Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Six years, two carbines...

'Way back in late Twenty-hundred-and-aught-six, I built an AR carbine in 6.8 that makes me look back and cringe now...

Now, granted, even as I locked the CQ/T down on the top rail of the Vltor CASV-EL handguards, I realized that I had made a serious error in my combination of stock, handguard, and optics mount, and that I would need to do something for a cheekweld, but that's not even the cringe-iest bit.

For instance, all that nice hardware? Nearly two grand in accessories, had everything been bought at new retail? It's clamped to a DerPMS 6.8 SPC upper. ("DerPMS" shamelessly stolen from pdb.)

And that big ol' GG&G VFG is way too far back by the magwell to be of much use for anything other than horsing the gun around in full auto, which this one is not, derpy Superior Arms receiver markings to the contrary. That far back, the grip can't help stabilize the gun much while shooting on the move or transitioning between targets, and it gets in the way if you try to hold the gun any other way than using it.

If that thing had three magazines through it when I sold it, I'd be shocked.

And here is the carbine put together in late '12. I'd already assembled the lower when the Great AR Panic occurred, and so I went to Bravo Company's website and ordered the upper. Even though the Very Smart People to whom I listen on the matter of ARs all prefer the standard carbine length gas system, I got a midlength, partly because beggars couldn't be choosers at BCM that cold December morning, and partly because I wanted to at least try a midlength for myself to see what the fuss is about. The optic is an Aimpoint PRO, which is about the best bang for the buck in good electric glass today. (My next gun will have a low-power variable, though, probably a Burris MTAC.)

The AFG is out where it's of use when using the whole straight-arm c-clamp grip thing*, but doesn't interfere with moving your hand around on the gun to other holds. The stock was on sale, but Vltor makes a good stock, so although I may replace it, I'm in no rush. Fixed iron BUIS from Daniel Defense with an "A1"-style rear minimize the chances for the irons to get knocked askew and have a bottom-third "co-witness"† through the Aimpoint. The 12" rail farm from LaRue wouldn't necessarily be my first choice either, but it's what BCM had, and it's wrapped around a MP-tested 1:7" chrome-lined tube.

I'm happy with it so far. I wonder what it will look like in 2019?

*aka "The Magpul hero grip". Which is why the remote switch for the SureFire Mini Scout light is where it is.
Which isn't actually a co-witness at all, but everybody uses the term so what the hell...


Paul said...

Picked up a receiver the other day. Now I suppose I will have to build up another one. Will be my third. Not sure what I will put on it, but it has to shoot good. Even if the apocalypse happens I don't plan on room clearing.

pdb said...

That right there is a straight up legit shootin' fools rig. The bottom one, that is. The top one is less confused than putting together a retro not-an-A1 and pronouncing it equivalent to the state of the art. *cough*

Ken O said...

Whatever became of "Project House Gun"?

Ed Jones said...

2019, hopefully not in a plastic tube buried in the back yard.

Lewis said...

Ah, the joys and follies of initial enthusiasm! I've always thought, though, that the Vltor CASV was a dead sexy rail.

Anything I say below is just my take on things, and certainly isn't dispositive. Hell, maybe it isn't even interesting.

Bravo Company? I don't think anyone familiar with the platform and the market will throw stones at that call. Like you, I ended up with a middy---but in my case it was because I wanted a middy. After all, while carbine gas has a long and proven track record, it was originally designed around a 10" barrel. Middy gas seemed like the Goldilocks solution for a 16", umm, carbine. The whole saga of "Filthy 14" did a lot to convince me that middy gas, particularly from Bravo Company, was a viable alternative.

Plus, gun hipster points!

I dragged my rifle/carbine through a pile of money: Geissele SSA-E trigger, BAD-ASS 45 degree selectors (short/short, if you're a Battle Arms Development afficianado), Vickers sling and a Trijicon beer can---the RX34. Then I got silly and put a rifle extension, buffer and spring inside a Cav Arms C1 buttstock. Magpul VFG out at the end, Streamlight TRL-1 on a fsp mount from Midwest.

And a Vickers sling.

I keep on wanting to throw a free float rail/tube on it, but the MOE handguards work just fine and I'm not sure (putting on my steely-eyed professional face) if I really need anything more.

Like you I've got a DD A1.5 fixed rear, but it rides in the bag. I've seen enough USMC rifles with just an ACOG, I don't get into all that many running gunfights, and the A1.5 goes on close enough to repeatable zero for hundred yard engagements.

There are many like it (but maybe none exactly like it), but this one is mine.

Keads said...

Oh, NOW you tell me =).

I find this article fascinating and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Angus McThag said...

Does this mean you're a 6.8 Apostate?

Joseph said...

Never understood the VFG thing, seemed awkward to me. I too went with mid-length by choice as I'm a big guy and carbine length seems like a toy in my hands and mid-length lets me extend my off hand out there a bit, but not too close to the muzzle.

Anonymous said...

Definately on the right track. Lighter and simpler seems to be a trend these days. If you can't get a cheek weld the solution is to spend a bunch more and get a side charger and a TacMod or Luth AR or... stock with an adjustable cheekpiece. Your cheek might be far enough back that you could run a normal charging handle and avoid the side charger cost. As you know, I'm really short so I was kind of stuck. Larry Weeks

RHT447 said...

"(My next gun will have a low-power variable, though, probably a Burris MTAC.)"

Do tell. Allow me to date myself. I graduated the U.S. Army Small Arms Repair School at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in '74. Once a civilian again, I didn't get into building AR's until about '89 when I started shooting NRA Highpower.

