By Christopher R. Bartocci
American Tactical Imports (ATI) was founded by Tony DiChario in 2006. Tony is also the President of Amchar Wholesale in Rochester, New York, one of the largest commercial and law enforcement firearm distributors in the country. Amchar was started by Tony in 1981 after selling his gun shop (The American Sportsman) and has grown tremendously. Starting in a tiny warehouse on Child Street in the City of Rochester they are now housed in a gigantic warehouse near the Monroe County Airport and have just recently put a major addition onto the Amchar facility to house American Tactical. Unfortunately, New York State enacted the “SAFE Act,” which is one of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country making it nearly impossible for anyone in the firearms, defense, or training industry to be able to function in the state and ATI manufactures weapons that are considered “evil” by the state. Many states in the South have opened up their arms inviting not only New York State firearms industries to move their operations there, but New York State residents who want to live in a state that honors the second amendment. In the case of ATI, South Carolina offered an incredible package of incentives to bring ATI to Summerville, South Carolina. Accordingly, ATI has purchased property and a building and will be creating nearly 200 jobs in South Carolina. This facility will be open and operational in January 2014.
ATI’s first product was the GSG (German Sports Guns) .22 caliber rifles. These are made in Germany that are .22 Long Rifle caliber and have the appearance and feel of the H&K MP5 family of carbines. They are of extremely high quality and are down to the last detail a clone of the legendary German weapons. By going with the .22 Long Rifle caliber the customer could have the feel of the real McCoy but fire an affordable caliber. This was even more important with the recent ammunition shortages. ATI has gone on to import other .22 Long Rifle caliber firearms including the GSS STG-44, which is a replica of the original German STG-44, the granddaddy of the modern assault rifle. Currently, they are importing a .22 Long Rifle version of the MP40 as well. Other ATI products include other .22 Long Rifle caliber weapons such as AK clones, various pistols, firearm accessories, their own line of ammunition manufactured in Turkey, Drago cases and their own 1911 handguns and family of shotguns.
In 2012, ATI decided to get into the AR market. Initially, ATI was selling stripped and complete lower receivers. They offered a standard aluminum lower receiver but they also offered the new OMNI polymer lower receiver. These polymer receivers were offered at an incredibly low price of $49.95. Along with the polymer receiver, ATI offered a Chiappa .22 Long Rifle attached upper that offered a low cost rifle one could afford to practice with but would look and feel like the real M4. In mid-2012, ATI began to offer complete rifles based on both aluminum and polymer lower receivers. ATI assembled all of the rifles at the Amchar facility in Rochester, New York. Components were procured from the top suppliers in the industry. The rifles are offered in several combinations relating to handguard type, forged or billet upper receivers as well as California compliant models.
The newest member of the ATI family was released in November of 2013; the OMNI Hybrid multi-caliber polymer lower receiver. This lower receiver will replace the early polymer lower. Manufactured from an incredibly durable material, there are metal inserts in the lower on the high stress areas such as the receiver extension. This is a multi-caliber lower meaning 5.56mm, .22 LR, 300 Blackout, 6.8mm or anything else you would want to put it on. The magazine well is flared to allow easier magazine installation. The receiver is thicker than the standard aluminum. When the trigger and hammer pins are installed there are four set screws installed over each end of the hammer/trigger pin to keep them from walking out as well as make sure they are properly centered. This feature has a patent pending. All of the lower receiver components are standard Mil-Spec type except there is no trigger guard used – that is molded into the receiver. Like its aluminum counterpart, you can use any industry standard components such as trigger groups, receiver extension as well as pistol grips. It has a very pleasing look and feel to it, quite solid and well made.
Two rifles were provided by ATI for test and evaluation. The first was their 16 inch ATI OMNI Hybrid (Item: ATIGOMNI556) with a MSRP of $629.95 and a special run Mil-Sport Tactical aluminum lower rifle with a Head Down free floating handguard with an MSRP of $739.95. The fit and finish was quite good. This particular rifle had a billet upper receiver made by Seekins Precision. The upper receiver was superb and had a very unique look to it though, like many, the rifle has a forward bolt assist, ejection port cover door and fired cartridge case deflector. The top of the receiver has a Mil-Std 1913 rail. The charging handle is a standard Mil-Spec.
