Tune in tomorrow.
A friend asked me about my opinions on building a lightweight AR so in blogger fashion I thought I’d blast my ramblings out on the intertoobz.
First off, lightweight AR-15’s are great fun to shoot. Beyond that, there’s a renaissance going on as folks are embracing the rifle’s founding concept of ‘lighter is better’. That really was the whole reason for using plastic and aluminum after all.
Having studied Tiger McKee’s excellent book ‘The Book of Two Guns’, I agree with his recommendation of keeping a fighting gun rugged and light. His Katana rifle concept makes a lot of sense, coming in at 6 pounds with fixed sights and a lightweight A1 fixed stock.
The consumers’ desire for lighter rifles has other manufacturers answering the demand with such current options as the S&W M&P 15 Sport (6.45 lbs), Colt’s LE6900 (6.2 lbs) and DoubleStar’s C3 ‘Constant Carry Carbine’ (5.5 lbs w/o sights)
Some may want to discuss mil-spec pedigrees, but let’s save that for later and look at the features of the guns listed. About the only common feature of these three guns is a 16” barrel with a carbine length gas system. Otherwise their approaches to saving weight vary. Variations are fixed vs. adjustable stocks, a fixed FSB vs. sights on a free-float handguard and lightweight barrel contour vs. M4 contour (Colt 6900).
After some consideration, here are the high points of my theoretical build list of components for the purpose of having a trustworthy ultra-light rifle.
- Lower Receiver: Noveske Gen 2 (‘cause magwell)
- Upper Receiver: Ranier Arms (forged without forward assist)
- Barrel: Daniel Defense 14.5” Midlength LW (w/ pinned muzzle device)
- Gas Block: DD .625” lo-pro; pinned
- BCG: [They still make those?]
- Stock: Ace AR-UL 9” (although it’s hard to beat an A1 fixed)
- Handguard: AP Custom Carbon Fiber Tactical (rifle length, to fit my arms)
- Sights: DD Fixed
- Light: Inforce WML (3 0z)
[Now I just need to place a few backorders…]
There are a few other tricks [adapt an A1 buffer tube to carbine buffer and spring, lightweight bolt carrier, or drill a 9mm upper for a gas tube] to shave an ounce here and there but this is about as light as a standard rifle can be. Of course, lightweight is good but it still has to work. I think the above list would satisfy that requirement.
So what do you think? If you have any suggestions or recommendations for going lighter or increasing reliability, let me know.
Today I present a request (and cautionary tale) to the internets on behalf of a friend. For those of you in the Houston area please Be On the Look Out (BOLO) for a plate carrier and kit that was stolen from my buddy’s car
about two weeks ago on April 23rd, 2013. [He only recently told me.] I realize that the recovery of it an extreme long shot but I wanted to do something to help and maybe something positive will come of it.
Here’s the list of gear taken:
- Tactical Assault Gear Banshee rifle plate carrier (Multicam)
- RMA Supply Level III ceramic armor plate (large; 10” x 12”)
- Condor Triple Kangaroo mag shingle (Multicam)
- (6) Magpul Maglevel P-mags (FDE) each with Original Magpul (FDE)
- (3) Glock-brand G19 15 rd magazines
- 180 rounds of 5.56x45mm Federal 62 gr Green Tip Penetrator (loaded in P-mags; 6 x 30)
- (10) 20 boxes of 5.56x45mm Federal American Eagle
- (3) 50 rd boxes of Winchester ‘white box’ .45 ACP
- (5) 20 rd boxes of Remington .22-250
- (3) 50 rd boxes of CCI Blazer 9mm
- (1) Chinook Medic Kit (TMK-KE) Multicam – completely stocked
- (1) Chinook Individual Operator Kit (TMK-IO) Multicam – completely stocked
- Additional Celox gauze, packs and injector
All of this was in his car but not visible from the outside; the car was parked on the street near his residence in the Midtown/Museum District of Houston, Texas. The items were actually in a cardboard box with clothes piled on top of it. There were no overt signs of forced entry (no broken windows) and the car was locked prior to the theft. The police believe specialized tools (slim jim?) were used to gain entry. The car is not a luxury model, it does not have any expensive mods or options and is as mundane as any other. It
does did have a single sticker on the back, though. A basic NRA membership sticker.
The thieves realizing their windfall, returned about 1 week later and gained entry to his wife’s car hoping for another score.
Hindsight being what it is, the take-away of this tale is to Respect the Gray.
- Don’t Advertise – even a small identifier such as a sticker can mark you for theft or attack.
- Secure your kit – concealment is not enough; car locks are not secure.
I’ve been thinking of ways to secure gear in a car and if you choose to store it there, my recommendation would be a Pelican or similar rugged case to contain the gear. Preferable the case should be in the trunk (if your car has one) locked with Abloy padlocks and tethered with hardened steel security chain to an anchor attached to the frame. Some vehicles with removable seats have convenient anchors already.
