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I feel lucky to have stumbled upon this at SHOT Show, because I was extremely impressed by the engineering and machining of the MEAN LLC delayed blowback mechanism and immediately attempted to sweet talk my way into a complete upper receiver loaner for review.

Three hardened ball bearings lock the bolt head into the barrel extension. By installing the bolt head one of three ways you can adjust the amount of lockup tension and delay to fine-tune the action to your gun, your ammo, and suppressed/unsuppressed use. I was very impressed with the machining, fit, and finish of these parts and the face that you can field strip and adjust entirely without tools.

These components fit together with fantastic precision and everything appeared flawlessly machined. Clearly, significant thought went into the design.

Another unique aspect of this roller-delayed system is the gigantic ejector that surrounds the firing pin and extends off the edge of the bolt face. 9mm does frequently suffer from weak ejection in an AR-pattern gun, because the case is so short that it flips sideways before it has actually exited out the rear of the barrel extension, losing all of that momentum before it has anywhere to go.

With this unique ejector system, it’s supposed to kick the case with extreme prejudice while also resulting in an incredibly consistent ejection pattern.

Unfortunately I do not actually recall what they’re calling this delayed AR-9 system and it isn’t on the MEAN website yet. MSRP for a complete upper is supposed to be in the $1,450 range. I believe they’ll also be doing complete AR-9s and, perhaps?, selling the action components separately (though you’ll need to swap the barrel extension on your AR-9 barrel or purchase a new barrel with this unique extension on it for any “kit” form of this product to work).

More info soon followed, hopefully, by a full review. Good thing I have a select-fire lower to test this bad boy on. Oh yeah.


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  1. Neat ejector…I would to know how far the brass flies. Going in price is high however considering how long a well made firearm lasts it lessens the sting…a bit.

  2. The price is high but it’s biggest competitor is the HK MP5 afterall. Price is what comes when you want roller delayed actions. That being said I love the simplicity and cheap price of the Russian straight blow back design in Palmetto State Armory’s AK-9.

  3. Or… people could design a 9mm carbine or sub-gun that isn’t based on an AR-15.

    Radical idea, I know, but when I was a kid, we seemed to have lots of radical ideas in firearms design.

    • If the NFA weren’t a thing, I could perhaps agree with you. An SBR’d AR-15 lower receiver that can readily have short barrels for 9mm, 300 BO, 458 SOCOM, etc. without doing much more than an upper receiver swap is far more compelling.

      • SBR’s are great if you are a fan. I’m not much of a fan of SBR’s. I have a bunch of AR-15 lowers, so I used one and went the 9mm conversion route with 16 inch barrel complete upper and and a magazine adapter and use 9mm Glock magazines, works like a charm.

        • For 9mm (or any pistol caliber really) big fan of sbr just cant own them currently. For rifle calibers I would consider 300 bo (apparently can do that as a pistol up here) but not too much else jumps out. With that said how did you find the recoil on the 9mm on 16 inch compared to typical 5.56?

        • Regarding recoil, etc:
          My wife doesn’t like shooting the 5.56. When I built the 9mm PCC SBR a few years ago, her eyes lit up and said “make me one”. Two stamps later (SBR + Suppressor), and she loves it.
          It’s probably slightly heavier than the 556 (barrel + suppressor, heavier bolt, heavier buffer). Having a roller delayed action would reduce the overall weight by a fair amount, and may be even smoother…

    • I hate to disagree with DG, but the economy of scale offered by the AR platform makes it very difficult to compete; with a completely original design, you just can’t bring it to market at a competitive price, everyone will snort and say “$3000, what does it do that my AR-9 doesn’t for a quarter of the price?”, and unless your design is truly groundbreaking in some way, you don’t have a good answer. Same thing with Glock in the pistol arena, it’s just so much safer and more economical to iterate off of that product and offer some parts capability, and people are more likely to take a risk on a new product if it already works with parts and accessories they own.

      • It also means most of the product support, whether stock or aftermarket, is already there.

        When it comes to mechanical products like guns or cars, it’s not enough to have your hot new design. You also need to have support for it in the form of replacement parts and maintenance services.

  4. Hrm… I’m of two minds on this.

    On the one hand I’d like to see a better platform.

    OTOH, they’ve managed to make a 9mm roller delayed blowback gun that’s quite a bit cheaper than most of the roller delayed sub-guns out there. Most are $2K+, more for high quality like Dakota or HK which are mostly around $3K or even more. Off the top of my head the cheapest I can think of is PTR, in the $1900 range.

      • Locally. Around here subguns are mostly pretty close to the MSRP, unfortunately.

        I don’t buy firearms or accessories or ammo from anyone who runs Google analytics, which Atlantic Firearms does. Until they stop doing so they will get $0.00 from me.

        Is it more of a pain and more expensive? Yeah, it is. Does that suck? Yes, but that’s the price of putting your literal money where you mouth is.

  5. avatar Geoff "A day without an apparently brain-damaged mentally-ill demented troll is like a day of warm sunshine" PR

    Does a roller-delay mechanism mean less crap spit in the shooter’s face?

    • Yes. Any delay to the action will reduce blowback and make it quieter when suppressed compared to the same gun in straight blowback flavor. Slows down the cyclic rate, too, in full auto.

  6. There used to be a guy named Clark on the interwebs who blew up gunms with overpressure loads, he found the race way for the rollers on a cz52 was the reason it failed before the tt33.
    I’d keep my reloads below 85,000cup with this design if it were me.

  7. Or you could pay like $1900 or $1200 (after all accessories and mods) and buy a gen 3 mpx or cz scorpion respectively and get a pcc/sub gun that works 100% of the time with no ejection issues. Doubt this new mean will be softer shooting than an mpx. Hopefully it will be more reliable than cmmg, who failed to make their 9mm guns reliable.

  8. That enclosed firing pin ejection system just might delay the chamber closing on the breath enough for a little trigger disconnecter work.
    I’d like to play around with that.

  9. Interesting design! How would you compare it with the delayed rotary locking of the CMMG design? I’ve been hankering for one of those in 10mm for quite some time.

    • I think the biggest difference between Mean Arms and CMMG is that you can actually purchase CMMG product. I’ve seen Shot Show reviews of the Mean Arms product for several years now but nothing more.


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