Tag Archives: AR-15

What I look for when looking at an AR type firearm.

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I’m the guy that wrote the “Why I Hate the AR” article a couple decades ago.  But I’ve come around to them now… after 50 years of continual development, AR’s are pretty much all decent enough now.  They all work pretty well.  But…  I’m really picky when it comes to AR’s now.   I’ll dismiss most AR’s in any gunshop.  Being jaded as I am… having seen everything on the market with little that actually impresses me… People ask me all the time what I look for.  What I look for in an AR first and foremost is Accuracy.  It’s all about that Barrel.   I want it Cold Hammer Forged.  If it’s not – I’m just not going to spend my money on it.  Period.  So I am going to look for those markings on the barrel to ID where it came from, so I can know how it’s made.  CHF barrels are no guarantee of it being super accurate – just consistent.  And that’s where accuracy starts.  With traditionally made barrels – some can be very accurate.  Others, less so.  You don’t know what you are getting until after you bought it.
CHF Barrels, takes away that variation.
I’m also going to look for a free-floating barrel.  Traditional A1 and A2 and other similar handguards that are connected at the front, are things I am going to always avoid.  You can have an accurate rifle with those… But simply gripping them differently will apply different pressures to the barrel and effect the Harmonics.  Variations in Barrel Harmonics will effect accuracy.

You know how some rifles prefer loads of different bullet weights and velocities?  Reloaders will play with powder loads to find that perfect load for max accuracy – what they are really playing with is Harmonics.

Allow me to explain.  When a shot is fired from the barrel, that barrel starts to move.  A lot more than you would think.  An accurate rifle has a very consistent movement and the bullet exits the muzzle the same place in the barrel’s movement every time.    Things that change the way the barrel moves effects this – and thus effects accuracy most often in a negative way.

I want the Upper and Lower receivers to be tight.  With as little movement as possible.  In some builds, designed for close quarters, or in AR Pistols, this isn’t so big of a deal.  A little movement isn’t going to effect anything.  But for a rifle configuration for longer range work – I want this to be a bank vault fit.  Or if this is a build that is supposedly a super high quality build… or anything north of 900 dollars… I want this to be a bank vault fit.

The other thing I look for in an AR is a good trigger pull.   I don’t care about the weight in most AR triggers.  But I want that break to be crisp and clean.  I want it to break like a hard thought.

These are the main things I look for in an AR.  Everything else can be altered and changed out easily.  So they don’t matter so much.  But what I described – that’s the foundation to build your Configuration on.

What to do with these two lovelies?

CVo54BRU4AAG_an

I still can’t decide on what configurations to build with these two lovelies.   I think one should be a pistol at least.  They were both transfered as “pistols”, so maybe both into pistols.  Light weight builds, but they don’t have to be airweights.  Maybe one pistol and one light carbine?  I want them to be unique.
Post links to images of suggested builds and the Parts I should buy for the builds.  Help me out here.

I’ve not seen that since…

I can’t remember when I had last seen it… Not for at least 15 years.  So long, I didn’t even think it an issue.  Like Small Pox, I thought it had been cured.

We had an AR-15 at the range that was having problems.  We looked at everything and we finally found the cause.

A loose gas key.

This was a S&W M&P15.  And the Gas Key was not staked.  It had worked loose and was causing every issue you can think of.   It was the last thing we looked at.   The bloody Gas Key.  Huh.

 

Top 5 Best AR-15 Manufactures.

Question came in:

“Mad Ogre, can you make a list of the best AR 15 rifles according to your expertise? I’ve read you articles and it seems to me you’ve done your homework! Would really like to know which AR 15 manufacturer rifle would catch your eye!”

That’s a good question, but also technically complicated.  Saying “AR-15” is like saying “Pickup Truck”.   Asking for the best Pickup Truck would require me to respond with “What are you going to do with it?” It’s far easier if I know the specific applications you are going to use it for, because of all the options and configurations out there.   And with AR-15’s there are far more nuances that go with them.   So instead of specific models, I’m going to simplify this.   I’m going to list in order specific manufactures.  Companies that are making production gun sold through dealers… not custom guns.

