In my Noveske N4 carbine review, I commented that the N-4 Light Carbine was the new contender in the realm of serious carbines. That was back in June of 2007, and the past nine months have shown it to be true. Talking to trainers and asking which carbines hold up in classes brings forth the usual list of names, with the Noveske in the first name or two thrown out.
I was talking to Chris Costa, who I consider a reliable and credible source of information. I asked him what he observed through out his training classes, and what he would use as an off the shelf AR15 carbine for duty use. Chris commented that several manufacturers carbines would run through a couple days of heavy firing. The big difference became apparent when suppressors were brought into use. Based off of this, multiple weapons and weapon platforms observed over his MIL and DOD time, as well as other training and experience, it speaks well of the Noveske N4 carbine that it is the first AR15 that Chris brought up.
Chris is the Director of Training for Magpuls Training Division. I appreciate the assistance that Chris and Magpul has given to me over the past years and this article. Contact info for them can be found at the end of this thread.
I think its worth mentioning the above as the VTAC/ Noveske Carbine is a variant of the highly capable Noveske N4. However, its a variant based off the input of Retired SGM Kyle E. Lamb, the founder of Viking Tactics.
Retired SGM Kyle E. Lamb is probably best known for his 21 years of service in US Army, with 17 years in Special Operations. His real world experience provides a solid platform for understanding what works, and what needs improvement. Contact info for Viking Tactics can be found at the end of this thread.
Enough about the lead up to the weapon, lets get into the carbine itself.
The first thing that leapt out at me as I unwrapped the carbine was the "VIKING TACTICS" logo across the back of the upper receiver. I know that some will find this less than tactical, but if your bad guy is close enough that he is reading the lettering on your upper receiver, you've got enough other problems that the logo is going to be the least of them. While subjective, the logo was something that didn't appear out of place to me. If nothing else, that "VIKING TACTICS" logo lets you know that its an original piece, and not something that someone else slapped together.
The upper receiver is a dead match in color and texture for its lower receiver sibling, and includes well laid out M4 feedramps. The charging handle was solid, and free of any unwelcome flex without extreme pressure being applied. This is a little thing, but to me, a cheap charging handle does little to inspire confidence in a weapon. All AR15s should come with solid parts like this to prevent continual upgrades while still fresh out of the box.
Starting from the rear of the carbine, the Vltor Modstock is used. Instead of a traditional ribbed stock, Noveske Rifleworks has chosen to go with a Vltor Modstock. This stock gives a quick detach mount, as well as battery compartments to hold either “AA” batteries, or the CR123 batteries that most weapon mounted lights are now using. The battery storage compartments extend out, and give an increased cheek weld. The compartments are waterproof, and can be removed without removal of the stock. Built into the stock are ambi-quick disconnect mounts to allow for any QD equipped slings to plug in.
The receiver extension (buffer tube) is mil spec, and 6 position. The buffer is of the "H" buffer selection, which is nicer than the cheaper and lighter buffer many manufacturers still insist on using. The buffer is an example of going the extra step to prevent the knowledgeable end user from having to upgrade on their own, and keeps the novice secure in knowing they have selected a weapon that is well laid out.
Shown in the below picture, the castle nut is well staked in two locations.
Moving down to the pistol grip we find the Tango Down Battle Grip being used. This is a substantial upgrade over the A2 pistol grip that is usually found on most AR15 variants. The Tango Down Battle Grip provides secure and waterproof storage for additional batteries (CR123, AA and N size) or other items. This pistol grip also takes out the gap on the underside of the trigger guard.
Included as standard on this weapon are the Noveske version of the well known Troy Battle Sights. The rear sight fits standard 1913 rails, and aligns with any of the standard M16/ AR15 height iron sights. Not that most people will feel a need to switch away from the Troy/ Noveske folding sights, as they are among the lowest profile and durable sights on the market. Each click of adjustment provides .5 MOA, and no tools are required. Made from Stainless Steel and T6 aluminum with a type III hardcoat anodizing, they should last users a lifetime. Noveske Rifleworks takes no chances and uses a thread locker to keep these from coming loose under heavy vibration and use.
The Troy/ Noveske front sights are a folding front sight that provides .5 MOA adjustment with each click. Made from the same materials as the rear sight, these are T6 aluminum and SS, with a Type III hard coat anodizing. The front sights are what Troy considers the M4 style as opposed to their HK version. The front and rear sight both lock into the up position, and lowering is done through pushing the button on the left of the sight body.
The rail bears the most obvious mark of Viking Tactics, and uses their rail. The VTAC Modular Hand Guard System has a 1.75" Inside Diameter and 2" Outside Diamter, making for a streamlined and slim tube. Rail sections can be added where the end user sees fit, and left off where they are unwanted. The extended length of the rail ensures that both the gas blocks of the carbine length 14.5" barrel as well as the midlength 16" barrel are fully covered and protected.
Noveske Rifleworks is continuing their tradition of engraving their logo into complete weapons. Since the uppers will be available as a stand alone item, this makes complete sense. For those people who are unfamiliar with the marking, the below picture illustrates that the logo is split half way between the upper and lower receiver. With this feature in place, there is no doubt as to whether the weapon you are holding left the factory as a complete weapon or not.
Here are the listed specifications taken off the Noveske Rifleworks website.
VTAC/Noveske Combat Carbine 14.5"
14.5" Cold Hammer Forged Barrel, 1 in 7" twist, 5.56mm
--Made of Mil Spec M249 Machine Gun barrel steel, with heavy M249 Chrome Lining,
(appx. 2 times as thick as an M4 or M16)
--Extended Feed Ramps
--Mil Spec Phosphate finish
--Same weight as M4 barrel, 1 lb, 9 oz, but improved contour for maximum
rigidity, no M203 notch
--MP HP tested with certification
--Carbine length gas system
--YHM 5C2 Phantom flash suppressor permanently installed for non-NFA use
--Shot peened and MP tested bolt
--Properly staked carrier key
--Mil-Spec receiver extension, staked
--Vltor Carbine buttstock
--Tango Down pistol grip
--One 30 rd mag included
--Flat-top upper receiver
--12" VTAC free floated handguard
--Low-profile gas block pinned to barrel
--Flip-up front and rear sights
*** Note that the upper is available as a stand alone item. ***
On a side note, I feel its worth listing the information for both Kyle Lamb, and Chris Costa. Those in MIL and LEO positions who are looking for high quality training would be well served by both instructors, and those they work with.
Viking Tactics, Inc
(Email, fax or call for mailing address)
Fayetteville, NC 28306
*** Please utilize email as much as possible ***
I had the chance to take several classes from Viking Tactical and meet with (RET) USA SGM Kyle Lamb. Kyle's real world experience and knowledge lend to the design of the Noveske VTAC.Kyle's lessons from the tactical carbine class and offerring his own VTAC AR for students to use made true believers out of many of us.
Most of us knew of the Noveske AR rifles but when teamed up with Viking Tactical, it was a no brainier. A Sgt and an Officer I worked with ordered one. I will get some trigger time and photos later. Needless to say, the one we shoot at his class was hard to give back. The Noveske/Viking Tactical AR is one I am working at to buy this year.