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Looks like the barrel is shot on my favorite AR.

My favorite gun started key-holing last weekend.  It is the most distraught I’ve felt in a long time.  Like losing an old friend.  Extra kick in the nuts was that I just rebuilt the gun as I was upgrading it.

After I had issues with my first SBR I decided I’d have another built no holds barred.

I started seeing pictures of 10.5 inched barreled carbines with the 9.5 inch long Daniel Defense Lite rail.  I really liked that setup.  That rail was a predecessor to the RIS II rail.  Similar profile but the bottom rail was lower and did not detach.  I was planning to use one of those when I learned about the RIS II rails.  I liked the idea of being able to remove the bottom rail for cleaning.  And one of the Daniel Defense reps told me that ALL the RIS II rails could mount a M203.  Later I learned that was not true of their MK18 Rail.

I like this upper setup so much I decided I’d swap the old WOA upper on it with a Colt FDE upper and have one of my SBR lowers Cerakoted Burned Bronze to turn this setup all FDE.

Sort of like that, but with an FDE lower.

It was interesting pulling this old upper apart to rebuild it.  There was a little corrosion:

Along with lots of gunk.

But everything cleaned up nicely:

The barrel was part of a limited run from a company that no longer exists.  They had Douglas blanks turned down by Compass Lake Engineering with wylde chambers.  Then a small part of this batch was given an ion bond finish.

Now days I wouldn’t recommend a match barrel on a SBR.  But it sure was a fun combination.  I don’t know how many rounds I had through it, but it is somewhere around 10,000 +- 3,000.  Match ammo, m193, m855, lots of wolf and other assorted cheap ammo, some of it fired full auto on other peoples lowers, lots of rapid fire.  Only failures I had were two case head separations with Black Hills blue box remanufactured ammo.

I often drove my self nuts trying to shoot very small groups with that 75 grain boat tail open tip match Black Hills ammo.  I would shoot 5 or 10 round groups and have 3 or 8 rounds touching under half an inch at 100 yards.  Then always I would have a shot or two that opened the group up to 1.1 inches.  Drove me mad.  Later I was told by some other shooters that used the same ammo that about 1.1 inch groups at 100 yards were what they normally got out of that ammo.

For a long time this was my main AR.  It also functioned as a test bed.  If I had something new to test, try it on with this gun.  Note, I have multiple SBR lowers and I move uppers between them.  In no particular order here are a few of the setups I’ve used other the years and happened to take photos of.

I hated the UBR stock, but when I had one, it was on this rifle.

I even ran an A1 fixed stock on it for a while after I got rid of the UBR.

I’ve used many different iron sights and scopes on it.  I used Troy BUIS for a long time before finally deciding that I liked the sight picture of the KAC sights the best.

That picture is from when I was joking on a forum about having an offset ACOG for close in work when you are running your fixed 10x scope.  The ACOG was mounted to an offset rail which at the time I was normally using a Doctor sight on.

Yup, I even had an ACOG with piggyback T-1 back in the day.  I love the combo of running the Nightforce 2.5-10×24 on this rifle as the rifle is accurate and the scope makes hitting what you want to hit easy.  I sent a good number of round downrange at 565 yard targets with a Nightforce on this upper.

In the past I’ve called this gun my “Micro-Recce”.  A rifle small and handle enough for fast work, but plenty accurate enough if you needed to take a little longer shot.  But in hind sight I think everything practical that I ever did with this rifle could have been done just as well with a chrome lined barrel.  Had I started with a chromed barrel I probably wouldn’t be rebararreling it now.  While a well made stainless barrel will hold  up to a great deal, it just is not made for sustained abuse.

I’ve tried a great number of fun or odd setups with this gun.

I was debating if it was time to retire this upper and build something different but instead I decided that I am going to rebarrel it.  I’m taking a Colt M4A1 SOCOM barrel that I have lightly used and having it cut down to 10.3 inches by ADCO Firearms.  The old 4 slot Legacy Surefire mount is going to be replaced with a new Warcomp.  I know a collector who is going to give that 4 slot a good new home.  This new set up should give me a good reliable accurate barrel (but not a match barrel, which I feel is excessive on a SBR).  The Warcomp will reduce the already minor recoil.  That will give a great deal more life out of this gun.

I’m relieved to know that I am going to still be using this years to come.

My first SBR.

A long time ago, in the ancient barbaric times of 2007, I finally had an approved Form 1 to make a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR).  Back then we didn’t have the pistol braces so doing the paperwork for a SBR was considered the best way to go.

I don’t remember why I choose to go get a SBR, but I have loved the short AR15 ever since.

I decided no expense would be spared, I would build a top notch SBR.  (Tier 1 wasn’t a phrase used back then, but that sort of mentality).

