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Building an AR-15

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/10/2018 at 13:21
koshkin View Drop Down
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I am sort of an AR addict and someone asked me (multiple someones actually), given what I know now, how I would go around building a fairly basic AR-15 if I were to start from scratch.

I politely sent one of the nice gentlemen who asked me in the general direction of the SWFA website since they have a good assortment of different AR-15s.

Naturally, the next question was "which one of these do you have?", to which I had honestly say "None", since I built all of mine out of pieces and, being very particular about things, wouldn't be caught dead with a factory AR, this side of Q's Honey Badger.

If that sounds a little hypocritical... well, it is.

And that brought me to the very first sentence of this post: how would I go around building a basic AR, given what I know now.

That resulted in this blog post.  Note, that I have not talked about AR optics there.  That's coming.

I recently built just such an AR, that I am planning to give to my nephew on his 18th birthday.  

For myself, I just sold off most of my ARs, but I kept three (a 6.5 Grendel, a 5.56 and a 458SOCOM).  The 5.56 SOCOM is eerily similar to the build I outline in that post, except it has an utlra-light Brigand handguard and a slightly thicker barrel, which keeps overall weight and balance consistent.

ILya





Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/10/2018 at 14:02
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I've been thinking I was done building ARs, but lately I've been thinking I might need a dedicated 3 gun AR. Something lite weight with an 18" barrel, the ability to add and subtract things like lights, lasers, bipods, grips, etc., and still have a clean forearm without the accessories. I don't really want another AR, but the one I'm using now is like packing a rail road rail compared to the rifles others are using; not to mention the picatinny pine that lives on the front.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/10/2018 at 15:03
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What weight are you targeting?

That is more or less how my 6.5Grendel is built: 18" barrel with a 15" handguard (Lancer carbon fiber in this case).


You'd be using a different optic, of course.  As configured, it weighs 10lbs. Without the optics, sling and bipod, right around 7.5lbs.

With the ACE UL stock, it was 7lbs.

You can shave it down further with a thinner barrel (like Faxon's 18" Gunner), lighter upper and lower receivers and lighter handguard.  The lightest handguard that stil gives you a few rails is probably Brigand's Atlas.

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/10/2018 at 17:04
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All 3 that I have built have been Anderson lowers. 2 of the 3 have a PSA upper, both stainless, and one of them is my SBR with 11.5 in barrel. It has most additions to it and highest quality components. I put a Sig Romeo site on it, a BAD lever, ALG trigger, and magpul grip, stock and front grip. 

The other I put a scope on for my son's to take deer hunting, or for me to use for Yotes or whatever. 

The last one I built was an OMG Hillary might win Florida purchase. It is the most basic one, with a BCA .223 Wylde upper, and a UTG rear iron sight. I bet I don't have 500 bucks in it, and for some reason, I just really like it. 

My other one is a SW MP15 Magpul edition. 


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/13/2018 at 23:11
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Originally posted by Urimaginaryfrnd Urimaginaryfrnd wrote:

The cheapest way into one is PSA but no matter how hard I try there are certain features I would still want like a Smith Vortex and a better trigger.  I very much like White Oak Armory's uppers they are superbly accurate but for half the price one can have a PSA that will still run a fairly good group. There is nothing that cant be changed and improved on an AR. The Law Tactical device that allows the buffer tube and rear stock to fold is a big plus but spendy and worth every penny.

 

how much is a PSA?

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/15/2018 at 08:16
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Thank you Sir
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: April/16/2018 at 10:56
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My Bear Creek upper is surprisingly accurate for just having iron sites, and a stock gritty mil spec trigger. 

I haven't played with my PSA upper with a scope on it enough to find something it really likes. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/09/2018 at 13:25
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Been waiting for pics to work to post this. 

I have probably built/rebuilt/changed/sold off 30 to 40 ARs over the years since I became an AR addict.  So I have tried a lot of different stuff and learned what I like.  This is I hope my final build.  I wanted a lightweight, but accurate, very sleek and functional AR and wanted it pretty too.  Wink

Aero upper and M4E1 lower, with the Atlas S 15" handguard. Sniper grey ceracoat
Faxon 18" gunner barrel
Raidan Weapons, bolt group and charging handle
Strike industries enhanced lower parts kit
Elf match trigger
VG6 Gamma muzzle device
MAgpul buttstock and grip
Swaro Z3 3-9x36 with 4a reticle.


