Every so often a new gun comes along that promises us the moon and more. Manufacturers wine us and dine us at SHOT and show us all the fancy new features. We think, “Hey, this might be great!” Sometimes they are. Other times they flop. With that in mind, we are looking at the biggest firearm flops of all time, from the Bushmaster ACR to the Bren Ten.
5. The Bushmaster ACR
The Magpul/Remington/Bushmaster Advanced Combat Rifle is an exciting design. Magpul originally designed the rifle and called it the Masada. The design was then sold to Bushmaster/Remington for production. Remington was to handle LE and MIL sales, and Bushmaster would see to everyday joes.
The ACR promised to be more modular than the AR 15 with the ability to switch barrels, calibers, and configurations in mere minutes — a modern semi-auto rifle with a modular twist. The original was a 5.56 caliber rifle, and later on, buyers were promised conversion kits to come.
The Bushmaster ACR had a few things going against it:
- Ever since Bushmaster, Remington, and several more companies became part of Freedom Group, quality control dived.
- The MSRP was more than twice the price of what was promised originally.
- The conversion kits took forever to appear.
Years after release, ACR owners finally got the 6.8 SPC kit and the 450 Bushmaster kit.
No one cared much about those calibers and by that point shooters wanted .300 Blackout and 7.62×39, which never happened. Production stopped when Remington went bankrupt and Freedom Group was split into pieces. However, as far as firearm flops go, this one has some hope. Franklin Armory has purchased Bushmaster, and they’ve teased a rerelease of the ACR, so it might ride again.
4. Taurus CT9
Taurus is known in the states for its handguns, but the Taurus CT9 is likely a firearm you’ve never heard of. Back in 2013, before PCCs became so popular, they released a PCC version of their SMT SMG. So, Taurus unknowingly put themselves in a position to succeed widely with this firearm.
The CT9 wasn’t fancy, but offered lots of reliability and could have been quite successful. Taurus stuck to the tried and true blowback operating system with the gun. It featured lots of polymer, a great trigger, and was mostly ambidextrous or at least reversible controls. The gun came with two mags, a hard case, and a sling.
So what went wrong? Taurus dropped the ball. As if the company forgot that they even released the CT9, they offered zero support for the gun. The company never released anything more than ten-round mags and you were stuck with an ugly thumbhole stock and a long, unthreaded barrel. The CT9 didn’t have to be one of our firearms flops, but Taurus made it so.
3. Remington R51
Yes, another Remington product makes our list of biggest firearm flops. In 2014 the single stack 9mm was the hot-to-trot gun. Wanting a piece of that action, Remington was dedicated to modernizing the old Remington Model 51, using the Pedersen designed hesitation-locked system.
The hesitation-locked action was somewhat novel in a world of short recoil guns. Unlike most modern guns, it had a metal frame, and the single stack mag held seven rounds of 9mm. Shooters got an internal, single-action-only hammer and a space-age look. I wanted one pretty hard and still do, to be honest.
Upon release, the R51 was a mess. It would fire out of battery and had multiple reliability and durability issues. It sucked, and the public knew. Remington released a Gen 2 model, but it was too little too late.
With the bankruptcy of Remington, there seems to be little hope for the R51. I doubt the gun will ever sell unless Remington decides to make it a P365-like micro-compact with some innovative features. It’s unlikely, though, as the new Remington seems focused on getting 700s and 870s out more than little handguns.
2. USAF Zip .22
I wanted the Zip to succeed more than any other firearm flops on this list. I like weird guns, especially when they are fairly cheap and fire cheap ammo. USAF was famed for their clones of western revolvers, but the owner of USAF decided to produce something new. The Zip .22 was a unique pistol designed to be modular, fun, and affordable.
With an MSRP of $199, the Zip was a bullpup handgun that used Ruger 10/22 magazines. The design promised modularity, including optics rails, a short-barreled rifle configuration, and the ability to attach the Zip to a rifle. It’s weird, admittedly, but it could be fun as a range toy. The owner of USAF believed wholeheartedly in the gun and sold his tooling to make revolvers to back the Zip.
The gun failed almost immediately after it was released. Even with the best ammo, it failed to cycle. A recall was initiated and shooters were advised to use Ruger 10 round mags. The next series of guns shipped with two springs for different .22 LR ammo types, and still, the gun failed. No upgrade kit could save it. USAF shut down in 2017, and the Zip went with it.
I doubt we’ll ever see the Zip rise once more, but if it does, I might give it another chance.
1. Bren Ten
History will remember the Bren Ten with nostalgia. It was the Miami Vice Gun! Jeff Cooper helped create it and the 10mm! It’s so cool! Admittedly the Bren Ten had a lot of potential. They took the CZ 75 — a winning platform — upsized it to 10mm, and let it rip.
The Bren Ten was the first gun chambered in 10mm, a cartridge that came about because 9mm and 38 Special was seen as too anemic and didn’t have enough ‘stopping power.’ People still believed in such things then, and the big 10mm would solve all those problems. It was an all-metal gun with a DA/SA action and single stack magazine. There were lots of unique features, too, like the ability to switch between a drop-free mag or a partial drop, a reversible frame-mounted safety, and Power Seal rifling.
So what happened to the Bren Ten? Miami Vice drove sales and the manufacturer, Dornaus and Dixon, couldn’t produce them fast enough. There were other issues too. Quality Control sucked. 10mm is a hot load and guns broke. Guns shipped without mags. Customers who had preordered began to pull their money and D&D closed its doors.
Can the Bren Ten be resurrected?
Sure, attempts have been made, but they don’t go far. If you want a Bren Ten, buy a CZ 97 and send it to CZ Custom for conversion to 10mm. Boom, now you have one that works.
The Market for Firearm Flops
I can’t lie. Something about a firearm flop gives the gun some provenance. It’s infamous and not necessarily forgotten, which often attracts me to these guns. I own a CT9 and a Zip, and I’m desperately looking for a Bren Ten and R51. They become part of history for their failure. I guess that’s better than just being forgotten.