For those of you who have been following my newest AR-15 build on my YouTube channel, you will know that it has caused me some headaches. When taking on the hobby of building AR-15’s, sometimes things just do not go as planned. I try and create a learning experience for my viewers by showing my AR-15 builds when they work and also when they don’t.
To quote author Patrick Sweeney from his book, The AR-15: Volume 1, “The AR-15 is deceptive: It is both the easiest rifle to home-gunsmith, and can be the most maddening to get properly assembled and reliably functioning.” This proved especially true for me when I finished building my 10.5” AR-15 pistol. As I expected, the assembly went just fine and without a hitch. When it came to test firing it – well, that was a different story.
After three weeks (it could have been four) of Googling, forum surfing, troubleshooting and just plain scratching my head, I contacted my friend Ben from AR15news.com to see if he could offer any advice. We both agreed that I had tried just about everything I could and he told me, “call Dustin at CIV Tactical. Dustin is the man (my first visualization was “The Dude” when he said that) and will get it working for you, guaranteed.” So, I contacted Dustin, asked for his help and filled him in on what I was experiencing: failures to feed, failures to extract and failures to eject. Dustin said, “send it to me, this will be fun.” My AR-15 upper was on its way to him the very next day.
CIV Tactical received my upper and Dustin got to work preforming his complete blueprinting and accurizing service. This service included the following:
- Barrels are lapped to the upper receiver (blueprinted)
- Chamber polished
- Gas port diameter checked
- Feedramps checked
- Barrel dimpled for proper gas block alignment
- Match gauge headspaced
- BCG fully inspected and tested
Because I wanted this to be a learning experience for both me and the individuals that follow me on social media, I had requested that Dustin do me a personal favor of taking some pictures of the process and sharing with me what he discovered was the ultimate issue. For my build, CIV Tactical started out by lapping my upper receiver face to perfectly match that of my barrel’s extension. Think of it as taking fraternal twins and turning them into almost identical ones; and instead of twins it’s two pieces of metal.
Next, Dustin polished the chamber to an almost mirror finish. He did this by placing my barrel in his lathe running at 755 rpm while using a mandrel and 400 micron jeweler’s cloth. Apparently my chamber had rough tooling rings left over in it from the manufacturing process. It is not that uncommon, but per Dustin, “dude, that chamber was rough.”
With my chamber now gleaming, Dustin placed my barrel back into his lathe to address the burr on the muzzle. “There’s a big burr right at the lands and grooves from the factory cut…it’s just not good enough, ya know?” While removing the burr, he also added a bevel to the crown and said, “This is what you want, a nice bevel right at the lands and grooves.” He followed up with another mirror-like polishing on the crown. Even with a 10.5” barrel, I could potentially gain some extra accuracy from this process.
Dustin closely inspected and tested my gas block and barrel’s gas port. He concluded that my gas block was indeed leaking but my gas port size was correct. “Your gas block just doesn’t fit right“, he said. My barrel came from the factory with one gas block dimple already on it, which is normal. Because gas blocks come in different lengths, manufacturers will typically only place one dimple directly opposite of the gas port since almost all gas blocks with set screws will match up with it. Dustin replaced my gas block and placed a second dimple on the barrel to match up with it; “proper dimpling and alignment” achievement unlocked.
I have found that a number of individuals disagree with me by being a proponent for always checking headspace no matter where the barrel, barrel extension and bolt come from or who makes them. Believe it or not, this was the first build where I didn’t check headspace – lesson learned. Dustin discovered that my headspace was too tight. Fortunately he was able to achieve proper headspace by swapping bolts and I am certainly glad he did. I almost danced when he said, “you’re right at 1.464” which is the go-gauge. You are correct now.”
One of the last symptoms that my upper was experiencing from its apparent case of not-working-correctly-itus was its feed ramps. Both M4 feed ramps lined up correctly but the ramps in the barrel extension slightly protruded which created a slight lip. To alleviate any potential for stuck rounds and feeding issues, Dr. Dustin prescribed some fitting and polishing. Simple enough, but would ultimately lead to better function and reliability in the end.
Dustin showed a lot of dedication to this project when I asked him why he was working on a Sunday and he said, “Yeah! Sunday gun-day! Only thing left is to test fire it.” I anxiously waited for him to let me know how everything functioned during the test and was surprised when he actually sent me a video of him rapid firing it without a single issue.
Even though I had to admit defeat by not being able to finish the troubleshooting battle, I remain aware that there is still a lot to be learned and experienced when it comes to building an AR-15. My experience with Dustin and CIV Tactical was definitely a learning experience and I am appreciative of the fact that Dustin took the extra time to take pictures and communicate with me about what problems he was discovering.
Maybe you or someone you know has an AR-15 that has come down with a dreaded case of not-working-correctly-itus like mine did. Or, maybe you want it to operate better or potentially achieve greater accuracy. If that is the case and you want more information on how to do so, you can visit the website for CIV Tactical or give them a call at 510-637-8650.
About the author: Nate Schultz, or nsz85 as some may know him, works in the field of law enforcement, is a content producer for his YouTube channel and a writer for The Arms Guide. He is an avid shooter and hobbiest gunsmith. Most of Nate’s videos and articles are focused on helping new people who are just getting into firearms or want to learn more about how to work on them at home. If you are interested in following or contacting Nate, you can get in touch with him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.
