Category Archives: Guide

AR-10 / LR308 Lower Assembly Guide *No Video!*

With “Ghost Guns” coming up so much lately, I wanted to ride the wave and do something relevant to that discussion. I’ve also been looking for an excuse to put something together off of this 80% Arms .308 lower that I’ve had finished for a while. True to what this website was intended for, here’s a no-video step by step assembly guide.

I’m using an Aero Precision M5 .308 Lower Parts Kit, minus FCG/Pistol Grip, as I intend to supply my own trigger (and you should too). Also needed is a receiver extension / buffer assembly – I’m using an Aero M5 .308 Carbine Buffer Kit, which also includes the end plate and castle nut.

Tools needed:
Screwdriver – whatever kind you need for your grip screw, varies.
Castle Nut Wrench – only if using a carbine receiver extension.
1/16th Punch – Not necessary, but definitely helped a few times.
7/16th Roll Pin Punch – Same as above, not needed but helped.

We’ll start with the Magazine Catch.
You’ll need the Magazine Catch Body, Spring, and Button.

Drop the Body into the recess on the left side of the lower.

Then put the spring to recess on the opposite side, and push the button in on top of it.

Here’s first fun part. You’ll want to push the button in while holding the body on the other side, and push the body out slightly while holding the button. This should push the body out of the recess. Rotate it a few times clockwise (about 3 turns) so that it’s started and you don’t have to worry about losing it.

Now, use something that wont mar the finish to push the button further in that you can by hand – a dowel or plastic pen work. I used a 7/32 roll pin punch to do it. With the button pushed in as far as it’ll go, continue screwing the body in until another rotation would be scraping the receiver (don’t do this), and let go. Done.

Next, the Bolt Catch.
We’ll be using the Bolt Catch, Buffer, Spring, and Roll Pin.
Note: LR308s, including this 80% Arms lower, generally use a threaded Bolt Catch pin. The Aero kit doesn’t include this, and honestly a roll pin works fine here, just as it does on an Armalite AR-10 or an AR-15. But if you’d rather use a screw, you can buy one here.

Put the buffer into the spring, and drop that spring-side-down into the hole here.

Put the magazine catch into the recess, and simply push the roll pin in, wiggling things as needed until it goes all the way through. Use a small punch to push it in just a tad deeper than you can with your finger, and that’s it. Tension from the spring will keep it in place.
Note: If you’re using a screw instead of a roll pin, simply thread it in using the proper size hex wrench.

Now, the hard part – Pivot Pin Assembly.
We’ll be using the Pivot Pin, Pivot Detent, and Pivot Spring.
Note: The detent and spring for the Pivot and Taketown pins are interchangable.

See that little hole in the front there? Put the spring in through there. It’ll go right into a recess in the receiver behind it. Now, the trick here if there is one, is to put the spring in partially, then follow it with the detent, then slide the whole in through in one motion by following it with a 1/16″ punch or similar. Try your best to do this in under 30 attempts.

Isn’t it great that those detents are brass, and thus easy to find when you drop ’em the 7th @#$%ing time?

Now, with it held in place (it’s okay, I know that took a few tries), start the pivot pin in with the groove facing the detent. When you’ve got it started and it’s pushing against your punch, in as smooth a motion as you can manage, remove the punch and push the pin in. With luck, you’ll get a satisfying *click* and can then push it through the rest of the way with another *click* when it seats all the way through.

That was the hardest part, honest. It’s all downhill from here.

The next bit includes a few things done at the same time.
Takedown Pin Assembly, Safety Selector, and Grip.

First get the above parts ready – The Takedown Pin, Pivot, and Detent, and the Safety Spring and Detent.

Put the Safety Selector in, and set it to Safe. Then, put the Takedown Pin into this hole, groove side down (relative to the receiver). Next, put the detents into these holes, pointy side towards the parts you just installed.

Now, get your grip and screw ready, this will take a touch of finesse to not bend the springs, but isn’t too difficult. Put the Takedown Pin spring into the hole in the receiver, but put the Safety spring into the hole in the grip. Slide your grip on, while making sure the Safety Spring lines up, and push it home being careful to compress, but not bend, the Takedown spring.

Now, tighten the grip screw. In my case it was a hex head.

Almost Finished!

Finally we’ll be installing the Receiver Extension & Buffer Assembly.
I’m using a carbine buffer kit, which has a few extra steps. If you’re using an A2 length extension, you can mostly ignore the bits about the End Plate and Castle Nut.

First, thread the Castle Nut onto the receiver extension with the deeper notches facing the rear, like so. It’s okay if you run it all the way down and off of the threads.

Then, slip the End Plate on, dimple facing this way, down onto the extension by lining the notch up with the grove in the threads.

