I think my AR just jumped the shark

In the winter of 2005-2006 I bought a Rock River AR, used, for about $700 from a dealer at a show. I’d always wanted one for two reasons: I spent about 15 minutes in the Army, so I trained on the M16 and Democrats had told me ARs were evil.

Now, at the time, I didn’t know much about guns. I sure thought I did, and I’m sure seven years from now I’ll say the same thing about something I buy this year. I didn’t know–or bother to ask–that the rifle was used. I probably could have gotten it cheaper, but it’s treated me very well. It was exactly what I was looking for at the time.

Flattop upper, M4 stock, heavy barrel (because, I kid you not, I thought the 16″ barrels with M4 notches looked stupid), flash suppressor, railed gas block, and standard plastic handguards. I’m fairly certain it came with no sights but its been long enough that I may have forgotten taking them off and tossing them. Basically, it looked just like this:

Well now it looks like this:

I swear it weighs 40 pounds now (actually, my bathroom scale says 10). I’ll try to recap how this tragedy happened.

First thing I did, I believe, was put a crappy red dot sight on it (similar to this one). And by crappy, I mean “battery wouldn’t last through one range session” crappy. You’d have to turn the brightness up to 11 if you were at an outdoor range, and 20 minutes later the dot would be too dim to see. It took one coin cell which, if you replaced it with a brand new one after it died at the range, would be dead by the next time you went to the range.

After that happened three or four times I was fed up. In Summer of 2007, I replaced that with this:

The venerable EOTech 512. Love that thing. New shooters love it, too. Point and click. Cheek weld? We don’t need no stinkin cheek weld!

I believe at this point I had also put one of those handguard mounted rail thingies and a vertical foregrip* on it. I know I had that setup for a while.

Eventually I “came to my senses” with the handguard rail thingy, and…got railed handguards:

Note, these are NOT free-float. I got them because, er, rails make you faster? They have speedholes? I have no idea. Around the same time as this idiocy, I got this three point sling (remember those?) which I still don’t understand how to properly use it, if there is such a thing as “proper use of a three point sling.” You can still see one of the fabric loops for that sling affixed to the M4 stock today.

Now, the very first time I ever went to the range with Oleg, I had a terrible calamity befall me. A couple, actually. First was my horrific embarrassment at being the only one without a suppressor. Another was that my Eotech wasn’t working. The alkaline batteries I had left in there for, oh, two years had exploded! And I still had no iron sights.

Having your battery-powered optic explode is bad. Not having backup sights is even worse. At the time, Magpul had just come out with their MBUS backup sights, so I looked in to getting some. What I learned was that while the Magpul MBUS Folding Rear Site would work just fine and dandy, the front sight would not. Why?

Because when I paid extra to get the rifle with no front sight, I severely limited my front sight options. The rail height on a gas block is much lower than the rail on an upper or free-float handguards. That, and apparently the MBUS front sight has been known to warp when mounted to the gas block.

So I bought a YHM Gas Block Mounted Front Flip Sight. Pay extra to have no front sight, pay even more to put one on. Genius, this guy.

Okay so now I have sights. And I was able to repair my Eotech after the battery mishap (and yes, it has lithiums now). But now I have a Magpul part. And I know who Chris Costa and Travis Haley are.

BAM! Off goes the vertical grip, on goes the AFG. I also ditched the sling because I found it was getting in my way.

The rifle stayed like that for a while, until I put a cheapie weapon light on it back in July.

Now we’re starting to get just a wee bit ludicrous.

The rail covers are starting to rot. They’ve always been a bit large for what they do, so I’m looking at alternatives. The rifle as a whole has a more bulky feeling than I’d like, but my use case is as a barricade weapon, not a house-clearing gun. Stay in place, let the bad guys come to me. My house layout isn’t conducive to room clearing with a rifle.

Well, then a friend at work tells me she bought a bunch of “backpacking” stuff from a Marine, and “there’s some rifle part in there.” As she’s describing it, I realize it’s a Redi-Mag. She asks me if I want it, and of course I do because TRAVIS HALEY.

So that’s how I got here. I’m probably going to take the Redi-Mag off because (and I don’t know if I just installed it wrong or what) it makes it really hard to push the mag release.

Maybe I’ll take some Christmas money and buy a free float handguard. Maybe I’ll build a new rifle with light weight in mind. Maybe I’ll keep it the way it is, and continue into self-parody when the new suppressor comes in.

I don’t know. I just felt like–confessing.

*Oddly enough, I now view vertical foregrips as a “oh, he must be new at this” marker. They probably always were.

11 comments to I think my AR just jumped the shark

  • In sorta-defense of VFGs, my carbine rig (which looks VERY similar to yours) has a GripPod and a light. If they made an AFG grippod I’d be all over it…

    Why? Because if there’s critters in the coop or pasture, the bi-pod- and optic-equipped carbine with the rail-mounted light lets me OWN that piece of the property… from my porch.

  • I don’t see anything wrong with your rifle at all!

    Of course, this is from a gal who has tricked out a Mosin-Nagant, so take that for whatever it’s worth.

  • Mr Evilwrench

    Jumped the shark? That’s ALL? Mine has all that stuff and night vision.

  • In defense of the three point sling- I love mine, they can be hella-stable offhand, and are great for recoil control. But I put them on hunting bolties- they work really well for helping you control muzzle jump when shooting offhand at intermediate distances. That being said, I dont know that I’d bother with one on an AR, because the light caliber, heavy gun, and semi-auto action already fix most reasons I use one. When you finally get then set up, though, They’re pretty slick.

  • Will

    Unfortunately that’s not really any worse than all the crap they throw on our M4s at my base. We’ve got a PEQ2, weapon light, temp switches for both, Aimpoint M68, BUIS and a grip pod. Too much excess weight.

  • I’ll be happy to put the suppressor in your hands whenever the paperwork comes through. Hopefully not in June as you stated last July. I stil have a VFG with light on mine. I actually prefer it to the AFG, but I always like my off hand grip close to the magwell anyway. I truly enjoy watching everyone build up their AR until it is “too heavy” and then scale back. It reminds me that I wasn’t the only one who did it. ;) Next thing you know you’ll be dumping the last 4 inches of the barrel just to cut down on weight. Assuming you get approved paperwork first, of course. Oddly, I am still looking to build a good-old-fashioned A2 fixed stock and carry handle because I miss the simplicity.

    Disavowed With Honor

  • Just depends how one uses the vert grip.
    I use them as hand stops or with a break over grip. I can’t remember the last time I used a broom handle hold with one.

  • oddball

    Funny thing is that Wizard gave me that crappy red dot scope when he sold me a stripped AR lower. I ended up putting it on my Beretta Cx4. It co-witnesses perfectly with the iron sights, which, though stupid optical tricks, focuses the dot nicely and I’ve had much better luck with light intensity and battery life.

  • TaktiCALi

    These photos make me smile :)

  • [...] my previous post about this rifle, I’ve added a couple of [...]

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