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