Buy one on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=primary%20weapons%20systems
Read more at PWS: http://primaryweapons.com/store/product-category/firearms/modern-musket/
Concept of the Modern Musket
When Primary Weapon Systems introduced their Modern Musket, they were really trying to call attention to the rights that are guaranteed to us in the Second Amendment to the Constitution. As a matter of fact, their tagline was “It’s not a need. It’s your right.” Keeping with the theme of the musket, the value of this rifle is not measured only by its price, but what it could provide. The value of the musket was found in its ability to put game on the table, the tradition that could be passed down from generation to generation, and the means to cast aside the yolk of tyranny if called for. This is a pretty tall order if you ask me, but these are traits that we all want in our guns.
When an AR is Not Just an AR
It seems like these days you can have just about anything you want on the AR platform. But, as my dad used to tell me, “Just because it fits, doesn’t mean that it’s going to work well.” The good folks at Primary Weapons Systems wanted to create a light, reliable gun that had all the key features of a modern musket, and none of the junk that we so often see stuck onto rifles just to increase the price.
With this goal in mind, they started off with the PWS Enhanced Bolt Carrier, which is a precision-machined part. These bolt carriers have increased mass to extend the dwell time and delay the unlock. What exactly does that mean to the end-user? It allows for a lower chamber pressure, which translates into easier extraction. To reduce friction, they designed a custom bolt with fewer points of contact than a standard bolt carrier. The entire bolt carrier is coated in Isonite QPQ, which greatly reduces friction over standard parkerizing. A BCM Gunfighter charging handle is used to run the bolt.
This MM DI-16 comes equipped with the PWS Enhanced buffer-machined tube with an anti-tilt lip that has been fluted to reduce weight. The rifle also boasts a several QD mounts for quick sling attachment. This is not some rolled or extruded chunk of metal- this is a very nice piece of machine work in and of itself. The PWS DI hand guard is made from aluminum and allows endless possibilities for securing optics, lights, and slings; and yet it is extremely lightweight, at only 13.3 ounces, and almost indestructible. It also allows for a completely free-floated barrel. This hand guard features their key system, which allows you to add accessories anywhere along the hand guard without Picatinny rails running the entire length of it.
PWS turns all of their barrels in-house to assure the highest quality possible. They feature a one and eight twist, which works well for ammunition weighing 55 grains or more. They are also chambered in the .223 Wylde, which will allow you to shoot your choice of 5.56 NATO or .223 Remington rounds. One of the gems in this rifle’s design is the profile that they cut out of the outer barrel to reduce weight without compromising maximum strength. The machined PWS DI gas block significantly reduces the weight on the end of the barrel. On this rifle in particular, the barrel is topped off with PWS’s FSC series muzzle device, which is a combination muzzle brake, flash hider and suppressor mount.
On the Range
Prior to taking this rifle to the range, I mounted a Surefire X300 light, Magpul MBUS backup sights, and an Aimpoint Micro H1 2MOA. These make up my standard accessory package for an AR 15 rifle. I purposely did not lubricate this rifle prior to going to the range. I did a cursory disassembly and inspection just to take a look at the fit and finish, threw it back together and in the truck it went.
I fired approximately one hundred rounds at distances from 7 yards to 200 yards during my first day at the range with this gun. This gave me an appreciation of how the rifle would function under the conditions in which I would expect to potentially deploy it. The MM DI-16 was remarkably accurate, easy to handle and operated without a hiccup. My next opportunity to un-sheath this modern musket was during a night carbine class I was attending, and it happened to be raining outside. I fired an estimated 400 additional rounds through the rifle during a pretty significant downpour. Even under these circumstances, the rifle again performed flawlessly. As I had a long drive back from Ohio, the rifle was simply stuck back in the case wet when I was done shooting.
I skinned the poor PWS rifle from its case about a week later when I was teaching a class. Over the next several days, I and other instructors ran the rifle, demonstrating various shooting techniques. The only complaint, which was given by one of my instructors standing next to me in line, was that the muzzle blast was quite significant. The rifle again ran without operational issue. At this point, this rifle has run close to 2,000 rounds, fired by at least half a dozen different shooters, without any care or lubrication. I’m not a big proponent of the torture test (do you judge a car by how well it runs without regular oil changes?) and that’s not what I set out to do, but I have certainly made this rifle my beast of burden and it has not complained. I will eventually clean and properly care for this rifle, but its performance without being maintained is certainly worth noting.
When $1,499.95 Looks like a Bargain
Unless you’ve been living under a rock without Internet access for the last year, you’re aware that the price of ARs has been in freefall. I can say without exaggeration that what used to be an $800 or $900 rifle is now easily found for $600. Every day. Rifles that were previously unobtainable are now on bargain closeout websites. So how on Earth can this rifle be valued at close to $1,500? When you compare it to any of the MK2 rifles that PWS makes in the $2600 price range, or perhaps the MK1 rifles in the $2000 price range, $1,500 starts to look like a smaller number.
I think the folks at PWS are in the business of building rifles that are serious, purpose-driven guns. I’ve often suggested to many of my friends that although quantity has a quality of its own, most of us are not in a position as individuals to take advantage of that. The vast majority of us would be better off relying on limited amounts of high quality. To put it less poetically, instead of buying a bunch of cheap guns, by one really good gun, cause you can only shoot one rifle at a time.
Has this gun from PWS set the standard of the modern musket? I think exploring the answer to that is compelling, but you’re going to have to be willing to commit. There’s an old adage: “The man with one gun probably knows how to use it.” I would even go further and add “He knows what it’s capable of, as well as himself.” If you’re looking for that “one gun,” this rifle might just be for you.
- Weight – 6 lbs, 12 oz
- Overall Length – 33”
- Barrel Length – 16”
- Muzzle Velocity – 2993 ft/sec
- Muzzle Energy – 1233 ft-lbs
- Muzzle Device – FSC 556
The MM series bolt carriers are finished with ISONITE QPQ (Salt Bath Nitriding): The ISONITE QPQ process (AMS2753C) is a high-performance variety of salt bath nitrocarburizing. It is a thermo-chemical diffusion process whereby nitrogen-bearing salts generate a controlled release of nitrogen at the interface of a ferrous part.
- Improved Durability
- Corrosion Resistance Better than Chrome Plating
- Low Material Distortion
- Greater Resistance To abrasion And seizure
- Fatigue Endurance is Extended
- Heat Resistance
- Uniform Black Appearance