SOLGW: The Final Thoughts Part 1

So……about 6 months ago P&S was contacted by Michael Mihalski, who owns Sons of Liberty Gun Works, about reviewing one of his turnkey rifles, cause unlike most manufacturers, he wanted to prove his product was worthy and could be trusted. Matt Landfair turned the project over to me and I linked up with Michael about the rifle. Michael stated he wanted to send me one of his rifles along with 5k rounds to do with it what I pleased, just wanting unbiased feedback and a review done. I was like yea cool, I can get down with that. Now mind you, I consider myself pretty well connected to the industry, but this the first time I’ve heard of these dudes. So I was like ehhh, another group dudes throwing parts together and making a shootin stick. In the interest of honesty, I didn’t have high hopes. I intentionally didn’t google them so I didn’t see reviews and expect anything predetermined about the rifle. Now after 1k rounds, I started seeing their name pop up and snooped around the internet to see generally good reviews. The sources of the review are less important than the fact that I didn’t really find any negative reviews and that speaks volumes in the days of interwebz rifle experts.

At this end of this review, the rifle will be sent back to Michael and his boys, there is no incentive in this for me. Even the rounds given aren’t much of a perk, cause well, 5k rounds doesn’t excite me much. Your ammo problems aren’t my problems, I shoot often and a lot, given my job description. So with that said, we ensured this was a unbiased review and I’m the man for the job. I’ll tell my mom her cooking is fucked and she needs to fix it if it were “duty grade” and dudes relied on that nutritional delight to survive.

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So anyways, moving on. This written review isn’t going to be super technical or layout material types or anything like that, because if you wanna know it all you can roll on over to SOLGW’s website and see it for yourself. Those boys break down their specs like a freakin’ shotgun and don’t hold back. Every part is spec’d out for you to see for yourself. That kind of transparency impressed me. Anyways, this review is meant for the average cop, troop or other professional end user who has a limited understanding and knowledge base of rifles other than how to operate them efficiently and is looking to buy a reliable and quality rifle that he may someday have to use to save you, your family and/or himself. So this is gonna be a laymen terms type review, which some of you aren’t used to, but I just don’t see the point of going overboard and speaking armorer for half the review. If specific questions exist, there is a thread on the Facebook group where you can ask.

With all that being said, this review is for professional and duty use in mind and thus I will be extremely critical. More than a few malfunctions and this rifle will be blasted like Brittany Spears did by the media when she went full retard and shaved her head. Its 2016 and the AR platform is nearing perfection, so the occasional malfunction is NOT acceptable. If I buy a damn car at the dealership and while driving it, it occasionally malfunctions and stops working on the way home and the proceeding weeks until I do some action to fix said problem, I’m hauling that hunk of shit back to the dealership. Now with due time, parts get worn and need to be replaced, but the keyword in my statement is “with due time” and different parts have different expectations of time performance.

So I received this rifle from Michael promptly and began to fingerbang it. The feel of a rifle is a thing and with a lot of quality rifles on the market, ergonomics are often influential. The rifle had a solid feel and looked well put together. I broke it down and inspected the parts looking for staking, correct feed ramps and fitment. All was well in SOLGW rifle land. The rail was well thought out, but nothing overly innovative, which can be a good thing. There is only so many ways to make a rail and/or put your own spin on it. A big one for me is the right balance of its circumference. To fat and I feel like Im holding a baseball bat and if its too skinny, Im suffering 7th degree burns on my hand by round 18. These dudes did it right. The rail was MLOK with picatinny on the end for easy attachment of accessories, cause as long as our nations military has pic, accessories for the rifle will predominately come with mounts for the rail. I also tested the trigger pull, which was SOLGW’s Fighting Liberty Trigger, and it consistently came in at exactly 6 pounds. I additionally tested headspace and it was good to go, passed using field gauges.

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So I slapped a T1 on that bad boy and a Scout M600U with a Danger Close offset mount. I had a SR07 at 12 o’clock too. Other than that, the rifle stayed stock. It came with a birdcage on it, which I hate more than corrupt politicians and needed to change soon. I got with Michael and expressed my hate and discontent, to which he told me to pick a different one. Now SOLGW offers customization to a good extent on the site, so with that, I picked a new comp from their available options since it was realistic for one of you fellars to get one with your lead slinger. I went with the BCM Comp and Michael shipped er out. Unfortunately for us, it was threaded incorrectly and would not align as need without shims that I didn’t have. Again, like a broken record of making things good, I hit Michael up who replaced it with a Surefire Warcomp.

