Michael Meier, designer of the M+M Industries M10X, is originally from Switzerland, so it's no wonder that he favors reliable and accurate rifles. But he's had experience with third-world logistics and also has an American mindset towards affordability. Applying his real-world firearm knowledge, along with fifteen years of experience in gun manufacturing and engineering, he designed a rifle that's efficient, simple and yet still ergonomic and accurate.
The genius of the M+M Industries M10X rifle is in the parts count: 49, the same as the famously simple Sten MKII submachine gun. For comparison, the AKM has around 80 parts and the AR15 around 100. Unlike the STEN, the M+M Industries M10X achieved this simplicity without sacrificing ergonomics or accuracy. The M+M 10x is chambered for the common 7.62x39mm and fed from inexpensive and robust AK-47 magazines. The mag latch is also in the same location as it is on the AKM, allowing AK owners to load and seat mags similarly. However, in an improvement on both the SIG Sauer 550 and AKM, it offers an ambidextrous rotary safety selector and charging handle swappable to the left or right side.
The steel receiver of M+M 10x is embedded into an aluminum extrusion that forms a monolithic upper. That thin and light extrusion is very rigid, so it produces a stable, 18-inch long Picatinny base for optics and night-vision devices. The upper is hinged at the front to connect to the stamped-steel lower. Despite the 1.5mm thickness of the lower, same as the Russian RPK light machine gun, the rifle is the same weight as the less-rigid AKM at 7 pounds. Most of the weight comes from the 0.6-inch thick, 16.5-inch barrel with muzzle threaded 5/8x24 TPI for sound suppressors or flash hiders. Each M+M Industries M10X ships with a combination flash hider/compensator, which is effective yet not concussive to the shooter. In rapid-fire demonstrations, shooters have kept 5-6 empty casings in the air at once while hitting the A zone at 50 yards.
True to its name, the M+M Industries M10X is quite accurate in deliberate fire, its nitrided barrel capable of 0.7-MOA groups with match-grade ammunition. The unfortunate catch is that optimum accuracy requires single loading or using a drum magazine with single-column feeding. When fired semi-automatic from the standard AK double-stack box magazine, the gun shoots two distinct small groups adding up to 1.5-2 MOA. This inconsistent cartridge position is typical for all double-stack semi-autos with two-lug bolts, and it's only less pronounced but not absent in multi-lug designs like the AR-15. M+M is now developing a magazine with a single-column mouth specifically for precision shooting.
An adjustable gas regulator and a Magpul Zhukov folding stock reduce felt recoil. The M+M Industries M10X is a long-stroke gas-piston design, but the piston is separate from the bolt carrier. They are held together by the charging handle extension. At the front, a FAL-style rotary gas regulator has six total positions: standard (1), more gas for a dirty gun (2) and no gas for straight-pull operation, using subsonic rounds, for example (0), plus three more positions for semi-automatic fire using suppressors, with each setting generating various amount of back pressure. The piston with the recoil spring wrapped around it runs inside a removable gas tube with AK-style gas vents for a degree of additional self-regulation to account for the wide variation in powders between various 7.62x39mm loads.
When used with a suppressor, the vents dissipate back pressure before it can affect the shooter or foul the bolt. Extensive ventilation of the fore-end and a separate gas tube insulating the return spring from the barrel beneath prevent the return spring from binding up, even on the hot-running, rapid-fire test gun. The return spring is a regular wear item lasting around 5,000 rounds. The nitrided barrel has excellent life, retaining 2.5 MOA after 15,000 rounds of steel-jacketed 7.62x39mm ammunition shot through it rapidly during endurance testing. A replacement barrel is only $225 at the web store and is user-replaceable with basic hand tools.
The monolithic rail on the M+M Industries M10X is above the stock comb, so lower optic mounts are possible than with an AR-15. With a low-mounted red dot, the bore offset is 2/3 of an inch less than on the AR-15, helpful for dealing with the bore-offset issue experience with close-range shooting. A snap-on cheek riser is available for using a taller optic with an integral base. The front of the rail swells into an integral handstop with QD sling openings on both sides. Two more such receptacles are in the back of the lower, plus another two in the Zhukov stock.
The stock also has a loop for a conventional sling, plus M-Lok slots for sling loops and other accessories along its entire length. Made of aluminum, the fore-end can heat up during rapid fire, so the typical hand positions should be insulated with M-Lok covers. Fortunately, the extensive ventilation means at least four 30-round magazines may be fired rapidly before the heat becomes an issue.
With match-grade ammunition (such as Hornady SST, Cor-Bon DPX or Federal Premium Fusion) and a scope, this rifle is impressively accurate: 1.5 MOA is typical for semi-automatic fire from double-stack magazines, and under 1 MOA is possible when using drums or single-loaded rounds. With less-precise loads, such as PPU soft points and Winchester FMJ, 2 MOA is still achieved. Bulk steel-cased ammunition, such as Wolf, group from 3 MOA to 5 MOA.
Using a return-to-zero mount made by Bobro Engineering, it's possible to run the rifle with an unmagnified red dot for speed, swap for a magnified scope for precision, and then go back to the red dot in seconds. An offset or angled red dot mounted as a backup to the magnified optic or a night vision scope is also possible. Recoil is light enough and goes mostly straight back, so 100-yard hits on steel can be easily observed through the optic.
Unlike most folding stocks on AR-15 rifles, the Magpul Zhukov used on the M+M Industries M10X allows firing the rifle when stowed. It is easy to fold with one hand and as easy to snap open, with neither action likely to happen by accident. Once folded, the stock gives access to the take-down button in the lower. Push the button forward to allow the upper to hinge open. With the stock open, the button may also be pushed with a tool through an opening in the lower. Unusually, the hammer goes forward when the upper is hinged open. To field strip, unscrew the retainer of the charging handle and withdraw it to the side from the bolt carrier. That also disengages the bolt carrier from the piston. The carrier and the rotary bolt come out of the back of the upper.
For cleaning, the gas regulator rotates a half-turn to the disassembly position and comes out forward, and so does the gas tube, captured with a detent of its own. In suppressed use, most of the gas comes out of the regulator and a little bit out of the ejection port, with almost none reaching the user. All parts are either stainless or nitrided to resist the corrosive effects of surplus ammunition. The rifle is very tolerant of dirt, as the inside of the receiver is mostly open space.
Field stripped, the M+M Industries M10X comes apart into only eight assemblies, none of them easy to lose. What's interesting is that the M10X is of the few semi-automatic rifles that have no major springs under tension during either field stripping or reassembly: the recoil spring is only compressed during the firing cycle. The user does have to be careful to have the bolt placed into the forward position when reinserting the bolt carrier group into the receiver so that it doesn't stick.
With the machined steel receiver protected within the monolithic upper, the entire gun can be restored from extensive damage, if necessary. The long-standing goal of AR-like accuracy and AK simplicity has been achieved, along with extensive modularity. For people who anticipate mud wrestling as part of the range routine, M+M Industries is now developing gaskets to seal the receiver behind the ejection port. At 7 pounds, the M+M 10x is lighter than XCR-L, SCAR-L or Galil ACE and also less expensive. Seems like a home run to me. The suggested retail price on the M+M Industries M10X is $1,499.99.