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Wolf Arms A1 Piston Upper

By Oleg Volk

Since Taiwanese defense strongly depends on the alliance with America, it makes sense to keep equipment as compatible as possible. Adopted in 2003, the T91 piston upper fits any AR15 or M16 lower. The A1 upper, so marked by the importer Wolf Arms, is a faithful adaptation of the Taiwanese army rifle, missing only the bayonet lug. Almost all parts are made in Taiwan, with barrels finished in the U.S. to comply with import regulations. Unlike most of the piston upper designs for the AR15, the T91 is neither front heavy, nor overly complicated. It’s even affordable, with a list price of $599.

Having tried a wide variety of supposed improvements on the conventional AR15, I wanted to find out just how well the A1 upper would handle and perform. The charging handle is the standard AR part, but the rifle does not use a forward assist. The forend is proprietary to the upper, resembling the old American M16A1 clamshell. It proved very effective at insulating the support hand from the barrel heat, even with a heavy volume of fire. The Wolf A1 upper uses a 1-in-7-inch twist, chrome-lined and bored 16-inch barrel, the same as its military counterpart. The A2-like flash hider also has porting further back to act as a compensator. The front sight tower is integral to the upper, a rear sight was not supplied with my pre-production sample, but current production uppers ship with a carry handle rear sight installed on the receiver Picatinny rail.

It turns out that the proof by performance is compelling. First, the A1 upper is shockingly accurate for a basic field grade carbine. The best groups were with the Remington Hog Hammer 62gr—1.1MOA. The Federal Gold Match 69gr was a close second at 1.2MOA. The 55gr American Eagle ball spread was 2.2MOA. With minimal recoil and great accuracy—much helped by the 1.8-10x U.S. Optics scope —the rifle was a pleasure to shoot. The muzzle blast was unremarkable despite the obviously effective compensator. At this point, I’ve fired about 500 rounds of varied ammunition fed from several types...

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N5 (June 2017)
and was posted online on April 21, 2017


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