It was common knowledge back then that short AR15s were generally unreliable.  The LMT 10.5 inch upper was said to be the exception.  That it would “run like a raped ape”.  (It wasn’t till years later I learned that was a racist term).  LMT also used a medium profile barrel heavier than a standard M4 barrel on their 10.5 inch uppers.

I wasn’t going to use my old RRA lower for this, I would buy a brand new top of the line lower to build this top of the line gun.

So I went with a LMT lower.  The gun ended up looking like this:

Let me take a moment to explain some of the decisions and setups shown.

I wanted a flip up rear sight, so I went with the Troy rear sight I purchased for use in Iraq.  Troy sights are still an excellent product, but I much prefer to use other brands now.  Not to mention that the Troy Industries has done some questionable things since then.

I wanted to free float the barrel so I had a Larue 7.0 free float rail installed by MSTN.  It made for a very nice configuration.  Back then I wasn’t set up to build uppers, and MSTN was very highly regarded.  I believe they are still around but I don’t hear much about them.  I had him test fire the upper for me.

“YOURS IS BUILT AND GOT SHOT YESTERDAY. A FRIEND AND COWORKER WAS THERE
AT THE RANGE, AND I LET HIM SHOOT A MAGAZINE THROUGH YOUR UPPER.

HE ON THE SPOT DECIDED TO GET ONE FOR HIMSELF. HE WENT AND PICKED UP AN
LMT LOWER FROM THE SHOP WHERE WE DO BUSINESS AND HAS ALREADY SENT IT
OFF TO BE ENGRAVED.” Quote from Wes.

I choose to use a Diamondbond coated LMT Bolt.  MSTN was out of Diamondbond coated LMT Bolt Carriers so I purchased a coated Young MFG carrier.  I also purchased a second coated Bolt Carrier Group.  I’ll come back to this detail later.

A PRI Gasbuster was picked as it was the ultimate charging handle of its day.

I used the SOPMOD stock that came with the LMT lower.  I added a KAC QD sling attachment to the stock as back then LMT stocks did not offer a QD mount in them.

I used a CQD sling for a while back in Iraq.  I decided to go with CQD sling mounts on my SBR.  It was a good while later that I learned the SEALs were using the same mounts, I still think they were copying me.

Back then I think I tried every mainstream AR grip on the market. (No I didn’t use the one that let you put a revolver grip on your AR).  I eventually settled on the old A1 grip.  No finger bump.

For a while I ran the Eotech 512 forward mounted because the weight up front also helped reduce muzzle flip.

 

There were many many things I loved about that configuration, but it had a few fatal flaws.

Lets first talk about mistakes I made.

The LMT lower I purchased had an issue with its finished.  It was flaking off near the safety and the trigger pins.  I should have rejected it and had it replaced.

That sorta worked out ok with due to another mistake I made.

I had a local trophy shop engrave it for the NFA engraving requirements.  They really fucked it up.  I ended up having a pay more to send it off to Orion/TheGunGarage to have it properly engraved, the bad engraving fixed, and the lower finish touched up.  They work they did was awesome, but I shouldn’t have had to have that work done in the first place.

Back then some of the ammo I shot was Norinco.  This Chinese ammo seemed to lack the flash suppressant than most American ammo has.  When I fired my first round through this upper it made a tremendous amount of flash and blast and I instantly knew I was going to get a suppressor.  I wanted a Knights NT4, but my local didn’t didn’t have one and I let them talk me into a Gemtech M402.  The M402 is a good can, but ultimately wasn’t what I wanted.  Had I bought a NT4 I would probably still be using it as my main can today.

One of the biggest mistakes of mine was picking Eotech.  Back then, it was common knowledge that Eotech was great and Aimpoint sucked.  Just like how it was common knowledge that the world was flat.  Everyone knew that Eotech sights were faster, and because it used common AA batteries you could pull batteries of a remote to keep it running.  I didn’t know back then that I would have to room clear to the living room TV remote just to try and keep the Eotech running.

Now lets talk about the issues outside my control.

I had two Diamondbond LMT/YoungMFG bolt carrier groups.  One has been flawless, has seen tons of rounds, and just held up awesome.  It still resides in my favorite AR.  The other is. . . finicky.  That other coated LMT bolt causes random malfunction in what ever gun it is put in.  I was never able to figure out why.  It still sits in my parts bin.  That carrier however has seen tens of thousands of rounds of 5.45 and held up awesome.  Diamondbond is an amazing coating.

Chrome lined barrels can be very accurate.  LMT can make a very accurate barrel.  But my barrel was threaded poorly.  This wouldn’t have been an issue except I wanted to run a suppressor.

Either way this barrel had massive point of impact shift when suppressed.  10 minutes of angle.  That meant that I could either zero the upper suppressed or suppressed.  Since then I have multiple barrels that have had zero POI shift when suppressed, and that is what I have grown accustom too.

