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Spike’s Tactical Compressor SBR-300 BLK Review

by Eric R. Poole   |  March 19th, 2013 3

Spikes-Tactical-Compressor-SBR-300-BLK_001

The Spike’s Tactical Compressor is a factory-produced SBR with sound suppressor—the first whose suppressor requires no maintenance. Weighing just seven pounds and six ounces (suppressor attached), this second-generation Compressor is the most overbuilt AR-type rifle we’ve seen. If NASA ever came together to build an AR, we’re certain this is what it would look like. Let’s go over the details from one end to the other.

Billet aluminum has been machined into a matching set of receivers, providing the foundation of what’s to follow on these pages. By choosing 7075-T6 billet, Spike’s Tactical was able to cleanly integrate features into the rifle that were previously aftermarket add-ons.

The Lower
The winter triggerguard and large, flared magazine well are two of those integral features. And if you stop to look closely, you’ll notice three chevrons milled into the front of the mag well. Subtle markings used throughout seem to personify this rifle, in this case suggesting, Feed me, please. Fresh mags go here.

A tough, octagonal-shaped upper not only insulates the lightened bolt carrier group from the environment, but also offers a level of protection to the external controls on each side of the receiver. You see, this rifle is the most ambi-friendly SBR we’ve tested and the raised surfaces have an inherent protective quality (besides enhancing its already aggressive appearance). Take the bolt catch, for example. It’s almost set back into the shape of the upper, and certainly less likely to snag or become activated/deactivated because of what it bumps into. View it not as a preventative measure, but more of a safeguard if you will.

This safety theme extends to the ambidextrous selector, trigger pins, and mag release. A rifle of this quality doesn’t just give you a Mil-Spec safety switch. Spike’s installs a BAD-ASS 90-degree flipper that dovetails its locking side levers and attaches them with Torx hardware. (It’s an acronym for Battle Arms Development-Ambidextrous Safety Selector.)

We can’t remember the last time trigger pins (that weren’t already broken) walked out on us, but Spike’s uses KNS Gen 2 Mod 1 anti-rotational pins to keep the trigger together. Supplied Magpul PMAGs are quickly cleared from the magwell by means of an ambi, low-profile Norgon release.

Though the trigger assembly is Mil-Spec, it doesn’t feel like it. Probably because it’s been nickel boron coated (just one of the self-lubricating coatings Spike’s Tactical applies to these rifles). This coating carries with it natural lubricous qualities that minimize friction and improve trigger pull. Though the trigger engagement surfaces haven’t changed, it feels like a trigger half its weight because the rounded hammer doesn’t drag on the disconnector. An integral reset adjustment screw also helps to improve the Mil-Spec quality of this trigger.

If you have a sharp eye for quality, you’ll notice the absence of play between the upper and lower receivers. There’s a tensioning screw used to fit tight. Inside, the bolt carrier meets resistance to rearward travel upon recoil as it pushes against a black ST-T3 buffer. Spike’s Tactical has championed buffer technology with its use of solid Tungsten weights within the buffer’s billet aluminum body. These buffers are highly effective at smoothing out the sharp impulse from recoil and managing the cyclic rate of the bolt and bolt carrier.

The buffer rides within a micro-polished carbine buffer spring and aluminum buffer tube that’s been treated with Dryfilm lube inside and out. This is a rifle that doesn’t sound like its buffer is scratching against the walls of the tube under your face while you fire. Keeping it all together is a properly torqued castle nut that joins with the receiver and a Magpul ASAP sling plate that’s staked in two locations.

Controlling the Compressor is quite simple for all body types. A stippled Magpul MOE pistol grip and AFG 2 angled foregrip feel like they bite back into your hands. No sweaty palm excuses here. The six-position Magpul CTR stock is the high-end variant of the MOE. It grips the shoulder with its enhanced rubber butt pad, and offers the user two additional QD sling sockets for the supplied Magpul MSD sling. What remains for small parts used in the lower is Mil-Spec hardware like the various pins and springs.

The Upper

Besides the aggressive styling it adds to the shell deflector and the forward-assist housing, the use of billet allows the upper receiver to feature pockets for things like the aforementioned bolt catch. These shapes and pockets also help to reduce weight. T-marked numberings within the notches of the upper receiver rail run continuously to the muzzle end of the forend. At each milled end are flats used for tastefully engraving Spike’s spider logo.

