this versatile, compact defensive carbine from zm weapons is one of the most rugged versions of the m4 rifle currently available.
recognizing the need for a compact, adaptable weapon, the u.s. military recently adopted the m4 version of the m16a2-assault rifle. the m4 differs from a standard m16a2 in several respects, the most significant of which is the use of a flat-top receiver and a special forend featuring picatinney rails for mounting various targeting modules.
the flat-top receiver -- no carrying handle -- is key, because most high-tech sighting devices, such as the aimpoint, acog, elcan and other illuminated "dot scopes," are best mounted on the receiver. night-vision devices also attach to the flat-top. the picatinney forend is useful for mounting lights, vertical grips, lasers, some types of night vision equipment and an optional m203 grenade launcher.
another standout feature of the m4 is a four-position collapsible stock which serves two functions -- reducing the overall length of the rifle for paratroopers and other space-restricted operators, and allowing the length of pull to be adjusted for the added thickness of body armor, a tac vest or a flak jacket. the 14 1/2" barrel of the m4 is also shorter than an m16a2.
we can see, then, that a shorter rifle with a flat-top and a rail system to mount gear on the forend is an improvement over a full-size assault rifle for special operations. taking that paradigm and modifying it slightly resulted in the creation of a different sort of compact, modular rifle called the lr-300.
the lr-300, designed by firearms expert allan zitta of zm weapons, is essentially an m4 with an improved gas system. zitta has been marketing the lr-300 primarily to law enforcement and military customers in a select-fire configuration, but a civilian-legal semiauto version is also available.
because of current federal law restricting the features on semiautomatic military-style rifles, the lr-300 we are describing is a pre-ban configuration. you cannot buy a complete rifle like this, but you can buy an upper kit just like it, as long you install it on your own pre-ban lower. zitta offers both upper kits and complete guns, but the complete guns are post-bans, which forsake many of the lr-300's most compelling features.
the heart of the lr-300 is the reconfigured gas system. on a standard m16/ar-15, a spring-driven piston in the buttstock pushes the bolt carrier back into battery, stripping a fresh round from the magazine on the way. the lr-300's bolt return is accomplished with a spring in the forend that pulls the bolt forward, again stripping a fresh round as the gun self-loads.
the advantage to zitta's ingenious -- and patented -- gas system is that the buttstock can be eliminated, because there is no need to accommodate a spring piston inside it. instead, a folding stock can be employed, which significantly reduces the overall length of the rifle, comparing a folded lr-300 to a collapsed m4.
there are other advantages to the new gas system. utilizing an interconnected op-rod mechanism under the forend diverts felt recoil and results in virtually no muzzle rise. the spring essentially pulls the rifle forward, counteracting recoil. the system rises to its full potential in full-auto or three-shot-burst modes.
stocks & slings
there are two stock configurations: a side-folding version the same as that employed on the combat-proven galil and fn-fal battle rifles; and a side-folding collapsible version featuring a five-position telescoping butt to allow for different lengths of pull.
because the gas system is contained in the forend, a 360-degree picatinney rail, such as the knight rail interface system used on the m4, is only partially feasible on the lr-300. instead, zitta designed a front sight block that incorporates a three-sided picatinney rail for mounting lights and lasers. a full-length rail, 16" in length, is an optional accessory that increases the mountable surface area on an lr-300.
the lr-300 sports a removable vertical grip -- a second pistol grip -- that can be screwed into the forend. we did not utilize the grip, because we installed a wilcox "power grip" on the picatinney rail.
the lr-300 accommodates an optional "bungee sling" that is remarkable for its simple yet effective design. designed to be used cross-shoulder, slung across the front of the chest, the sling looks like a round length of nylon. inside the nylon sheath, however, is a super-strong bungee cord. the sling flexes as you shoulder the rifle, pulling it snugly back into your shoulder.
if you have to suddenly drop the rifle for whatever reason, the bungee sling positions the gun right back onto your chest. we were impressed with the bungee sling, favoring it over other three-point chest sling setups we have tried, all of which lack the "elastic factor" of the lr-300 sling.
the lr-300 comes with a standard a2 rear sight, wheel-adjustable for elevation and windage. we installed a gg&g flip-up rear sight with a rotary disk featuring large and small peeps for either close-range cqb or long-range sight pictures.
