May 23rd, 2019

AR-Platform Rifle Cleaning Advice

AR15 cleaning procedure

AR-platform rifles run dirty — very dirty. The gas system blows carbon and powder residues back into the action and into the bolt carrier group. That’s why you need to clean your ARs regularly, and you have to pay special attention to the nooks and crannies in the bolt and bolt carrer. The majority of AR failures we’ve witnessed have been from a combination of lube, carbon, and tiny brass shavings that collected in the ejector recess and the extractor spring recess. After that, plain carbon build-up on the bolt can be a gun-stopper too. And you need to keep the barrel extension clean too.

If you’re new to the (dirty) world of ARs, here are two helpful videos from the folks who make Froglube. That line of cleaners/lubes is pretty good stuff, though not our first choice for all AR lubrication and cleaning chores. But these videos do provide many helpful tips. They show the disassembly process and highlight the “problem areas” to which you must pay special attention.

How to Clean Your AR-15 Bolt Carrier Assembly

How to Clean Your AR-15 Lower Receiver Assembly

NOTE: Froglube also makes a video showing AR upper, chamber, and barrel cleaning. There are practices shown there that we do NOT recommend. Nor do we recommend Froglube products for bore cleaning. We think there are more effective cleaning products.

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April 16th, 2019

Get S&W Pistol and AR15 Complete Lower for $379.99

Palmetto State Armory S&W Shield 9mm pistol AR15 AR AR-15 complete lower assembly

With this insanely good deal from Palmetto State Armory, you can get a pistol AND half an AR rifle for just $379.99 with FREE shipping. The deal is for a PSA AR-15 complete lower with Magpul stock PLUS a M&P Shield compact 9mm Pistol. This is an incredible deal. As Ammoland.com notes: “Compare that price [for pistol plus AR lower] to $430.00 for just the S&W M&P Shield 9mm Handgun elsewhere online.”

Smith & Wesson’s M&P Shield is a concealable, striker-fired polymer pistol with 3.1″ barrel. Overall legnth is 6.1 inches and unloaded weight is just 19 ounces. The Double-action-only (DAO) trigger break consistently at about 6.5 pounds.

The PSA AR-15 Complete Lower is the Magpul MOE Edition that features a quick-adjusting Magpul stock. This PSA lower will accept all AR15 magazines, however, no magazines are included. This quality, reliable lower assembly is reviewed in this video:

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December 15th, 2018

The Ultra-Accurate AR — Secrets of AR Accuracy Revealed

AR-X AR15 Upper

In our Shooters’ Forum, one member recently asked: “What makes an AR accurate? What parts on an AR can really affect accuracy — such as free-floating handguards, barrels, bolts, bolt carriers?” He wanted an honest, well-informed answer, not just sales pitches. Robert Whitley posted a very comprehensive answer to this question, based on his experience building and testing dozens of AR-platform rifles. Robert runs AR-X Enterprises, which produces match-grade uppers for High Power competitors, tactical shooters, and varminters.

AR-X AR15 Upper

Building an Accurate AR — What is Most Important

by Robert Whitley
There are a lot of things that can be done to an AR to enhance consistent accuracy, and I use the words “consistent accuracy” because consistency is a part of it (i.e. plenty of guns will give a couple great 5-shot groups, but won’t do a very good 10- or 20-shot groups, and some guns will shoot great one day and not so good on others).

Here are 14 key things we think are important to accuracy.

1. Great Barrel: You’ll want a premium match-grade barrel, well-machined with a good crown and a match-type chambering, true to the bore and well cut. The extension threads must also be cut true to the bore, with everything true and in proper alignment.

2. Rigid Upper: A rigid, heavy-walled upper receiver aids accuracy. The typical AR upper receiver was made for a lightweight carry rifle and they stripped all the metal they could off it to make it light to carry (which is advantageous for the military). The net result are upper receivers that are so thin you can flex them with your bare hands. These flexible uppers are “strong enough” for general use, but they are not ideal for accuracy. Accuracy improves with a more rigid upper receiver.

3. True Receiver Face: We’ve found that truing the receiver face is valuable. Some may argue this point but it is always best to keep everything related to the barrel and the bore in complete alignment with the bore (i.e. barrel extension, bolt, upper receiver, carrier, etc.).

4. Barrel Extension: You should Loctite or glue the barrel extension into the upper receiver. This holds it in place all the way front to back in the upper receiver. Otherwise if there is any play (and there typically is) it just hangs on the face of the upper receiver completely dependent on the face of the upper receiver as the sole source of support for the barrel as opposed to being made more an integral part of the upper receiver by being glued-in.

AR-X AR15 Upper5. Gas Block: You want a gas block that does not impose pointed stress on the barrel. Clamp-on types that grab all the way around the barrel are excellent. The blocks that are pinned on with tapered pins that wedge against the barrel or the slip on type of block with set screws that push up from underneath (or directly on the barrel) can deform the bore inside of the barrel and can wreck the accuracy of an otherwise great barrel.

