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9/3/12

My Current TEOTWAWKI Rifle


For those that asked, here it is - my current go-to gun for zombies and the end of days. I'm going to walk through the various components and why I settled on them.

I'm a fan of the AR family for survival purposes. They have a ton of good stuff going on for 'em - huge after market support, lots of high quality, professional grade stuff. Mountains of excellent quality ammunition available. Military and law enforcement use 'em. Not much recoil. Magazine capacity. With propper ammuntion selection, 5.56mm is a plenty good manstopper within its range envelope. Ammo is affordable enough to practice regularly and stock up on. Ability to take a .22lr drop in. Ease of maintenance and repair. And despite what many would have you believe, they are reliable as heck when you don't cheap out in critical areas.

I've first pieced this rifle together back in the summer of 2008 - yep, that long ago - and it's been a work in progress since then, buying components when I had the spare money. I'm pretty happy with where it is currently at. There's a couple things left that I want to do or change out, and I've learned some lessons about how I would do it differently now.

It's been an excellent rifle. I've had exactly one failure to fire in the couple thousand rounds of ammunition I've had through it, and that was with a bizzaro no-name garbage magazine that I expected to jam.

The Upper:
A Stag complete upper. It's been good to me, gives me plenty good accuracy and reliability. It is a 1/9 twist, I would prefer 1/7 for stabilizing heavier bullets. This was the most expensive single purchase.

It's got a carbine length gas system--were I to do it over again, I would have a mid-length system. You don't really get anything out of going carbine length if you're not going to SBR the rifle, and you get a bit more recoil/muzzle rise than a midlength.

Flashider is currently a standard A2.

The back up iron sight (BUIS) is made by MI - came on the upper when purchased.

The Handguards:
Currently basic Magpul MOE handguards. I've gone through a few different sets of rails and handguards, and I came back to these. I like the light weight and feel in-hand. I don't currently need to run a ton of crap on my rails, and the MOE handguards do fine with my light and foregrip.

The foregrip is a Magpul MOE MVG grip - I really like the shape and stubby size. I played around with the Magpul AFG for a while and really prefer the more conventional shape of the MVG (and similar). Feels better.

The Lower:
A CMMG stripped lower and DPMS parts kit. Assembling an AR lower is fairly easy - I did it with minimal tools and zero prior experience in one evening. I would recommend it. Been good to me too. Originally this wore a gouged buffer tube, purchased second hand to save a few bucks. The damaged buffer tube caused some headaches installing, and I was cursing the guy who sold it to me without mentioning the extent of the issue. But, I got it on and never had any problems with it. Replaced it with a clean, undamaged buffer tube (aka receiver extension) a while back.

The controls are all stock from the parts kit, but I plan to add an ambi safety at some point.in the near future. I also run a Magpul BAD, which speeds up weapons manipulations quite noticeably. Really fond of it.

There's a currently unused Magpul ASAP (sling attachment point), which works fine if you're running a single point.

The grip is a Magpul MOE, which is fine. I'd like something overmolded, though. There's a spare battery for the Aimpoint and a little allen wrench in there currently.

The Stock:
A Magpul STR - milspec (I try to run all milspec components just because). Really like this stock - sturdy, lightweight, locks into place firmly, offers great cheek weld, multiple sling attachment points and storage comparments. One compartment has two spare CR123A batteries, the other has a spare Choate Essential Parts Kit.


The Optic:
An Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic (P.R.O.). I tried out a budget-friendly Primary Arms microdot for a while, but had problems with the mount and sent it on its way. The PRO is, IMO, the way to go for a survival-grade red dot under $500. Read my full review here.


The Light:
A Surefire M951 purchased on the cheap, with a Malkoff M61 LED drop in, Haley Strategic offset mount, Surefire tape switch and the MOE light kit. The M951 is a big boy, and I would probably get something smaller like the Scout light if money were not object. The old-school incan lightbulb it came with was dim, but the Malkoff M61 takes it up to blinding wall-of-light level.

If you're looking at an M951, beware that many drop-in LEDs won't fit them. I tried a Thru-Nite XML drop in to no avail.

The Haley Strategic mount is nice in that if offsets the light, which gets it out of the way a bit, helps with balance a bit and can make accessing the controls easier. It does force you to use tools to remove the light, which was disappointing. You can mount the light in various positions, not just the way I currently have it in.

The MOE light kit works surprisingly well for mounting a picattiny light - very sturdy and weighs next to nothing. My one complaint is that you're limited on where you can place the tape switch.

The tape switch that I have is a bit too easy to activate, and it's got some wear on one of the cable ends, so I will eventually upgrade it, too.

The Sling:
A VTAC Wide Padded sling. One end is attached via a quick release, the other is just through the upper's forward sling attachment point. I really like this sling - comfortable and quick to adjust.

I played around with single point slings for a while - the Magpul MS2 and one of the PIG bungee slings - and while they were great for not getting in the way during manipulations, I found them lacking for actually supporting & carrying the rifle.

Thanks to the wide webbing and padding, the two point VTAC sling is much more comfortable, to the point where you could wear it all day without discomfort, which is the idea. It does get in the way a bit more during, say, a reload, but if you pay attention, it's not a problem.

