Transforming the Noveske Ghetto Blaster

by Vern Evans
Noveske Ghetto Blaster
The Ghetto Blaster in its ‘SD’ phase.

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Noveske is a well known brand in the American 2A world, having made quite the reputation in the early 2000s for innovation and quality. In 2013 founder John Noveske died, and a huge portion of the surviving Noveske brain trust left the company shortly after.  Rumors of a loss of quality have spread online, but is that the case or is it the lionization of an industry great?

In 2017 Noveske stirred a little controversy, releasing the Ghetto Blaster lineup of guns in conjunction with Q (of Honey Badger fame). While the Ghetto Blaster name was clearly meant to evoke nostalgic images of boomboxes from the 80s, the backlash was enough for Noveske to offer an alternatively named Gen 4 N4 package. The rifle being shown today is from the original Ghetto Blaster run.

Noveske Ghetto Blaster
Noveske Ghetto Blaster

But wait!

The rifle I’m showing here was originally a 16-inch barreled .223 rifle. It has been converted to a Short Barreled Rifle in .300 BLK. I’ll cover how the gun performed in its original specs, then talk about why I changed it.

Factory Tech Specs (as provided by Noveske)

  • 14.5-in. 5.56mm 416R Stainless with 1:7 twist
  • Individual serialized barrel for QC purposes
  • Hand polished Noveske Match Chamber
  • Carbine gas tube length
  • Noveske marked gas block: Low profile, .750-in. journal, pinned to barrel
  • M4 barrel extension w/extended hand polished feed ramps
  • Cherry Bomb muzzle brake by Q
Noveske Ghetto BlasterNoveske Ghetto Blaster
That’s a lot of barrel and forend for a gun with a PDW stock.
  • Noveske Ghetto Blaster upper precision machined billet receiver from 7075-T6 aluminum w/extended feed ramps
  • Designed specifically for use with Q collapsible PDW rifle stock
    Hardcoat type III anodizing, then Bazooka Green Cerakote ceramic coating for superior finish longevity
  • Noveske Marked Geissele Super Badass ambidextrous charging handle
  • Featuring anti-rotation interface with handguard
  • Phosphate coated bolt carrier, chrome lined carrier bore and key-specifically designed for and proprietarily made to work with this system
  • 4th Generation NHR-15” (M-LOK) Free Floating Handguard
  • Light weight American made steel barrel nut
  • Noveske 4th Generation precision machined billet receiver from 7075-T6 aluminum
  • Oversized flared magazine well
  • Integrated oversized trigger guard
  • Ambidextrous bolt release
  • Ambidextrous magazine release
  • Ambidextrous 60 degree Magpul STS safety selector
  • Integrated QD sling mount in PDW rifle stock
  • Noveske marked takedown and pivot pin
  • Adjustable tension screw for perfect fit between upper and lower
  • Geissele Super Dynamic Enhanced flat bow trigger, 3.8lbs total pull weight
  • 3-position Q PDW rifle stock
  • Proprietary recoil system
  • “Ghetto Blaster” marked lower receiver
Noveske Ghetto BlasterNoveske Ghetto Blaster
Ambi controls? Yes please!
  • Stock: 3 position Q PDW rifle stock
  • Grip: Magpul MOE K2
  • Sights: Magpul Mbus Pro steel front and rear adjustable sights

The Package

Noveske is well known for their receivers, and the excellent Gen 4 series shows why. From the flared magwell to the ambi-controls, the receivers are well designed and machined.  Perhaps a little too well. The receivers have a lot of material there that could be trimmed a bit. You can’t call these receivers underbuilt though!

The buttstock and recoil assembly are unique to Q and licensed out to Novekse, making the Ghetto Blaster a true Honey Badger sister gun.  The stock looks good and collapses tight to the rear of the receiver. It’s not supremely comfortable to shoot, but it passable. The stock is also far lighter than many aftermarket PDW style bolt-on stocks, a nice bonus. The Noveske version of the stock is a 3-position, compared to the open/closed Honey Badger.

The Geisselle SD-E flat trigger is phenomenal.  This could be in a budget-busting precision rifle and it would still be raved about.  Two stages, with a 3.8 lb pull and the cleanest break I’ve ever felt.

Noveske Ghetto BlasterNoveske Ghetto Blaster
The Geisselle SD-E flat trigger is phenomenal.

How did it run?

In its original form, the Ghetto Blaster usually shot around the 1 MOA range, with Hornady’s 55-gr. V-Max consistently dancing around .75 MOA at 100 yards. Noveske’s barrels have long been sought after for their accuracy, and the one that came on this gun certainly held the standard.

Noveske Ghetto BlasterNoveske Ghetto Blaster
Noveske’s barrels have long been sought after for their accuracy, and the one that came on this gun certainly held the standard.