6. Free-Float Handguard: A rigid, free-float handguard (and I emphasize the word rigid) really makes a difference. There are many types of free-float handguards and a free-float handguard is, in and of itself, a huge improvement over a non-free-float set up, but best is a rigid set-up. Some of the ones on the market are small diameter, thin and/or flexible and if you are shooting off any type of rest, bipod, front bag, etc., a rigid fore-end is best since ARs want to jump, bounce and twist when you let a shot go, as the carrier starts to begin its cycle before the bullet exits the bore.

Robert Whitley AR Accurate accuracy aR15 barrel trigger MSR gunsmithing

7. Barrel Contour: You want some meat on the barrel. Between the upper receiver and the gas block don’t go real thin with a barrel (we like 1″ diameter if it’s workable weight-wise). When you touch off a round and the bullet passes the gas port, the gas system immediately starts pressuring up with a gas impulse that provides vibrations and stress on the barrel, especially between the gas block back to the receiver. A heavier barrel here dampens that. Staying a little heavier with barrel contour through the gas block area and out to the muzzle is good for the same reasons. ARs have a lot going on when you touch off a round and the gas system pressures up and the carrier starts moving (all before the bullet exits the bore) so the more things are made heavier and rigid to counteract that the better — within reason (I’m not advocating a 12-lb barrel).

8. Gas Tube Routing Clearance: You want a gas tube that runs freely through the barrel nut, through the front of the upper receiver, and through the gas key in the carrier. Ensure the gas tube is not impinged by any of them, so that it does not load the carrier in a stressed orientation. You don’t want the gas tube bound up so that when the gas tube pressures up it immediately wants to transmit more force and impulse to the barrel than would normally occur. We sometimes spend a lot of time moving the gas block with gas tube on and off new build uppers and tweaking gas tubes to get proper clearance and alignment. Most gas tubes do need a little “tweaking” to get them right — factory tubes may work OK but they typically do not function optimally without hand-fitting.

9. Gas Port Tuning: You want to avoid over-porting the gas port. Being over-gassed makes the gas system pressure up earlier and more aggressively. This causes more impulse, and increases forces and vibration affecting the top end and the barrel. Tune the gas port to give the amount of pressure needed to function properly and adequately but no more.

10. Front/Back Bolt Play: If accuracy is the game, don’t leave a lot of front/back bolt play (keep it .003″ but no more than .005″). We’ve seen factory rifles run .012″ to .015″ play, which is OK if you need to leave room for dirt and grime in a military application. However, that amount of play is not ideal for a high-accuracy AR build. A lot of front/back bolt play allows rounds to be hammered into the chamber and actually re-formed in a non-consistent way, as they are loaded into the chamber.

11. Component Quality: Use good parts from a reputable source and be wary of “gun show specials”. All parts are NOT the same. Some are good, some are not so good, and some aftermarket parts are simply bad. Don’t be afraid to use mil-spec-type carriers; by and large they are excellent for an accuracy build. Also, remember that just because a carrier says “National Match” or something else on it does not necessarily mean it’s any better. Be wary of chrome-plated parts as the chrome plating can change the parts dimensionally and can also make it hard to do hand-fitting for fit and function.

AR-X AR15 Upper

12. Upper to Lower Fit: A good upper/lower fit is helpful. For quick and dirty fit enhancement, an Accu-Wedge in the rear helps a lot. The ultimate solution is to bed the upper to a specific lower so that the upper and lower, when together, are more like one integral unit. For the upper receivers we produce, we try to get the specs as close as we can, but still fit the various lowers in the market place.

13. Muzzle Attachments: Don’t screw up the muzzle (literally). Leave as much metal on the barrel at the muzzle as you can. People like to thread the muzzle for a flash hider, suppressor, muzzle brake, or some other attachment, but if you really want accuracy, leave as much metal as you can there. And, if you have something that screws on, set it up so that it can be put on and have it stay there without putting a lot of torque and stress on it right where the bullet exits the bore. If you are going to thread the end of the barrel, make it concentric with the bore and make sure what you screw on there is as well. For all muzzle attachments, also ensure that the holes through which the bullet passes through are dead true to the bore. Many aftermarket screw-on things are not so good that way. Anything that vents gas should vent symmetrically (i.e. if it vents left, it should vent equally right, and likewise, if it vents up, it should vent down equally). Uneven venting of gas can wreck accuracy.

14. Quality Ammunition: Ammo is a whole story by itself, but loads that are too hot typically shoot poorly in an AR-15. If you want accuracy out of an AR-15, avoid overly hot loads. Shown below are test groups shot with four (4) different uppers, all with moderate loads. These four uppers all pretty much had the same features and things done to them as explained in this article, and they all shot great.

