issue 7, we took a prototype piston upper for the AR-15 out for a spin. While we noted a few areas that could be improved, we reckoned it showed enough promise to pronounce it a winner.

Never ones to pass up a test piece, we decided to hold onto the sample and beat the snot out of it, using it for optics and ammo evaluations, shooting from helicopters, and abusing it as a truck gun, where it was usually encrusted with a ¼ inch of fine Arizona desert dust. After dropping in the .300 BLK barrel, the upper enjoyed a couple of hog hunting trips wearing all manner of IR kit — and apart from a couple of chewed-up Picatinny rails, it’s shrugged off all the abuse we could heap on it.

In the intervening months, the Faxon team has addressed the initial problems we found with their baby and are now offering it as a complete firearm. We decided to examine the improvements and see how the finished product stacks up.

Faxon-Loudmount-Single-Chamber-BrakeFaxon-ARAK-21-Rear-of-Upper-Receiver

Prototype to Production
Firearms are a pretty small part of the Faxon Engineering empire. Based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, the company caters mainly to the aerospace industry, and one of its specialties is making things that produce very, very big booms for three-letter government agencies. This is not a mom-and-pop business bolting together ARs in their garage. It’s not a faceless multinational defense contractor either, as Bob Faxon has a reputation for replying to customers’ emails and calls personally, especially if there’s a question about his gun that the customer service team can’t answer.


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In case you missed the original review, the upper is based on a long-stroke piston system, mated to a multi-lug rotating bolt. As such, it offers the best of both the AK and AR platforms, with a smattering of improvements over both. Hogged out of a monolithic block of aluminum, it gives a massively strong (if heavy) continuous top rail for optics. A four-position, adjustable gas block ties into the front of the rail system, and one of our earlier concerns was that this area became pretty hot after extended periods of firing. In order to mitigate heat transfer, phenolic spacers have been added under the lower and side rails on production models.

On the 5.56mm barrel, the prototype’s A2 birdcage flash hider has been replaced with a device that looks very similar, but which offers more recoil mitigation and the benefits of the “Muzzlok” feature, enabling installation without the use of a crush washer. The .300 BLK barrel currently lacks this improvement, which is a pity as it allows the removal of the device in the field, should you wish to install a can. Instead, the .300 BLK ships with a proprietary Loudmouth single-chamber brake. The good news is that the brake is effective, despite its abbreviated dimensions, and when shooting supersonic 110-grain ammo, it cuts felt recoil to about that of a 5.56mm. Muzzle flash, though, was pretty spectacular in low light. The .300 BLK barrel ships with a couple of thick, red rubber bands emblazoned with the caliber, which slip over the magazine body. We asked Bob why he decided to include them, and he replied, “Ha, easy answer. I blew one up!” The number of people who have accidentally chambered a .300 BLK round in a 5.56mm chamber continues to grow with the popularity of the round — so to reduce the chance of this happening, the Faxon’s .30-cal barrel is identified by means of three ridges at the muzzle end, in addition to the inclusion of the mag markers.

Faxon-ARAK-21-Pisto-Top-View

For the rest of this article, subscribe here: RECOIL Issue 16


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