Introduced in 2018, the Universal Improved Carbine (UIC) MOD 2 by American Defense Manufacturing (ADM) is the latest version to the UIC line of rifles, and comes available in 13.9” barrel length (featured in this review) and others. The efforts by ADM to bring the greatest level of manufacturing to the UIC MOD 2 reflects its goal in consistency and performance.
The UIC MOD 2 incorporates many of the latest ADM features to include:
UIC Billet Upper Receiver
Made from precision machined 7075-T6 aluminum, the UIC upper receiver features a hard coat anodized finish (per Mil-A-8625F, Type III, Class 2) with M4 feed ramps for a consistent chambering and smooth transition from magazine to barrel. The UIC MOD 2 is designed in the unique ADM fashion, though consistent to the Colt format.
ADM Enhanced Bolt Carrier Group (EBCG)
The EBCG from ADM was one of the most stringently developed elements to the UIC rifle. With a bolt made from 9310 steel, and the carrier made from 8620 steel, the EBCG includes a Carrier Key, Cam Pin, and Extractor in 4340 steel. The carrier includes a black Nitride finish and is high pressure tested, mag particle inspected for any flaws, cracks, or failures in the materials. Even the hex-head screws are Grade 8 hardened for extended durability despite the abuse.
Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle
As part of the UIC MOD 2 design, ADM elected to use the Raptor AmbidextrousCharging Handle from Radian Arms. This handle is made from aircraft-grade 7075-T6 aluminum that is widely known for its high level of strength. The dual latches allow for either left or right handed operation of the charging handle whereby the palm can be used in a “bladed” fashion, or in the more typical finger/thumb use. The Raptor is anodized to the same MILSPEC standards as the upper receiver.
Criterion Core Barrel
At the heart of select versions to the MOD 2 (11.5” or 13.9” barrels) is a 4150 chrome moly vanadium steel Core barrel from Criterion. The Core series is known for its continuous taper, with the bulk surrounding the chamber to absorb heat evenly and less mass towards the front of the rifle. The result is a more balanced barrel. The Core barrel also utilizes as 1 in 8 twist and is chambered in the more modern .223 Wylde that gives the largest level of stabilization and utilization between 5.56 NATO and .223 caliber ammunition. The barrel’s bore is hand lapped and overall finalized with a nitride finish to prevent any corrosion. The barrel itself has a gas port of 0.070” for use with suppressors, and allots for a gas block with a .625” journal and dimpled for a set screw.
Surefire Warcomp Flash Hider
Representing the business-end of the MOD 2 is a Surefire Warcomp. The three-prong design of the Warcomp comes from a single bar of stainless steel that eliminates 98% of the overall flash from a rifle, and the porting all but eliminates muzzle rise caused by recoil. These features also provide multiple surfaces for suppressor alignment, although the Warcomp can also be timed for either neutral, left, or right-handed shooters. To finish out the flash hider, the Warcomp is DLC-coated for improved durability and longevity.
ADM MLOK Rails
At the end of the MOD 2 upper receiver is a proprietary ADM MLOK handguard for AR-15 patterned rifles only. The handguard is made from 6061 T6 aluminum, with three clamping screws, an anti-walk screw, and an anti-rotation pin that ensures proper alignment and no inadvertent “walking” of the handguard over time. ADM offers the handguard in either black hard coat anodization, or in an optional cerakote finish (wait times apply).
UIC MOD 2 Specifications:
- Variable lengths:
- 10.5″, 11.5″, 12.5″ (for use on AR pistols)
- 13.9″, 14.5″, and 16″ (for use on rifles)
- Uppers at 13.9″ and 14.5″ are pinned/welded
- Materials Used:
- 7075-T6 aluminum – Upper receiver, charging handle
- 6061 T6 aluminum – Handguard
- 9310 steel – 5.56 bolt
- 8620 steel – Bolt carrier
- 4150 chrome moly vanadium steel – Criterion Core barrel
The overall MOD 2 Upper Receiver is available in anodized Black (featured), or can be cerakote to OD Green, Grey, Midnight Bronze, or FDE (wait times apply).
