Ultimate Arms And The Magnesium Revolution

Radical Materials Make Radical Weapons

Both the Black Widow AR rifle and the Magna T5 1911 represent the lightest metal-framed
examples of these two firearms available in America today thanks to their magnesium construction.
Bushnell’s 1-4x25 optic is on the rifle.

Magnesium, chemical symbol Mg, is in Group 2 in the Periodic Table of the Elements and has an atomic number of 12. It’s the ninth most abundant element in the universe and the fourth most common element in the earth after iron, oxygen and silicon. Magnesium makes up 13 percent of the earth’s mass and is the eighth most abundant element in the earth’s crust, the part of the planet we can readily get to. Secular scientists theorize magnesium is produced within aging stars by the sequential addition of three helium nuclei to a carbon nucleus. When these large aging stars explode as supernovas vast quantities of magnesium are expelled into the interstellar void. It’s postulated this is where we get ours.

Magnesium is also the eleventh most abundant element by mass in the human body and is an essential component of all cells as well as at least 300 critical metabolic enzymes. Magnesium ions within these enzymes allow us to breathe, breed and move. Magnesium compounds make up a variety of medicinal products, to include a simply splendid laxative.

Magnesium weighs about 2/3 what aluminum does and has been used in a variety of aerospace applications for decades. Like aluminum, magnesium passivates in the presence of oxygen. This means the outer layer of the material oxidizes instantly in an oxygen environment to form a robust environmentally resistant outer coating. While aluminum is yesterday’s news in the realm of gun building, the good folks at Ultimate Arms have discovered the joys of building guns out of magnesium.

In the Magna T5 1911, Ultimate Arms has produced a top-end working gun markedly
lighter than any other metal-framed 1911 on the market. The attention to detail
and quality are self-evident.

When you pick-up the T5, it’s a bit like picking up one of those plastic beer steins ...
you expect something heavier and are surprised by how light it is! Note adjustable sight. Smart.


The magnesium alloy Ultimate Arms uses in their guns is called ZK60A. This stuff is 35 percent lighter than aluminum while remaining even more durable. This material is plenty robust to handle the stresses to which 1911 frames and AR receivers are subjected. What this delightful stuff does in these two particular platforms is make them both markedly lighter than more conventional guns. This may not seem like much if all you have to do is tote a weapon from the pickup to the shooting bench.

However, if you pack the piece underneath your clothes every day or actually have to hump the boonies with your black rifle after the zombies come (and you know they will) every gram counts. Take it from a guy who once broke the handle off his toothbrush so he wouldn’t have to carry anything extra on a protracted Infantry operation. Weight is your world if the transport is by LPC (Leather Personnel Carriers).

Practically speaking, this means an AR rifle weighing 4.5 pounds. Let this sink in for a second. A .44 Magnum Desert Eagle handgun weighs about that. The full-sized Ultimate Arms Black Widow AR rifle sports a 16″ barrel, 6-position stock, 600-yard adjustable sight and a quad rail while still weighing about what a chunky pistol might. For this weight investment you can reach all the way out to the range limits of the 5.56mm cartridge.

I carry a full-sized service handgun every day at work. It took some effort and discipline to get there, but I feel adequately prepared to address any unpleasantness life might toss at me. While a 1911 pistol is relatively thin and, particularly in its commander form, fairly stubby, a steel-framed version of Browning’s classic weighs about a ton. Aluminum-framed 1911’s make the burden better, but the UA Magna T5 Magnesium-framed variant takes the lightweight .45 to a whole new level.

The extended controls of the UA Magna T5 1911 should be familiar terrain
to anyone clutching this rare-fied piece of literature.


We’ll talk about the rifle and the 1911 here since they are a sort of team. The Ultimate Arms Black Widow rifle is a state-of-the-art iteration of Eugene Stoner’s rarefied black gun. All the components are top of the line and the magnesium alloy receivers are billet cut. The thin pencil barrel minimizes weight while remaining more than adequately sturdy for any conceivable application we’d ever need.

The Magna T5 1911 is a commander-sized carry 1911. My version sports a smooth dust cover, though the gun may be had with a Picatinny rail. The Magna T5 includes a competition trigger and match-grade guts. The particulars of this radical pistol are in keeping with typical race guns. There’s low-profile no-snag sights and the resulting dull natural finish looks neat too. Because of the aforementioned tendency of magnesium to passivate, the raw finish is robust and environmentally resistant.

The Ultimate Arms Magna T5 lightweight 1911 pistol puts .45 ACP firepower into an easy to tote, compact package.
Despite its modest weight the gun remained fun to shoot through lots of full-power .45 rounds.


Holy snot. When you heft the rifle for the first time it feels positively weightless. It’s breathtaking to appreciate how little this gun weighs. On a decent sling you really could tote this heater almost without knowing it was there.

On the range the Black Widow runs like a typical top-end AR. Given the unencumbered nature of the free-floated barrel along with the smooth personality of the direct impingement gas system, the Black Widow drops its rounds right where you want them at typical AR ranges.

I had the opportunity to pick up a raw Magna T5 1911 frame at the SHOT show and it literally made me giggle. I’m not convinced this stripped component could serve as a decent paperweight in a proper breeze. Given the robust character of the .45 ACP I was concerned about recoil in such a bantamweight gun. Depending upon the exact model you get, weights hover around the 20-ounce point. A Walther PPKS weighs about 24 ounces for perspective. The Magna T5 we reviewed has a full-sized frame and commander-length slide. This, combined with some beefy and attractive synthetic stocks, make Mr. Browning’s gun comfortable despite its svelte figure.

I toted the Magna T5 for a while at work underneath my scrubs and really came to appreciate the modest weight. Compared to my full-figured steel-framed 1911 pistols, the Magna T5 was absolutely dreamy. Yet, the gun still ran great at reasonable handgun engagement ranges. Let’s say, between 1.5″ and 2″ at my 13-meter test range that day.

The Magna T5 is a compact 1911, and most compact 1911 pistols are a bit finicky at first. The gun ran fine with hardball ammo right out of the gate, but choked on the 1st round in a full 8-round magazine when running hollow points. Downloading the magazine to five or six rounds fixed this, and the problem got better as the day wore on, eventually going away. Even folks who make 1911 pistols will tell you it takes at least 500 rounds to break the gun in. The Black Widow AR ran flawlessly throughout.


The country is awash to its gunwales with AR rifles and 1911 handguns. Accessory widgets, variegated hues and the provenance of individual components are typically all that differentiate one species from another. Amidst all this pervasive sameness, however, Ultimate Arms offers something genuinely different. These are custom guns with custom gun price tags. However, they offer solid performance at a weight you have to heft to believe.

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