Arsenal Democracy has been in existence less than 8 months and are poised to unveil new rifles in about two months.
Two Special Forces Soldiers stood Arsenal Armory up back in January and they have already weathered problems that would have completely shut down less determined entrepreneurs. James Pechi and David Pavlick were still assigned to 7th Special Forces Group when they established Arsenal Democracy.
James departed the Army two months later to work at it full time. David will be starting terminal leave soon to join him.
I had a look at some early designs at SOFIC (Special Operations Forces Industry Conference) this year, though they have been forced to modify the design. It is for that reason only Arsenal upper receivers are currently available. The new lowers are in refinement and should be available in 8 to 10 weeks.
Arsenal rifles are built with 416R stainless, mid to heavy contour barrels. Those are the only barrels they use. They offer both billet and forged. All upper receivers are accurized.
"We true face all of them," Arsenal's James Pechi (who did the CAD work on the designs) said. "We get each piece in, spec it out, make sure there is consistency from the bore to the rail and all dimensions are correct. We true the face of it so there is less than 1/10,000" difference between the bore and the barrel. Concentricity of bore to barrel is important so when you tighten down the barrel nut and you're securing the barrel to the receiver what you're actually getting is a truly mated surface."
This seemingly infinitesimal difference may not seem like much, but it is enough that a truly precise shooter will notice, particularly at a distance. Neither Pechi nor Pavlick have any interest in building anything that is just MILSPEC [Military Specifications], which Pechi believes is an oft-touted but less than stellar standard of construction and specification.
"A lot of people talk MILSPEC," he said. "But MILSPEC is just the numbers some guys came up with to make something combat effective for something that's mass produced. This many shooters hit this many targets at this range within these parameters allowing for X number of irregularities. It's not...well, not that great."
All Arsenal bolt carrier groups are micro slicked with serrations on the bolt carrier.
"Micro slick is a ceramic based coating that's applied to the bolt carrier group. It allows for smoother cycling in the bore and substantially reduced the buildup of carbon so your gun stays cleaner longer, and when you do go to clean it the carbon wipes right off."
When it comes to appearance, each rifle comes cerakoted in the shooter's color of choice. Standard choices will be Tactical Grey, FDE, Patriot Brown (a darker version of flat earth), Titanium and Graphite Black.
Another option, one the company developed, is the one I saw at SOFIC. We'll call it Arsenal Grey until they name it formally. Each rifle will also ship with an ambi- selector and ambi charging handle.
When it comes to accessories, Arsenal uses only Mission First furniture because Mission First uses a new polymer from DuPoint that Pecci describes as the strongest one available.
"We use Mission First tactical furniture exclusively because I feel like it's the best way to go when you're dressing up the gun," Pechi explains. "They use the new polymer from DuPont, there are integrated QDs, Garmin 401 capability, adjustable ergonomics, that 4.9 oz. stock...they just make high quality gear. I used their equipment in Afghanistan and I loved it, and I like the added functionality."
Regarding the MF 4.9 oz. stock, that will be a part of the upcoming Arsenal "minimalist" rifle, which I'll review once I've had it on the range. They are also building both a .308 rifle and SBR, and have another project or two in the works. Currently all uppers are built in 5.56mm or .300 BLK at the same price.
"I'm not gonna try to say: ‘Oh it's .300 blackout so it'll cost more money,’" Pechi says. "We have some other things in the works I'd like to talk with you about soon, and currently have an upper out for testing. It's due to have 12-15,000 rounds put through it while they put it through its paces."
I will fill you in on the results of that testing soon, and will be providing reviews on a couple of Arsenal Democracy rifles in the future. I have yet to actually get one out on the range, though I'm eager to do so.
James is obviously passionate about his craft. His enthusiasm is an interesting juxtaposition. On the one side is the combat veteran who spent the last many years as a seasoned SOF operator. On the other side is the 'design geek' (for lack of a better term) who can and will speak at length about the esoteric nuances of weapon function, CAD design and mechanical concerns involved in building a quality rifle.
I wasn't able to speak with Pavlick as he's still on active duty and was busy elsewhere. However, if he has the same intensity and force of personality as his partner I believe it will make for a team to be watched.