Wolf Arms A1 5.56 Upper Review By Oleg Volk

The Wolf A1 5.56 upper is perfect for someone looking to buildup a piston upper that has been well tested and low cost. It is simply a great value for shooters.


The Wolf Arms A1 upper has been battle tested for years, so it is not just another build and sell and let the shooters do the beta testing upper that are currently on the market.

Wolf Arms A1 piston upper is an adaptation of the Taiwanese army rifle adopted in 2003. With the exception of the bayonet lug, all features of the now-proven original are present. Unlike most of the attempts at piston uppers for AR15, T91 is a very well considered design. It’s neither front heavy, not overly complicated, not particularly expensive, coming in at $599 list price.

A1 upper features a 1:77 twist 16 inch barrel, same as its military counterpart. A2-like flash hider also has porting further back to act as a compensator. Front sight tower is integral to the upper, rear sight is not supplied but can be added to the Picatinny rail of the receiver. Charging handle is the standard AR part, but the rifle does away with forward assist. The upper contains a piston return spring, while the bolt carrier is returned into battery by the standard spring in the stock. Turning and pulling on a substantial retainer pin out of the sight tower allows removal of the gas piston and captured spring. The forend is proprietary to the upper, resembling the old American M16A1 clamshell.

Having handled a wide variety of supposed improvements on the conventional AR15, I wanted to find out just how well it would perform. It turns out that the proof by performance is compelling. First, the device is quite accurate, a pleasant surprise in what looks like a basic field grade carbine. The best groups I got were with the following;

  • Remington Hog Hammer 62gr — 1.1MOA.
  • Federal Gold Match 69gr – 1.2MOA.
  • 55gr American Eagle ball – 2.2MOA.

The muzzle blast was unremarkable despite the compensator being obviously effective. I experienced no malfunctions over about 200 rounds of mixed ammunition fed from several types of magazines. There was no obvious heating-up of the forend. With minimal recoil and great accuracy — much helped by the 1.8-10x US Optics scope — he rifle was a pleasure to shoot.

While far from exhaustive testing, I can rely on military acceptance trials that resulted in T91 adoption to various degrees by Indonesia, India, UAE, Jordan, Kuwait, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Taiwanese Army fully converted to T91 a decade ago. While auto-capable lowers are hard to come by in the US, the upper is compatible with them for those who have transferable or post-1986 sample guns.

For more information please view wolfammo.com

EDITOR’S NOTE: Most shooters Wolf as a supplier of low-cost, multi-purpose and effective ammo, they now are providing the same thing with optics (both day and night) and upper receivers for AR pattern rifles. Shooters who want to multiply their AR’s effectiveness should consider the WOLF uppers as a GREAT low-cost addition. What is nice is that this upper is a direct copy of a design that has been used by several military organizations so its reliability has been already proven so a shooter is NOT going to get a collection of parts that were assembled and sold without ensuring that it works with your first, fiftieth and five hundredth magazine. The cost for the piston model is also tremendously competitive for those folks looking to find a replacement or addition to the DI AR.

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