Originally when I started this blog my rifle (and only complete weapon) was a 20 inch mashup. It had an A1 length stock and was strictly irons. Since shooting it more and going to a few competitions here and there, I started revising my rifle to modernize it while keeping the same trouble free platform relatively unchanged.
From an A1 stock I went to a Vltor A5 stock: I found even the fixed stock A1 too long for any type of body armor. It was too long. On went the A5.
My CompM4 was a trade item and I really like it. A Smaller H1 would be great to reduce the weight, but for now I will take what I can get. It works very well. Eventually i would want to switch to the micro RDS.
Still sticking with the LMT rear BUIS. I would eventually like to upgrade to the KAC adjustable flip up rear, but for now a Magpul BUIS would suffice and will likely be my next upgrade.
At my local practical rifle competitions I am the only one running a rifle. Anyone else “that guy” at the range when they run a rifle?
How does it run?
So far it has only had one string of malfunctions. During a cold winter carbine event the rifle was getting several failure to feeds. I threw out a few bad magazines and switched to Pmags during the event as the Pmags have never given me trouble. Still the failure to feed was present. A fellow shooter noted that using grease in the buffer tube might be the cause of my problems as it is slowing the velocity of the carrier down through the fire cycle. Well indeed I had used some thicker lubricant (Slip 2000 EWL ) for the rifle and it was a cold day. The theory makes sense. If the viscosity thickened enough to slow down the carrier and buffer + spring then it might not have enough momentum to chamber the round. Lesson Learned.
The next trip to the range with spring weather gave me no failures of any kind. I am back to using CLP as well.
The rifle is configured well and my only changes will be to save weight. I want the weapon to be relate-able to everyone who might have an 20 inch rifle stuffed away in the safe or perhaps those who want to build a versatile rifle based platform… so no space gun stuff. So whats next? A compensator of some type (read: not an boutique compensator) and a new BUIS that flips down.
How has your weapon changed over the years? Junk gear that had to be thrown out to start over or more of a slow learning process?
I built my own AR-15 carbine from an SAA 16″ upper with a 1in7 twist and an A2 style flash hider riding on top of a Spike’s Zombie Lower (for aesthetic purposes only). It wears a complete set of MAGPUL furniture, an MOE Forearm and Grip with a CTR stock. I chose the CTR over the MOE as the additional lockup really does make a difference in the overall stiffness of the stock at all adjustments.
For getting on target I started out with a MAGPUL Gen2 Polymer Rear flip-up BUIS and a MAGPUL Pro Metal Front flip-up BUIS as the gas block has built-in top and bottom rails. The front is full height so the MAGPUL works great and I didn’t require the extended height version that so many railed gas blocks require. This setup worked like a charm. I use an OTIS Cleaning kit for all of my maintenance as I want to build muscle memory reaction time to that kit as it will be what I have with me in the field. The OTIS CLP is outstanding and I have never had a single failure to fire to date. (Knock on wood.)
Since the original build I have added a few items that have really improved the overall usability and versatility of the weapon. First I added a MAGPUL – 2 point sling by adding a QD rail mounted sling attachment point to the rear of the lower gas block rail. I still have some room left in front of it but I’ll get to that later. My next acquisition was a Vortex SPARC 2 Red Dot sight which I mounted at the full co-witness height as I really just don’t like the 1/3 option. That is purely a personal preference. I really like the sight. The flip caps are of dubious use. At home I keep them open as I don’t want to have to open them when seconds count. I have kept them because I can see a use for them if I wear ever caught in a dust storm or something similar. At my age, 44, I wear glasses and do get a bit of distortion on the dot unless I have both it and my glasses positioned just right but I bought a pair of frog togs eyeglass holders which help that issue when I’m on the move with the rifle.
Another addition has been a Primary Arms 3X Magnifier (which when used completely eliminates the dot blur) and a knock-off Flip to Side mount. While I do like the magnifier for the added versatility it brings it is a tad on the heavy side and I can really feel the difference in the overall mobility of the weapon when I have it mounted. This being the case it rides in my pack 90% of the time, but it has a quick mounting bolt so I’ll have it in case I need to reach out farther than I trust my eyes on their own. One thing to note is the fact that when I do have the magnifier mounted I have to keep my rear BUIS in the long range peep setting or the magnifier will not lock into place due the absolute co-witness height. I never use that setting when shooting with the BUIS so I always wind up having to flip it open to the larger aperture. That is one thing I think that MAGPUL should seriously consider redesigning. I complete flip over type as opposed to the two piece current design would increase the speed of that adjustment significantly.
