An Economy Model WWSD: The Civil Defense Rifle

The initial rollout of the WWSD2020 rifles has been slow, as a shortage in a couple key components (primarily carbon fiber hand guards) has been a bottleneck in completing rifles. However KE Arms and Brownells, in collaboration with Karl and InRange and myself, opted to offer a second version to alleviate these problems. Thus we present the CDR (Civil Defense Rifle).

The CDR is a rifle designed on the same principles as the original WWSD and the WWSD2020, but with an eye towards budget and parts availability. By changing a few elements, it was possible to reduce the price about 30% without sacrificing any of the fundaments of the rifle. Specifically, the CDR has:

– Skeletonized aluminum handguard instead of carbon fiber
– Standard recoil system instead of the JP Silent Capture
– KE Arms’ DMR trigger instead of the SLT/Rekluse
– Ambidextrous safety only, instead of fully ambi controls
– Nitrided bolt and carrier instead of chromed
– MSRP of $1249.99 instead of $1699.99

Brownells is now offering the CDR (currently in stock) alongside the WWSD2020 (on backorder while parts are sourced). For folks who are looking for a less expensive WWSD alternative, this is a great option.


  1. Now we are eventually talking AR-15 rifle Progress!

    This is the first time when I observe removal of unnecessary features on AR-15 and incorporating it as whole into a meaningful product. The only thing I’d take one step further and changed the top receiver into a casting with thick walls to maintain integrity. At that point I’d have an opportunity to match both top and bottom receivers for maximum visual effect (and cleaning benefit). Consistent with Strongarm’s view, I’d also omit the dust cover.

    The integrated lower receiver is my forte. At around 1990 when I was intimately involved with Cdn. Cadet training rifle development we used the same approach. We had internal sheet-metal liner connected with buffer tube – all out of stainless steel. This liner was making sure the distance among the important shafts (it was semi-auto only) were kept under control, regardless what polymer does later on. It worked out rather nicely including different color shades.

    Good work overall and solid base for further development!
    No need to run away from AR-15 concept as yet!

    • Btw, the rifle version is fine with the solid buttstock, carbine may require a sliding stock, which would benefit from mentioned integrated buffer tube. So yes, couple of tings can be done differently with some minor gain.

    • “We had internal sheet-metal liner connected with buffer tube – all out of stainless steel. This liner was making sure the distance among the important shafts (it was semi-auto only) were kept under control…”

      I’ll have whatever the gentleman’s drinking, it seems to work. Is this possibly machine translated from the French? Does anyone know what he’s referring to here?

      • The gentleman consistently conveys more wisdom and expertise in his second-language English than most of us who grew up with it.

        Aside from the (still mechanically correct, but less common in a US firearms context) use of “shafts” in place of “pins”, it’s quite clear: His polymer receiver / tube assembly had a stainless insert, ensuring that the critical relationships between all the pin holes remained in spec even if the surrounding polymer were to flex, soften in the heat, crack in the cold, etc.

        • Thanks for filling in for me Mike.
          I have encountered name “Shaft” for round pin-like items retaining Hammer, Trigger and perhaps some other components of similar nature. I strongly believe this is how Colt TDP titles them.

          However, I do not mind if some “smarter” member in discussion pool expresses his opinion. Can my English be better at time? Hell yes, it can be. 🙂

  2. I appreciate offering a solution in the same breath you say there’s a problem, but this has more than a whiff of the Hudson’s problems to me, unfortunately.

    It’s hard to say ‘you need all of these things, no compromise’ and then come back and do so.

    • I don’t think they’ve ever said that “these features are 100% necessary” and KE Arms has been incredibly transparent during the development cycle with what their issues are, and at the moment it is procurement of products form an outside vendor. They have started to attempt in house production of this component to fill this shortage. Also I do not see what is wrong with offering an additional more budget option with compromises to someone who might not be able to afford or justify the full MSRP.

  3. Ugh! A great civil defense rifle would be a light-weight bolt-action carbine: high-capacity detachable magazine; rugged metallic sights; stiff synthetic stock; rugged finish (inside and out); chambered for the 7.62x39mm round. Accurate, completely reliable, easy to use, and effective.

  4. alas. few of the brownells are available for sportive use here though brownells germany have them in general. would be a good one for my lady.

  5. IMO $1295 MSRP does not qualify as a “bargain”. The internet has complete kits, less receiver, mil spec. for $600. Add a receiver, forged, and you have a a more robust weapon for quite a bit less.

    • A complete WWSD lower reciever with trigger and averything is offered by KE Arms as well. Combine with an upper assembly of your choice and preferred price. Saves even some taxes in some US states, because it is not a complete firearm. The empty WWSD lower receiver is cheap and in some respects more durable than a normal aluminium lower receiver with the tube sticking out the rear.

