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Review: North Eastern Arms CCS Pistol System

Short AR-15s have always been cool. Though once considered totally impractical, advances in ammunition technology have made them more reasonable. While there will always be setups that push the ragged edge of reliability, we need to be mindful that only a few quick years ago only a mere handful of 10.3” barreled ARs were considered dependable. In this current buyers market, dozens of options spanning the entire scale are available.

The [albeit temporary] approval of the Sig Brace invigorated this market considerably. AR pistols have never been especially small with that buffer tube awkwardly protruding from the rear. AR pistols without such appendages (such as the Olympic Arms OA-93) were significant deviations from traditional design, adding a level of difficultly for any modifications or parts replacement.

North Eastern Arms (NEA), creator of the popular (and ever-cloned and copied) Compact Carbine Stock (CCS) developed something different: The CCS Pistol System
Here's what the kit looks like:

Using the same bolt carrier/buffer combination as the CCS, with the NEA Pistol System you end up with something notably smaller than your run of the mill AR pistol. Included is a new standard end plate and castle nut so you can stake the whole thing in place. The receiver extension is only 4.5” OAL and 4” when installed, which equates to only ~2.75” horizontal inches beyond the pistol grip. It being easier to store in a ready-to-fire composition is another plus. You will have to populate the bolt carrier with your own components.


the father of the CCS Pistol System

You install the NEA pistol system in much of the same way as a normal receiver extension, with the exception that the buffer retainer pin and spring are eliminated. As such, vertical buffer tube alignment is unimportant. To assemble the weapon once the receiver extension is set up, first install the bolt carrier group (BCG) and charging handle into the upper as normal. The buffer spring is placed over the BCG and then inserted into the buffer tube from the front. Push the upper back until it's aligned and snap the pins in place. To disassemble (ensure the weapon is cleared, obviously) first both pins must be disengaged and then the upper receiver can be pushed forward and pulled out. You can't shotgun open the receivers because of the built-in buffer.

Shorter guns generally require more tuning than their jumbo brethren but most manufacturers have already puzzled this out for you. Of course, since we're changing bolt carrier, spring, and buffer weight we're playing mucky muck with the equation a little bit. Chances are the CCS Pistol System will run for you right out of the box. If it doesn't, you're not out of luck though. Speaking in general terms, I prefer an adjustable gas regulator because it addresses many root issues (read my review of one here) but it's far from the only option.

Even though the buffer is integral to the bolt carrier, the system can still be balanced. While the buffer spring is shorter than normal (just under 8.75” long with 26 coils) one could still purchase an aftermarket spring that can be tuned (such as Tubb's Precision Flatwire). Just as with a standard AR-15 buffer, the tip can be removed to access the innards.

Instead of the traditional 3 weights and spacers, the CCS Pistol System has two steel weights (~.6oz each) and no spacers. This CCS Pistol System bolt carrier has a stripped (no bolt, firing/cotter/cam pins) weight of 9.9oz. For comparison's sake, a stripped M16 weight carrier + CAR buffer is around 12.5oz, which will vary a bit depending on manufacturer. The weights are readily changeable so you can swap weights if needed. As an aside, I recommend having an H3 and CAR buffer in your toolkit for salvaging purposes. The only downside is forgetting your particular weight configuration for a given buffer. You can read up on buffer weights and internals here.


You can get as nerdy as you want.

Due to the truncated length of the buffer tube, there isn't a way to make this a defacto stock; you aren't going to be able to shoulder this. You can either shoot it like an oversized futristic handgun (you'll be able to utilize a lower mounted optic in this case) or you can use sling tension for stabilization. For the latter, you'll need some kind of provision for sling points (like this Noveske QD end plate) The way it works is that the pistol is pushed forward, instead of pulled back into the shoulder, to create sling tension and stabilization. This method was first popularized with the MP5k and has been used with many a stockless weapons (or weapons with stocks folded) over the years. When used in conjunction with a hand stop it can be quite effective. Is it as good as a shoulder stock? Well, no–it's a tradeoff for concealability.


Method shown with a SCAR CQC

Probably the most utility for the NEA CCS Pistol System will come from using very short barrels. While 5.56 can be underwhelming in an extremely short barrel, especially without using ideal ammunition, it's not the case with some other calibers. 7.62×39 and .300blk are both conducive to short barrels, as well as many traditional handgun calibers. The shortest set up I came up with was this:


Looks straight out of 70's Sci-Fi

Now, in order for this to be viable, the bolt carrier would have to be modified (as pistol calibers have their own weirdness) but it's not unattainable by any means. You could definitely make something that fits into a large messenger bag.

Remember, since the NEA CCS Pistol System shares a bolt carrier/buffer with the standard CCS, this is also an option for while you wait for your NFA stamp to be approved; get all your tuning voodoo out of the way first–then just replace your pistol buffer tube with the stock set.

Our friends in the frozen north have a lot more coming down the pipe, so stay tuned. In the meantime, visit NEA's webpage here, or follow them on Facebook or Instagram

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