Guns Strike Industries SIAR Review: Where the Past and Future Collide Dave Merrill February 8, 2021 2 Comments, Join the Conversation Strike Industries was founded in 2010 with the purpose of designing simple-but-enhanced small parts for the AR-15 and 1911. They’ve put out some products with questionably bling cosmetics and finishes over the past years but have always offered functional and affordable parts. Like many smaller, growing companies, they’re refining and expanding their product lines, and we like what we’re seeing. While Strike Industries is still making small parts, they wanted to show that they can do so much more than that. It’s clear to us they’ve been making moves toward establishing their own firearms designs, and the SIAR is the first major step in that direction. In fact, the Strike Industries SIAR has been in development for more than four years. You need to bear in mind when reading this article that we’re dealing with a pre-production sample and not the full-boat release. We’ll highlight differences between our example and what you’ll see on the street whenever possible. Though we have some inside information, we don’t have a crystal ball so there may be some further changes prior to production. DESIGN & OPERATION At first glance, the Strike Industries SIAR could be just another piston shoved into an AR upper. With that in mind, let’s talk about what sets it apart. The Strike Industries SIAR incorporates a lot of hard lessons learned while giving you a familiar layout. Though there isn’t too much wrong with the modified direct-impingement of the AR-15, Strike took a different route. The Strike Industries SIAR, like virtually all next-gen designs, uses a short-stroke piston to get the job done. When the Strike Industries SIAR is fully stripped you see this definitely isn’t an AR despite sharing a lower receiver. After passing through a four-position regulated gas block, the energy from expended gas propels a single gas piston. That piston hits an op-rod, which was previously rotated onto the bolt carrier group in order to start the cycle of operations. A regular AR-15 bolt will do; while the gas rings of the bolt may be removed prior to installation, you can leave them and it makes exactly zero difference. The right side of the bolt features a floating ejection port cover instead of the standard flop-down-do-little cover of the AR-15. It repels the immediate onrush of gas, and overall keeps gas away from your face. Job well done, ejection port cover. Unlike a regular AR-15, both the firing pin and bolt itself are spring-loaded. While the lack of these features doesn’t make an already-functioning AR a brick or a slam-firing free-for-all, without further testing, especially for light strikes, we can’t, in good faith, call them a positive or negative. Time will tell. The major selling point of the Strike Industries SIAR is twofold: First, it (mostly) uses AR-15 parts. Second, since the operating system is entirely contained within the upper, you aren’t limited to an AR-style stock on a receiver extension. The charging handle is swappable, non-reciprocating, and forward-placed. Unlike the FN SCAR and similar, the charging handle itself is positioned forward enough that it doesn’t pinch fingers or get in the way of optics mounts. The handguard and upper receiver are a single unit and monolithic. Five screws hold the lower handguard in place, which is removed in order to swap the barrel. There are five M-LOK slots on either side of the handguard and six on the bottom. One difficult aspect of the Strike Industries SIAR design was how to attach the barrel — you can use whatever barrel you wish, just so long as it sports a mid-length gas system and a gas block journal with a diameter of 0.750 inch. In other words, one of the most commonly available AR-15 barrels. Production models may offer options for different gas system lengths. A captive pin holds all of the guts in place — that spring is under pressure so take care when field stripping. In order to secure the barrel, the Strike Industries SIAR uses two hex screws that directly correspond with wedges on either side of the upper. Simply drop in an AR barrel of the required specs with a standard AR-15 barrel extension, and you can secure it with no worries. Hell, the torque spec (44 inch-pounds) is even lasered on the side of the upper next to each screw. The shell deflector is swappable, and though on our preproduction model it’s clearly 3D printed, you can probably expect an injection-molded part on the production units. Kits will be available in a wide variety of colors and include a monolithic receiver with lower handguard, bolt carrier group (sans bolt), and regulated gas block with operating rod. Customers will have to supply their own AR barrel with mid-length gas and .750-inch profile at the gas block, AR-15 bolt, and lower receiver (with or without receiver extension, since the SIAR can go both ways). OUTFITTING Because we weren’t limited to a standard AR lower, we rolled with a Brownells BRN-180 lower and an accompanying folding stock originally meant for a SIG MCX or Virtus. Your regular AR lower will work, but it certainly won’t look as cool as one with a folding stock. We also installed a Geissele SSA trigger. With the Strike Industries SIAR, your basic sights are already covered. Most companies send their wares with either no sights or the cheapest-possible combination of Magpul MBUS sights. But since SI already