When the NEMO Executive Order ( XO) came in for review, I was wholly unprepared for what was about to happen. The test model was in 6.5 Creedmoor, which is a plus. Not unique, but not all that common in AR platforms yet either. Still, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to testing another AR. I test dozens in a given year, and here is a bit of breaking news – most of them are largely the same. Shocking I know, but there just isn’t that much difference rifle to rifle. That difference actually gets slimmer as the price goes up since there are only so many premium components to go around. The furniture might be a little snazzy, but not much else. What I found in the NEMO isn’t a carbon copy with a sexy paint job. What is inside is actually groundbreaking.
First, let us get the parts we expected out of the way, given the price tag of $3800. And largely, they are what you expect. Geissele trigger, check. It breaks clean, it’s light, and it works. It says Giesselle on the side, so that is kind of old hat at this point. An excellent choice, but plenty of ink has been spilled on the Geissele family of triggers. The XO sports the Super Dynamic Enhanced, a two stage. Fantastic trigger, moving on.
The fit and finish are great, again as expected. At this price, it would only be a story if they sucked. The handguard is a little on the big side, but still very functional. I actually prefer a larger handguard, so no complaints from me. The rifle is fully ambidextrous, with a NEMO unique right side bolt lock/release. They went for a swinging lever instead of a push lever, which is at least different. After a few practice runs, it was second nature. So check.
The stock is a collapsible Magpul, and the pistol grip is a MIAD from the same house. Good choices, but pretty standard. Check.
Then things start to get interesting. The takedown pins and muzzle device are titanium, cutting precious ounces. Pretty cool, and at least off the beaten path. Not enough to justify the price tag alone, but heading in the right direction.
The 22-inch barrel is a Bartlein blank, cut in-house. Now you have my attention. First, I really like 22 inches for the 6.5 Creedmore cartridge. It provides a fantastic balance of gun handling and ballistic performance. Most importantly for the NEMO, they got the profile exactly right. For many companies, the 6.5 CM is their flagship gun, the big boy. Because of that, they err on the side of caution with the barrel profile. Most of the comparable price point AR’s I have picked up are extremely front heavy, with a bull barrel profile. Fine if you are only walking from your car to a bench, but less than ideal for a field gun.
NEMO is probably helped in this arena by the fact that a 6.5 CM or 308 is still the medium sized gun in their line up. With AR’s that go up to 300 Win Mag, you think a little bit more about weight distribution. The XO has a true medium profile, and thanks to the barrel wizards, gives up nothing in accuracy. The result is a supremely balanced rifle, that will shoot .35 MOA groups. Seriously. The gun feels so good to carry, I kept rechecking the length, to ensure it wasn’t 18 inches.
The accuracy is amazing, no question about that. Sub .4 MOA from a gas gun is insane, that blows the doors off most bolt guns. And sans my bad wind call on shot #4, it seems capable of doing so at 950 meters for a repeat performance. Thank you, Hornady ELD Match. But that still isn’t the only magic. Half MOA or better, I kind of expect at this price. And you should too. The game changer is actually in the bolt carrier.
The bolt carrier is nickel boron coated, which is cool. Nickel Boron helps both longevity and reliability, and you don’t see it that often. But the big surprise came when I popped the bolt out to look at it. The NEMO carrier has what looks like a bolt within a bolt, cut into the back end. They call it the recoil reducing bolt carrier, and it is patented technology. Between us girls, I am comfortable telling you that it sounded like a load of horse pucky to me. I work in the gun business, I see a lot of bad ideas brought to life, as well as mountains of worthless gimmicks. But bad news for everyone else in the large frame AR business- it works.
The result is an incredibly soft shooting rifle, so light on recoil it is hard to put words to. Spotting your own impacts is effortless, even at close range. I was actually shocked the first couple of times I pulled the trigger. It was so soft, it made me think it wasn’t possible. Now you may be asking yourself, isn’t 6.5 Creedmore already a soft recoiling round? Yes, it is. And I had the same thought. So much so, that I drove back to the factory ( located just down the road, fortunately for me) and borrowed a 16 inch 308 upper, only to feel the recoil.
You may or may not know this, but a 16 inch 308 kicks like a mule. In the right circumstances, I think you could put a satellite into orbit with one. Something about that bullet and barrel length in an AR, it is actually obnoxious to shoot normally. I have tested a lot of them, it’s par for the course. And the NEMO system tames it too. Even in a light gun ( 308 configuration is 8.2 pounds), recoil is reduced by what I would say is 30%. It is unreal. I’ve never seen anything like it.
So while this gun is pricey, you get a lot for your money. I was staggered by both the accuracy, and the benefit of the bolt carrier system. It shoots tighter than any large frame AR I have tested and recoils like a 5.56 gun. I don’t say this often, but I have no qualms about it with this one. If the war started tomorrow, this is the one I would want.
To learn more about the NEMO XO visit NEMO Arms by clicking here.