My TOP 5, Starting at the top and working down:

1.  DANIEL DEFENSE
2.  NOVESKE
3.  LMT
4.  LARUE TACTICAL
EDIT:
I’ve been dealing a lot more with LWRC since I wrote this list.  And I have to give credit where credit is due.  LWRC is now a solid #5.  I really like what they are doing with their new M6IC carbines, and others… So I’m bumping Bravo to Runner Up Status and making LWRC number five:
5.  LWRC

Runners Up:
BRAVO COMPANY
SIG

These are the only production AR-15 Rifle Makers that I would personally spend my own money on.    Reason I picked these are due to the overall quality and consistency that I have seen.   These guys are consistently putting out the best products.    Each one of these Brands are worth exploring.  Which specific rifle – depends on your application or the configuration that you are looking for.   These are also companies that I have personally talked with and know there commitment to putting out top quality rifles.   There are a couple other companies out there that could have made this list as a Runner Up – but I just don’t like their finished products…  I’ll give you one example.  Black Rain.  They are making some good products.  BUT.  Their finishes are ghastly and they insist on using a muzzle device that you could seriously use to drill through layers of sedimentary rock and discover oil with.  They have to ship them with a rubber cap over it because the muzzle device will chew through the packaging during shipping.  They WILL tear the crap out of any case you put them in as well.   For what purpose do you need that for?  It’s just tacky.  If they would tone it down – I could take them more seriously.

Now, let’s talk configurations.  For a Jack of all Trades configuration, I like a carbine length barrel, with full rifle length  handguards, and I like a free floating barrel.  I don’t like quad-rails, but I do like the option of putting on an accessory where I want it.  My favorite new rifle on the market that meets this criteria:

The Daniel Defense DDM4V11.

So if I had to pick just one rifle, that would be it.

 

Sig’s Arm Brace

SIGar15Pistol
I was hanging out at a certain gun store the last couple days, and they have a .223 caliber pistol in stock.  I had to examine this thing closely.  I’ve avoided liking these because I fee the ATF will reverse it’s decision on these things and they well be deemed to be SBR’s at the flick of a Bic pen and then the ATF will ask for all the records of all those that bought these things.   I felt like they were a potential trap.

I made the mistake of handling the bloody thing again and thinking “why not?”  It might legally be a pistol, but it’s a little rifle in all reality.  The fact that you can take this “pistol” and shoulder it and fire it as easily as any SBR, but without dealing with all the SBR red tape is very attractive to me.   Now I’m wanting one.     DANG IT.

 

Charles Daly D-M4EL Carbine.

Charles Daly D-M4EL Carbine.

(For the photos and videos related to this article, check them out as originally published on Old Mad Ogre, HERE)

I have a friend named Bax. He’s a former Jarhead, opinionated, somewhat self-aggrandizing, but smart. He keeps me honest. Around me, it just seems the subject of AR-15 rifles just swirl like radioactive fallout in a breeze. This dust is of my own making, as I nuked the AR-15 platform in one of my articles. While it is true that I do hate the AR-15 for many reasons, I also love it for many others. There are strong points in its favor and I have some AR-15’s for those reasons.

In the middle of yet another AR-15 discussion on WeTheArmed.com, the subject of Charles Daly came up. I dismissed Charles Daly off hand because of previous experiences with CD products that left me disappointed. I generally operate on the Fool Me Once principle, so I had no interest in exploring another CD product.

Bax however, was insistent and somehow got Charles Daly involved. Mr. Kassnar himself, President of Charles Daly stepped up and offered a CD rifle for defense. To clarify, Charles Daly’s Defense division, CDD has the AR line, and it was a CDD rifle that was send to me. A straight forward M-4 clone, no frills. On the CDD web page, it’s the second one from the top.

The Specs. Item No.: CCDM4E16. 5.56mm Nato, 16” Barrel, 1×7 ROT, MSRP $1309.00USD. Flat top, with removable carry handle. Fixed front sight. 6 position collapsible stock. Chrome lined 4150 barrel, M-4 feed ramps, M-4 fore end.

When the rifle came, I was expecting it to be at the Bushmaster/Armalite level, meaning typically Milspec and rough. But I was pleased to see that it was much better than that. I am a critic by nature, and if there is something to criticize, I am inclined to do that. I was batter up at the plate ready to swing and knock this rifle over Bax’s head. I felt deflated. It looked good. It felt good. It didn’t have any “cheap gun” rattles. It didn’t have a grind in the action like cheaper AR rifles do.

In fact, it looked just like a Rock River. I had a Rock River on hand in the exact same set up, so I compared them side to side. It was like I was looking at twins.  However the Charles Daly had an advantage.  The gas key on the bolt carrier is staked securely while the Rock River was not.  This is an important detail for a heavy duty use gun.  Other than that, they were virtually identical. 

Well, not quite.  The CD gun was better looking. The exterior finish was cleaner, blacker, and smoother. It honestly looked better. Felt better to.

I had to shoot it. We had got in some new optical gunsights. One is called the ISM-V from Insight Technologies. It had to be tested out too, so this looked like a good match up. I mounted the optic, gave it a quick bore sight and hit the range.

