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This is my Blaster. There are many like it…

…but this one is mine.

The Blaster: A TacSol AR-22T upper with 15" AP Customs Tactical handguard

The Blaster: A TacSol AR-22T upper with 15″ AP Custom Tactical handguard

Well, there may not be any like it.  Looking at it completed assembled, my first thought was, “That looks like something out of Star Wars.”  But now you know why I asked if 15 inches is too long: It’s installed on a Tactical Solutions AR-22T dedicated .22 rimfire upper. Ordinarily a 15″ handguard on a 16.5″ barrel is not a problem (although they are most often used on 3-gun type rifles with 18″+ barrels).  However, because the rimfire barrel is recessed into the receiver by over an inch, I knew the barrel wouldn’t be too much longer than the handguard.

The yellow line indicates where the barrel begins.

The yellow line indicates where the barrel begins.

What I didn’t account for is the gap between the receiver and the back of the tube.  That left all of 1/16 of an inch of barrel to extend past the end of the handguard.

Technically the barrel extends past the handguard

Technically the barrel is longer

Obviously, there won’t be any trouble finding a place to mount iron sights on top of that which was the reason for adding the rail to begin with.  The plan is also to add a bipod stud as well and the handguard does have a row of vents along the bottom for adding accessories.  One of the two included APC add-on rail sections could be used for that purpose. They are rock solid when mounted and offer impressive flexibility of mounting locations [@1:30, 3, 6, 9 or 10:30 o’clock any where along the length].

Two 2 inch add-on rail sections are included with AP Customs Tactical Handguard

Two 2 inch add-on rail sections are included with AP Custom Tactical Handguard

However, the idea of adding a rail only to have to add a bipod stud adapter to then attach a bipod just irks me.  AP Custom will be introducing a simple, low profile bipod stud accessory but it hasn’t been released for sale at this time.  [BTW, they recently released a lo-pro QD socket that I want to try too.]  I did try IWC’s excellent V-2 Mount-n-Slot for MagPul MOE forends but while serviceable, it’s not an exact fit; MagPul vents are narrower and the surfaces around them are flat rather than curved like those of a free float tube.  This leaves a very slight amount of play when MOE accessories are mounted to an APC tube (unless you really want to wrench them down; I didn’t).

Vent size comparison: AP Customs carbon fiber handguard (top) to MagPul MOE (bottom); IWC V2 Mount-N-Slot on MOE

Vent size comparison: AP Customs carbon fiber handguard (above) to MagPul MOE (below); IWC V2 Mount-N-Slot on MOE

That didn’t keep me from doing a mock up of what it would be like with a bipod mounted though.

Shooting from within the rough.

In the jungle, the quiet jungle…

So now all it needs are the iron sights that led to this whole undertaking.  Well, they’re backordered.  But I’m sure that they’ll be along shortly; this panic buying stuff is tapering off, right? *sigh*

Until then, I’ll still be having a great time with the ‘Blaster’.  The TacSol upper is not only accurate and fun but it’s also an excellent training tool (inexpensive to shoot and great for introducing new shooters to the AR platform). Adding the AP Custom handguard and (eventually) aperture sights only makes it better.

Just one more pic.

And just one more pic.

Musings on a Lightweight AR Build

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.

[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.


Pumps, Levers, Bolts, AR’s and AK’s. Take your pick.


Handy for the next time you need to light a candle.

[Nicely done, Weer’d.]


The Ultimate AR15 Accessory – The Spade Grip Kit

I stumbled onto this while at DSA Inc.

AR15/M16 Spade Grip Kit

Here’s the link to purchase ($450 but has a lifetime warranty) if you also absolutely must have one.   I’ll be getting one for the tailgunner position in my Zombie Apocalypse / Mad Max armored vehicle made from a 1976 Cadillac El Dorado covered in rawhide with a 12 point rollcage and cowcatcher on the front.  Actually the trunk in that car probably has room for TWO!  Did the Shrike ever make it to market?

New Brownells Catalog (#62) Arrived Today!


If you’ve never received a catalog from Brownells, you don’t know what you are missing.  Any of you old enough to remember the Sears Wishbook catalogs around Chirstmas time know the feeling when you find a Brownells catalog in your mailbox.  It’s about as big too – at least a couple of pounds.

Brownells is the world’s largest supplier of gun parts and gunsmithing tools, and every item in their catalog has a picture, in color.  Sure, they recently updated their website to include lots of videos (how to’s, product demos, etc.) and even the super cool AR-15 Builder where you can ‘build’ an AR rifle by dragging and dropping the parts with your mouse, and also the site search engine for parts actually works now, but still the catalog is tangible, portable and cool.  Mine always wind up being marked with notes, highlighting, tabs, etc.  Some of us still wish; but now days the dilemma isn’t whether Santa will bring the items but in choosing which items can be budgeted for first.  They do have gift certificates though…wink. wink.

Tom Gresham’s Gun Talk radio program is sponsored by Brownells and if you are a listener then you already know that by mentioning his program, Brownells will send you one for free.

You should call them or go to their website and order one right now.