Does the AR 15 have the style and grace of the Bergara B 14?
Is it as easy to use well as the Henry .22.
But it is your favorite rifle? Probably among them, as this is America’s rifle.
My earliest experience with the AR was as a small child sitting in front of the television and watching a report from Vietnam. The first troops were getting the AR rifles. Captured intelligence bulletins from Viet Cong sources were filled with reports of the deadly effect of the ‘black rifle.’ It gave our troops an advantage. You don’t easily forget these things.
If you love the AR, as I do, sooner or later you will get the bug to build your own. Nothing wrong with that at all. Use quality parts. You don’t have to break the bank, but buy cheap is buy twice.
The AR 15 is in many ways a Mr. Potato Head of rifles. It is easy to build the rifle, easy to modify the rifle. The stock and forend are important but not the biggest consideration. They are easily changed. The receivers, both upper and lower, once chosen will be lived with for a while. The barrel is pretty important. A rifle enthusiast doesn’t have to be a gunsmith, just a fair parts changer to build, modify, and maintain an AR rifle.
First, take notes as to the type of rifle you really want. Not what you need but what you want. I have not needed a new gun for years. This doesn’t stop the accumulation! A heavy barrel rifle for tagging varmints? A standard carbine? Just get the specs down pat and consider the type of shooting you enjoy. My son knows more about building rifles than I do, he is a trained machinist and has built a number of excellent rifles. When he decided to gift the old man with a rifle he chose Aero Precision parts. I completely agree with this choice. The upper and lower receiver are well machined and finished.
Aero Precision has been around long enough to establish an excellent reputation. Specs, tolerances and clearance are tight. The receivers are top grade forged aluminum, 7075-T6 aluminum is the preferred alloy.
Fitting the barrel is simple enough. Fit the barrel into the upper receiver tenon. Align the barrel and torque the barrel nut. Next line up and fit the handguard. For maximum accuracy a free floating handguard is best. For defense use and general use inside of 100 yards a free floating handguard isn’t necessary.
[Editor’s Note/Marine HumbleBrag: Actually to 300 or even 500 yards it isn’t necessary, just know how much accuracy you want/need and what flex you are putting on your barrel with your chosen handguard style, even non-floated AR’s tend to be far more accurate than the user until the user dials themselves in.]
I used a MagPul handguard and stock set because it was inexpensive and handy.
Putting the lower receiver together is a bit more complicated. I don’t like fitting mil spec triggers as sometimes it can be a little difficult for me to reach into the receiver and fit these parts together. I like modern custom triggers delivered in one package. The Hyperfire trigger is among my favorites. If you can shoot up to the capabilities of a rifle you will do so with the Hyperfire trigger. Also be careful in the mundane tasks such as installing a trigger guard. A friend actually managed to break his cheap lower while manhandling the build. But then he didn’t have much money in the receiver. I used a Brownells branded 16 inch barrel for this build. Again, it was affordable and results are quite acceptable.
After watching my son build a rifle and then building another rifle myself, I have the gotten the bug – and the confidence – to perhaps build another. This is a very personal rifle for me. When you build the rifle you know what is inside. You can build something that suits you well with good parts. The trade value may not be much because folks don’t know what is in it and don’t know your skill, but that’s subjective. A parts gun’s value is more difficult to qualify than a factory Core 15, Del Ton or Springfield rifle. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have the exact rifle you want, you didn’t build it to sell. The build will be reliable, accurate, and versatile. You could always build another upper in .300 Blackout, .300 HAM’R or another caliber, or a long range rifle.
I don’t know when I will build another rifle but it will be built on Aero parts. The barrel l may get an upgrade and the stock set almost certainly will. But if you want a solid rifle built to last Aero parts are a good bet.
Since personal defense is the primary role of this rifle, the Romeo 7 red dot sight was added. The Romeo 7 uses a bright, adjustable dot, and has proven well suited to many shooting chores. The next time I may use a different optic, just for the fun of it. I may also use a Wilson Combat barrel. Just the same, the Aero build featured will keep the Black Hills 52 grain match in a 2.0 inch group at 100 yards, all we can ask of a light carbine.