Monday, September 28, 2015

Erin FINALLY Assembles an AR

I am proud to announce that, after three years, my journey to assemble an AR-15 is finally complete. This is noteworthy, because it represents a triumph of patience and stinginess over commercialism. 

After being burned twice when trying to purchase a complete upper, I finally gave up and bought an SKS instead, because a gun I could actually shoot was more useful than half a gun I might be able to shoot one day. With that purchase, I completed all of the major gun "food groups"  (.22 pistol and rifle, shotgun, semi-auto pistol, bolt-action rifle and finally semi-auto rifle), which meant that getting an AR-15 went from "must get" to "it would be nice but I don't really need one."

And because I didn't need one, and because I'd had bad experiences with an upper, I set for myself an additional condition:  I wouldn't buy an AR upper unless it was 1) complete (because I didn't want the extra trouble of putting it together) and 2) cost $300 or less (the same price I paid for my SKS).

So essentially, I resigned myself to the fact that I would only get an AR upper if I got it secondhand, at a gun show, or both. And I was fine with this because it was a target of opportunity, not necessity.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I stumbled upon a complete AR upper that not only cost less than $300, but also had free shipping courtesy of Palmetto State Armory:


  • Barrel Length 16" 
  • 5.56 Nato Chamber
  • 1 in 7" twist 
  • Mid-length Gas 
  • Phosphate Finish
  • .750" Gas Block Diameter 
  • M4 Feedramps 
  • Forged Upper 
  • M-16 Profile Bolt Carrier
  • Carpenter 158 Bolt
  • Charging Handle

Upper is expected to group within the mil-spec.

I will be the first to admit that I know very little about the AR-15 platform. Twist rates and the like mean very little to me; I only knew that I wanted a 16" barrel, a 5.56 chamber, a chromed bore and for the whole thing to be under $300.

Well, I got three out of the four, and the chromed bore wasn't a dealbreaker for me, so I gathered up my "emergency gun money" cobbled together from gifts and savings and bought the sucker.

I am told that the middy length and 1:7 twist is really good, in which case I can only say that I stumbled onto a better deal than I deserve.

So without further ado, meet Frank:

Whoops, sorry. That's my dog investigating the rifle.



Ladies and gentlemen, my dog Heath. He's part Shepherd, part Labrador, and part Pug (no, we don't know how either), and he's very curious and needy and blonde.

All right, here's Frank, short for Frankenstein as well as Francisco Stein -- he's a Florida rifle, after all, so he's part Hispanic and part Jewish.

Spike's Tactical lower, PTAC upper.

And now begins the fun of accessorizing him and finding out what brand and grain weight works best!

Having come off ComBloc ammo (You have one choice of bullet, comrade) and 9mm (115gr for practice, 124gr for self-defense), the sheer variety of choice available to me is rather staggering.

Fortunately for me, I have a Lucky Gunner gift card burning a hole in my pocket, so that takes care of the first hundred or so rounds. I'm leaning towards 55gr .223 in various brands for my first block of testing.

Wish me luck, and don't be afraid to leave suggestions in the comments below!

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