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ARs now is the time to buy: if you regret missing out on some deals in the past, spend your money while prices are low.

Overthe years, prices go up and prices come down. It's just part of the natural flow of things. As an example, .22 Long Rifle ammunition is expensive and remains hard to come by in many places. The time to buy it was a few years back when you could purchase 5,000-round cases cheap. Many stacked it deep, just in case, but many more did not and are currently hard-pressed to feed their rimfires. There has been a lot of gnashing of teeth over this.

While I have an ample supply, I will readily admit to missing out far too many times on other opportunities over the years. When Century Arms was selling-7.92x57mm Mauser for $39 per 900 rounds, I should have bought it by the pallet. Hindsight is 20/20 and I should have stacked 7.62x25mm surplus even deeper than I did. Too many times when something was inexpensive, I thought it would be around far longer than it actually was.

Today I watch and keep track of the cycles the industry goes through and buy what I want when the prices are rock bottom and items readily available. Then, when prices jump due to political or economic reasons, I wait until they drop again before making large purchases.

Since 2008, political and media driven agendas have made the market particularly volatile. Ammunition prices are still high, 5.45x39mm 7N6 surplus has recently been banned from importation and trouble looms in Ukraine, with possible further sanctions against Russian imports.

As I write this, though, the Modern Sporting Rifle market is flat. Americans have stuffed every nook and cranny with AR-15s to the point their appetite is finally satisfied. AR prices have basically hit rock bottom. So in my humble opinion, now is the time to be buying AR receivers, parts and accessories. Buy them cheap before another panic-fueled craze hits and drives prices back through the roof.

With that in mind, 1 decided to take a look at a variety of AR-15 parts and accessories you may want to consider. Some are mainstream, but many are a bit off the beaten path. A few are inexpensive, others are not, but all are interesting, and most importantly, available.

Anderson Manufacturing Lower Receiver

I still shake my head thinking about what some people paid for a stripped AR-15 lower receiver during the Great Panic. For a while, $600 seemed to be the "normal" price on Luckily, those days are behind us and today AR lowers are very competitively priced. I have seen lowers advertised for as little as $49 by AIM Surplus in recent days. That is cheap.

During a recent visit to Quantico Tactical in Junction City, Kans., I noted they were selling Anderson Manufacturing lowers for $79.99, and bought five for future projects. Anderson, while not well known, has been in business for more than 50 years.

Their claim to fame is building an RF85 treated AR-15 rifle they say never needs lubrication. I won't touch on that today, but their stripped lower receiver is machined from 7075 T6 aluminum, looks good and worked well during a build. This was my first experience with Anderson lowers, but I would not hesitate to buy more from them.

The main point I want to pass along though, is now is the time' to buy stripped AR lowers. I doubt you will see prices this low again, so stick some away for future projects. Another scare that could send prices skyrocketing could be just around the corner.

San Tan Tactical SST-15 Lower

While it's true I really don't care what logo or name is on the side of a standard AR lower, that's not to say I have no taste. One lower that strikes my fancy with its jaw-dropping good looks is San Tan Tactical's SST-15. Located in Chandler, Ariz., this small company is owned by a talented and artistic designer named Dennis

Harless. ftHarless is responsible for an eye-catching design that blends captivating form with practical ambidextrous function. If you're looking for an out of the ordinary AR lower for a special build, are left-handed or simply looking for a step-up in user friendliness, you will want to eyeball this classy receiver.

Prr 'The SST-15 starts life as a billet of 7075 T651 aluminum that is care-fully machined to reduce weight, improve its function and make it turn heads. What makes you go hmmm though are the ambidextrous magazine and bolt release levers.

These are machined from A-2 tool steel, feature aggressive beehive honeycomb texturing and simply look right. The bolt release on the right 3ide is placed within easy reach of the trigger finger of a right-handed shooter. It is also easy to hit with the thumb of your right hand after inserting a fresh magazine when shooting lefty. The left side magazine release is also well placed for easy manipulation with either hand.

The magazine well has been contoured and funneled to aid speed reloads. You can just about toss a magazine into it from across the room, yet it doesn't look gaudy. An integral oversize trigger guard facilitates use with gloves and QD mounting points have been added to each side of the rear of the receiver.

To ensure it fits like a bank vault door to any upper receiver, it features a non-marring tensioning screw to adjust the tension between the upper and lower. The receiver is finished in a Mil-Spec, MIL-A-8625 Type III hard anodizing.

It can be purchased fully assembled or stripped with only the magazine/bolt releases installed. I ordered one stripped, it proved easy to assemble although assembly differs slightly from a standard lower.

