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There was a time when I kind of rejected the AR-15 platform. I felt they were absolutely everywhere and were boring. Every gun magazine was basically a new AR-15 and a new 1911, and not much else. I spent some time in the Marine Corps and was issued the military variant of the AR-15. Eventually, I was just bored of the platform. Then the platform kind of exploded in popularity and we were seeing new designs and innovative upgrades come to the platform. The one that really drew me back into the platform was the Noveske Diplomat.

Noveske Diplomat

Noveske Diplomat

I discovered the Noveske Diplomat through the action packed extravaganza that was the Expendables. Near the end of the movie, most of the entire team is armed with Noveske Diplomat. The Diplomat is 7.5-inch barrel AR model designed for close quarters combat. The Diplomat is made for harsher negotiation techniques. Its design is certainly niche but is one that can't be filled by any other rifle.

The ExpendablesTeam

The ExpendablesTeam

It's perfect for close quarters combat, well made for close protection work, and it looks cool as hell if you are directing an action movie. The Diplomat itself is a set standard of furniture, or even really receivers. There are only a few features that are really necessary to be considered a Diplomat. Even Noveske is fluid with the rifle's overall design in terms of furniture, sights, etc.

So for this build breakdown, we are looking at the specific rifle used by the Expendables team. Now, remember the gun world moves very, very fast. The movie came out in 2010, and that's basically a century in the AR world, and at least a millennium in internet time, so some parts may be harder to find than others.

The Barrel

So one of the most important features to the Noveske Diplomat is the 7.5-inch barrel. While companies produced small ARs before Noveske, Noveske really helped make the concept more mainstream. 7.5 inches is ultra short for an AR-15 and especially the 223/5.56 family of rifles. The 223/5.56 was designed to perform optimally out of a 20-inch barrel. When you shrink the barrel to 7.5 inches, you are losing some ballistic advantage and range.

This pigeon holes the weapon to close range use. However, it's still much more effective than an SMG. It pierces soft armor without issue, offers higher barrier penetration, and it's basically the same size as an SMG. The Noveske Barrel is a medium contour model, with a 1:7 twist and polygonal rifling. It has a pistol length gas system and M4 feed ramps.

The Muzzle Device

So what happens when you take a round designed for a 20-inch barrel and shove it into a 7.5-inch barrel? You get lots of sound, fury and a helluva fireball. Fireballs are fun, but have the unfortunate side effect of destroying your night vision, and making your rifle generally uncomfortable to shoot. So what do you do?

Well, one of the other must have Noveske parts is the Noveske Flash Suppressor ($119). Noveske pretty much made the Flash can a thing in the world, and with this rifle, it's a necessity. A flash can contains the flash of the weapon and propels it forward. This makes shooting the weapon much more comfortable and allows rapid fire without going blind. Plus it looks cool.

Sights and Optics

The optics vary based on the members of the team. The two we get a good look at are Sylvester Stallone's and Randy Couture's rifles. Good ole Sly uses one of the most movie popular optics ever, the C-More red dot sight. Couture uses an EOTech XPS 2 or 3. I'd say the 3 because it is night vision capable, and if I were an Expendable I'd want the more professional model.

We've talked about the C-More red dots quite a bit because they always pop up in movies. The reason why is because of their small and thin nature. They are small enough to ensure the shooter's/actor's face isn't obscured and add a sense of realism by making the actor look like they're aiming the weapon.

Sylvester Stallone

Sly with mounted C-More

With that being said the C-More red dots are excellent red dots. They are compact and small, likely a hair fragile for mercenary use. They are popular on both pistols and rifles in competition settings and have proven themselves to be dependable. This appears to be the standard Railway version and not the tactical with the pre installed rear sight.


EOTech XPS Mounted

The EOTech brand is also insanely well known, and are used by a number of police forces. Their holographic system is one of the few true holographic optics. As a ‘red' dot it's extremely versatile for combat out to 300 yards. The XPS3 is a compact variant but offers the same size viewing window. The compact variant makes sense with the Diplomat, since you don't have a lot of rail space, and want to keep things light and handy.

When it comes to Iron Sights, we never get a close look at them. I'd imagine they are the Troy Battle sights that Noveske installs on Diplomats. We know they fold, and Noveske does mark them with their own marking. Their marking is big and white, and if you look close, you can see a big white marking on Statham's front sight. Logically, I'm sure these are Troy Battle Sights.

Troy Battle sights

Noveske Troy Front Folding Battle sight

Troy Battle sights are folding backup sights that are all metal, easy to adjust and extremely well made. I use a similar set on my rifle with a tritium insert for night vision capability. They are easy to adjust and fold away very nicely.

Upper and Rail System

A Noveske rifle would use a Noveske upper right? No, not always anyway. The current 3rd gen Diplomats use their own upper, but the models used in the Expendables did not. They used an old school VLTOR VIS-1 Carbine Upper ($459). This was the days before keymod and MLOK were everywhere and we still used quad rails. And on our way to firefights, we walked up hills, both ways, in the snow!

