Wander the exhibit hall floor at the NRA Annual Meeting (or SHOT, or any gun show, or any law enforcement convention…) and it because obvious that everyone and their brother-in-law is making some version of a) an AR15, or b) a 1911 pistol.
And honestly, I just usually walk on by and mutter, “Meh, seen it.” I’ve got an AR15 and a couple of 1911s, and I’m happy with them all. They’re nothing fancy or expensive, and they work fine for me. I don’t run them as hard as many, but all three have seen multiple thousands of rounds now, and none have shown any major malfunctions or issues in reliability. I’m getting to the point now where normal wear and tear should start to take its toll, and when/if any of them break, I’ll simply get ‘em fixed. The only guns that don’t break are the ones you never use.
As a novice AR shooter, I didn’t (and still don’t, to a large extent) know what to look for in terms of build quality, but from picking the brains of my gunsmith friend Joe Speer and a couple of AR15 aficionados, I do know at least enough to spot a shoddy build when I see one, and the big points to look for that differentiate a quality build from one cranked out at Bubba’s Generic AR15 Company that otherwise superficially appears identical.
So, yeah, I pretty much ignore those JAARM (Just Another AR Maker) booths at shows, but I had the good fortune of having Tamara drag me to the MGI booth to show off the Hydra rifle, of which she glowingly sings its praises.
The MGI Hydra is an AR15 pattern rifle. Like all AR rifles, whose major virtue is near-unlimited options for for accessorizing and customization, the Hydra can be fitted to suit your unique needs.
Want a hunting gun? Get yourself a decent scope and rings, and you’re in business.
Want a plinker? Base model 5.56 oughta do you just fine.
Door-kicking Tier One Operator? Set that baby up with your choice of single-point sling, optic, vertical foregrip, weapon light, and suppressor, and you’re ready to kick Tango ass.
Donut-eating Food Court Mall Ninja or Counterstrike Commando? Copy the weapon Chris Costa is holding in that poster you have glued to the ceiling over your bed, and add whatever features befit your own badassery. I’d recommend a toaster and an iPhone mount, and you’re set up to clear the Chik Fil A whenever the zombie apocalypse happens. And you know it’s not if, it’s when.
Gamer? Drop the rail farm, do whatever else you can to reduce weight, set it up with your favorite sling and optic, and go kick some Three Gun ass.
But heck, you can do all that with any AR15.
Where the Hydra differs from the standard AR15 platform is that it is truly modular. It boasts a switch-barrel upper that is compatible with any standard AR15 barrel. The lower features a modular mag well, allowing you to switch from 5.56 NATO to 9mm Glock to M3 .45 ACP grease gun to AK47 in 7.62×39 in just seconds, without need of special tools. Heck, if the two calibers you’re switching between use a common bolt carrier group, all it involves is switching the barrel, mag well and magazine.
The upper utilizes a unique cam system to retain the barrel that the manufacturer claims is as robust and stable as a conventional barrel nut.
The lower can accommodate a multitude of different magazines by the simple expedient of replacing the forward half of the mag well. Simply slide off the forward section and slide on the one that fits your particular magazine, and you’re in business.
And just to show how easy it is to do, here’s a video of the assembly:
I’ve shot Tam’s AR15 at the past two Blogorados without realizing it was fitted with the MGI switch-barrel upper, and it shot fine. Tam tells a story of the first time she had an optic mounted on her upper and bore sighted, and eagerly disassembling it to show a friend, only to realize, “Ooops, maybe I shouldn’t have taken the barrel off right after I had it bore sighted.”
Turns out, the rifle was still bore sighted when the barrel was re-installed, and has held up through multiple barrel swaps since. That’s pretty impressive.
I’ve had another AR15 on the back burner of my wish list for a while now, and given the versatility I see in the MGI Hydra, this one just might be it.