LWRC SBR vs. MSAR Bullpup


June 4, 2009, 02:32 PM

This week, we took delivery of our first SBR from LWRC. It was a 10.5in M6A2 model in 5.56mm that was special ordered for a client several months ago. After handling the unit, I started thinking about a few things. Hopefully, you can glean something from my madness.

In my sick and twisted mind, I see a short barrel rifle (SBR) as a specialty weapon-- devoted primarily to CQB operations. It's great for moving around cramped locations or traveling in vehicles, but there's an inherent trade off. It's not firepower. The transition from 9mm to 5.56mm has been widespread. The trade off is accuracy-- specifically long range accuracy. It seems that an SBR is great for CQB, but equally inept for engaging targets at 300 meters and beyond. Perhaps that's one of the many reasons the M4 carbine is so beloved by all. 14.7 inches is a perfect bridge between SBR and a full 20+ inch barreled battle rifle. But are we overlooking a potentially superior option?

Enter my good friend: the bull pup rifle. Most of you know I'm quite fond of my new MSAR STG-556-- a clone of the famous Steyr AUG. However, it was only yesterday when I had an epiphany in regards to its true capabilities! Ladies and Gentlemen, this IS the poor man's SBR! But it does so much more! It bridges the gap between patrol carbine and short barrel rifle.

Immediately, you can see the overall length of these rifles are about the same. The caliber (5.56mm NATO) and capacity are also the same. The weight is about the same. They're both piston-driven systems, so reliability is above par. However, the bullpup design has a higher muzzle velocity and better accuracy at longer ranges-- thanks to its full carbine length barrel (16in). When you look at the cost of ownership, the STG-556 shines even brighter.

An LWRC M6A2 in this exact configuration is $2155. You have to factor in a $200 tax stamp to register as a Class 3/NFA weapon with BATFE and another fee (usually around $50) for your dealer to process the paperwork. Then, there's the long wait-- currently around 14 weeks for Form 4 approval to come back from the Feds.

On the other hand, the MSAR STG-556 rail is $1643-- and any 18 year old with a pulse and a clean background can walk out with this rifle the same day in Florida-- provided he has enough money at his disposal. Gosh, what a lucky young man-- ah, to be 18 again, rich... and have an MSAR STG-556... but I digress... Back to the topic at hand!

Financially speaking, the bullpup makes a lot of sense. When we're talking about long range accuracy, it's a no brainer. What about the expensive proprietary mags that the MSAR platform requires, you say? Well sir, they're only about $30 and are as good or better than PMAGs for the AR15, in my opinion. There's also a new E-4 model coming out from MSAR that will utilize standard AR15 mags-- but at a premium price, of course-- several hundred dollars more for the base rifle. With that in mind, the current generation MSAR looks good in my book. Don't forget, the anti-gunners have probably taken note of the overall length of bullpup rifles. So, there's a strong probability that these will be on the chopping block when the next AWB rolls around.

Those are my thoughts. They are not meant to bash the short barrel rifle solution that is the LWRC M6A2. It's a fantastic rifle. If I had the means, I would justify the purchase and hide it from my wife for the rest of my days. Alas, that is not the case. And please don't tell my wife I said that! Too late, I already published it to the website. What's done is done, I guess. I'll be sleeping on the couch tonight. Darn it, there I go again with my stream of consciousness writing style-- and the delete key on my Mac is broken.

That's all for today, my friends. Have a blessed day!
-- Evan


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June 4, 2009, 02:35 PM
A good write up, thanks for posting.

June 4, 2009, 02:54 PM
I like how the LWRC looks, it's more "American".

June 4, 2009, 03:11 PM
I love my MSAR.

Although technically it's not a short barrel it is a bullpup and so you do get the same effect that you would from an SBR rifle. There are no doubt features that are lacking on the Aug/MSAR that make it a tough sell to some, the big one being the that you can't switch from right to left shoulder without first changing the bolt and ejection port.

Despite its few drawbacks the Stey Aug has proved it's worth on the battlefield since the 1970's and it's still used by military and law enforcement in over thirty countries around the world, including the US. Like the AR and AK platform the Aug is a design that has changed very little over the years. It may not be the perfect gun but it can certainly hold it's own against even the most modern combat rifles.

October 7, 2009, 01:16 AM
Hi all, I just joined this forum. I found this thread doing some research about SBR's. I find it odd and stupid that the tax organization known as the BATFE is all worried about people owning sbr's that are less accurate and have less range than a rifle with a longer barrel. Yet I can buy a bullpup rifle and have all the benefits of a rifle with a longer barrel and the overall length is shorter than the so called SBR. I think what gun owners and patriots should do in this country is write letters and let the BATFE know how stuipd and ridiculous they and these 200 tax stamps are. You can't put a vertical foregrip on a AR pistol because its now considered an AOW. These guys(BATFE) need to gtfo out. What part of "The right of the people to keep and bear arms SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED" do they not understand?

