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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Softcore DIY: Magnetic Gun Storage

All guns have something in common… metal. What works with metal and metal alone? Magnets. Magnets can be very useful in different facets within the shooting sports from organization to defensive storage. There have been some entrepreneurs who have refined this and  marketed the benefits of magnets for the average shooter. I was drawn to magnets while wandering through Harbor Freight one day. My issue that I needed to fix was storage. I have one of those smaller Stack-On 8 gun cabinets that had been proving unmanageable, While all my guns where in their homemade gun socks (more on that on a later post), pouches, or cases I always found it difficult to organize my long guns amidst a sea of handguns that just wouldn’t stay put. At first I bought one little 15 pound magnet which I affixed a picture frame hook to and was able to hang my little Ruger SR-22 by its pouch’s zipper. With this success I was sold. I went back the next day and found that they sell 2 packs of 65 pound rated magnets with built in hooks for like 6 bucks. Now these hooks are not that long and are metal so just hanging the gun from the trigger guard is not an option. That being said zip ties are your friend. A zip tie on my little homemade pouches make for a great loop to put on the hook. Holsters can be zip tied to hang from the hooks as well. if you desire the trigger guard hanging method then the hookless magnets and some fasteners from Home Depot can rig up quite well. Your only limited by your ingenuity.

Another type of storage that someone created a product for is defensive readiness. For use in places where a cabinet safe or lock may not be practical a magnet is used. It’s a strong magnet that is coated with a non marring rubberized finish and comes installed on a mounting bracket. I am going to look into mocking up a prototype DIY version twice as strong for less than a quarter of the price and will write that up once I finish that up.

The spirit of this series  that I’m starting is that of ingenuity and since each person’s setup and needs are a little different, I feel these posts to be only the beginning or the rough draft of the possibilities one can create with some basic tools and a little sweat equity.

 

Please forgive the poor photo quality taking a picture of shiny things in a harshly lit cabinet interior proved too hard for my iphone.

DIY Magnet

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

More Than One Way to Skin a Cat.

For some it takes years to perfect their range bag. There is so much to factor in; size, volume, configuration, contents, material, etc. that I have found the best way to manage is learn through doing. My range bag has gone through a few iterations but I have become comfortable and confident that I have settled into a method that maximizes effectiveness as well as ease of use. That is exactly what each sportsman should do as well. Just as we each have different interests, the needs of the range bag may differ from person to person. My bottom line is do not hesitate to throw the status quo by the wayside and start fresh from scratch. Even with this configuration every month or so I may take everything out and shift things and add or remove them as I see fit.

The Bag.

It seems that almost any tactical accessory company you turn to will offer a bag of similar design, all strappy and MOLLE’d up. For me the keys are as follows; backpack, scalable, at least two major compartments and two small to medium pockets. You can find a pack from most any company ranging from Condor to 5.11 to Blackhawk!.  For me I went with a 40 dollar gun show special. I honestly don’t know the brand as it is not really branded from what I can tell. That being said after a fair amount of time being into the outdoorsy stuff I know what to look for in the construction of a pack. This seemed sturdy enough so i went for it. Some of the useful things that I  find with this bag is its scalability. I can use it as a range tool and target bag with nothing but some ammo or let the straps out and fit two pistols in hard cases, two more in soft pouches, ammo for all, and much much more. This is of course adjusted by the 6 cinches located on this bag. Another thing I find incredibly useful to me is the velcro/molle. I have not taken advantage of the molle aspect put the velcro is awesome. I simply put some velcro onto my range id and voila it goes where i go no digging in my pocket for it, not hanging it around my neck, or dangling it from my pants. I can also put my dopey patches on it. The top carry handle is comfortable enough to carry this thing from home to car to range and back however why do that when it is a backpack. The straps’ comfort and fit of the pack are not critical in my opinion. Let us not forget that it is a range bag not a B.O.B. not a G.H.B. not a 72 hour pack its to get guns, ammo, and supplies to a from the range effectively. I say this to bring something to your attention. You can get something slightly less ergonomic for a relative steal however if you are not dedicating the bag to range duty you may want to go for something pricier and more comfortable that can serve more than one purpose.

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The Main Compartment

This is in my opinion one of the greatest advantages of utilizing a design like this as a range bag. This compartment can do anything you need it to. You can cinch the pack tight and keep targets and other thin items of let the pack out and pack several handguns in this one compartment. I choose the latter typically I will bring one or two handguns in hard cases like my plinking .22 with red dot or my P226 with tactical light. Things stay in cases that are otherwise not able to be slipped easily into thin padded cases. So one might say well that seems full already… nonsense my experience in camping and backpacking has shown me that there is typically more vertical space than you initially realize. Even with two standard sized hard cases I typically slip in another 1-3 handguns in soft cases and gun socks on the sides or in front of the hard cases or even on top.  The rest of the vertical space I have left I will put the corresponding ammunition as well as any rifle ammunition I intend to use on that trip.

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The Middle Section

The middle section is thinner in design than the main compartment and thats fine considering we have placed the bulk of our load in the main compartment. This is a great place for many things since its a full length compartment I put all my targets within a big ziploc bag and that goes in there along with other longer items such as a 3 piece cleaning rod in case of obstructions or any other use. I use the little mesh pockets to hold my staple gun, extra staples, sometimes a marker is in and out of my range bag from time to time as well. This is also the place where I keep a medium sized nylon ditty bag for collecting my brass in, this is also the place the bag ends up at the end of the day.

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Top Front Pocket

This is my smaller items pocket/tools pocket. In it I keep replacement batteries, a metric and standard set of allen keys a pocket screwdriver, a bore light, and a small bottle of gun oil.

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Front Bottom Pocket

Eyes and ears and flags oh my!!! I keep one pair each of tinted and clear safety glasses, ear plugs and a pair of muffs, as well as a ziploc filled with assorted chamber flags.

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In Conclusion

This has been an overview in the philosophy and packing list of my range bag. I hope that it can be helpful in gaining mastery over your range packing woes. If you feel I missed anything mission critical don’t hesitate to comment.

Sam