has backup iron sights built into the rail and receiver itself, you’re all set in an emergency. The SIAR has extremely low-pro BUIS integrated directly into the upper. The barrel on our preproduction unit is an unbranded 1/7 middy topped with the SI Checkmate brake and a prototype OPPRESSOR LITE blast shield. For an optic, we decided on an EOTech VUDU 1-6x low-power variable optic — specifically, the 1-6x FFP VUDU with an SR-3 reticle. Though it’s a BDC reticle based around 75-grain 5.56mm ammunition and 16-inch barrels, we can still employ it effectively (see “No True Zero” in RECOIL Issue 35 or on RECOILweb.com). We used a 1.93-inch ADM cantilever mount. While a cantilever isn’t necessary with a monolithic upper like the SIAR, we must admit that it just looks right. For a weapon-mounted light, we attached a SureFire Pro M640 Scout Light with an SR-07 pressure pad. As for the controls, while we regularly pimp a handstop/fingerstop combination, we kept this build in the family and employed one of Strike’s Angled Vertical Grips (AVG) in a short configuration. QUIRKS, BITCHES, AND SOLUTIONS We won’t say this preproduction upper is all gravy, because it isn’t. The largest issue is for use with the statistically significant population of right-hand shooters. Locking the bolt back with a regular AR receiver is a real pain — if you thought that was bad, just wait. The left-side forward charging handle requires two hands and a prayer to lock the bolt back during a malfunction, and swapping the charging handle to the other side like an AK isn’t much better either. Pulling the charging handle (and the bolt) to the rear with your left hand and locking the bolt with the same hand, like with an FN SCAR, isn’t an option either, unless you have fingers longer than Les Claypool. Alas, all isn’t lost. Combining the SIAR with an advanced lower shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll need other means to lock the bolt back, and since this isn’t 2006, we won’t suggest a Magpul BAD Lever. There are many relatively inexpensive parts that’ll provide this bit of magic. While an AXTS/Radian lower will turn your magazine release into a bolt lock, the same can be accomplished with a Boonie Packer Redi-Catch. Manually locking the bolt on the SIAR is hard with a standard AR; a Smith Tactics Battle Bar makes it much easier. In our case, we used a Smith Tactics Battle Bar. Though the Battle Bar isn’t suitable with all safety selectors (OEM is always fine), it allows you to both lock and release a bolt using only your dominant hand. While you don’t need one of these handy Battle Bars, if you want to be able to lock your bolt back without hand swapping and puppets, you’ll need something similar. In order to adjust the gas block, you’ll not only need a tool (a screwdriver) but also to push down a detent. We’d like to see positive detent movements over what we could only call playing by feel when adjusting the gas on our sample. Also, never ever try to remove the guide for the charging handle inside the front of the upper receiver. We mean it. If you really want to, you can, but then you’ll spend an hour trying to replace ball bearings and springs inside the gun that were never intended to be removed at the user-level. Ask us how we know. AT THE RANGE Unlike most guns we show off here, the range report is rather limited in this case, since we’re not using a user- provided barrel and this is a preproduction unit. All of that said, with Lake City M855 we printed 1.75 MOA five-shot groups, exactly what we expected from this ammunition. While we can’t attest to any great accuracy claims, we’re not getting poor results either. A full-on range review will be performed when we receive a production unit. LOOSE ROUNDS The Strike Industries SIAR places a benchmark on AR-15 development, but probably not exactly where you thought. SI focused on the actual operation of the rifle rather than a complete rifle for this first step, but we won’t be shocked if the SIAR becomes available as a complete firearm in the future. For other AR makers out there, we pose a question: Strike Industries is pushing forward, making a new name for themselves in terms of features — are you? Strike Industries SIAR MSRP: $700 (anticipated) URL: strikeindustries.com Accessories: Random barrel: (These days? $1 mil USD) Smith Tactics Battle-Bar: $80 (Buy for $79.99 when in-stock at Brownell's) BRN-180 lower: $129 MCX stock: $165 Geissele SSA trigger: $240 ADM Mount: $313 SureFire M640 and switch: $411 EOTech VUDU 1-6x: $1,399 Price as featured: ~$3,437 + barrel More from Strike Industries Finally, Suppressor Height Sights for a P320 that won't break the bank. Here's the First Look from Stike Industries. Though it feels like a decade ago, Strike Industries had a big year at Shot Show 2020. A RECOIL Tradition: Buildsheets Going OFFGRID A Different Kind of Thin Blue Line This folder is Mk18-ish. Light and Bright. The Coyote Crusher. The Contractor Service Rifle. The SnipAR Rifle. Building out the .224 Valkyrie. M16A4 OIF Edition. Not Just AR's: SBR AK. 5.45 AK: Starting with the Arsenal 104. Explore RECOILweb:Media Day at the Range - Constant CoverageSTI International Introduces the DVC Tactical 2011RECOIL's 2020 Black Friday DealsSunday Night Range Pr0n: FPF Vehicle Environmental Skills NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). Click here to get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to a digital PDF of this target pack!