October 7, 2009, 02:03 AM
well as neat as the MSAR is I just do not like having the bolt that close to my face, it just feels weird. Combined with the fact that I always want to shoot it southpaw and bam, I must find something else. Function wise they are pretty good except for wolf (need to fiddle with the gas to confirm that). However I am looking to sell mine to fund a few SBR projects I have laying around. First on the cutting block would be my Arsenal SLR-106 UR

October 7, 2009, 02:40 AM
A good write up, thanks for posting. http://www.photosnag.com/img/4713/n09x0302vnsn/clear.gif

Wes Janson
October 7, 2009, 02:10 PM
In all reality, an SBR isn't necessarily all that less accurate than the full-size rifle. The sight radius may be less, but that only means it's more important to shoot carefully and use an optic. Likewise, the bullpup sight radius is equally reduced, so it doesn't have any particular advantage in that regard. A decent amount of testing by a number of sources has always indicated that accuracy and barrel length have little, if any significant correlation (save for increased velocity and thus longer supersonic flight distance). Exactly which is more important is going to depend on the cartridge, ammunition, precise barrel lengths involved, and just how far out you're attempting to hit at.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
October 7, 2009, 02:41 PM
The MSAR that I'm interested in is the pistol caliber one. Only question, and it's a tough one, is 9x19, 10mm, or .45??? :)

October 7, 2009, 09:03 PM
i've held the MSAR many times and considered it for the reasons above (short without being SBR labeled, and the accompanying paperwork) the quick change barrel is sweet too.

but as a truck gun, and HD/shtf gun, a deterrent to my buying it: mags don't drop free, need to pull them down/out. yes, yes, i know you'll relearn it, but the AR platform mag release ergos - by not removing trigger hand from grip- are great (a downside ot the FNAR, with the mag release being so far from the trigger vs. the AR-10, also).

the MSAR has dropped in price, from 2200 to 1650-1700 at the local gun show in the past 9 months, which is good - but how do you feel about it's prospects being a 'copy' of the AUG and they don't pay royalties, right? Evan, could/Steyr sue? (not FUD'ing your fave, truly wondering the stores I've held it at had no idea).

i think it's hella cool, field proven, and it's still on my 'someday' list, just not 'now'.

GelGoog, you're not alone about the bolt/chamber being close to one's head being a thing to 'worry' about (kabooms). that's one reason this thing is on my radar:


from: http://www.kel-tec-cnc.com/rfb.htm "...The RFB is also the safest Bullpup ever developed because the breech is separated from the shooters face by two layers of 1.6 mm steel. In the highly unlikely event of a case rupture, gas expansion is directed downwards through the magazine well to protect the shooters head and face..."

it's also .308/7.62. and when it finally hit's the market should be $1200 (some on the keltek forums have bought fo $1250 already, don't pay $3k on gunbroker). and to the keltek haters, people consistently post how their plr16/22 is surprisingly accurate/reliable/good/etc. and the RFB, KelTec claims will be their 'signature' product, yadda yadda. who knows, but it does use standard FAL mags that do drop free and is .308 and it less $$ than the MSAR so i'm excited to see it hit the market. 26" OAL, with an 18" barrel at 8.1 pounds. of bullpup fun. we'll see.

the upside: it is truly ambi - since liek the FN90, the spent cases don't go out either side, but instead of 'down' they go Forward (the F in the name).
downside for some: the 2 layers of steel mean you can't have a "window" (ejection port) through which to do a chamber check. so 2 ways to deal with this, turn it over, pull the charging handle back and look up the magwell- which is the official keltec line, or, like "green eyes and black rifles" taught, if your 20 round mag always tops off with a round at the left, after loading, in the field N minutes later, eject the mag and see if the next round is on the right, if so, your top one is in the chamber - this can be done by feel in dark as well.

October 7, 2009, 09:18 PM
"The MSAR that I'm interested in is the pistol caliber one. Only question, and it's a tough one, is 9x19, 10mm, or .45??"

for real? not on their site/hadn't heard of that. ohhh, 10mm trunk gun would be cool.

Wes Janson
October 7, 2009, 09:52 PM
The MSAR MCS was announced at the 2009 SHOT Show, but isn't on the market yet - it's coming though.

There's no danger of Steyr suing MSAR. They'd have done it years ago, but the AUG has been around for decades, and there's currently three AUG-style offerings on the market: the AXR, STG-556, and the Steyr A3.

October 7, 2009, 11:09 PM
I would love that KelTec...will never have the $ for one.

December 19, 2009, 10:25 AM
so, guess what has two thumbs and got an MSAR E4?

(points thumbs at self).. "This guy!"

the multi-caliber feature (5.56/.223 or 7.62x39 or 5.45x39 or 6.8mm) is a draw, along with the quick change barrels. and using standard mags pushed me over the edge. add'l benes: selected internals are chromed, small rail right above right side of trigger area, for flick-of-the-finger torch/flashlight placement. oh, and $1300 at ratworx didn't hurt either ;)

a picture from iamkris' podcast posted at TFL, these are all 16" barreled rifles i'm sure you're familiar with:


the bottom is a 16" barrel E4 in green, same as i have, but his has an Aimpoint (? 3 series maybe?) and i put an Eotech 512 on mine.

December 19, 2009, 11:02 AM
Not a short barreled rifle by any means, but until the magic money fairy drops off some cash for that RFB, this IS my carbine, with pistol backup.

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