Much like cookies and cream or chocolate and peanut butter, some products like firearms, optics, suppressors, and ear-pro were made for each other. Utah is home to several companies — Desert Tech, HUXWRX, Armasight, and AXIL — all within close proximity to each other, who decided to combine forces to show off some of their newest products to members of the media. With the help of the North Springs Shooting Range, and a pit stop at the Black Rifle Coffee Company HQ for a quick caffeine fix, we were invited to take a closer look at what these companies had going on, and to take their many of their products for a day and night test drive.
To kick things off, we headed to the Desert Tech facility. Desert Tech (DT) is a firearms company that specializes in weapons based on the bullpup design. For those who might be unfamiliar, this is where the firing grip is located in front of the breech instead of behind it, making the firearm more compact for its barrel length. Not only does this make a rifle look futuristic, it can also help it remain lighter and more maneuverable than a traditional counterpart. DT has several firearm platforms: the Hard Target Interdiction (HTI), the Stealth Recon Scout (SRS), the Micro Dynamic Rifle (MDRX), all of which can swap barrels depending on which caliber is being used. Additionally, they offer a .22 long rifle bullpup called the Trek-22, and have designed a unique AR-15 lower called the Quattro-15 which houses a custom 53-round, quad-stack magazine.
Above: Desert Tech Gunsmiths assemble parts of Desert Tech Rifles.
With a focus on precision shooting, DT has their own line of ammunition to pair with their rifle barrel selections, including .308 Win, 6.5 Creedmoor, .338 Lapua Magnum, .375, .408 and .50 BMG. To further dial in that shot group, they include a ballistic data chart with each caliber and have even developed a firing solutions iPhone app called TRASOL 2.0. The app can be wirelessly connected to other devices, such as external cameras, optics, and can even tie in to local doppler radar information.
No less than fifteen DT rifle platforms with every variety of their ammo was loaded up and brought to the North Springs Shooting Range. Not stopping there, they also provided several Ulfhednar tripods and shooting mats so that their rifles could be fired from a wide range of angles and positions.
Above: A birds eye view of the Desert Tech production facility.
HUXWRX Safety Co.
Next, we walked through the HUXWRX facility to learn more about some recent changes. Previously known as Operators Suppressor Systems (OSS) and recently rebranded to Human Exposure Workshop (HUXWRX Safety Co.), this suppressor fabrication company focuses on a type of design called “flow-through.” Flow-through simply refers to how the gas from a fired round moves through the baffles of a suppressor. Traditional suppressors trap the gas inside an internal baffle system, while gas travels through and is vented out of the front of a flow-through suppressor. This is meant to keep the operator from potentially inhaling harmful gasses that are normally trapped within the firearm during the use of traditional suppressors.
Above: HUXWRX uses precision tools to ensure exact specifications.
HUXWRX utilizes the latest in 3D metal printing, a process that fuses powdered metals with a laser into detailed and precisely layered structures. This is the same process used to make custom parts for companies like Space X. With this method, they can design an intricate system of internal baffles without needing to worry about whether a stock-removal system, such as CNC machining, can reach the inner nooks and crannies. It also eliminates the need to weld pieces together.
By using the latest in manufacturing processes and flow-through design, HUXWRX is focused on mitigating exposure to toxic gas, and improving the health and well-being of military, law enforcement, and firearm enthusiasts. To show off the versatility of their product range, HUXWRX suppressors were mounted to every DT rifle, and several handguns that were brought to the range.
To this day, many people think of night vision as a grainy-green video, or thermal imaging as something out of a 1980’s action movie. But modern-day technology paints a much clearer picture than the old school NVGs. Armasight brings the latest in night vision tech to a variety of products, ranging from wearable monoculars and goggles to clip-on rifle optics. Most of the products are available in both green and white phosphor and have clarity that’s light years above and beyond what is shown in older movies.
Above: A Team Wendy Bump Helmet with Armasight Pinnacle Night Vision Goggles.
Recently they put together an entire package that includes everything you need to attach an NVG system to a Team Wendy bump helmet, taking out all of the mounting guess work. This kit was brought to the North Springs Shooting Range, along with several of their rifle mounted clip-ons and infrared lights for a night shoot at the range’s cowboy town.
