I went to Young Guns in Apex, NC last week to see about getting the factory rear sight knocked out of my Springfield Armory XD for the Laserlyte project that I’ve been trying to work on (with little luck at that point). While I was waiting for the gunsmith, I noticed a pair of M4geries on the wall with stainless steel barrels.
I found out they were from a local company, Templar Custom. If the company name sounds familiar, it might be because Bob Reynolds of Templar Custom created The Alaskan Hunter for Sarah Palin. The Alaskan Hunter is an all-white .50 Beowulf M4 carbine that has to be seen to be appreciated.
To make a long story short, an email to Bob led to a call, and the call led to an invite to go shooting with him Sunday. The weapon of choice?
The Broadsword (AKA, “the Templar Custom Multi-Caliber System”).
The Broadsword is a simple concept: Build a carbine system that enables the tactical shooter to swap rifle calibers in a matter of seconds using minimal tools to adapt to any situation he may encounter.
For “normal” operations, the shooter might prefer to use 5.56.
If the same shooter ends up manning a vehicle checkpoint or may be engaged in dynamic entry operations against an OPFOR that may be wearing body armor, the .50 Beowulf can be quickly and easily swapped in.
Using the same system, the shooter can quickly transition to 6.5 Grendel to address overwatch duties and perform other long-range shooting tasks that might have otherwise been carried out by a .308.
All of this is done with the turn of an allen wrench and a stock wrench in less than a minute.
We did our shooting on a beautiful fall day at Drake Landing, a hunting preserve that also features a very picturesque sporting clays course and multiple ranges for rifle and pistol work (I intend to do a write up on Drake Landing at another time).
As we were using a 50-yard bay, we stuck with the 5.56 and .50 Beowulf, opting to leave the 6.5 Grendel back at the shop.
We set up to shoot some promotional video for Templar’s web site, and since I’d had a turn behind the camera for a outdoor video production company as a college intern, I quickly found myself playing the role of “cameraman #2” while Bob put the Broadsword through its paces, first with single shots and them with full-auto bursts.
Pumpkins were harmed during the making of this promo video. Both Bob and I had a go at them with the 5.56 62-grain green tips, both in single shots and in full auto.
This was the very first time I’ve fired an NFA weapon, and the fact it was a full-auto SBR (short-barreled rifle) prototype just made it all the sweeter. What does it feel like, compared to semi-auto?
Frankly, I lack both the familiarly with it to describe the nuances or the language to capture the raw emotion of it, so I’ll have to suffice with saying OH-MY-WORD-IT-WAS-AWESOME-PLEASE-MORE-PLEASE.
Shooting the 5.56 put a beaming smile on my face, as I dumped two magazines in short order with 4 and 5-shot bursts.
Bob immediately took the empty Broadsword while the barrel was still smoking, and went to quick-change the barrel. The Templar Custom railed handguard slid off the front after a few deft turns of the allen wrench, and Bob would have screwed the nut loose and had the .50 Beowulf barrel going on to the Broadsword in a matter of perhaps 30 seconds, and I think he would have easily completed the change to the .50 barrel in under a minute… if he’d worn his gloves, and didn’t touch the scalding-hot barrel with the webbing of his hand.
A few choice words, a little dancing, and some minor first aid later, and Bob completed the Broadsword’s transformation from 5.56 SBR to what I suspect is the most powerful PDW on the planet.
As the picture (left) shows, the massive .50 maw of carbine is intimidating as anything I’ve ever seen in a hand-held firearm.
It was at this juncture that the life of another young pumpkin was sacrificed in the name of promotional video.
Manning camera #2 again to Bob’s right, I didn’t see the 300-grain hollowpoint smash through the orange gourd’s flesh. No, what I experienced was the thumping concussion of a single round traveling down range, and then a two-second deluge of orange and yellow hail and mist.
There was pumpkin on my hat.
There was pumpkin on my shirt.
There was pumpkin on my camera, the other camera, and cameraman (Randy Young of the aforementioned Young Guns) , Bob, and just about everything else in a 15-yard radius. The debris ranged in size from two-inch chunks to near dust.
Bob’s full auto dump after that to empty the magazine was brutal, and set him back on his heels a bit.
Then, it was my turn to tame the beast… or at least try to.
The first 10-round magazine I fired in single shots, and I was surprised by the recoil. Despite the size of the bullet, the “kick” felt comparable to a .30-06. Then I fired a trio of singles again when Bob told me to try to the .50 Beowulf on full-auto.
I don’t know how many people in this wonderful country have every had the opportunity to fire a .50-caliber weapon in a PDW-length 12.5″ barrel, but let me tell you it was great. And we got it on video.
I also have it on Youtube (embedded below), but need to figure out how to synch the audio with the video A BIG Thank you to reader Tom Gilkeson for synching the audio!
That was a three shot burst, followed by a two-shot burst (I’m not sure calling it a “controlled pair” would be entirely accurate), followed by the last round in the magazine.
The grin should have said it all.
I want one. Badly.
Bob also let me shoot a M1911-style prototype he is working on. I’ve never before had the opportunity to fire a professionally-tuned custom 1911 before, but now I completely understand why so many gun writers spend so much time writing about them.
The pistol was an absolute dream to shoot, and it felt like the most natural thing in the world to shoot it at a cereal-box sized target 50 yards away. This is coming from someone who almost never shoots pistols beyond 10 yards. I typically do most of my pistol work at contact distance to seven yards on the theory that that is the most likely distance I would every engage someone in most real-life situations as a concealed carry permit holder, but I honestly think I could hit at much greater distance with the Templar Custom .45 prototype.
In the one and only magazine I fired through it at 50 yards, I hit the cereal-box-sized target, which was laying at an angle on the berm, and way not perpendicular, I hit it four times and the other three missed by scant inches. I’m convinced that a serious pistol shooter could have easily made hits at 100 yards with that pistol.
I can only imagine how good it will be once he refines it to the production model.
After we’d done all of our shooting Bob gave me a tour of the sporting clays course at Drake Landing, and then we talked about doing some work together, trading my web development skills for his services.
I may yet end up with a Broadsword of my own one day, and I can hardly wait.
Correction: I’d originally written that the .50 Beowulf barrel was 10″ in length. It is actually 12.5.” I’ve updated the post accordingly.