Ayoob first alerted me to the Gill Compensator that Sabre Defence uses on the XR15A3 Elite carbine. “From a braced position, the dot doesn’t even move off of the kill zone on a 100-yard target,” Ayoob told me. That’s a pretty hefty claim, and my initial reaction was to assume it was a slight exaggeration. But when I shot the rifle myself I found it to be true.
I did a lot of shooting at steel targets set out from 20 to 75 yards and found that I could double tap them, with good solid hits, by slapping the trigger as quickly as possible. I used a vertical foregrip and the EOTech and was amazed at the total lack of muzzle climb.
Sabre Defence’s Grant Morgan is responsible for the gill compensator. “It started out as a comp for a .38 Super, years ago when I was an active IPSC competitor,” says Morgan. “We wanted to make the most efficient use of the gas. There are internal cuts that blow the gas back and then redirect it through the gills. Most suppressors that work with a standard A2 flash hider, including ours, will work with the gill compensator.”
While I didn’t notice it when I was conducting rapid-fire exercises with the carbine, Ayoob told me that when I benched the gun I would notice a puff of cool air from the compensator with each shot. Says Ayoob, “My first thought was, what the heck? This thing is blowing gas back this far? Then I realized it was cool air. The comp is working so effectively that, though the gas venting stops a few inches back from the muzzle, it is displacing enough surrounding air that the shooter gets a cool puff of wind in the face with each shot.”
But that puff is far from distracting. I tested the Elite carbine with a good selection of ammo and fired for groups from 100 yards. Because I was more interested in the gun’s mechanical energy than my ability to shoot with the non-magnifying EOTech, I installed a Trijicon 3x to 9x AccuPoint scope. As one would expect, the lighter 55-grain ammunition did not perform as well with the 1:8-inch barrel as the heavier bullets did.
My single best five-shot group was recorded with Black Hills 77-grain nosler bullets and was just .89 inches. Keep in mind that this group, like all of the others, was fired from a hot barrel. Not bad for a 16-inch carbine.
My Ayoob Elite carbine has a very crisp four-pound trigger pull and that made shooting these small groups easy. The two-stage trigger is not manufactured by Sabre Defence—at least not yet—because it is a MIM part. But Morgan did tell me that the company designed and built the molds for these parts. I also liked the ACE SOCOM adjustable stock and the Ergo pistol grip. Both parts made the XR15A3 Carbine extremely comfortable to shoot.
During my evaluation I fired more than 400 rounds without cleaning the carbine. I didn’t have any stoppages or failures. That’s exactly the kind of reliability that I want for a tactical weapon. Ayoob told me he has heard of a number of agencies that have been testing the rifle for adoption and that it has beat out some of the more well known and established AR builders. “I’m very pleased with the quality of their rifles and proud that they wear my name,” Ayoob says, referring to his signature which graces the right side of the magazine well.
Well Worth the Price
Suggested retail price of the Sabre Defence XR15A3 Massad Ayoob Elite Rifle is $2,929.99. If that sounds a bit steep for you, consider this: This carbine is ready to go right out of the case. You won’t need to switch out any parts or make any additions to get this rifle ready for service.
Sabre ships its gun in a custom black tactical case that Ayoob actually helped design. It is perfect for the operator or the competitive shooter. There’s plenty of room for accessories and extra ammo, and the rifle is securely held via Velcro straps. There’s also a side pouch for a pistol and there’s even enough room to slide a shotgun in the case. Ayoob’s signature is stitched across the case in yellow letters.
Besides the case and the EOTech, Sabre also includes two 20-round magazines, two 30-round mags, a Wilderness Tactical Giles sling, and a premium Otis cleaning kit with each Elite rifle.
Ayoob’s specification for the perfect patrol and/or perimeter weapon and Sabre Defence’s ability to execute his vision has resulted in one of the finest AR-style weapons that I’ve had the pleasure to shoot. The gun is well thought out and built from good parts, and it displays excellent accuracy and reliability.
Mike Detty is an NRA-certified rifle, pistol, and shotgun instructor. A certified rangemaster and competition shooter, Detty served as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps and holds a degree in criminal justice from the University of Arizona.