If you haven't noticed. I really like this lower. It looks great and the controls are well laid out and easy to manipulate. Dropping the bolt from a firing grip is a snap. Is it perfect? No, you can't lock the bolt back with the right lever. It is a release only.

So it's not quite perfect for a right-handed shooter. For the lefty, however, the SST-15 would be hard to beat. Price is not cheap at $289.99, but you have to know when to pamper yourself at times.

SLR Rifleworks Sentry Adjustable Gas Block

While not a household name, SLR Rifleworks is one of those companies every hardcore AR. lover should know about. A small shop located in Winter Garden, Fla., they've garnered a reputation for building some wonderful stuff. Todd Gardner is the man behind SLR Rifleworks. and he's quickly making a name for himself among shooters for his designs and the quality of his work. His shop is stuffed full of modern CNC mills, turning centers. Swiss screw machines and wire EDM allowing rapid product development.

Currently, SLK manufactures a variety of AK nano-guards in different styles and lengths, adjustable AR gas blocks and even some AK parts. They first caught my attention with their adjustable gas blocks. Now, there are indeed a few companies producing adjustable gas blocks. The SLR design stands out from the crowd due to its well thought out design and repeatable click adjustments.

Each gas block is machined from heat-treated 4140 steel. They are then fitted with a 316 stainless steel detent plunger, 6AL-4V Titanium leaf spring detent mechanism and a Nexturn Swiss metering screw. The design eliminates tiny coil springs and ball bearings to corrode break or seize. The design provides 100% gas cutoff when closed and audible and tactile adjustment clicks. Complete disassembly is very easy and straightforward.

SLR Rifleworks offers both clamp-on arid set-screw models in .625", .750" and .935" diameter. They also offer a-clamp on model in .875". I installed a .750" set-screw on a 16-inch 5.56x45mm carbine with a mid-length gas system without any issues. It is very well made and nicely machined.

Adjustments are consistent and I ran the rifle both with a standard MI 6 bolt Carrier assembly and 7-ounce MGI buffer as well as a lightweight skeletonized bolt carrier assembly and 2.75-ounce buffer. I had zero issues dialing in the gas flow for a variety of loads, ranging from 55-grain Wolf to 77-grain Mk 262 Mod 1. With the lightweight carrier and buffer., I was able to dial the gas flow back to provide -exceptionally smooth cycling and light recoil with 100% reliability. I have to say I love the way this carbine performs now.

Does everyone need an adjustable gas block'? No. Will it ,prOvide miracles by itself? No. Is it a highly useful item -for tuning a rifle with lightweight internals? Yes. Price is $114.99.

SLR Rifleworks Solo handguard

Along with their fabulous Sentry adjustable gas blocks, SLR Rifleworks also offers four different series of free-floating handguards for the AR-I 5. These consist of their Solo. Solo Lite, Solo. 3-Gun and Intrepid. The Solo Lite series features a full-length 1913 rail at 12 o'clock and KeyMod slots around the body. The Solo 3-Gun features a short 1913 rail at 12 o'clock and KeyMod slots around the body. The Intrepid series features a full-length 1913 rail at 12 and 6 o'clock, short 1913 rails and KeyMod slots at .3. and 9 o'clock. All these designs are yery lightweight, nicely made and look great.

My pick, though, is SLR Rifleworks' Solo handguard. Available in 7-, 9-, 10-, 13-, 14- and 15-inch lengths, this is a great looking handguard. Made from billet aluminum. it features a very slim 1.3-inch internal diameter, making it comfortable in the hand.

This lightweight design features a full-length 1913 rail at 12 o'clook. short integral 1913 rails at 3 and 9 o'clock and KeyMod slots at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock.

The KeyMod slots are slightly modified (QMod). allowing them to accept a standard QD sling swivel. The handguard is hardcoat anodized and retained by Grade 8 fasteners that lock the handguard onto a 7075 billet barrel nut. The Solo features a proven anti-rotation and anti-slip design. Weight of a 13-inch handguard with barrel nut is just 12.1 ounces.

SLR Rifleworks' Solo handguard was very easy to install. The barrel nut does not require a specialized wrench and the handguard simply slips on and then is clamped into place. The end result is very light, looks great, allows accessories to be easily mounted onto either the KeyMod slots or 1913 rails and performs well.

Some shooters may not like the 7075 billet barrel nut and prefer a steel nut, but I could think of no other gripes. If you are looking for a lightweight and slim handguard for your next build, this is one to consider. Price on this model starts at $179.99 and runs to $219.99.