Now, place the Buffer Retainer Spring, and Buffer Retainer into the hole in the threaded area of the receiver.

Thread the receiver extension into the receiver until it touches the Buffer retainer, then back it off just as much as is needed to have it oriented correctly.

Slide the End Plate down until it mates with the receiver. The notch+cutout and dimple+recess will ensure the extension is properly indexed. Now, simply thread the Castle Nut back in the other direction until it’s tight.

You’ll want to use a castle nut wrench to torque this down to about 40lbs, then stake it using the forward facing notch if you’re so inclined.

Finally, run the spring and and buffer into the extension, and it should click in place over the retainer. Install your desired stock (or brace) if you like, and you’re done with the basics.

Note that I didn’t include the trigger install. That’ll be along with a review coming up shortly – but if you know how to install an AR-15 trigger, it’s pretty much the same. In the meantime, see my review of the Timney Targa drop-in trigger for the basics on installing a drop-in trigger to an AR, it would apply here.

FAQ
“My lower parts kit came with a very tiny screw, where does that go?”
That’s a 4-40 set screw for the takedown pin detent hole. On fancier receivers, that hole is threaded and you can compress the spring and thread that in with a hex screw instead of pushing it in with the grip.

Timney Targa Drop-in Trigger – Install and Review

Though Geissele seems to dominate the topic of aftermarket AR triggers, I’ve long been a fan of Timney Triggers when it comes to other applications, so I figured I’d give them a try when it came time to upgrade the trigger on the AR9 project gun.

That Milspec trigger from PSA won’t do.

So, after watching for deals for a bit, I ended up snagging one for a decent price from grabagun.

I went with the flat bow rather than curved, but even their curved one is quite a bit straighter than many AR triggers.  This is mostly personal preference.

So, the neat there here is – compared to many other AR triggers available – these units are pre-assembled in an aluminum housing that just drops right in place.  Not only does it make them a snap to install, but you can swap them out just as easily.

Here’s what’s included

How to Install:

      1. Typical safety disclaimer:
        Make sure the firearm is unloaded, have no ammunition in your work area, wear protection, look both ways, etc.
      2. Remove the upper receiver.
      3. Remove the Grip, being careful not to lose the Safety Detent & Spring.
      4. Carefully remove the Safety.
      5. Remove the remaining pins holding the trigger assembly in place.  You’ll need these when installing the new trigger.

        You could use a punch to remove these, but they were easy enough to nudge out with the included Allen Wrench
      6. Remove the trigger assembly, and toss into the parts bin / trash.   Seriously though – you probably wont want them again after shooting with a proper aftermarket trigger.
      7. Enjoy the satisfying *thunk* from dropping your Timney Targa trigger into place.
      8. Line up and replace the pins.  Note that there won’t be much tension on these yet to hold them in.  We’re about to remedy that.
      9. Using the provided Allen Wrench, tighten the set screws in the bottom of the trigger module housing.  There’s one on each side.
      10. Replace the Safety.
      11. Replace the Grip, being sure that the Safety Detent and Spring make it back in there.
      12. Function test the trigger and safety, then do a standard AR function test once you replace the upper.

     

Listen to that gorgeous reset and hammer fall.

I can’t wait to try out the Timney trigger I’ve selected for another project, currently being worked on by our other writer.

Huge improvement over the standard Milspec trigger.

Ordering a CMP M1 Garand

Get off my lawn.

As a special Memorial Day themed post, I thought I’d give a rundown of cheapest way to get yourself the rifle you’ve seen in at least one movie today, if you do Memorial Day correctly.

There are, of course, easier ways to get your hand on an M1, simply purchasing at a gun show, or an LGS if they have one would be easy enough, and ordering online from gunbroker or a builder such as Fulton Armory would take just slightly more effort.

But if you want both the benefit of paying as little as $650 for an M1 that’s in guaranteed usable condition, the novelty of legally ordering a battle rifle direct to your door without going through an FFL, the Civilian Marksmanship Program is the only way to go.  As an added bonus, you get to support a really great organization that was legislated into existence with a really great goal – getting surplus military arms into the hands of qualified US citizens in order to ensure the future of marksmanship and gun safety.  Or, I guess, you can check out their actual mission statement.  I was close enough.

