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Tactical AR-15 Rifles

NEMO Omen .300 Win. Mag. Review

by Patrick Sweeney   |  August 19th, 2013   |   16

In the 1980s, I was delving deep into all things AR. I was shooting them in the first 3-Gun matches, building them up and repairing the home-built Frankenguns my customers would bring in. I was also experimenting. I had worked out a number of caliber conversions for the AR and even considered what it would take to turn the early AR-10, a fragile and rare rifle, into a reliable one. Never in my wildest dreams did I think to build one in .300 Winchester Magnum.

All that passed through my mind when the guys at NEMO handed me their Recon rifle at one of our company’s editorial Roundtables. Hmm, some could say it is a tad portly, but then again, who wants an airweight .300 Win. Mag.? The controls were in the right places, and I liked the fact that NEMO was handing me one that had the camo finish all scuffed and worn. Clearly, this was no toolroom R&D orchid, but a working rifle that was expected to get shot hard and hung up wet. And it had a muzzlebrake on it.

Again, I would consider a brake on anything chambered in .300 Mag. to be de rigeur.

“The muzzlebrake is our own design, and it really decreases recoil,” says NEMO. I looked at the brake and the roof over our heads. I stepped forward as I shouldered the rifle to make sure I had the brake out past the eaves and, planting the crosshairs on a plate, touched it off. Not bad at all. I turned to the NEMO guys and asked, “How soon can you send me one?”

If I said the Recon they sent me was very interesting, you’d think I was bored. No, it intrigued me in a way I haven’t felt in a long time. The controls and the parts you hold on to are all bog-standard AR-type parts, or sized as .223/5.56 parts. The stock is a Magpul STR on a Mil-Spec tube (with a properly staked castle nut), so if you don’t like the stock, you can change it. The pistol grip is a Hogue; ditto on changing it. The safety and trigger are right where you’d expect them to be, and the handguard is refreshingly slim, especially for a rifle chambered in .300 Win. Mag.

The forearm on the Recon is particularly slim, as it is octagonal and no larger than it needs to be. While it has a rail along the full length of the top, the sides are bare save for threaded screw holes. Want a section of rail for a light, laser or bipod? Bolt one on. The rest stays bare and slim. The rifle came with two short sections of rail on it, so there would be a chance to attach a bipod or illumination tool if I so desired. The forearm free-floats the barrel, plus it is anchored to the upper receiver. Not only does it clamp on the barrel nut, the forearm has two anchor screws, 90 degrees to one another, fastening the handguard to the upper receiver.

The really interesting parts are the middle and the muzzle. The receivers are large. No, I mean large. The upper has a Picatinny rail along its length, flush and even with the rail on the handguard. You could bolt more gear up there than you could pick up, so show some restraint. The lower has a magazine well proportioned to accept the proprietary .300 Win. Mag.-size magazines, and the edges of it are scaled up as well. It is big, but you don’t get the impression that this is an anvil, it’s just really muscular.

The bolt and carrier are obviously scaled up from even a .308 rifle, and the nickel-boron-coated carrier has an interesting detail: The charging handle is attached directly to the carrier — no top-center charging handle flimsily fabricated from aluminum. Instead there’s a hefty handle to hang on to.

Plus, the billet-cut receivers are done in NEMO’s Tango pattern, a brushed-stripe, black-and-bronze-camo anodized, not painted, finish. Inside the lower we have a Geissele two-stage trigger.

The gas port is covered by a low-profile gas block that has an adjustable gas-flow knob on its front face. Out in front of that is the muzzlebrake, a multiport one clearly designed to take the steam out of recoil.

A long-range rifle needs suitable optics, and I had just the hunk of glass on hand to fit: a Nightforce 5-25x56mm ATACR and their MIL-R reticle, complete with a selection of Nightforce rings to choose from. The 5-25X is an impressive assembly of optical engineering, but to get the kind of performance it delivers, you pay for it. Not just in cost, although I find I have to keep telling the little voice in my head that I’m not paying for this gear in 1982 dollars anymore. After buying proper, professional lenses for my DSLR camera, I’m not as startled at the price for good firearms optics. No, the big price is in weight. Glass weighs a lot. In fact, glass can be three to seven times as dense as water, with optical glass not being near the bottom of that scale.

The Nightforce ultralight rings use hefty bolts to clamp down on the Picatinny rail, and the nuts on them require a half-inch open-end wrench or socket wrench to tighten. You want them tight, but you don’t want to be crushing your receiver, tightening your scope rings with power.

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