Tag Archives: AR15

Building an AR15 upper

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Going from a pile of parts to a functioning AR isn’t very hard.  There are countless youtube videos and guides on how to build AR15s.  This isn’t a detailed guide, but a little commentary on the last upper I assembled.

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I find installing the port cover annoying.  I’ve done it enough times I can do it quickly, but it is still annoying.

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The pin can start from the front or the rear of the receiver, but it tends to be easier to work from the front.  Once started, get that spring in place.

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Give the spring a wind and push the rod through.

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Then watch it pop out of place and do it again.

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Then drop the C clip in the carpet and wait till a new one arrives in the mail.

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Then get that little annoying thing snapped in place.

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The forward assist should be simple to install.  Simply depress the forward assist and insert the roll pin.  The notch on the forward assist will keep it captive.

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You’ll note that I don’t have a photo of the installed forward assist as I managed to flair out the roll pin and had to get a replacement.  5/8th inch long, 3/32 diameter, and you can get a 100 pack from McMasterCarr for a few bucks.

Install the roll pin for the forward assist from the bottom of the receiver.  That way if(when) you slip with a hammer and punch, you ding up the bottom of the upper which few people will ever see.

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Fortunately barrel components slide together then screw on the upper and you get a working gun in no time.

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Launched Grapnel Hook

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Here is something a little different.  It is a lightweight grapnel that can be launched from an AR15 using a blank.  While it is not sturdy enough to climbing, it was meant for uses like clearing out trip wires.

It looks like the company that made these is out of business, but it is such a simple design that a person with a lathe could easily reproduce it.

Musings on Sniper ARs.


I heard that H&K won the Army compact semi-auto sniper competition.  That surprised me as I thought Knights Armament Corp. would be a sure win.  It will be interesting to see how the HK rifle turns out and how many actually get purchased.

I find it interesting that the Army moved away from a 20 inch barreled .308 to having a 16 inch barreled .308 carbine.  That got me thinking about the other Sniper type ARs that have been used recently in our military.  You see that the 18inch barreled MK12 rifles mostly phased out of service.  There also is no mention about other sniper M16 variants in the military being currently used (like the SAM-R, or the SDM-R).


I know the Army and Marines have both field the MK12 sniper rifle.  I also hear that very few are still in use.  One main thing said is that no replacement parts or service was set aside for them, so when they were shot out, there was no replacement.


The USMC adopted a 16.5 inch barreled 5.56 HK carbine for use as an Automatic Rifle.  When it was adopted I wondered if the USMC just really wanted a heavy barreled carbine but didn’t want to buy M4A1 Carbines.  Almost immediately after fielding the USMC made claims that these carbines were very accurate and that they would fill the Corps requirements for a Designated Marksman rifle.


There is plenty out there saying that the USMC likes the idea of the M27 IAR as a DMR rifle, for example this article from Marines.mil.


The Corps seems feel that a 3.5X scope on a 16.5 inch automatic rifle barrel firing M855 meets their needs as a DMR.  So this makes for an interesting question.  Is it that the USMC doesn’t need a match rifle firing match ammo with higher magnification, or is it that the individual Marines in combat situations cannot make better use of a more precision rifle?


Most likely it is that Marine Infantry would not effectively use a sniper rifle.  When people think about snipers they often think about the shooting skills and then next the stalking and hiding skills.  What isn’t often though about is the different in mentality, and the much greater training in spotting targets and observation fields of fire.


The Marine Corps Times isn’t a very reliable source of information, a little less so than National Enquirer, but they had an article with an interesting comment:

“You’d be shocked at how bad Marines are at guessing, like 700 meters for a target that was at 275 meters,” she said. “Range estimation comes into everything we do, whether it’s call for fire, small-arms marksmanship or setting a cordon for an [improvised explosive device]; it can be taught, but it’s a very perishable skill.”

A Tale of a 20” Colt A2 Barrel

Originally posted by Molon on the AR15.com Forums:

Link to forum post.

A Tale of a 20” Colt A2 Barrel

This Colt 20” A2 barrel started its life on a factory-built Colt 6551. This was a pre-ban rifle, but this barrel did not have one of those evil, havoc-wreaking bayonet lugs; it’s otherwise essentially the same barrel found on the Colt M16A2 and M16A4 as well as “civilian” variants of those rifles. The barrel has a government profile, a chrome-lined NATO chamber and bore and a 1:7” twist.

I fired a couple hundred rounds through the barrel while zeroing, chronographing various loads and doing some informal shooting. I did not conduct a formal accuracy evaluation of the barrel at that point in time. After that, I replaced this barrel with a Colt M16A2 barrel with the attending evil bayonet lug to create my M16A2 clone.