Enough babbling.  So, in order to make the cut, you need to meet similar requirements that you’d need to make any 4473 purchase, with 3 additional reqs:

  • Be a US Citizen, Over 18 Years of Age
  • Be a member of a CMP Affiliated Organization
  • Show proof of Marksmanship or Firearms Related Activity

A lot of folks see the $650-750 M1s and love the idea, but balk at the effort needed to order.  But – it’s not really that hard, here’s the easiest path:

  1. Download an order packet here.
    You’ll want to fill as much of this as you can as a fillable form, then print the whole thing.  Pro-tip: Use the checklist page as you go.
  2. Easiest way to take care of the Citizenship and Date of Birth proof, is with a US Passport or Passport Card.  Make a copy of it on a copy machine, print, and put that in with the packet.  Done.
  3. CMP Affiliated club – you may a member of one, and not even know it, esp. if you’re a member of a shooting range or club, double especially if they do any NRA High Power / Service Rifle or CMP matches.
    If NOT, which will still be the case for most people, there’s a quick and easy to this, and it’ll only cost you $25.  Join the Garand Collectors Association here.  Even spending $25, you’re still getting a great deal.  Heck, you’re even going to get 2nd Day FedEx shipping on that rifle for no cost.
    In any case, once you’ve confirmed you’re in an affiliated club, or made it so, either print a copy of your membership card, or just the membership page of the website (they’re not too picky), and throw it in your order packet.
  4. Marksmanship or other Firearms Related Activity.
    Note: Exempt from this requirement if over 60 years old.
    Alright, so this may either be the easy one, or the involved one, depending on your situation.  If you’ve got a CHL / License to Carry, you’re good to go.  Copy and print it, shuffle into the order packet, and you’re done.
    If you do not have a CHL / LTC, you’ll have to meet this one some other way.   Current or past Military or LE service meets this requirement.  Copy a relevant ID card or DD214 and you’re good to go.
    Otherwise, there are a few other options, but the easiest is to print one of these, head to your local range, and get an RSO to sign off for you.  Congrats, the hardest part is over.
  5. Have that form all together, make sure you didn’t accidentally leave any original items in there (they don’t want your passport), get it an a document mailer, and take it somewhere with a notary.  UPS stores are a good bet because you can just send from there, but any kind of shipping / postal shop is a good bet so you can get page 2 notarized and then get the whole thing shipped in one go.
  6. Send to:
    CMP SALES
    1401 COMMERCE BLVD
    ANNISTON, AL 36207
  7. Wait.  Okay, actually this is the hard part.  They’re pretty full up on orders, so much so, that I’m always astounded they even HAVE any surplus Garands left.  If you don’t want to wait *that* long, get a Field Grade or buck up and get a Special Grade.  Service Grades, the current “best” condition USGI barreled rifles you can get, currently have ~ 2 month wait.

The neat part: once you’ve done the above, if you decide to make another order from the CMP in the following 3 years, you don’t need to do any of the above again.  You can just give ’em a call, tell them which grade rifle you want, and read them your credit card number.  You will also be “in the system” for things other than M1s.  More on that below.

The CMP is currently processing a has just started selling a big batch of rifles that we recovered from the Philippines.  Here’s a really interesting video on all that went into that:

Stay tuned for later posts about finishing / oiling that new production CMP marked stock you’re very likely to get.

Additionally, starting next month, surplus 1911s will be a thing, but expect a pretty long wait and possibility you wont make the cut, as they’ve only been authorized to sell a relatively small number of these per year, at least at first.  Maybe that will be increased in a later NDAA, depending on what congress looks like next year.

Budget “Precision” AR

First off – yeah, not a “precision” rifle by any means, but a decent range plinker that’ll tack-drive just fine inside of 300y.  Just thought that was worth mentioning in case the sarcasm in the title wasn’t on-the-nose enough.

In case you haven’t noticed, the entry price of ARs has fallen off a cliff lately.  A look at the front page of Bud’s Gun Shop will usually show you at least one budget entry AR from a maker you’ve either never seen, or didn’t think you’d ever see in the AR Market, for right around $500.

Remember just a few years ago when these were hovering at $1k?  Good times.  Anywho, the price to build ’em has likewise plummeted, so if you’ve ever wanted to put one together, if you’re sitting on a closet full of lowers you bought during the great panic, you’ve been thinking of dabbling in a different caliber like .458, or you just want to mix ‘n match a new complete lower and barreled upper to get what you want, now’s the time.

I happened across some good sales around Memorial Day, but since checking, the prices on some of these have actually stayed at the sale price, so this info should still be pretty close to accurate.  As the first thing I acquired to kick this off was a Palmetto State Armory complete lower, I figured I’d keep it simple and go with a barreled upper and see if I could put something together that would reliably drive tacks at paper or varmints out to 300 yards on the cheap.

Since I was yet to foray into FDE colored stuff, I figured for my cheapo “blemished” lower, I’d have Palmetto send me one with FDE furniture.  I figured I’d probably be chucking it anyway, so  why not have a few FDE bits in the parts bin with all the black stuff.  Note on the “blemished” lower – best I could find that counted as a blemish, was an ever so slight discoloration in the finish.  Most people I know that get these never find the “blemish.”  Unless someone with inside info tells me otherwise, I’ve got to assume if it gets knocked over, or someone sneezes on it at some point in production, it’s marked “blem.”

