This guest review of the NGA X7 was written by Michael Z. Williamson. I spoke to Michael this morning, and he put another 500 rounds through the NGA X7 last night. An updated review to follow tomorrow.
The X7 is billed as extremely accurate, durable and low maintenance. To test this, the first thing I did was degrease it with brake cleaner.
Upon examining this rifle, one realizes a lot of effort went into ergonomics. The VLTOR stock has Quick Detach (QD) swivel mounts on both sides, the receiver end plate has one and there’s one on each side of the hand guard. The hand guard is an aluminum monobloc that carries the receiver rail forward to the gas block, with side mounted rail sections as well. Next Gen is considering making those removable for future models.
Mechanically, it has a crisp Geissele trigger, a Noveske stainless polygonal barrel, mid-length gas system, BCM bolt carrier group (properly staked) and Gunfighter charging handle, a billet lower with forged upper, a proper impact extruded 4 position buffer tube, also staked, and a very advanced ceramic coating all over. This provides a low friction surface that most gas particulates simply can’t adhere to. The magazine well is flared and cut so even Magpul PMags and Thermolds will drop free easily. The rails are perfectly to spec so no force is needed to slide accessories on. The muzzle brake is loud and blows a lot of gas at bystanders, but recoil is reduced to negligible levels. The charging handle can be slightly stiff for smaller shooters, due to the heavy recoil spring.
From a 16″ carbine, sub 2″ 10 shot groups were easily attainable at 100 yards using commercial ammo and a sandbag. Best group so far was 5/8″.
So far, I have 250 rounds through the gun with no lube and no cleaning.
Two minor problems have presented themselves, and both prove the excellence of this design.
First, one day I was prepping the rifle for photos, and found the charging handle tough to work. It felt as if it were jammed. Some examination and research reminded me of previous incidents; it was not being cleaned to test durability, but had also been put it in the case damp. In the previous incident, on active duty, this had resulted in a weapon rusted shut and scrapped due to carbonic acid. The X7 was simply a little sticky with congealed carbon inside, and a few cycles of the charging handle freed it up. The carbon had stuck to itself inside the BCG, rather than to any components. (There is some accumulation on the tail of the bolt, but I expect it will remove easily when I do clean it).
Second was a double feed with a round severely stuck above the bolt, which we attribute to a bad magazine–we had a similar problem with the same magazine in another rifle, and the same magazine at one point popped three rounds out at once. Nor would it stay seated. However, in the X7s favor is its amazing toughness. The round was jammed between carrier race and bolt face, and would not dislodge. With a staked carbine extension, there was no way to easily remove the BCG from the rear. The only way that presented itself was to grasp the bullet tip with needlenose and crush it enough to get a firm grip, then beat the charging handle back with a rubber mallet. An ordinary charging handle would be destroyed by this process. The Gunfighter was unharmed. The ceramic coating on the handle and the ejection port was unharmed. The coating inside the receiver and on the bolt and carrier was unharmed. It literally looked new when done.
I can’t think of another precision rifle that can take that kind of beating and come back for more.
I will be torture testing the X7 further over the coming weeks, to see just how long it lasts without lube, cleaning and maintenance, though I must advise readers that this is an examination of emergency capabilities. All weapons should be properly cleaned and maintained, and repairs, especially with live ammo in the weapon, should not be attempted by anyone not properly trained.
So far, I am convinced this is a rifle one can trust one’s life to. It is a pleasure to shoot, amazingly accurate, and tough as a keg of nails.