LWRC International UCIW Ultra Compact Stock

If you have the collapsible stock blahs and are looking for something to spice up your carbine or SBR, then have I got something for you. LWRC International's UCIW Ultra Compact Stock is just what its name says, ultra compact.

If you're looking to reduce the overall length of your AR, both in front and out back, then you will want to check this out. While similar to a conventional collapsible stock, the UCIW is both shorter and smaller. Specifically designed to reduce the overall length and bulk of a PDW, it does the same on a carbine.

The stock comes as a complete kit consisting of a shorter receiver extension (buffer tube), a short 3.2-ounce buffer, action spring, index plate and castle nut.

So how does this LWRC stock reduce * your overall length? Well, to start, the receiver extension is noticeably shorter than a standard unit at only 6 inches. Next they shortened the buffer to just less than 2.2 inches. While the short buffer is cute, the magic is a flat wire action spring. The short buffer and fiat wire spring provide the same bolt carrier travel distance as a standard M4 carbine.

Installing the kit was simple, straightforward and took only the correct wrench, vise and a couple minutes. I found the stock to be nicely contoured, very comfortable and very light. This is a great stock to consider if you are building an ultra-light carbine.

If you are trying to build something short along the lines of a PDW, then I would take a hard look at the LICIW. What about if you are just looking to shave a bit of length off a standard-sized carbine? No problem, it worked just fine for that, too. Features include QD sling mounting points and a rubber buttpad. With the stock fully collapsed, it has a 9.1-inch length of pull. It then provides four adjustments with a 12.25-inch length of pull when fully extended. Price is $129.99 for the complete stock kit.

Geissele Super Gas Block and Gas Block Tools

Bill Geissele exploded onto the AR scene in 2004 when he started building National Match triggers. It wasn't long before certain units in the U.S. military took notice of his talent and today Geissele is synonymous with reliability. Few small companies garner the respect Geissele has earned with their line of bombproof triggers.

Today, though, Geissele does much more than just triggers. A rock star to AR aficionados. Bill Geissele has slowly, but steadily expanded his operation. In addition to his line of competition and combat oriented triggers, he also offers some fabulous handguards, armorer tools and his Super Gas Block.

Recently I was pulling apart a 12.5-inch 6.5mm Gren-; del upper receiver to hot rod and I selected a Geissele Super Gas Block to replace the stock fixed front sight assembly. The Super Gas Block is machined from stainless steel (also available in carbon steel and with a Black Nitride coating from BrowneIls) for a .750" barrel and is a low profile design. It is retained by two set-screws.

However. it comes with a crosspin and can be pinned in place if you have the ability to drill the hole for the retaining pin. Why the crosspin'? Simply because it adds security and peace of mind the gas block is not going to move.

Retaining screws can loosen over time, allowing a gas block to move under recoil, shutting the gun down. Pinning the gas block in place ensures this cannot happen. The design is distinctive in looks, mounted easily and is low enough to, clear most free-floating handguards. No problems of any kind were encountered and price is $59.

If you are replacing a gas block, Geissele offers a couple tools you might be interested in. The Gas Block Pin Punch set is made specifically for the removal and installation of the .078" roll pin that secures the gas tube to the gas block. Removal of a rusted roll pin can be a pain as there are no commercial pin punches in .078" diameter.

So Geissele developed a two-piece set specifically intended to make this job easy. It consists of a robust tapered starter punch and a properly sized pin punch. The long taper makes the starter punch resistant to bending, so its job is to get a stubborn pin moving.

Once it's moving, swap tools and drive the pin out with the pin punch. Both pieces are machined from properly hardened and tempered 01 tool steel and look nice. While neither glamorous nor something you will impress your friends With, it's a very handy set to have if you work on ARs. Price is $25.

Geissele also offers a gas block roll pin tool for installing the roll pin. This is a handy unit that holds the roll pin to get it started. So you don't have to try to hold the tiny roll pin while tapping it into place.

To use, simply seat the roll pin into the nose of the tool. Next tap it into place until it's started and held by the gas block. A tap or two is all that's needed. Once the roll pin is started, remove the tool and properly seat the roll pin with a punch. It's quick, simple and makes life easy. As expected the tool is nicely made and priced at just $12.50. Do you need it if you're building just one AR? No. But it's a nice luxury to have if you work on A Rs fairly often.

Command Arms Clear Action Magazine

It was interesting to see how valuable AR-15 magazines became during the Great Panic. Magpul PMAGs became a type of currency worth more than any would have suspected. Now that the panic is over and magazines of all types are plentiful. it's a good time to stock up. A number of companies make modern, reliable magazines for this platform. One is CAA of Israel with their 30-round Clear Action Magazine.

