Tag Archives: AR15

Setting AR15 Iron Sights for the IBZO.

I know that I have talked about this before, and I promise you I will talk about it again.

While I was in the Marine Corps we shot a qualification course of fire at the distances of 200, 300, and 500 yards.  Using the 8/3 sights of the M16A2 we used the markings on it for 300 and 500, and adjusted it 2 clicks down from 8/3 small gap for 200 yards.

When I got out of the Corps, I found much to my dismay that the carry handle sights I used would bottom out on 8/3 or 6/3 if it was a detachable sight.  Turns out they come from the factory that way.  The intent is that the small peep is used from 300+ and you would use the larger 0-2 aperture on 6/3 or 8/3 for a 200 yard zero during low light or close range shooting.

Turned out the Marines would modify the sights to allow for a 200 yard zero.  And this modification is as simple as loosening a screw.

Now to back track for a moment.  On a rifle length AR15, a fixed carry handle with the 8/3 sight will have a 1 Minute of Angle (MOA) change in impact per click of the elevation wheel.  The detachable carry handle will have an adjustment of 1/2 MOA.  On the carbine, this adjustment is about 3/4 MOA.

So from the factory, the AR rear sight will bottom out on 8/3 or 6/3.  We call this small gap.

One full turn puts you on a 800 yard zero on a fixed carry handle, and 600 on the detachable carry handle.  We call this the large gap.  That size of the gap lets you quickly identify which of those settings the sight is on.

To allow you to set the sight for a 100 or 200 yard zero, you need to allow the drum to rotate below 8/3 or 6/3.  You will need a small Allen Wrench.  I’ve found that this wrench size is not the same on all brands of carry handles.

When the rear sight peep is up and the sight is aligned on 6/3 or 8/3 , you can insert a small Allen Wrench into a screw.

DO NOT REMOVE THAT SCREW.

Just loosen it a turn or two.  This will allow you to rotate the bottom section of the elevation drum.

On a 8/3 drum, -2 clicks gives a 200 yard zero.  8/3 -3 for 100.

For the 6/3 drum, double the number of clicks.  -4 for 200, and -6 for 100.

Snug the screw back down, and double check that you have the right number of clicks.  Zero your rear sight normally and then you will be able to dial your rear sight down for a 100 yard zero.

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 AR15.com 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.

How low will they go?

$360 dollar AR15 for sale here.

Prices on guns are at an amazingly low price.  I know that gunshops I have talked to are hurting for sales.  Now is really the best time to buy if there is something you want, and a terrible time to be selling.

To paraphrase a quote, “The problem with being in a golden age is that you don’t know it is a golden age when you are in it.”  Take advantage of this time while it lasts.

Build verses buy your first AR?

 

I saw again recently someone suggesting that a first time AR15 buyer build their own AR15 so that they would be better familiar with the parts and operation.  I think a person could learn the parts and operation of a firearm just fine without building one.

By all means build a custom AR if you want too, but I highly recommend buying a good factory built AR15 for your first one.  Having built quite a few ARs myself, and seen many more built, there are all sorts of mistakes a person can make.  I’ve seen incorrectly aligned gas blocks, gas tubes, hammer springs reversed or under the trigger pin (allowing the trigger pin to walk out.  Loose barrel nuts, loose castle nuts (allowing the stock to rotate and or the buffer retainer popping out and jamming the action), and more.  The AR15 is a pretty simple weapon, but simple does not mean that you cannot mess it up.  A factory built gun will generally be assembled correctly and you will have a warranty if there are any issues.

The best thing about the AR family of weapons is the massive amount of aftermarket parts.  It can be overwhelming, and not all of it plays nice together.  With more and more companies producing parts, they are not all interchangeable.  For example, many hand guards now do not fit correctly on various billet uppers due to these aftermarket billet uppers using different dimensions then a milspec upper.

If you buy a complete rifle from a reputable manufacture, you know the parts they choose to use will work.  If you build your own, you will need to do a little research.  Sometimes trying to just buy all the best individual components will leave you with something that won’t work together.  For example, some years back a few companies were making enhanced bolt carriers.  A guy I knew purchased the LMT enhanced bolt carrier since it was supposed to be better than a standard one.  He built a SBR with it, and found it didn’t work (The LMT carrier might not have been the only issue with it, but I’m using as an example).  The LMT enhanced bolt carrier was tuned and built for a 14.5 inch barrel or longer.  This guy just saw that there was an “upgraded” part, bought it, and never realized it wouldn’t work for him.

