Life is the management of compromises and tradeoffs. Do I buy a less expensive house further away from the city but spend more time and money on my commute? Should I get the full rack of baby back ribs or the giant plate of chili cheese fries? Our desires always have to fit inside the envelope defined by our resources and abilities.
Such as building up an AR-15. When I built my guns, I had a set of requirements in mind, but I also had a fiscal ceiling to work under. More than a few component decisions were suboptimal based on my budget and what was available at the dawn of the Great Panic. Don’t get me wrong, both ARs work fine and I’m quite happy with them, but they’re not what I’d put together if I could get exactly the parts that I wanted and could afford them.
So what would that AR look like? As luck would have it, sick of talking to me about 1911s, Gunsmith Joe and I have been batting ideas for our next AR-15s back and forth. His requirements mirrored mine: a lightweight and reliable rifle, easy handling, friendly to shoot, capable of dealing with targets from bad breath distance to down the street, with an emphasis on up close over distance shots, an all day carry rifle instead of a heavy tack driver for the bench. A fixed stock and mid length gas system for comfort, smoothness of recoil and reliability, and that we wouldn’t be sharing the rifle with others who might benefit from an adjustable stock.
And after a few backorders and horse trades came through, here’s how his turned out:
Apologies for potato grade picture, he still hasn’t gotten around to either getting a real camera or understanding that whole “lighting” thing.
Here’s how the build went down: Starting with a custom engraved lower from York Arms, Joe installed a set of Colt internals, including recoil buffer and receiver extension, except for a Rock River Arms 2 stage trigger group. Buttstock is a noname A2 length fixed stock, and a Tango Down TG-16 pistol grip was fished out of the parts bin. The upper receiver and barrel were sourced from Bravo Company, using their 14.5″ midlength gas and lightweight barrel profile. A Noveske KX3 “Firepig” flash suppressor was pinned and welded onto the barrel per ATF specs to bring total barrel length to 16″. Then a Midwest Industries gas block was setscrewed in place under a 15″ Troy Alpha free float tube. Front and rear sights are fixed with a Troy up front and a Noveske in back. Bolt carrier group and a Gunfighter Mod4 extended latch charging handle are also from Bravo Company.
A few components were selected because they were on hand, and will be replaced when able. In particular, the RRA trigger group will be swapped out for an ALG set and an A1 length buttstock will replace the A2. Sling setup, white light and optic are yet to be determined, but the rifle is ready for use as is. It weighs in at 5.9 pounds empty and test firing has gone smoothly so far, despite the Great Panic limiting 5.56 to what was ratting around in a shoebox. Joe reports the gun will shoot into a dip can as far away as he can see a dip can (You know you’re in the South when…), and is quite agreeable in the hands. Envisioned support equipment include a lightweight Rhodesian style chest rig with 20 round Pmags and a single 30 on the first line belt. It isn’t a “stand and deliver” bullet hose for when the zombies are at the gates, but something to keep Evil at bay while you cover a lot of terrain in a hurry.
I think the “Nomad” has a lot going for it in a setup that isn’t available off the shelf, but within the reach of a reasonably competent hobbyist. I don’t think mine is going to look much different. But about that .300 BLK…