Hera Arms Close Quarter Rifle System: The Futuristic AR

By J.M. Ramos

America’s love affair with the AR and admiration of the FN P90 was finally answered as the new Close Quarter Rifle (CQR) system.

When the FN Personal Defence Weapon (PDW) P90 was unveiled in 1999, it was an instant hit among military Special Operations Group (SOG) VIP protection, the Secret Service and other government and police agencies worldwide. Its futuristic looks, ergonomics, firepower and outright overall compactness while sporting a reasonably long barrel (263mm), a deadly newly developed cartridge (5.7 X 28mm) and an impressive 50-shot magazine makes it one formidable package. The P90 is inspired by early American innovations of the past century, namely the small caliber Colt SCAMP machine pistol and Hall submachinegun utilizing a top-mounted magazine on a horizontal position. It was, however, FN that cracked the egg that hatched the world of PDW as we know it today becoming the inspiration of many specialized weapons of this class—most notably its closest rivals: the Heckler & Koch MP7A1, as well as many intriguing Russian designs of the modern era.

The allure of the new P90 soon became a must-have fantasy among die hard military weapon buffs primarily in the United States, the world’s largest consumer of firearms. Unfortunately, the P90 is strictly law enforcement and military market with the exception of some dealer’s samples. Having realized the potential market for a civilian version of the P90, FN soon tooled and re-designed the full-auto version and came up with a semi-auto version with a longer 16-inch barrel to meet government regulation. The civilian version was designated the FN PS90 carbine. While the PS90 resembled the P90 in all respects, the long barrel sticking way out of its very compact polymer shell simply did not look quite right. The new carbine did not do justice to its original loveable sibling, possibly a turn off to many would-be purchasers when there are plentiful of better looking ARs and AKs around at a much lesser cost.

What’s Next?

The never ending saga of “I can do better” among tactical weapon innovators lives on, and it’s mind boggling. One of the biggest surprises at the 2017 SHOT Show came from Germany’s HERA Arms. America’s love affair with the AR and admiration of the FN P90 was finally answered as the new Close Quarter Rifle (CQR) system. Indeed, this long-awaited setup will certainly please AR/P90 aficionados who dreamed of transforming their favorite SBR to a more futuristic P90 PDW format. HERA Arms was founded in 2006 as a supplier of high-end weapon accessories and law enforcement equipment. Their first product line consists of weapon conversion kits such as their BCK system and small mounts to include the FSA and TLM systems. The company originally focused their attention to the sport shooter market, then it was expanded to meet the demands of the law enforcement community and military agencies over Europe with their latest product—the TRIARII.

HERA Arms’ owes much to the input and support by major police departments and government agencies in the design and development of its product line all the way to its testing and evaluations prior to its initial marketing stage. Such close collaboration assured that the end product will meet or even surpass a real-life application in any given scenario that demands safety and reliability in order to save lives or accomplish missions. The tremendous success of this company owes much to the enormous varieties of its product line, mostly AR-related components and accessories, as well as specialized pistol to carbine conversion kits (Triarii) for many popular handguns and H&K SL8 CNC machined aluminum BCK housing (allows converting the standard fixed stock SL8 to a sophisticated folding stock model). There is also an AR stock adapter for the vintage Italian-made SPAS 15 combat shotgun.

The CQR furniture set is possibly the most exciting among HERA’s latest offering in the AR tactical accessory market. The futuristic styling and ergonomics of the CQR system can be considered its best attributes. It’s an original idea focused primarily for both AR and P90 aficionados. However, its real marketing advantage lies with the AR, the most customized battle rifle in existence. Indeed this German maker hits the bullseye with their CQR with the company still trying to catch up with preorders since its unveiling at the SHOT Show this year. The CQR stock comes in two versions; namely the standard with open thumb hole and the “California model” with blocked thumb hole. The CQR sets are available in three colors: black, tan and O.D. green. The overall styling and ergonomics of the CQR can be considered unique in comparison to furniture available for the AR today. The CQR set comes equipped with ambidextrous sling swivel sockets. In addition, the stock has a removable cap at the bottom section that conceals a railed section for monopod installation for long-range application when used with a precision grade rifle. The matching front grip also has a removable part located at the rear to allow the use of Magpul PMAG D60 drum magazine.

The CQR stock comes complete with an integral ergonomically designed pistol grip that matches perfectly with the front grip instantly transforming the vintage AR to a P90 format while keeping all the controls we all became familiar with. The HERA furniture definitely has an advantage over the FN P90 since the Belgian PDW basically comes in one basic configuration while the AR virtually has an unlimited supply of parts and accessories that can be combined with the CQR, allowing one to build any weapon type to suit personal taste or requirement, not to mention caliber choices. The installation of the CQR stock requires a mil-spec buffer tube, while the matching front grip can be attached directly to a free-float forearm with bottom rails. Installation of the front grip to the forearm is quite straightforward. Two screws secure the part using a hex key for the assembly (not supplied). The stock, however, is a little bit trickier to assemble due to the awkward nature of the opening for the tool and the angle of the grip. Installation of the grip screw will require a 3/16 hex-key with ball head. As noted earlier the pistol grip is an integral part of the stock. This has an advantage in savings over buying a separate pistol grip. You just have to put up with the extra effort in the assembly of the pistol grip. This is probably the area where the CQR stock needs an improvement. The installation of the safety selector detent spring is through the elongated window precisely positioned below the detent opening. A rubber plug is used to contain the spring during assembly with the narrower side going in to the grip. Push the plug to seat flush to the side of the grip while lifting the detent spring up with the tip of a small screw driver until the assembly is fully seated and locked into place.

While the CQR stock system is phenomenal in terms of versatility and ergonomics, its overall styling is best suited for short-barreled ARs to achieve the P90 effect for which it was designed. Installing the system to a 16-inch or longer barreled AR may not be aesthetically pleasing. This is the same problem with the FN PS90 carbine. For a longer barreled AR, omit the CQR front grip and just use the stock, and it will look much better. Originally, to field strip the AR for cleaning purposes only the rear pin needs to be pushed out to allow the upper to hinge open to access the bolt group. With the CQR front grip installed on a 7-inch forearm or shorter, both the front and rear pins need to be pushed out to allow separating the upper from the lower receiver. With all things considered, the new CQR system is an outstanding addition to AR/M16 accessory innovation that is sure to add more fuel to the never ending quest to create the best-dressed AR in the market. For a complete line up of HERA Arms weapon accessories visit their website at www.hera-usa.com. The Canadian distributor is Wolverine Supplies Ltd. (www.wolverinesupplies.com).

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V21N8 (October 2017)
and was posted online on August 18, 2017


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