Caliber - 5.56mm NATO (.223 Rem)
Capacity - 20 or 30-round magazines
Action - Gas-operated semi-automatic
Barrel - 10.5 inches
Weight - 7.32 lbs. w/ empty magazine

Background
Lewis Machine & Tool of Milan, IL, has been in business since 1980, building weapons, components and other precision-machined parts for the US military, government agencies and the commercial market. LMT's flagship products include the SOPMOD "Crane" stock, the MRP monolithic AR upper with quick-change barrel, and an updated version of the M203 grenade launcher.

I first started entertaining the idea of building a 5.56mm Short-Barreled Rifle (SBR) in the summer of 2008, when an acquaintance of mine who is an LMT dealer offered to hook me up with a 10.5" barreled upper with charging handle and bolt group at just over cost. I had him place the order, knowing it would take a couple months to fill due to the high demand for LMT products. While I was waiting, I purchased a DPMS stripped lower receiver at the gun shop where I work part-time and sent it to Orion Arms in Minnesota to have it engraved with my name, city and state, per ATF regulations. While they were at it, I had them add my family crest to the side of the magwell, as they had previously done with Calvin's AR. Once the engraved lower returned from Orion (they were quick and did an outstanding job as always), I filed my Form 1 ("Application to Make and Register a Firearm") with the BATFE on 5/30/08. Then it became a waiting game to see if the BATFE or LMT would come through first...

My Form 1 and tax stamp came back on 8/7/08, and the LMT upper arrived on 8/9/08. I assembled the gun using a CMT/Stag Arms lower parts kit, a Magpul CTR stock (later replaced with a VLTOR clubfoot), a Daniel Defense Omega free-float rail, a Midwest Industries SPLP flip-up rear sight, and an Aimpoint COMP C3 in the LaRue cantilever mount I had won at a EAG carbine course a couple months prior. The very next day, the gun got its baptism by fire at the Indiana Gun Owners (INGO) "NFA Day" event.

Performance

Conclusion


Update 8/17/09 After a range session in July plagued by numerous malfunctions of the same sort experienced in the Magpul course a couple months prior, I replaced the recoil spring and extractor spring. I took the gun out again in mid-August, and experienced 3 doublefeeds (the empty case would stay on the bolt face, then the bolt would attempt to strip the next round from the mag) and one light strike with the PPU ammo in less than 200 rounds. I then swapped in the known-good bolt group from my M4, and dumped two mags back to back without incident. My current theory is that the extra-power extractor spring I installed is placing too much tension on the extractor. I will install a standard carbine extractor spring and insert and will re-test.

Update 5/21/09 I recently completed Magpul Dynamics' Dynamic Carbine 1 course using the LMT SBR. I experienced a number of failures to fire (light strikes), which I attribute to some combination of the JP light hammer spring I'm running, and the primers on the PPU ammo. I have run the same spring in my 9mm SBR for years now, and in Calvin's carbine as well, without any problems. I also had several double-feeds. I was running brand-new PMAGs the majority of the time, which would tend to rule out mag-related issues. Additional lubrication reduced but did not eliminate the problem.

Update 8/12/08 I have started a performance log on the LMT 10.5" SBR, and will provide periodic updates on round count, reliability, parts breakage/replacement and other statistics. Stay tuned!


Back to the Guns page