I'm still running the carbine I built back then. I call it my KF gun (Kentucky Fried, parts is parts). It also still has the Burris compact scope I stuck on it. That scope most closely resembles their current 3x-9x-32mm Timberline.

I have also run this carbine with a Millet 30mm red dot. No surprises, very fast and accurate out to about 200yds. I found there is a lot of capability over lap between the red dot and the scope set at 3x.

Perhaps I'm just old school, but I have an aversion to stuff that runs on batteries. Also, I like having some magnification in my optic, so I put the scope back on.

I had intended to do something in the way of a set of BUIS, however I wear tri-focals (my un-corrected focus is about six miles this side of the moon. Yeah, far sighted.). At carbine length, the front sight is so fuzzed out as to be just about useless. Still looking for a solution.

At least I can still shoot my Garand as the front sight is far enough down there to focus.

Stingray said...

Just needs a cooler flash hider.

David said...

I still can't get myself to do the Magpul hero/c-clamp/thumb-over-top grip. I know it's awesome and all, but I just can't make myself do it.

It's not even that I find it uncomfortable...I might even shoot better with it. I think maybe I'm just too contrarian.

Mulliga said...

I understand how someone might choose a carbine length gas system because of standardization concerns (easier to tune), but I don't know of any inherent functional reason to favor it over a midlength. Maybe faster cyclic rate?

Tam said...


"Whatever became of "Project House Gun"?"

Sold it to fund that Colt 1902.

Paul Kisling said...

I figure it will look like a Predator XT AR lower. A Seekins Precision IRMT-3 V3 Upper and rail.
A noveske recon barrel. Oh wait that is what mine will look like..

Critter said...

Neeeds a Levang linear compensator.

T.Stahl said...

I can relate.
When I started doing FEA on exhaust systems some eleven years ago I was taught and did things that back then seemed perfectly ok and plausible but now in retrospect were complete bullshit.

Not that I now would know what's truly correct...

Theother Ryan said...

I have the 1-4x Burris MTAC. At 1x with the illum on it functions a lot like a red dot. Being able to get some magnification at distance is really nice too. The glass is as good as an ACOG. Great deal for $300ish.

They also make a 1.5-6 that I might go with if doing it all again. Suppose it depends on your need for a CQB machine vs potential long shots.

They seem hell for stout. 'John Mosby' threw one across fields, jumped on it and had it fall out of a vehicle onto pavement at 60mph. The vehicular incident caused one of the adjustments to be no longer adjustable by hand but otherwise the optic was no worse for wear.

Unless I become rich and able to purchase a Leupold HAMR or Schmidt and Bender optic future AR's with scopes will have MTACs.

Steve Skubinna said...

Curious why you mounted your Magpul angled grip so far forward. Mine is back at the mag well, seems to fit my grip best.

Different strokes and all, but how well does that work for you compared to a vertical grip, or to the angled grip farther back?

Tam said...

Steve Skubinna,

"Curious why you mounted your Magpul angled grip so far forward."

Er, because that's where it's supposed to go?

While it is indeed a free country and people can put the AFG wherever they want, a lot of people don't seem to understand that it is intended to be used as an aid to a specific technique.

Don M said...

I know this is akin to heresy, but when I use a AR-15 pistol grip it forces me to flex my wrist a lot or stick my elbow out, which limits taking up a good prone or bench rest position.

I would prefer a rear pistol grip that was a bit cone shaped, with a smaller lower end than upper end, and had the lower end somewhat forward of the trigger. That way my wrist isn't flexed, and my grip on the pistol grip would be nearly the same for prone or bench rest as it is for sitting, kneeling or standing.

Military or police commonly use vests, and for that application, should shoot more 'square on' to the target so they don't display their arm-hole to the target. That should affect things like where one puts the cheek piece, and the length of pull (why I like adjustable length stocks).

Lewis said...

Theother Ryan mentioned the MTAC 1-4. I haven't tried it, but I've got a sorta kinda equivalent, the Leupold VX-R 1.25-4. Of all the "tactimal scopes" I looked at, the Leupold came in significantly lighter---11 and some odd ounces vice sixteen or seventeen, the red dot is daytime visible (in my experience), the glass is "famous Leupold quality" and the battery has a motion sensor for turning back on. I've had mine on my AR, turned on, for over a year now, and just grabbed it up and checked: red dot working.

PS: Thanks for the link to the PF carbine thread. That was some good reading.

Windy Wilson said...

But the first one performs an important function very well. It scares the remaining brains out of Senator Boxer.

Steve Skubinna said...

Thanks, Tam. Hadn't seen that technique before.

I was taught long ago to place my support hand close to the center of balance, so extending that far just doesn't feel right to me. Plus, before Magpul did their angled grip I liked to turn my hand between the mag well and fore end.

Anyway, still a more or less free country as you note.

Mr Evilwrench said...

Gawd I hate the forward grip on a rifle; finally talked my (airsoft inspired) son down to an angled grip, more progress to come. I tried it myself and don't see a need at all. Not chicken-winging is a matter of discipline, not a $20 piece of plastic.

Tam said...

Mr Evilwrench,

"Not chicken-winging is a matter of discipline, not a $20 piece of plastic."

That is not what it's for.

I will grant that the AFG is usually put on guns for Cargo Cult reasons by people.

"Jon Frum have AFG on gun. Jon Frum kill many bad guys. I put AFG on gun."

Most things are put on guns for cargo cult reasons.

staghounds said...

GGG is awfully important and I bow to no one in striving for it, so if a vertical foregrip is what someone needs I'm all for it.