I never had an issue with the Ghetto Blaster running 5.56. I did manage to break a piece in the collapsing stock, due to my own misunderstanding of disassembly procedure. The gun still ran fine as I waited for a replacement button to be sent in from Q.

Noveske Ghetto BlasterNoveske Ghetto Blaster
Over the years some wear has accumulated on one of the stock’s rails, but not the other side.

The stock from Q is one of my favorites. It’s no “precision rifle” stock, but it’s comfortable enough, compacts nicely and has the “grip-n-rip” method of deployment I love so much.  There’s not a ton of cheek weld going on, but more than with a lot of other PDW stocks.

The ambi controls are not quite perfect, but they’re close. I don’t like that the right side bolt release is a button that’s right next to the mag release button. I’d prefer a lever like the ADM4, but this still works well. Choosing Magpul’s ambi short throw safety lever was a solid choice. It’s effective and comfortable.

This gun was a masterpiece of machining and accuracy. While many will scoff at the price, this is exactly the kind of gun that fits the “buy once, cry once” crowd.

What did I change it to and why?

“When it rains, it pours” is what the old adage tells us. When I was done with my initial review of this gun, I had a slew of similar guns come across my desk. Accurate, reliable, impressive rifles, like the Radian Model 1.  Did I change the Ghetto Blaster because I didn’t like it?

Far from it. The Ghetto Blaster got the SBR treatment because of its short form factor. I swapped in a 6.5-inch barrel from V Seven Weapon Systems (ran by Joel Allen, formerly the Lead Shop Tech at Novekse) and an Mp5SD shroud.

Noveske Ghetto BlasterNoveske Ghetto Blaster
The author’s transformed Ghetto Blaster.

That setup looked cool, but was pretty front heavy, with the Mp5 parts looking cool but weighing far too much.  So, I went back to V7 for an Enlightened 5.7″-inch forend made from 2099 lithium-aluminum alloy, and to Faxon for a lighter 6-inch Gunner .300 blk barrel.  Besides the barrel and forend change, the guts of the gun are still stock.

Regarding accessories, I’m currently running a Primary Arms GLx 2x optic, a form 1 titanium suppressor, a discontinued Sig Sauer Mp5K style foregrip and a Holosun 321g infrared laser/illuminator. This gun shoots the best groups with Barnes 110-gr. T-TSX, which is good because it’s as close to a “caliber’s best” consensus as you’re going to get.

So NOW how does it run?

I feel like leaning into the Honey Badger original mold with my Ghetto Blaster maximizes what that gun was made for. It doesn’t make much sense to have a longer, precision capable barrel and put it on a collapsing stock equipped gun that does nothing to help you achieve an optimal shooting position. Noveske must agree, because they’re no longer offering the 16-inch or 14.5-inch barrel, limiting choices to 7.94-inch and 10.5-inch barrels currently.

Ironically, what I modded the gun into is nearly identical to what they’re selling now.

Lightening up the front end was a good move, as the Honey Badger stock doesn’t offer a lot of counter balance, and the receivers are already a little “chonky.”
Night vision, .300 BLK and the Ghetto Blaster.

I’ve hiked all over Oregon with this gun.  I’ve run red dots, an ACOG and the factory irons.  I’ve been using the Ghetto Blaster as the test gun for every type of .300 BLK ammo I review, as well as mags and optics. I’ve dropped a few coyotes under night vision (attacking chickens) and a mule deer at 200 yards.

Noveske Ghetto BlasterNoveske Ghetto Blaster
The .300 BLK does the job on the vitals on game and predators alike.

While “truck gun” could certainly apply with the amount of time this gun has spent in my Hilux, the truth is it’s become my go-to gun in every way. Hunting, home defense and keeping the property clear of pests.

Noveske Ghetto BlasterNoveske Ghetto Blaster
The truth, my modified Noveske Ghetto Blaster has become my go-to gun in every way.

Were I to change anything regarding the factory Ghetto Blaster setup, it would probably be the one thing least like to happen.  I’d have V Seven Weapons Systems do an ultralight run of these receivers in their 2055 lithium-aluminum alloy, cutting a large chunk of weight.

Bottom Line

This is the gun I wish I had when I was driving through Baghdad and clearing houses with in Afghanistan. Compact, reliable, and in a caliber that’s as effective from a short package as it is versatile. Rumors of a loss of quality at Noveske haven’t shown up in this gun at all.  While I (obviously) had a few things I wanted to change from the factory .223, 16-inch barreled setup, what I changed the gun into is nearly identical to what Noveske is offering.

Now for the hard part. The closest offering is Noveske’s 7.94″ barreled SBR, which runs $3150-3,400 depending on options. That’s up almost $1,000 since I received this rifle a few years ago. Even those who live by “buy once, cry once” are going to have a hard time shelling out $3K+ for a gun, but I’m sure Noveske knows what they’re doing.

Read more articles and reviews by Jens “Rex Nanorum” Hammer or follow him on Instagram @Rexnanorum.

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