Because most of the interest in this gun was from online sources, I wanted to break away from normal article tradition, and take some video to post on YouTube.

The first time out with the CDD, I noticed the only real complaint that I could find. The trigger was typical MilSpec. This means it was a touch heavy in the second stage with a little creep and a little grit. Not bad, just completely average. No better and no worse than any other trigger for this type of rifle at this price range. We didn’t have much time, but Marcus, a co-worker and I blasted through a couple mag fulls. The gun shot quite well and was easy to hit with… typical of the AR type. Nothing out of the ordinary and we experienced no jams. And this was just right out of the box. Box to Range. No cleaning or lube.

ROUND COUNT: 150.

To do this right and to give this gun a fair shake, I had to give it a cleaning and while doing so, examine the internal parts. The internals looked as good as the externals. No shortcuts, no hidden problems or skeletons. Just good quality parts that were built right.

I cleaned the weapon using a new CLP product branded by Smith & Wesson, made sure every part was properly lubed, and reassembled it. This was the only cleaning I did on the gun until the completion of the evaluation. However I did lube it along the way, using Tetra Gun Oil on the bolt and bolt carrier. That was it.

ROUND COUNT: 560

Not wanting to review the optic and focus just on the gun, all subsequent shooting was done with the gun’s carry handle attached and just used the iron sights. However it must be said that this ISM-V is a great choice for a combat red dot type sight. It co-witnessed with the front sight perfectly and allowed you to use the optic as a ghost ring sight for fast close range shooting.

Extending the shooting range further and you can use the optic as advertised. The accuracy was exceptional. Very consistent. As was the ejection. Unlike most AR-s, the CDD spit out all the brass in about a 4 foot area. Better than the typical 8 foot area of most AR builds.

ROUND COUNT: 880… no video.

One of the things I am interested in when it comes to weapon, is can they actually be applied to work.  I have to tell you… yes.  Since I don’t have a supply of Iraqi Insurgents to deal with, I have to find an alternative.  We do have coyotes out here and I was able to test the CDD rifle on a couple of them.  From the back of the truck into firing position, the CDD performed well.  From spotting 3 coyotes, I was able to put 2 of them down cleanly and quickly.

I did have one failure with the rifle, and I’m going to take that on the chin and admit it was Operator Error. I didn’t have the magazine seated properly, so when the weapon fired the first round, the magazine fell so it couldn’t feed the next one. That was my fault, and not the weapon’s. That being said, the functioning of the gun has been flawless. Again, this is something I was not expecting and was even hoping it would be otherwise.

When I benched the rifle, it was a very cold day. Not quite warm enough to keep me from shivering slightly. But it was still accurate enough to shoot under an inch. Open sights on a frosty, foggy day when I couldn’t even see the target clearly through the fog – I’ll take that accuracy happily. I bet on a warm clear day, that group could have been shrunk by half.

ROUND COUNT:  1000

I’m giving this rifle a 9 out of 10. It loses points for the trigger, but everything else was solid.

Next time, Bax.  You are buying the ammo.

For article discussion relating to this rifle, see the thread on WTA.

Thank you to Mr. Kassnar of Charles Daly. 

My Rifle.

This is my person AR-15.  I’m not done tweaking it yet.  I’m going to shoot some Olive Drab Green on it, a little brown on it, and some MagPull Flat Dark Earth… But I’m in no hurry to do so.  I’ll select color and pattern after I move to NC.  Get the local colors there.  Going all FDE isn’t going to do me a bit of good out there.  And I’m not going to do it in anything fancy like Ceramic empregnated polymer or epoxy based resins or teflon infused bone.  None of that.  Krylon.  Spray on, rattle can, Krylon.  Why?  To remind me… that this rifle is a Tool and not a Precious Keepsake.  The wear on the Krylon will be viewed as Training Badges.  Scars gained in activities that develop and teach skills.
Also, I’m going to order a drop in trigger for it – because, to be honest, the trigger is Meh.  I was going to order a popular now trigger that starts with a G and no one can pronounce the name the same way twice.  But instead, I’m going to order one from “Black Rain”.  They have a solid adjustable unit that lets you tune it.  I like that.
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Instead of taking the time to order put parts together, I just started out with an off the shelf rifle.  I selected a Daniel Defense DDM4V7 Light Weight.  Then Joe at Crusader Weaponry installed the BattleComp muzzle brake and hit the Bolt Carrier Group with a Permanent treatment of Crusader Weaponry’s SLIPSTREAM lubricant.  Makes the gun run slick and snot, and it feels like a .22LR when shooting.