Above: Traditional earplugs work fine to block loud noise, but active ear pro (such as the AXIL XCOR earbuds the author is wearing in this photo) make it much easier to have conversations on the range.
Spending an entire day and most of the night at the range, even with suppressors attached, can use a little extra hearing protection. To enhance the range experience, we also met with AXIL to learn more about their background and try out some of their ear protection.
Inspired by a family business over 50 years in the making, with its roots in designing hearing aids, the company has evolved into designing premium ear buds, muffs, and plugs. AXIL prides itself as a company that does not take any short cuts when sourcing materials for their products, or releasing a product until they are sure it is completely ready for their customers. Most recently, they released a product call the XCOR, which is an earbud with Bluetooth connectivity. It can enhance ambient sound and dynamically reduces overly loud decibel levels in real time. Meaning, between sending rounds down range, in-person conversations are possible without removing them, and the built in mic allows one to answer calls from a Bluetooth connected phone. AXIL’s new XCOR ear buds were the icing on the shooters cake.
Spending the majority of an entire day at the range can be a blast, pun intended, but the North Springs Shooting Range enhanced the entire experience with the stunning backdrop of the Utah high desert spanning as far as the eye could see. Close range targets as close as a few yards to as far as two miles were available to try out the HUXWRX suppressed DT rifles, and a cowboy town was available for the night shoot. All of the rifles were set up, ammo was readily available, and with our XCOR’s fully charged and put in place, we got to shooting some targets.
Above: Patrick Diedrich fires a Desert Tech SRS-M2 equipped with a HUXWRX suppressor.
Personally, as someone with minimal experience firing bullpups, I was surprised by how versatile of a platform they could be. The smaller caliber platforms were light and compact, but it did take a few mag changes to get used to the location of the magazine well behind the firing grip. And for someone with large hands, finding a comfortable hand position took a little experimenting. On the bolt action rifles, there were occasional misfeeds, but this always turned out to be operator error by not sliding the bolt back far enough between rounds. It takes some practice to get used to cycling a bolt that’s mounted further back on the rifle.
Larger caliber DT rifles were heavier, but their precision was undeniable, and before long we were consistently hitting targets as far out as 1000 yards. To showcase the versatility of their rifles, a DT barrel and bolt were rapidly exchanged in the field. Without any further adjustments to the rifle or the optic, I was hitting 600 yard targets as if nothing had happened.
Above: After changing the barrel and the bolt, the SRS can still hit targets out to 1000 yards and beyond without any zero adjustments.
HUXWRX flow-through suppressors kept the decibels of larger calibers to a minimum, all while avoiding gas build up. Since we were firing these rifles for hours, not having to deal with a cloud of acrid smoke pouring back down the barrel, through the ejection port, and into our faces was refreshing. Smaller calibers made even less noise, and the first time the suppressed .22 LR platforms were fired, nearby shooters couldn’t even tell the shot was fired until they heard the plink on the steel targets. While firing a fully automatic Quattro-15, the suppressor was held to feel how fast it would heat up, and the temperature never reached a point where holding on became unbearable.
After the sun had set, we headed to the cowboy town to don our Armasight night vision and take out a few steel bank robbers and buffalo silhouettes. People who wear NVGs typically experience serious problems with depth perception, but the ghost white phosphor Pinnacle night vision goggles were astonishingly clear. There was a little loss of depth perception, but nothing even close to those old military PVS-7s or 14s. Their rifle mounted night vision and thermal optics were equally clear, and target identification was further enhanced with IR flashlights.
Above: A Desert Tech Rifle equipped with an Armasight Vulcan Gen 3 night vision rifle scope and HUXWRX suppressor.
Sending hundreds of rounds of varying calibers downrange all day seems like it would inevitably lead to some sort of breakdown or malfunction, but this never occurred. Overall, our impression of these companies and their products was positive, and the time spent at the range was enjoyable. It was apparent that each one that contributed to this day at the range was passionate about what they do, and cared deeply about the function of their products. This passion was also evident in their staff — after taking a peek behind the curtain of their production facilities, even their line workers were enthusiastic about the role they played. It will be exciting to see how these companies move forward, and we hope to get our hands on some of their newest gear for in-depth reviews in the near future.