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1/21/15

AR-(20)15 plans

As mentioned in my 2015 goals, one of my big goals is a less specific "General consolidation of stuff / updating / completing various systems (go-to AR, battle rattle, EDC, etc.)."

A commenter asked for specific plans r.e. the AR-15, so here goes.

My current go-to AR-15 is a Stag carbine-length 16" upper w/ MOE handguards and an assemble-it-yourself lower. Current config:


The upper has been 100% reliable through the variety of ammo that I've run through it and ~8 years of use, but it's also pretty outdated, and I find that the carbine-length handguards put a limitation on adopting a more modern grip.

I've had a more up-to-date AR on the back burner since literally the last election cycle (pre-Sandy Hook). I tend to have 1 or 2 major firearms related purchases in finances per year, I decided 2015 was 'bout time to get AR upper done. Prices and availability are not going to get any better, that's for sure.

Current plan, as it stands, is a BCM lightweight BFH 14.5" Mid-length with their 13" KMR rail. Likely the BCM "tactical" gunfighter comp, perma-pinned. That should bring me pretty current in terms of AR-tech, da?

To get ahead of the follow-up questions:

Why BCM? They're pretty universally well regarded as high quality, go-to level stuff. You can save a few hundred bucks going with other brands, and you can spend several hundred more going with others. I'm concerned with having something that I can put confidence in right out of the box, and BCM is one of the brands that I'd put that trust in.

They also do a lot of cool marketing, collaborations and support for the firearms industry as a whole, and I don't mind supporting that, either.

Why 14.5 inches with a pinned comp? It's the shortest you can get without either getting into an SBR or the now questionable AR pistol / SIG Brace territory. Moving indoors and in vehicles is a part of life, and having a maneuverable gun helps make that a bit easier. The downside is that it makes switching out muzzle devices harder, though a capable gunsmith can cut off a pinned on comp if a change is needed down the road.

Why mid-length? Longer gas system = lower pressure slamming through the direct impingement system, less wear and tear and softer recoil impulse.

Why the KMR rail? Ridiculously light weight for a full length rail, super strong, and direct mounting of tacticool accessories via keymod. Does look a bit like hardware store shelving, though.

Why the gunfighter comp? It's a combo flash hider and compensator, so you get goodness from both worlds.

Looking at other options as well - nothing being set in stone at this point. I might go for a 16" barrel, different rail, different comp, etc. Arranging federal reserve notes now. Will make the purchase within the next month or so.

I'm undecided about what to do with the Stag upper - it will be collecting dust in the safe after new upper arrives.

The minimalist don't have excess stuff part of me wants to sell it and roll said funds into the purchase of the new upper. I'm not the type who wants lots of average firearms...I want a few, trusted and higher quality ones. The extra cash to dump into the new project would be welcome.

Survivalist side of me has me holding onto it for a backup / hand out. I have extra lowers hanging out, so it's a complete carbine with a good track record. Not bad to have around.

And the cheap side of me says scrap the new upper, just dump a couple hundred bucks into the current upper to modernize it a bit. New hand guards/rail, maybe free float it, and a few other enhancements to bring it more up to speed.

Thoughts from the tribe?

19 comments :

  1. I have bcm 14.5 GREAT!!!. You'll not be disappointed. Considering doing the same as you with my backup gun. By the way what plate carrier is that? ccb

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    1. It is an out of production Eagle Plate carrier.

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  2. K. here, perhaps T.O.R. from over at his site has provide yet another and perhaps the most prudent option:

    http://www.totalsurvivalist.com/2015/01/weapons-caches-and-random-thoughts.html?m=1

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    1. A cache is definitely an option, though low on my priority list right now. I have written about them fairly extensively as well. Personally, I am more interested in having a Glock, some mags, flashlight, holster, a couple good knives and a fat wad of cash and gold cached away...though having an AR put back somewhere safe wouldn't hurt.

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  3. Love the D-guard Bowie! I gotta agree with the plan for consolidation, tho mine is around an AK. Also agree with the thinking for a shorter carbine, for use in and around vehicles.

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  4. I'd say build the one you want now, toss the ol' reliable in the safe as a backup and revisit the stash or sell option 1–2 years down the road. At that point ask yourself A) Do I still need it? B) Is there someplace I can stash it? C) What can I get for it?

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  5. Comment turned into a post over at my blog.

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  6. The 14.5" pinned would be a great addition, although if you wanted to modernize your current rig with a longer handguard, the MOE-SL is a good choice. Gives another couple inches or so of real estate, and is relatively cheap.

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    1. Yup, the SL looks really good. Current lean is to keep old carbine, swap in the SL and get the BCM 14.5re.

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    2. Nice. Coincidentally, I was going to get that exact same BCM setup because I wanted to switch over to middies. Finances weren't where I wanted to be, so my stop gap was the MOE-SL while I saved for either the BCM upper or a 300 upper.

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  7. I think your premises and conclusions are spot on. I would keep the stag and slow roll another lower. I randomly picked up an anderson arms lower for $40 and its been great. By no means my primary but if needed is a great lower. Get a lpk on sale and most the other parts come up on pay it forward threads for free. If you slow rolled it you could probably put a second lower together for under $100. You could also get an 80% polymer or metal lower and go that route. Unless you need the cash its a great backup to have and if we get into another panic, it would be worth a whole lot more than it would be now.

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    1. I actually have more than a couple stripped lowers sitting around for a rainy day, so there's not a shortage of those here. The idea with selling it is I can net $400-ish, then roll that into another upper that is more in the config I'd like--but, no pressing need to sell, and as you point out, likely to be worth more down the road if it comes to that.

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  8. What mount are you using for the light on the 2 O'clock position?

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    1. It's the HSP mount for that light. Can't remember the exact model.

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  9. You might consider updating your Stag Rifle as well. My easy suggestion would be to cut the front sight and the handguard cap. Remove the delta ring assembly and replace that with a troy handguard which mounts to the standard barrel nut. An easy job with a dremel and an afternoon.

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  10. I say keep the old upper and either keep it as a back-up or assemble it as a second rifle. If you do courses or competition, a back-up gun is always handy. Also, with the next presidential election just around the corner and Hillary as a front runner, I think hanging onto any and all AR parts is a good idea as they will likely become unobtainium again just like they did during the Obama election/reelections.

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  11. If a gunsmith can replace a pinned and welded muzzle device, then it's not considered "permanent". If you are concerned with compliance, then make sure you choose that comp/break that you absolutely love or be prepared to swap the entire barrel.

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    1. Wrong. The muzzle device can be cut off. Device is destroyed, but threads can usually be preserved intact, allowing for a new muzzle device to be attached, pinned and welded.

      See ADCO for an example: https://www.adcofirearms.com/shopservices/shop_qnew.cfm?code=Remove%20Muzzle%20Device

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