Complete List:
  • Stag 2H upper - I believe they offer a different BUIS now.
  • CMMG Stripped lower
  • DMPS parts kit
  • Mil-spec buffer tube
  • Magpul STR stock (milspec)
  • MOE handguard (carbine length)
  • MOE Foregrip
  • MOE grip
  • Aimpoint PRO
  • MOE Light Kit
  • Surefire M951 light w/ Malkoff drop-in and tape switch
  • Haley Strategic MIL620 light mount
  • VTAC Wide Padded Sling in multicam
  • Magpul ASAP (currently unused)
  • Magpul Battery Assist Device (BAD)
I must confess, I do like Magpul stuff, if you haven't guessed by now. I'm a big fan of their products, which are a great balance of cost, function and durability.

All this was built on a tight budget - partly why it took 4 years to get it to this point! The optic and light were the big purchases after the rifle was assembled. You can certainly build a solid AR-based rifle on a budget, just be patient! That's the biggest thing I would recommend - be patient and don't waste your time and money trying to cut corners.

There you have it! If you want more details around something, lemme know - glad to provide.

12 comments :

  1. Nice, not exactly my bowl of Kimchi, but well executed if AR's are your cup of tea. Don't really like optics on a battle rifle, just one more angle for Murphy to find a way into your calender.

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    1. I would take a deeper look into optics. There's a reason pretty much every rifle in the U.S. military sports some kind of optic - Aimpoints, ACOGs, etc. And Murphy is why you buy a quality optic and have back up iron sights - I would NOT run a rifle without irons.

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  2. Nice Carbine. I run something very similar except I have the full size barrel on a collapsible stock lower (H2 weighted buffer).

    I would recommend when it matches the individual's priority needs, to invest in a vortex flash hider. I think they run $75 and greatly reduce the carbine's signature in low light conditions.

    As for optics on a battle rifle . . . well, you know the saying two is one and one is none :) Having an optic with quick release and a set of BUIS isn't such a bad thing . . .

    I also run the Aimpoint PRO and it sure makes getting rounds on target a little bit quicker.

    P.S. Magpul's Tactical Art of the Carbine, has seemed to do a good job putting together a DVD with battle drills and reload drills for handling that nice piece of equipment against "zombies".

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    1. Thanks! I've had the Art of the Tactical Carbine I and II since they came out. Excellent stuff.

      Travis Haley also has a video that he released on his own called Adaptive Carbine that is also really good.

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  3. love your choice and the way you have chosen to outfit it. Personally I chose the AK47, with a new fusion stock set with the rails in place. I have to say, after years in the Marine Corps, I had to settle on the AK purely based on it's simplistic design and simple function. That said, a weapon is only as good as it's user right... and you can own anything but if you do not know how to repair it and shoot it it is just a fancy club..

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  4. Great article, my set up is similar to this. I have a modified AR15 bushmaster and a AR15/22 smith and wesson.

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  5. If I could legally shoot a non-varmint game animal, like a deer, in my home state, in a non-WROL condition with a .223, I just might consider an AR-platform. As long as there is a difference between "This is my weapon, this is my deer-gun....etc..." I think I'll stick with the AK/SKS platform on knockdown, price, and the fact that if you have a rag, a stick and a rock, you can probably fix it if it breaks. YMMV.

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  6. Wyzyrd,

    I guess you need to move to Texas. The AR platform as well as the AK are legal for non-varmint hunting like deer! No magazine limit either except for fowl.

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    1. Heck, in Texas you can hunt wild pigs from helicopters!

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    2. lol - here, I could legally shoot a deer with a .50BMG Barrett (several local counties hire folks to do this to cull excess, and feed old-folks). I just can't legally do it with a round that's smaller than .23 caliber. The 'reasoning'(if you can call it that) seems to be "too many thru-and-thru shots with no knockdown, and people are too dang lazy to track what they shot"

      If you shoot wild pigs from a chopper, you have to have "Ride of the Valkyries" playing, and then you'll have RIAA "Agent Smith" making sure you didn't download it illegally.....

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  7. You have built a very nice carbine. I've chosen to go very simple with a out of the box standard M&P 15 Sport. It was complete for about $650.00 with a good iron sight that allowed me to shoot very respectable groups right from the start. I have hung a old hunting scope on it and shot prarie dogs and coyotes with it for fun. Removing it I can go back to the simpler platform in about 2 minutes.

    I've got a sure fire that fits nicely, side-saddle off of the top rail for home defense and that's it for modifications, at least for now. If I get the itch I'll change some items out but for now at least I have a workable gun and I didn't bust the budget. getting there.

    Happy Zombie busting!

    Colorado

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  8. I have a Spike's Tactical M4LE Upper (16" 1:7 twist barrel), Spike's Tactical M4LE Lower, YHM Spectre Length Handguard, YHM low profile gas block, BCM Gunfighter Charging Handle, Magpul BAD, Magpul AFG, Blackhawk Grip, Magpul BUIS, EOTech 512, Blackhawk Single Point Sling.

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