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American Tactical – Omni Hybrid Polymer AR-15 – New Gun Review – SHOT Show 2014 Preview

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The Omni Hybrid Multi-Cal from American Tactical is a polymer AR receiver that they are selling as bare receivers with an MSRP of $49, and that will also be available as built lowers and full rifles.

The Omni Hybrid Multi-Cal from American Tactical is a polymer AR receiver that ATI is selling as a bare receiver with an MSRP of $49, and that will also be available as built lowers and full rifles.

By Paul Helinski

American Tactical
www.AmericanTactical.us

One of the niftiest AR-15 products to come out this year is a hybrid metal/polymer receiver from American Tactical Imports called the Omni Hybrid. Like all of the best polymer firearm technology, the Omni relies on a metal-to-metal fit at the major stress points. The ATI approach is a full zinc alloy core to the mostly polymer receiver that includes the buttstock threads and rear takedown pin. The metal part has a dual purpose. It adds rigidity and strength to the overall rifle, unlike the not-ready-for-primetime full polymer receivers, and it also provides three separate places where the serial number is embedded into metal. One of the three places can only be seen on an x-ray, making the serial numbers harder to remove than on a fully metal gun. We were able to get an Omni in for some early testing and it worked fairly well, with a few little quirks. Stripped lowers are priced at $49 right now, so there is a substantial savings for those who want to build their own AR build on the cheap. Made In USA, the ATI “Omni Hybrid Multi-Cal” (all ARs are multi-cal), is pretty affordable and pretty cool. We didn’t get to x-ray it like we hoped, but after several hundred rounds, our complete test gun (not a stripped lower), is still functioning well. ATI could be bringing a whole new technology to the forefront of cutting edge weapons, on the cheap.

The Omni receivers are Made in USA. American Tactical has recently moved from New York to South Carolina.

The Omni receivers are Made in USA. American Tactical has recently moved from New York to South Carolina.

You may have heard that American Tactical Imports is leaving their home in Rochester, NY, and moving to Summerville, SC. This is due to the instability of the New York political system. It is tough to build guns with an axe hanging over your neck, I guess. For ATI, it was a practical move, but for the gun industry perspective on ATI, it told everyone, “We’re here to stay!” Until now, ATI was mostly known for imports, hence the last word of their name, but it seems that with the move, and now the manufacture of a patented new AR-15 technology, the company that now refers to itself as American Tactical is moving to make a mark for themselves in the American firearms market as a serious manufacturer, as they also build their import business.

The lower has an embedded zinc alloy insert that holds the buttstock threads and the rear takedown pin, as well as three serial numbers, one of which that can only be seen on an x-ray.

The lower has an embedded zinc alloy insert that holds the buttstock threads and the rear takedown pin, as well as three serial numbers, one of which that can only be seen on an x-ray.

My understanding is that the actual patented parts of the Omni Hybrid are both the zinc insert and the method they engineered keep the trigger assembly and takedown pins in the gun under repeated recoil. It may not seem like a big deal to you if you shoot ARs a lot that the pins actually stay in, but that has been a challenge for some of the “plastic gun” and “3D gun” experiments out there. We didn’t have any issues with the pins in the gun moving, or any deformations whatsoever.

The only issue that was very clear on the gun is that the magazine well is oversized. If you just allow the magazine to hang, the Omni Hybrid works perfectly, but if you push down or sideways on the magazine, the gun can sometimes hang up. There is about 1/4” of play rocking the magazine front and back. They probably did this to accommodate MagPul P-Mags, because they tend to bow when you load them full. I think there was a little bit of overcompensation. This is not due to the bell on the magwell. It is clearly an extremely large tolerance that was created for reliability but somewhat backfired. It isn’t a deal killer on the gun, and we actually have already bought the full gun and extra receiver sent to us by ATI. I like it.

The weakest link on the gun is the magazine well. It is a little too slightly oversized so metal mags wiggle and can bind the gun up at certain angles.

The weakest link on the gun is the magazine well. It is a slightly oversized, so metal mags wiggle and can bind the gun up at certain angles.

One nice surprise on the Omni Hybrid was the accuracy. Mostly the accuracy on an AR depends on the upper, and

The Omni shot pretty well with our samples from Gorilla Ammo. At 100 yards with a 4x scope this is a good dispersal.

The Omni shot pretty well with our samples from Gorilla Ammo. At 100 yards with a 4x scope this is a good dispersal.

from what we can tell the uppers on these guns are for now franken-uppers made from mil-spec parts. There weren’t a lot of expectations going in with regards to accuracy. At 100 yards, using a 4x Hi-Lux scope, the Omni shot into about a 1.5” dispersal, well within generic AR accuracy standards. Our tests with Gorilla Ammo have been stellar so far, and this gun shot them well.

