The first John Wick film was a total sleeper hit. At a time where action movies seem to be a serious mess of cuts, John Wick showed us the action. Seriously, in one scene in Taken 3, there are 14 cuts in six seconds to show the main character jumping a fence. John Wick decided to take an old school route of actually stepping back and showing the action. The movie became popular with AR-15 enthusiasts over its intense gunfights where the guns were the main stars. John Wick 2 bust onto the scene in early 2017 and upped everything by 10.
The action was more intense, the shooting was better, the fighting was better, and like Terminator 2 this was one of the rare films where the sequel was better than the first film. Keanu Reeves as an actor put a lot of work into his performance as a cold-blooded killer. He received some intense training with firearms through Taran Tactical. He was even trained by world champion 3 gunner Taran Butler. A famous video went viral of Reeves training with Taran.
Keanu shredding with Taran Butler
The biggest stars of the movie were the guns of the film. All of John Wick’s guns get a proper introduction on his visit to the armory. One of the most unforgettable being his custom AR-15. Today we are going to dive into Wick’s AR-15 and take a look at why the world’s most deadly assassin chose it. We’ll also go over the accessories, and where to find the parts necessary to build John Wick’s rifle. The rifle itself was built by Taran Tactical and is known as the TR-1.
The AR-15 Lower – Taran Tactical TR-1 Lower
Any AR-15 starts at the lower receiver and works its way up. The lower on the John Wick rifle is by Taran Tactical. This is no surprise and won’t be the last piece of Taran Tactical Gear we see on this rifle. The Taran Tactical TR-1 Lower is a simple 7075 T6 forged aluminum receiver. Unless you are obsessed with having the exact same roll mark as John Wick you can likely save some money. Any 7075 T-6 lower will work well in this case. However, the Taran Tactical Roll Mark is pretty cool.
The Upper – The VLTOR MUR-1
The VLTRO MUR-1 is the upper of choice for John Wick. The MUR or Modular Upper Receiver is a solid choice, and it's certainly one of the best built upper receivers, to the point where it’s overbuilt. The MUR-1 is stress relieved, heat treated, cryogenically treated and aged twice. This results in an incredibly strong upper receiver that can resist corrosion and damage. The kind of upper that is going to soak up thousands and thousands of rounds in the most austere conditions.
Heat treating hardens the steel.
Cryogenic treatments increase the amount of martensite in the metal and increase its strength and resistance.
Stress relief counters any negatives effects and internal stress the above treatments cause on the upper.
The Modular Upper Receiver is insanely rigid which is important for several good reasons. A more rigid receiver means less barrel whip, which makes the weapon more accurate. It also would help support heavier barrels, or weapons equipped with suppressors and seem to be a good fit for a man like John Wick.
The furniture is almost all Bravo Company products. Bravo Company makes good gear, and I’m a big fan of their stock on my own AR-15s. They produced the rail, trigger guard, foregrip, and charging handle for the rifle.
The Bravo Alpha rail is 15 inches long, free floating and utilizes a keymod attachment system. The system weighs in at only 8.6 ounces and comes with Bravo’s QD sling mount and one section of rail. It’s a standard Keymod system with nothing too revolutionary, although it does have a patent pending mounting and indexing system that eliminates rail movement as the barrel nut starts to heat up. That would certainly be of use to John Wick who as we see puts lots of rounds down range quite fast.
The trigger guard is Bravo’s Gunfighter polymer trigger guard. Not much to say here, it guards the trigger, and is slightly larger than mil spec.
The foregrip used is a direct keymod mount Vertical Grip Mod 3 from Bravo Company. This is a small, but comfortable stubby style grip. I can take an educated guess why this was added. Those small, and thin keymod rail systems get awfully hot after rapid and extended firing sessions. While shooting this movie, they were likely putting hundreds of blanks through the gun, which caused the gun and rail system to heat up quite a bit. When you watch the movie, Wick is moving through ammo pretty fast, so it’s reasonable to use a foregrip.
The Charging handle is again part of the Gunfighter series, the Mod 4 to be specific. It’s an extended charging handle that’s designed to allow a left side only grip. I really like the ability to underhand charge a weapon, and this charging handle makes it possible.
VLTOR provides the stock to the weapon and it’s pretty apparent. The VLTOR EMOD stock is hard to mistake for anything else, and most shooters just call it the VLTROR. The EMOD stock is a little wider and longer than the standard M4 stock and features a healthy area for excellent cheek weld. If you’ve ever used one, the extra foot width is pretty comfortable when wearing body armor. It really helps you get the stock is the shoulder position. There are two small waterproof compartments to fit batteries or other small gear in. The VLTOR is another premium option on a rifle full of excellent options.
I do find the use of a Hogue Overmolded rubber grip odd on this rifle. Not that it’s not a great option, but it’s an older option on a very modern rifle. Why mess with success though? It’s a simple option that comfortable in the hand. I’m actually surprised the Gunfighter Mod 2 modular wasn’t the grip of choice considering the rest of the gun’s furniture.
The AR-15 Internals
Like everything else with this rifle, the internals are all extremely high end. No expense was spared, and I imagine when you are a famous international assassin you gotta spend money to make money.
