A trip to the gun store or a quick look through any gun magazine will leave you almost overwhelmed with the number of AR-style rifles available. And as numerous as the offerings are, the prices range widely from as low as “Are you kidding me?” to as high as “Are you kidding me?” Much of that is based on a market into which a massive number of builders entered during the previous presidential administration. The current challenge of that rush is a flooded market, with many people racing to the lowest price point possible to sell guns.
A few companies, however, have gone the other direction and worked to raise the quality of every aspect of their rifles, knowing the price would have to reflect that. Enter Radian Weapons and its custom-grade Model 1.
Formerly known as AXTS Weapon Systems, Radian Weapons has taken a path toward perfecting the AR-15. Radian’s mission is clearly stated on the company’s website: “The design philosophy behind the Radian Model 1 is simple: Use the highest-quality raw materials, the most precise CNC machining equipment and the best components available to create a weapon that seamlessly blends form and function. Beyond quality and aesthetics, the Model 1 features fully ambidextrous controls, adding much-needed utility for left- and right-handed shooters. Every Model 1 is assembled by hand, one at a time, by a trained gunsmith who inspects, test-fires and cleans the weapon to personally guarantee it meets the most rigid quality standards. No detail has gone overlooked, which is why the Model 1, like every Radian product, is guaranteed for life.”
Now it’s important to mention that you can customize the Model 1 on the Radian website, as it’s available with a number of different barrel lengths, chamberings and furniture. My test sample sported a match-grade, 16-inch barrel with a .223 Wylde chambering. The barrel is made of 416R stainless steel with a polished crown and feed ramps, and you’ll find 1/2×28-tpi threading up front so you can add various brakes and suppressors. A SilencerCo ASR flash suppressor/adapter was included as well as a special heat sync.
Surrounding the barrel and gas system is a proprietary M-LOK handguard that is mated to a billet-crafted 7075-T6 aluminum upper receiver. Stainless anti-rotation pins keep the handguard in place. The upper itself features a titanium forward assist with a black DLC coating as well as an enhanced M16 bolt carrier group with a properly staked gas key. The bolt is made from casehardened 9310 steel that has been shot-peened, high-pressure (HP) and magnetic-particle (MP) tested, and finished in a self-lubricating black nitride. The bolt lugs are also CNC ground after being heat-treated for exceptional accuracy.
Rounding out the upper is an ambidextrous Raptor-SD charging handle that has been optimized for suppressor use. But this isn’t the only ambidextrous feature.
On the left side of the billet-crafted lower receiver you’ll find bolt and magazine release levers. On the right side, along with another bolt release lever, the magazine release also doubles as a bolt catch so you can lock the bolt to the rear much more quickly and easily. Then we have the ambidextrous Talon safety selector, which can be customized with either 90- or 45-degree levers. The significance of this design cannot be overstated, as it minimizes the motions required to operate the rifle while making it easier to run from either side.
The trigger used in the Radian Model 1 is another great upgrade. Radian has included a match-grade AR Gold trigger from the American Trigger Corporation (ATC). This is a self-contained unit that delivers a light, smooth trigger pull free of grittiness, with an ultra-crisp let-off and a short reset. Its unique engagement geometry produces a light 3-pound pull and a crisp release without compromising reliability or safety.
As you can see, Radian gave every detail on this rifle special attention. Consider the takedown pins. Instead of just grabbing a random pin and throwing it in, Radian chose a dimpled pin so you can use a cartridge to drive the pin out. That’s ingenious. Finally, Radian finished the lower with Magpul furniture, which looks good and functions well.
Ready To Rock
This is the part of the review where I normally talk about things I’d change or add. But there is honestly nothing I would replace on this gun as I received it. Unlike other guns that quickly get a new trigger or charging handle, the Radian Model 1 was already complete. That’s because the principals at Radian believe your rifle should be world class when you pull it out of the box.
In fact, the work put into the Model 1 is a reminder of the two classes of rifles that seem to exist: those built for the large “prosumer” audience and those built for serious professional end-users. Everything about this rifle screams professional.
Hitting The Range
Of course, this is all talk until you get to the range. The proof is in the performance, and Radian claims that various shooters regularly produce sub-0.5-MOA groups using the Model 1 with 55-, 62- and 77-grain ammunition. So it was time for me to find out for myself.
Cracking open the case, the rifle’s good looks immediately struck me. It’s obvious that a lot of work went into the design. No sharp edges, tight tolerances and a great overall feel—I already liked the gun before I loaded the first magazine. My only addition was a Leupold 1.1-8x24mm Mark 8 CQBSS M5B1 scope to wring out the best possible performance.
At the range, the weather was perfect, as the late Arizona winter provided clear, comfortable conditions. To prove a point that serious weapons need serious ammo, I brought a unique mixture of ammo to test, including rounds from 62 to 77 grains. As I started the zeroing process, I began to get a feel for the rifle. The first thing I noticed was the trigger. It’s one of the best I have ever run—equal travel backward and forward with a crisp 3-pound break. A good trigger can make or break a gun, and this one is a winner.
It took a moment for me to get used to the rifle’s true ambidextrous nature. But it’s worth noting that when you experience the benefits of this design, your other rifles won’t seem as great. All of my operations were smooth and efficient.
First up was Remington’s 62-grain Premier Match ammo. Always a reliable load, this ammunition is designed to shoot well in any gun. With that being the case, my groups were better than with most AR-platform rifles, but not close to what this blaster is capable of. The average group size with this load came in at an inch.
Next up was Federal’s 69-grain Gold Medal Match ammunition, which is deal for serious shooting, and it performed well here. Its best group as 0.75 inches, and the average group size was 0.85 inches, which is fantastic. However, I had visited with Radian and knew the gun was capable of more.
So I broke out the suggested 77-grain CorBon MPR rounds. The gun seemed to prefer these heavier rounds, and I quickly punched a group measuring just 0.45 inches at 100 yards. The next group wasn’t much different, providing an average of 0.5 inches.
Where It Fits In
The question then arises: Just who is this gun built for? The applications of a rifle with this capacity are endless. My first thought goes to police designated marksmen. Police tactical teams have been in search of an exceptionally accurate 5.56mm carbine for years, and the Model 1 fits the bill. It allows for sub-MOA accuracy with the ability to send fast follow-up shots. This platform also lets shooters more quickly adjust to precision shooting, as most people are familiar with the manual of arms. The addition of a well-made variable-power scope allows any shooter to engage in close quarters as well as at extreme distances. People facing real fights would be well served to take a long, hard look at the Radian Model 1.
The general civilian market will welcome this rifle, too. Many shooters who have entered the gun world in the past few years have wisely trained with some of the best instructors in the world. This results in a civilian shooter who can appreciate the quality and accuracy of the Radian Model 1 and actually run the gun to its true capacity. The Radian Model 1 is a gun for any shooter who demands a rifle worthy of their skills.
Radian Model 1 Specs
|Caliber: .223 Wylde
|Barrel: 16 inches
|OA Length:32-36 inches
|Weight: 7 pounds (empty)
|Stock: Magpul MOE
|Action: Direct impingement semi-auto
Radian Model 1 Performance
|CorBon 77 MPR
|0.50 (average), 0.45 (best)
|Federal 69 Gold Medal Match
|0.85 (average), 0.75 (best)
|Remington 62 Premier Match
|1.00 (average), 0.90 (best)
*Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in fps by chronograph and accuracy in inches for three 5-shot groups at 100 yards.
For more information, visit radianweapons.com.
This article is from the May/June 2018 issue of “Tactical Life” magazine. To order a copy and subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.