In the tactical market customers often demand the best, either with off-the-shelf complete firearms or with custom builds. Of course, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to assemble an AR from parts, which is ironic as the AR was designed by Eugene Stoner, chief engineer for ArmaLite, which was itself a division of Fairchild Engine & Airplane Corporation.

For anyone who wants the best and most innovative AR parts and rifles available, it makes sense to seek out people who are committed to engineering first and foremost. This is exactly how Lancer Systems operates, as they demonstrated on an extensive tour of their new 78,000-square-foot facility in Quakertown, Pennsylvania.

Lancer Systems is an engineering-driven company that makes ceramic and carbon fiber components for fighter jets and missile systems. They also make advanced fiber-optics control systems and well heads for oil drills, and they are constantly innovating in the use of ceramics, fiber optics, weapon systems, thermoplastics, polymers, carbon fibers, ceramic matrix and compression molding.

While the gun side of their business is a significant portion of what they do, it is not the majority — this actually benefits tactical customers. Lancer brings the technology and knowledge from its other business sectors and applies it to the company’s firearms business in ways no other company can achieve.

Lancer Magazines

Most shooters are familiar with Lancer Systems for its translucent hybrid steel and polymer AR magazines as well as the company’s carbon fiber handguards and stocks — and to a more limited degree, its lightweight rifles.

The Lancer L5AWM (Advanced Warfighter Magazine) fits any rifle that uses a standard magazine, and it is the best AR magazine available. Other companies make tough polymer magazines, but Lancer is unique in that they embed hardened-steel feed lips into the top of the magazine. This protects the feed lips from damage or warping that can occur with polymer or aluminum feed lips and allows the storage of fully loaded magazines without any fear of warping the feed lips. The polymer body is also resistant to cracking or bending.

At a separate Lancer event, we froze fully loaded magazines to minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit and drop tested them at various angles onto a concrete floor from a height of 4 feet multiple times. This test included a Lancer magazine, a standard GI magazine and another manufacturer polymer magazine. Only the Lancer magazine survived without any damage. We further drop-tested the same fully loaded 30-round Lancer L5 magazine from 60 feet onto concrete and again, it suffered no damage.

Not only are Lancer magazines seemingly impervious to damage, but they are also completely reliable thanks to an internal no-tilt flower and a constant-curve internal geometry. They are available in a variety of colors in either translucent (with round count markers on the side) or opaque and in five-, 10-, 20- and 30-round capacities.

For 7.62x51mm shooters, Lancer recently introduced the L7AWM magazine. It has many of the same features as the 5.56 version but is built even tougher. On the L7AWM the stainless steel feed lips are laser welded to front and rear guards for a complete encircling of the top of the magazine body. The easily removable baseplate also has a switchable drain system for either waterborne operations or desert conditions. This magazine will work in most .308 ARs, including the SR25, DPMS 308, SIG 716 and LM308. It is available in five-, 10- and 20-round capacities in translucent and opaque.

Lancer has built such a reputation in its advanced magazine production that the company is the exclusive manufacturer of all magazines for Sig Sauer’s new MPX line of pistols and carbines. Lancer also produces an extensive line of upgrades and accessories for tactical shooters focusing on the AR. My only complaint is they don’t produce AK magazines.

Lancer AR Components

The Lancer Adaptive Magwell is an incredibly simple and easy-to-install part that will fit any standard forged AR lower receiver. The unit is machined from 6061 T6 aluminum and slips over the front of the existing magwell. It is secured at the rear with the standard GI trigger guard by releasing the spring-loaded swivel detent at the front and reattaching it to the extended magwell. This also provides the advantage of an enlarged-trigger guard for gloved use, as well as making magazine changes much easier and faster without having to turn away from a threat.

Another innovative accessory is the Lancer Single Point Sling Mount, which installs over the buffer tube on AR carbines and features a polymer-coated steel cable that makes the system fully ambidextrous. With single-point slings, the cable offers the added advantage of providing flex so the sling can’t be twisted off. The steel cable can also be easily replaced if need be. This system is currently being used by Naval special operations.

Lancer’s Single Ring Scope Mount is designed to accommodate flat-top ARs with no Picatinny rail handguard that have limited retail space for optics. The design allows for easier installation of optics with proper eye relief adjustment. Built from 6061‐T6 Aluminum bar stock, it offers a rigid mount with no loss of zero and a 30mm ring diameter.

The use of advanced carbon fiber materials in missile and fighter jet designs also translates over to the tactical firearms market with Lancer’s full line of free-floated, carbon fiber handguards. These are both lighter and more durable than aluminum, and stay cool to the touch with embedded steel screw holes that allow the secure attachment of accessory rails where they’re desired.

For a complete custom carbon fiber look, Lancer also manufactures fixed-length A1 and A2 stocks for both .223 and .308 AR rifles and carbines. These combine a carbon fiber body with tough polymer for a complete unit. The ergonomics and shape of these stocks is far superior in terms of weight and comfort to the GI fixed AR stock.

