When MMC Armory approached me to review its brand new Recon 16.1 and Tactical C16.1 AR15s, I could feel my eyes roll into the back of my head, thinking “ohh great, yet another new company that wants to gang pile on the AR15 demand.” Actually, MMC Armory is a division of Mennie Machine, which has been around for a number of years as an OEM AR15, heavy arms, DOD, and military parts manufacture. The company is unable to disclose its specific clients or projects because of legal restrictions, but it has impressive experience, and their expertise is visible in their new line of rifles.
Still, MMC isn’t yet a household name. My initial discussion with Erik Davis at MMC Armory was a little weird.
Max – “Aren’t you guys the same MMC that had those quality and reliability issues?”
Erik@MMC – “No, that was a different MMC company completely.”
Max – “Are you affiliated with MMC who makes billet 80% AR15 lowers?”
Erik@MMC – “No, that’s a different company also.”
Max – “Have you considered changing your name, because your name is a bit confusing?”
Erik@MMC – “Well… sadly, it has been considered.”
Want proof that this MMC is not messing around in this market? If the impressive ISO/TS 16949:2009 Certification and 250,000-square-foot facility is not enough to convince you, the equipment list should blow you away. The on-site equipment includes twenty-three horizontal machining centers, forty-nine CNC vertical machine centers, thirty-one CNC horizontal lathes, forty-three CNC vertical lathes, fourteen CNC FANUC Robots, nine CNC gun drilling machines, nine CNC grinders, two spline rollers, four heat treatment machines, two honing machines, nine CNC coordinate measuring machines, and thirty five miscellaneous machines…. It is not a small shop. MMC is not just yet another assembler bolting together purchased parts; it is simply releasing its own builds with its names on the sides of the guns in addition to continuing to make parts for clients.
Generally the parts used within the AR15 industry are made by only a small handful of primary OEM manufacturers who actually make parts. I hate to disappoint people, but there is a high probably that over 95% of the parts on your factory AR15 were not made by the company whose name appears on the side of the receiver. MMC is one of the companies that make the parts for the manufacturers you love. MMC is rifling and profiling the barrels, manufacturing the receivers from 7075 forgings, and turning/milling the bolts and carriers, gas blocks, flash hiders, charging handles, and even buffer tubes all in-house. MMC does use some miscellaneous parts from U.S. manufacturers, such as triggers and springs, but the vast majority of everything in the box is made within MMC’s four walls.
MMC is also doing some unique and high-end upgrades to its rifles that include a nitride-treated barrel for corrosion durability, internally polished buffer tube to deliver a quieter and smoother cycling, multi-coordinate precision chamber reaming to assure perfectly aligned 5.56 NATA chambering to the axis and center of the bore to maximize accuracy, and nitride treating and tuning the stock triggers to improve feel and break to around five pounds. MMC also has its own proprietary tapered barrel design that is CAD designed to improve rigidity and maximize accuracy while being as light as possible. So to be blunt, the MMC Armory is not just another “me too, AR15 clone” and offers some potential design improvement over your standard AR15. Looking at the quality of the two rifles provided, the component quality of these rifles reminds me of Daniel Defense, Bravo Company, and Barnes Precision Machine. That’s fitting, as the MSRP for the Recon is $1,599. The Tactical comes in just a bit below that at $1,579.
With that background and two AR15 cases containing the MMC Recon 16.1 and Tactical C16.1 rifles bouncing around in the back of my truck, I headed off to the range see how these rifles performed.
MMC now has SBR (Short Barrel Rifles), AR15 pistols and versions with collapsible stocks, but these two rifles were similar 16″-barreled AR15s with exactly the same complete lower receivers but different uppers. This is a similar strategy for almost every AR15 manufacturer. The 7075 lowers both feature six-position internally polished buffer tubes with the awesomely great rattle free cam-locking Rogers SuperStoc, MMC branded grip and magazine, MMC’s own polymer extended trigger guard, and the tuned and nitride-treated trigger noted earlier.