***Editor’s Note: For the purposes of this review, the UIC MOD 2 upper receiver was paired with a stock Aero lower using a LaRue MBT. Additionally, other accessories were added as testing became more complex. These elements did not influence the upper receiver’s evaluation, but merely used to assist in testing).
(Post-Review Cleanup Images)
Product Evaluation Scores:
- Cost – Average (3/5): With an MSRP of $1,400, a complete UIC MOD 2 upper receiver brings together many industry leading materials to provide a product that delivers consistent accuracy and function. The volume of overall steel and aluminum used is comparable to other leading upper receivers, illustrating ADM’s efforts to make its UIC line a popular option to the consumer. In contrast, comparable market alternatives using similar materials, twist rate, and design would be the LMT 14.5” upper (combining a LMT MRP barreled upper receiver with a comparable Mk16 SMR from Geissele) ($1025), a SR-15 14.5 Complete Upper ($2,093) from Knight Armament Company, a 14.5 SOCOM Complete Upper (configured to match) ($1,280) from Centurion Arms, and the 13.7” Gen 3 Infidel Complete Upper ($1,600) from Noveske. And while the “debate” of value to the consumer’s preferred brands is a hotly contested topic—for the cost and quality of materials used, and amid the market of listed competitors, the UIC MOD 2 is of an appropriate (or average) cost. It should be noted, that some alternative companies (such as KAC) producing high-cost rifles also strongly limit the number of products released to the public, thus that product rarity alone can also be a driving external factor to cost. ADM does not follow that practice, and releases products as soon as it can be manufactured and inspected at its factory in Wisconsin.
- Comfort – Good (4/5): From a comfort aspect, the UIC upper had two major elements contributing to a good overall level of comfort that mitigated impulse and recoil—the gas system and the use of the Surefire Warcomp. The gas system starts with a 0.070” port that was sized for suppressors (use of which was not evaluated), but also did not throw an excessive volume of gas back into the face or otherwise within the field of view during the firing process. Additionally, the gas system also allowed for ejected brass to consistently be thrown at the appropriate 3-4 o’clock position. This allowed the UIC to continually run and at no point during evaluation did the upper fail to eject or feed. Likewise, the Warcomp was an improvement over the standard A2 birdcage, and in video demonstrated the blast mitigation through distributing gas and pressure outward/upward in a designed effort to prevent associated muzzle rise. This further aided the shooter to stay on target through consecutive rounds. With regards to rounds fired, one common negative issue with MLOK style rails was noted in the UIC as well—the level of thermal emission as it relates to the gas block and barrel. When using a high string count or rapid fire, the heat generated was notable through the handguard. Not sufficient to be painful, but if sustained it could become so. To alleviate this, a thermal wrap was utilized and eliminated the issue. This isn’t necessarily an issue with the UIC or MLOK design itself, merely a drawback of the latter in all such platforms the consumer needs to be mindful of. Lastly, while the taper of the Core barrel was intended to maintain a balance of the overall rifle, that balance was marginally noted in the shorter barrel length, and would be likely more prevalent in longer (18-20”) barrels where more of that weight is forward.
