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.