AR-X AR15 Upper

Robert Whitley
www.6mmAR.com

Permalink - Articles, Gunsmithing, Tactical 6 Comments »
October 18th, 2018

Definitive Book for AR-Platform Gear-A-Holics

AR AR15 Armalite Black Rifle Book Gun Digest
Photo Courtesy Cabela’s Gun Sports

Kevin Muramatsu’s black rifle book, the Gun Digest Guide to Customizing Your AR-15, is a great resource for fans of AR-platform rifles. All the AR options you can imagine are covered: suppressors, premium barrels, adjustable stocks, free-float handguards, ergonomic grips, buffer systems, tactical lights and much more. Those planning an AR rifle build will find application-specific suggestions for 3-Gun, Service Rifle, High Power (Space Gun), Hunting, and Self-Defense use.

AR AR15 Armalite Black Rifle Book Gun Digest AR AR15 Armalite Black Rifle Book Gun Digest

Firearms expert Muramatsu offers advice on choosing the right stock/barrel/optics configuration for your particular game. He also discusses the wide variety of options for slings, grips, magazines and other accessories. With over 520 photos, the book includes a large photo gallery of customized ARs, and includes bonus coverage of the FAL and other “tactical” firearms. The Gun Digest Guide to Customizing Your AR-15 is available from Amazon.com for $20.13, and a Kindle eBook version is offered for $14.99. The book is also sold by Barnes & Noble, and most other major booksellers.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical No Comments »
August 19th, 2018

Zediker Book Helps with Build-You-Own AR-15 Projects

AR15 Varmint rifle AR gunsmithing robert whitley

AR15 construction guideMany of our readers use AR-type rifles for Service Rifle matches, varmint hunting, 3-Gun competition, or defensive use. AR-platform rifles can be configured in a multitude of ways to suit the application. But if you plan to put together your own purpose-built AR rifle, how do you get started?

For AR Do-It-Yourselfers, we suggest reading Glen Zedicker’s book, the Competitive AR-15 Builders Guide. Following on Zedicker’s New AR-15 Competitive Rifle book (2008), the Builders Guide provides step-by-step instructions that will help non-professional “home builders” assemble a competitive match or varmint rifle. This book isn’t for everyone — you need some basic gun assembly experience and an aptitude for tools. But the AR-15 Builders’ Guide provides a complete list of the tools you’ll need for the job, and Zedicker outlines all the procedures to build an AR-15 from start to finish.

One of our Forum members who purchased the AR-15 Builders Guide confirms it is a great resource: “Much like any of the books Mr. Zediker puts out this one is well thought-out and is a no nonsense approach to AR building. I can not stress how helpful this book is from beginner to expert level.”

Along with assembly methods, this book covers parts selection and preparation, not just hammers and pins. Creedmoor Sports explains: “Knowing how to get what you want, and be happy with the result, is truly the focus of this book. Doing it yourself gives you a huge advantage. The build will honestly have been done right, and you’ll know it! Little problems will have been fixed, function and performance enhancements will have been made, and the result is you’ll have a custom-grade rifle without paying custom-builder prices.” Creedmoor Sports sells this Zediker AR-15 book and many other excellent shooting books. Visit www.creedmoorsports.com/category/Books or call 1-800-CREEDMOOR.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 1 Comment »
January 6th, 2018

Gun Sales Strong in Year One of Trump Era

2017 Gun Sales Trump Dean Weingarten FBI statistics

By Dean Weingarten, GunWatch Blog
The first year of the Trump era National Instant Check System (NICS) has ended with the second highest number of NICS background checks on record. There were 2,586,138 NICS checks in December of 2017. There were 25,235,215 NICS checks for all of 2017. At the current 56 firearms per 100 checks ratio, we can expect that over 14 million firearms have been added to the private stock in 2017*. The number of private firearms in the U.S. is now approximately 418 million.

That is a drop of 9% from 2016 to 2017, but it is 9% higher than 2015. The only year to surpass 2017 was 2016, with 27,538,673, when Hillary Clinton was widely considered a shoo-in to be the next president. The next highest year was 2015, with 23,141,970. December 2017’s numbers alone were the fourth highest December on record, behind 2012, 2015, and 2016.

Prices Drop for Guns and Ammo
The reduction from the overheated firearms market that existed in 2016 is significant. NICS checks dropped by 9 percent. With that drop, prices of guns and ammunition have also dropped. And supply has increased — .22 LR ammunition is being seen on shelves where it had been mostly absent for four years. Bargain prices for modern sporting rifles such as AR-15 clones and good quality pistols have kept the overall numbers from dropping further.

It is a buyer’s market now for Guns and Ammo. Vendors are offering big discounts on Black Rifles such as the Savage MSR line.
2017 Gun Sales Trump Dean Weingarten FBI statistics

© 2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.


*In a year and a month or two, we will know just how many firearms were added to the private stock in 2017. The ATF is not allowed to release the actual manufacture, import and export numbers for a year, by law. Note — there is NOT a 1:1 correspondence between NICS checks and gun sales. About 100 NICS checks are done for each 56 new firearms that are added to the private stock in the United States.

