Sometimes more is just more…
We see a lot of people come through the carbine courses with a pretty vast array of parts and pieces for their guns. Some are well thought out, and others… well… not so well thought out. Setting up an AR-15 is not hard, and the cheap simple modifications at the end of the article (The parts on grip tape) really will help you run the gun better. Here is the process I went through with my new Patriot Ordinance Factory 415 rifle from the time I took it out of the box till it was ready to go to the range. Remember, you probably don’t use your gun exactly like I do, so don’t go out buy the stuff I am mentioning, unless it truly meets your needs. You need to figure out what meets your needs before you spend a ton of money, and then find those pieces at a reasonable price. My selection of stuff has no bearing on what you need on your gun!
Why get a new gun:
I have been running an LMT MRP with an ELCAN Specter for the past few years. It’s a great gun, great scope, very accurate and easy to maintain, but that gun and scope combination is just flat out heavy, and I finally found the excuse I needed to buy a new gun… Thursday! The Patriot Ordinance Factory 415 – 16.5 was my choice. Light, good reputation for quality and it has the ambidextrous functionality. The ambidextrous stuff s pretty useless to me, but its pretty hard to beat if your a left handed shooter, and I’m looking forward to playing with the bolt release and seeing where I can save a few seconds on manipulation. At an MSRP $2319.00 for the Gen 3, this gun on the high side of the market for .223 firearms, so my expectations were extremely high. I’ll list MSRP for all the parts & pieces, and give you the total of what I actually paid at the end of the article.
Prepping the gun:
First, I removed the rail sections across the top of the hand guard as well as the short one on the bottom. Using Loctite on the screws, I then mounted the long rail section forward at the bottom of the hand guard to accommodate a Magpul AFG2 (MSRP $34.95). This provides a consistent reference point for my forward hand, and gives me a vertical surface to stabilize the gun by jamming it against a door or window frame when the opportunity presents it self.
I mounted one of the short rail sections forward on the left hand side of the gun all the way forward to accept a Surefire X300 (MSRP $299.00). The X300 is typically sold as a pistol
light, but I use it on all my carbines. The X300 ultra puts out 500 lumens, which is adequate to start a brushfire at 100 yards. That left me with a spare section of short rail which I don’t need on the gun. The last mechanical adaptation was to replace the receiver end plate with an Magpul Ambidextrous Sling Attachment Point (MSRP $29.95). This requires the use of an Armors wrench, but almost anyone can do this with out assistance. I prefer that attachment point for a one point sling because it is on all of my rifles, and I’m just used to it. Unless you like it, or need to constantly change hands with your gun for CQB, its probably not necessary, as indicated, I’m just used to it.
With the basic gun set up, I added the AFG and the X300 to the gun and started to do some
simple basic manipulation to adjust the stock length, AFG and light location so it was accessible and comfortable. I am a right-handed shooter and the ambidextrous safety was a noticeable distraction when presenting the gun. It took less then a minute to remove it. I additionally did some left-handed presentation and found that it was equally distracting, however, reversing it so the primary safety is on the right, for a left-handed shooter looks feasible if you are a semi-competent armor. That said, if you are not an armor don’t mess with your safety, have a professional do it for you!
Mounting the optics:
I am mounting a Vortex Razor HD Gen II scope 1-6X24 to the gun. (MSRP 1899.99). I am not using the quick release mount as I will not be removing this scope. I am using two Vortex low rise 30mm “Precision Matched” scope rings (MSRP $139.00). Scope rings are pretty important, and I like the optic to sit as close to the rail as possible for my cheek weld. I was not 100% sure this was even going to work but it squeezed in there. Most people will want it a bit higher and will prefer the medium rings. If you aren’t sure, I would go with the medium, or better yet, goto a 3-gun match and ask people if you can check out their choices… There will be plenty, and you can get a pretty good idea of what is going to work for you.
While the stock charging handle is larger then most, well knurled and you won’t slip off it, with my low scope configuration, it is not as prominent as want it to be. I replaced it with a BCM Gunfighter Mod 4 – Medium (MSRP $48.00).
Next is a new experiment which is is a 3.5 MOA Trijicon RMR (MSRP $649.99), on an A.R.M.S offset mount (MSRP $95.00). This is mounted on the most forward portion of the top rail section where I would normally mount a red dot optic if I was running one. I selected an A.R.M.S. mount because the angle seems to be less then many of the offset mounts on the market which should translate to less movement of the gun (In theory – this is an experiment). As indicated, this is the first time I am running an offset mount, so check back in a few months and I’ll set you know if its still there!
Skate board tape – the best thing you can put on your gun!
Once I had all factory parts attached, I grabbed the skateboard tape. I cut, sized and adjusted and glued skate board tape to the key points on the gun where I want increased friction or to provide a
reference point. (Crazy glue, Gorilla Glue, or similar)… added to the edges of the sticky side helps keep them from rolling up after you apply it and start to use it. The first place is the front of the AFG so I can jam it into a door or window frame for stability with out worrying about it slipping off.
I also added a small piece to the interior gap between the rail and my light so that my thumb has a consistent reference point. Next I added a larger piece where my palm contacts the hand guard to minimize any potential for slipping as well as providing a reference point.
I added skateboard tape to both finger section of the AFG as well, and I added a section
to the toe of the stock so that it feels like it sticks when I put in my shoulder.
Lastly I applied some rubberized grip tape to the pistol grip where in the past I have used skateboard tape. While this probably does not increase stability, it provides a tactile sensation that helps me maintain consistent grip pressure. This stuff is a little thicker, and not quite as sand paper like at skateboard tape but seems like it will work, once again, I’ll update in a few months!
Now that I have the gun set up, I once again conduct some dry manipulation and make any required adjustments. Once I have established a functional stock weld that feels consistent, I had a friend mark the stock a 1/4inch in front and behind where my cheek marries up with the stock. I placed a piece of moleskin between the marks, which provides a tactile indicator that my stock weld is correct. I make it wide enough go over the top of the stock and then some so that it is consistent on both sides. This too gets glued on.
A lot of people worry about using super glue or sticky things on their guns. Increasing friction between you and the gun is probably the cheapest and most effective thing you can do to improve your consistency, and as far as I know, a bit of glue has never really negatively impacted the firearms I own…
I’ll write up a review of the gun, and the parts in a few weeks after I’ve had a chance to dial it in and spend some time on it.
Lastly a note on MSRP, you can alway find it cheaper if you are patient and willing to wait for a good deal. MSRP on this setup: $5513.89 and what I actually paid for everything: $3335.00. I’m not the most patient guy and I don’t like to wait, but I’m pretty cheap and this took about 10 weeks to find things at a price a I could live with.
Stay Safe and have a great week!
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