The $3000 Itch: One man’s experience with an AR pattern .308

The Bulk of It Sideways

The Bulk of It Sideways

Meat and Potatoes

Meat and Potatoes

I cannot quite put a finger on what first gave me the itch that apparently takes $3000 dollars to scratch. The closest I can say, is perhaps a combination of seeing the results my friend was getting with a custom made bolt gun and handloading, and putting together a polymer lower for a .22 AR. These two main reasons combined with the great experience of having my 870 Cerakoted by Gus over at Dynamic Combat Solutions in Wayne, NJ screamed build something for accuracy but something badass looking. The following article is not meant as a tutorial on building an AR so take anything here with a pinch of salt and if you are ever unsure about what you are doing consult a competent gunsmith.

AR-10 vs. LR-308

After halfhearted research my head kept spinning about the options of larger AR pattern rifles. You may experience a similar feeling when you begin to start sourcing parts and looking at styles and it is actually quite simple.

AR-10 is AR-10 is AR-10

The AR-10 pattern is produced by a much smaller group of firearms makers and while I don’t understand the appeal is the preference of some people out there.

DPMS Pattern, SR-25, LR-308

These are interchangeable terms in regards to parts, however the most commonly used and widespread terms are LR-308 or DPMS pattern. If a part in question says DPMS pattern or LR-308 it will work in your build. The only caveat to that statement is coordinating handguards and upper receivers. Some DPMS upper receivers are Hi-Profile and Some are Lo-Profile. This profile refers to the dimension of the part of the receiver that has the top pic rail. Check out this video by Shell Shock Armory go to about 4:20 in the video for measurements but before that he talks about some of the pitfalls of parts sourcing and shows the issue that comes with mismatched parts. Buy the wrong model of handguard and they will not match correctly.

Anyway based upon a greater variety of parts and interchangeability with some AR-15 components I decided on a DPMS Pattern build.

Sourcing
The build began with asking a local gun store if their distributor could get me a stripped lower. They carried DPMS lowers and that cost 279 plus tax and nics. I then began the dizzying and seemingly never ending process of ordering parts. For Fit and compliancy I went with a DPMS Lo-Profile Upper from Brownells. Then for three weeks I tormented myself as to barrel and handguard combinations. I finally found the samson evolution 308 rail in 15” ordered direct from samson. For the barrel I wanted 20” and wanted to buy something worth the money. Rainier is a solid name in the AR game and I decided upon a match barrel chambered in their proprietary .308 rainier match which is a “Wylde” style chamber for .308 providing safety and accuracy across the civilian and military loadings. Also from rainier I ordered a dimple jig and Seekins Precision Muzzle Brake. Everything else was from Brownells with the exception of Stock and Mags which were from midway. BCG I have no idea my friend ordered two and I got it from him.

Table of Costs

Table of Costs

Preparing for the Build
The only preparing I did was to prep the parts for cerakoting done by Dynamic Combat Solutions. This meant breaking down the upper to a stripped form, and removing allen screws from the handguard the lower was already stripped and ready to go. Gus did a great job matching the finish to the Magpul Gray of the grip and stock.

Color Match by Gus

Building
As with most gun projects I perform in my apt, this occurred in my bed. The lower went together just like a normal AR lower with two differences. The bolt catch assembly is retained with a threaded pin instead of a rollpin, and both the safety selector and rear takedown detent springs are retained by the pistol grip.

Glass
Vortex Vortex Vortex. I picked up online at BHphotovideo.com, a Vortex Viper PST 6-24×50 FFP MOA reticled scope. This thing is sweet with 10 brightness settings and FFP consistency in the crisp reticle making this think a joy to use. Costing $900, this was my first entry into quality rifle glass and my reluctant adoption of the buy once cry once mantra is being affirmed.

Performance

PPU 168 HPBT Match 100 Yards shots 15-20

PPU 168 HPBT Match 100 Yards shots 15-20

Just working through what to feed the thing. I will eventually begin to handload, probably going to invest in the Redding dies and contribute to my communal reloading situation with quality dies. Currently shooting PPU Match to much success, and have a bunch of other factory ammo to play with in the mean time.

Issues
Like any AR pattern custom build especially when using an adjustable gas block and different loads, there will be some growing pains. First range trip to function test with no glass mounted I tuned the gas block to reliably feed but the last round wouldnt hold open. The bolt catch seemed to be binding up. Second trip with glass mounted it would eject the spent casing but not feed the next round. I don’t remember if I had turned down the gas block in between for some reason. I plan on buying a steel mag from DPMS to rule out PMAG issues and potentially grease or polish the bolt catch. Im not losing any sleep as the rifle does not even have a full box of ammo through it yet.

