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All posts for the month January, 2014

You guessed it.  I Built My Own!

SP223

Here’s the story.

By mid-November 2012, I vowed to make a purchase I had previously put off for far too long.  It would be similar to an AR, one of the most popular rifles in modern, U.S. History.  When you look at the service record and historical significance, plus the NRA Instructor training tool, recreational, competition, hunting and self / home defense applications of the rifle, I almost can’t believe I waited so long to pull the trigger. (pun intended)

Like most of my readers, I wanted one for a long time.  Also like most of my readers, I need to balance financial responsibilities and I take my gun purchases very seriously.  With the political landscape threatening the Constitutionally provided, Second Amendment American Right more than ever, I decided it was time.  (Isn’t it amazing how demand for an item dramatically increases when people fear they won’t be able to get that item in the future?)

While I really wanted to build one, I couldn’t build something similar to the Stag Arms Model 3G for less than what it cost at my LGS (Local Gun Store).  It was there.  Fully assembled.  Warrantied.  Immediately Good-to-Go.  That Stag 3G is a great gun, and represents tremendous value for the money.  So, after saving up the funds, the day finally came when I went to my LGS, cash in hand, to put my money down on a Stag Arms Model 3G.

I was a day late, and dollar short as they say.  Literally, just one day before, someone else had put a deposit down on the last 3G in stock.  Shortly after that, I committed to building my own.  I’d get exactly what I wanted, plus the skills, experience and sense of pride that comes with doing the work myself.

Decisions, Decisions: The Quest for Best of Breed Components

Some decisions were made long before I even decided to build my own.  I Chose Bravo Company USA for the complete Upper, BCG (Bolt Carrier Group) and Charging Handle.  It wasn’t even a question.  My Dad is a United States Marine.  My Father-In-Law is a United States Marine.  Some of my close friends are United States Marines.  BCM (Bravo Company Manufacturing) was founded in 2005 by a veteran United States Marine, recently back from the theater.  Headquartered in Hartland, Wisconsin, BCM products “are manufactured, reinforced and tested to meet the unforgiving needs of law enforcement, military, security and peace keeping professionals in some of the most high stress environments and situations in the world.

Travis Haley, a veteran Force Reconnaissance Marine with 15 years of dedicated real world experience, former CEO of Magpul Dynamics & Magpul Industries, and founder of Haley Strategic Partners chooses BCM rifles.

Pat Rogers, a retired Chief Warrant Officer Of Marines, and retired NYPD Sergeant, and founder of E.A.G. Tactical chooses BCM Rifles.  In fact, BCM built, now famous ‘Filthy 14‘ was one of the rifles used in Pat’s carbine classes.

See where I’m goin’ with all this?  You’d be hard pressed to find better company.  Sure, you can go elsewhere, and you can certainly spend more money, but I don’t think you’ll find a better product.  I also respect BCM for not gouging customers when market conditions allowed. On top of their outright qualifications, that’s a class act!

I covered it in my post on AR Trends, but again quickly, I’m not a fan of the currently ‘tacticool’ SBR (Short Barreled Rifle) for practical civilian purposes.  Nor am I a fan of the Quad Rail.  Ultimately, I decided on a BCM 16” Mid-Length Standard Upper, with a Free Floated 13” VTAC Alpha Rail.  The 16” barrel gives the relatively small, light.22 caliber projectile more velocity than an SBR, or rifle with a 14.5” barrel. The increased velocity results in better terminal ballistics and aids in longer range shooting.  Let’s be honest, the 16″ barrel is still short enough for, God Forbid, most Civilian CQB or Home Defense scenarios.  The Mid-length gas system is more reliable and easier shooting than shorter, 7″ Carbine length gas system.  The free floated 13” VTAC Rail aids accuracy two ways; first by free floating the barrel, and second by allowing me to put my front BUS (Back-Up Sight) as far forward as possible, extending the sight radius.

I Chose Seekins Precision  for the Lower Receiver.  While the Lower Receiver generally doesn’t get much love, it is the glue that holds everything else together.  It’s also the serialized component of the build, technically considered the firearm.  I spent an almost embarrassing amount of time looking at gun rags, combing through catalogs and scouring the Internet for purposes of this build.  The Seekins Precision SP223 GEN2 Billet Lower Receiver, made from 7075-T6 aluminum, just kept catching my eye, and coming in very high in the reviews.  Not only is this lower well built, but its got all kinds of well thought out, usable, extra features –  and it’s got nice curves in all the right places.  Honestly, I think it’s sexy.  This is another U.S. made product that functions as well as it looks, created by someone with a passion to improve the current state.  Done Deal!  When you click on the link above, I recommend you check out the ‘About‘ page.  Like Bravo Company Manufacturing and Magpul Industries, it’s an inspiring American Success Story.

I Chose Stag Arms for the LPK (Lower Parts Kit).  I provide a quick overview of Stag Arms in my previous post on Current AR Product Choices, but Stag was spawned from a company that has been supplying LPK’s to military since the 1970’s.  Stag also produces 80% of their parts in-house, again right here, in the U.S.A.

I Chose Giessele Automatics for the Trigger Group.  Any shooter worth their salt knows that accuracy comes from a combination of factors, but trigger squeeze is always near the top of that list.  One way to help improve trigger control is to ensure the trigger in your gun has a smooth, crisp, clean break, and reasonable pull weight for your application.  Since I originally honed-in on the Stag 3G, I went with an offering comparable to what Stag puts in that model.  Here again, it’s another U.S. company born from a passion.  Be sure to check out their ‘About‘ page.

I Chose Magpul Industries for the Furniture (Stock & Pistol Grip), the Back-Up Iron Sights (BUS) and Magazines.   Similar to BCM, Magpul was founded by a former United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance Sergeant.  The company is well known for its almost indestructible, mostly polymer based, user-configurable modules that build upon existing firearms to improve the functionality, or operation of the firearm.  Honestly, this was another ‘no-brainer’.  After my choice for the Upper, BCG and Charging Handle, you can’t tell me your surprised?!  When you click on the link above to check out their vast array of products, including iPhone cases, and all made in the U.S.A.!  Be sure to read the INNOVATION page, which should be required reading for Business School!

 

From a Collection of Very Fancy Paperweights to a Functioning Work of Art!

Obviously, my build wasn’t guided strictly by cost.  I wasn’t trying to build a rifle as inexpensively as possible.  Instead, I was guided by passion, and a desire to build the Best rifle I could build, within my means.  When you take a step back, hopefully you see much more than just a list of parts.  You should see a collection of carefully selected, specifically chosen, highly specialized, Best of Breed components.

In much the same way that each of these companies was founded, embody the American Spirit, and manufacture their components, I made my choices based first and foremost on quality and performance.  I couldn’t be happier with my build.  In the end, I created one Hot, Bad-Ass looking piece of hardware.

Fine, you say, but beauty’s s only skin deep.  How does she function? How does she shoot?

…for that, you’ll have to wait for next time.

Be Aware! Be Prepared! Be Safe!