Our friends at Greenline Tactical just let us know they have a bunch of 75gr .223 BTHP (Boat Tail Hollow Point) Match ammo in stock. Match ammo can be really expensive but these guys are able to keep it down to 65 cents per round which is pretty awesome. Available in lots of 500 rounds for $325 each.
.223 75 grain Hornady Boat tail Hollow Points, re-manufactured ammunition. 500 rounds per case, packed in 50 round boxes. Chrono at 2750 FPS Email dedwards@greenlinetactical
The other day I got a nice surprise box in the mail. In the box was the new INFORCE WMLx which is the 500 lumen variant of the very popular INFORCE WML. I personally own plenty of the standard WML’s so the new WMLx won’t take much getting use to as it really isn’t much different. As you can see in the picture below the WMLx is not much bigger than its predecessor. It is a bit longer just to accommodate for the extra CR123 battery and slightly larger head to help power the additional lumens. It still only weighs just 4 ounces with the batteries and has a run time of 2 hours.
The built in 1913 mounting clamp works exactly the same way on both lights as well as the lockout bar. Both of the lights pictured above have a lever on the side. That lever on the standard WML changes the output from White Light to IR Light. I assumed this was the same on the WMLx and expected to see the little red IR emitters glowing inside. Instead I totally blinded myself and realized that the lever on the WMLx changes the activation switch from multifunction to momentary only. This is one feature that I didn’t know about but really like. On one setting you have High, Low, Momentary, Strobe and Off. With the lever flipped the other way you have Momentary ONLY. The Momentary Only setting is great for times when you only want a quick blast of light to blind an intruder, etc and have the light only stay on as long as you are holding the button down. As soon as you let go it shuts off. No fumbling through multiple settings, etc.
Figuring out how I wanted to mount my new WMLx wasn’t hard at all. With any of my WML’s or Pistol Lights I either mount it to the top rail or use an Impact Weapons Components 1913 Offset Mount. To mount it to the Geissele SMR MK5 rail I used the KeyMod version. IWC makes some of my personal favorite mounts and this is one of them. They run $50 but you can save 5% if you use our discount code “ar15news” at checkout.
I’ve only had it for a short time but I’m really digging the WMLx. At 500 lumens its significantly brighter than the standard 200 lumen WML but not really that much bigger. Some will say 500 lumens is too bright for use on a home defense rifle but that is something you will have to decide for yourself. I know if an encounter spilled into the outdoors at night, 500 lumens would come in really handy. I’m going to get some additional play time with the WMLx before writing a serious review but wanted to let you know what I thought so far.
Word on the street is that these will be available later this month and will retail in the $150-160 range. Keep an eye on your favorite INFORCE retailer to get these in. You can check out all of the other lights INFORCE makes at www.INFORCE-Mil.com
If you would like to purchase the KeyMod Offset Mount shown in the pictures above, head on over to ImpactWeaponsComponents.com. Use the code “ar15news” at checkout to save 5%.
Gorilla Ammunition is having an Easter Weekend Sale on their awesome ammo. Now through Monday (4/21/14) all orders are eligible for a 10% discount. Just use the code “elmerfudd” at checkout. Head on over and take a look at www.GorillaAmmo.com.
Gorilla Ammunition manufacturers top notch rifle ammo for the shooters who demand accuracy and consistent performance from their ammunition. We use state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to make ammo you can rely on shot after shot.
Yesterday I ran across a company that I had never heard of before while perusing the inventory of a company I’m extremely familiar with. Let me explain…pretty much ever day I hop on the internet looking for new items to tell you guys about. I decided to check out the “NEW” section at Rainier Arms. I was pretty interested by what I found. They just started carrying some KeyMod accessories from a company called Naroh. They offer a Handstop, Barrier Stop and a QD Sling Mount all made of 6-Series Aluminum and anodized black. They look pretty sweet and aren’t priced bad either. Check them out for yourself at www.RainierArms.com.
So you want to build a lightweight AR but you’re tired of everyone using the same old parts that usually consist of sub-par materials? This new 2A Armament BALIOS-lite Billet AR-15 lower receiver appears to be the perfect fit for your new build. Not only does it look much different than most lowers on the market right now but it is very lightweight at just 6.5 ounces (normal mil spec lowers are 8.1 – 8.8 ounces) while still being made from billet 7075-T6 aluminum. This was achieved by machining additional material from the lower. From what I hear there is a new billet upper receiver coming immediately after the lower as well. The pictures below show it before finishing. The production lowers will be coated and may offer additional colors. They are planning on releasing availability and pricing info later this month. For additional updates, be sure to follow the 2A Armament Facebook page. Check out the pics and details below.
2A-Armament BALIOS-lite Billet lower
This lower is geared towards those who are looking for weight savings, with the strength of 7075 aluminum.
•3-D Machined from U.S.A. Certified 7075-T6 plate aluminum
•Machine textured magazine well compliments popular accessories
•Bolt release features a screw in pin (Included)
•Integrated and lightened trigger guard
•Minimized logo for a clean appearance
•Tapered charging handle ramp to eliminate unsightly wear marks
•Integrated tensioning screw guaranties a tight fit (included)
•Bead blasted and hard coat anodized black (Type3 class2)
•Product of the great state of Idaho, MADE IN THE U.S.A.
Pricing and availability to be announced by the end of April 2014.