That was the ultimate deal breaker for me.  To not be able to quickly switch between suppressed and unsuppressed.  But I still love the 10.X inch barrel length on the AR.

SCATTERED SHOTS II

I am a little unorganized today, the post yesterday about  H. W. McBride took longer to get together  than I thought it would and it really eat in to the time I spend on the rest of a weeks line up.  So, today we are  doing another “Scattered shots” post where I say a few things about a gun and gun related subjects that cross my mind.  The first time I did this seems to have been well enough received so lets try it again.

First up I want to put you on to something that is actually pretty useful.  arma-dynamics has a page up showing graphics on where all manner of zeroes will hit on target with AR15s with most popular barrel length and ammo.  http://www.arma-dynamics.com/zero-considerations.html

If you are curious  about what I use  here it is.   For guns like a  MK12 or any precision rifle I use a 100 yard zero and I adjust my optic for shots further than 200 yards. I hold off for 200 and then start to dial it in further for precise shots.  The idea being I am am using an optic on a precision rifle I want to be able to hit the smallest target I can.   For guns like  an A2 or M4 using iron sights I use the 25.300meter zero.  The idea being I want the easier zero to keep all shots in a man’s chest out to 300, at which point I can start using the adjustment on the A2/A4 rear sight and apply elevation.   If I am shooting something that is just for playing or say, a retro A1 carbine or SBR with older style iron sights, I use the 50 yard zero. It works well with 55 grain M193 and its  a great  zero for  that ammo and gun.   I know it seems  like it would be a lot to remember but its really not. Or not for me anyway.

Earlier this week Howard wrote about the ACOG  and the models he has and likes best.  I meant to send him this graphic but like an idiot I forgot.   I think it came from Brian from over at The New Rifleman, who sometimes writers a post for us here when he isn’t being a lazy gold brick.

This image is from a report/power point from the U.S. Navy. – Howard

There is no doubt that shooting your carbine with an optic is just plain fun.  Never mind the fighting applications of the force multiplier of a magnified optic on a  carbine, it is just fine. What is more fun is when you put a huge optic on a small handy carbine.

Some years ago Howard bought this Leupold and sent it to me to borrow a while and play with it.    Man, I loved it.  The Mk 6  Leupold is a 3x-18x and in my opinion is my favorite optic of all time.  I love it’s features, I love it’s size and it’c clarity.  If I had to have only one optic to use for precision shooting at long range and moving it around on various AR pattern rifles in 5.56 and 7.62 it would be this one.  I slapped it on my 6940 with some bipods and put a real hurt on the crows that season.  I smacked the above crow in the head at  278 yards using  Hornady TAP 75 gr OTMs.

It may look odd to some people but it is hard to describe just how fun it is to put high quality optics with  higher magnification optics on a handy carbine and smack steel at range. Or even just shooting groups or skeet on a berm a a few hundred yards.  It is even funner when you put it on  a lightweight profile barrel and use it to really see what kind of accuracy you can squeeze out of a A1 profile barrel carbine.

The Leupold MK6 firmly placed it self as my favorite scope also. -Howard

Speaking of shooting targets at long range.  Here is a picture from a training range at a military range not too far from me. I hate to be”that guy”  but I can’t say where or a few people could get in trouble.  We have thought about trying to recreate this  unknown distance range with steel targets  all over, but the local morons would destroy the targets just out of drunken ignorance.  Anyway it is a great picture of a pretty nifty training range.

Speaking of military ranges, I been re-reading for the 4th time, the autobiography of Col. Charles Askins.   Col. Askins was a very controversial gun writer while he was alive.  If you get talking about ithim on certain gun forums you can still cause a  fuss.  the Colonel was not shy about his love for killing  people.  He was a champion pistol shot a veteran of the border Patrol in its wildest days, was in WW2, and Vietnam  and he was an accomplished big  hunter.

The good Colonel loved to describe all of his kills ( human) with the detail and satisfaction  of a man who really loves his work.  It was said of him he was the only man that many met that truly loved to be in a fight.   He killed several in his days in the BP where is famously used a shotgun with the “duckbill spreader” choke. He sniped Germans from building on the allied side of the Rhine when bored and killed   a few.   He went on to shoot a few Vietnamese commies  in the early days of the US involvement  with a .44 magnum.  Probably the first to do so in combat.   He wrote  several books on shooting and hunting and countless magazine articles.  He was a user of Colt 1911s and revolvers being a believe in the “fitz special”   wheel guns for carry. In that he really loved the New Service colt in .45  done up as a Fitz Special.    Which is the bobbed hammer and the front  part of the trigger guard removed and the barrel and ejector shortened.  Guns magazine has been making their older issues from the past 50 years available for reading for free on their website. You can read some of his articles there.