Right now the Omni receivers are not easy to get. American Tactical is showing them as out of stock, but the distributors are getting them, and that means that your dealer can get them too, either now or soon. If you have thought about buying a half-a-dozen AR receivers, these are a pretty good option at a very discounted price. We’ll be back with more on the Omni after SHOT Show. One bummer about them is that gloved hand trigger guard. You can’t use them with a SlideFire, and we were really looking forward to melting one down.

Made of mil-spec frankenparts, our test gun had a decent trigger and felt overall like a standard low cost parts AR.

Made of mil-spec frankenparts, our test gun had a decent trigger and felt overall like a standard low cost parts AR.

We were able to shoot the gun at length. Our test gun is a franken-AR built on the American Tactical lower.

We were able to shoot the gun at length. Our test gun is a franken-AR built on the American Tactical lower.

 

{ 18 comments }

{ 18 comments… add one }

  • John Jewett January 7, 2014, 9:21 am

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  • Ed January 7, 2014, 11:09 am

    Are we running out of metal in the USA? Seriously – what’s up here?? Personally I like metal to metal contact, like the rails on my 1911. I will go even further, I love milled steel receivers on guns, with milled steel small parts, like an S Series (not an “M”) AK. But now let’s think about this, would I buy, heck yes, as a collector I might buy several, …why you ask, because the chances of this endeavor going beyond a first edition is pretty slim – beyond 5 years – almost a certainty you will have a very rare rifle…leave it ( at least one ) untouched in the box and buy one to “play” with. I base my comments on historical data – not my distaste for plastic receiver long guns, and before you go barking at me about my “vision” realize I lived when the Nylon 66 came out (had two) and I lived in a DuPont NYLON FACTORY town where my family worked!!!

    • LHTwist January 7, 2014, 2:42 pm

      @Ed – I’d speculate that the point of the polymer receiver is not to ease any metal shortage but rather the $49 price tag.

      Go buy a couple as you say, one to play with and one to put back on the shelf. No matter which way the trend goes, you just might have a worthy investment. It could be either “a first run version” of the most popular receiver ever manufactured, or a pristine copy of the Edsel of the AR world.

      • Joel January 31, 2014, 7:23 am

        Let see…I bought my Beretta Storm CX4 9mm carbine when they first came out 10 years ago. I clean the bolt every 300 rounds or so and wipe the PLASTIC bolt carrier rails on the inside upper receiver. So far it still runs flawless (over 5000 rounds fired). Another fading fad with use of plastic? I have a New Frontier polymer lower on a new AR build. It was only $110 for a complete lower with a decent trigger. My only complaint is the the fit is so tight that the take down pins are nearly impossible to move. It took a little work to fit up but there’s no play or wiggle between the upper and lower you’d expect from an aluminum lower.

    • Peter Osborne January 31, 2014, 1:48 pm

      Cannot help but agree, but then , my favorite rifles are single shot Ballard’s pat. All steel and walnut. Shotguns, superposed Brownings.

  • Mark N. January 8, 2014, 3:58 pm

    I did some minimal research on the interwebs of these receivers, and there were NUMEROUS complaints of defective receivers when received and even failures in the metal parts. Great idea that should surpass the durability of polymer lowers, but I’ll wait to see if these hold up to the hype.

    • Administrator January 8, 2014, 4:03 pm

      You have to be very careful with what you believe online. There are shills who will tell you everything and anything. We got two of these guns actually and they are identical. Could the frankenparts vary? Yes, but that isn’t the product. The Omni itself is really just a piece of injected molded glass plastic with a metal insert. Either it fits and holds the rifle or it doesn’t.

      • Mark N. January 9, 2014, 1:56 am

        The source, when I went back to look, was a reviewer for The Firearm Blog, an experienced shooter who deemed it “unsafe,” and what he was looking at specifically was the lower. He found, as did the reviewer here, that the mag was loose, causing the mag release to not properly engage, and defects in the polymer pour. http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2013/12/19/gun-review-ati-omni-gen2-hybrid-polymer-ar15/

        • Administrator January 9, 2014, 9:54 am

          You have to be careful with people who overstep their credentials. Reporting that the mag well is oversized is fine, but unless you are a structural engineer with experience in glass filled polymers,and you know the interworkings of the product, saying something is “unsafe” is really just labeling yourself as a self important fool. He assumes that the ring is only mounted in the ring, and that the other metal embeds are independent. It is all one triple serialized part, as we explained. He had mags fall out, fair enough. If you read between the lines of the response from American Tactical, they suspect that he took the gun apart before shooting it. That is one of the problems with internet reviewers. Unless the parent organization takes responsibility for the qualifications of their writers and actually edits the material, what you are reading and making your purchasing decisions against is just “content” for someone to sell ads against. That particular blog is owned and run by a guy who lives in New Zealand and doesn’t even use his real name. Because he has *your* eyeballs, the industry takes it seriously, to its detriment. The story of the Omni is very simple. They made the magwell a little too big because they were overcompensating for P-Mags. -ph