I could go on with more examples, but if you’re going to get an AR for serious use, or if you are not very familiar with them, it is recommended you buy a factory AR15 from a reputable company.

Magpul PRO LR sights

Last week I bought a set of Magpul PRO LR flip up iron sights.  I got to try them out yesterday at the range and I am liking them.

Magpul PRO

The KAC 2-600m sight are still my favorite, but I think these Magpul PRO sights are well worth the cost.

Magpul PRO

Both the front and rear sight are very low profile.  A very small footprint for either sight.  Both sights have tool less adjustments.  When I first unboxed the sights, I was very impressed with the heavy duty feel of the sights.  The melonited case hardened steel should end up being a very tough, rust resistant sight.

Magpul PRO LR

I really appreciate how the mounting screw for these sights can be tightened by a screw driver or a 1/8 inch Allen wrench.  The PRO LR rear sight has an elevation adjustment wheel unlike the Magpul PRO.

Magpul PRO LR deployed

The elevation wheel is can be set from 2-6 with a single click in between each.  The rear sight offers small and large apertures.  The front sight post is a narrower match style.

I really like these sights, and I recommend them.  These little steel sights feel substantial.  I was worried at first that they would be too stiff and too small to deploy quickly, but since installing them I found that isn’t an issue.  The adjustment are stiff, which I prefer so there isn’t a concern of accidentally adjustment.

The only criticism I can come up with for these are that the back sides when flipped up don’t have the best aesthetics.

Magpul PRO Front Sight Deployed

I also wouldn’t mind seeing a 100 setting for the rear sight.

 

Springfield Armory’s Forgotten AR-15: The XM15

Despite what several gunwriters are claiming, the Springfield Armory Saint is not their first AR-15 rifle. Their first was the XM15, introduced circa 1982-83. However, Springfield has very good reasons to try to sweep the XM15 under the rug.

Springfield Armory XM15 wood furniture
Here’s a vintage 1980s gun magazine advertisement promoting the Springfield Armory XM15 and its optional wood furniture.

It appears that in 1983, Springfield (or their fraternal sibling Rock Island Armory, Inc.) wrangled a ~$900,000 FMS contract for 2,000 “M16-type” rifles to El Salvador. For those who don’t remember, RIA specialized in Title 2 NFA items, while Springfield focused on Title 1 firearms. Dennis Reese was president of Springfield, while his brother David was president of RIA. This 1984-vintage Washington Post article notes the Springfield rifle contract, along with some other questionable FMS contracts to El Salvador.

Colt caught wind of the XM15 contract and unleashed their lawyers against Springfield and their parts suppliers. Springfield Armory and Colt ultimately settled the suit in September 1984. While the majority of Colt’s patent rights should have already expired by the early 1980s, Colt’s argument was that Springfield and its suppliers were using Colt’s proprietary engineering drawings to manufacture the parts. It is my understanding that Springfield was permanently enjoined from selling their existing XM15 rifles. Moreover, Springfield could not use Colt’s proprietary drawings and information in the future manufacture or sale of AR-15/M16 rifles, unless Colt was later determined to have lost its trade secret rights.

While the decision in Colt Industries Operating Corp., Firearms Division v. Springfield Armory, Inc., 732 F. 2d 168, (Fed. Cir.) was unpublished, you can find mention of the suit in a series of related cases involving one of Springfield’s suppliers, Charles Christianson. Christianson fought back against Colt for several years, with one appeal even hitting the US Supreme Court.

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 609 F.Supp. 1174 (1985)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 613 F.Supp. 330 (1985)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 798 F.2d 1051 (1986)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 822 F.2d 1544 (1987)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 486 U.S. 800 (1988)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 870 F.2d 1292 (1989)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES, 766 F.Supp. 670 (1991)

Christianson appears to have been sourcing his parts primarily via Colt’s Philippine licensee Elisco, as well as certain Colt subcontractors within the US. However, I also have circumstantial evidence that the South Korean licensee Daewoo was one of Springfield’s other suppliers. According to an old GAO report, Daewoo allegedly tried to sell 12,500 spare parts worth ~$127,000 to an undisclosed US company in 1983. The GAO stated that this sale was halted due to legal action by Colt against the US company.