This is a contemporary-looking polymer magazine with a couple of interesting features. The most obvious is the clear window on each side that reveals how many rounds are left in the magazine. Numbers next to the window clearly show the rifleman what he has left. In addition to the window, this design also features a tactile full magazine indicator on the magazine baseplate. This can be preset to protrude from the base if either 29 or 30 rounds are loaded. The white indicator provides both a visual and tactile cue that the magazine is fully loaded.

CAA's design is ribbed to provide a secure grip and features a non-tilting follower to enhance reliability. It also features a robust baseplate. 1 tested three magazines of this type, found them to fit into a variety of AR-15s and they dropped free with the push of a button. Rounds loaded into them without issue and chambered smoothly.

They functioned flawlessly throughout testing with zero problems encountered using both steel and brass cased ammunition. At $22.14 they are not the least expensive magazine on the market, but they are nicely made and have a couple neat features.

Command Arms Flip-Up Sights

With the move away from a fixed carry handle and to some type of optical sight more and more ARs are wearing back-up sights. Currently, a slew of different designs range greatly in complexity and price. CAA also offers a take on a durable yet reasonably priced front and rear sight. These are produced from polymer and aluminum to reduce weight and cost.

Both the front and back feature low profile and ambidextrous pushbutton releases. Pushing the release button allows the sight to spring into place. The front sight does not require a tool for adjusting elevation and the. Post is protected by two ears. The rear sight is 'finger-adjustable for windage and features a large ghost ring and small aperture as well as a square notch.

Both units appeared nicely made, mounted securely with zero movement and zeroed easily. I am not a fan of finger adjustable front sights, but the CAA unit worked well with no issues. As to be expected the sights are very light and surprisingly robust. They can be purchased individually with the front priced at $44.63 and the rear $60.38 or as a set for $101.50.

Midwest Industries KeyMod Rail Covers

KeyMod rails are among the latest and greatest AR accessories. Lots of companies are offering them, along with dedicated KeyMod accessories. One item I had been looking for was a high quality KeyMod rail cover. Something that would attach easily to the rail to protect the handguard as well as my hand while providing a secure grip.

Initially I tried Noveske's offering, but was not impressed. So next I tried Midwest Industries KeyMod rail covers. These were a night and day difference and the Noveskes hit the trash can. The Midwest Industries covers are fairly easy to mount, have a very nice textured finish and look great.

They are very comfortable in the hand and add very little bulk to the handguard. The design is simple and straightforward and does not require troublesome backing plates.

If you are looking for KeyMod rail covers, definitely consider Midwest Industries offerings. They offer the panels in black, Hat dark earth and foliage green in three, four and five slot lengths along with a handstop panel. Price for a kit with a three-, four- and five-slot panel is $18, and they also sell the panels individually.

SureFire 60 Round Magazine

Quad-stack magazines are nothing new. A few countries have fielded them with perhaps the most notable being Russia. Fifty round 5.45x39mm quad-stack magazines are highly prized by Russian Special Operations troops. The extra ammunition capacity is claimed to have saved a number of soldiers during shoot-outs with terrorists.

These AK magazines are out of' production now, and highly sought after. On this side of the pond a simple click of a button while surfing the web will bring you a brand-new SureFire High-Capacity magazine. Manufactured using a Mil-Spec hard anodized aluminum body, non-binding coil springs and nesting polymer followers, they hold a whopping 60 rounds.

To resist corrosion the springs are cadmium coated and the magazine can be disassembled without tools. Size wise it is only L66 inches thick, 8.7 inches long and weighs just 6.4 ounces. They are slightly longer than a standard mag, but thinner than two clipped together.

I was a bit skeptical of the design when I first heard about it, but have been running them for a few months now with zero issues. Their biggest downside is simply their price. Retail is a whopping $159, but street price is considerably less if you shop around. Even so, that's a lot of bread. However, it's a pretty damn neat idea, they look cool, hold a pile of ammunition and so far mine have worked well.


Anderson Manufacturing 859-689-4085 /

Command Arms 215-949-9944 /

Geissele 610-272-2060 / www.geissele.corn

Midwest Industries 262-896-6780 /

LWRC International 410-901-1348 /

San Tan Tactical 480-204-0082 /

SLR RifleWorks 855-757-7435 /

SureFire 800-829-8809 /
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Author:Fortier, David M.
Publication:Shotgun News
Date:Jun 20, 2014
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