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October 5th, 2017

How to Clean and Maintain AR-Platform Modern Sporting Rifles

AR15 AR-15 Cleaning bolt grease carbon removal black rifle

We call them “black rifles”, but that shouldn’t refer to all the carbon and gunk on the inside. AR-platform rifles can be maintenance-intensive beasts. But some AR owners make the situation worse by not regularly cleaning important small parts, or by using too much oily/greasy lubricants in the wrong places. A properly maintained and lubricated AR15 can shoot hundreds of rounds (between cleanings) without a problem. If you learn where (and where not) to apply lubricant, you’ll find that your AR will run more reliably and the task of cleaning the bolt and bolt carrier will be less of a burden.

Here is a good video that explains AR-15 Cleaning and Maintenance. In this 30-minute NSSF video, Gunsite Academy instructor and gunsmith Cory Trapp discusses the proper way to clean and maintain the AR-15 carbine. Very knowledgeable, Trapp provides rock-solid advice for AR owners. Along with cleaning producedures, this video explains how to inspect key components and how to function-test your AR before each shooting session.

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

AR15 AR-15 gun cleaning maintenance

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tactical 1 Comment »
March 10th, 2017

Black Rifle Maintenance — AR15 Cleaning How-To Videos

Barrel cleaning AR15 bolt carrier carbon Jerry Miculek gas key direct impingement

Let’s face it, AR-platform rifles run dirty, at least compared to typical bolt-action rifles. The AR15 works by piping gas from the barrel back into the bolt carrier, causing the bolt to unlock and the carrier to move the bolt backward. The “exhaust gas” from the barrel contains soot and carbon. The carbon will form hard deposits on the bolt. In addition, the carbon can combine with lube on the bolt carrier to make a nasty, paste-like sludge. This can be particularly problematic when the black paste pollutes the ejector and extractor recess.

This Editor has inspected dozens of ARs over the years. Other than mag-related malfunctions, the most common cause of AR cycling problems I found was oily gunk in the extractor and ejector areas. Many AR owners overlook these critical areas. Look at an AR that hasn’t been cleaned properly and you’ll probably find black gunk (and small brass shavings) in the ejector and extractor recesses.

If you want to keep your black rifle running smoothly and reliably, you must clean it regularly and follow the correct maintenance procedures. Here are three videos that explain how to properly disassemble and clean AR-platform rifles.

Take-Down and Full Cleaning of AR15 by Jerry Miculek

Here ace shooter Jerry Miculek takes down and cleans an AR-platform rifle belonging to his daughter Lena. This is a good video because Lena’s rifle was “run hard and packed up dirty” so you can see where carbon and grease build up. This 35-minute video is very thorough. Jerry is one of the nation’s top action carbine shooters, so listen carefully to his advice on cleaning and lubrication.

How to Clean Your AR-Platform Rifle

This is a good basic video that shows the take-down and cleaning procedure for a typical AR15. It uses some fast-motion sequences to speed up the story. Check out this video if you don’t have the time to sit through the Miculek video above.

Cleaning and Lubricating AR15 Bolt Carrier Group

This video offers very specific advice on the bolt carrier group, which receives the dirty gas directly from the barrel. Be sure to check the extractor and ejector recesses. That’s where old lube, brass shavings, and carbon accumulate. Follow the directions in this video for lubrication, and don’t over-lubricate the bolt carrier — that will only capture more carbon.

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December 5th, 2016

DIY Black Rifle Starts with Stripped Lower — Get One for $49.99

Anderson Mfg. stripped AR AR15 lower Colt AR $49.99 Sportsman's Guide

Can you buy a new firearm for fifty bucks? Yes you can, when the “firearm” is a stripped lower receiver, the key component of an AR15-type rifle. With an AR lower, you can build your own “black rifle” project, which could be a gun for Service Rifle competition, or a specialized varmint-slayer, or a rig for 3-Gun matches — the choice is yours. Once you have the serialized lower (which must be transferred through an FFL dealer), you can build your own project as you see fit, with the trigger, barrel, stock, handguards, and sighting system of your choice.

Right now Sportsman’s Guide is offering a great deal on Anderson stripped lower receivers. You can purchase the lower for just $49.99 ($44.99 for Buyer’s Club Members). These are good-quality lowers, with correct mil-spec dimensions, and precision-machined to ensure drop-in installation of aftermarket components. Crafted from 7075-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum forgings, the made-in-USA Anderson lowers have a hard-anodized black finish. The take-down pin has a standard 0.250″ diameter.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hot Deals 1 Comment »
November 5th, 2016

New Hodgdon CFE BLK Powder — Great for Small Cartridges

CFE BLK .223 223 Blackout AAC powder varmint Fireball reduced fouling January 2017
NOTE: Despite the “BLK” in the name, this is a NOT a black powder substitute. This is a modern smokeless powder suitable for a wide variety of popular cartridges.