For the barreled upper – I tried to find something over 16″ in a profile that made sense, but failed to find either while keeping the price point, so settled on the ubiquitous 16″ M4 profile.  Specifically, I went with what was on sale at Primary Arms.  I’ve heard mixed thing about Radical Firearms’ stuff, but most of the issues are with complete rifles, and typical of cheap BCG assemblies.  In this case, I’m just going for a barreled upper, and at that price, I’ll work it out, even if I have to replace the gas block or something. Plus, it’s always nice to throw business to a local manufacturer.

It’s also worth noting that the cheapest they had on sale came with a rather interesting hand guard.  It’s a free floated round tube with MOE compatible slots.  As best as I can tell, it’s a Radical Firearms original part (it is marked with their logo on the forward part of the rail).  While I like the look, and the round shape and size are pretty comfortable – the finish wasn’t great, and after now having used it, I can say, MOE attachment sucks – no wonder they developed m-lok.

So, upper and lower mated with no problem, rifle now needs a heart.  Luck had it that PSA had a Nickel Boron BCG on sale for $100 (and, despite being advertised as a daily deal, appears to *still* be on sale for that price).  I’ve never had a bling BCG, so figured I’d get it a shot.

Note: it’s not a full auto BCG, as a lot of folks tend to like using, with the thought it gives it extra strength / weight due to the extra material, but it’s also a $100 complete NiB BCG, so make of that what you will.

Also needed a charging handle, and figuring I was going to scope this one, and riding on the bling high of the NiB BCG, I went with a Gunfighter Mod 4 CH from Primary Arms that I’d already had waiting for a project in the parts bin, so in it went.

So that’s it, the rifle now passing function check, it was time to put some bits and pieces on there to make it capable of what I wanted out of it.  I already had a perfectly decent optic not in use, an older Bushnell Banner 4-12x40mm Adjustable Dusk/Dawn scope.  It hadn’t had a home in a couple of years, and punching paper at the range or bulls-eyeing prairie dogs doesn’t require mil-dots or fancy target turrets, so this will do.  I also had a cheap, but serviceable AR mount that would work for said scope.  I’ll include both of these, as well as the charging handle in the final price, but in my case, I didn’t have to worry about them.

This brings me around to one of my final points – with the FDE funiture on there, I figured I’d delve into one more thing I’ve been meaning to try out, and this being a cheap build, I’ve got no qualms about it – rattle can painting a rifle.  After doing a bit of research and running across this:

(Credit to jwfuhrman on m4carbine.net)

I went with Rust-Oleum Satin Dark Taupe.  It still ended up being a bit lighter than I wanted, probably a closer match to Magpul’s new “Sand” color, but matching shades of FDE is pretty tricky business, and I’m still happy with the way it turned out.  It’s also worth mentioning that this paint took a good 12 hours before it wasn’t tacky, and about a full day before I was comfortable handling it.  It’s also a tad glossier than I’d have liked, but the feel to the touch reminds me of the satin Cerakote finishes, which is exactly what I wanted.  Also, it’s already began to dull a tad, and should lose that extra sheen with regular use.

Spraying it was as easy as masking parts off and dusting until the black was covered.  It’s worth noting that you’d probably want a good clean and degreasing with brake cleaner or similar before doing this under normal conditions, but as these were new in the plastic and unlubricated, I didn’t need to do that kind of prep.

While I haven’t gotten a chance to test it at range due to weather lately, I did a 25 yard 100 yard zero at a local indoor range using free-to-download targets from ARMA DYNAMICS.  These are a pretty good resource to get a quick and dirty zero if all you’ve got access to is an indoor range.  In shooting it, I noticed two minor things this rifle could still use to make it that much better at it’s given objective, that would still be within what I consider a budget price range:

A bipod (which also required mounting solution, and as this tube had MOE slots, I went with a Magpul MOE 5 slot rail segment)…

…and a fixed stock.  I’d been wanting to try out the the carbine MOE Fixed stock I’d been seeing.  With the extended pad, it’s still just a tad shorter than I’d like, about the length of a 6 position one in from the longest, but it’ll do.

So that’s that, for now.  I’ll give an update when I get to stretch it’s legs a bit, but for the all-in on this one, even if I had to buy the parts I already had on hand, it’s a steal.  As stated at the beginning, if you’re not yet in the AR club and want to, or simply have AR projects you’ve been wanting to start (or finish), now’s the time.