If you shop around a bit, you can still find this upper, and it's an excellent choice for any rifle. They make a carbine, rifle, and of course pistol/SBR variant. The VIS 1 is a one piece upper where the rail is literally built into the receiver. The lower is removable to mount an M203, but the sides and top are part of the upper. This takes away some ability to customize your upper but also gives you an incredibly rigid and strong rail system. It's a high quality and fits perfectly with such a high-end rifle like the Diplomat.


The stock is another component from VLTOR. The EMOD Stock ($215) the Diplomats wear was pretty high tech for the time. The stock has a greater length of pull than a standard M4 and used a club foot shape to improve the fit to the shoulder when wearing armor. The EMod came with sling points for a web sling, a single point, and a QD attachment. The EMod allows for the use of a rifle buffer spring and special buffer that helps reduce felt recoil. This stock is still easy to find, and quite popular, and for a good reason.

The Light

A big portion of the forward rail is occupied by the attached light, at least on Stallone's gun. We can clearly see he is using a combination light and foregrip. This is the Surefire M900 combo ($175), and around this time period was extremely popular. For a movie, it looks cool as hell. For real life, Surefire stuff works and works well. I can imagine the little Diplomat would get hot as hell when shooting, even blanks, so a grip was likely necessary. If you have one as distinctive and as fashionable as the M900 why not?

In real life, it's still a great light, and one a serious Soldier, police officer, or fictional merc would realistically use. The downside is that this light has been discontinued. They still pop up on eBay, and Armslist on occasion. If you don't want to spend an arm and a leg (Wait you're building a Diplomat…good luck.) You can purchase an airsoft variant called the Avengers M900 for less than a hundred bucks.

There are others lights used by other Expendables; however, we never get a clear look at the lights. They are all likely Surefire variants of some kind. However, I'm no flashlight pro.

BCG, Lower Parts, and Lower Receiver

From the film, it's hard to say if it's a Noveske lower, but I'd be willing to bet it is. It's a simple forged lower, and Noveske lowers are quite common. They are well made and have a nice tough finish. If you want a true Diplomat, then Noveske would be the route I'd take.


Noveske BCG’s aren’t too fancy. I mean they are well made, mil spec carriers that are high pressure tested and shot peened. They currently produce a Black nitride BCG which is nice, but I believe in 2010 they were staying the Mil Spec route.

Lower Parts Kit

Again looking at the rifles, there is nothing really fancy here. Seems pretty standard as far as LPK's go. There doesn't appear to be anything ambidextrous, or oversized. Any decent MIL SPEC LPK should work.

The Current Diplomat

Noveske is now on Gen 3 of the Diplomat rifle. They have modernized the rifle to a degree. Gone are the VLTOR goodies, and they've been replaced with a Keymod rail system and a Magpul SL-K stock and pistol grip. The rifle now comes with Magpul MBUS sights as well. They use an ALG Defense ACT trigger, and a billet lower. The rifle has been upgraded and kept up with the times. However, I can't help but feel the old Gen 1 Diplomats are my favorite.

Noveske Gen 3

Noveske Gen 3

You can now buy the Diplomat pistol, and then get your stamp and turn it into an SBR. This is nice, so you at least have your expensive gun while you wait to SBR it.


If you don't know what an SBR is you need to stop, familiarize yourself with American gun laws, and make sure you are building your firearm legally. An SBR is a short barreled rifle. It is a title 2 weapon that is heavily regulated by the ATF. Some states outright ban them, but if your State allows it, you can build an SBR. You do have to fill out some paperwork, a fingerprint card, a passport photo, and pay 200 bucks to the Government and wait a few months for approval to do so.

Is it Expendable?  Personally, if I were a Merc, I'd probably take an AK, that way I wouldn't feel bad for ditching on the Exfil like the Wild Geese. However, if I were a rich Merc, I'd go, Diplomat, all the way. The Gen 1 Diplomats is on my gun bucket list and because they don't produce them anymore. My only real choice is to build one. Yay for options, capitalism gives us another win.

Build Breakdown

  1. Noveske Diplomat 7.5-inch Barrel ($333)
  2. Noveske Flash Suppressor ($119)
  3. C-MORE Systems Railway Red Dot Sight with Standard Switch ($249)
  4. EOTech XPS3-0 HOLOgraphic Weapon Site ($589)
  5. Troy Industries Front Folding Style Battle Sight ($99)
  6. Troy Industries Rear Folding Battle Sight ($100)
  7. VLTOR VIS-1 Carbine Upper Receiver ($459)*
  8. Surefire M900 combo ($175)
  9. Noveske AR-15 Lower Receiver – 5.56MM ($175)
  10. Noveske Enhanced Bolt Carrier Group ($185)
  11. JP Lower Parts Kit – Minus Trigger Assembly ($39)
  12. Noveske Gen 3 Pistol 5.56 7.5″ Diplomat NSR-9 KX5 ($1990)

* Items may have been out of stock or discontinued at the time of this writing.

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