Friday, February 26, 2010

FINALLY! My AR 15 Rifle

It's here! It's finally here! After 8 months, the upper half I've been patiently waiting for is finally here!

Some may know, and others may not know, that back in June of 2009, I placed an order for a Rock River Arms A4 CAR length upper half to complete my AR 15 rifle. Unfortunately for me, RRA was suddenly inundated with orders from a lot of federal agencies, including the DEA, for complete weapon systems. The back order was indefinite and RRA found themselves unable to keep up with the demands.

For any civilian, this meant their orders, including mine, were on the back burner until the government contracts could be met. I didn't know this at the time I placed my order. However, since the lower receiver I already had is a Rock River Arms lower, I wanted a matching upper half in a really big way.

I was tired of mismatched assault weapons. My FN FAL was assembled form different parts kits from all over the place and nothing seemed to make any sense at all. Additionally, my last battle rifle wasn't a top shelf weapon. Reliable it was, but definitely not something get get overly excited about. I wanted something new, modern, American made, and above all high quality.

I decided on Rock River Arms because they make a fine rifle for my application. It's tough, reliable, reasonably priced, and the fit and finish can't be beat by anyone. With that in mind, I was able to wait the agonizing 8 months to finally have the upper half of MY choice - not just some gun sitting on the rack at a shop.

I'm not going to get into the boring details of specs and so forth, but I will say that it has folding sights and has that chrome-lined barrel I was losing a lot sleep over. I so desperately wanted that barrel and I got it. There were a lot of bonuses that came with this upper half and I actually made out like a thief when you consider what I paid for and what I got. Let's just say that some of the stuff isn't exactly as I ordered, but I'm not complaining because it is the stuff I would have spec'd out if money wasn't an object in the first place!

When Bulls Eye Shooter Supply made the call, I immediately dropped everything I was doing and I rushed down to get my long awaited part. I was so happy. I brought it home and went to install it on my lower half. I pulled out the hinge pin and the take down pin and the upper half dropped right onto the lower without a fuss at all. The finish between the two parts was exactly perfect and it didn't rattle one bit. Awesome! I then installed the rear sight and mechanically zeroed the weapon.

Today, I took time off from work. After doing some house hold chores and cleaning the AR, Lindsay and I dropped the kids off at their grandparent's house and we went up to the hills to break in my new acquisition.

The gun handled perfectly. I loaded the first PMAG in and charged the weapon. I gently squeezed the trigger, not knowing what would happen (I am always a bit nervous when firing a weapon that has never been fired before). After the first shot, I fought the urge to look and see if the gun jammed. Instead, I just squeezed the trigger again and BANG! Then BANG! BANG! BANG! It fired all 30 rounds without a hitch! Happy with those results, I loaded another magazine and did the same. The gun is predictable. The trigger is so light and smooth. The recoil is... non-existent. The control I had over this weapon was just amazing. I haven't fired a lot of AR 15's before, and I certainly hadn't fired one in almost 7 years before today, but this gun just felt so familiar and natural.

The only hiccup this gun experienced was with a crappy cartridge. After the round fired, the extractor on the bolt ripped the rim off the shell casing. This made the spent casing stay in battery. As the bolt carrier group moved forward, it cycled the next cartridge, but instead of going to battery, it simply hit the spent case in front of it and jammed. Ugh! It turns out I was shooting HSM ammunition. This is reloaded brass, so who knows how many times it had been fired before it graced my gun with it's presence. (I'm rolling my eyes as I type; clever, huh?) I had read somewhere before that this particular ammo does not handle the AR 15 very well, and it proved it to me today. Fortunately, Lindsay suggested taking a cleaning rod and popping the spent case out from the muzzle end. (This is why I love my wife. She has the technical prowess to address an issue, unlike some girlfriends I've had before) After popping the garbage out of my gun, I continued shooting as if nothing happened at all. If it weren't for that faulty cartridge rim, the gun would have batted a thousand for the day. However, I'll take what I can get. The gun itself shoots wonderfully and consistently. The Remington UMC and PMC I ran through it worked fine, so I'll stick with that.

Overall, I'm extremely satisfied with this project. I got my gun exactly how I wanted it, without compromise, at a cost savings, and it shoots like a dream. Can't ask for anything better than that!

-James

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