Build Price Breakdown:

BLEM PSA AR-15 FREEDOM CLASSIC LOWER – 7779346B
$129.99
PSA FREEDOM 5.56 NICKEL BORON BCG – 516445123
$99.99
Radical Firearms 16″ 5.56 M4 Barreled Upper – with 10″ MOE FGS
$179.99
Bravo Company / Vltor 5.56/.223 Charging Handle Mod 4
$49.95
Bushnell Banner 4-12x 40mm Adjustable Obj Rifle Scope
$89.99
CCOP High Profile AR-ArmourTac Rifle Scope Mount Rings
$33.55
Rust-Oleum 241238 Satin Enamels Spray, Dark Taupe
$3.98
Leapers Tactical OP Bipod
$32.97
Magpul MOE Polymer Rail Section – 5 Slot
$4.49
Magpul MOE Fixed Carbine Stock
$23.99
Magpul PRS Extended Rubber Butt-Pad 0.80″
$11.95

Total Price as Configured: $660.84
No shipping prices were required in the above build

If I was to spend a bit more on it, the first thing I’d go for would be replacing the milspec trigger PSA included.  It’s not the worst, but it’s a typical milspec AR trigger.  I’d try to catch a sale for a Timney or Geissele.

PSA AR-9 Hybrid, Part 2: SBR’ed

 

If you saw the previous review/build post here, you’d know there was something we’ve been waiting on.

Well, after only 239 days, our Form 1 (e-filed, trust) was approved.  So, $200, 7 Months, and 25 Days, we’ve got our official Federal Government A-OK to put a different shaped piece of aluminum and rubber on the back of our pistol.

Transition was easy once the necessities were out of the way – that is, engraving the trust name on the receiver, making that a new SBR was manufactured, where and by whom, to match the approved Form 1, and what is now on the NFA registry.

On that note, I have to give a shout out to John Kleiber of Class 3 Weapons in Houston, TX.  If you need some engraving done, or want to skip the process and just buy an SBR’ed lower or full SBR (or just about any other NFA item you can think up), give them a call.

Once that was out of the way, all that was left to do was swap the Pistol Buffer and End Plate for a standard AR Buffer, End Plate, and Castle Nut.  Went with a low cost DPMS buffer tube, as I’ve used these a few times before, matching castle nut, and a PSA End Plate with a QD point.

And, finally, the transcendent moment where you put a stock on there.

I initially went with what I had laying around because I hadn’t decided on anything special yet, so it got an old Windham marked standard AR stock.

After shooting with it once, and deciding I wanted something a bit more stable, and running across one in my local Academy Sports, I picked up the flavor-of-the-month MFT Minimalist I’ve been seeing on 9 out of 10 posts on r/nfa lately.

The hype is well deserved though, its stable, with a nice wide contact surface, and gave a perfect fit on my buffer tube with absolutely zero rattle, while also not being too tight to move freely when engaged.  I’ve heard some cases where people have issues with the Minimalist being a bit too night, but the fit with the DPMS tubed seemed perfect.

It’s noteworthy that PSA has come out with a different model of this lower that has slightly different lines that make it look a tad more like the AR from which it was derived, and has the Last Round Bolt Hold Open feature.  While I like the design a bit better aesthetically, and LRBHO is a great feature – this is primarily a range toy, and that would be one more moving part to fail.

NFA Applications: Post 41P CLEO Notification

tax-stamp_400

NOTE: This is going to be a quick one, but I intend to expand on it by turning it into a catch-all list of CLEO contact information for every County in Texas, as I wasn’t able to easily find it when searching.

Since ATF rule 41P went into effect, not only are you not able to do Form 1s for a Trust online, but you now have to complete fingerprinting and provide a photograph just as if you were completing for an individual, additionally, each responsible person in your Trust needs to complete a Form 5320.23 with their own fingerprinting and photograph.  The applicant (and each responsible person if applicable) is now required to perform CLEO notification, as well.

If there’s one positive to come out of this, it’s that the CLEO notification requirement is now simply “notification” and no longer requires a sign off.  How this works is- you simply copy your completed Form 1 / 4 / 5 prior to submission, and mail to your “Chief of Police, Sheriff, Head of State Police, or State or local district attorney or prosecutor.”  In practice, the County Sheriff is usually the go-to on this.  Previously, depending on where you live, you may have had to dance around to see which would sign off for you the easiest (if at all), and in the case of a trust with multiple responsible persons, that would have potentially been prohibitive by regulation- hence the easing it by only requiring notification.

Unfortunately, as anyone who follows how ATF regulations goes, there isn’t a clear mechanism for determining this notification.  The ATF put out an open letter to law enforcement letting them know, but there’s no legal guidelines for retention, thus no way to prove you’re in compliance if they don’t keep your records.  Additionally, I know for myself, and I’m sure many others, I’d prefer local LE to not keep a registry of this, and in-fact man state laws prohibit this.  So, for your own legal safety, BE SURE you send that CLEO notification registered mail, and retain the receipt of it with your records.  Only you can CY(own)A.