          • Mark N. January 9, 2014, 2:12 pm

            You just beg the question, don’t you? Your qualifications are unstated and presumably no different than that particular reviewers, as I think it is safe to assume you are not structural engineers either. And he stated that he did not disassemble the firearm, but even had he done so it would be irrelevant, because everyone disassembles their firearms for cleanings and inspections. If the product cannot stand disassembly by a common purchaser and only by a “qualified gunsmith”, one has to wonder about the quality, durability, and reliability of the product. And the mag well is still oversized, something that does not appear to be a common issue with any other name brand AR. That implicates the quality of their engineering, doesn’t it, if they can’t get the dimensions right? By being pedantic, you have now convinced me to avoid this product at all costs.
            The fact that the owner lives in New Zealand is also irrelevant, as it has nothing to do with his qualifications as a gun writer.

  • Brian Ahearn January 14, 2014, 8:04 am

    In November 2013 I bought three of these receivers to experiment with for three builds that our company was planning to do. I liked the design of their second generation poly receivers and I am not afraid to try new products. I have one of their gen one poly receivers on a complete ATI rifle which has not cracked to date or had any other issues. Each year we build new shop and gun show examples to show off our companies cerakote refinishing. I had to send all three back to ATI . The magwells are grossly out of spec. -fact not fiction. On a finished lower receiver using Mil spec parts the mag will wobble excessively and it can walk off the bolt catch and it is barely held in by the mag release. You are sure to having some feed and extraction issues. I then took all their parts from my Gen 1 ATI rifle lower and installed them on all three of my ATI Omni Hybrid lowers and tried to fit them to the Gen 1 ATI rifle using their factory supplied mag and produced the same lousy results. I sent them back to ATI the week before Christmas 2013 and one of their gunsmiths did respond back and ask what the problem was. Since then I have not heard another word from ATI concerning my three lowers. I still like the design of this new lower and the large trigger guard ,but unless they can return to me three lowers that will actually will work on a rifle they are of zero use to me. I have not heard another word from them since the week after Christmas.
    My back round in case you want to question it USMC 2111 Armorer retired.

  • Kyle January 31, 2014, 7:47 am

    Polymer lowers do in fact work, just have to buy the right one. My new frontier armory lower has been fantastic and is the tightest fitting lower I’ve tried and I’m using an LMT upper. Yes you read correctly, I’m using a $100 polymer lower on a $750 upper. If you’re looking for a polymer lower that’s the route I’d choose.

  • Kyle January 31, 2014, 7:47 am

    Polymer lowers do in fact work, just have to buy the right one. My new frontier armory lower has been fantastic and is the tightest fitting lower I’ve tried and I’m using an LMT upper. Yes you read correctly, I’m using a $100 polymer lower on a $750 upper. If you’re looking for a polymer lower that’s the route I’d choose.

  • Don February 1, 2014, 4:13 pm

    I keep hearing about the mags dropping out but can someone state which mags, what brand?

  • Don February 1, 2014, 4:51 pm

    Is it only a certain mag, I was really considering buying one, but here mixed reviews.

  • sam May 7, 2014, 8:21 pm

    wish I had read these comments before, I just picked up my Omni Hybrid yesterday and while examining the weapon I noticed the mag that came with the gun feels really loose in the mag well. I called my son who recently purchased an Omni Hybrid and has test fired it, he said he has to pull back and up on the mag to catch a round and forward and up to load the round into the chamber. Asked if he has tried something besides the steel mag that came with the weapon he responded that after the incident he purchased a p mag and the same thing is happening. how is the turn around at ATI for fixes?

    • Administrator May 7, 2014, 11:01 pm

      You can’t fix something that is out of spec. Duct tape!

  • james miller July 14, 2014, 8:42 pm

    I have bought 2 ati omni hybrids. And i ati 22. I have had problems with all three. To start. The first one i took to the range the forward assist blew out on the first shot. Tried replacing it a found it was out of spec. On the second one i got the upper reciever rear takedown hole was not milled properly it was gouged and tore all up. The 3 was the 22 ar from ati i went to pick it up at the dealler and when i opened the box the whole area around the hand guard ring was cracked all the way back past and under the dust cover. So i couldnt except the gun. That means the gun could not have been test fired or examined. The box was not damaged in shipment. Ati is very sloppy with how they handle weapons and the safety of the weapons. Yea everybody wants cheaper ar guns but not at this cost or trouble. All im saying is be prepared you get what you pay for. I personally would avoid ati just because im just one person who had trouble with three guns from ati. I was in the army active duty SGT. I was also an armor in korea for army. Not once have i ever had or seen a forward assist blow out or cracks that go the whole way around a rifle or out of spec parts. Metal on metal will always be the right thinking thats why its not cheap thinking. Safety first and then quality. You would think they go hand in hand but not with ati. They believe if its cheap they will buy and thats just crossing your fingers. So when you decide to purchase an ati weapon or product dont forget to cross your fingers.

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