Hodgdon has announced a new “faster” variant of its popular CFE 223 powder. That’s good news for shooters of small varmint cartridges. Hodgdon’s new CFE BLK (named after the .300 AAC Blackout cartridge) has a faster burn rate than the original CFE 223. That makes CFE BLK ideal for small cartridges such as the .17 Hornet and .221 Fireball. The original CFE 223 propellant was formulated for reduced copper fouling (“CFE” in the name refers to “Copper Fouling Eraser”). New CFE BLK shares this reduced fouling technology which was developed originally for the U.S. military. Many of our Forum members have tried CFE 223 and confirmed that is performs “as advertised” — with less copper fouling that most other propellants. That’s a big benefit for varmint shooters, who may put hundreds of rounds through a barrel in a single day on the varmint fields.

Optimized for the .300 AAC Blackout cartridge, CFE BLK works great for .300 Blackout loads in AR-type rifles throughout the range of bullet weights. Moreover, CFE BLK is perfect for subsonic, reduced loads. In addition, Hodgdon reports that CFE BLK performs superbly in many smaller-capacity cartridges, in particular varmint cartridges such as the .17 Hornet, .17 Ackley Hornet, .218 Bee, .221 Fireball. CFE BLK is also well-suited for the 6.8 Remington SPC and the 7.62X39 Russian cartridge.

CFE BLK Meters Well and Burns Clean
CFE BLK is a spherical (ball) powder. Hodgdon reports the CFE BLK meters well, allowing reloaders to throw very consistent charges every time: “This fine powder meters like a dream and leaves no copper residue, extending accuracy for longer shooting periods, and making clean-up quick and easy.”

CFE BLK Should Be on Dealers’ Shelves in January 2017
Starting in January, 2017, CFE BLK powder will be available in both one-pound (1-lb.) and eight-pound (8-lb.) containers. Check with leading vendors such as Bruno’s, Midsouth, and Powder Valley. By the end of 2016, you should find complete load data for CFE BLK on the Hodgdon Reloading Data Center at www.HodgdonReloading.com.

Permalink New Product, Reloading No Comments »
November 29th, 2015

Big Discounts Still Available at Brownells.com

brownells Black Friday Code LCX deal

If you missed out on some steller deals this past Friday, fret not. Brownells.com still has many products on sale through the end of the weekend. What’s more, you can save an additional 10% by using Code LCX for purchases of $150.00 or more. Today’s daily bargain is an Aero Precision AR upper for $69.99. That’s a steal. Combine that with a $199.99 assembled Bushmaster Lower Receiver (with stock) for a very affordable package. If you don’t own an AR platform rifle, this is a great way to get started.

Permalink Hot Deals, Tactical No Comments »
June 5th, 2015

Short-Range Action — New America’s Rifle Challenge Discipline

NRA Americas rifle challenge ARC rifle shooting AR15 Practical Tactical

The NRA America’s Rifle Challenge (ARC) is a new short-range rifle discipline designed to develop practical shooting skills using modern sporting rifles such the AR-15. NRA-ARC is designed for shooters of all skill levels. With all targets positioned at 100 yards or less, almost any outdoor centerfire range is capable of hosting ARC matches. No pits or swinging target holders are required.

The ARC is a close-range, action-oriented discipline. The course of fire features targets placed from seven yards to 100 yards. Some stages also incorporate magazine changes and the use of barricades. ARC matches involve movement, as competitors transition into multiple shooting positions: standing, kneeling/sitting, and prone.

NRA-ARC is NOT limited to AR-15s. Any semi-automatic detachable magazine-fed rifle can be used. There will be three classes of firearms: Iron Sights, Optics Limited (with one non-magnified optical sight), and Optics Open (maximum two optical sights, one of which may be magnified).

(more…)

Permalink Competition, Tactical 5 Comments »
May 23rd, 2015

What Makes an AR Accurate — Whitley Offers Answers

AR-X AR15 Upper

In our Shooters’ Forum, one member recently asked: “What makes an AR accurate? What parts on an AR can really affect accuracy — such as free-floating handguards, barrels, bolts, bolt carriers?” He wanted an honest, well-informed answer, not just sales pitches. Robert Whitley posted a very comprehensive answer to this question, based on his experience building and testing dozens of AR-platform rifles. Robert runs AR-X Enterprises, which produces match-grade uppers for High Power competitors, tactical shooters, and varminters.

AR-X AR15 Upper

Building an Accurate AR — What is Most Important

by Robert Whitley
There are a lot of things that can be done to an AR to enhance consistent accuracy, and I use the words “consistent accuracy” because consistency is a part of it (i.e. plenty of guns will give a couple great 5-shot groups, but won’t do a very good 10- or 20-shot groups, and some guns will shoot great one day and not so good on others).

Here are 14 key things we think are important to accuracy.

1. Great Barrel: You’ll want a premium match-grade barrel, well-machined with a good crown and a match-type chambering, true to the bore and well cut. The extension threads must also be cut true to the bore, with everything true and in proper alignment.