Edit: Due to elections in Novemember, the Texas CLEO contact list by county may have gotten out of date, I’ll need to confirm that the contact information is good before reposting.

 

PSA AR-9 Hybrid Review

I need to begin this one with an important note: The device seen attached to the pistol buffer tube is a Shockwave Technologies Blade Pistol Stabilizer, which includes an ATF letter indicating that installation of this device and proper use does constitute assembly of an NFA item.  More details on that later.

 

ar9_greyarsenal1

In a masterstroke, PSA decided to make what they’ve termed a Hybrid BCG that allows use of either Colt SMG-style or Glock magazines with the same upper/BCG.  It’s ramped, so depending on the lower / hammer you’re using, it’ll be easier on your hammer pin, if that’s a concern.  Being PSA, one of the preeminent sources of AR Lowers and pretty much anything else you’d want for an AR build on the cheap while still being able to trust the craftsmanship, they’ve also introduced a few complete 9mm uppers in various common lengths with various popular handguard / rail configurations.

ar9_greyarsenal20

While they’ve already had both uppers/lowers and complete rifles using their previous AR-9 BCG and dedicated lower for Colt SMG magazines, to coincide with release of this Hybrid BCG, they’ve introduced a dedicated Glock Magazine lower (which appears VERY similar to the popular Quarter Circle 10 GSF lower).  So if you were looking to build a pistol-caliber AR, and already have a good number of Glock 9mm magazines (and who doesn’t?), this can *significantly* cut down on the cost of kitting up for your new firearm.

ar9_greyarsenal19

Granted, that Dedicated Glock Pistol Lower has been pretty difficult to catch in stock, but when you can catch it, it’s significantly cheaper than the comparable Quarter Circle 10 product, and both the pistol and rifle lowers come with PSA’s pistol buffer.

ar9_greyarsenal23

While it would be tempting just to get what’s in stock, depending on your build plans, it would be easy to run afoul of the ATF’s “constructive intent” laws with regards to NFA items, in this case, having what you need on hand to construct an SBR.

In my case, I while I *do* plan on SBR’ing this pistol (and plan to do a write on up that process and in the involved costs), I wanted to start with a 7.5″ pistol build, which I’ll eventually build into an SBR by replacing the pistol buffer with a Mil-spec buffer tube and standard AR stock.  Just be wary of what other parts you have laying around, and don’t get tempted to play around with this topic.

ar9_greyarsenal17

Back on topic- with the task of building a short 9mm AR pistol that can share magazines with my Glocks, and keep things relatively cheap, I decided on the following:

While not currently available, the total cost of this build at the last time the upper and lower were available would be:

  • Lower: $249
  • Upper: $349
  • Optic: $21.99
  • Handstop: $47.26
  • Sling: $23.99
  • Stabilizer: $51.28
  • Total as configured at last available prices: $742.52 (w/o shipping)

As far as the optic- I wanted to try something lightweight and cheap and see how it stands up to use on this 9mm.  I definitely wouldn’t recommend something not proven (i.e., not significantly pricier) on a firearm intended for self defense use, this will be a chance to review a lower-priced optic on what is, for the mean time, a range toy.  Once it’s SBR’ed, unless I’m *really* impressed with that optic, it’ll probably start wearing a Mepro or Aimpoint Micro.

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As far as quality of the PSA upper and lower, everything bolted together as intended, no rattle, and I’ve experienced 0 failures for the first 400 rounds of 124gr 9mm.  This thing is *so* fun to shoot infact, that I’m thinking of Suppressing it after it gets SBR’ed, at which point I’m not even sure anything else would make it to the pistol range with me unless I needed to practice for something specific, even as gimped as it is in not using that brace as a stock and just using it for cheekweld, it’s just that fun.

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That’s that for now, I’ll follow up when I get my Form 1 stamp and can properly finish this thing.  Also, stay tuned for individual reviews of the optic, Odin Handstop (I like it.), and the Stabilizer.

Update 6/21: Form 1 submitted, now we play the waiting game.
Update 2/15: Form 1 Approved after nearly 8 months.

Midwest Industries Gen2 Two Piece Free Float Handguard

Windham Carbon SRC Project, Part II

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I was initially going to do a review and write up on the base rifle prior to doing anything to it.  I think I’ll change that up a bit though, and get it put together before testing extensively, killing two birds with one stone.

That being said, the first thing we’re going to do is get ourselves a base platform to work from, which means getting the factory handguards off of this thing.

The rifle shipped with a decent enough set of standard AR handguards, heatshielded and whatnot, they’d get the job done if that’s all you wanted.  But that’s what not we’re going for here.