While looking though some of my old picture folders fore something else I ran across these. They are models Colt  had made up for future adoption or replacement of the M4.

The top SCW and the bottom rifle are piston guns.  A limited number of SCW stocks were sold at a crazy price.  I would have probably still bought one had I had the chance. -Howard

You can see some pretty interesting details. It is a shame they never made some of these.   The rifle with a monolithic rail and a collapsible butt stock would have been pretty cool to have. The SCW stock is something I wish they would turn loose of.   I am not sure how popular the  piston would be on the others.  They knew even back then not where near as many people actually wanted one as  people online would have you think.  The army  did some testing and found piston guns aren’t really all that much better than a DI  operated m4 and here we are , years after the HK416 came out and the piston crazy came and went.

And with the topic of popular myths that make an Ar15 work better is the old chestnut about downloading the magazines by two rounds.   Usually the problem comes from some worthy putting 21 or 31 rounds in a magazine.  Not from weak springs or something or other.

Some sources report that the 20 round mag spring could be installed backwards.  If someone did so the mag was reliable for 18 rounds, but not 20.  Some claim that is why downloading the 20 round mags was recommended.  I have had no issue with running 20 rounds in old USGI 20 round mags. -Howard

Back in those days the M16 was only supposed to be a stop gap until their wonder weapon of the future came out.   If you ever wondered what some of those atrocities looked like here are a few.  Maybe Daniel will pop into the comments and give some detail info about this for those interested.

Of course that didn’t happen and the M16 went on to be arguably our country’s greatest service rifle.

Above you can see a impressive selection of weapons used by US forces during the  Vietnam war.   There are M16s of all kinds, some  Stoner 63s, a Remington 7188 shotgun and the Xm148  launcher that was used before the M203.

Back in 2010 I was in D.C. and was able to stop into the NRA firearms museum.   It is worth going to if at all possible but I found it kinda sloppy in most of it’s displays with very little detail added.  I wish they would let me be in charge of the displays, I would give them something to be proud of. But they had two that I really liked.  One was Ed McGivern’s guns and some items,   He was one of the best pistol shots of all time.

The  other display was this  old shooting gallery.  Man, those were the days.

 

That is about it for the day.  I will leave with this.

 

 

My 9mm AR

There are a couple different style of 9mm AR15s out there.  Used to be as simple as having two variations that were not interchangeable, the Colt pattern and the Olympic pattern.  Now there are other variations, but the majority have somewhat interchangeable parts with the Colt pattern.

In the Colt pattern, you are suppose to use a spacer in the buffer tube.  I finally bought a proper spacer, but previously I had been using a stack of quarters.

Proper spacer on the left, $1.25 on the right.(My old “spacer”)  Looks like the spacer is the same height as 4 quarters, and it has a section to slip into the spring.

My first 9mm AR was a Colt upper on a standard lower using a VM Hytech (sp?) Uzi mag block.  It let me used unmodifed Uzi mags, but I couldn’t use the normal AR15 magazine release.

I sold that Colt upper and picked up a 10.5 inch RRA upper.  That RRA upper had a very heavy barrel and ended up being much heavier than the Colt 16″ barreled upper.  I was not too thrilled about that.  Ended up getting rid of that some time ago.

An old picture of a messy desk and the RRA 9mm Upper.

A little while back I saw a guy selling one of the new Colt 9mm uppers that had a flat top for a good price.  I bought it and also purchased a Hahn Precision top loading mag block.

The top loading mag block allows me to use the standard bolt catch, and mag release with Colt pattern mags.  Installing the top loading mag block requires removing the bolt catch, so it isn’t very quick to install or remove.

So my 9mm AR is a Colt 6991 upper on an old SBR lower.  When using a 9mm upper you need to make sure to be using a compatible hammer in your fire control group.  I use a no-notch hammer.  Notched semi auto hammers will cause the action to lock up and make disassembly the firearm a pain in the ass.

One other change I made was to add a gas tube stub to the front sight base.  On a normal AR15, the gas tube prevents the front cap for the hand guards from rotating.  On a 9mm or .22 AR, there is no gas tube.  Some years back I got from Spikes Tactical some sort predrilled rod sections that you install like a gas tube to prevent your hand guard from rotating.  Not necessary, but a nice little little upgrade.

As shown in the picture, I have a KAC RAS quad on it, and I am running an Aimpoint PRO as the optic.  The Aimpoint PRO is an excellent lower cost option for a hard use optic.  If you shop around you can find them in the $350 range.

I don’t shoot the 9mm AR much, but it is a whole lot of fun.  It is excellent for when you are wanting to shoot steel targets at much closer ranges.

In the end, if I were to start from scratch, I would probably either just buy a factory Colt 9mm carbine or perhaps something like the SIG MPX.

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.