I can’t offer much but I am personally offering a reward of (2) bricks [1000 rounds] of precious .22 long rifle ammunition* for information leading to the return of the above items; If you can help please send an email to Projectilist AT Gmail
(*and the satisfaction and peace of mind of having helped your fellow man)
Filed under: Call to Action | Tagged: ammuntion, Banshee, BOLO, Chinook, gray man, Green TIp, Houston, IFAK, MagPul, Medic Kit, multicam, plate carrier, reward, stolen, Tactical Assault Gear, TAG, Texas, Theft | Leave a Comment »
Like many of living the ‘firearms enthusiast lifestyle’, I tend to make occasional circuits of pawn shops on the off chance of scoring a deal. I don’t know about the pawn brokers where you live, but around H-town (especially if the store is part of a chain) the standard pricing for used guns is to take the MSRP of the gun were it new and then add about 15-20%. It’s obvious that those prices are intended for customers outside the ‘F.E.L.’ and therefore ignorant of market value and pricing. It’s not unexpected to see Glocks that look like they’ve been bouncing around in the bed of a pickup for a year or two with a tag asking $650, but even so when I saw this:
…I actually did a double take. When I pointed out, to a manager, that it was priced three times what a new one sells for, his response was, “I didn’t price that.” The M&P 15-22 is not a rare gun; even during the height of the Great Gun Panic of 2013 with folks buying $250 bricks of .22 and waiting hours to get into gun shows I doubt that gun would sell at that price.
Unless maybe that VFG is hand carved from fossilized dinosaur bone…
Today I’m busy chasing down a lead on a better job so here’s a picture of Chiappa’s 9″ barreled Mare’s Leg they displayed at the NRA Annual Meetings.
I like this version much better than the 12″ barreled models that are also available, because the 9″ barrel is most accurate to the iconic shortened Winchester 1892 that Steve McQueen carried in Wanted Dead or Alive. Chiappa chose to introduce theirs with the “D” shaped lever from the early episodes but the tear drop shaped lever is also available separately. Best of all, since it is manufactured as a pistol (not a shortened rifle), it can be transferred easily with no NFA paperwork. Impractical as all get out, but cool as hell.
Well, my plans to wring out the new M&P trigger have been torpedoed by a Honest to God Texas Gully Washer (HTGTGW) here in the Bayou City. It’s as dark as pitch out there and when the signal on my AM radio gets through the static of all the lightning strikes just about all I hear is the Emergency Broadcast System messages.
Which reminds me of this:
We’ve got flash flood warnings, tornado watches, etc. I cleared my morning schedule so I could go shoot but even with the 4×4 standing by, I will heed the warnings and hunker down for a while. Because although I trust myself to navigate to the streets to an indoor range and back, it’s a sure thing my route will be blocked by the nimrods that will gladly try and ford a submerged intersection with a subcompact sporting low profile rims.
Instead, I think I’ll take a glass of fresh ice tea out to the porch and meditate to the constant roll of thunder and occasional transformer explosion. Is it too early for a Margarita?
Until Monday, let me plant this groove in your head:
If that don’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, you need a Margarita yourself.
First off, Apex Tactical has exceptional customer service. Yes, Randy Lee and his crew have published instructional videos to assist with the installation of their products but they have also continued to upgrade their products as well. So while 99% of the information in the FSS install video remains accurate, there are a few things that changed when the new product launched. I was able to install the Forward Set Sear kit with polymer trigger in my M&P without problem but I had a few questions afterward. I used the Apex website contact form to submit them and received a response within just a couple of hours. If you are considering installing an FSS kit, maybe what I learned will help you too.
Here’s the parts of the kit:
Earlier this year I installed a DCAEK from Apex so with that experience, this installation went smoothly but because the parts weren’t labeled I wanted to ask what the difference between the two trigger return springs was. The answer I received (and I have labeled them as such above) is that the ‘green’ spring with the stepped coils is heavier and is intended for a duty/carry style trigger weight while the tapered silver spring is lighter for competition use.
My other question was about the Ultimate Striker Block that was provided. In the FSS install video, it mentions that the USB in the FSS kit is different and specific to the FSS trigger. The one I received looks just like the one from my DCAEK [with a domed head] so I asked if I had the correct one. Their reply was:
Current to January of 2013 all of our USB’s are the same across the board. Older versions of the kits had different USB’s. If both USB’s you currently have are domed and rounded and bought within this year they are most likely the same. However If you purchased the DCAEK awhile back before 2013 it is different from the FSS.
This is good news, because now I have the option of swapping slides between my 5″ gun with the FSS and my 4″ gun with the DCAEK.
- Even though a FSS specific RAM spring is provided, the RAM is not but can be purchased separately
strongly recommendsrequires a sear block with the larger 1/8″ sear plunger and therefore only provides a 1/8″ spring. Currently the only 9mm/.357/.40 sear block offered by Brownells includes the magazine safety and internal lock [note to self: if the product description is unclear, read the customer comments before you order]. If you need a new sear block without the mag safety or the lock order this one from Speed Shooter Specialties.
- I installed the heavier of the two trigger return springs and it resulted in a 4lb 10oz pull in my gun. As stated in a previous post, to me, it feels lighter than that. The take-up is short and the break is the cleanest I’ve felt in an M&P pistol. The geometry of the system includes an internal overtravel stop so the free travel after the break is greatly reduced which in helps eliminate sight upset.
- After I’ve had a chance to shoot it [tomorrow?] with the heavier trigger spring, I will install the lighter one to see how it changes the pull and break.
- Randy Lee has said that the FSS kits are meant to approximate a 1911-style trigger in a striker fired gun. In my opinion, he has succeeded marvelously.
The most often heard criticism of S&W’s M&P series was regarding the quality of the trigger pull. To their credit Smith and Wesson has listened to the market and worked to improve the factory triggers in recent production guns but if you want the best trigger, install a kit from Apex Tactical.
Filed under: Gear Review, How To | Tagged: Action Enhancement Kit, AEK, Apex Tactical, carry trigger, competition trigger, Forward Set Sear, FSS, installation notes, M&P, observations, polymer trigger, S&W, springs, USB | Leave a Comment »