Getting The “Perfect Rifle” Then Hating It ( A Cautionary Tale )


Yesterday I read a thread over at good old B-Arfcom that illustrates a common mistake for a lot of people who chase after the same goal. The poster decided to build his “perfect rifle.” Yes. He got all the parts he wanted and put it together to find out not only was it not perfect but that it really sucked . lets take a look.

I’m sure some of you can relate, but for years I’ve been chasing the “perfect” rifle, specially the perfect AR for me. But when I finally thought I got there, it turns out that I hate it.

Started out as a pretty basic rifle with these being the only notable parts:
-16″ midlength BCM barrel, reprofiled
-NiB bolt carrier
-ALG handguard
-Aimpoint Comp M2
-Magpul BUIS

Then I took a one day basic carbine course and found:
-the hand guard became uncomfortable to grasp after a couple mags
-the milspec trigger sucked
-tons of blowback in my face from the suppressor
-had trouble making accurate hits at range (partially due to my vision)

So I took that experience and added:
-SLR adjustable gas block
-mlok rail polymer rail covers
-A5 length buffer tube and A5H1 buffer
-Magnifier in Larue flip-to-side mount
-Magpul pro front sight and matech rear sight
-Inforce weapon light
-Hyperfire trigger

Here she is with most of those parts

I very excitedly took this new build out for a test drive and found…
-at the lowest gas setting to get lock back on an empty mag, I was still getting excessive gas to the face with my suppressor.
-handguard was crowded due to lack of rail space, resulting in the front sight being in a weird position
-mlok covers were easily knocked loose in the course of slinging the rifle and tuning the gas block

-magnifier SUCKED in that it made the sight picture darker and gave a much narrower field of view

I’m not sure what to change to make it better. Could a different barrel cut down on the blowback, or possibly a different buffer? Optics still suck though, at least at range. All in all, if it’s not my perfect rifle, then I don’t think it has a place in my collection and will end up parted out into other builds. Maybe I’ll repurpose these receivers into the
MK12 clone I’ve always wanted.

TLDR: I spent a lot of time planning this build. I like a lot of the individual parts, but as a whole it’s just not a comfortable or fun rifle to shoot, and I just kinda hate it. “

So the poster ran in to a lot of problems he didn’t foresee. Some of this is normal finding out what works and what doesn’t. Some of it was buying stuff looked cool and he thought would be cool without thinking it through. Now. I doubt he would admit he bought any parts for the “cool factor” but we all know he did.

The owner started out with a pretty basic solid rifle and then managed to ruin it with parts and additions he did not need and complicated it. Then when it didn’t work out the way he envisioned it, he added even more boutique stuff to it and made it worse.

The truth is the owner chased after his idea of perfect without thinking it through. He thought of all the cool parts ( his idea of cool anyway) he wanted and thought would make the gun perform better. The irony is he would have done better with a stock 6920 and an ACOG in about 4x or a Aimpoint pro.

He later updated his post with his new perfect rifle .

But maybe some redemption…?

This is my 10.5″ SBR. No BUIS with a Trijicon TR21 1.25-4x, and an IR laser up front. No gas to the face using a A5H0 buffer and standard gas block. Not the best optic, and I can’t fit my inforce wml with the laser, but it seems to do everything better than my other rifle. Maybe just a different handguard needed?

It now has that Hiperfire trigger, which is really nice. I also used this rifle in a carbine course, which prompted switching out a shorty stock for the current magpul one, and adding a Raptor charging handle and handstop out front.

The gun still looks like 20 people added their idea of what parts make the perfect rifle. He admitted to trying to make the ” do everything rifle and learned there is no such thing. Or he is about to anyway. I won’t comment on the looks of that thing since it’s irrelevant..

This line of thinking has been touched on by Howard several times here, The “Jack of all trades” rifle. I think the Thai people have a much better version of this that applies. ” ducks can walk, fly, and swim but they are good at nothing ” That really sums up the do it all rifle.

The problem with most do everything rifles is people want it to literally do everything, Not do a little of everything which is more useful. Yes the idea is alluring but chasing it is like looking for that pot of gold on the other end of the rainbow. It’s made worse when the perfect rifle gets conflated with the idea rifle and even worse still when the owner tries to add all the boutique high speed parts.

The goal should be to approach the idea of the do it all rifle FOR YOU. And by that I mean what you really use the gun for not for everything you can imagine you will possibly use the rifle for. Be honest with yourself.

Do I have my “perfect do everything rifle?” Yea, Its called the Colt 6940 with an SSA trigger in it and a couple of optics with Larue QD mounts to swap around. Sure I have other guns but they are specialized for more narrow jobs. They will do those jobs better than the 6940 but I can get 80 percent of that job done with the 6940 if it is all I had. I don’t change rails every time SOCOM adopts a new one, I don’t need special coated BCGs nor do I have to worry about rail space. Get pas the idea of your do it all/perfect rifle needing to be some 10K parts gun made from the most expensive after market parts on the cutting edge of the gun fad and you will be surprised how close you end up to having the perfect do it all rifle.


