DRD Tactical Aptus takedown rifle
Photo by Graham Baates
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I believe it was around SHOT 2017 that DRD Tactical made a splash with their folding stock, AR-mag fed, side-charging takedown rifle the Aptus. I remember the awe when I first saw it as rifles of such a format are relatively uncommon. It wasn’t the first rifle like this, but it was the first time I’d seen one. Years later I finally got my hands on one and am happy to share the experience with you.

DRD Tactical Aptus takedown rifle
The lid of the DRD Tactical Aptus case houses the barrel with room for a spare.
The bottom of the DRD Tactical Aptus case houses the receivers, handguard, magazines, and room for a short optic.

What is it? 

The Aptus is a side-charging, folding stock, quick-barrel change, direct impingement rifle that breaks down to fit in an 18.3×14.4″ hard case. The rifle ships in either 5.56x45mm and .300 Blackout. The case can contain the complete rifle, optics if small enough, and a couple of magazines.

As advertised, you can go from cased to shooting in under a minute with some practice. You can get a feel for the fit, finish, and build quality in the tabletop video below. You’ll also see a demonstration of how easy it is to put the whole system together . . .

The Pros

The Aptus makes transporting a 16″-barreled rifle easy and discreet. The case, or any bag you decide to use for the disassembled rifle, won’t scream, “Hey, I’m carrying a rifle!” everywhere you go.

The Aptus is easier to transport and store than most most conventional rifles as it requires space more akin to that of a PDW. Total reciprocating mass of the action is just 9.7 oz. versus the standard 11 oz. of an AR resulting in less felt recoil and a flatter-shooting experience. The non-reciprocating, left-side charging means there’s no need to lift your face from the stock to charge or clear the gun.

DRD Tactical Aptus takedown rifle
Neither upper nor lower receiver are of standard AR cut. The non-reciprocating charging handle folds out of the way when not in use.
DRD Tactical Aptus takedown rifle
The DRD Tactical Aptus handguard centers using a tab, the pin engages a slot on the barrel nut to prevent sliding, and the lever provides clamping force.

The Questions

The upper and lower receiver, as well as bolt carrier are unique, so are there magazine compatibility issues? With a barrel so quick to install and remove, is there a change to the point of impact? What kind of accuracy can we get from a government profile barrel that’s so easily installed? This was tested in the Shooting Impressions video below . . .

I was very pleased with the shooting experience. The recoil impulse is shorter than an AR’s, but feels less abrupt. Magazine fitment proved interesting and I’ve recommended to DRD Tactical that they open up the magazine well slightly, especially for those who like to run polymer magazines. If you prefer treated aluminum or steel like DuraMag you’ll have no issue dropping a magazine free, but the well offers little room for error with insertion.

The first time I shot for groups I tried a wider variety of loads than seen in this video, but wasted most of that ammunition trying to beat 1.5 MOA. I had it in my head that a rifle of this cost should be sub-MOA.

After some reflection I realized that 1.5 MOA is still accurate enough for a head shot at 400 yards which is about as far as 5.56x45mm can still deliver good energy. I also realized that this is is not a bench gun, it’s meant to be a packable fighting rifle. Would I have enjoyed better groups? Of course, but can I accept 1.5-2 MOA in a rifle like this.

Another lesson learned is that although it’s safe to fire the rifle with the barrel nut hand tightened, for repeatable zero you’d better use the included wrench to put some torque on it. While testing a hand-tight barrel swap, the point of impact shifted six inches laterally at 100 yards. Testing wrench-tightened there was no appreciable point of impact shift.

Specifications: DRD Tactical Aptus Takedown Rifle

Calibers options: .223, 5.56, 300 Blackout
Operation: Semi-automatic, direct impingement
Barrel Length: 16 inch
Overall Length: 34 inch
Weight Empty: 7 pounds
Magazine Capacity: 30 rounds (2 included)
Controls: Non-reciprocating left side charging handle, Ambidextrous bolt catch
Trigger: Standard with 4.5 pound pull weight
Gas Block: Superlative Arms, Adjustable
Price: $2,500- $2,900

Ratings (out of five stars):

Reliability * * * * *
There were some feeding issues with ammunition I believe to have been out of spec, but otherwise no troubles. Should the loads you use be milder or spicier than average, the adjustable gas block will help.

Ergonomics * * * * *
If you can run an AR you can run an Aptus, you just have to learn how to do things an easier way. The folding stock is adjustable for both length of pull and cheek height.

Accuracy * * * * 
I’m sure this is one the comment section will have fun with. The Aptus’s 1.5 MOA is plenty accurate for a fighting rifle chambered in 5.56. Better is likely possible with an aftermarket trigger and some ammunition trial and error.

Concealability * * * * *
I do not know of a 16″ 5.56x45mm rifle that packs more neatly that I’m also willing to spend a lot of range time with.

Overall: * * * * 
$2,500 is a lot of money. When spending more than double what a good AR costs, the rifle had better be amazing. The high price tag of course comes from the engineering and production costs required to make such a unique platform (as compared to ARs which have had OEM manufacturers churning out parts for decades ready to be branded and assembled). If the price was lower, and more barrel profiles available I’d give this a fifth star.

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27 COMMENTS

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    • A weapon for ammosexuals who are not well endowed. Do not buy this gun, because soon you’ll be handing it over to a police officer at your door during a scheduled mandatory buy back. Which you should do, because if you don’t hate guns while standing right alongside me, you want small children to die. When are you going to support “doing something” instead of standing around with an oscillating fist centered at your midsection while offering thoughts and prayers? And by doing something, I mean getting emotional, really emotional, and vote while enraged, based on emotions, and ban guns. Because is the cost of your useless “hobby” high enough yet? Or do more children have to die? Look at this bloody shirt, and look at this baby. This is your fault, unless you vote “correctly” by supporting democracy. Voting “correctly” supports democracy. Mkay? Support democracy and the children today.

