Sunday before SHOT Show, the guys from Shaolin Rifleworks invited me out to the desert to check out their new lineup. I admit I wasn’t particularly thrilled at the prospect of yet another AR from yet another assembler. However, it turns out Shaolin is much more than that, and their hit list of high-end, custom, all-in-house machine work, hand fitting, accuracy testing and real-world 1/2 MOA guarantee piqued my interest. What just might be the most accurate AR rifles in the world at an MSRP lower than most vaguely competitive options? Yes, I’m listening. Details and first impressions follow. . .
Accuracy is where Shaolin stakes its claim, and every firearm that leaves the shop must first print 5 strings at or under 1/2 MOA (3/4 for .300 BLK) at 100 yards in real world conditions. Real world? Cameron from Shaolin showed me a photo of their outdoor range from a couple weeks ago, covered in at least a foot of NH snow. The rifle is still expected to do what it’s expected to do.
Standing, with Shaolin’s .308 on a bipod sitting atop the liftgate of Dodge’s finest, on a very windy afternoon in the desert — and the horrible audio in the video gives an indication of how windy it was indeed — I managed to print this 5-shot group with Federal Gold Medal Match:
And I am not a particularly proficient long-range shooter, either. With a sandbag or two and a calm day, I’m sure it would make me look even better.
This accuracy itself is no mystery. It is achieved by starting with a top quality barrel blank, turning it in-house, ensuring that the chamber (which is cut with a proprietary reamer), receiver, barrel extension, bolt lugs, bolt face, etc are all completely concentric to each other. Machining within 0.0005″ tolerances and hand-lapping will get you there. Reliability is also a concern, of course, and assisting with that is an adjustable gas block that’s tuned at Shaolin during each rifle’s testing.
For more information on the build process and the parts used in a standard Shaolin Rifleworks rifle, visit their Features page.
If “standard” isn’t your thing, no worries. Shaolin does a significant amount of custom work as well. You could make minor changes to a Shaolin rifle such as requesting a different stock or hand guard, or come up with something entirely on your own. For example, a particularly tall customer of Shaolin’s wanted an XXXLong handguard with the top milled down and engraved with a quote from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. The answer? Weld together two Seekins Precision pieces.