Finished Product

scopecap scopecap2

To summarize this is a project that I had a blast sourcing and executing. Although I could have bought a Windham or S&W off the shelf for 600 bucks less It wouldnt have been everything that I had wanted and would not get to work with gunsmiths like Gus at Dynamic Combat Solutions or just have that one gun in your safe that you know for a fact no one else has.

For those of you that don’t know I co-host the Guns of Hollywood Podcast on the Firearms Radio Network. I also guest on the Gun and Gear Review Podcast and write reviews and will be writing reviews on many of the parts from this build in the future as I can fit it in around my recording and editing schedule.

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In the works

So working a month straight at a time has benefits which include lots of overtime. It also has its negatives such as neglecting writing and keeping up on this bad boy. That being said I have completed my LR-308 build and its awesome if I do say so myself. I am going to get started on an article regarding that whole process. As always I have been recording and editing my weekly podcast with Allie Howe Guns of Hollywood. We will be releasing our 25th episode this Saturday so that is exciting. I came across a Nagant Revolver which I needed so today I put in for some pistol permits which is a blast as always.

 

Thanks for checking me out and reading what I have to say and checking the podcast out as well. I like that format a lot so I will be looking into starting a solo podcast soon. Either way I should have the LR-308 article out in a week or two so check back for that.

 

 

Sam

 

Case Study: Versatility of the 870 platform

The Beginning

For the most part the pump shotgun game is divided into two main camps; 870 or 500. Although there certainly are other pump shotgun makers out there that maker cheaper and more expensive versions of the pump shotgun the big two are Remington and Mossberg. When I was in the market for a pump gun I was basically making a choice between these two. I did not want something super cheap with no aftermarket, and I couldn’t spend the type of money to get into the higher end pumps. I became familiar with shotguns using the Remington platform and was used to the controls. Although I can operate a tang safety just fine having learned from O/U skeet gun I had for a time I still preferred the button safety. So my journey with the 870 began. I started out with a standard 26″ vent rib rem choke 870 express and this was fine. I left it well alone for at least a year and it was my constant companion to me whenever I went clay shooting.

The Beginning

First Permutation

My descent into madness began with the tacti-itch, that difficult to resist urge that most modern gun owners have to remove and semblance of traditional practicality and turn it into a liberals nightmare of blackgunnedness. This descent began simple enough. It began with a great deal on a 18.5″ cylinder bore, single front bead barrel that I found in the Bargain cave of my “local” Cabela’s. Quick and easy to switch between the 26″ and 18.5″ barrels for whatever reason I had the 18″ stayed on 90% of the time whether it was for skeet or hand thrown clays. I look back at this stage with the slightest tinge of regret because the dirty 18.5″ barrel with wood furniture gives that patrol car aesthetic that is still kinda cool.

I began thinking of furniture though because as I said this was a descent and it could not be stopped. I still to this day am just accepting the mantra of buy once cry once. Being a resident of the great state of New Jersey, we still have an AWB and pretty much the only thing you can have a collpsible stock on is a pump shotgun. Therefore I felt compelled to do so. I had my mind set on the pinnacle of of tacti-cool, the pistol gripped collapsible stock. I found a Blakhawk! Knoxx stock set for a good price at a gun show and jumped on it. After playing with the collapsible function of the stock for a while I was just tickled by my purchase. I proceeded to buy a Choate +2 extension and Mesa Tactical combination side saddle and picatinny rail. After throwing it all together I marveled at the tacticalness it possessed. I thought I was good to go, that is until I finally take it to shoot after all this tinkering only to realize the side saddle interferes with the new forend and wont cycle the gun. After a few four letter words and some pouting I packed it up for the day. All I had to do was simply take a Dremel to the forend so it would cycle. All is right in tacti-world again. This was until i put a red dot on top and realized my comb height was not nearly tall enough to get a decent and consistent sight picture. I then ordered some CAA m4 style stock cheek risers which did not fit he blackhawk stock because it is thicker than an m4 stock even though it looks the same. They would stay but weren’t exactly perfect so my sight picture still stunk. I  gave in and chose to go down to the basic stock, no dot, and do some clay shooting with it. It felt as if the stock was made out of a cheese grater. This stock may work for some but sure wasn’t working for me.