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Here you can see the BCG better.  The Slipstream gives it a satin grey finish… nothing flashy or “pimped out” about it.  It’s just slick.  If you hand cycle it slowly, you can actually feel the bolt lock and unlock within the action.    On top of the rifle is the Lucid HD7 Gen 3 FDE optic.  Backing it up is a set of MagPul flip up sights… which is kinda pointless as the Lucid is bullet proof and the batteries last forever.

I’ve thought about putting an upgraded optic on it… something “Better”.  But looking at the so called better options… I’m really not seeing any Red Dots that qualify as tangibly better. I’d have to go all the way up to the Trijicon SRS… and those suckers retail for over 900 bucks, for only some sort of perceived “Betterness”.  Yeah, I’d rather spend all that extra coin on ammo.

If I do switch off this optic… it would only be for something that was magnified  Perhaps in a 1-4 variable.  But to be honest, nothing as really sold me to justify the swap.  Vortex has a PST 1-4 something or other that looks cool, but has huge unprotected turrets that can easily get spun unintentionally.    Forget that.   Yeah, I’m happy with the Lucid HD7’s.   They define “Bang for the buck” value.

The AR rush

The hottest gun selling now is of course, the AR.  We’ve sold hundreds of every kind, as many as we could get our hands on.  People have been buying them like crazy.  We are now completely sold out.  And we sold over 620 magazines… after limiting people to 3 each.  This is the craziest gun buying rush I’ve ever seen.  And the demand is not easing off.

If these sales were because of a spike in popularity… because of Christmas as everyone wants an AR because they are fun to shoot, and awesome to have… This would be great.  This would be a season to remember.  I’d be loving this.  But that’s not what’s been happening.  People are buying rifles like this because they are afraid of a possible ban and they are afraid of the Government.  That puts a sour taste in my mouth for all this.

This is not just here locally… this is Nation Wide.  I even had reporters call me at work and home.  Here’s one report.

As I said in the article, normally I’d be selling deer rifles, shotguns, and the like.  Now it’s all Concealed Carry type guns and fighting rifles.  All AR’s and AK’s are gone and all full capacity magazines.  This isn’t what normally flies this time of year.

 

Crazy Gun Sales

I’ve never seen gun-sales like today. It’s been busy since Black Friday, and really busy all week. But I’ve never seen it like today. We broke records. We completely sold out of all AR rifles. They are gone. Done.
We have more on order, but I don’t think we will ever have the AR stockpile like we had before… They are going to trickle in and be sold before they hit the shelves.
All of our 5.56mm/.223 ammo in 50 round packs or larger is all gone as well.
I still have .223 Remington in 20 round boxes… your Varmageddon, V-Max and Ballistic Silvertips, and that’s it.
I’ve never seen anything like this.

Edit:  To give you guys an idea of the volume I’m talking about… When it comes to inventory, Basin Sports is one of the biggest new gun dealers not just in the state of Utah, but in the western states.  We had one hell of an inventory of tactical rifles.  Yeah… they are all gone now.

Getting Caught Up.

When it comes to AR’s, don’t get caught up in the little things.  It’s not about what you have on or in your AR.  It’s about what you can do with it.
Imagine a simple tool belt, much like what any Handi-Man might have.  A Hammer, Screw Drivers, a Saw, a Measuring Tape and a Pencil.  It doesn’t matter what company these tools came from.  You give them to a skilled man, he can build you whatever you need.  A Shed, a Dog House… a set of cabinets. Fix a shelf.  He will get the job done.
Give that same tool belt to one with no skills, and you will be lucky to get a Bird House out of him.  He is not competent enough to take on the big projects.  The quality of the tools, the perfection of the craftsmanship is lost on him.  Even if he payed high dollars for the very best tools available.

What’s important about the Tools themselves… and we all get caught up in the tools… is that they work. You can argue Craftsman, Snap-On, or Stanley… The Contractor’s Client doesn’t care a bit about that.  His concern is only the results.

When you seek to dress out your AR, make sure you are not just dressing it up.  Putting on Bling for looks or to impress your friends is meaningless.  Instead only worry about what you really need to get the job done.  To know what you really need, you need to use some thought.  Not just looking through a catalog or browsing the shelves at your LGS.  Buy what’s going to help you use the tool.  The AR-15 is just that, the simple tool.  You can enhance it with some upgrades.  Grips that allow your hand to fit better for better control… Stocks that fit you better… Optics that allow you to line up your target faster and more precisely.

Guys, don’t ask me what you need.  Ask yourself.  Go to the range, shoot and move, take a Tactical Carbine Course and see for yourself what it is that you need for you and your gun.