Silencer Shop Authority: CMMG MkG Banshee 45 Review
While CMMG’s entry into the suppressor market has been the most significant news to come from the company this year, it isn’t the only thing the CMMG crew has been up to. You may recall that through my friends at Silencer Shop, I’ve recently had the opportunity to sample a variety of new products from CMMG. A couple of these have been silencers, but two other items were full-on firearms from their new Banshee line of factory short-barreled rifles. I wrapped up the 9mm MkGs Banshee review a few weeks ago so don’t forget to check it out as it is a bit more detailed than this piece. Because this .45 ACP version and the 9mm are so similar, I don’t want to rehash everything from the 9mm MkGs review here. It just isn’t necessary. With that in mind, let’s touch on the highlights.
The MkG Banshee sports a 7075-T6 billet receiver set that has been finished off in durable Cerakote. The example shown here is kitted out in silver, but CMMG offers several other colors (not all will be carried by Silencer Shop at a given time). The ~5-pound rifle comes with a super-compact 5” barrel – a space-saving improvement over the 8” pipe found on CMMG’s incumbent Guard SBR. Note that the barrel does not come with the Bi-Lock mount pictured here and is instead threaded .578-28 for common .45 ACP muzzle devices. Meanwhile, the barrel is shrouded by CMMG’s new RML M-LOK handguard, which is 4” long and free-floated. Thankfully, considering the short barrel and handguard, CMMG thought to include a Magpul MVG grip. The MVG is accompanied by an MOE pistol grip, also from Magpul.
At the rear of the receiver is an end plate with sling loops on both sides and CMMG’s extended, ambidextrous charging handle. The gun surprisingly isn’t fully ambidextrous, as only the charging handle and selector switch can be operated from both sides. The handle is quite large and I found that it would snag on gear from time to time, so be cognizant of that if you’re planning to make the Banshee anything more than a range piece.
While we’re on the topic of furniture, the Banshee features CMMG’s new, fully-aluminum RipStock with three points of adjustment. The RipStock is a solid piece, but it does wobble somewhat on the Banshee’s compact receiver extension. That’s a let down considering CMMG manufactured both parts. Despite this minor frustration, the stock is solid enough to provide acceptable support. It also offers better check weld than I expected.
I mentioned this in the 9mm review, but I’ll note it here as well. The Banshee does not include any sort of sights. This isn’t really a major issue as most will likely throw some sort of red dot on top of the rifle, but it is a little disappointing that it isn’t ready to go out of the box. That’s particularly true when you consider the price of the rifle.
What Makes the Banshee Special
The detail that really sets the Banshee apart from other pistol-caliber ARs is CMMG’s Radial Delayed operating system. Think of rotary/radial blowback firearms as close cousins to roller delayed systems like the MP5. In fact, rotary blowback dates back even further than the roller systems – to late-1800s designs from Ferdinand von Mannlicher. They’re more technically complex than common straight blowback subguns, but the complexity comes with some noticeable improvements to cyclic rate and bolt velocity. On the back of each lug on the Banshee’s AR-like bolt is an angled face. When a round fires, the backpressure pressing against the case is transferred to the bolt. This energy, coupled with the lug chamfers, causes the bolt to rotate in the barrel extension and eventually unlock. Cycling from that point on is like any other AR and in fact, despite having no gas system, the carrier looks a lot like a standard AR-15 bolt carrier.
The necessary bolt rotation slows the Banshee’s operation down enough to allow CMMG to use a lighter carrier (and buffer) than would be necessary for a straight blowback rival. It also greatly reduces felt recoil and port noise, which is particularly noticeable when using a suppressor.
From a magazine perspective, most buyers will likely be very happy that CMMG opted to use Glock magazines. As a .45 ACP carbine, the MkG accepts Glock 21 and 30 magazines with ease. The rifle ships with a single 13-round mag.
It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but the shooting experience with the Banshee MkG isn’t quite as buttery smooth as with the 9mm MkGs. It’s just how things work when you use a round that’s 50-100% heavier. That said, there’s also no question that the .45 caliber rendition is a very comfortable firearm to use. It’s noticeably superior to straight blowback carbines, even those in 9mm with less muzzle flip and reduced felt recoil – all thanks to the radial blowback system.
As with the 9mm Banshee, the MkG suppresses extremely well. It’s amazing what a fraction of a second of additional lockup can do for the at-ear sound of a suppressed firearm. Again, the 9mm (when used with subsonic ammo) wins here for outright sound levels, but the MkG puts up a fantastic showing. I have a separate review of CMMG’s DefCan 45 coming very soon, so I won’t delve into it too much here. However, it is a solid performer and it paired very well with the Banshee. I unfortunately was not able to test my SilencerCo Octane 45 with the rifle, but I expect it would have produced results on-par or better. At risk of wading into hyperbole, I really doubt you’ll find a better .45 ACP host out there. The competition was somewhat closer on the 9mm side of things, as there are a handful of solid suppressed options there, the MP5 being near the top. As far as .45 caliber goes, the field is quite a lot narrower.
With the suppressor attached, this Banshee exhibited some of the same accuracy issues that affected the 9mm. For reasons totally unknown to me, the point of impact with the suppressor attached was 2” below and slightly to the left of the unsuppressed group – at just 25 yards! Careful inspection of the suppressor showed no evidence of baffle or endcap strikes. Truly perplexing. My assumption for the moment is that the suppressor’s length is partly to blame, especially considering the Banshee’s super short barrel. The Bi-Lock mount might also be a factor, but it seems unlikely given the use of these mounts on much more powerful, longer range firearms.
Accuracy performance with the MkG was very good if we ignore the above oddities. In less than ideal conditions (kneeling, firearm propped on ammunition dry box), I was able to manage solid 25-yard, 5-shot groupings that were all 1” or less. Unfortunately, rain at the range effectively trashed my targets, so there aren’t any photos here to share.
After having spent some time with the Banshee MkG, I truly feel that it is the .45 ACP carbine to beat. Yes, options like the USC/UMP and KRISS Vector are more proven, but they’re also more expensive – especially in the USC’s case. The Banshee is most certainly a more pleasant shooter than HK’s straight blowback gun as well. It’s also shorter and lighter than both of these rivals.
This has been a review of products provided by and sold at Silencer Shop. All opinions are my own.
An information security professional by day and gun blogger by night, Nathan started his firearms journey at 16 years old as a collector of C&R rifles. These days, you’re likely to find him shooting something a bit more modern – and usually equipped with a suppressor – but his passion for firearms with military heritage has never waned. Over the last five years, Nathan has written about a variety of firearms topics, including Second Amendment politics and gun and gear reviews. When he isn’t shooting or writing, Nathan nerds out over computers, 3D printing, and Star Wars.