The AR-15 has been around for well over a half-century and has remained relatively unchanged throughout that time. Barrels have gotten shorter, rails have evolved to adapt accessories, and stocks have gone from one size fits all to adjustable. And while every company is attempting to put its own unique spin on the AR-15, the technology remains the same as it was when Eugene Stoner designed it in
the 1950s. Enter Cobalt Kinetics.

One of the biggest benefits that Cobalt Kinetics has over every other AR manufacturer in the firearms industry today is being newer and smaller. That might leave a lot of people scratching their heads, so let me explain further. It allows Cobalt to pivot and adjust accordingly to not just meet the needs of end users but exceed them through innovation. And when I say innovation, I mean actual innovation. The upper receiver is regarded as the heart of the AR platform. It is where all the magic happens. The barrel, gas system, bolt carrier group, barrel nut, charging handle, and rail all interface together around the upper receiver. So why is the upper receiver still inherently one of the weakest and most failure-prone parts of the AR platform?

Consider this. The barrel indexes into the upper receiver, and then uses a barrel nut to retain it in place. The barrel nut threads onto roughly one-half-inch of exposed threads on the upper receiver. Then the rail is mounted onto the upper receiver, except it’s not actually mounting to the upper receiver. It’s being mounted onto the same barrel nut that is already holding the barrel in place. One small component doing double duty, and we have the expectation of maximum performance with minimal feedback. But the reality is that if the rail is braced off an obstacle to help us create a more stable shooting platform, are we inadvertently putting pressure on the barrel that could cause a deviation in what we’re aiming at versus what we’re impacting? Yes. If the rail becomes compromised, could it compromise the integrity of the barrel? Yes.

Cobalt Kinetics focused on creating a viable solution to increase the durability, reliability, accuracy, and overall performance of the upper receiver first. Cobalt accomplished this through the creation of the S.I.M.S.(Semi-centering, Inverted, Monolithic/ Semi, System). They increased the length of the upper receiver where it interfaces with the rail, and then inverted/internalized the threads. Once the barrel indexes with the upper receiver, it’s held in place by a jam nut that features two and a half inches of fine threads, increasing the barrel’s stiffness by five times compared to a standard barrel nut. This helps dramatically improve the accuracy and gives the barrel its best chance at achieving maximum performance. The rail then mounts directly to the extended upper receiver using eight screws set at a negative cant that pull the rail in tight to the upper as they are torqued. There is no contact between the rail and the jam nut, isolating their duties and preventing any pressure on the rail from causing deviation from the barrel. The rail and the upper receiver are also keyed, meaning that they interface perfectly and only where intended. This means that when an end-user removes their rail for any reason and then reattaches it, any optics mounted to the rail will retain zero. Cobalt refers to this as a near-monolithic upper receiver, giving it all the strengths of a monolithic upper with none of the cons. It is also end-user serviceable requiring no proprietary tools.

Being a small company not focused on the bulk production of rifles, Cobalt is able to finish the assembly of each gun with the same approach that is seen in high-end 1911 and 2011 pistols. Each upper receiver, rail, and lower receiver is hand fit and blended, meaning no felt seams, and no unnecessary movement between them. This allows Cobalt to produce truly match-fit receiver sets. They’re also cerakoted in-house by an expert team that comes from the world of classic car restoration, resulting in the highest quality finish, from single colors to custom camouflage patterns

Cobalt has also teamed up with several companies in the firearms industry to re-engineer small parts to enhance their performance, increase their longevity, and decrease the wear of high-use components such as the bolt carrier group. Cobalt worked closely with VLTOR to add an anti-tilt and preload feature(via their A5 buffer) to all their firearms platforms. This feature on the buffer mates into the back of any mil-spec bolt carrier and eliminates all unnecessary movement(upward/ downward cavitation) that translates to felt recoil. The anti-tilt removes the bolt carrier’s ability to move laterally or vertically during cycling, and the preload prevents any bounce or slap that happens as the bolt carrier moves rearward and forward. The“A5-CK” buffer works in any A5 buffer tube making it a non-proprietary part.

Lastly, allCobalt rifles are assembled with Geissele triggers, Forward Controls Designs small parts, Radian Raptor charging handles, an ambidextrous magazine release, Cobalt’s own ambidextrous safety selector, and a version of the RCB (reduced concussive brake). These brakes are some of the best on the market at mitigating felt recoil and muzzle rise(while also working to effectively mitigate the violent concussion that muzzle brakes are known for). There are currently two suppressor host versions available. The RCB-KM works with any KeyMo mount (DeadAir, CGS Group, KGM Technologies), and the RCB-HX that works with HuxWrx and OSS suppressors. All of these innovations and features combined make Cobalt Kinetics rifles(by far)the best shooting out-of-the-box rifles on the market today for the money.

So, if Cobalt has figured it out, why aren’t the bigger brands doing the same? The answer is simple. Money! The amount of time it would take a larger manufacturer to research and develop, engineer, cease current production, re-tool, manufacture, test and evaluate, adjust, perfect, and bring to market a comparable product would cost them a significant amount of money. So rather than innovate, they will continue to compete against each other with “updates and enhancements” to what currently exists while not actually doing anything to improve the platform.

Being less afraid of taking risks has resulted in the production of an outright better product that is hard, if not impossible to compete with, and provides far more in terms of capability to the end user. And Cobalt stands behind its rifles with a non-mutually exclusive lifetime warranty, meaning that the warranty doesn’t end with the initial owner, but is transferable indefinitely for the life of the rifle. There aren’t many companies that I can think of that are that confident in their products to back them for life. So, whenever you’re looking to make your next AR purchase, I’d strongly encourage you to put CobaltKinetics at the top of your list.

  • Sean O’Grady (Exoteric Group)