2. Rigid Upper: A rigid, heavy-walled upper receiver aids accuracy. The typical AR upper receiver was made for a lightweight carry rifle and they stripped all the metal they could off it to make it light to carry (which is advantageous for the military). The net result are upper receivers that are so thin you can flex them with your bare hands. These flexible uppers are “strong enough” for general use, but they are not ideal for accuracy. Accuracy improves with a more rigid upper receiver.

(more…)

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 8 Comments »
March 10th, 2015

Run AR Magazines in your Rem 700 Bolt Gun

Pacific tool and gauge ar-15 magazine bottom metalHow’d you like to run AR-15 Mags in your Rem 700 bolt gun? Sound far-fetched? Well think again. Pacific Tool and Gauge has developed a unique bottom metal system for Rem 700 short actions that works with standard AR-15 mags, providing reliable function with .223 Rem (5.56x45mm) rounds. The AR-mag compatible Rem 700 Bottom Metal costs $129.00 by itself, or $149.00 with a C-Products 10-round magazine.

The system works with straight 5-round, 10-round, and 20-round metal mags as well as larger, angled 30-round metal mags. (Because they are thicker, Magpul mags and other polymer magazines do not work with this PT&G bottom metal system.)

Pacific tool Gauge Rem 700 bottom metal ar15 ar-15 magpul magazine

At SHOT Show, Dave Kiff showed us the AR-Mag compatible bottom metal. “It took a lot of time to get the geometry just right, but we’re proud of this product”, Dave said. A PT&G exclusive, this special bottom metal as been designed to fit in all Remington 700 standard factory stocks right off the shelf with minimal inletting. This bottom metal features a handy mag release button incorporated into the side of the bottom metal (this is more reliable and secure than a mag release in the trigger guard).

Pacific tool Gauge Rem 700 bottom metal ar15 ar-15 magpul magazine

Slight Modification Required During Installation
Customers purchasing this bottom metal will need to modify their Rem 700 actions very slightly, to create a little extra clearance. The Feed Bevel (left photo) needs to be opened to 0.660″, while the mag well needs to be opened to 0.900″.

Pacific tool Gauge Rem 700 bottom metal ar15 ar-15 magpul magazine

Product tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 6 Comments »
November 3rd, 2014

Building an AR? Check Out Zediker’s Book Before You Start

AR15 Varmint rifle AR gunsmithing robert whitley

AR15 construction guideMany of our readers use AR-type rifles for Service Rifle matches, varmint hunting, 3-Gun competition, or defensive use. AR-platform rifles can be configured in a multitude of ways to suit the application. But if you plan to put together your own purpose-built AR rifle, how do you get started?

For AR Do-It-Yourselfers, we suggest reading Glen Zedicker’s book, the Competitive AR-15 Builders Guide. Following Zedicker’s New AR-15 Competitive Rifle (2008), the Builders Guide provides step-by-step instructions that will help non-professional, “home builders” assemble a competitive match or varmint rifle. This book isn’t for everyone — you need some basic gun assembly experience and an aptitude for tools. But the AR-15 Builders’ Guide provides a complete list of the tools you’ll need for the job, and Zedicker outlines all the procedures to build an AR-15 from start to finish.

Along with assembly methods, this book covers parts selection and preparation, not just hammers and pins. Creedmoor Sports explains: “Knowing how to get what you want, and be happy with the result, is truly the focus of this book. Doing it yourself gives you a huge advantage. The build will honestly have been done right, and you’ll know it! Little problems will have been fixed, function and performance enhancements will have been made, and the result is you’ll have a custom-grade rifle without paying custom-builder prices.”

The Competitive AR-15 Builders Guide is not available from most large book vendors. However, Creedmoor Sports has plenty of copies in stock (item BK-Builder, $34.95). To order, visit www.creedmoorsports.com or call 1-800-CREEDMOOR.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Hunting/Varminting 2 Comments »
August 25th, 2014

AR Ejector Mod For Improved Reliability with Larger Cartridges

TECH TIP by Robert Whitley, AR-X Enterprises LLC
Over the years, while working with various AR-15 cartridges that require a larger bolt-face bolt (i.e. bigger than a 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem bolt-face, like those cartridges that use a 6.8 SPC bolt or the bolt face suitable for the 6.5 Grendel-based cartridges), I have found that there is an increased potential for a certain type of jam if a modification to the standard “Mil-Spec”, square-edged ejector is not made.

The original AR-15 square-edged ejector design was made for a much smaller-diameter bolt face and the smaller diameter 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem case, and it works perfectly in that application. However, as people have adapted the AR-15 platform to shoot bigger cartridges, some parts have been modified to accept the larger cartridges (i.e. bigger bolt-face bolts for the 6.8 SPC and the 6.5 Grendel, and different extractors), yet other parts have been all but ignored. One of these “ignored” parts has been the ejector. Most of the larger-bolt-face AR-15 bolts still use the standard “Mil-Spec”, square-edged 5.56 NATO/.223 Rem. ejector. That’s the problem. But there is a simple, reliable fix!

