Archive for August 29, 2012

Project Superlight: Quest for Lighter

Life is weird. One day, you could care less about something. And the next, you’ve fallen head over heels in love.

That’s me and the AR-15. They simply weren’t even on my radar for many years. But recently, the little carbine has won me over. The bolt-together simplicity. The light weight. Now I can’t get enough of them.

My most recent AR-15 build is something I call “Project Superlight.” I’ve read about a similar project called “Featherlight.” I wondered how light could I go without resorting to super-pricey/fragile parts. Well, I found out: 4 lbs. 4.2 oz. I’m sure I could go a bit lighter with some mill work. But I wanted to keep things simple at this point.

Here’s what I did. I wanted to start with a known quantity. So I picked up a Bushmaster Carbon-15 ORC (Optics Ready Carbine).

From the factory, it weighed 5 lbs. 1 oz. I knew it could be lighter.

I swapped out the buttstock for an Ace Ultralight. (I secured the rear takedown pin and spring by threading the rear portion of the the hole and cutting down the spring slightly.)

Next, I swapped the lower parts kit (steel) for an Accu Group (polymer). The polymer pieces actually have a much much better trigger pull. No creep. Lighter. Simply awesome—for plastic. 😉

I ditched the flash hider for a thread protector. And also lost the forward assist steel parts, ejection port cover, internal buffer weights, and forearm heat shields.

And this is what I ended up with:

The proof is in the pudding, as they say:

Still needs sights, I know. The TNVC RDPII is interesting at $140 and all of 0.9 oz.

Total cost for the build is currently $650. I picked up the Carbon 15 for $600. Got the stock for $50. And the Accu Group and thread protector were free from a friend. 🙂

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The Shrike Has Landed! And It Only Took 14 Years!

I remember putting my name on “the list” and getting the original pamphlet in the mail—sometime in 1998. In July 2002, I sent Geoff $1,000 as a deposit on a Shrike for the purchase price of $2,495. After 8 years, I asked for my money back. Just couldn’t stomach the broken promises and lack of communication from Ares Defense any longer. Got the deposit back promptly, and used it to purchase an FN PS90, which I SBR’d shortly thereafter. A pretty cool little weapon IMHO.

Anyway, I thought that was the end of the story. But no, approximately two weeks ago, I get an email from Ares saying that they want to offer me a Shrike at my original purchase price. Really?!?! I called and talked with a very nice woman there in sales at Ares, Tracey. She is a class act—and Geoff would be smart to keep her on the team. She was highly personable, intelligent, and knowledgeable. She immediately put me as ease. I figured, “What the hell.” I gave her my credit card info. And just 7 business days later, I had my very own Shrike in my hands. A saga that began some 14 years ago had finally come to fruition. I almost cried. 😉

Anyway, enough background info. Here’s a pic of the complete setup on my AFM lower. (If you haven’t heard of AFM, you should look into them. I have many AR-15s—Colts, Bushmasters, etc. The quality of the AFM lower blows them all away. No pun intended.)

I added the front and rear sights to the package. (They should’ve been free, as that was the original deal. But I couldn’t argue. I had received my deposit back a couple of years ago. So add $275 to the total.)

Let me tell you, the Shrike exudes quality. I don’t believe many corners were cut. Though I have heard stories of aluminum feed trays wearing prematurely and aluminum receivers getting dinged up when feeding rounds from belts. I guess we’ll see.

As she sits in the pics, she weighs exactly 9 lbs. 1 oz. Not too bad for a belt-fed weapon. Now all it needs is some accessories that make it look a bit more like an M249. What can I say? The M249 design is just badass!

 

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New M11/NINE Mags Still a Go—Despite Recent Events

To all the faithful, the M11/9 mag thing is still in the works. But I’ll be the first to tell you that these two most recent high-profile shootings do give a small business owner considering such a project cause for concern. Only takes a couple of numbskulls like Holmes and Page to ruin things for everybody. What a couple of nutjobs. I digress…

Anyway, I was just talking with one of my proposed new sheet metal guys. Have a few meetings set up. Yada yada yada. (My previous sheet metal fabricator and stamper—a separate company—went out of business a few weeks ago, leaving me with an incomplete set of prototypes.) I will keep you posted here as things develop.

Trust me, I do understand the doubters. Just hope they’ll pony up the money when the mags are available for sale in a few months.

Peace (through superior firepower),
Marty

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