I popped into Silencer Shop to see what was good and new, and they suggested I borrow a Griffin Armament AR-15 for review. Wait, Griffin is making complete guns? Considering their solid reputation for components like bolt carrier groups, barrels, charging handles, muzzle devices, and more, putting together a complete AR was an obvious next step. And you know what? They’re really good guns.
But did I want to borrow a .223 Wylde or 300 Blackout? Yes!
Griffin makes nine different AR-15 variants in both rifle and pistol flavor; pistols in different lengths with different brace options. Each one is a very complete, ready-to-run gun with flip-up sights, RailShield panels, suppressor-ready muzzle device, sling, and more.
Effectively every component on the gun is made by Griffin Armament and most are unique to the Griffin brand.
Their Micro Modular Sights are quite nice. All steel, minimalist, in a flip-up design. They’re compact, sleek, and perfectly functional with a rear peep and front post.
Both are windage adjustable. The front post is also adjustable for elevation.
Both pistols I borrowed — an 11.5-inch .223 Wylde and a 9.5-inch 300 Blackout — were equipped with an SB Tactical SBA3 brace out back. These are installed on Griffin Armament’s own Maritime Receiver Extension with Griffin’s Contour Connect QD End Plate.
Handguard length is nicely matched to barrel length, with the barrel shoulder only just proud of the front of the handguard.
Attached to the M-LOK slots on the handguards are Griffin RailShield panels. The bottom panel is complete with a hand / barrier stop. On either side of the barrel nut area is an integrated QD socket.
The mil-spec lower receiver sports Griffin’s ambidextrous safety selector, A3 grip, and enhanced trigger guard. Perhaps the only not-upgraded components are the magazine release and bolt catch.
Including the trigger. While it looks like a standard “parts kit” job and Griffin doesn’t make mention of it on their product pages, it has clearly received some level of upgrade treatment. At least a polish job. It’s far lighter and crisper than mil-spec.
My only gripe about the MK1, and it applies to both samples I borrowed, is a difference in anodizing tone on the upper receiver. Handguard, lower receiver, and other aluminum components matched quite flawlessly with a deep black tone, but the uppers have a grayer, drier look. It’s possible a WD-40 bath would cure this, but as these guns shipped from Griffin the finish difference was apparent.
Silencer Shop or Griffin Armament must have had the 300 Blackout in a trade show, as there was no firing pin in its Griffin Enhanced Mil-Spec BCG. For testing, I just swapped the .223’s BCG back and forth between the two guns. As you’d expect, this caused zero issues.
Griffin’s BCGs are really nice, made with high-end steels, Melonite finished, properly staked, fully inspected, and all the other good stuff you’d hope for. They have a very solid reputation in the market, and seemingly for good reason.
As you’d also expect, the Griffin Armament MK1s are designed to be run suppressed. From the Primo Gas Block to the Suppressor Normalized Ambi Charging Handle to the Suppressor Optimized Buffer, the end result is a gas-free shooting experience and a gun that doesn’t beat itself up when suppressed.
First, I was shocked how quiet both of these guns were. Suppressed ARs — especially in 5.56 — aren’t my favorite thing; they tend to be loud with plenty of port pop and action noise. Even suppressed I often shoot them with a plug in at least my right ear. In the case of both of these Griffins I found them entirely comfortable to shoot without hearing protection.
Now, I don’t know what they meter at near the shooter’s ear with an EXPLORR attached, but I can say for darn sure that these guns were quieter for me, the shooter, than any standard AR with a can slapped on the front. With the gas tuning, the receiver-sealing charging handle, and the suppressor-optimized buffer they’re clearly sending more noise out the muzzle and less out the shooter’s side than normal.
Gas around the face was also greatly reduced. Not eliminated entirely, but damn close with no jets of gas whatsoever out through the charging handle area. A left-handed shooter would still find gas from the ejection port bothersome, but for a correct-handed shooter I caught nothing more than the rare puff I could smell, but wasn’t bothered by. Nothing at all like a standard AR squirting high-pressure jets of gas right into one’s eyes.
With the Griffin 416R barrels and the good triggers, I was shooting both of the MK1s accurately while out on the range, but couldn’t properly test them for groups. So, heading to The Range at Austin I sat down at 100 yards with an EOTech VUDU 5-25x scope.
With supersonic ammo from Hornady (top) and subsonic from Armscor (bottom), the 9.5-inch 300 Blackout put up some seriously impressive groups. Awesome results for any 300 BLK of any sort.
Then the .223 repeated the trick, putting a handful of different loads from Armscor, Federal, and Hornady into tight little 5-round groups.
With the dust cleared, I’m left extremely impressed with these Griffin Armament MK1 black rifles. Pistols. They’re properly optimized to run suppressed, they’re accurate, they’re high quality, and they ship complete and ready-to-rock. At an MSRP of $1,895 they most certainly are not inexpensive, but for the buyer looking for a high-end, turnkey gun — especially one to run suppressed — you can’t go wrong with these bad boys.
Specifications: Griffin Armament MK1 AR-15 Pistols
Caliber: .223 Wylde or 300 Blackout
Barrel Length: .223 available in 9.5-inch and 11.5-inch, 300 BLK available in 9.5-inch
Weight: approx 6 lbs
Griffin 416R SS HEDP™ Barrels
Griffin Enhanced BCG
Griffin Forged Upper And Lower Type 3 hardcoat anodized
Griffin Ambidextrous Selectors
Griffin A3 Grip and enhanced trigger guard
Griffin SN-ACH™ (Suppressor Normalized Ambi Charging Handle)
Griffin Contour Connect QD End plate
Griffin Maritime Receiver Extension™
Griffin AR-SOB (Suppressor Optimized Buffer)
Griffin ECS™ Extreme Condition Stock
Griffin RailShield™ 4 piece panel set
Griffin Low Pro RIGID™ rail system
Griffin Micro Modular Sights™
Griffin Primo Gas Block (pinned)
Griffin Silencer Mount Muzzle Device
Griffin Dimpled Takedown Pins
MSRP: $1,895 (available through Silencer Shop)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * *
These are good looking ARs, but they don’t particularly stand out aside from the included RailShield handguard panels and the mis-matched upper and lower receiver anodizing.
Reliability * * * * *
I didn’t torture test them, but both of these pistols ran smoothly and confidently throughout a full test protocol all while sharing a single BCG. I shot them suppressed for all but one magazine each (yes, they ran fine unsuppressed as well), and the 300 BLK cycled everything I put through it — multiple brands and weights each of subsonic and supersonic ammo — with no tinkering required.
Ergonomics * * * *
The free float handguard with those RailShield panels and the Griffin A3 pistol grip bump the MK1 up a strong star over your standard, mil-spec AR-15.
Customize This * * * * *
It’s an AR; the customization options are endless. And, from Griffin, you get your choice of muzzle devices and can order the furniture in black, FDE, OD Green, or grey.
Accuracy * * * * *
About as solid as you’ll find for an AR pistol designed for hard use. The 300 Blackout was particularly impressive.
Overall * * * *
Griffin Armament’s MK1 AR-15 pistols get an extremely strong four-star rating from me. At a lower price point I’d give them five stars all day long without question. As-is, I don’t think the price is unfair or too high, necessarily, for everything that you get with these complete packages and for the high level of quality, but they’re definitely priced toward the high end. For the customer looking for a turn-key, everything-included AR in .223 or 300 BLK that will serve them well and run as smoothly, quietly, and nicely as anything on the market whether suppressed or not, the Griffin Armament MK1 series is an absolute must-look.