Steve Coulston Meets with Jason Curns of Mega Arms to debut the new Megalithic Tactical System at SHOT Show 2014.
It is easy to get lost in the labyrinth of manufactures making black rifle parts. Don’t get me wrong, there are many outstanding manufactures out there that produce amazing guns. What some people don’t know is those manufactures don’t always make their parts. They get them from machine shops. The list of top machine shops is a small and elite group. In my humble opinion, MEGA ARMS is right there at the top. The folks at MEGA ARMS are master craftsmen. Their passion for quality, precision and artistry is evident in everything they produce. How long have they been cutting metal? A long time… MEGA ARMS was an offshoot of aerospace manufacture MEGA MACHINE, which bought Parrot Machine back in 1984. Parrot Machine was founded before the turn of the 20th century so their machining roots run deep.
I was fortunate to have the grand tour of their facility at the tail end of 2013. Located in Tumwater, WA, MEGA ARMS is a full service machining and fabrication ISO 9001 registered facility. Upon entering the 22,000 sq. ft. shop, one is greeted by the sounds and smells of metal being cut, formed and fitted. As far as the eye can see there are pallets of aluminum billet, milling machines, inspection stations, clean rooms, and various other amazing contraptions that turn blocks of aluminum into works of AR-t. Yes, the AR uppers, lowers, rails, triggers and other components they pour their blood, sweat and years of experience into are considered art. They have taken their years of experience producing parts for the aerospace industry and implemented the same Aerospace Quality Assurance Procedures to their firearms manufacturing process.
Quality is the cornerstone for the MEGA reputation and it shows. They go through such extraordinary lengths to implement their QC process that while we were allowed to observe the process, we were not allowed to take any pictures of the process or write specifically about it. What I can tell you is all parts are visually and dimensionally inspected by at least four different people. The parts are inspected in climate-controlled clean room by both the living and the droid. A multi-step QC procedure takes place between each machining station. I had the opportunity to observe their triggers being checked for proper tolerances by a robotic arm. It was absolutely fascinating and impressive to see the number of inspection points a single trigger had. I watched their machinists verify each part’s dimensions prior to moving them to the next station. I observed the satisfaction they took in their work and the enthusiasm that spilled over during the course of conversation as they were taking us through the facility. MEGA ARMS takes great pride in their tight tolerances and attention to detail. For MEGA, Mil-Spec isn’t a standard, it’s a starting point. All MEGA ARMS tolerances are tighter than standard Mil-Spec requirements. They state, “Not only will you find that our products interchange with any other mil-spec components, we do it with a higher grade of fit.”
During our time with the crew from MEGA, I figured I would be downright negligent if I didn’t ask about what was on their drawing board and in design development. So I did. Jason Curns, MEGA’s production manager, just smiled, kept the details to himself, but said we would absolutely love what was in the works. Boy was he right. I had an idea of what they were working on, but I had to wait until SHOT SHOW 2014 before it was confirmed.
Back in 2012 MEGA got caught up in a patent issue with Lewis Machine and Tool (LMT) regarding their monolithic upper receivers. Without going into a ton of detail, MEGA took the high road and stopped production of their AR15 monolithic upper and their .308 MATEN monolithic upper. End of story…? Not quite. I have a confession to make. I used to own a MATEN monolithic upper and lower combo build. It was exquisite. Unfortunately, it was during a time of financial hardship and I was forced to sell it. It is without a doubt, my biggest firearms sale regret to date and to add insult to injury; they no longer make them anymore. Queue violins and grab me a gallon of ice cream and a spoon. But fret not depressed MATEN has-been owner! MEGA promised their customers an even better product. “Stand by to stand by.” Roger that. In the meanwhile they introduced their MKM two piece upper/rail combo in both 5.56 and .308. This is an upper receiver with a proprietary keymod rail system. The upper and the rail fit so well together and the tolerances were so tight it was damn near as rigid as a monolithic platform. As awesome as the MKM is it was just the appetizer to hold us over until the main course arrived.
