“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years…” Noveske Rifleworks of Grants Pass, Oregon has long been known as a premium market, high-quality rifle manufacturer. After the company lost founder John Noveske in an automobile accident in early 2013, many questioned how the company would fare without his leadership. When manager Sherri Johnson (Era3) and lead tech Joel Allen (V Seven Weapons Systems) parted ways with Noveske, many internet naysayers also predicted the demise of the company before 2014 was out. Here we are approaching mid-2018 and the company is, by all outward appearances, doing very well. “But,” the internet experts insist, “their quality has dropped! They’re living off their name!” That seems an easy thing to test right? Get a rifle, run it hard, look at the results. Enter the Gen 4 N4 PDW, or as it was (briefly) known at the time it was introduced, the Noveske Ghetto Blaster.
While the Ghetto Blaster moniker might have lasted only a blink of an eye, it rolls off the tongue a bit easier than the Gen 4 N4 PDW. Interestingly, since this rifle shares some integral parts from Q’s Honey Badger, that might be a fair nickname as well. In the end, call it what you like but I’m sticking with Noveske Ghetto Blaster because I grew up with a sweet boombox and I’ll not give in to the PC screamers. Back on track, lets cover the tech specs of this rifle. It’s worth mentioning, this specific rifle is nearly identical to catalog options, but is a one-off build. This is primarily due to the 14.5″ barrel (with permanently attached brake), whereas the nearest factory option has a 16″ barrel but is otherwise the same.
Length– 14.5” CHF 5.56 with 1/7 twist
Gas Block– Lo-Pro, .750, pinned to barrel
Barrel Extension w/extended feed ramps
Flash Hider-Q Cherry Bomb Muzzle Brake
Model– Gen 4 precision machined billet receiver from 7075-T6 w/extended feed ramp featuring anti-rotation interface with handguard
Charging Handle– Noveske Marked Geissele Super Badass Charging Handle
Q Bolt & Carrier Group
Model– Gen 4 precision machined billet receiver from 7075-T6 featuring ambidextrous controls, Ambi bolt release, Norgon Ambi magazine release, and Ambi 60 degree STS safety selector
Trigger– Geissele SD-E
NHR-15” (Keymod or M-LOK) Free Floating Handguard
Stock-Q PDW Style
Grip- Magpul K2
Magpul MBUS Pro Folding Sights
One 30 Rnd. Magazine (mine was a Gen 4 Magpul Pmag)
Finish– Hardcoat type III anodizing, with Cerakote ceramic coating (Bazooka Green) for ultimate finish and performance
So I ask the crowd (rhetorically), what is Noveske best known for? The answer I seek is of course their barrels and receivers. That’s what they bring to the table here, with many supporting parts representing a “greatest hits” list from around the industry. Parts from Geissele, Magpul and Q show that Noveske is using the highest-quality available parts in applications where they don’t make their own.
The unique aspect of this rifle is the oft imitated, true Honey Badger buttstock and recoil system used here in what appears to be the only time Q has collaborated to bring the system to an external company. In use, if you pull the stock out slowly, it locks into place in the mid-length notch, but if you open it quickly it will extend all the way out. Very nice. In case you’re thinking this PDW setup is identical to the aftermarket options by NEA, Safety Harbor, MVB and others, take a look at the below pictures.
Besides the Mp5A3 style flat-railed collapsing stock, the recoil system itself is proprietary. You can use standard dimension bolt carriers (I cringe when using the term “mil-spec” to describe something that truly isn’t). This is a nice feature for those who like their existing setup, or who like an aftermarket option like Bootleg inc’s adjustable carrier. Anyhow, this spring-on-a-guide-rod setup performs fantastically. When combined with the Cherry Bomb muzzle brake, recoil is virtually nil. See below:
Looking at the aft end of both the upper and lower receivers, you can see that there are slots milled out for the flat rails of the stock to ride flush in. This is a little bit visually deceptive, as the receivers actually flare out a little bit before recessing. Take a look at this picture and notice how the top edge of the lower receiver bends outwards where normally it would remain straight and vertical.
While there is ample visual evidence of an “overbuilt” receiver design that has plenty of extra metal, the entire back half of this rifle remains extremely light. Many aftermarket retrofit PDW stocks are heavy, Q’s collapsing stock surely isn’t. As a bonus, there is also slightly more room for a cheek weld here than many of the aforementioned aftermarket options.
Ok, so 700+ words in and I’m finally getting around to covering how this rifle shoots, aside from the minuscule amount of recoil I demonstrated above. The first few times I’ve taken this rifle out it was run hard with ammo from a handful of different companies. Steel cased commie ammo, brass cased American premium… this rifle ran them all. Running the new Aimpoint CompM5, the Gen 4 N4 PDW proved to be a reliable rifle that handles well. It is a little front heavy in this configuration, but not excessively so.
The last time I headed to the range, I also brought along some ammo I needed to test from Ammo inc, two options from their Jesse James branded line. These two SKU’s were 75 gr. and 55gr bullets, one a FMJ and the other a Hornady V-Max. With paper targets at 75 yards, a Lucid 4.5-18x optic and a decent prone shooting position using my range bag as a rest, the below groups were the result.
Converting to MOA, the groups ranged from .6 MOA to 1.6 MOA. It is worth noting the ammo had inconsistent velocities through the chronograph, and performed inconsistently through my sub-MOA test rifle during accuracy tests. So, I’m taking this rifle out again and will be using a Stinger shooting rest, a more proven brand of ammo, and Leupold glass. With some Federal Gold Medal Match (and more patient shooting), I’m predicting consistent sub-MOA groups. I’ll post an update and likely a video as well.
While the accuracy results so far range from excellent to good, my overall impressions of the rifle are simply excellent. Build quality is flawless, no nasty tooling marks, no ill-fitting parts just a well-built rifle. As I mentioned up top, if Noveske doesn’t build it, they outsourced to the best in the industry. The Geissele SD-E trigger is fantastic. The integral ambi-controls are a huge step forward from the bolt-on options of years back, I.E the Magpul BAD lever. I’m usually leery of proprietary parts like this recoil system but the proof of how smooth Q’s unique PDW recoil spring works is irrefutable once you’ve shot it, it does however make reassembly a little more eventful!
Bottom line, this is a well-built, accurate rifle. If there are deficiencies here, I can’t find them even after a month of regular dissasembly, inspection and shooting. If you’re into NFA products, you’ll find the shorter 7.94″ or 10.5” barreled options to be even lighter and more maneuverable no doubt. Price ranges from $2150 for the 7.94″ and 10.5″ options to $2485 for the 16” barreled option. It is up to each shooter to determine where their hard-earned dollars go to, but if you’ve held back from a Noveske due to rumors of their quality dropping off, banish the BS internet rumors and check it out for yourself. I’m glad I did.