- Durability – Good (4/5): The durability of the UIC MOD 2 came down to the quality of materials selected for the upper receiver; specifically the use of appropriate aluminum in various components where heart resistance was needed, and steel used elsewhere for rigidity and longevity. There is a lot of pressure, heat, and force involved in the science of a rifle’s firing sequence and all of it was demonstrated. In our video, kinetic torsion (a.k.a. barrel whip) of the Core barrel, similar to that demonstrated by Larry Vickers in a BCM 4k UHD slow-motion video, was observed but only minimally and the barrel would immediately return to initial state before the next round was fired. Even under rapid fire that torsion only minimally effected the barrel’s accuracy (excluding factors related to the shooter themselves). Other, lower performance rifles often opt for lesser quality steel or use a nitride on their barrels rather than chrome—which directly impacts the rifle’s overall durability—and this is strictly a cost-saving choice. But the choice of materials in the UIC MOD 2 shows ADM put the durability of the upper in mind from the beginning. Some minimal surface marring (due to dynamic drills and contact with surfaces), and typical friction point wear (specifically with the EBCG and charging handle) were noted over the course of the review, but these all fell within expected results given usage. The EBCG gas key was notably mechanically staked for an appropriate friction lock—though did not peen the screwheads significantly and was inconsistent between both screws. Over the course of review no negative effects (cracking, warping, sub-surface marring) to durability of the upper receiver were noted, and given the performance characteristics of the 9310 steel, 8620 steel, and 4150 chrome moly vanadium steel the odds are the upper receiver itself will continue to withstand substantial usage over the long term.
- Functionality – Excellent (5/5): From a functional aspect, the UIC MOD 2 upper was evaluated over the course of roughly two months, using approximately 1,000 rounds (predominantly personal reloads using Hodgon CFE 223 powder and 55gr projectiles, and a variety of locally available factory ammunition in various projectile weights) and no attempt to clean the upper was ever made. While initially iron sights were used to establish a basic zero and break-in period, other optics were eventually rotated out and the upper receiver’s performance was monitored. For best available accuracy purposes, a bench-supported and unsupported position was used, though more dynamic drills were used for transition/rapid fire performance. As a whole, with factory ammunition, the UIC MOD 2 upper receiver attained and maintained a 1” MOA as advertised with its 1in 8 twist ratio, and the Core barrel could likely attain a sub-MOA if properly locked down on a vice or rest. Tighter groupings were noted with heavier projectiles in the high 60s and mid 70s grain weight (55 grain projectiles were slightly looser in grouping). This allowed tight groupings that made optic adjustment easy, and accuracy results were consistent (excluding shooter error). At no point during evaluation did the upper receiver fail to cycle or eject, even with reloaded ammo (sized to SAAMI specs), giving it an excellent performance. Other more minute aspects of function, such as the performance of the Warcomp and gas system are addressed in the Comfort section.
- Weight – Good (4/5): Sum total, the 13.9” UIC MOD 2 upper receiver weighed in at 3.47 pounds (and at the time of measurement also included a set of Magpul MBUIS Pro (3.3 ounces) and a Cloud Defensive REIN 2.0 (7.2 ounces) for a total weight of 4.13 pounds). Given the materials selected for its components and overall volume, this puts the MOD 2 at a good overall weight for the upper receiver that was neither fatiguing to use, nor on the shoulders to carry. In contrast, the LMT 14.5” upper (4.8 pounds), an SR-15 14.5 Complete Upper (4.0 pounds) from KAC, the 14.5 M4 SOCOM Complete Upper (configured to match) (3.8 pounds) from Centurion Arms, and the 13.7” Gen 3 Infidel Complete Upper (4.3 pounds) from Noveske all demonstrate that UIC MOD 2 upper is the lightest among its competitors (attributable to the efforts of the tapered Core barrel and other features). But end-users should bear in mind that while mere ounces in rifle mass can be incidental, the less mass there is in the overall rifle, the less recoil absorption there will be. ADM has made efforts to balance these effects while keeping the overall weight of the upper receiver to a minimum and centered.
Overall Rating – Good (20/25)
Product Link: https://www.admmfg.com/adm-mod2-complete-upper-556
I am reviewing this product as a courtesy to the manufacturer and via High Ground Media, LLC, so that I can evaluate it and provide my honest feedback. I am not bound by any written, verbal, or implied contract to give positive reviews. All views are my own, and based off my personal experience with the product.
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