Robert Whitley AR-X Enterprises AR AR15 Bolt jam fix ejector mod

Chamfering AR Ejector for Improved Reliablity with 6mm, 6.5mm and 6.8mm Cartridges
With the larger bolt face and the larger-diameter AR cases, the old-style “Mil-Spec” ejector can cause infrequent but still annoying jams if the ejector is not modified. The jam can occur when a cartridge case feeds up and out of the right side of the magazine, and as it does so, the back of the case must slide across the bolt face and sideways over top of the ejector if it is to center up to the chamber and feed in. If the side of the case catches on the sharp-edged ejector you can get a jam. (See picture above).

Fortunately there is an easy fix for this. One way is to take the ejector out and spin it in a lathe or cordless drill and machine or grind it and round or chamfer the sharp edge. (See picture of rounded ejector next to square edged ejector).

Robert Whitley AR-X Enterprises AR AR15 Bolt jam fix ejector mod

Quick Fix Alternative — Bevel Your Ejector
Another “quick fix” is to leave the ejector in the bolt and chamfer the sharp edge with something like a Dremel tool. (See picture). This fix is easy to do and permanently resolves this potential feeding jam issue. There are no downsides to this modification if done right and I would recommend this modification for the ejectors in all larger bolt-face AR-15 bolts.

Robert Whitley AR-X Enterprises AR AR15 Bolt jam fix ejector mod

Robert Whitley AR-X Enterprises AR AR15 Bolt jam fix ejector mod

This gunsmithing tip provided by Robert Whitley of AR-X Enterprises LLC, 199 North Broad Street, Doylestown, PA 18901. Phone: (215) 348-8789. Website: 6mmAR.com.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 4 Comments »
July 24th, 2014

New Caldwell Brass-Catcher Mounts on AR Picatinny Rails

Hate chasing brass ejected from your AR platform rifle? Well here’s a clever new accessory — a brass catcher that mounts easily to the Picatinny rail on top of your upper receiver. There are other types of brass-catching rigs on the market, but this is one of the best products we’ve seen for ARs with Picatinny rails. Caldwell’s AR Pic Rail Brass Catcher mounts easily with a quick-detach aluminum clamp. Both the clamp and wire frame are adjustable so they won’t interfere with your scope or scope mounts.

AR 15 brass catcher bag mesh Picatinny Rail mount

We like the quick-detach feature. This lets you quickly check and/or clear your chamber, or inspect the bolt. The bag itself, made from heat-resistant mesh fabric, will hold approximately one hundred .223 Rem cartridge cases. And here’s another nice feature — the bag has a zipper on the bottom so you can quickly dump your spent brass without having to remove the brass-catcher from your rifle.

AR 15 brass catcher bag mesh Picatinny Rail mount

Brass Catcher Features:

– Captures fired casings before they hit the ground.

– Quick-detach system mounts securely — no fumbling with straps.

– Compatible with most Picatinny rail-equipped AR-10s as well.

– Heat-resistant mesh bag holds 100 pieces of brass.

– Fully adjustable — can be placed at any point on Picatinny rail.

AR 15 brass catcher bag mesh Picatinny Rail mount

If you shoot an AR and reload your own ammo, you should get some kind of brass-catching device. With a $39.19 “street price” ($49.99 MSRP), this is one of the more affordable options. Once you use a rig like this and no longer have to pick up brass from the ground, you may get spoiled. Moreover, a brass-catcher like this will earn you “Brownie Points” with other shooters at your range who no longer have to dodge your hot brass.

Product Tip from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
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July 9th, 2014

Problems with “Do-It-Yourself” AR-15s

Commentary by Robert Whitley
In recent years several major firearms component suppliers have promoted the idea of the “do-it-yourself” AR-15 build up. In one sense this is a good thing because it promotes peoples’ education and understanding of firearms, but the down side of this is some folks are assembling and modifying AR-15s without an understanding of the rifle and without the necessary skills and tools to do things properly. The net result of this “do-it-yourself” work can be an AR-15 that is non-functional, problematic or dangerous. Here are two examples of common issues with “do-it-yourself” modifications.

Opening Up the Ejection Port
One common modification for AR-15’s is the opening up of the ejection port. This is typically done to permit more room for ejection or loading of the rifle, and it is also typically done in conjunction with a side charging handle modification.

AR-15 Buffer installation

A common issue I have seen with this modification is that the person opening up the port removes the upper right hand carrier support and riding surface. The net result of this is that the carrier sits loose in the upper receiver when the bolt is in lock-up and this can have very detrimental effects on the function and accuracy of the AR-15. Below are more pictures of one that I saw recently.

Click Arrows to See all FOUR Pictures

Upper Receiver Harmed by Modification
Caption
Upper Receiver Harmed by Modification
Carrier Crooked Wear
Caption
Carrier Crooked Wear
Receiver Showing Gas Key Hits
Caption
Receiver Showing Gas Key Hits
Gas Key Hitting Receiver
Caption
Gas Key Hitting Receiver

Wrong Buffer Installed
Another common mistake is the use of an improper buffer with the rifle (i.e. like using a carbine buffer in a standard rifle length buffer tube). There are many after market buffers being sold out there, but if the wrong buffer is used with the rifle, it can allow the bolt carrier to cycle too far back so that the rear of the carrier gas key becomes the stop for the carrier (i.e. when it smashes into the upper part of the lower receiver – OUCH!).

