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Preview – Troy Industries Alpha Carbine

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

Honey, I Shrunk the AR…

The AR’s linear piston system is one of the weapon’s greatest assets, in that it makes for a smooth, soft-shooting carbine. It’s also a liability in confined spaces, as the buffer tube sticking out the back of the receiver means it can neither accept a folding stock, nor compress down tightly to reduce its overall length.

One of the new products that debuted at this year’s SHOT Show in Vegas came from Troy Industries, and it manages to shrink the AR to minute proportions. In fact, an NFA-compliant carbine featuring a 14.5-inch barrel with a pinned and welded flash hider winds up shorter than an 11.5-inch barreled SBR equipped with a regular M4 stock, when both are fully collapsed. Which we think is pretty neat.

It manages to achieve this by means of a proprietary bolt carrier, which uses a reduced-diameter tail incorporating the sliding weights and urethane bumper of the usual AR buffer. By stuffing the buffer’s guts up the carrier’s arse, the entire package is shrunken down, allowing for a shorter receiver extension. Such radical surgery is not without a price, however, as the user is no longer able to hinge open the carbine like a shotgun. Instead, both front and rear takedown pins must be pushed and the upper separated from the lower for maintenance.

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The Tomahawk stock itself is reminiscent of HK designs and has four positions, the shortest of which protrudes a scant 3.14 inches from the back of the castle nut. At full extension, it expands to 9.3 inches long, roughly equivalent to the second click on an M4 stock — if you have very long arms, this probably isn’t the stock for you, but for the majority, it’ll work out just fine. If you choose to use it fully extended, then the lack of a continuous top surface and interruption to a good cheek weld may prove annoying. We tried it at positions 3 and 4, and found it usable in both locations, but the third click was definitely more comfortable.

The Tomahawk is available in three variants, either fitted to complete rifles or as aftermarket parts for you to slap onto your own rifle. The standard $300 version allows for the use of a normal bolt carrier — just unscrew your existing buffer tube and replace it with the Tomahawk and you’ll knock 1.75 inches off the previous collapsed length. If you opt for the proprietary carrier, you’ll add a Benjamin to your bill, but in return you’ll shave almost 3.5 inches. There’s a standard version in development for .308 rifles, but at press time had not completed reliability testing.

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