I wanted to stick with something that is an easy enough install for most readers, but still gives me what I was looking for in this build.  Specifically I wanted a free floated tube that was lightweight, didn’t require removal or alteration of the Front Sight Base (on this case, worked with the integrated railed FSB), and VERY specifically in the case of this rifle, it needed to install on the factory barrel nut, rather than use one that’s proprietary, as many do, as Windham uses a barrel nut on the Carbon SRC whose external dimensions are standard, but the threading size is different, part of the reinforcement done on their carbon rifle vs. others in the market.  Finally, I wanted one that had integrated QD mounting points.

With those requirements, my best choice was a carbine length (7″) so as to not alter the FSB, and keep the weight down.  That’s still plenty of room to get what I need on there.   Additionally, I’d be going with a 2-piece, to keep things easy on the install.  Lastly, as mentioned, I’d be going with one that would use the OEM barrel nut.  I narrowed my search to two options:

Troy 7″ MRF 2-Piece Free float

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Midwest Industries Gen2 Two Piece Free Float, Carbine Length

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Both seemed decent enough options, but just based on price, and a friend’s report of great customer service on Midwest’s part, so that was that.  **DISCLAIMER: Installation of this part involves very slight modification to the upper receiver.  As I haven’t yet received a yay or nay from Windham Weaponry on whether or not modification in this area is advisable, I have to note that this is done at you own risk.**

The install was easy enough, but did require a bit of cutting to remove the aluminum factory Delta Ring.

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The ring is aluminum, whereas the spring and barrel nut are steel.  Using a Dremel or rotary cutter with a metal cutting disc, it should slice through the Delta ring like butter, without harming the barrel nut below.  Pro Tip: Wrap plastic or some other material around the barrel, FSB, and receiver nearby, there *will* be debris, lots and lost of aluminum dust.  You don’t want that all over the place on your rifle.

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You’ll want to make 2 straight cuts on either side of the Delta ring.  It’ll get hot, so be careful.  Just cut through, being careful not to mar your receiver, especially being that it’s Carbon Fiber and would easily get cut here.  If you’re generating sparks, than you’re too deep, but the sparks should be your disc, not the steel.  Be extremely careful, however, to cut on the sides, not the top and bottom, you do *not* want to damage your gas system.

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Once you make the cuts, that thing will break off with a pair of pliers with no problem.  Next up is removing the spring.  Just bend it off of there with the pliers, it wont be “easy” but it’ll come off with a bit of effort.

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Alright, so you’re ready to go.  *One* minor issue specific to the Carbon SRC- this handguard includes “anti-rotation tabs” meaning it grabs the receiver on either side right below the barrel nut near the pivot pin.  The Carbon SRC, being additionally reinforced in certain areas, is a touch more material here than a normal AR.  Approx 4mm needs to be removed from the corner in these spots.   **Disclaimer: I did stay in touch with Windham and verify a few things prior to this build, when I was initially making making inquires about the barrel nut dimensions.  I don’t have a firm answer on whether or not this is advisable, as this area received additional reinforcement.  At this time, as I have not heard from Windham one way or the other on whether or not this is advisable.  PERFORM THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK.**

Once this is done, its easiest to fit the top first, then the bottom.  It won’t *completely* seat together at first, there may be a millimeter-ish gap at the rear, though this should only occur on the Carbon SRC due to the tight fit where we took material off, this likely wouldn’t be the case on a standard AR.

Finally, you’ll want to insert and tighten the set screws, getting them in, then tightening each a little at a time until they wont turn any longer.  It would be a good idea to use the included VC-3 Threadmate adhesive.

Alright, we have our base for adding accessories.  Next up, lets take care of getting the furniture on there.  Stay tuned.

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More Grip for the G42

v5In my previous post reviewing the Glock 42, I mentioned one of the minor drawbacks of the handgun, and a drawback of all subcompact handguns, being that the grip was too short to get your entire hand around.  Even with the tiny hands this gun was meant to fill, you’re left with a pinky hanging off.  Most smaller handguns come with, or at least have an option for, a magazine with an extended floor plate to give you that extra bit, the Walther P22 and Beretta Pico, for instance, come with both types of magazines.

v7While Glock currently offers an extension for sale, it’s not quite as, well, aesthetically pleasing, as a set I found on Glockmeister (where you may remember me finding the parts needed to complete my Glock 19 brass-to-face fix).

v1Enter the Vickers Tactical (produced by Tango Down) Glock 42 floor plates.  These give just enough extra to get your last finger on there, without adding too much to the dimensions of the gun.  The taper was a great touch, adding just a bit of functional flair, without looking too out of place.

v3 v8Until there’s an available +1 or +2 floorplate to get that capacity up to something respectable, these will be a fine addition.

v6They’re also easy to install (despite the “Gunsmith Only” warning on the package).  Without going into too much detail here, simply use your Glock Armorer’s Tool to push in the tab on the bottom of the magazine, go in all the way to the handle of the tool, squeeze on either side of the magazine and pry forward with the tool.  Once it starts sliding off, remove the tool, block the bottom with your thumb (or the spring will come flying out) and slide the old floor plate off.  Slide new plate on until it clicks into place, done.  If there’s a request, I’ll do a follow up on how to do this with picture, or a video.

v4So that’s it, for the record, addition of these removes one (-) from the Glock 42 scorecard.