Competition and tactical shooters want to be able to put a shot on target in very fast succession. To do this effectively, you need a solid muzzle device that will reduce muzzle climb. Lancer Systems developed the Nitrous Compensator and Viper Brake in 5.56mm and 7.62mm for just this purpose. Both are made from stainless steel and are fully adjustable to compensate for right- or left-handed shooters, as well as the specific load being used, and will virtually eliminate muzzle rise by redirecting escaping gasses, the company says.

For tactical retailers and customers in more restrictive states, Lancer also produces its extremely innovative L15 Raddlock device that fits on standard .223 AR lowers and replaces the magazine release. This device allows the user to essentially “lock” the magazine release so it can only be operated with a tool. This makes the AR California compliant and acts as a sort of “bullet button” device. When the customer goes out of state where standard magazine releases are allowed, the magazine release device can be “unlocked” and used in normal fashion.

For custom builders, Lancer offers its full line of receivers — both complete and stripped. The L15 receivers are designed for any rifle build that will accommodate a 5.56mm sized case, including 300 Blackout. They are made from machined 7075-T6 aluminum forgings and can be custom configured to customer specifications with three different sized magwells, ambidextrous bolt release device, and oversized magazine release buttons.

Fans of the 7.62mm NATO cartridge can opt for the L30 matched upper and lower receiver sets, which also include a free-floated, carbon fiber handguard with sight rail offered in different lengths as well as with an optional 20 MOA tapper. You also get a choice of magwells, ambidextrous bolt release and oversized magazine release.

Lancer Rifles

Of course Lancer Systems manufactures complete rifles, and its offerings have been growing with products specifically designed for law enforcement and the tactical shooter, as well as the competitive shooter.

The L15 line encompasses a total of nine rifles, all chambered in .223 Rem/5.56mm NATO and all featuring enlarged, funnel-like, changeable magwells in one of three configurations for standard, tactical or competition uses. Like the stand-alone receivers, these rifles all feature ambidextrous bolt releases and enlarged magazine releases.

The receivers are all machined from 7075‐T6 aluminum forging and are MIL‐A‐8625, TYPE III CLASS 2 hard-coat anodized. Black is the standard color, but customers can also select red, blue, orange or Flat Dark Earth. Any parts or components Lancer does not manufacture directly are only outsourced from the highest-quality available, including Ergo grip, CMC triggers, B5 Systems, and Bartlein barrels, among others.

Particularly, the L15 Patrol Professional rifle is designed for law enforcement use (although it is available to any gun owner) and combines the Lancer expanded magwell with the FAB Defense GL stock, which holds a spare magazine.

This is a major advantage for armed home-defense, as it gives the homeowner 60 rounds at their disposal without having to deploy any additional gear. This rifle has a 14.5-inch barrel with a pinned and welded Smith Vortex flash hider, a mid-length gas system and a total weight of just 6.5 pounds. The standard L15 Patrol rifle has a more traditional collapsible stock and a 16-inch barrel.

There are also several competition rifle models with full-length, fixed carbon fiber stocks and custom triggers and compensators, as well as a designated marksman file with a threaded suppressor-ready barrel. Finally, Lancer offers two L15 Sporter rifle models — one of which is New Jersey compliant.

The 7.62mm Lancer L30 features all 7075‐T6 aluminum billet constriction, a monolithic upper receiver, a lower receiver with a short cut magwell, and a choice of rail/handguard systems. The short magwell and interchangeable magwell extenders made it possible for Lancer to develop a left-side-open magwell that makes it easier to reload the rifle from the prone position without having to move it. This rifle is also available in 6.5 Creedmoor.

Like the L15 line, the L30 rifles also feature three interchangeable mission-specific magwells, ambidextrous bolt release and oversized magazine release. They all come standard with carbon fiber handguards and an optional 20 MOA Picatinny sight rail. There are three models available, from a long range sniper to a midsized, heavy-duty rifle and a compact carbine. We test-fired the L30 Heavy Metal rifle in .308 Win. at various distances including 1,000 yards and were consistently hitting steel.

From UAVs To Magazines

Lancer Systems is AS9100C:2009 certified, which means they follow a very exacting manufacturing process in everything they do. While the company does not have instant household name recognition, this is rapidly changing and they are far from a new player. Lancer was started by the owners of Greene Tweed to initially focus on the defense industry. In fact, Greene Tweed has been a military contractor since World War II.

Lancer’s current military applications involve using its advanced carbon fiber, polymers, thermoplastics, ceramics and moldings to make lighter, faster and stronger UAVs, artillery and missile systems as well as small arms. The company has a Type-07 Federal Firearms License as well as an SOT, which allows them to manufacture NFA items for approved buyers.

Introducing new tactical customers to Lancer Systems products is an easy sell — especially for its magazines, which retail for about the same price as those of any other high-quality competitor, but are worlds apart in terms of quality. Customers interested in new and innovative components for custom builds as well as solid and accurate long-range .308 ARs are sure to appreciate Lancer’s components as well.