Fast forward to SHOT SHOW 2014 in Las Vegas. I caught up with Jason and finally had the chance to see and touch what he couldn’t talk about a few months prior. There it was, in all its glory: The MEGALITHIC TACTICAL SYSTEM (MTS). The MTS is an ultra lightweight, one piece, 7 series 7075-T651, US made billet aluminum rail and upper receiver. The MTS mates seamlessly with MEGA’s outstanding GTR series of billet lower receivers. It comes in both a 5.56 version and a .308 MATEN version. The AR15 sports both a 9 inch rail (mid length gas) and 12 inch rail (rifle length gas) while the MATEN MTS .308 utilizes a 12 inch rail rifle length gas system. It should be noted the AR15 MTS will fit on any mil-spec AR lower while the MATEN MTS will only work with the MEGA MATEN lower. The rail has an integrated keymod system at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions. The MTS has an 8-position QD stud on either side of the rail located parallel with the barrel nut. The 8-position QD allows the user to position their sling at whatever angle they choose without having the position of the rifle dictate the position of the sling QD attachment. The barrel nut is a special locking nut that allows the barrel to truly free float.
The top rail is numbered for repeat optic placement. It runs the entire length of the MTS with a small break where the receiver turns into the rail. This break houses an ingenious little device. It is the patent pending Integrated Leveling System or (ILS). It is integral to the rail and is a small stainless steel tube that houses a micro level. To deploy, simply push in and rotate quarter turn and it springs out to the left side. It is also reversible for left-handed shooters. To retract, push it in and rotate a quarter turn and it locks back in place. There are many reasons why this is a great little device. First, this will be a great help for the installation of long rang riflescopes. I always felt like I needed a third or fourth hand when installing glass. One hand to keep the rifle level, the other to make sure the scope was level in the rings and the third and forth hands to tighten down the rings while keeping everything else in place. Yes, I know we have all managed up till now, but the ILS frees up one of the hands and makes it that much easier. It can also be used as a training tool. Remember how Granddad used to do it? No more putting pennies on top of the rifle to verify if it is level when zeroing your rifle and practicing proper fundamentals. While I am not a sniper or super long-range competitive shooter, I do find a feature like this helpful in making sure the rifle is level before taking that long shot. Sure you can buy levels that clamp on to the rail or optic, but the ILS is small, weighs next to nothing and is always available when you need it and out of the way when you don’t. The best part is it’s not one more part you need to buy.
The form and construction of the MTS and ILS systems are second to none. In true MEGA fashion the machining is flawless. When I ran my hand over the MTS I couldn’t feel any sharp edges other than the 1913 Picatinny top rail. The MTS is devoid of tool marks. I couldn’t find one anywhere. For all you piston gun lovers, an Adams arms kit will be available for the AR15 kit for rifle or mid length. I asked if the rail would be cut out to incorporate the gas block for the AA piston kit and Jason informed me the gas block will sit in front of the MEGALITHIC rail.
The stars aligned, our prayers were heard and we happened to get our hands on the MATEN MTS .308 upper and lower prior to the official release date. Parts wise, we set it up with a 16 inch MEGA barrel tipped with a VG6 Gamma brake. The upper was finished off with the outstanding Rainier Arms Raptor charging handled and their new .308 NiB bolt carrier group. The pistol grip was also by MEGA and the stock used was the sturdy Mission First Tactical Battlelink Utility stock. For glass, the Vortex Optics Viper PST 6-24 was used. It was secured to the rifle in a lime green Warne RAMP mount. The added touch was a lime green magazine release extension by Odin Gunworks. This rifle build exudes quality screams, “LOOK AT ME!” Impressive would be an understatement. The MEGALITHIC .308 is such a well-balanced rifle, lightweight and a blast to shoot. Oh, and it looks sexy as hell.
Both the 5.56 and .308 should be available to dealers around the latter part of March or early April of 2014. MEGA states the MSRP will be in the $600-$800 range for the upper only. The 5.56 will be on the low end while the .308 on the high end. They will also offer a upper and lower combo for MATEN to be around $1200. There is little doubt the MEGALITHIC TACTICAL SYSTEM will be MEGA popular. When the MTS hits the consumer market you will need to get your orders in quick. These will sell out fast and I have a feeling the waiting list will be long. Leave it to MEGA ARMS to continue to develop one more product that I “need”. My wallet and wife thank you.