First Ever “Bedded Action” AR-15 Sub-MOA Athena Rifle $1,799 – SHOT Show 2020

A lot of times you hear the claim that “this product sets a new bar for blah blah blah,” but it is seldom true. With AR-15s, it is almost never true. The technology itself has not changed much since the 1950s. You can cut a barrel in a different way, slower. You can cut the tolerances down. You can build components out of more efficient materials. But the core capabilities of the rifle have not changed.

Often the price has changed though. It is not uncommon to find “regular old” AR-15s at SHOT Show with over $3,000 price tags.

Drake Athena 16″ rifle in 5.56.

The Drake Associates Athena rifle is a completely different thing, for real, and the MSRP is only $1,799.

Chris Drake has a long history in bolt gun chassis, and helped develop the Savage Stealth series of chassis guns. In that development, he had to boil down what makes a chassis work, and why it is essential to keep the entire barrel, from the chamber forward, as a free float entity.

On the AR-15, the chamber is captive by the barrel nut, and that barrel nut is the mounting point for products that are commonly termed “free float” forends. That means that the barrel is not truly free floating. When the rifle is rested on a bipod, a pack, a sandbag, a sled, or even your hand, there is pressure on the barrel nut, and that pressure interacts with the harmonics of the barrel when a round is fired.

The proprietary barrel nut is truly free-float and doesn’t make contact with any part of the frame.

It is impossible for that pressure to be consistent from shot to shot, and this means that the harmonic feedback waves in the system negatively effect accuracy. This is no gimmick folks. Meditate upon it. There is no way that a captive barrel nut cannot effect accuracy.

The Athena completely free floats the barrel nut, because the chassis is mated to the actual receiver. There is no product like this in the market, period.

The ledge in front of the mag-well is designed as a rest point.

Drake Associates has run the system through apples to apples testing with factory ammo, and the same barrels from the same maker. Bare bones accuracy enhancement has been in the 40% range, delivering easily groups in the sub minute-of-angle range with the same high end parts in the Athena.

Mechanical bench rest used for testing that eliminates all human error.

At $1,799, with nothing else to buy, that makes the Athena a game changer across many disciplines, from competition shooting to varmints to sniper work, to just a totally cool and reasonably priced gun to bring to the range.

Consistent sub MOA results with the Athena

We hope to get an Athena rifle in from Drake Associates at some point soon for a full review. It seems very promising, and Chris Drake seems to be dedicated to bringing a ground breaking product to market at a more than competitive price. The first wave of guns will be in the .556 family, soon followed by the larger .308, 6.5, 6mm family. Exciting stuff.

Chris Drake at SHOT Show 2020 – owner of Drake Associates and creator of the Athena Rifle system.

Learn More at Drake Associates: https://drakeassociates.us/

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{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Slim January 30, 2020, 1:37 am

    Is it me it is that a freaking barrel nut?! If the barrel nut is used it’s the SAME as ANY other free float hand guard setup except in this super ugly chassis. Fact is if there’s a barrel nut and the hand guard is attached to it there will be some sort of accuracy variances. But if your talking AR’s in regards to a tack driving rifle, your in the wrong league with the wrong gun. AR’s are great guns as I own lots, but they are not and never we’re made to be long distance precision shooters. They are what they are, a good all around rifle that in the right hands can do some pretty amazing shots, but will never ever no matter what’s done or not done to it shoot like a bolt action true sniper rifle that has a much bigger caliber that’s made for distance and precision.
    I guess I’m missing the special part they claim that’s not attached to the upper which IS apart of the chassis. I don’t get what’s special here!

    • Paul Helinski January 30, 2020, 11:12 am

      Yea you are too stupid to get it. It never said there was no barrel nut. It is a standard AR. It’s that the chassis, where the pressure from your hand, a bipod, or a rest, mates to the action, like a bolt gun. Might want to just stick to legos.

  • Mark Kiernan January 27, 2020, 3:10 pm

    I used a thin piece of Aluminum flashing to ‘shim’ up the action/barrel on my 700 7mm mag so the barrel isn’t touching the stock. it shoots sub MOA with ballistic tip anything and MOA with corelokts.

  • Sam January 27, 2020, 11:14 am

    Aero Precision Enhanced uppers do this…

    • John Williams February 4, 2020, 3:36 pm

      No they don’t, the hand guard attachment is part of the upper that mimics what jp originally did with their hand guard mounting system. It still effects the harmonics. The monolithic lower on the other hand isolates any interference better.