The brilliance of this rifle can only be understood by the sum of its parts. It has nothing to do with someone’s opinion or a marketing gimmick, it’s things like the forward assist that’s retained with a threaded 303 stainless steel pin. No one should ever see it. It’s the ejection port door rod that’s captured with a set screw.

And if you’re not careful, you might miss the fact that the upper receiver is ported to dissipate excess gas and heat during extended strings of fire. Ported upper? Yep. As the bolt reciprocates, air circulates. Contained within the billet upper is a lightweight, ball-dimpled M16 bolt carrier—not semiauto—that’s machined from 8620 tool steel and nickel boron coated.

The holes mean less reciprocating mass and more surface area for heat dissipation; dissipating a little heat here and there all adds up. The cam pin notch is even given a radius to reduce bolt cam pin drag, and the direct impingement carrier key is properly secured by way of Torx hardware and four hydraulic stakes.

The bolt itself is machined from Carpenter 158, then shot peened, high-pressure tested, magnetic particle inspected, and nickel boron coated. The extractor has also been machined from tool steel and incorporates a Mil-Spec extractor spring with black extractor insert and a Viton O-ring. Stainless steel gas rings are given an Ionbond coating, and the Mil-Spec firing pin a hard chrome finish. The bolt cam pin is nickel boron finished, and the firing pin retaining pin is left in phosphate.

Charging the bolt is initiated by pulling the Gen II Bravo Company Gunfighter Mod 4 charging handle. The bolt rotates and unlocks from the barrel extension that features extended M4 feedramps.  The 1:8-inch twist, .300 BLK-chambered barrel is secured to the upper receiver by an externally threaded barrel nut made of titanium and torqued to 65 foot-pounds. This barrel nut sports wrench flats on six sides, allowing the barrel to be removed as an entire assembly without ever having to remove the muzzle device, gas block, gas tube, or heat sink.

Fixed above the 8.1-inch barrel is a novel approach to improving the direct impingement gas system. Using a pistol-length gas system, the Compressor directs gas from the barrel port to a 416 billet stainless steel gas block (that’s straight fluted). The non-adjustable gas block is fixed to the barrel by stainless steel pins, and incorporates a suppressor collar. And don’t forget that the gas block is finished inside and out in Melonite.

The gas block redirects gas into a stainless steel gas tube (that’s also given a Melonite finish). It then channels gas through a Melonited gas tube wrapped in beryllium copper wire that serves as a heat sink. A set of anodized 6061-T6 billet end caps gives the heat sink a clean look and keeps the wire from unwinding.  This heat-sink technology was engineered to help dissipate heat as well as to help prevent the gas tube from bursting during long firing schedules.

FNH-USA supplies the 8.1-inch cold hammer-forged CMV barrel. Spike’s Tactical adds radial fluting to help further dissipate heat and to reduce weight, then finishes the barrel in Melonite before permanently adhering a nickel-boron-coated M4 barrel extension. Triple 416 stainless steel indexing pins prevent the barrel from twisting in the upper receiver when the suppressor is being installed or removed. (Typically, most AR-type platforms use just a single Mil-Spec index pin at the top of the barrel.)

The radially fluted barrel and heavily engineered  gas system is shrouded in a nine-inch Compressor BAR rail made of extruded aluminum and finished with a Type III hardcoat. The cleverly designed free-float rail-mounting interface has radial flutes and seamlessly blends with the upper receiver without compromising rigidity. Round holes at the bottom of the rail help to prevent user contact with the heat shield.

Enlarged angled vents on top of this forend allows for better air flow around the barrel. Protecting the hands from radiating heat are laser-cut stainless shields that are secured to the handguard by twin locking tabs in six locations. We haven’t seen heat shields like these since the days when M16 and M4 Carbine handguards were commonplace.

The upper receiver and forend are precisely joined by three different index notches, twin barrel nut locking screws, twin barrel extension locking screws, and eight BAR rail mounting screws. It’s safe to say that nothing is ripping the forend apart from the upper. In addition to the aforementioned QD sling sockets included with the Magpul CTR stock, the forend offers five forward attachment points: two at the front and rear of each side, and a fifth located toward the muzzle end of the bottom rail.

