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