Noveske is known for making military and competition-grade AR rifles, pistols, and parts. There are more than a few competitors in that field, so it takes some work to stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, the competition does seem to be an overall benefit for the AR-style rifle consumer, driving innovation and affordability.
We recently got our hands on a used Noveske rifle with some extra bells and whistles that prove the company lives up to its slogan, “the All-American Badass Rifle Company.” Based out of Grants Pass, Oregon, Noveske offers some finery to the rifle world while keeping the grit. However, that’s all secondary to the fact that the rifle balances beautifully and shoots faster than I can pull the trigger.
Shooting Experience First, Specs Later
First, I will start with this disclaimer: We’re taking this thing out for a lot more shooting time later this summer to see how fast it can run on an open range. But for my first indoor range trips, there is no question that this Noveske can burn some tires on the track. And it balances well and is quite flat-shooting to boot.
The “battlehog” on the Noveske KX3 flash suppressor is more than just a charming ornament hanging from the end of an AR-15 barrel. The pig might be breathing fire, but it went mostly unnoticed by the shooter while at the range. Unlike a lot of compensators I’ve seen, it also did not shout out its presence along the firing line. No complaints here because that would be a good thing for a flash suppressor anyway.
Even unloaded with the Noveske KX3 flash suppressor and a Streamlight TLR-1 at the end of the barrel, the center of balance is still somehow behind the magwell. The KeyMod handguard along the barrel does a lot to cut down on that weight. It also provides a relatively smooth but grippy surface while shooting.
The Geissele trigger also ensured the gun ran as fast as I could accurately shoot it. Well, it ran faster, but the accuracy part started to dissipate for me at that point. It’s a nice, even break with next to no mush to get to the wall. Yet it does still offer a tactical and audible reset.
The pull came in at 4.25 pounds, but it felt less with the pad of my finger on the trigger. It’s crisp, but not like snapping a glass toothpick. I prefer that considering I want maximum control on my shots, especially when trying to run the gun fast or with gloves.
This particular rifle is a custom build, complete with a QD Aimpoint and Viking Tactics sling – (Quick PSA: be sure to add tubular nylon to your kit because it can blow paracord out of the water). In general, it’s probably more accurate to call this Noveske a bit of a beautiful Frankenstein. That’s not meant to be a dig, ARs are the quality hobby rifle of America after all.
The market is filled with fantastic manufacturers that specialize in everything from charging handles and handguards to firing pins and triggers. In this case, the rifle boasts a Noveske lower and Daniel Defense upper with a Bravo Company handguard and gunfighter charging handle. No perceivable issues were noted during testing.
It’s assembled solidly, and the previous owner clearly intended the rifle to perform more like a racing stallion than a draft horse. The upgraded Geissele trigger can attest to that. The quick-detach Aimpoint optic kept zero after multiple removals during my last range trip, and recoil, in general, was minimal. I could wax poetic about the accuracy of the rifle. But frankly, it performed like you would expect a high-quality AR to shoot. What can I say? Noveske makes a solid platform for a competition or service rifle.
Somebody put some love and care into this gun and then took it out for speed testing. That said, Noveske offers great options right out of the box. But I’m not one to stick my nose up at a build-kit AR that no doubt consumed days of labor and weeks of waiting. Actually, I’d tip my hat to the previous owner, who did make the wise investment in ensuring the gun had a full-length Picatinny rail on the top.
I ran several boxes of 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem from manufacturers ranging from Sellier & Bellot and Fiocchi to Federal and Aguila through this Noveske. It came as no surprise that it ran easily with all of them. I’m actually accustomed to an AR with quite a bit more front weight, so it took some conscious effort to adjust to the balance.
Frankly, it’s just nicer than my personal AR. I even thought I might run into some issues with the barrel heating up with no shielding. The barrel thickness and generous airflow proved that to be a non-issue with moderate shooting and no gloves.
As far as ARs generally go, the Noveske is light and balanced back toward the pistol grip. In fact, it is easily handled with minimal forearm strength by the pistol grip itself. That includes the addition of the TLR-1 light and “battlehog” flash suppressor.
A great deal of the weight reduction seems to be the lack of bulky rails on the handguard, with the exception of the Picatinny rail that lines the top. This Noveske boasts a KeyMod system, which both allows for reduced weight and plenty of attachment points. I still prefer more Picatinny when I can get it, but there is no question it would also throw the feel and balance off on this particular gun.
I’ve included some other general specs below:
Weight: 7.25 pounds unloaded and without an optic
Weight With Optic: 8 pounds
Barrel Length: 17.5 inches
Caliber: 5.56 NATO / .223 REM
Length: 32.5 to 35.75 inches
Trigger Pull: 4.25-pound average
We have some long-term plans for this Noveske that include a bit more range time where we can let it breathe easy on some targets this summer. That said, the overall quality and performance show on this gun. I’m personally keen on the flash suppressor.
It significantly reduced the side blast common on most “birdcage” designs and didn’t amp up the noise like many compensators. No apologies, but a fire-breathing hog on the barrel is also just plain fun and tickles me pink every time.