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So time for the part that actually counts, the shooting. The first thing I did was break this beast in right by doing a 400 round test. I loaded up all the mags and had my AI stage em to hand em off to me, so there was as little of a break as possible in rounds flying down the tube. The rifle was initially oiled upon receiving it with Slip EWL. So the shooting begins and the rounds are going bang as quickly as my finger can squeeze that bang switch. Everything is going smooth until around round 300, a casing partially ejected and went back into the upper receiver. Now normally this would cause a malfunction, however it was the last round of the mag, so as I dropped the mag and went for the reload, a large gaping hole open up by way of the magwell and gravity gonna gravity, so it fell out. I didn’t catch it happening for obvious reason, but my AI standing next to the rifle did. What caused this?…..who honestly knows, there are numerous hypothesis’, but no absolute confirmation since it was repeated. After that, the rifle finished off its 400 rounds with no problem.

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After that initial portion of the review, I went with what I thought was a realistic review for the carbine, with the consideration that I was ultimately going to run the rifle harder than any cop or military guy would, so that I could have full confidence in the weapon. I wanted to put as much stress on the components as I possibly could without getting ridiculous and unrealistic, because one thing to keep in mind is the AR-15 is not God sent, it has its limitations and is man made. With that being said, I don’t need the gun to be dropped from the Sears Tower and then immediately perform a 1k round burner test and if it messes up at all during that phase, I write it off. I don’t know about you, but in my world, that’s a tad unrealistic.

So as some of you know, I have a range and a company by the name of Falcon Tactical. I’m out there quite a bit and my weekends are consumed with being a host to the nation’s top instructors. During these time periods when I was out there and/or in class, I ran the gun. I even let students partake in the fun and use the rifle when they wished. For majority of the test, it was run like you would expect a rifle to be ran in a class, which for some who don’t know, generally speaking, they get run pretty hard in a solid rifle class with a good instructor. At periodic times, I would go and fire 200 rounds back to back to look for stress in the gun or if they were parts that were getting unduly stressed, the firing cadence of 200 rounds would push the part to its breaking point, whether it be the cam pin or the gas key, it didn’t matter, I wanted something to fail. Despite that, nothing ever failed.

During the review, I also ran accuracy tests on the rifle, cause that counts and shows the quality of the barrel and overall build. Now we all know that mil-spec is 4 MOA, but holy baby Jesus its 2016 and a rifle should be shooting way better than that, with the removal of shooter input/error. For the accuracy tests, I used 64 grain Speer Gold Dot. We were supposed to get Mk262 for it, but that didn’t happen in time, so with that said, the results probably would have been even better. So for most of the accuracy tests, they were what you would consider cold bore. The rifle was in ideal operating state and had no stress factors to it to sway its natural accuracy ability based on quality. With that being said, I’m not gonna bore you by spending another 1k words explaining the results, just know that the rifle consistently came in at 1.5 MOA. Now, an important note is, that was achieved using a Micro T-1 and a Magpod. Had I used a variable optic and some bipods, coupled with Mk262, I have no doubt it would have gotten down to 1 MOA or slightly under, consistently. I say consistently because I achieved 1 MOA several times, but when you average it out, it was 1.5 MOA. Anyways, I did add an element of heat to the accuracy test, because a hot barrel will absolutely effect accuracy. So for this, I fired 180 continuous rounds, with the only lag being me having to change mags. Immediately afterwards I used an infrared temp gun to gauge a median temp of the barrel before testing the accuracy. The median temp came out to about 275 degrees, with obviously the gas port area being much hotter. So after that, I shot the group with PMC 55 Grain ammo…on purpose. If I can use quality grade practice ammo and it comes in within 4 MOA, I consider that good to go, duty ammo and precision ammo will do nothing but get better results. I fired 5 shots at a B8 target at hundred yards, again with a T-1 and Magpod and the rifle came in at 3.5 MOA, which is acceptable given the conditions in which I shot. You cant shoot a couple hundred rounds, heat the barrel up to the point you cant hold it bare handed on the rail, and then expect it to be a DMR gun. O and a side not, the gun was up above 2k rounds without a cleaning when this accuracy testing was done.

 

 

 

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Matthew Shockey
Matt started off in the Marine Corps serving as a Machine Gunner (0331). He deployed twice to Iraq in support of OIF in 06 and 07. He also served as a Combat Marksmanship Instructor his last year before leaving the service in 09. Matt currently serves as a police officer in the Houston metro area and is a full time rangemaster. He has served in this capacity for the last 2.5 years and prior to that was a patrol officer. He also serves on a regional SWAT team and is a member of the entry team.

He also owns a company called Falcon Tactical based out of Eagle Lake, TX. There he specializes in hosting top instructors from around the nation. This has allowed him to train with instructors such as Mike Pannone, Pat McNamara, Aaron Cowan, William Petty, Jeff Gonzales, Mike Lamb, Steve Fisher, Kerry Davis, and many more, He also is an active shooter instructor, having taught hundreds of police officers. He holds 3 instructor certs from ALERRT and is also a graduate of DARC. Furthermore, he holds instructor certs in Taser, Low Light (2 Certs), VCQB, RBT, and several others. He is also a Colt AR-15 Armorer and a Glock Advanced Armorer.