Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Built, Not Bought: Solid Foundation

Most would consider it foolhardy to build a house on a shaky foundation.  So would I, hence I started with parts I knew I could depend on, from companies with a well deserved reputation of not screwing up the simple stuff.

Aero Precision is well noted in the AR world for building quality parts at fair prices.  Not the fanciest, not the flashiest, not the cheapest, but Aero's offerings often intersect right at the point of "this is too good to be true" and "this is a quality part I want on/in my rifle".  Aero Precision Lower, check please.  In hindsight, I could have (and may have, had I had the option locally) chosen their "Enhanced" lower with the integrated trigger guard, slightly different design, and a few other modernizations to the classic AR lower but I can't complain about the stripped lower I picked up locally.  It was in spec, and even at full price very reasonable on my wallet.

Going into the lower, I wasn't terribly hung up on which parts kit to use (as I tend to think if it's all the right size and material, what point in quibbling over it) but I was sure about my choice of trigger.  Enter ALG Defense, the sister company to Geissele.  I'm the sort of person that is very happy to buy a Honda and skip all the trimming of an Acura as long as the performance and quality is where it counts.  ALG's ACT is not a Geissele 3 gun trigger, but it is a notable and economical improvement over a standard mil spec trigger.  Less creep, cleaner break, very tactile reset, there isn't anything I can see not to like and the price point is half to a third of Geissele price.  I'm not saying Geissele triggers aren't worth the scratch, just that I wasn't in that market on this build.

The furniture is simple Magpul, their MOE + grip and fixed rifle (A2 length) stock.  I decided early in the conception of this build I wanted to use an A2 buffer in concert with a rifle length gas system.  Call me traditional, but I really do feel like Eugene Stoner nailed the original setup on the M16A1.  Rifle length guns are consistently soft recoiling, reliable, and consistent in their operation.  I did opt to come down a little on the barrel length (more on that later), but the buffer and gas system are very traditional because they work.  That limited my butt stock choices a bit, and Magpul's stock is a nod to modernity while working around this legacy buffer system.  The MOE+ grip is their standard MOE with a rubber over mold.  I can attest to it providing a good grip, no discernible downside I can think of.  Both pistol grip and butt stock have storage compartments which are stuffed full (of what?  patience)

Please leave me any feedback or questions you have.  The comment section below is available, and we can be found on Facebook on our page and in our closed group. More to come as we get into the upper next week. - Phil Rabalais 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Built, Not Bought: Building your first AR from a bucket of parts

Today marks a new entry in the blog (that you all thought I forgot about) to try and walk everyone through the decicions I made building my first AR.

    Certainly someone out there has recommended a first timer buy one complete for their first rifle, but I have a couple small problems with that advice.  Firstly, I am a tinkerer by nature.  Second, I wanted to build a very specific rifle for a fairly exacting purpose and I have definite ideas about how to accomplish that task.  Lastly, I am a glutton for punishment and I like a challenge.

    Every week (or perhaps more often, leave a comment and let me know how often you would like blog content to come out) I'll be concisely detailing a part or two on the rifle I ended up building, giving some critique on how I like it (or what I feel I could've done better), and talking about how that part adds to the overall concept.

    Speaking of concept, other than keeping up with the cool guys on the internet, I always tend to think of gear or firearms in terms of WHAT is this supposed to be doing?  What I set out to build was a general purpose rifle, a jack of all trades.  I wasn't after an SPR (special purpose rifle, intermediate to long range), though I wanted to have the legs if I needed them.  I wasn't after a CQB (close quarters battle, short and lightweight) rifle or carbine, but I wanted something I could maneuver in a hallway.  I didn't want to light Instagram on fire with all of my operatoresque coolness and I still don't care if the rifle looks cool or not, it does what I intended it to do.

    The rifle is built around an 18" barrel with a rifle gas system, long 15" handguard, flat top upper with a monolithic pic rail for mounting optics, and a fixed stock with an "A2" buffer system.  It has so far proven to be fairly soft shooting and extremely flexible and forgiving of what ammo is fed into it.  While many manufacturers have figured out the details of making shorter AR's more reliable than in years past, I wanted a known commodity that was likely to work in less than perfect conditions.  Leave me some comments, and I'll be back around to start talking you through the parts, and the method behind the madness. - Phil Rabalais