A Sub-five-pound AR-15 And A 120-pound Hottie For When Weight Matters

Sometimes a couple of pounds makes all the difference…


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Most people who take up rifles for hunting, target shooting, defense, and competition are able-bodied adult males. Most people who serve in the military are also able-bodied adults. As a result, not everyone understands just how much they overmatch certain smaller, shorter, and less strong shooters in the ability to handle an 8 pound rifle effectively.To fully appreciate the extent of the weight and reach problem, try aiming a light machine gun like a PKM or an MG34 off hand. That would be a challenge for a 6 foot 180 pound adult man proportional to what a short, lightly built woman would face with a conventional AR15.

Further reduction of barrel length brings the rifle under NFA regulations. It also decreases terminal effect and increases muzzle blast quite considerably. Not a deal-breaker for SWAT entry teams with select-fire weapons and ear protection, which is a bit of a problem for a home defender.

I.C.E. Training rifle, a Rob Pincus design produced by MAG Tactical, tried to combine all those qualities into a viable weapon. A 14.5″ light barrel with a fixed muzzle brake gives it the necessary length to avoid NFA restrictions, and magnesium alloy receiver combined with carbon fiber forend bring the weight down to 4.5 to 4.8 pounds with Aimpoint T1 sight installed. A crisp trigger allows practical accuracy around 2MOA in slow fire. The light barrel limits its heat endurance, but the substantial standoff between the forend and the barrel allows rapid fire until the gun overheats instead of when your hands get uncomfortable. While Rob Pincus intended it as a competition and training rifle, I see it more as a defensive or hunting weapon. Few defensive or hunting uses require more than a few shots fired, and certainly fewer than a couple of 30-round magazines this weapon can emit before the barrel profile comes into play.

While a sub-5lb bolt actions are easier to make, they lack the recoil amortization of the built-in buffer and tend to be rather less pleasant to fire. They also lack the emergency rate of fire helpful for breaking off a bear or urban goblin charge should the owner run into such an eventuality.

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