Glock 42 Review

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Well, let me first say, I hope everyone had a good Holiday season.  It’s been a busy few weeks for me, but we did at least get a chance to get to the range and break in one of my significant other’s Christmas gifts.

Enter the Glock 42.  I know this thing’s been out for a bit of time now and a review on another .380, the Beretta Nano, would probably be a bit more useful to early adopters, but I also know that before purchase, I scoured for reviews on this thing, and every point of data counts.

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Right onto it: Why the Glock 42?  Anybody who personally knows the end user in mind here will know that she has tiny hands.  TINY.  She also has really taken a liking to Glock handguns since being introduced to them- the light weight, the balance, the easy controls, the easy-to-use sights, everything combined to let her shoot more accurately (mostly due to genuinely enjoying practicing with it) than nearly anything else we own aside from a tricked out Kimber Custom Target II.  The problem is, Glocks are fat.  Her shooting was decent, despite not quite being able to get a proper grip on any Glock she’d tried due to the size.  So short of radius-ing the hell out of the grip and hoping to make it a low enough diameter to get her hands around, she’d always end up with sub-standard grouping because of having to reach for the trigger or a bruised right thumb joint from improper grip.  The Glock 42 solved these problems, for the most part.

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First of, it’s tiny, not quite Colt Mustang Pocketlite / Ruger LCP / Beretta Pico tiny, but compared to most subcompacts, this thing is quite the mouse gun.  More importantly, it’s slim, especially for a Glock.  This allows shooters who might be hand-size challenged to get a proper grip on the thing, which is exactly what we were going for here.  Now, there are positives and negatives to this- while it fit her tiny hands perfectly, it still has the same sub-compact issue of length of grip, even her pinky hangs of slightly.  This is easily remedied, however.  The other thing I noticed, was with a proper thumbs-forward grip, this thing sunk so much into my paws that I had to make a conscious effort to not hold the slide release down.  This wasn’t an issue, however, when shooting one handed with either strong or weak hand, and this thing was a pleasure to shoot one handed- this would be a great backup.

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As for functionality- pretty impressive.  It’s not *fully* broken in yet, as we’ve only put 200 rounds through it for our first test.  We used 100 rounds of Aguila 95gr. FMJ as our opener, and 100 rounds of cheapo Academy sourced Monarch 94gr. FMJ to see how low we could go with ammunition quality (while still sticking to factory loads).  In the 200 round breakin, we had a single FTF about 40-round into the down and dirty Monarch stuff, which had been notably weaker than the Aguila.  For a short .380, this thing grouped very well, right in line with other compact Glocks.  One minor nitpick, the 6-round magazines- it’s a tad difficult to get that last round in, as the .380s are short to the point that when loading, the round beneath tends to dip in the front rather than be pushed down, and it takes a bit of effort on that last one.  Due to the difference in Magazine here, the standard Glock speedloader (or SLINO if that’s your opinion on the thing) doesn’t work, and they don’t yet have one out for the 42.  But this is a practice/training issue more than anything.

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Mechanically, this thing is just standard Glock, but scaled down.  Not much to say here- disassembly is identical to any other Gen4 Glock.  A note on that- while the 42 uses Gen4 features, technically (at least per a Glock rep I spoke with) it’s a first gen, as this is a new gun.  Whatever… built with Gen4 features, I’m still going to refer to it as a Gen4.

The Scorecard:

+ Size/Dimensions (Great for an EDC)
+ Price (Typical Glock pricing, not LCP cheap, but quality for the $)
+ Manual of Arms (Same as other Glocks, know one, know all)
+ Accuracy (No sacrifice for size, typical Glock sights)
+ Comfort (Despite being as light as it is, very little recoil)
+ Reliability (Only 1 FTF on break-in, otherwise no issue)

– Magazine (6+1 Capacity, really?  Also mentioned loading issue)
– Size? (Might be a bit tiny for big hands without mag extensions)
– Price? (It’s not AS cheap as some other subcompact .380s)
– .380 (Some might complain about this not being a 9mm)
– Reliability issues with early models (not experienced on ours)

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