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Early last year, Advanced Armament made a splash unveiling their Honey Badger PDW. It was a thing of beauty; a custom-designed .300 AAC Blackout rifle that’s no bigger than an MP5SD and with looks that could kill. But as the year wore on, the Honey Badger ran into some trouble. Now, with the unveiling of SIG SAUER’s MCX line, even Kevin Brittingham (the man who championed the Honey Badger’s development) admits that his beloved creation has been bested by SIG’s engineers . . .

I was sitting on Kevin’s porch late one night (and after way too many drinks) when the topic of the Honey Badger came up. As he tells it, the initial response to the new gun from units-which-shall-not-be-named was overwhelmingly positive. They loved the concept, they loved the design, and they even loved the “let’s not take ourselves too seriously” attitude of the packaging (the rifles were delivered in hot pink rifle cases).

The Honey Badger may be an M4 at heart, but only in the same way that Boeing’s new 747-8 is a 747 — the concept is the same but the materials, the operating bits and exterior design were completely new. Advanced Armament re-designed the system to operate without a buffer assembly, engineered in a collapsible skeletonized stock and designed a completely new barrel in order to make the thing work. While this allowed them to take some nifty steps forward, it also meant that there were some serious bugs to be worked out.

By the time that the initial response from the field about the gun was coming back, Kevin had been fired from AAC (the company he founded) by Freedom Group, the engineers in the R&D department had been re-assigned to boost production of existing products, and the Honey Badger hadn’t been touched in ages. Prototypes almost never meet all the requirements for the end user on the first try, and this rifle was no exception. But now, there was no one around to make those changes. Freedom Group hired the interns that had worked on the project previously to come back and try to fix it, but it was too little too late — the damage had been done.

Sig Sauer MCX Line, c David Crane (Defense Review)

In the meantime, SIG SAUER caught up. Their R&D team, honed by years of working with the military and law enforcement on special projects, had already designed a competitor to the Honey Badger — and they had done it better than AAC. But what was even more important was that Sig Sauer had the ability to respond quicker to requests from the military to modify their design, something that AAC’s mothballed R&D department wasn’t able to do. Freedom Group had traded off long term development for short term productivity and profitability (in keeping with their purported plan to flip the gun companies for a profit), and it seems like it bit them in the ass.

When Kevin first saw the MCX, he knew that Sig had the better product. It was a more well polished design, with a more rugged skeletonized stock and other major improvements. The first time Kevin held one, he dubbed it the “Black Mamba” — the snake that could kill the Honey Badger.

Sig Sauer MCX PDW, c David Crane (Defense Review)

Sig finally unveiled the design for their MCX this year, and even I have to admit that it’s a much better product. The gun is being offered in the standard 5.56 NATO flavor as well as 7.62×39 (for former Soviet countries with a touch of surplus ammo available in that size) and Kevin’s favorite .300 AAC Blackout. So while the actual Honey Badger may be about to be kicked to the curb, the spirit of the firearm and the design concepts (as well as the ammunition that was specifically designed for it) live on.

With the choice of calibers, the better R&D team, and the production capacity that Sig Sauer offers, it’s hard to see how AAC could battle back to win against the old-school gun masters. But then again, it’s happened before.

Lead image from Gear Scout, other photos by David Crane over at, used with permission.

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  1. I really liked the Honey Badger when it came out, and I really like this.

    Is there any guesstimate as to the price, other than “out of my range?”

    You could always get a Spike’s Compressor, I suppose. Ridiculous gun porn of it can be found here.

    • To bad if you ordered a Spike’s Compressor today, it would be approx x-mas 2015 before it was ready and the paperwork for it had cleared the BAFTE.

      • The Spikes? Does it come with the can? If so $2,750 ain’t a bad deal at all. I don’t know about waiting a year for it though.

        • $2750 includes the can, but it’s not an integrally suppressed barrel, it’s removable. That means it’s two tax stamps: one for the SBR, one for the can. That pushes it up to $3150 out the door.

        • Yeah, that’s a pretty serious dent, but I still think it’s a decent deal, particularly if the can can be used on other guns. A SCAR 16 SBR will run you about the same all told, and it doesn’t come with a silencer.

      • “If you have to ask than you can’t afford it” is what people say when they’re dying to say something but have no idea what they’re actually talking about. Also: *then. Very helpful contribution.

    • Yes it should. I wish I had went for a different .45 can but theirs is fine (QC ain’t been right) and I won’t be betting on it again.

  2. So I take it the MCX is the rifle-caliber counterpart to the MPX?

    When you do the followup contact for a comment from $ig, please ask for a status update on the MPX. Especially the MPX-C.

  3. I think out of all the posts you do, the ones that sort of chronicle the current Freedom Group + AAC debacle while celebrating AAC’s successes are my favorite. I hope I’m not projecting too much here, but I believe I feel the same anger and rage at TFG for fucking with such an amazing thing as AAC as you do. Every single time I read about Freedom Group and their determination to completely screw up some of the strongest companies in the biz, I have the reflexive “what the fuck are you guys doing?” emotion that runs through me, and nowhere else is this stronger but when I read about AAC.

    anyways, thanks for your coverage on cool stuff, and here’s to Mr. Brittingham and his killer ingenuity. I hope wherever he lands, they treat him the way someone of his skill and talents should be.