With optic it is 7.1 lbs

Have not had time to even shoot it yet, but it turned out well and it should be a pretty good shooter. 






Edited by supertool73 - May/09/2018 at 13:30
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/09/2018 at 14:50
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What's the weight on your rifle ST? Also, what's the weight/profile of your barrel?

That's close to what I'm looking for.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/09/2018 at 14:54
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/09/2018 at 15:06
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That's pretty light.
Thanks
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/09/2018 at 15:27
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Faxon barrels are sweet.  I have 3 of them now and really like them.  Granted I have not shot the 18 yet, but the others are accurate and swing/point really well. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: May/09/2018 at 15:41
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+1  on that faxon gunner barrel.

I have the 18" gunner in 6.5 grendel, mega arms upper.  It shoots 1/2" groups @100 all day with a 1.5-5 MK4


Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/29/2018 at 19:10
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Here is my latest AR build. My goal was the lightest possible AR15 (within certain limits, as I'll explain) in 6.5 Grendel.
The parts:
- V Seven "Enlightened" series upper and lower receiver in 2055 lithium-aluminum alloy, which is about 20% lighter than typical 6061/7075 aluminum alloy.
- Columbia River Arms / Black Hole Weaponry 16" mid 1:8 light profile barrel/black Cerakote & fluted
- V Seven titanium bolt carrier
- LMT enhanced bolt
- Elftmann "3 Gun" trigger group
- Smoke Composites carbon fiber buttstock assy with carbon fiber cheekpiece, carbon fiber end plate, aluminum castle nut
- Brigand Arms 12" woven carbon fiber hand guard
- Venom carbon fiber skeletonized grip
- V Seven titanium lower receiver small parts (buttons, levers, pins), firing pin, dust cover
- V Seven H1 buffer
- Buffer spring - don't remember which brand
- Radian Arms Raptor SD charging handle, NP3 finish
- V Seven gas tube
- Master of Arms titanium adjustable gas block
- 2A Armament T3 titanium compensator
- C Products mags
- Geissele "Super Precision" AR15 20 MOA mount
- Nightforce NX8 1-8X24 Mil/ FFP scope with "FC-MIL" reticle

The complete rifle minus the scope and mount weighs 5 lbs on the nose. I haven't weighed it once I mounted the scope.

Is this the lightest possible AR15 I could have built? Nope, not quite...BUT in order to do so, I would've had to compromise a few things I wanted.
To build the absolute, no holds barred lightest possible AR, I could have:
1. Gone with the Smoke Composites "Open Shoulder" style minimalist buttstock, without a buttpad or the cheekpiece assy. I didn't go this route because I liked the extra carbon fiber bling on the cheekpiece, and it felt more comfortable. I also wanted the buttpad instead of the slick CF butt, not for recoil reasons, but simply so that when I lean the gun against a rack at a semi-steep angle, the butt won't try to slide out from under the gun like it might with a slick CF butt.
2. Go with the Whiskey Arms bolt carrier, or one of the extreme skeletonized carriers. I didn't do this, because I don't trust an aluminum bolt carrier from a wear standpoint, and the V Seven titanium carrier was already very light, so I didn't want to go completely insane with cost just to save maybe 2 additional ounces. I also worried that I might have reliability problems with the lightest possible carrier.
3. Go with a polymer lower and magnesium upper. I don't trust magnesium from a strength standpoint, and I wanted all-metal receivers. The V Seven Enlightened receiver set was the next lightest option without skeletonizing the crap out of the receivers.
4. Go with the Faxon "pencil" profile barrel. I wanted the polygonal rifling that BHA features, and I liked the way the contrasting bare stainless flutes looked against the black, CF, and silver-gray titanium scheme of the remaining rifle. The Faxon pencil barrel is just way too skinny to flute. I also didn't want to go below 16" on barrel length, so saving weight by shaving length was out.
5. Go with a shorter Brigand CF hand guard. If I did that, the gas block would've been uncovered, and I didn't want that in exchange for shaving maybe 2 ounces.
6. Use a thread protector instead of a compensator on the barrel. I didn't do that, because I simply like the looks of the titanium comp, and that was one of the lightest comps I could find.

