By Dean Roxby
An intriguing new rifle was unveiled at SHOT 2107. The X11 rifle, from Scottsdale AZ based SKELI, LLC was on display at the Next section on the third floor of the Sands Convention Center. The Next area is a row of very small “booths”, (4×4 foot tables, actually) that gives new vendors a chance to show off their product without having to rent larger floor space on the main or lower floors at SHOT. It has become a very popular feature at recent SHOT shows.
The Skeli X11 rifle is a new design, not a variant of any current design. It features a side-folding (to the left side) stock and a quick-change barrel. Caliber choices include 5.56×45, as well as conversion kits for 300 Blackout, 6.5mm Grendel, and 6.8 SPC II. The cost for another barrel is reasonably priced, $285 for the 300 BLK and $395 for the 6.5 and 6.8 choices. A barrel swap can be done in less than 60 seconds. This can be done without tools, via a ratcheted knurled barrel nut. The company website claims the quick-change barrel system maintains its zero after a barrel removal and reinstallation. The stated weight is 6.8 lbs, and the display model certainly felt very light during my brief study of it. Of course, this was without any ammo.
The rifle features a 3-position (high, low, and suppressed) gas system acting on a short-stroke piston. The proprietary bolt carrier holds a rotating bolt. The bolt carrier rides on dual guide rods, similar to the AR-18 or SA-80 rifles. The bolt itself is basic AR-15 dimension, as is the barrel extension. This simplifies things if you were to build your own barrel or calibre conversion later. Besides the barrel extension, the Fire Control Group and pistol grip are also standard AR-15 spec.
By swapping the bolt for a left handed one, the gun can easily be set up for left side ejection. A spare bolt is priced at $120 MSRP.
An ambidextrous non-reciprocating changing handle is located towards front of the rifle, sort of FN-FAL style. The charging handle can be swapped from one side to the other, as preferred. Also ambidextrous is the safety lever, conveniently located directly above the pistol grip.
Overall length is 34 inches, with a standard 16” barrel. A 16” Picatinny rail is machined into the extruded aluminum upper receiver. The length of pull is 12 ¾”. The barrels are made from 45V50 Chrome-Moly-Vanadium steel, then Nitrided for additional wear resistance. The 5.56 barrels are listed as having a 1:7” twist. The other chamberings are not listed as to twist rate. Current color options are Urban Grey and Dark Earth. The molded polymer lower and the anodized aluminum upper do not match in color, but do present a nice two-tone effect.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N4 (May 2017)