the gg&g sight, known as the multiple aperture device, is adjustable for windage and elevation and was designed by gg&g at special request from the naval, surface warfare center, the overseer of the seals. the mad is made from 6061 t6 aluminum and is mil-spec hard anodized. the sight disk itself is made of mil-spec parkerized 4140 steel. a stainless steel ball detent and spring hold the sight disk in place.
we also installed an aimpoint comp m military sight. the military version differs from a civilian red dot only in that it has an "on" position that is in visible to the naked eye, but easily seen with night-vision equipment. aimpoint was chosen as the official red-dot optic of the u.s. military after a thorough test against competing brands. by mounting the aimpoint forward on the flat-top receiver, the flip-up mad can be utilized without removing the dot sight, in case of malfunction or a dead battery.
a red-dot, zero-magnification sight is absolutely faster and more accurate on snap shots than any iron sight configuration. because an aimpoint has no parallax, you can throw the rifle up and sight over the top of the gun, seeing the red dot on the target without getting a proper cheek weld. this technique is light-years better in a cqb environment and is even faster at long range, too. after having worked with several now, we would not consider having an ar-type rifle without an aimpoint. that said, we would never want a combat rifle without backup iron sights either!
fight at night
special forces and swat teams are keenly aware of the need for "white light" in dim or dark environments. urban warfare scenarios presuppose building sweeps and other activities in which target identification is of primary importance. police employments are even more dependent on correctly segregating "shoot" from "no-shoot" targets.
the best tactical solution to both is a weapon-mounted light. the runaway leader in the field of tactical flashlights, both weapon-mounted and hand-held, is surefire. a division of laser products of fountain valley, calif., surefire manufacturers the brightest lights in the most rugged housings on the market.
surefire makes complete forends, featuring their new millennium series of lights that fit the m4, but the lr-300's unique forend precludes the use of a surefire dedicated forend. instead, we installed a prototype of surefire's new millennium series light that is designed to fit on a picatinney forend and be used with a vertical grip.
like all of surefire's dedicated weapon-mounted lights, the vertical-grip light features a "constant-on" switch, a "flash-on" thumb button and a positive "safety" that renders the light inoperative in covert environments.
the power of a surefire weapon light literally has to be seen to be believed. if we told you that a "flashlight" could be used as a weapon unto itself, you wouldn't appreciate what we mean until you face one in a dark room.
the searing light from a surefire xenon bulb, shielded by a tempered pyrex lens with an anti-reflective coating and powered by three lithium batteries, is not just blinding, but is so overpowering that it causes an involuntary reaction in most people -- physically turning the head away from the intense beam of focused light. having a tool that can make a threat avert his eyes and turn his head away is a defensive weapon in itself!
the enormity of the advantage that a surefire weapon light gives in low light is staggering. we would never dream of keeping a shotgun, pistol or rifle for home defense without a surefire weapon-mounted light on our primary nightstand gun. surefire makes weapon-mounted lights for all popular models of self-defense firearms, from benelli super 90s to m4s to glocks.
this might be hard to believe, but trust us -- we fired over 3,000 rounds of mil-spec ball, including some ss109 steel core "green tip," and never had a malfunction of any kind with the lr-300. frankly, we think zitta's newly redesigned gas system is superior to eugene stoner's original, which dates back to the early '60s. stoner's plunger-style spring system necessitated a forward bolt assist being added to the m16, resulting in the m16a1, for those occasions when the spring failed to push the bolt carrier fully into battery.
the accuracy of the lr-300, which stands for long range, is exceptional. shooting from the bench and using only the aimpoint comp m, we were able to hold x-ring groups at 100 meters. zitta reports that rifles equipped with a l0x sniper scope are easily capable of moa accuracy.
a more realistic accuracy test of a rifle of this nature was snap-shooting at an 8" steel plate at 100 meters. three shooters were employed, and all three reported that they could snap the aimpoint-sighted rifle up and fire faster hits from the ready position than with a conventional carry-handle, iron-sighted ar-15. significantly, the shooters reported that they could "call their hits" on the plate, thanks to the precision of the aimpoint's red dot and the accuracy of the lr-300. the rifle was eminently user-friendly. the recoil was minimized by zitta's gas system, allowing fast double-taps on the plate.
the lr-300, equipped with a wilcox power grip, an aimpoint sight and a surefire light, represents the current state-of-the-art in the ar-style rifle. it is compact and light, yet rugged and accurate.
copyright 2001 publishers' development corporation
copyright 2001 gale group