 

Modified Forend

The Cut to Make It Fit

Second and Final Permutation

So I basically took a gun that I could shoot a 23 hit round of skeet with and made it useless, fantastic.Inspiration came when I took my certification for hunter’s safety. Even though buying a compound bow got me interested in hunting I wanted to have the added flexibility of being able to partake in shotgun seasons as well. I took stock and realized the biggest problem was… THE STOCK. I also wanted to ensure that this gun would have some flexibiilty in its philosophy of use. I basically wanted a do-all gun and the 870 is the place to start. I wanted to have a viable defensive shotgun that I could also deploy as a hunting gun. I was almost all the way there just needed to get it to fit me properly. I needed that comb height for using anything rail mounted so I turned to Magpul. With the Magpul SGA stock I can add .75″ using oem parts and adjust that further with a little ingenuity if needed, I am a big guy so the available long length of pull is also nice. Removal of the pistol grip also returned the gun closer to original ergonomics and worked with the controls a lot better.

With the ergonomics improved I turned to aesthetics. I always turn to black as a color choice in most everything and was kinda tired of it. Plus I wanted to get closer to earth tones for the previously mentioned hunting applications for this firearm. So I chose to go with the Magpul stock in FDE. Now that I was settled on FDE I could not just leave the gun black with FDE furniture. I decided to go for broke and try and locate a Cerakote Applicator near me. I found Gus from Dynamic Combat Solutions through Cerakote’s website and after filling out a contact form was contacted via email. After talking logistics and checking out his Instagram Page I was convinced his shop was a good fit for me. I decided to go with burnt bronze which is an interesting color because it goes well with the FDE but gives a clear two toned definition to the gun, once you add the original black accent pieces I felt the look would be dynamite. I wasn’t wrong it came out great, Gus’s work was top notch I have a gun that looks sick, is a little easier to camoflague, and will withstand some abuse. This color changes depending on lighting. it gets bright and gold in hue in harsh bright light and gets a deeper browner color in shady light.With the addition of wraps and some naturally aquired ghillie style camoflauge this gun can certainly blend in with the wooded hunting grounds of New Jersey. With the current complement of barrels, optics options of the rock solid mount provided by the mesa rail, and the adaptibiity of the stockset; I am confident that there is not an application whether it be hunting, defense, or otherwise this system cant handle.  It was a long journey and well worth it, I learned a lot.

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Finish is a bit darker in subdued lighting.

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View Through ability of Mesa Rail

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The Finish Looks Brighter and More Golden In Harsh Bright Light

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The Gun

Conclusion and Future

I certainly did learn a lot about my buying habits and what is important in the gear we buy. My advise would be if you are interested in a bit of kit that you arent already familiar with get some range time with it first before you put your time, money, and sanity into it. Currently all I am running is the standard comb height and bead and fiber optic from sights. I am upgrading the 26″ barrel to a  more robust light pipe fiber optic system to make it more distinct while viewing through the rail. As for the mounted optics I am looking at getting a rail mounted ghost ring system either through LPA sights or Hi-viz. These would provide back up to a Vortex Optics SPARC 2.

 

 

Check it out.

Check out one of my latest reviews on firearmsinsider.tv Rimz Review.

 

Going on another Gun and Gear Review Podcast Tonight and will be discussing many things including my coming review of the Henry Classic Lever Action .22

One step forward let us hope there won’t be two back.

The full article from the Chicago Tribune can be found here.

In short a U.S. District Judge ruled Chicago’s city wide ban on both retail and personal sales of firearms to be unconstitutional. This starts to get you all warm and fuzzy for the 2A until the realization hits that it is not a done deal. There is still time for the city to appeal, which under the command of Rahm Emanuel is not unlikely. He is already outspoken against the decision. The city has even jokingly blamed the glut of illegal guns in the city on lenient state and federal laws. Yeah I’m sure all the saturday night specials and mac 10s were straw purchased. The city stated “We need stronger gun safety laws, not increased access to firearms within the city.”, give me a break.

As evidenced in the past, I’m sure the powers at be will find other ways to suppress the second amendment rights of its residents. Which is why I titled this entry as I did.

 

NJ Bonus: I actually had an audible response when I read this bit, “The latest court ruling in the long legal fight came one day after Illinois, the last state to approve a concealed carry law, began accepting applications from residents who want to carry concealed firearms in public.”. Oh really, NJ has a concealed carry law, could have fooled me. Although we are a “may-issue” state, it’s laughable. My completely non scientific research goes as follows. In NJ where I currently live and have lived in for most of my life I know anecdotally of a handful  of people who have carry permits, I’m talking count on one hand, handful here. These people only have their permits based on the fact their business is in guns or they transport a lot of cash frequently, which makes them targets. Who they know probably doesn’t hurt either. To contrast that, when I was living in Ohio and Michigan I knew a bunch of people, personally, who had carry permits and carried often. These were average blue collar folks, college professors, and grandmothers. Im talking a wide spectrum of folks, who for a small fee and training exercised their second amendment rights freely.