Staff Writer (Updated: 5/16/2016):
Carbines have grown in popularity since the new millennium where compact firearms have proven a necessity in urban warfare across the globe. Various carbine forms are available and many are existing systems based on full-length rifles (as they were in the 1800s and 1900s). One of the most popular of the Western offerings is the M4 Carbine which is, itself, developed as a compact version of the long-running American M16 assault rifle. The M4 has proven itself in actions across Afghanistan and Iraq in the recent decade and is popular with both casual and hardcore shooters in the civilian market. The M4 Carbine allows for the same assault-rifle hitting power as the base M16 (or similar) while allowing for compact dimensions to be achieved - usually through utilization of a collapsing buttstock with a shorter barrel with handguard assembly. Accessories complete the system and new-generation bodies now incorporate accessory "rails" as standard for the fitting of various optics, lights and aimers - all intended to broaden the tactical capability and accuracy of the warfighter charged with clearing confined areas of the enemy.
Barrett unveiled their new REC7 system in 2007 as a compact carbine assault weapon built upon a proven and resilient internal action that utilizes fewer moving parts and, therefore, promotes low maintenance requirements. The design is broadly familiar to users of any previous Armalite (or "AR") offerings such as the AR-15 (which spawned the military-grade M16) and is constructed of high grade steel and aluminum as well as plastics throughout. Reliability of the weapon is a primary selling point as is its close association to the existing AR line of guns. Use of a short-stroke gas piston differentiates the REC7 from the preceding M4 and is of a wholly-Barrett design appearing as a single-piece steel rod assembly.
The Barret REC7 also sports an external configuration similar to previous AR automatic weapons. The two-piece receiver (an upper and lower section) encompasses the required internal working components that include the feed, chamber, pin, spring, bolt carrier and trigger group. The trigger is protected by an oblong guard suitable for gloved hands and is situated ahead of the angled, ergonomically-formed pistol grip. Curved magazines are inserted ahead of the trigger group in the normal fashion while the cocking handle is the same "T-style" pull-type managed in previous AR offerings - this mounted to the extreme rear of the upper receiver. As a gas-operated weapon, the gas cylinder is affixed to the forward section of the rifle over the barrel and shrouded by the standard handguard. The piston itself can be accessed without the need to remove the handguard itself and, as such, any applied accessories remain in place and do not need to be "zeroed" back into accurate form. A short length of exposed barrel protrudes a short distance ahead and is capped by a slotted flash hider/suppressor (Mil-spec A2). The buttstock is reminiscent of the one seen on the M4 Carbine - a six-position, skeletal, lightweight collapsible assembly (Magpul MOE) that can be customized to the firer's requirements. The REC7 can accept accessories across its various rail areas including a long-running section found across the top of the receiver as well as the handguard. There are additional connection points to either forward side of the handguard as well as under it. In this way, the weapon can utilize various laser pointers, optics, grips and tactical lights as needed.
Internals for the REC7 series are generated from heavy grade steel required for the rigors of consistent use. The gas-block is, itself, lined in chrome for longer life as is the hammer-forged barrel assembly. The piston and the bolt are made from steel while the latter has been specifically designed for the REC7 rifle series. The upper and lower receiver assemblies are completed in hardcoat anodized aluminum.
While the REC7 is chambered for the ubiquitous 5.56x45mm NATO standard cartridge, it is primarily recognized for its support of the aforementioned 6.8 SPC cartridge. It should be noted that the 6.8 SPC utilizes an entirely different proprietary steel magazine design while the REC7 feed supports both a 10- and 30-round count magazine. Barrett delivers its REC7 with 2 x 30-round curved box magazines, each finished with beveled surfaces for easier handling. There are also two distinct barrel lengths measuring 8" or 16" and this directly reflects the overall length of the weapon. Effective range is listed at approximately 600 meters for point targets and out to 800 meters for area targeting. Sighting is through a standard front- and rear-mounted iron arrangement though this can obviously be enhanced through use of optical devices as needed.
The Barrett REC7 stands as a possible replacement for the US military's M4 Carbine and is competing with several other notable systems in the crowded field. The product was showcased to US Army authorities in late 2008.