      KP-15 naked is 109.95U$D
      KP-15 fitted with standard mil-spec trigger and stuff is 199.95

      This really is a low price compared to a complete M16/M4/AR-15 lower receiver filled with the similar components.

  6. Ian….”Hey, we can’t get the things we said we’d get, so we made a cheaper version using whatever we could find on a shelf.”

    Me…looks at the black KE Arms lower I paid full price for because the FDE version I pre-ordered at the lower price was vaporware, which has the base model Timney Impact trigger installed along with a $35 LPK, pinned to an Anderson upper with a 16 BCA barrel shrouded by a leftover KeyMod aluminum handguard with a $20 compensator on the muzzle, wearing a $100 red dot….that’s about $550 all in, despite most of it being bought in 2020.

    Dang. I was ahead of the curve!

  7. 1250 bucks is this “Economy Model”?
    With the selling price of the M4A1 set from the FN for the US Army about 800?
    Rather, it is an attempt to assemble at least something shooting from the available remnants.

    You can argue as much as you like from the volume “Why Guns Take Years to Get Into Production”, but without a systematic approach, whatever you come up with at random, it will certainly be “slow and expensive”.

    • You are not including all of the costs associated with your M4A1. Even if you could buy a M4A1 off of the Army contract (which you can’t) you would have to add on a 10% Federal excise tax and other taxes.

  8. Like me, Ian seems to place his support hand a few inches forward of the magwell. If one isn’t going to hold out near the muzzle, and doesn’t anticipate subjecting the gas tube to bayonet drill, it would probably be easy to equal or better the weight savings of carbonfiber simply by using an aluminum handguard just long enough to guard the hand.

  9. Thank you I really enjoy your excellent presentations ! This appears to be a VERY well planned mass production item. For an old guy watching todays contradictory world ( where wacky stupidity is often equated to fact) your work is a comfort to my belief that there still exist a lot of sound folks . Really enjoyed the range work & exercises… better than my training of the 1950s! My training & life interests in gun activity goes thru early muzzle loaders, antiques cannon, field guns AA etc with infantry , Mg & special weapons always fascinated by cleaver new mechanical contrivance from Ferguson , dardick, Vulcan Metal storm, Now into the scary new stuff! your factual site is a light of reality! thanks again.

  10. I like the integrated lower reciever; I think it would be ideal to try with a modified cmmg radial delay bolt in .556, were you make the upper reciever circular to go with a new “circular” cmmg/ar bolt to fit- Also modified with a cut out to allow it to rotate round the hammer- (lose the defunct gas key) and fit a cocking handle to the bolt. The integrated lower could have a circular “inner” for said modified circular bolt to enter. I have mentioned this before, but I think if you made a ramp below the ejection port as per the Johnson which the new cocking handle would engage, when you fire it goes as per the cmmg radial delay I.e. Pushes the carrier back… But then the cocking handle hits the ramp, and has to travel up it; which now turns the carrier, permitted by the cut out for the hammer.

    Turning the mass of the bolt thus, with the friction from the handle hitting the ramp, should provide extra delay; for 5.56 might not be enough but it might be.

    If it was, you could lose the normal Ar cocking handle and gas tube/port making it even more “civil defense like” cheaper/simpler type thing. So of benefit, like…

    • PDB,
      How would the bolt accelerate the carrier at a multiple of its speed without the defunct gas key? Camming depends on the carrier being held in place radially as the bolt rotates.

      I have had a similar thought to your bolt handle / Johnson delayed blowback idea, although not in combination with the CMMG bolt. I was thinking (after watching Ian’s Thompson Autorifle videos) that the latter design could have been successful in a more reasonable caliber, and with the proper mass balance between bolt and carrier (the Autorifle’s is backwards, like the Villar-Perosa and even the contemporary Stribog SP9A3). The main disadvantage would be forfeiting the AR’s advantage of an unstressed upper receiver, requiring a heavy milled steel upper.

      • Oh, I see… You mean if it was a circular bolt carrier in a circular tube, what would stop the carrier rotating…

        Good point… Er, the hammer maybe… Pull trigger, hammer falls, goes inside carrier. Glad you mentioned that! He he!! 🙂 My hammer cut out may discount that solution, if it was one! Hmmm…

        • That might work if the cut out was on the right, and the carrier could… Rest against the hammer on the left till it turned; not how originally envisaged, I forgot about your point in regards holding the carrier… The above may work, if the bolt lugs angles were… Actually I will have to have a think about that, I will have a read of your idea again while I am at it!

          • Thanks for the gas key answer.