In 1989, Dennis Reese plead guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy, and filing false statements regarding their FMS contracts with El Salvador. There were accusations that Reese had conspired with a US military adviser (Col. Juan Lopez de la Cruz, US Army) and bribed him to the tune of ~$70,000 to help grease the skids for a $3.7 million contract. They reportedly falsified claims for $94,600 in sales commissions to a pair of Salvadorans, who then kicked back the majority to Reese. Reese also told the Defense Security Assistance Agency that the Greek Portuguese-vintage HK G3 barrels they were selling were of US origin. Reese was granted immunity to testify against the Col. Lopez; however, the latter was ultimately acquitted.

However, the US Justice Department was not finished with the Reese family. In 1990, David Reese and RIA were indicted by a Federal grand jury over the illegal manufacture and transfer of machine guns. The Feds alleged that RIA had sold 148 M60 with serial numbers recycled from transferable Title 2 weapons bought from John Stemple and Kent Lomont. The following link is one of the court decisions resulting from the RIA indictment:
U.S. v. ROCK ISLAND ARMORY, INC., 773 F.Supp. 117 (1991)
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RIA Ad - November 1982
This RIA advertisement ran in a popular gun magazine’s November 1982 issue.
RIA Catalog - 1982
Here’s a page from a 1982 RIA dealer catalog showing off their XM15 rifles, uppers and other parts.
Springfield XM15 Ad - April 1983
This is one of the first Springfield Armory-branded advertisements for the XM15. It appeared in a gun magazine’s April 1983 issue.
Springfield XM15 Ad - September 1983
Note that the prices have changed in this Springfield Armory advertisement from the same magazine’s September 1983 issue.
RIA Catalog - 1984
This 1984-vintage dealer flyer from RIA notes their settlement with Colt over the XM15.

Review: LaRue RISR on an AR15

 

I purchased a used Magpul CTR stock with LaRue RISR and POD installed.  It was interesting to try out the LaRue Reciprocating Inline Stock Riser (RISR) on an AR15.  The RISR is made to give a higher cheekweld on rifles like the LaRue .308 OBR and accommodate the charging handle on the AR series of rifles.

I tried the RISR on a Colt 6920 first.  I found the RISR to be high enough that I could not use the standard iron sights on the 6920.  When I tried another upper with a NightForce 2.5-10×24 in a LT135 high mount.  Even with the scope mounted higher then normal, I found the taller checkweld that the RISR gave made looking through the scope awkward.

Using the RISR gave a little more resistance then charging a normal AR15.  Having an extended charging handle lever would help when using the RISR.

The RISR may be an excellent choice for high mounted optics on the higher rail of a .308 AR.  However for me, the RISR just gets in my way on AR15s.  I have already removed the RISR from my rifle and will be sending it to Shawn so he can try it out.

Review: DSA AR15 Ambi-Safety

 

DSArms offers an AR15 semi-auto Ambi-Safety for $28 dollars; part number ZM41367AMBISA-A.  Both parts of the Ambi safety appear to be cast.  The groove allowing rotation is cut all the way around the DSA ambi safety, allowing the safety/selector to move into what would be a Burst/Full Auto position on a select fire rifle.  However the rifle will not fire while the safety is placed on this position.

The DSA safety is one of the cheapest options for an ambidextrous safety for the AR15.  The both sides of this safety lever are full size, so it may bump into your trigger finger when you flip the safety.  This safety also sticks out a little more from the receiver then other safeties.  This is most likely to ensure compatibility with the wide variety of aftermarket pistol grips available for the AR15.  I really do not like how the safety will spin into the third position.  If I push too hard or too far when trying to take the rifle off safe, I can push the safety past the fire point and any point past that the rifle will not fire.

I do not recommend the DSArms ambi-safety because it will rotate past fire.  However if that is not an issue for you, the DSArms ambi-safety is one of the cheapest ambi-safeties around.

On the Side Sling swivel

Occasionally questions arise about the side sling swivel for the AR15/M16/M4.  This will answer a few common questions.

It is normal for the sling mount to move.  it will wear and make marks on the barrel.

Side sling swivels come from the factory mounted so the loop faces the rear of the rifle.  This is fine if your using CAR or M4 plastic hand guards.  However if you are using a Knights M4 RAS this loop will interfer with installing and removing rail panel covers.  The Army authorizes mounting the sling loop forwards to negate that issue.

If you are mounting a M203 underbarrel grenade launcher on a M4, the side sling swivel will need to be mounted so the loop is on the ejector port side of the rifle(same side as used for left handed shooters).