      • Dacian I didn’t like the gun in the review but because you love it so much I think I must buy at least two. One to shoot and the other to attach a fleshy to the buttstock and let the recoil do the work.

      • I’ll be sure to tell my sister that she has a small penis.
        and stop talking about gun owners sex organs…thats just gay

      • Sorry mandatory buybacks will never happen. Thus the constitution was created for the very thing you are obviously advocating. If you want to live in a country where you have no actual rights then go somewhere else. We don’t want you here. Our firearms aren’t just for murdering people like all of you liberal whinny babies believe. They are for sporting, hunting, self defense and defense against tyrannical government intrusion into our lives. Accepted the very same document that gave you the right to run your mouth about subjects you know nothing of is the same one that gave me the right to buy a gun whenever I feel like it for whatever reason I feel like. Are the shootings an absolute tragedy yes they are but so is someone who talks crap about the very country that doesn’t cut your tongue out for talking about it. Just remember the firearms that are forefathers were not supposed to have are what gave us our freedoms. So my advice you and all of the other liberal Democrat overspending and under delivering gas prices above $5 a gallon gas causing morons should just go to Canada you’d feel much more at home there.

  1. I’m all about low profile carry. I encourage it. However, I don’t want to assemble my rifle. Just pulling one out of a bag is too slow for me. Still, compromise is occasionally made.

    • I have a mini draco with a folding brace on it. It’s possibly my favorite gun ever. Its just over 16 inches folded and will fire folded but a quick flip will deploy the brace in less than a second. 7.5 inch barrel wont win any long distance competitions but it works fine up to 300 yards. Best of all the whole system cost me just over a grand assembled.

  2. I hate to be that guy, but considering that all AR rifles are essentially take down already due to the split receiver, this feels fairly pointless to me, especially for the price.

  3. Another con is that it looks like if the brace is folded you can’t shoot it until it’s unfolded. Covers the “dust cover” so that brass (or steel? But why?) isn’t going anywhere.

    I mean, it looks cool and all. But it also looks like something totally impractical. Like an AR that was bullied by SCAR’s it’s whole early life, then finally bulked up and is basically the wigger version of a SCAR now… just sayin.

  4. I’ve bandied with some design ideas for a takedown AR that stays in one piece. Fold up the pistol grip (these already exist in the aftermarket). Pull the rear takedown pin, slide the upper forward on the pivot pin, fold it down 90 degrees, pull a barrel takedown pin, fold the barrel up another 90 degrees, so the entire rifle is a sideways U. Retract the takedown pins. Barrel end lines up with the back of the fully collapsed stock. Rough total size folded: 16″x8″x2″ sans optic or magazine, fits in most backpacks.

    To fit the required pivot pin channel to slide the upper forward, its a Bren-style top-feed. STANAG-compatible magwell is in the upper receiver. OEM barrel, gas system, and BCG all flipped upside down. Side-charging on right side, brass ejects left. Use with offset open sights, or a proprietary drum mag with a donut hole your favorite optic can look through. XD

    Apart from the receivers and folding pistol grip, pretty much all OEM parts which would help keep the build cost down.

  5. AS the comment say – A ‘fighting rifle’. What the hell does a civilian need a FIGHTING RIFLE for.??
    The only justifications for even owning a bloody rifle are hunting and possible COMPETITION and this hunk is suitable for neither. For hunting NOBODY needs anything more tha a five shot bolt action of a suitable for the job’ calibre.
    All the blather does not disguise tha e fact that this guy is just another gunfreak RAMBO wannabe wetting his pants. I bet he’s already got a semi-auto back home so what would he want anther for.? A ‘Battle Rifle serves but a single purposae to KILL PEOPLE not elfin MOOSES or BEARS. What a Dick Waver.

    • I’ll never understand why people unironically come to a -firearm enthusiast blog- and put stuff like this up.

      Memes or not, what is the point lol. Not changing a single mind here.

      • They are mostly very lonely people with some degree of mental health issues who have a need to be noticed and make up crap to appear to be “conversant” in a subject.

        Like Albert Hall, claims to be from “across the pond” with years of fire arms experience from his time in the military. Yet, without realizing it many times has exposed that’s a lie. Just some lonely person with some degree of mental health issues and possibly some form of a physical disability that doesn’t let him him get out too often.

    • Albert, you are cordially invited to engage in a non consensual terminal gangbang, as the recipient and guest of honor, with a tribe of Swahili warriors.

    • “What the hell does a civilian need a FIGHTING RIFLE for.??”

      What would call it when someone is trying to shoot you or your loved ones¹ and you need to shoot back?

      I call it “fighting” and I call it both my human nature and my right to engage in it under those circumstances. Although that situation is still relatively rare, it is less rare than it used to be.

      1. I’m making an assumption here, possibly unwarranted.

  6. I owned a DRD 338 lapua mag and it was the most accurate AR I ever owned. If it weren’t such a mammoth beast to haul and feed I would have kept it more than 4 years. Sold it for same price I paid for it as well. Like all guns we let go I wish I could have kept it, but I am glad it’s not just a safe queen and it’s being put to work

  7. “fighting rifle” ?

    “Hold on Mr. Bad guy while I open this case, fold out the stock, put in a magazine”…. hardly defines a rifle ready for a fight.

    • Because you couldn’t possibly store it in any condition other than disassembled for travel. *eyeroll*

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