AR-15 Buffer installation

We have even seen situations where the gas key is snapped right off the carrier from this, and it completely disables the rifle and can also cause extensive damage to the firearm as well. Unfortunately we have seen this situation far too often and it is clear that a person needs to fully understand how the buffer assembly works if “do-it-yourself” work is going to be done to the buffer assembly, since everything done to the buffer assembly has an effect on the rifle, its function and accuracy.

While I applaud the person who is self-reliant and has a “can do” attitude, the other side of this is when it comes to a firearm, “do-it-yourself” work should only be done when and if one fully understands the rifle and how it functions and how the work will affect the rifle.

Robert Whitley
AR-X Enterprises, LLC
199 North Broad Street
Doylestown, PA 18901
(215) 348-8789
www.6mmAR.com

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip 5 Comments »
June 5th, 2014

Front Sleds Stabilize ARs and Rifles with Narrow Forearms

Whidden Gunworks offers a nicely-engineered “bolt-on” front plate that will enhance the bench-rested accuracy of any rifle with an accessory rail on the forearm.

The Whidden Track Plate fits securely in the forearm accessory rail on prone, cross-the-course, and Palma rifles. These guns typically have a narrow and/or rounded fore-end so they rock and wobble when used with a front pedestal rest. The TrackPlate cures that. Once installed it provides a rock-solid, 2.9″-wide platform that mates perfectly with a benchrest-type front sandbag. This gives sling-shooters maximum stability when testing loads or zeroing their sights or scope. Plus you can now shoot F-Class competitively with a prone gun.

The Track Plate is light-weight, has catamaran-style runners to aid tracking and prevent rocking, and can be easily stowed in a range bag. The machined aluminum Track Plate fits BOTH Anschutz-style and American-style recessed forearm rails.

The Track Plate is available from Whidden Gunworks for $40.99 or from Champion’s Choice for $40.00 (item W29P). Plate designer (and National LR Rifle Champion) John Whidden says: “The Plate is great for any rifle with a rail whether it ís smallbore, centerfire, or an air gun. Now you can try F-Class with your favorite prone rifle: the Plate has a perfect low-drag finish for riding a rest or sandbags and is competition legal in all dimensions.”

Whidden Gunworks Track Plate

Front Bag-Rider for AR-15s from EGW
Similar to the Whidden Track Plate is a 3″-wide Delrin bag-rider from Evolution Gun Works (EGW). This was developed expressly to fit the fore-ends of AR15-type rifles with round float tubes. The EGW front bag-rider attaches to a front sling swivel stud anchor. That allows it to mount as easily as a Harris bipod — no rail needed! Just unscrew the swivel stud, put the front bag-rider in place and attach one hex-head machine screw. The front bag-rider is contoured to match the handguard profile so it fits securely with no wobble. Overall, it is a slick system. Front and rear bag-riders can be attached in a couple of minutes. The Delrin blocks slide easily in the bags and make the gun ultra-stable. The gun tracks straight back. The front bag-rider comes in two (2) variants, a $39.99 radiused version (item 32141) that attaches via swivel stud, and a $49.99 version (item 32143) that mounts via a Picatinny-style rail.

EGW AR Front Bag-Rider System

EGW Picatinny Rail-Attached Front Bag-Rider

EGW Rear Bag-Rider for AR Buttstocks
EGW also offers a REAR bag-rider that attaches via the sling swivel anchor. The EGW AR Rear Bag-Rider accessory (item 32142), designed to work with A2-style buttstocks, sells separately for $39.99. This rear bag-rider provides a longer, straight “keel” that works very well in rear sandbags, giving the rifle more stability, and improving the tracking.

EGW Rear bag-rider

Permalink Gear Review, Gunsmithing 3 Comments »
May 14th, 2014

Ammo Failure (Detonation?) in 3-Gun Match — Watch and Wince

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-GunWhat happens when a round goes off unsafely in an AR? Watch this video and see. At about the 00:40 time-mark the shooter has a malfunction (click no bang), with a round. He then removes the magazine, and clears the chamber (we think). On the next round, at 00:53 you hear a “Bang” and see a big puff of smoke coming out of the upper receiver (see photo at right). This has been called a “detonation” by the video-maker, but we’re not 100% sure what happened. What do you guys think? Watch the video carefully, and state your conclusions in the comment section if you wish.

What Caused this Malfunction? Watch Video…

In any event, the shooter is fortunate his upper did not completely fracture, launching shrapnel into his face or other body parts. This could have turned out much worse. Here are screen-shots from the video, showing details of the gun after the accident, along with the recovered brass case, which separated near the case-head.

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

AR kaboom detonation over charge ammo 3-Gun

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