This barrel sat on my parts shelf collecting dust for a while, until I decided to sell it. I ended up selling it over the Internet. Three months after the buyer received this barrel, he sent me a message demanding a full refund for the barrel claiming that the barrel was junk and that it was never going to shoot accurately. While I was under no obligation whatsoever to give the buyer a refund after having it in his possession for three months, I did so anyway, minus a “restocking fee.”

After the barrel was returned to me I decided to conduct a formal accuracy evaluation of the barrel. I installed the barrel on a Colt flat-top upper receiver and free-floated the barrel with a 12” KAC free-float hand-guard. I conducted the accuracy evaluation from a distance of 100 yards from my bench-rest set-up using my hand-loads topped with 55 grain Sierra BlitzKings.

This barrel turned in a 3-shot group at 100 yards with an extreme spread of 0.180”.

This barrel produced a 5-shot group at 100 yards with an extreme spread of 0.516”.

A 10-shot group fired from this barrel at a distance of 100 yards had an extreme spread of 1.085”.

Six 10-shot groups fired in a row from this barrel at a distance of 100 yards had an average 10-shot group extreme spread of 1.35”.

Not too shabby for a “junk” barrel and actually, as good as anyone could expect from a chrome-lined, NATO chambered government profile barrel. In fact, this was one of the most accurate 20” government profile barrels that I’ve ever tested.


The downside to the AR15 ambi-safety.


One of the overlooked but great advantages of the AR15 is its easy to actuate safety/selector switch.  Some other guns, actually most other guns have perfectly serviceable safeties but not ones that can so easily be used.  Because of this many teach to place the AR15 on safe often, even when reloading.  Now to debate the merit of that isn’t the point of this article.

Now when manipulating the rifle left handed or left handed only, I would use the thumb of the left hand to flip the safety off and I would leave it off until such time that I knew I was not going to need to immediately shoot.

It is not that awkward for me to flip the left side safety with the thumb of my left hand, but that is a brief moment when you don’t have a good grip on the gun.

So on many of my rifles I run ambi-safeties.  I’m rather fond of the KAC models with scalloped right sides.  I’ve also use or owned Colt, LMT, and DSA ambi safeties.

You would think that an ambi-safety would be a pure upgrade with no downside.  Unfortunate not.  The easy to reach AR15 safety/selector has the downside of moving through the same space that the trigger finger would occupy.

So regardless of if your trigger finger is on the trigger, or off the trigger pointed forward along side the lower, that safety lever can and most likely will hit your finger.

This is the reason why KAC offers a scalloped right side trigger and Colt’s ambi-safety is shorted on the right side, etc.  This helps a the safety clear the trigger finger of the right handed shooter.

So what if your left handed?  Sucks to be you.  Or you could buy one of those rather expensive completely customizable safeties.

Ultimately this is a training issue.  Regardless of the type of safety you run, you need to be able to actuate it one handed with either hand.  I found that it was rather different working the safety if your holding the rifle with both hands, vs working with the right single-handedly.  When your support hand is holding the bulk of the weapons weight, it is no problem to shift your firing hand as you work the safety.  However if your holding up your rifle with just the one hand, trying to move your grip as you toggle as safety is just plain awkward.

Retro AR15 & Cleaning


Ever since I acquired this Colt SP1. I had it in mid to get some of the Vietnam era military cleaning gear to go with it. Not so much to use, but for display. I have a fairly large military display of Vietnam war era items and normally the cleaning stuff  is among the other things displayed. It took a while to track down each of these thing in new mint condition, but it was worth it and it makes a nice picture of the items in common use at time the rifle was originally made.

Mud Testing Service Rifles From InRange TV

The  fellows over at InRange TV  have been posting a series of very popular  mud tests on various service weapons. Most recently a mud test of the fragile AR15 that “everyone” knows can not take even a microscopic speck of dust and has to be cleaned every 3 rounds.    I like to think out regular readers already know how this video is going to turn out since it is one of my pet subjects.


I am sure this will still come as a shock to some people who see it.  The truth is the AR15 and its DI system can take a lot more filth and abuse that some of the guns out there with reputations for being unstoppable. Years of military personnel repeating handed down myth and  misinformation over decades combined with the civilian gun communities habit of believing everything a vet  says as if it was gospel that can never be question  and gun media with their own slick ads and and agenda has made this particular BS myth last longer than it should have.


Below is the dirty duo’s  mud test of the AK47 . The mythological unstoppable killing machine that is infallible.

And here is a much enlightening ( for some) video with mud testing some of the other popular service rifles.

M1 Garand.  mud test .



You can find all of there videos  following the links below.


You can also find the other channel Forgotten weapons at the same website http://www.full30.com