The only other addition I have made, and one which I’ve found I really liked despite the opinions of some people about them, is a MAGPUL MVG Forward Vertical Grip. The texture of the MAGPUL furniture and grips is great and I feel like I have many different grip options available to me now. I carry a few small tools, a cleaning cloth for the optic, and a spare battery as well as my frog togs inside the MOE Grip. While accessing that compartment isn’t exactly easy as the tension is quite stiff, it is still very useful.
I run with MAGPUL PMAG Gen3 30rd Magazines, two of which I have connected with a MAGPUL coupler. I love the PMAG and mine have never once let me down. While I have nothing against standard aluminum magazines, I trust my PMAGs with my life. No dents. Great followers. And very easy takedown for inspection and cleaning.
While I have debated since I first built her on whether or not I should have gone with a 20″ barrel, in all other respects I really love my rifle. It works. It is simple and fairly basic by most standards, but I built it myself, and did so on a budget but with quality components. It has been as accurate as I can shoot and is likely far more accurate than I can achieve with my skill level. And for those who wonder about the 1in7 twist barrel, no it is not too fast for standard M193 55gr ammunition. I shoot it all the time and it hits right where I aim it. I went with the 1in7 so that when I can afford higher quality 77gr ammo I won’t have to worry about it not being fast enough.
I mentioned the extra bit of lower rail in front of my sling mount and it is awaiting what will be likely the only other thing I will ever add to this rifle. As I keep this rifle prepared for property defense I am seriously considering an offset light mount and a Streamlight Polytac LED to ride in it to expand my ability to identify my targets at night seeing as that is the most likely time to encounter bad guys that might break into my home. All that being said, I would trust my life to this rifle as it built today without hesitation. Would I like to replace the red dot and magnifier with something a bit more high end, like a Trijicon or Leupold? Sure. But until I can afford to make that much change, as I’d also replace my BUIS with an offset pair if I was running a dedicated scope, what I have now will certainly do the job. Thanks for letting me talk about my rifle. Really like your site and feel like your reviews are very well written while also being concise enough to not be boring. (unlike my own prose.)
I appreciate the comments, and my goal is to make the AR15 as plentiful in the shooting community as humanly possible. Making my blog a good read is part of that goal!
I know it’s been a year and a half since this article was written.
I started off using, believe it or not, an old, bolt-action Mosin carbine as a general purpose rifle. It did everything I needed it to with very few difficulties. Man-size targets out to 500y were no match for me, my rifle, and a little bit of time. As I practiced with it more, I found that some kind of optic and a method for attaching a lot would make it a lot more effective, so I added a Brass Stacker Anchor Point mount, a Bushnell TRS-25 (which was a Christmas gift), and then added a light mounted at 45 degrees on the end of the anchor point rail
I’ve been using that setup for about a year now and am finally able to start working on its replacement, a 16″ rifle with a big emphasis on simplicity and not going over the top with all kinds of fancy high-dollar goodies. I’ve proven to myself that they aren’t *necessary*, just that they can make a good weapon and shooter work together better, but they are not a replacement for quality shooting skills and personal riflery.
I’ve been following your blog for a few weeks now and reading as much as I can. I must say that I am really quite impressed and hope to see more!
Correction, a 16″ carbine*
What I have learned over the years that the study is three fold. You and your weapon (IE positions, techniques, and consistency), your environment (wind, altitudes, etc), and finally understanding your ammo. Know your drops, know velocity, understand the implications of BDC and velocity. It all comes together to make a competent rifleman or riflewoman!
Lothaen, do you know which OEM manufacturer made your plastic handguards? Is it from Cavalry Manufacturing? And how tight are the handguards, or do you have any wobble/play between the halves? Thinking of building a setup like yours. Thanks!!
Those Olive drab handguards were from Rock River Arms. They are creaky. If Cav MFG still sells OD handguards I would grab those first.