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Unit Solutions Training Rifle: Realistic, Projectile-Based Force-on-Force Option for CQB Training

Photos by Kenda Lenseigne

Last year, the BATFE pulled another random, arbitrary, and capricious ruling out of their collective asses and decreed that non-lethal training ammunition (NLTA) was verboten for civilian use. With the main players — Simunitions and UTM — out of contention, what options do we lowly civilians have for realistic force-on-force training? 

Airsoft has been used in this role for years, but brings with it some limitations in terms of range, recoil impulse, trigger sensation, and the lack of effective marker rounds, but it’s better than nothing. NLTA conversions also have drawbacks when it comes to reliability; hands up anyone who hasn’t had to stuff a cleaning rod down a barrel during a force-on-force course. Thought so.

The guys at Unit Solutions may have come up with a viable alternative to both systems that addresses most of the drawbacks. Machined by LMT, their Unit 4 training rifle uses an AR-pattern upper and lower forgings, which accept just about every item in the Magpul catalog but are milled in such a way that it can’t be loaded with a real magazine and won’t accept a bolt carrier group. 

The modifications are sufficiently extensive that the BATFE has determined this to be a non-firearm. (Thanks, guys! Let’s see how long it takes for you to reverse yourselves on this.)

The training rifle’s mag is about the same weight as a loaded 30 rounder, but the BCG is lighter than its live counterpart. The TPAK carries 30, 8mm BBs and more than enough CO2 to send them downrange.

As such, the Unit 4 system can be shipped directly to your door, where you can swap out parts as you see fit in order to more closely resemble your actual AR. Or you can do as we did and leave it as is, with the exception of an optic, light, and sling. 

Under the Hood

The heart of the system is the magazine, which contains both CO2 propellant and projectiles — in this case 8mm plastic BBs that are available in both marking and non-marking versions. These are stored in a replaceable 30-round cartridge that snaps in place in the magazine and which the company refers to as a TPAK. 

The non-rifle’s hammer is modified to strike a valve in the mag that releases a shot of CO2 into the chamber, sending the BB on its way and cycling the action to pick up a fresh sphere. Recoil impulse isn’t quite what you’d get from a real gun, but it’s close enough that you’ll have to work on recoil control and settling your sights between shots. 

Accuracy from the 8mm smoothbore barrel is good enough to make head shots at typical down-the-hallway, CQB ranges, and the projectiles carry enough energy to let you know when you’ve been hit. Unlike UTM’s and Sims, they probably won’t break skin unless you’re at contact distance, but in a long-sleeved shirt, they raise a welt. 

About the only downside we’ve found so far is the cost. Thirty rounds plus propellant in a TPAK will run you between 20 and 29 cents per shot, depending on type and quantity purchased. There are plans to introduce a reloadable TPAK later this year, which should bring this down to half that figure. 

Receivers are cut from genuine M16 forgings, so they feel just like the real thing with all controls in the places you’d expect them.

Compared to the almost buck-a-round price tag of most NLTA, this should allow for more reps per dollar and allow citizens to extend a hearty “f@ck you” to politicians like Ed Markey and Laphonza Butler, and their attempts to outlaw realistic training through their proposed Preventing Private Paramilitary Activity Act. 

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