Bolt Carrier Group
The bolt carrier is a Taran Tactical model that is ion bonded. There isn’t much you can do to revolutionize a bolt carrier group. You can do this though, and ion bonding is way better than nickel boron. Ion bonded coating gives the BCG greater resistance to heat and helps dissipate heat. Again if you’ve seen the movie, good ole John Wick shoots hard and fast and you need a high-performance bolt carrier group to keep up. Also on the meta-film side, this option makes sense because blanks are filthy dirty. Ion bonded bolt carrier groups are easier to clean and runs a lot longer when it’s filthy dirty.
Watching John Wick, I don’t see him needing a lot the minute of angle precision shooting that requires a fancy trigger when going all gun kata with his AR-15. That being said if I were buying a premium gun I'd expect a premium trigger. John’s AR rocks a Hiperfire trigger. There is some dispute whether it’s the 24 3 gun or the 24 C, but the trigger is clearly curved making it a 24 3 Gun in the film.
This trigger isn’t designed to be a hair trigger necessarily, but you can adjust the weight to about two pounds. The real advantage comes from the control the trigger offers. It’s a smooth, lightweight trigger that doesn’t have any creep. It’s consistent at when it breaks so there is no guesswork. The trigger pull is the exact same every single time.
P-Mags are basically the new mil spec. Let’s face it not many companies still package their rifles with aluminum mil-spec mags. There is a lot of reasons for this. P-Mags are more durable, cannot dent, are quieter and are more adaptable. Adaptability allows John Wick’s P-Mags to wear Taran Tactical extended base plates. These extended base plates give you five extra rounds of ammo and are machined entirely from aluminum. An empty P-Mag isn’t drop free, but when you toss the extra weight of an aluminum base plate on they tend to drop without issue.
John’s rifle is carrying a PRI Quiet Control Compensator at the end of the barrel. A comp is ideal for reducing upward rise, especially when firing rapidly. A comp wouldn’t be my first choice but isn’t necessarily a terrible choice. The Quiet control comp doesn’t lower the noise but directs it away from the shooter. This would make shooting in tight places a lot more comfortable. PRI’s break is stainless steel bar stock, and it’s designed to last.
John Wick can’t just rock a single optic now, can he? His optic selections are both Trijicon, and vastly different from each other. The use of both a variable magnified optic and a miniature red dot do give him a lot of versatility.
Magnified Optic – Trijicon Accupoint 1-6x 24
The Trijicon Accupoint 1-6x is one of the many 1-4 or 1-6 power scopes that are becoming increasingly popular on modern rifles. The Trijicon represents one of the better options in this category, and the Accupoint is a very reliable and durable rifle scope. The 1 to 6 magnification makes it appropriate at any distance the AR can effectively engage in. It’s certainly a solid performer in competition where it seems to be a favorite of quite a few 3 Gunners. It’s definitely suited for fast shooting inside a few hundred yards. Dialing it back to 1x and it acts as basically a red dot optic. It's quite versatile and better suited for combat than say a 3-9 power scope.
Miniature Red Dot – Trijicon RMR
The Trijicon RMR is a simple, but very robust red dot sight. There are several models of the RMR, but it’s hard to say which exact model this is. It does appear to be the battery only model, but the reticle configuration is unknown. Tossing a red dot beside his magnified optic does allow for him to work both moderate and short ranges without having to adjust his variable optic. In the midst of a close range firefight, you aren’t going to be fiddling with your variable optic because….
Aint Nobody Got Time For That
The RMR is one of the toughest and most dependable miniature red dots, and really one of the original miniature red dots. If someone said I only want the best, Trijicon is what they would get.
Taran Tactical trained Keanu in Gun Fu and Taran Butler is a renowned three gunner. It’s no surprise the rifle seems more like something you’d see at a three gun event than in the hands of a Spec Ops dude. Not to say this rifle isn’t suited for combat, it’s an extremely well-built gun. My biggest criticism is the use of a comp over a flash hider. In the catacombs where he was primarily using the rifle, there would be significant muzzle flash in the dark environment. In fact, if this weren't Hollywood fantasy I would have gone with a suppressor to reduce concussion, muzzle rise, recoil, and of course sound. I fancy my eardrums and hate the tinnitus I have.
My other minor issue is using keymod over MLOK. MLOK has proven to be stronger and more dependable than Keymod. Overall you can’t argue that the rifle is nothing but quality, and John Wick has impeccable taste in long guns.
- Taran Tactical TR-1 Lower ($150)
- VLTOR MUR-1 Upper ($190)
- BCM AR-15 KMR Alpha .223/5.56mm KeyMod-15 ($172)
- BCM GUNFIGHTER Trigger Guard ($7)
- BCM GUNFIGHTER Vertical Grip Short Mod 3 ($19)
- BCM GUNFIGHTER Charging Handle w/ Mod 4 (MEDIUM) Latch 556 ($50)
- VLTOR E-MOD Enhanced Mod Stock ($120)
- Hogue Overmold AR-15 Rubber Grip ($22)
- Hiperfire Hipertouch 24 3G, HPT 243G ($214)
- Magpul 30 Round PMAG GEN M3 Windowed ($18)
- PRI Quiet Control Compensator ($80)
- Trijicon Accupoint 1-6x 24 ($1137)
- Trijicon RMR ($475)
* Items may have been out of stock or discontinued at the time of this writing.