Rifle Review: F4 Defense PDW-X — 300 Blackout

The struggle to find the perfect PDW (Personal Defensive Weapon) that fits all our needs can be a tough one. Honestly, are we asking too much? We want it compact, lightweight, reliable, quick to deploy and affordable. Ok, maybe I would prefer it in a 30 cal. chambering as well. Throw some excellent glass on it and it’s everything we need for a real-world personal defense weapon. It was this exact line of complaining that I was sharing with David Fairfax of F4 Defense when he looked at me and said, “You mean this?” There in front of me sat the answer to my quest — the F4 Defense PDW-X.

F4 Defense PDW-X
The F4 Defense PDW-X is a lightweight 300 Blackout that serves the roll of personal defense weapon exceptionally well!

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About F4 Defense:

F4 Defense is a veteran-owned small arms manufacturer with decades of military, engineering, design and competitive shooting experience. They set out to build tactical firearms that perform at the highest level while maintaining unequaled aesthetics. What David handed me was a lightweight AR pistol sporting an SB Tactical PDW brace. That allowed me to check off a couple of my criteria. In fact, it got bonus points because it put this gun into the “short” category without having to do the NFA paperwork tango and dish out a couple hundred extra dollars. The gun was eye-catching with a uniquely designed aluminum billet upper and lower. They have ditched the old smooth side look and brought some zing to Stoners’ original design. While eye-catching, the cuts on the gun make it lighter than other similar forged mil-spec receiver sets without sacrificing operational integrity. The gun is built by serious shooters which is evident in the flared magwell, 60° short throw safety, trigger creep adjustment and an oversized beveled trigger guard — so far, so good.

F4 Defense PDW-X
The gun was eye-catching with a uniquely designed aluminum billet upper and lower, which is as functional as it is good looking.

The 11.3″ Wilson Combat Match Grade barrel they included spoke of a serious commitment to accuracy and quality. It was wrapped up in a 13.6″ ARS-Lite handguard and topped off with a unique CMT ZComp muzzle device. This drives all the sound downrange and makes life behind the gun a bit quieter. When I saw it was chambered in 300 Blackout, I knew I had to get this gun out on the range.

F4 Defense PDW-X
With great features like a like a QR charging handle and an SB Tactical PDW brace, the gun is a winner.

Because this gun was unique, I decided to put some unique glass on it. The good folks over at Trijicon sent me a REAP-IR thermal optic for me to test and it was a perfect fit the PDW-X. The REAP-IR has exceptional resolution and a trainload of features like a rangefinder, digital zoom, white hot/black hot options and a clear detailed reticle. I wanted to test the unique break on the F4 Defense PDW-X so I would feed it the new 300 Blackout 190-grain SUB-X Subsonic ammunition from Hornady. Everything was now in line and it was time to hit the range.

F4 Defense PDW-X
The Trijicon REAP-IR is a lightweight mini thermal riflescope that provides incredible resolution and reliability.

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My first thoughts were around the fit and finish of the F4 Defense PDW-X. It was very comfortable to handle and the SB Tactical brace made it easy to wield. I ran the gun as I would any PDW-style weapon and focused on urban application shooting. My furthest steel was at 150 yards and presented no challenge to the setup.

A couple things did stand out. The trigger in the gun felt very nice. While not a competition style drop in trigger, it was more than sufficient to give me good groups and smooth shooting. The second thing I noticed was how well the CMT ZComp worked. While not even close to being a suppressor, it worked well with the Hornady Subsonic. The sound was effectively pushed downrange and eliminated the normal sound wash you experience from shorter barreled pistols and rifles. I have been struggling to find a mature and eloquent way to describe the optic. What I kept coming back to though was my 15-year-old in me saying, “Cool!” The REAP-IR is everything it’s said to be and more. I was able to see great detail with the optic and found it easy to run. In all this was a great set up. My mind kept wandering to thoughts of hogs in the tree lines and the sound of the F4 Defense PDW-X dropping them easily.

I enjoy my job, but this was an especially good day at the range.

F4 Defense PDW-X
The new 190-grain Sub-X™ Subsonic is whisper quiet with a Flex Tip insert within its hollow point cavity to help it expand reliably at low velocities.

The PDW arena is still a bit of a vacuum to many AR builders. There are a few companies making real guns in this category but there is still some room for others. F4 Defense’s addition to this market is welcomed and applauded. The F4 Defense PDW-X is a great option for anyone looking for a fast, lightweight fighter in a small package. While still relatively new to the scene, F4 has done a good job and I am certain this is just one of many hits to come.

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F4 Defense PDW-X Specificiations:

  • Receivers: Precision CNC Machined from Aerospace Aluminum Billet 7075-T6
  • Barrel: 11.3″ Wilson Combat – Match Grade
  • Caliber: .300 Blackout
  • Fire Control Group: HiperFire EDT3
  • Handguard: ARS-Lite 13.6″
  • Gas System: Carbine
  • Charging Handle: F4 QR Charging Handle
  • Selector: BAD Short-throw Ambi Selector
  • BCG: F4 Defense NiB
  • Muzzle Device:  CMT ZComp (5/8×24)|
  • Stock: Maxim CQB (SBR) or SB Tactical Pistol Brace (Pistol)
  • Finish:  Type III Hardcoat Anodized
  • Weight: 6.2lbs
  • American Made with American Metal

For more info:

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