The Ultimate AR15


I’ve been sorting though old photos of mine and I came across a later picture of the first AR15 I built.  Back when I decided to build it, I had decided that I would build the  ultimate AR15  One that would do everything I could possibly need it to do.

Oh boy was I naive.  Mainly about AR addiction.

Around the end of 2004, when the silly Assault Weapons Ban ended started a vast rise in the popularity and customization of the AR15.  I had been reading the forums for a little while and decided it was time I build one.

I started with an RRA lower.  At the time they were pretty highly regarded, and it is was pretty much all I could get.  RRA tightened up the openings where the take down pins went so it was rather hard to attach or remove an upper for quite some time.  Eventually the lower wore in and is as loose as an GI gun now.

Standard GI style trigger.  We didn’t have Geissele triggers then, so there was no want for anything better.  Like most people today I didn’t care for the bump on an A2 pistol grip.  Unlike many  who were using Magpul or Tango Down grips at the time, I used an A1 grip for its slightly larger diameter combined with a Magpul winter trigger guard.  Really wanted to be ready if I had to use large gloves in Florida’s harsh winters.

This was before push button quick detach sling swivels were popular.  I don’t know if they even existed back then.  HK sling snaps were often considered the way to go.  I used CQD front and rear sling mounts.  I’m still fond of those, but I tend not to use them any more due to the much greater convenience of QD sling swivels.

I used a CAR stock on the gun.  Started with a reproduction aluminum CAR stock as I thought a metal stock would be better than plastic.  Later switched to a surplus CAR stock.  Not quite sure why, but I am still rather fond of the old CAR stock and I still use them.

Now the upper is really the heart of an AR.  At the time I decided I would go with the best, no expense spared.

So I bought a CMMG 16″ M4 upper.

CMMG was pretty highly regarded at the time.  They were being innovative, offering options many other companies didn’t, and they truly had awesome customer service.  They didn’t keep that reputation long.  A 16 inch barrel was chosen due to our laws and it still is an good compromise length for handling and velocity.  I stuck with the standard A2 flash hider.  Later AR uppers I had had Vortex, Phantom, and all many of other muzzle devices.  I tend to find unless you are mounting a muzzle break or a silencer that it isn’t worth the cost of these specialty muzzle devices.

Back then I wouldn’t have considered trying to bench rest an AR15 and shoot sub-MOA.  Wouldn’t have expected to run high power scopes, match ammo, or anything else of that sort.  I was solely familiar with the M16A2 style configuration so the whole carbine config was new to me.

I paid a little more for a chrome bolt carrier.  Chrome bolts weren’t available at the time from CMMG.  (Probably out of stock)  It can be nice to have a chromed or some other fancy finished BCG, but now days I don’t bother with the extra cost.

A Samson quad rail was chosen to free float the barrel.  One with a removable bottom rail was used so that I could easily access the barrel for cleaning, and retained the ability to mount a M203.  (Yea, I wanted a M203 back then)  The Samson rail was well made, but discontinued shortly after I got mine due to some sort of legal issues between Troy and Samson.  Their rail was good and heavy duty, and generally heavy in weight.  While it was a good product, there are so very many better choices now.

A ran a couple different rear sights.  Often I used an A1 detachable carry handle.  Sometimes a standard detachable carry handle.  Later I switched to a Troy rear sight.  The Troy is still an excellent choice.

Used my first Eotech with this rifle, a 512.  Had issues with that one draining batteries when off, and the battery contacts broke.

Wasn’t a bad configuration, but certainly far from the ultimate AR.  I still have the lower, I SBR’d it some time ago.  The upper was sold or traded off for something that would have also been sold or traded off by now.  I don’t miss it.


  1. Wish I still had every “Ultimate AR” I’ve built in the last twenty years.

    Chrome bolts are not necessary but I find them to be worth the extra money. A solid barrel, bcg and trigger are the most important components, along with a good hand guard, most of the rest can be dollar store stuff as far as I’m concerned.

  2. This was a great, nostalgic post. Good stuff!
    My first foray into the AR world was in the late 90s when I got down on a
    “pre-ban” Colt MT6601. It was one of their post ’89 rifles and essentially a
    neutered A2; no bayonet lug, sear block in the lower, large pin FCG. All I
    wanted it for was to drop on a 16″ Colt M4 upper CDNN had been selling and a
    CAR stock. I didn’t trust those new fangled “flat top” uppers for surely any
    optic that needs batteries is bad and will fail and that removable carry
    handle will only betray me by coming loose when I need it most. I could shoot
    expert with my issued A2 all day long so a fixed A2 upper for me it was. I
    did add Trijicon sights though. That too was about as high tech as it got
    back then and it stayed in that configuration for some time.
    I picked up a KAC RIS shortly after the SOPMOD craze and that’s when I
    surrendered to Mrs. Picatinny wares and asked one of our armorers to help me
    swap uppers; Bushmaster V-Match was about the only option then. The Gun Club
    on Ft. Benning had a group buy deal on Aimpoint CompMs and that started me
    down the dark path to add an ACOG to the mix as well. (This was also the
    combination of the great Ft. Benning English Range Tracer Fire Incident of ’01
    but that’s another story for another time…)
    Still have all of it save for the RIS though. The barrel is pretty much shot
    out now. I had an MRP collar installed so I could get the last bit of life
    from it as a plinker tube. The lower was retasked to a dissipator build.

    • Dissaptor huh? That will get some looks for sure. Gotta love the retro. One of the items on my endless list of wants is to do a xm-177e2 (or somthing similar) build.


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