The barrel on this rifle was manufactured by Mossberg. It is a 16 inch government profile barrel with the step cut for the M203 grenade launcher. The barrel has 6 lands and grooves with a right hand twist with a 1 turn in 7 inch pitch. The barrel will stabilize projectiles from 55 to 80grains in weight. The entire barrel is Melonite coated for durability and corrosion resistance. The muzzle device is a standard A2-style compensator with a crush washer. The rifle uses a carbine length gas system. The gas block is bolted onto the barrel with two lock bolts. There is a low sitting Mil-Std 1913 rail on top of this gas block. The handguards were the standard large M4-style handguards.
The bolt carrier is a standard Mil-Spec type M16 carrier group. The carrier key is staked in place as per military specifications. Both the inside of the carrier and key are chrome plated. The extractor has the rubber “O” ring, which increases extraction force by a factor of four.
The lower receiver is the new OMNI Hybrid that is a major improvement from the original polymer receiver. It is manufactured from an incredibly durable polymer that ATI has run over with a fork lift truck with no damage to the receiver. There is a metal reinforcement in the rear of the receiver strengthening the receiver extension area now permitting the receiver extension nut to be torqued as per military specification. The buffer is a standard 3 steel weight carbine buffer. The receiver extension permits the stock to have six positions.The receiver has a standard military specification type trigger assembly – the kind of grit and creep one comes to expect from a standard combat type trigger. The trigger broke at 6 1/4 pounds. The safety, bolt catch and magazine release are standard.
This rifle was equipped with a Trijicon Reflex sight and shot at close quarter ranges. More than 200 rounds of M855 ball were fired through the ATI C-Products Defense magazine and the new imported Hera Arms H3 and H3T polymer magazines. There were no misfires or malfunctions of any sort. The groups were all off hand and were under 2 inches at 25 and 50 yards. It would be expected for the groups to improve with a combination of a rest and some match grade ammunition.
The next rifle provided was the Mil-Sport Tactical rifle, which is a 7075 T6 aluminum forged lower receiver. The lower receiver parts are identical to that of the OMNI Hybrid lower. The upper receiver is what is different from the standard. Also a billet Seekins Precision upper, the big difference between these rifles was this one has a Head Down free floating handguard as well as using a few different parts than the standard. A low profile gas block is used so the handguard can slide over it. There is a special barrel nut and wrench for this handguard. To install the barrel extension that goes into the receiver, there are three spacer shim rings placed over the barrel and then the special barrel nut is installed. The torque is the same as the standard barrel at 30 ft. pounds. Then the gas tube hole in the barrel nut and receiver are aligned with a breaker bar on a barrel wrench. The handguard is screwed onto the barrel nut with eight screws.
Added to this rifle was a Leupold 4.5 to 14 with a 50mm objective on an ArmaLite mount. The Hera magazines were used along with 100 rounds of M855 Ball and 20 rounds of Remington .223 Remington 77 gr. Matchking BTHP (RM223R3). The target was set at 100 yards and the rifle fired from a sandbag. The best group was obtained with the Remington Match ammunition with a group measuring approximately .80 inches. There were a few flyers and that was attributed to the military grade trigger. If there was a match trigger placed in this rifle that group size may very well have come down some. This is excellent accuracy for a rifle of this type and in this price range. This rifle experienced no malfunctions of any type either.
The ATI ARs are an excellent beginning AR-enthusiast in training. Accurate and reliable as well as able to accept any of the accessories you want to install. ATI has made sure to produce a good rifle that is in a reasonable price range. ATI is for sure to release new models and with operations soon to open in Summerville, South Caroline the rifles should be readily available in quantity. ATI has put thousands of rifles out over the first 2 years of production with a small staff. All that is about to change with moving the shop to gun friendly South Carolina.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V18N5 (October 2014)|