Thursday, March 27, 2014

AR-15 Build V2.0

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Find Part 2 of my AR V2.0 HERE!
Find Part 3 of my AR V2.0 HERE! 
Find Part 4 of my AR V2.0 HERE! 

Unless you have been living under a rock over the last few years, the price of "assault" rifles has gone through the roof. Though the panic has greatly diminished over the last few months, the fact remains that you cannot buy an AR-15 for less than $599. At that price, you get a stripped down gun that doesn't have amenities that most avid shooters would demand from a rifle. Don't get me wrong, I own one such rifle. My first AR was a Panther Arms DPMS sporticle which cost me $556 before tax and came with no sites, had no forward assist or dust cover. That doesn't even get into the specifics of the barrel material and coatings, the internal components like the bolt and carrier group, etc. But, it shoots. It's a great starter rifle, but I wanted and expected more.

The next tier of gun starts at $800 and it isn't much better. At $1200 you start getting into guns that are battle ready. But, I can't afford that. So, I did what many people have begun to do. I started looking at building my own. After pricing the components, even at a macroscopic level such as complete upper receiver, I could still save significant money as well as build a gun to do exactly what I wanted to do.

So, I built my first one a few months back. I didn't want to go top shelf on the components quite yet. In fact, I wanted to build a gun that was on par or slightly better than the one I already owned. I sourced the parts from Palmetto State Armory. You can read about the build here:
AR15 Build: Part 1
AR15 Build: Part 2

This gun was superior in every way to the gun I already owned and cost the same amount of money.

With a few days at the range with it, I decided that I could indeed build a quality gun and it was time to build one that was superior. First I had to decide what I was looking to build. Did I want a long range gun? A cut down lightweight close quarters gun? Something in the middle?  I really liked the style of gun that I had just built, but I wanted to build it with higher quality parts. So, I started off by assembling the lower.

I bought several Anderson MFG lower months back. They are quality pieces that you can readily get at the gun shops for $55. I assembled it with the same parts kit that I had used in my previous build, the PSA Classic parts kit. for $99, it includes PSA M4 Stock, A2 Pistol grip, Palmetto State Armory Classic Lower Parts Kit and Mil-Spec diameter 6-position buffer tube assembly. Everything you need to finish your stripped lower. I do admit that I may eventually change out the fire group for something nicer, but I am not ready to drop hundreds.

I test fired the lower with the assembled upper from my other rifle and it operated just fine.

The next items that I would purchase are where my build would be different from the previous. The previous build featured the M16 profile bolt and carrier group, which is their cheapest unit. I selected the PSA premium full auto BCG. It isn't their highest end unit, but it is their most popular. It comes in at $129. The specs on it are:
  • Milspec Carpenter No. 158® steel bolt
  • Shot Peened Bolt
  • High pressure tested
  • Mag particle inspected
  • Chrome Lined Carrier (AUTO)
  • Chrome Lined Gas Key
  • Gas Key Hardened to USGI Specifications
  • Gas Key Grade 8 Hardened Fasteners
  • Gas Key Staked Per Mil-Spec
  • Tool Steel Extractor
  • Extractor Spring
  • Extractor O-ring Insert

To finish off the build, I had to select a assembled upper. This is where a lot of decisions had to be made. My other  two guns are both 16" barrel guns. Seems that the 16 inch barrel offers the most flexibility, which is what I am looking for in this gun, which I hoped would be a "do it all" gun. At the time, PSA was selling the M4 premium 16" upper with the Vortex Strikefire red dot installed for $399. The Vortex unit alone is $120 on sale. The M4 specs are:

  • 16" Barrel length
  • Chrome moly vanadium barrel
  • 5.56 Nato Chamber
  • 1 in 7" twist rate
  • Chrome-lined bore
  • HPT/MPI Barrel
  • M4 Feed ramps
  • F-Marked Front sight post
  • A2 Flash Hider
  • Sling Loop
  • Standard Hand Guards w/ heat shields
  • Forged upper receiver
  • Vortex Strikefire Red-dot optic
  • T-Marks
I am currently waiting to receive the upper.

Total price so far is: 

  • Anderson MFG lower: $60 after tax
  • PSA Classic LPK- $87 shipped
  • PSA Full auto BCG
  • PSA M4 Upper w/ strikefire-$572
  • Total: $720
Parts to buy: Rail system and bipod