When I walked into Hoover Tactical Firearms last week, everyone presumed I was coming to do some photography. After all, I was carrying a black plastic case that looked like the camera cases I've carried in there numerous times before.
It wasn't until I opened the case that I saw the same expression I'd had just a few weeks ago: slack-jawed amazement, followed by a great big sheepish grin.
It only looked
like a camera case.
With my Canon 50D sitting in front, (top) this looks like another camera case. When it's opened (below) it becomes obvious that there's a lot more than just optics inside. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photos.
Inside was DRD Tactical's new Paratus-16 rifle. And from the looks of everyone drooling over it (including miscellaneous SWAT officers and a former-FBI agent), Paratus might be a game-changer when it comes to the idea of a portable - and concealable- rifle.
The idea of a breakdown rifle isn't new. There have been bolt-action breakdowns out there in one form or another for a very long time.
But the Paratus isn't a bolt gun. It's an AR-platform rifle-chambered in .308/7.62x51mm.
Yep, a breakdown and non-NFA modern sporting rifle - in 308 caliber. The longest part of the rifle is its (absolutely legal) 16" barrel. All the other parts are more compact and fit inside a medium- sized (16"x10"x6") hard case-along with two 20 round magazines, eyes, ears and a space for your own optical sight.
DRD Tactical (www.drdtactical.com) has been working on this design for some time. Now, following thousands of rounds of reliability testing and armed with a pair of patented innovations, the Paratus (Latin "Prepared") is ready to go.
And you're the first shooters to see it. (If you're on Glenn Beck's email list, you saw the rifle teased last Friday, but we're the only people to have seen-and shot it).
The rifle was originally designed for the Clandestine Break-Down Semi-Automatic Rifle (CSR) proposal issued by the military's Joint & Special Operations Program (JSOP).
For some, that clandestine requirement is also applicable in the civilian/personal defense marketplace. It's a rifle that you can carry with you virtually wherever -and however- you travel without a large case that makes the contents obvious to everyone, especially the criminal element.
As DRD's website says, each of their Paratus models fit in a "very small hard case, backpack or Diplomatic Attache Case." That "Diplomatic Attache Case" - more often than not - is a Zero/Halliburton-and you can get one for the Paratus, although it carries a pretty hefty price tag compared to the standard hard case.
The Paratus utilizes a patented cam locking system and proprietary barrel nut assembly to make a very tight, non-flexing assembly, but most other components are from known suppliers: the sixteen-inch one-in-six twist barrel is a Lothar-Walther barrel, and Magpul provides the folding stock, grips, Mil-Std 1913 rails, a pair of 20-round P-Mags and MBUS sights. The very crisp 2-stage trigger is a Gisselle. The internal components - with the exception of a short bolt and a titanium pin chosen for its durability - look similar to those you'd find inside top-shelf modern sporting rifles.
The Paratus in its component parts with 2 P-mags. Putting the parts together doesn't take much time- and requires no tools. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photo.
It's available in one of two civilian configurations: standard (as tested) and a suppressor-capable model that uses a different gas block.
If you're a military/LE shooter, you have either of the civilian choices, plus an NFA SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) unit. It features a 12-inch one-in-ten twist Lothar-Walther barrel, an AAC 51-tooth Muzzle Brake, and Noveske Adjustable gas block.
All the Paratus models feature high-durability nickle-boron finish. They're the same in general operation and assembly/disassembly.
Assembling a Paratus rifle is ridiculously simple:
1) Remove the lower from the case
2) Unfold the Magpul stock
3) Lock back the bolt and slide the charging handle forward
4) Rotate the safety lever to the safe position
5) Slide the barrel and gas tube assembly into the receiver, match the 12'o-clock tab on the barrel to the slot in the upper receiver, then hand-tighten the patented barrel nut
6) Slide on the hand guard, push in the retainer pin and tighten the patented cam lock
7) Insert mag, release bolt and start shooting.
After a few repetitions, it's an effortless process. I never threatened to be faster than the 42-second assembly demonstration video on the DRD website, but not too-many repetitions would probably make assembly in a minute or less routine.
OK, it's innovative, but it's important that a gun shoot accurately, right?
Initial test firing proved the Paratus to be soft-shooting with a very smooth 2-stage trigger that made it simple to break clean shots. Jim Shepherd/OWDN photo.
With their standard out-of-the-box unit, I had no problem shooting sub-2 inch groups with iron sights on a twenty-five yard range (and I'm no longer very good with out optics). Younger eyes shot considerably tighter groups. That having been said, at 100-150 yards, making solid hits on animal-sized targets should be doable by most shooters. Using an optical sight, everyone's groups closed - considerably.
It's important to remember the Paratus isn't designed for high-volume, precision shooting matches. But there's no doubt that using a good optic a trained marksman could make X-ring hits far beyond my capabilities.
For me, the Paratus is concealable, quickly and easily assembled, comfortable to shoot and capable of allowing me to reliably engage man-or animal-sized targets out to 300-350 meters. The clincher is knowing I could have that kind of firepower available in virtually any situation.
It's more than capable of accuracy well beyond the limits of most shooters' abilities- with or without optics. Of course, if you plan on taking a Paratus on your next hunting trip, you'll likely need to be using magazines other than the pair of supplied 20-round PMAGS. If you're planning on taking it to a 3-gun competition, well, I think it would do the job- and score some major style points.
Functionally, the Paratus functioned reliably- and accurately- using 168-grain Federal Gold-Medal match, 186-grain American Eagle/M1A ammo and 147-grain Winchester USA 3081(my "white box" practice ammo). During testing, I mixed brands and weights without any problems. In offhand and rest shooting, the rifle had a very light recoil and we got single and rapid-fire double taps with no problem.
After shooting approximately 100 rounds, I let the rifle cool down and found it to be very clean and easy to disassemble - even with some gunk introduced into the system. The amount of residue didn't seem to be more than any gas-impingement AR-10 caliber rifle. Of course, premium ammunition plays a factor in how cleanly a gun runs as well. I didn't run military surplus ammo through the rifle, but if it was all I had, I have no doubt the Paratus would run it without any problems.
Bottom line: the Paratus is a very unique and appealing rifle. It isn't the most practical choice for every shooting/hunting scenario.
A $5,615 MSRP means it's not affordable to everyone (author included).
But the Paratus rifle wasn't designed to be a mass-market gun-ever. Granted, manufacturing is done on the most modern computer guided equipment, but each Paratus is essentially hand-assembled and test-fired before leaving DRD's facilities.
If you want a rifle that is concealable, reliable and powerful enough to takedown anything on two - or four- legs in North America and can bear the cost, my recommendation is simple: get in line - now. I'm not thinking production capacities will keep up with demand, even though the majority of us are only envious observers.
If you're a retailer, RSR Group and Clyde Armory are distributors and I have it on good authority that they'll have rifles in stock shortly.