Picatinny rails are scalloped. Three low-profile polymer ladder rail covers arrive preinstalled on the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock rail sections.
With the suppressor removed, you can view the ST Dynacomp H.V.S. muzzle device just inside the handguard. This machined piece of tool steel serves as an integrated suppressor mount with threads for Spike’s Tactical MRS/LRS suppressors. (It can also be used for the OPS Inc. model 12 suppressors.)

Just like everything else, this muzzlebrake is also finished in Melonite. During installation, it is shimmed for proper orientation, torqued to 20 foot-pounds and pinned to the barrel in two locations. This prevents the muzzle device from coming loose inside of the suppressor.

The Can
The Compressor arrives with Spike’s own MRS suppressor. Machined from 416 billet stainless steel bar stock, it’s ball dimpled to dissipate heat, reduce weight, and to increase structural rigidity. Inside, baffles are machined from billet H13 tool steel, and the entire suppressor is finished in Melonite. Unscrew the dimpled protective cap, and an aggressive striking device is revealed. This feature is machined integrally as part of the suppressor body. It’s threaded to accept multiple end caps and attachments.

With the end cap removed, the supplied Spike’s suppressor combination tool is used to engage wrench flats for torquing the suppressor to the barrel or for removing the suppressor. The two-point mounting system presents minimal point of impact shifts. The suppressor is designed to handle sustained automatic fire from the Compressor’s short barrel.

Our Take
Spike’s has gone above and beyond. Not only do they kick in a set of Troy’s folding battle sights, Magpul PMAGs and a 36-inch soft rifle case with morale patch, our spirits couldn’t be higher after recording sub-MOA accuracy at 100 yards and excellent reliability with all loads. For most of us, the Compressor’s ability to offer sub-MOA five-shot accuracy was unexpected for such a short-barreled carbine with pistol-length gas system.

“But I’ve been telling you all along,” said Tom Beckstrand, Book of the AR-15 contributor. “Barrel length has nothing to do with accuracy at 100 yards. It’s usually things like short sight radius and magnified movement in such a short platform that screws people all up. This just goes to prove I’m right!”

When the rifle is firing subsonic loads, this rifle sounds as though it’s spitting whispers. Supersonic loads are louder (even when suppressed), so we have to recommend hearing protection, particularly in confined spaces.

Though Spike’s Tactical clearly indicates that the Compressor should be operated with its suppressor attached, because a user can remove it we agreed to test velocities, reliability and accuracy without it attached. When unsuppressed, we observed only one failure-to-feed malfunction with Hornady’s 208-grain subsonic load fed through a non-standard aluminum magazine. It was cleared and, after further analysis, we felt as though it would not have occurred if we had used the supplied PMAGs. Only a half downward shift in point of impact without the suppressor was observed, but no change in accuracy. We all wanted to keep this one.

Getting your hands on a Spike’s Tactical Compressor is not a next-day occurrence. Though they can build between 250 and 500 rifles per day, the Compressor is a Class 3 factory SBR with a Class 3 sound suppressor meaning that this rifle requires the filing of two Form 4s in order to take delivery from an FFL (albeit where civilian ownership of suppressors and SBRs are locally permitted). The cost of the necessary tax stamps is not included in the $2,600 price tag.

If you once saved nearly $3K for a SCAR, there’s no reason you can’t do it again. In fact, this is one of those circumstances where you might want to consider *choke* selling a gun or two in order to afford this one. If money and the legal speed bumps to owning both an SBR and a suppressor are not your concern, then this is truly the only Blackout rifle you’ll ever need.

  • MrFiveSeveN

    The want factor is strong with this one.

  • Smatt g

    “The bolt itself is machined is machined from Carpenter 158, then shot
    peened, high-pressure tested, magnetic particle inspected, and nickel boron
    coated”

    The order of processing is incorrectly stated for the bolt, or if it isn’t
    then the manufacturer is doing it wrong. The preferred method of manufacture is
    to complete magnetic particle inspection prior to shot peen as shot cause cracks
    to close up and not be as identifiable. Yes mag particle has the capability to
    detect sub surface voids but when a part is shot peened the sensitivity to
    verify compliance is not as good for surface cracks. The order of manufacture
    stated in this review would leave me to believe that there is no value added
    for mag particle if it does not do its job. This condition would be become exacerbated
    if the chosen NDT was penetrant inspection. Better to do surface treatment after
    NDT instead of before.

  • Eric

    To bad it’s not a gas piston.

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