The AR-15 is probably the most versatile firearm in the world: easily configurable to meet any situation, lightweight, accurate, and reliable. It would be the ideal backpack rifle…if you could fit one in a backpack. Thanks to the National Firearms Act you need a 16-inch barrel (unless you’ve completed an annoyingly time-consuming amount of paperwork).
With a standard length barrel, that usually means the shortest you can make your rifle is roughly 25 inches, the length of the barrel and upper receiver assembly together. That might not seem like a lot until you try and shove that into a bag. That lead Ralph, the proprietor of Cry Havoc Tactical to come up with a solution: instead of disassembling the upper and lower receiver for travel, why not just take the barrel off?
There have been a couple designs that have tried something similar in the past, such as the MGI Hydra which I reviewed back in 2014 (now made by Windham Weaponry). Their mechanisms have always seemed a bit overly complicated which makes Cry Havoc’s design a breath of fresh air. Its simplicity is what makes it so good.
In this design the adapter fits where the barrel nut would usually secure the barrel in the upper receiver. There’s a fixed plate mounted on the threads of the upper and a matching assembly on the barrel extension that mates to the receiver, locking in place using two latches on the sides of the assembly.
The design simplicity extends to the alignment mechanism, too. One of the major issues you get when you remove the barrel from the upper receiver is that you lose positive alignment between your (receiver-mounted) optic and barrel. That means there’s a chance that when you reassemble the gun your point of aim and point of impact might not be in the same place any more. In other words, your could lose your zero.
To work around the problem, I suppose you could rely only on the index pin from the barrel extension and the gas tube to align the barrel and upper receiver, but Cry Havoc has gone a step further. They’ve included an index pin on the assembly itself. This solid pin is located above the gas tube to ensure that you don’t kink your tube when re-installing the barrel. It also provides a great landmark to keep everything aligned. At least that’s the idea.
The end result of all these machinations is that you can reduce the size of your AR-15 rifle drastically for transportation. This example that we saw at SHOT Show. It’s a 14.5-inch barrel (with pinned and welded flash hider) that can fit in the space of a 3-ring binder (with the help of a collapsing stock) — something you definitely can’t do with a standard barrel to upper receiver connection. Your mileage may vary, but in general the buffer tube on your lower receiver is going to quickly become the limiting factor of how small you can ultimately go.
So far I’m loving this. It allows you to make your gun much smaller for transportation and storage without adding much weight to the rifle…even without a tax stamp. The real question, though, is whether the rifle can maintain its accuracy.
To test the gun I took it to the range with a couple boxes of Eagle Eye Ammunition and put it through its paces. I zeroed the gun, shot a five-round group, then disassembled and reassembled the rifle before shooting another five round group.
There was some variation between the two groups. The center wandered between 1/2 and 3/4 of an inch at 100 yards but no further. It definitely isn’t going to give you pinpoint precision after a hasty reassembly but it’s definitely combat effective.
One thing to point out here. Sometimes with these takedown systems the lockup between the barrel and upper is so wobbly that the overall accuracy of the rifle drops precipitously from minute of angle to minute of pie plate. With the QRB kit the accuracy of the rifle wasn’t hardly impacted at all — I was still cranking out 1 MoA groups with ease.
Making an AR-15 rifle as small as possible while still being actually useful is a difficult task. Many have tried, but few have come to market with a solution as slick and useful as this one. For some, the extra seven inches of the upper receiver doesn’t make much of a difference. For those who want their gun as small as possible while needing every last inch of barrel length this is a great solution.
Specifications: Cry Havoc QRB Kit
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability: * * * *
The adapter is built like a brick outhouse. Comes back to within 1 MoA of zero, usually less than 3/4 MoA in my testing.
Overall: * * * *
The price is probably what will scare some away. This is a new product from a small shop in Florida so you don’t have the economies of scale working for you. But considering the time and money you save on a tax stamp, it justifies itself pretty quickly if transport in a discreet, small package is what you need. The QRB kit works great. If you need a compact rifle for transportation but a longer barrel in the field, this is your ticket.