    /rant off

    Now if only Sig could ever get this to market in a timely manner and in available quantities for the average consumer, I’m pretty sure they would start stacking up the profits and Sig converts, but I’m not holding my breath on it. I’d like to be proven wrong though, as this is one of the few Sig products I would consider spending money on.

    • This. It seems like they spend all their time showing off awesome new products that never seem to get to market while their existing lineup, that should be awesome in and of itself gets cheaper and cheaper. When I bought my 556 in 2010 it came with two decent poly mags, nice BUIS and a pelican case. Now they come in cardboard, 1 crap steel mag and Chinese red dot sights. Not fit for a $1,300+ gun if you ask me.

  4. first time I saw a “Honey Badger” in a video game I thought it was a joke, lol… this MCX is better looking imo.

    300 blackout suppressed seems like the best choice for the role this thing seems intended for

    • Its about to become a whole lot more popular due to CoD Ghosts coming out soon. It may even be a revival to the gun if enough people scream for it.

  5. This is hilarious and awesome at the same time.

    Go Sig!

    FG ruined AAC and will ruin everything in their path. Proud of the guys at Sig (friends of ours) for kicking their ass.

    THE BLACK MAMBA don’t give a f#*k either.

  6. Freedom Group: ruining firearms companies and long-term profit potential for quick profit via cutting corners. Too bad they are a company focused solely on quick money via the gun business, and not a gun business whose solid principles would earn them more money in the long run. There is a line between entrepreneurial spirit and flat-out greed, and TFG has made it perfectly clear which side of that line they’re on. Is what they’re doing illegal? No sir. Is it shady? Definitely. Some decent companies (and a few excellent ones) are paying the price as a consequence of trying to boost the bottom line.

  7. So, is this something Sig is actually delivering, or does it live in the same category as the MPX, 556xi and other Sig vaporware that they show off and never build?

  8. That is the most clever name play iv ever seen, they should officially name it the Black Mamba.

    It is terribly nice, but does its ability to switch flavors come from a barrel swap or just mag change? Either way firing 7.62×39 is a hell of a risk, if it can run Tula accurately then its gonna make them a mountain of cash.

    • short-stroke gas operated carrier, which is probably more AK-like than AR-like.

      there are a few designs out there that use the AR-style “star” bolt but do not use the AR direct impingement carrier.

      • It’s actually the same basic short stroke gas piston system they have in the 516; the AK platform is a long stroke system, where the piston is fixed to the carrier and travels the entire length of the action along with it. My guess is the buffer tube/spring has been replaced with a smaller spring and guide rod a la SCAR, but that’s just a guess.

        • They do have a buffer assembly, there just isn’t a separate buffer. They used the rear end of the bolt carrier group as part of an integral buffer system so it’s functionally still the same(same amount of travel,) but fused together as one piece to get it a couple inches shorter than a standard carbine BCG. The only trade off is lower potential for weight in the operating components, and you have to take the entire upper assembly off the lower to disassemble.

          NEA is selling a “PDW” stock kit that works this way for around $300, which comes with their take on this method of operation. There are pictures of their BCG/buffer assembly that show how simple it is(I believe their spring is just a carbine spring with 4 coils removed.)

          The AAC Honey Badger was a DI gun, and had no pistons except for the gas key under some definitions of the word.

          If they had used a piston system, they never would have met weight criteria to even be considered for any sort of purchase.

        • .308 would be worthless out of such a short barrel. The 300 AAC can take the maximum advantage of the short barrel, but a 7.62×51 would just belch fire and ruin any can put on the end of it due to the collection of unburned powder that would eventually ignite creating a bomb. Seen it happen on home made cans, fabricated by idiots who tried making poaching guns. You cant trans-mutate the laws of physics. Now what would be interesting, is a NEW caliber, similar to the .300 aac, except based off a .357/358. diameter projo…

  9. Here’s a dumb question: how do you hit the bolt release when the stock is in the folded position (it folds to the left, not to the right)? It seems like the older, less AR15-esque 556 has the advantage in that department.

  10. …Then don’t show it off until it’s ready. And my understanding is that the 556xi was simply tossed and they never bothered to tell anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I love my 556, but I don’t love the way this company has been managed as of late.

  11. As a person of way to many years (decades) of experience with tried true and new firearms.
    I have owned proven weapons M1’s – M14’s – most anything with BDL after it – KG’s – Uzi,s – Mac10’s Ingrams not the trash that followed and well before Hollywood made odd cool.
    I have also possessed a few turkeys in my time nothing a bigger failure than the .45 Uzi. Yes they made’em don’t shake your head in dis-belief.
    However I gotta say I’ve seen few weapons that deliver in practical use as the Honey Badger or style there of has for me.
    300 Blackout is a god send to Qc situations. Accuracy is better than expected. Not a good day to be a hog if your in sight anywhere in Texas.
    maybe they don’t stack up when commercially built in mass quantities but I’ll put my Badger against all comers and that includes the mamba any day.
    Not trying to be a naysayer and I’m sure that y’all have earned the respect of those you share with but don’t count the 300 out some things just won’t stay dead.


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