  1. What on earth is that brick at the front of his do over build? Yeah people definitely over think or get fixated on do dads. the only disappointments I’ve had were just things that aren’t big enough to worry about. Like my hand guard was fatter than I realized but meh. Not a big deal. And I could slim it down with different covers but honestly I like the way it looks with the ones it has so again, meh. works fine, just fat.
    I think this guy was so focused on his end result that he didn’t do the homework on the individual parts. Like the eyesight. that’s just plain not being honest with yourself.

  2. I will give the dude kudos for actually getting training and using the rifle. How many rifles like this one are hanging around in safes, pulled out once a year to make 15” groups at 7 yards?

  3. Almost 50 years ago I got some advice from a former state high power rifle champion.
    He told me to buy a good quality basic rifle, get some instruction and shoot the living shit out of it.
    The shoot it some more, concentrating on the basics.
    He told me that when I had worn out that first rifle I’d have a pretty good idea of what was right for me.

  4. I’m an engineer and in my experience Form often follows Function. If it looks right it probably is.

    That second build is a stupid looking gun. It’s like the British SA80. You just look at it and go “Nah….I don’t think so”.

    • Well, many do convert that theory into practice, and that’s why I don’t work on AR’s for other people. After awhile, one grows weary of time-wasting discussions about accessories and doodads with AR owners that go like this:

      AR Owner: “What do you think about doodad XYZ?”
      DG: “I have no idea – never even heard of it…”
      AR Owner: “How can you be a gunsmith who has never heard of doodad XYZ?”
      DG: “Very easily.”

      The AR market continues to astonish me, quite frankly. I’ve got nothing against the platform – Lord knows I own enough of them – but the number of doodads that I see especially young guys adding to their rifles leaves me scratching my head, because the answers I get to my single question “How does that help you shoot well?” are always circuitous, at best.

      When they ask to see my favorite among my AR’s, I pull it out: they see a rifle with a custom barrel in a SPR profile, no muzzle brake, an ACOG and a good adjustable buttstock. That’s it. Then they start asking “Why don’t you have a (insert front handguard here), so you can add (insert doodads here)?” or “Have you tried trigger X?” or “You really need to look at BCG ABC123!”

      “With this rifle, if I dope the wind correctly, I can put 55 grain ball rounds into a 8″ circle on the first shot at 400 yards. What will any of those things do to improve that result?”

      Lots of non-answers follow.

      It’s exhausting, and some days it shows as exasperation and irritation.

      But then, some smarter young guys will ask “OK, so what’s your favorite military(-style) rifle?” Good question. I’m happy to answer that question. I whip out my 1903A3 with a rear peep sight and put that in their hands. “Glad you asked. That’s it. Done.”

      “A bolt action? Not a M14 or Garand?”

      “You asked for my favorite. Here it is. Right there. I have a M1A – it’s right over there, but you asked for my favorite, and here it is.”


      I like to watch young people think. I get an impression that not many teachers ask young people to think any more.

      • I think that a lot of the doodads are driven by the movement of AR-pattern guns into CQB roles, especially driven by the Iraq war. A white light or a laser, for instance, is at best useless for your 400 yard application. But it’s great if you are kicking doors or having your door kicked.

        It’s like Kirk says: figure out your mission, then your tactics, then choose a weapon for the role.

        But don’t get me started on compensators for low-recoil cartridges like 5.56 and 6.5 CM. I have a passionate loathing for them. Making your shooting/hunting buddies pay with their hearing for your sissy shoulder is worthy of contempt.

        • Because I have tinnitus and notches in my hearing, I’m a zealot on the issue of compensators/brakes. I hate them with a flaming passion. I have talked more than one customer out of having them. I’ve guided customers to get a suppressor, or add weight to their rifle, or other solutions. Mind you, this costs me easy money. I could make lots more money if I didn’t talk potential customers out of jobs.

          I have a .338 WM that came with one of the “BOSS” brakes on it – basically, it’s a tunable weight that is also a brake on a .338 with a too-light 26″ barrel. It should have been a shorter barrel that was thicker, IMO, and if I ever re-barrel it, that’s what it will get: 24″, about a #6 contour. With the BOSS, I can get it to group 3/4″ at 100 with 210gr Partitions. That’s what that rifle is fed. It kills everything I aim it at. It’s used for hunting big game, period, full stop.

          Anyway, when I go to a range to sight it in or test loads for it, I tell people “I’m setting up at the end of the firing line because this is loud…”and I try to set up well away from people. People at a range tend to be sociable, and they set up next to me during a cease-fire. I tell them “You might want to be way over there…” and people will then say “Oh, it’s OK… I have these muffs/plugs/etc.”

          After a few rounds, they’re always packing up and moving away from me.

          But when I shooting my AR’s without any comp/brake? I’m mobbed with people at times. “Your AR seems so quiet, even without a can…”

          Yea, there’s a reason for that. See what isn’t on the muzzle? No threads, no comp, no brake.


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