Both uppers feature billet machined charging handles with ambi-latch, nickel-boron treated BCG (Bolt Carrier Groups), 1:8 twist 5.56 NATO chambered mid-length gas system barrels, and forward assists. The nine-pound Recon 16.1 features a M4 style barrel with a standard birdcage flash hider and beefy Troy Quadrail. The eight-pound Tactical C16.1 features a lightweight tapered pencil barrel with a Troy Alpha rail, and MMC’s own single chamber compact muzzle brake.
Fit was good between the upper and lower without being so tight that a punch is required to remove the pins. Anodizing was dark and consistent between the upper and lower receivers and it even matched—it may seem odd, but many manufacturers’ finishes do not match between the receivers.
On the range, the Recon looks and feels heavier than the Tactical C16.1.—not by a lot, but that extra pound is enough that it is noticeable. With that weight and fatter barrel come a bit more offhand stability and a bit better accuracy than the lightweight Tactical C16.1. I would have thought that the weight of the Recon would deliver a bit softer shooting than the lighter Tactical C16.1, but MMC’s single chamber brake on the Tactical C16.1 actually delivered the lighter shooting rifle, though considerably louder. There was also less perceived muzzle rise.
Each rifle has its place. The heavy barrel and Troy quadrail of the Recon deliver attachment flexibility and potentially better accuracy as the barrel heats up. The Recon also feels like an AR15 that could survive the end of the earth with that thick Troy Quadrail attached. The Tactical C16.1 offers a lighter and slimmer rifle compatible with Troy’s assortment of aftermarket accessories and rails.
Thankfully, .223 ammo is starting to become available again in reasonable quantities, and I was able to pick up 500 rounds of American Eagle brass cased 55gr FMJ rounds and a box of Hornady Tap 62gr rounds for accuracy testing. The stock waffle-mag worked fine and is actually a pretty nice design and was totally reliable. I had zero issues with feeding and functioning from the first to the last rounds sent downrange and did not clean either rifle or use any “break-in” process. All the Magpul, Troy, TangoDown and standard Mil-Spec aluminum and stainless mags tested dropped free from the receiver and provided problem-free feeding and last-round lock-back.
Once I was through blasting away on my Action Targets and listening to that wonderful ting, ting, ting of lead on steel, I did a few run-throughs of my standard rifle testing process. This involves shooting from prone, kneeling, sitting, standing, standing supported and kneeling around a barrier unsupported. Personally, I liked the lightweight Tactical model better. To me, the smooth slim Alpha rail delivered my mid-sized hands a more comfortable grip and the overall lighter weight of the Tactical C16.1 delivered a less fatiguing assault on my evil steel target.
I then slipped on a Konus Pro 1.5-5 optic for the 100-yard bench rest group shooting. Obviously this is not a high magnification optic, but it does represent a good flexible competition or defense choice for either of these rifles. After tabulating of the rain-drenched targets, both MMC rifles delivered very good accuracy. There may be something to that whole coordinate chamber reaming thing. The American Eagle 55gr FMJ delivered a pleasing average five-shot 100-yard group in the 1.18″ with the Recon and 1.21″ on the Tactical C16.1. Similarly with the match grade Hornady 62gr TAP ammo, I managed an average .82″ with the Recon and .93″ with the Tactical C16.1.
MMC obviously did not provide the rifles for me to choose which I liked best or enter them both in a winner-takes-all death grudge match against each other. The company provided these rifles as samples of what will probably be their most popular rifles to demonstrate the fit feel and finish currently offered in its line—similar base rifles in two different flavors; one bigger and beefier and the other lighter and slimmer. During SHOT Show 2014, MMC was showing many… many different configurations of rifles, SBRs, and AR15 pistols.
Admittedly, MMC Armory has a bit of an uphill public relations battle when it comes to its name, but I hope that articles such as this will push you to consider giving MMC’s in house manufactured rifle a try.