  • johnnyraygun January 27, 2020, 10:38 am

    I think the free float AR is a game changer and we will see more of the design. I look forward to a better long range caliber, 556 at 1000 yards has nothing left. Great job on design.

  • Dexter Winslett January 27, 2020, 9:57 am

    WHY bed a metal stock. It does not warp. Foolishness!

  • Kurt Hollyday January 27, 2020, 9:27 am

    Nice, I have a Smith & Wesson AR that shoots 1/2 moa all day with cheap surplus lake city 62 grain, green tip ammo. Oh, and it cost me $400 brand new out-the -door. I guess I got lucky. My good friend has one that loves steel cased crappy tulla .223 in 55 grain. he stays at 1 moa with that. I’ve found that finding the ammo your weapon likes is the biggest part to accuracy. I love guns that love cheap ammo!!!!!!

    • G.O.A. Patriot January 27, 2020, 12:25 pm

      I hand load for each individual rifle I own and achieve 1/2 MOA with all my AR’s with CMR scopes on them. Optics are sixty plus year old eyes friend! Interestingly, the same brand rifle identical for all intents and purposes each like a few tenths of a grain difference with the same bullet weight?! Makes me think they each have their own personalities???

    • Peter Brown January 27, 2020, 1:39 pm

      Exactly right. Though costly and time consuming, tightly controlled ammo testing in a rifle pays huge dividends.

  • Badboy4unix January 27, 2020, 9:03 am

    My 30 year old Colt HBAR can do 100yd ballantines using crap American Eagle ammo. With a $99.00 scope..

    • Kalashikov Dude January 27, 2020, 10:08 am

      The HBar was $1200 30 years ago. Today it’s a basic rifle most folks can build up from an 80% receiver with higher quality and more bells and whistles for well under $1000 . $1700 in today’s dollars on a newly innovated chassis style platform seems like more for less. Plus, none of the stigma attached to the Colt name and their pandering to liberals and snobs. But hey, that’s just me talking. All those years back, the Delta HBar was the rifle I drooled over, but couldn’t afford. Which directly resulted in why I call myself Kalashnikov Dude 30 years later : )

      • G.O.A. Patriot January 27, 2020, 12:33 pm

        The accuracy of the Kalashnikov has been severely underrated bro! Although not the tack drivers my AR’s are, I can hold 1″ to 1 1/2″ MOA at a hundred yards with my Romanian Ak’s and when the AR’s get dirty and quit, the AK’s just keep going and going and going until they get so hot you can’t hold the foregrip anymore!

      • Nathan January 27, 2020, 2:46 pm

        Colt doesn’t and didn’t make the decision to stop selling AR’s because they give a shit what liberals and snobs think. They did it, simply, because there are a plethora of quality AR’s on the market now. They are well aware of this and want to further their military contracts. The very thing that made Colt the reliable, battle tested, company they are known to be. Talk to armorers that worked at NAVSEA in Crane like Ken Elmore (former Crane Colt armorer, now owns and operates Specialized Armaments.) Yeah, he left Colt, but still believes in their products and improving on
        those products. Not everything is Blue Vs. Red. Looking at an anti-gunner and calling them a libtard, because they don’t agree with you, will NEVER convince them the 2A is something they should support. It just makes gun owners seem just as unreasonable as we think they are. We have to be better!

    • Pat January 27, 2020, 10:43 am

      Pics or it didn’t happen

    • Archangel January 28, 2020, 1:15 pm

      What the hell are “ballantines”?
      It’s searching as either a swimming sport or a bottle of Whiskey!

  • Ryan January 27, 2020, 8:04 am

    Larue tactical has been doing it for years. Nothing new here.

    • Pantexan January 27, 2020, 12:26 pm

      but for a lot more $$$

  • Dr Motown January 27, 2020, 7:46 am

    Weight? Adjustable gas block for suppressor? Removable flash hider? Would like to see some specs

    • Jerry Jones January 27, 2020, 10:11 am

      “We hope to get an Athena rifle in from Drake Associates at some point soon for a full review. It seems very promising, and Chris Drake seems to be dedicated to bringing a ground breaking product to market at a more than competitive price”…..

      I guess you missed that part of the Article

      • G.O.A. Patriot January 27, 2020, 12:34 pm

        Some people only see what they want to see???

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