April 05, 2018
Minimalist. Whether referring to hunting or everyday carry (EDC), the word evokes visions of light, svelte and maneuverable platforms. Nowadays, many ARs have gone the minimalist route. But how far is too far? And how does this affect performance?
Located in Spring, Texas, MG Arms is a custom firearm manufacturer known for producing highly accurate and lightweight bolt-action rifles. MG Arms products are typically geared toward hunting, and this offering is no different. "The Taranis2 is a real hunting rifle, built for the hunter who will call in coyotes, and a rifle you can climb a mountain [with] and shoot a deer at 250 yards," said Kerry O'Day, owner of MG Arms.
MG's Taranis2 puts the ist in minimalist, with skeletonizing in all the right places. At first glance, it's hard to imagine that the gun could even run. The sides of the upper receiver are skeletonized, as is most of the magwell and portions of the forged lower receiver. O'Day further explained that in order to save weight, cutouts are a proven approach. He was less enthusiastic about building with polymer as accuracy can suffer. According to my scale, the Taranis2 weighs 4 pounds, 14 ounces without a magazine.
The barrel provided as much weight savings as the skeletonizing, with its match-grade, lightweight, tapered design. The diameter is a mere .590 inch and is capped with a titanium Super Eliminator muzzlebrake. Twist rate is 1:9 inch on the .223-chambered version, and you can have your Taranis2 chambered in .300 Blackout (BLK), 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, .204 Ruger or .50 Beowulf. Other calibers are available at an additional cost. A lightweight, round, carbon fiber handguard protects the barrel and the shooter's hand. Its diameter is large by today's standard, but it feels good in the hand and works well on this carbine.
MG Arms has removed the traditional rear charging handle and added a side charging handle. O'Day said the M-one/A-one Charging Handle is "simply meant to be unique. Unique is fun." Fair enough. Closer inspection revealed that the handle is reversible, making it possible for consumers to place it on either side. This handle was easier to manipulate and lacked the awkwardness that can come with a standard rear charging handle.
The lower receiver lacks three sides of the magwell, and there are other lightening cuts on the sides, that give you a peek at the golden-colored Timney trigger. Another unique feature of the Taranis2 is the push-button-type safety that MG Arms calls a Tacti-Quick Safety. It replaces the traditional selector-lever type. Pushing the button from the left side to the right disengages the safety. Reverse the direction to engage it. It's easy enough for right or left-hand shooters but it will likely take some retraining to become proficient with.
In an effort to minimize weight further, a skeletonized bolt and bolt carrier are utilized, and even the A2 pistol grip has three holes drilled into it. A Mission First Tactical Battlelink Minimalist Mil-Spec Stock (BMSMIL) finishes up the furniture.
Although a fair amount of material is missing, the Taranis2 is packed with features. It even incorporates custom takedown pins. How practical is it? Admittedly, when looking at the exposed areas of the gun, you immediately wonder what things could find their way into the action and working parts, affecting its function.
Since the Taranis2 is so light, the assumption was that recoil would be sharp. We tested a .223, so recoil wasn't heavy. However, the feel of the recoil impulse should never be overlooked as it can have a significant impact on the shooting experience. It's worth noting that this isn't an all-day carbine training rifle, so maybe it's a moot point when considering how this gun will be used.
The Taranis2 was shot with three different types of ammunition: two 55-grain projectiles and one 60-grain projectile. The rifle exhibited great overall shooting characteristics, considering its light weight. The muzzlebrake clearly did its job. The rifle shot smoothly and tracked well. Initially, it was put through its paces for five-shot groups in the prone position, utilizing a Caldwell shooting bag up front. I assumed the great manners were due to it being on the bag, but the Taranis2 was smooth and well composed even when shooting offhand.
We've all grown accustomed to sub-MOA performance being the desired benchmark for every AR. While this is extremely attractive, it probably isn't prudent or necessary. A carbine that can shoot 1½-inch groups consistently is still accurate. If it were a precision gun, then of course this level of performance is not ideal. But for a rifle to carry on long expeditions or backpack hunting trips, this type of accuracy is acceptable.
I shoot long guns southpaw so I noticed a bit of gas being pushed into my face, which I attributed to the openness of the receiver. The spray of tiny particles was evident from time to time, depending on the load. There's less material available to keep things from flying out of the receiver.
The Taranis2 is a departure from the typical AR-15. It's not made for the masses but instead for a focused, calculated type of shooter with a specific goal in mind. As long as functionality isn't hampered, this rifle could be used on the trail for camping and hiking. If you opt for a larger caliber, it could also be a serious hunting tool.
MG Arms Taranis2
- Type: Direct impingement, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: .223 Rem.
- Barrel: 16 in.; 1:9-in. twist
- Overall Length: 24.75 in. (collapsed); 28 in. (extended)
- Weight: 4 lbs., 14 oz.
- Handguard: Carbon fiber
- Stock: MFT Battlelink Minimalist Stock
- Grip: Skeletonized A2
- Finish: PTFE Resin Blue Titanium
- Trigger: 3 lbs., 8 oz.
- Magazine: 30 rds.
- Muzzle Device: Super Eliminator
- Sights: None
- MSRP: $2,295
- Manufacturer: MG Arms, mgarmsinc.com
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