Doing all of the above would have reduced the overall weight by around 10-12 ounces, bringing the overall weight of the rifle to around 4.25 lbs. I preferred the usability and looks of the rifle I built over the 3/4 lb weight savings.

I chose to go with an upper receiver with no forward assist because this is a hunting rifle, not one I expect to wallow in the mud with and depend on it for my life. Honestly, I've had no reliability issues with ARs lacking forward assist, so since this was an ultralight build, I'd just as soon prefer to shed the extra ounces.

Why ultimate light weight as the goal? Just because it's cool; no real purpose otherwise...and, I like the look on people's faces when I hand it to them and they expected it to be much heavier. And...I'm a slut for carbon fiber and titanium parts. 

The barrel is chambered for .264 LBC instead of 6.5 Grendel, but of course, it shoots Grendel ammo interchangeably. It's the exact same chamber, except .264  LBC has slightly different throat dimensions vs 6.5 Grendel (to get around Alexander Arms patents). I wasn't really wild about the fact that BHA cuts their chambers deeper to accommodate a .126" bolt face depth (their so-called "Type 1" chamber) instead of the normal Grendel's .136" bolt face depth. This means the "Type 1" (shallower bolt face) uses a bolt for 7.62X39 instead of a "normal" Grendel bolt. Either approach works fine, and this "Type 1" vs "Type 2" chamber thing is fodder for a lengthy debate that I won't go into here. In short, I wish BHA didn't stubbornly cling to the "Type 1" chamber, but it's not such a big deal as long as you use the right bolt to match it.

Anyway, since I just completed it, I've only run it for function check thus far and haven't shot it for groups. So far, it runs fine.

Here she is. To my biased eyes, I think she's sexy:
















Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/29/2018 at 19:15
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If this is a hunting gun, why NX8?

You could shave five ounces with something like Razor HD LH 1.5-8x32.

Or did you really want illumination?

ILya
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/29/2018 at 19:19
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Originally posted by koshkin koshkin wrote:

If this is a hunting gun, why NX8?

You could shave five ounces with something like Razor HD LH 1.5-8x32.

Or did you really want illumination?

ILya
 

Because I already had both of those scopes prior to finishing the rifle, and I'm using the Razor HD LH 1.5-8X32 on an even lighter bolt action. I just think the NX8 looks at home on the AR, and it's primarily a hunting rifle, not exclusively so. If I want to stretch the Grendel's legs, the NX8 is way better suited to that.

And yes, I did want illumination.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/29/2018 at 20:45
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Really nice looking rifle!
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/29/2018 at 22:42
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Thats pretty sweet Ted. I like it. Out of curiosity if you don’t mind sharing what did u spend on parts for the rifle, not counting mount and optic?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2018 at 00:50
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Somewhere in the neighborhood of $2500.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2018 at 09:43
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Ted you either have too much time, money or both on your hands.

I do like the rifle thoughClap
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2018 at 09:52
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 Unique look..... I like it.

 

Do you feel like you'll break it being its so light?  You know how something tiny in big ole' Ted mitts?

Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2018 at 10:08
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That rifle I posted above is just under 6 lbs without scope and mount with an 18" barrel.  I have another rifle with 16" that 5 3/4 lbs.  I spent $1400ish for the 18" and $1200ish for the 16". 

That puts in a good perspective what going real light weight really costs.  To make it with the optional lighter parts you listed would that have added much more to the cost?

That turned out really good Ted.  The more I look the more I like. 
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2018 at 10:10
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Is there away to put sling attachments on the handguard and stock?
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2018 at 11:21
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 A rifle that light needs no sling, it probably just kinda floats above you like a leaf on the wind.
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)     Back to Top Direct Link To This Post Posted: August/30/2018 at 11:25
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I wouldn't have a hunting rifle without a sling.  Sometimes when climbing steep terrain you need both hands to climb. 

Of course maybe that is not really a concern with Texas land hunting. 
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