            Once the Banshee was introduced, I gave up on recreating the bolt-handle delay because CMMG’s method is superior (not only a simpler upper receiver, but also much more complete / symmetrical support for the case head).

          • Your welcome, so far I think my solution is the hammer; cut out on the left, so carrier touching it on the right acting as the carrier at that point… Rotation via handle hitting ramp sees cut out hit hammer on the left. I like the cmmg, just thought it would be a bonus if you could add extra delay; in order to 5.56mm it. 1/2 4 in the morning here, mind you I am not drunk he he, should have left commenting for 12 hours!

          • “I like the cmmg, just thought it would be a bonus if you could add extra delay; in order to 5.56mm it.”

            I think a concern with that idea is the acceleration run-up to the second delaying surface (like the difference between a good wound-up punch vs. trying to hit someone beginning with your hand 1/2″ away). Wouldn’t that require an even stronger upper than if the bolt bore on the surface while in battery?

          • It would require a stronger upper, but on the plus side in theory you could lose the Ar gas system; which is a great, but for a “civil defense” rifle, were losing parts is the idea; well thats the idea.

          • Wouldn’t likely be 1/2″ away; rather just the distance of the lugs to be free of there engagement surfaces… So the length of a lug maybe, but I can see your point if it was too far away… And clearly stronger upper means more weight.

            Clever idea that ccmg, I liked that; cool way of changing the usual bolts operation, doubted it would give enough delay for 5.56mm though.

          • When it comes to saving by simplifying, the AR is unique and misleading.

            On one hand, it has so many parts that seem ridiculously intricate and over-complicated. As a hobbyist gunsmith / machinist, I’d have a harder time milling the AR barrel extension than your whole upper receiver.

            On the other hand, the AR benefits from tremendous competition and economies of scale, such that even the most intricate parts are readily available and cheap (like that extension – $20 or less even in this crazy market).

            I agree that I would not trust radial-delayed blowback for intermediate cartridges (at least not with AR15-dimensioned parts).

          • Did you ever see that Australian “triangluar” bolt head? That might give more delay in a cmmg type set up; you make 3 angled cuts, said cuts will be of the same length… Now, given that the turning surface will be longer… Than that gained by using 7 lugs I.e. The surface is shorter.

            I don’t think the cmmg currently would provide the delay in 5.56 but I reckon it is not far off… With a new tubular upper, the “circular” bolt could contain more mass. Combine that with a ramp that is a bit higher/steeper than the Johnson and with any luck the bullet has left the barrel.

            And you get a fairly simple self opening AR. In principle.

          • I’ve seen those triangular-bolt rifles, and I think the idea makes sense – the larger receiver / BCG too. I was just thinking today how, with the handguard setting the width of the rifle anyway, there’s plenty of room to work with in the receiver area.

  11. “cocking handle to the bolt” Bolt carrier, that should read. Just like the Johnson rifle, but it doesn’t rotate the bolt in this instance; it just forces the carrier to rotate for no other reason than to try add an extra delay via instead of just pushing the mass of the bolt group back, it now has to push it back and rotate it… The bolt would rotate with the carrier, and thus the carrier would against the buffer.

    • Given the bolt would rotate with the carrier, the bolts lugs would need to be clear of there engagement surfaces; at the point the handle hits the ramp, to avoiding locking the bolt he he. That is probably just a matter of were you locate the ramp in relation to the handle, the ramp likely have to sit a bit further back than the handle. Anyway!

  12. Sell out. Made your “perfect” rifle and now compromise on components.

    Everyone would be better off with a plain jane M4 that has a polymer FDE handguard.

    Oh, and fart @10:21

    • No, they would not be better off with an M4. The M4 is a badly designed rifle really. And anything but well thought out. It is still relaible enough despite all the things that have been done to the original M16 design to make it as it is today. For one the 14 1/2″ barrel runs afoul of the 16″ barrel length requirement to not be subject to the U$D200 short barrelled rifle tax and registration.

      It is a free market. Do not like it? Do not buy it. Simple as that.

  13. Little late, but anyway, picked mine up yesterday, put little less than 100rds in it today, my first AR, gotta say, it’s nice. My 15 YO was with me, he had never shot one before, he loved it also. Great gun,

  14. Ian you are Karl have done a great job with this rifle and I would suggest this should be a template to all to show personal expertise and not just purchase the new gun of the month and say how great it is.

    You WWSD project convinced me to build several rifles during the project and reach similar conclusions. The KE Arm mono. lower is like the Nylon 66 & Glock; so far ahead of the rest of the pack it will take years for them to catch up.

    I built my WWSD rifle on the 7.62 x 39mm and I can’t wait to get my official WWSD rifle this month to compare them side by side.

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