The Radian Weapons Model 1 – Perfection?
While we are living in uncertain times in terms of gun laws, we are also living in an amazing time to be a firearms consumer. The market is flooded with AR-15s in every price range you can imagine, some with features that were unheard of during the Clinton Era ban. Want a milspec rifle? I can name you ten companies that could fill the role and be exceptionally reliable. Want something better than milspec? There are manufacturers out there right now selling rifles that would make the 18 year old version of me living during the federal assault weapons ban weep tears of joy. But which one? What do I want in a rifle that with a price tag often doubling milspec offerings? I want perfection or as close to it as I can get.
On to the topic at hand, The Radian Weapons Model 1. At a glance at the website you’ll notice two things. Firstly you’ll notice the price tag, $2,555.00 and your eyes might burst out of your head. But stay with me, after the sticker shock you’ll take a glance at the rifle and say to yourself “Wow.. With that rifle in my safe I’d be upper class within the hour”. The billet lower will catch your eye, you’ll wonder why your lower doesn’t look like that. Why does it look like the rifle is made of one solid piece of aluminum? You know it doesn’t matter what your rifle looks like, you tell yourself this over and over, but it catches your eye the same way a Lamborghini in a showroom does. That’s what first attracts you to the rifle, it’s the first thing you see, before any features. If grading solely based on aesthetics, The Radian just changed the bell curve. The rifle is cerakoted as one piece so there is no shade mismatch between the upper and lower receiver and speaking to the manufacturer, they will not sell one that does not meet this standard. The lines on the rifle flow beautifully, are you looking at a work or art or a machine that would fit inside a collectors safe just as easily as it could a weapons locker in the military? Can you have form and function as opposed to one over the other? Keep reading.
When I decided on which Radian I wanted there were multiple options. What color? What caliber? Did I want a .300 blackout pistol or SBR? A 5.56 16 inch? 14.5? What color? In the end I decided on the 14.5 inch carbine in .223 Wylde/5.56 in Radian brown with a pinned and welded Silencerco ASR flash hider. For me 14.5 is the sweet spot in terms of carbine length and I’m not one to frequently switch muzzle devices so being pinned is a non issue.
When I first mated the upper and lower together the first thing I noticed was the mated receivers had zero play. The rifle felt like one solid piece. One of my biggest pet peeves in rifles is slop between the receivers. While not directly impacting the function of the rifle, it’s 2019 and there is no excuse for excessive receiver slop. While the upper and lower are fit snuggly there is no issue pushing the take down pins with zero tools and little effort. So how does the rifle come from the factory? Let’s take a look.
Starting from the rear, Radians ship with a Magpul CTR stock and Magpul pistol grip. While there is nothing wrong with the CTR, I favor the B5 systems sopmod stock on my rifles. I switched mine out with the B5 and this is the only change I’ve made from the Radians factory parts. The castle nut is staked well and secure, attaching the fluted receiver extension tube to the reciever.
To me what stands out the most about the Model 1 is the ADAC (Ambidextrous Dual Action Catch) lower receiver. The controls on it do not feel like an after thought like some rifles advertised as being ambi. This was designed to be a true ambi rifle. The safety selector is Radians own Talon system ambi safety, featuring a user adjustable 45/90 degree throw. While I was skeptical at first regarding the 45 degree selector, I’ve grown to love them. The throw of the 45 degree safety is faster and natural. If you’re more of a purist the Talon can be configured into a traditional orientation. The bolt release is of course also ambidextrous and actuating it from either side is natural. All Radian rifles ship with the ATC gold trigger with black bow. This is a match grade trigger that makes shooting fast a breaze and shooting accurately just as easy. Certainly a very smooth trigger with a short reset, comparable with Geissele offerings I own. If I had any complaints about the trigger is I would prefer the reset be a little more tactile, but I’d be splitting hairs at this point. The flared magwell makes reloading fast and simple, even under night vision. If you’ve ever tried to reload a rifle under nods you’ll understand what I’m saying. One of the most stand out features of the ADAC lower is the option to lock the bolt open by pressing and holding the mag release while pulling the charging handle back. It’s engineering like this that truly takes rifles beyond milspec. It’s hard to appreciate it without trying it first hand, but it is one of those features where I never thought I’d care about it until using it.
Moving onto the upper, it’s 7075-T6 machined billet with a proprietary Mlok full length rail. Sitting inside is a Match Grade 416R Stainless Steel Barrel with polished crown and feed ramps. While there is a sub moa guarantee from Radian using Black Hills match ammo, I rarely shoot 5.56 guns for accuracy and admittedly I’m not a consistent sub moa shooter. While I’ve achieved sub moa results with the Radian, it’s not something I’ve spent much time on. The BCG is black nitride coated with a properly staked gas key which for some reason some manufacturers find difficult. The charging handle is the Radian Raptor which the company is most known for I’ve been running them in my rifles for years, starting when the company was called AXTS. They feature oversized latches easy to use with gloves while providing clearance for optics/mounts, ambidextrous actuation and oversized sturdy pins. The M-Lok rail is sturdy and runs nearly the length of the barrel while providing multiple options for mounting accessories.
But. . How does it shoot? Is it reliable?
In the time I’ve owned the rifle I’ve fired roughly 3500 rounds Out of those 3500 rounds I experienced one single malfunction, a light primer strike using brass cased Wolf Gold. I’ve yet to repeat the malfunction. During the test phase I shot every ammo I could, ranging from steel cased wolf to M855a1 and all cycled fine. The rifle was never cleaned during the 3500 rounds and only oiled with CLP around the 1k mark because I don’t like shooting dry when I don’t need to. While accuracy was tested on the rifle, the majority of my shooting is within 100 yards, rarely prone and rarely stationary. While I’m certainly far from a tier one operator, target transition is fast and follow up shots are extremely quick. Why are the follow up shots quick? This is the softest shooting 5.56 rifle I’ve ever owned. The gun is extremely flat shooting.
When I first decided to actually review this rifle I was worried people would perceive this as a fluff piece like found in print gun rags through the years, I wanted to find something I could hate on this rifle, something to make it seem more credible. There’s nothing I hate about it, I looked up and down and there’s maybe a couple things I’d like to see them work on.
What would I change?
- I’d like to see a reduction in weight. At 6.9 lbs the rifle isn’t what I would call extremely heavy, but after adding an optic, a light, an IR laser and illuminator and a hand stop it starts to pack on the pounds.
- It’d be nice to have QD sockets built into the rail. I know it’s a minor complaint and people run their slings in different positions, it’s just something I like seeing when purchasing a rifle.
- Include back up iron sights. People have different sight preferences, but my ideal rifle comes ready to fire out if the box. Would it add to the cost? Yes, but it’s nice to have something ready to go upon purchase.
The Radian offers a superior set of features over milspec offerings. I’d trust my life on it without question That said, is it the perfect rifle? Well I’ll leave you with some wisdom from a manager at work regarding performance reviews. “I’ve yet to see anyone walk on water, until I do there is always something to be improved on” Does the Model 1 walk on water? Not quite, but it’s as close to it as I’ve seen. Is it for you? That depends, there are many great milspec offerings out there that will serve you well. Do you want to go beyond that? Then this very well could be for you, I know it is for me.