That’s right. I am a gun guy that up until this weekend has never had an AR15. Sure, I have shot a couple. But I have never been able to justify the cost involved in building one. Well, this year I had to pay a lot of taxes. And it hurt. So to ease my pain, I spent some money. I bought the complete lower assembly about a month ago. And I told myself I would wait until I got the stock money at work to buy an upper. I also told myself I would not buy a .223 upper. Well, the Crossroads of the West guns show came to town and changed all that.
The lower I bought is a PCF (Plum Crazy Firearms) polymer lower assembly. A guy at work told me about these lowers a couple months ago. I did some research on the forums. And it turns out that they are about 1.2lbs lighter than a typical forged lower assembly. If I remember correctly, that weight is actually compared to a Bushmaster lower assembly with the same style stock. The way they make it light is by having almost the entire thing (including the trigger and hammer) made out of polymer. The only non-polymer parts are the springs, buffer tube, capscrews, and pins. Also, my research told me that people were very happy with them. Well, it turns out a guy that has an office out of his home about a mile from my house is the only dealer in town that carries them. And he was expecting a new shipment in just over a week. So I decided to take the plunge and begin my first AR build. I guess it isn’t much of a build since I was planning to build it from 2 completed assemblies. But I checked on doing a true build and it would have cost me significantly more money. So I did not go that route.
For the money, this is a great lower. The entire assembly is cheaper than what some companies charge for a stripped lower forging. The trigger has a crisp feel with about the same pull weight as a Bushmaster that I played with. The mold is very uniform and obviously manufactured to great tolerances. All parts can be replaced with any of the AR15 pieces made to fit a mil spec lower receiver. Worth noting is the fact that the hammer spring is stiffer than a normal AR15 hammer spring. I assume this is to compensate for a lighter weight polymer hammer. Also worth noting is that the lower receiver is made to fit very tightly with a mil spec upper receiver and does require a good smack with a rubber mallet to install. But this is a very good thing as not only does it eliminate the need for a wedge to fill a gap at the rear like most receiver combos, but it also makes it so that some force is being transferred through mating surfaces rather than only through the pins thereby making it theoretically a stronger more reliable setup. Another thing I noticed when shooting is that the recoil spring seems to make slightly less noise than the couple other AR15’s I have shot. I have no guess as to why that would be since the tube is still metal, as is the spring.
My only criticisms of the lower are:
1- The butt stock to buffer tube fitment is pretty loose and rattles more than I think it should. I have been told this is common with this type of butt stock pretty much no matter what manufacturer it is. However, I cannot confirm this.
2- A friend of mine bought this same lower and used it with a 5.7×28 upper and due to something being too thick on the lower as well as the upper, the bolt lock function doesn’t work.
Now onto the rest of the rifle…
So this leads us to last weekend when the gun show came to town. I went to the show with the intent of finding a 7.62×39 upper. I figured this would give me the advantages of the AK47 round without having the burn-your-eyes-out-with-a-fireplace-poker looks. Or the spray-and-pray accuracy that the AK47 is legendary for. Well, a couple dealers had such an upper. And they wanted 50% more than what I had found them online for. But then I came across a dealer with a variety of .223 uppers, they were interesting enough to make me look again. Now, being a .22-250 nut-swinger, I have a learned distaste for the .223 as it is everything that a .22-250 does better, except for cost of course. But the price was right. For $100 less than the 7.62 upper I had been looking at online, I essentially got the same features (other than caliber) only with a 1.06″ diameter, 20″ long stainless barrel and a snazzy looking free float tube.
While at the show I also picked up a case of 55gr ammo. BTW, next time I will get 62gr minimum as the barrel has a 1:8 twist so it can stabilize the longer heavier bullets. I also picked up a couple Magpul PMags which it turns out I paid full retail for at the cheapest booth in the show.
As soon as I got home, I started putting the pieces together. It all went together smoothly and without a single issue. That night, the roommate needed some stuff at Walmart so I decided to tag along and look at scope rings, and walked away with a scope instead. I picked up a Centerpoint 4-16×40 with illuminated mil-dot reticule. I thought the whole setup looked so sexy I had to snap a couple photos…
Obviously those 30 round PMags were a bit long. So for lunch the next day I ran to Sportsman’s Warehouse and picked up a cheap 20 round magazine for $5. It fit much better but the quality difference between the $5 one and the Magpul PMags was very obvious. Overall length of this setup is 35.5″ – 38.5″ depending on stock position.
The range was closed Monday and Tuesday. But I was able to escape from work an hour or so early and head to the range on Wednesday. With wind varying from about 15 – 30 mph, the gun was able to still maintain pretty close groups. What variation there was in groups may have been due to the scope. What a pile of shit that thing is. It shot 3″ right and 1.5″ high without any bore sighting or anything. So I clicked off the appropriate amount of clicks that should have made it 1″ right still but correct elevation. Yeah, not so much. It was now 1″ left and still 1.5″ high. Clicked off the number of clicks that should have brought it to the center, but no, point of impact didn’t move. After maybe 30 rounds I got the point of impact close enough to the center that I no longer cared. The scope will be going back as soon as I decide on a suitable replacement. That was honestly one reason I got the scope. I figured it would be crap, but there was a chance it would not be. And if it was crap, I have 90 days to return it for a full refund. In the end, it was shooting (at 50 yards due to time constraints) a 1″ group. But again, I have a suspicion that some of that is due to the scope moving around a little. Also, the target was moving quite a bit in the wind.
Overall, the entire gun build experience has been a positive one. I like the components that are on it, other than the scope. I like the way it fits, I like the way it feels, I like the way it looks, I like the way it shoots. Win, win, win, win, fuck you scope. The only things I would still like to add to the rifle are: New scope, improved grip with finger grooves and palm rest, and a bipod. And yes, for any of my friends thinking of building an AR15 (or better yet AR10) I highly recommend it. It’s easy, fun, and not nearly as expensive as it was a couple years ago when Obama first took office and everyone thought he was going to take our guns.