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3 standout patrol rifles at Big 3 East

The Spike’s Tactical Roadhouse, Palmetto State Armory AR-45 and Pantheon Arms Dolos Take-Down System all stood out from the crowd

In October 2017 I attended Big 3 East, an event that brings together firearms media and manufacturers. We were exposed to several new and really cool products for various markets. Many of these goods were directly applicable to law enforcement. While it was hard to pick from all the rifles at Big 3 East, I’ve selected a few to highlight.

Spike’s Tactical Roadhouse

Some time ago I wrote about M1A Scout Squad being an ultimate rural patrol rifle. This was before I knew about the Spike’s Tactical Roadhouse. An unapologetically American gun company, Spike’s Tactical is based out of Apopka, Florida, and strives to provide quality weapons at the lowest price to the consumer.

This weapon was coined “The Roadhouse” after a Spike’s employee who died too soon. Like its movie namesake, the Roadhouse is all about fighting.

Chambered in .308, this hard-hitting rifle has all the ergonomics and controls you’re used to in the AR platform. However, unlike the reputation of the AR-10, this gun runs extremely well.

In addition, the Roadhouse is not the plain-Jane government model; this rifle comes out of the box like a fully loaded Cadillac with tons of upgrades.

The features on the Roadhouse are too numerous to list in this roundup, but there a few I want to highlight.

First off, Spike’s Tactical has created its own proprietary system of truly ambidextrous controls. When you push the mag release on the right side, you can see it operating on the left. Slapping the bolt catch on the left causes the same function to happen on the right.

The 18” barrel is cold hammer forged, chrome-lined and features a 1/12 twist rate.

The muzzle also sports an R2 brake that helps tame the .308 and keep you on target.

The trigger is a Hiperfire 24 and it felt amazingly light, perhaps 3.5 pounds – little hesitation to jump in the fray, not unlike the company itself.

A Magpul ACS stock ensures proper fit for different lengths of pull and a Radian Raptor serves for the charging handle.

At the range, with only the sights provided on the gun, I easily hit silhouette targets out to 300 yards. The gun is good. I added a Steiner 1-5x24 T5Xi and found the optic helped me maximize the .308’s ranges. Up close, the Steiner features true 1x magnification, with a red dot option. Working the throw lever, I could reach out and touch targets at greater ranges.

The Roadhouse isn’t cheap, but because of its configurable adaptability, it is a weapon that could stay in a patrol vehicle and service anyone who runs the car.

  • Manufacturer/Model: Spike’s Tactical/Roadhouse
  • Caliber: .308
  • Action Type: semi-auto
  • Barrel: 18” (as tested)
  • Magazine: Not supplied
  • Sights: Spike’s Gen II Billet
  • Weight: 9.3 pounds
  • Overall Length: 31”-41.25” (adjustable stock)
  • MSRP: $2,800.00

Palmetto State Armory – AR-45

Palmetto State Armory announced a couple of exciting projects at Big Three East. One was just for fun, a .22 conversion kit for your AR-15 that costs under $300.00. The other was intriguing and had more possible law enforcement applications – an AR configured in .45 ACP.

Called the AR-45, this gun had me on the edge of my seat wondering about the CQB possibilities. Built with a 16” barrel and having an M4 collapsible stock, the AR-45 could definitely fill the role of clearing tight quarters.

The rifle has all the standard controls you would expect on an AR platform, but it runs on .45 caliber Glock magazines with 13-round capacity. The gas system is blowback, so pretty standard.

My test model came with a Vortex Strikefire II, an optic designed for quick acquisition with a great field of view and the option of a green dot. The combination was outstanding. I ran cornering drills and rang steel targets without error. The recoil is more substantial than a .223 but something you get used to pretty quickly.

  • Manufacturer/Model: Palmetto State Armory/AR-45
  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Action Type: semi-auto
  • Barrel: 16”
  • Magazine: Glock .45
  • Sights: Vortex Strikefire II (as tested)
  • Weight: 7.3 pounds
  • Overall Length: 32”
  • MSRP: Under $500.00

Pantheon Arms – Dolos

I love Greek mythology so the folks at Pantheon Arms didn’t have to work hard to lure me to look at their products.

The Greek god Dolos represented trickery and guile so the company’s take-down system is appropriately named.

Pantheon Arms doesn’t make rifles, they make systems to help you take them down into sneaky little packages that can be deployed at a moment’s notice. In doing, so they have opened up an area of utility not previously available to law enforcement.

Whether you are plainclothes or uniform, having a non-descript Vertx Gamut bag full of surprises comes in handy. For instance, this pack contains a standard Aero Precision upper and lower combo, mounted with a Trijicon MRO red dot optic and a Law Tactical folding adapter.

If your mission calls for it, you can withdraw from the bag a 16-inch barrel, mount it to your rifle, and go to work. However, also enclosed in the bag is a 10.5-inch barrel. Should the mission suddenly change, within seconds, you can switch the barrel and alter the brace to use the Gear Head Works Tailhook – a complete pistol transformation.

The Pantheon Arms Take Down System is available in too many configurations and options to list. You can switch between barrel lengths and even calibers if properly equipped. Moreover, the system provides discreet carrying and deployment of a rifle. Visit their site to price out the system you can see yourself running.

Sean Curtis is a law enforcement professional with over two decades of experience, serving with SWAT, diving and swift water rescue teams in Colorado. He has also served in wildland fire, search and rescue, EMS and emergency management.