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Preview – Good Omen – NEMO’s Precision Rifle Is an AR on Steroids

Illustration by Jenni Sisk

OK, let’s clear the air first. I have issues with the AR/M-16/M-4. Don’t get me wrong, I love its ergonomics and its Erector Set simplicity — my son built his first AR in his bedroom from parts in one evening at the ripe old age of 14. You just can’t do that with an ACR or G-36. Call me old fashioned, but it’s a caliber thing. How can I take a weapon seriously when it shoots a glorified varmint round that in many states you aren’t even allowed to use on whitetails?

As an army reservist in the United Kingdom, I cut my teeth on the Brit version of the Free World’s right arm, the 7.62mm L1A1. So, I’m biased. Anything under .30 is not a “battle rifle” to me, and if it won’t work on deer, I don’t want to use it against two-legged tangoes. For serious work, I reach for an FAL, a G3, a SCAR, or at worst, an AK-47, preferably worked over by Krebs.

But having become an American now, as part of the naturalization process it’s almost a requirement to swear fealty to Eugene Stoner’s masterpiece of engineering. Or at least, it should be. At the same time, we now have over a decade of data and stories from the operations in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom on the limitations of the 5.56 NATO round, especially at distance. Just the mere fact that ancient, Vietnam-era M-14s were scrubbed of cosmoline to be used in Iraq and Afghanistan tells you that sometimes problems can only be solved with a bigger bullet.

NEMO-Omen-Receiver-vs-AR-15300-Win-Mag-vs-7.62-NATO

Subsequently, we’ve seen some nifty experimentation and the commercial development of new rounds that can be squeezed into the AR-15’s receiver. These include the 6.5 Grendel, the 6.8 SPC, the .300 Blackout, and even the .50 Beowulf. We’ll be taking a closer look at several of these in a future article that will blow away some of the myths and urban legends that are fed by the Internet. But here, however, we’ll check out something even more impressive than those new and rediscovered cartridges.

Super AR
One of the holy grails of modern warfare is rapid and accurate fire at long range. NEMO Arms’ answer to this is a super AR called the OMEN — in .300 Win Mag.

The story begins with retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Vallely and the need for a bridging platform between the dedicated .308 sniper bolt gun or SASS.308 semi-auto, and .50-caliber bruisers like the Barrett. Instead of taking Stoner’s platform and squeezing more out of it, or instead resorting to yet another wildcat wonder, NEMO started with a blank slate and worked from the ground up, building a new, improved AR around a caliber that can get the job done. One that is already in the U.S. Army quartermasters supply chain, namely the .300 Win Mag. The objective throughout was to satisfy two apparently contradictory requirements: stability and recoil management to enable rapid engagements on multiple targets and real portability. Vallely and the NEMO team have certainly succeeded with the OMEN.

The OMEN platform really does look like a Super AR, and it performs like one. Since starting out in 2011, the company has introduced a full lineup of models from the lighter and shorter RECON with an 18-inch barrel, weighing in at a pretty reasonable 9.5 pounds, to the version we tested, the full-on WATCHMAN. Thanks to its 24-inch barrel and 20-MOA rail system, it tips the scales at 12.5 pounds, still not bad when you consider what it delivers.

Outwardly, the mechanism looks like an Armalite/Stoner design. The major external differences are that this rifle uses an adjustable gas-impingement system (with four settings) and the usual centerline charging handle is gone. Instead, a bolt handle is on the right hand side of the bolt carrier group (BCG), doubling as a forward assist. This design also obviates any issues that the traditional charging handle has with sniper stocks and cheek-risers. The Watchman comes standard with a Magpul PRS stock.

NEMO-Omen

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