The AR-15 has evolved into one of the most flexible and modular semi-auto rifles available. Because it works so well just as it is, we don’t see much in the way of truly innovative changes to this popular platform. That why the new Drake Associates Athena AR-15 was such an eye-catching offering at this year’s SHOT Show. The company has blended the gas-impingement 5.56 NATO AR-15 with another rifle that’s enjoying a rapid rise in popularity within civilian shooting circles the precision chassis rifle.
This gun was originally developed to meet U.S. military requirements for a semiautomatic sniper rifle. Unlike typical ARs, which have handguards mounted directly to the barrel nut, the Athena’s lower receiver and hanguared are milled from a single aluminum billet. This monolithic design allows the entire barrel, including the barrel nut, to be free-floated for improved accuracy.
The vented upper section of the handguard is a modular piece that can be easily removed without the need for tools. It features a top-mounted Picatinny optics M-LOK accessory slots. Other accuracy enhancing features include an 11-degree target crown and a 2-stage competition trigger.
According to the company, the Athena is capable of printing, on average, .6- to .7-MOA groups at over 100 yards, with best the groups forming up at just over .3 MOA when firing commercially produced Federal match-grade ammunition. With an 18” Satern heavy-profile barrel installed, the company says it was able to document the Athena platform producing sub-MOA accuracy out to 1062 yards.
One might expect a rifle like this to cost an exorbitant amount. But Drake Associates was careful to keep the cost near the middle of the upper end AR-15 price range with a starting suggested retail price of $1,776. For more information, please visit drakeassociates.us.