Tactical AR-15 build: Upper receiver gear

My choices were all based on personal preference and price.  Where I could get a good deal from various online or local retailers, I jumped at it.  Cost savings was important to me; I’m on a budget, but I also wanted quality gear.

There are many great companies putting quality tactical gear on the market and there are a few putting poor quality gear out there too.  Of course, I steered away from parts that didn’t meet anybody’s expectations.

In hindsight, I wish I were given a bunch of free stuff to review, but that didn’t happen.  Oh well.  Maybe in the future, eh?

Feedramps

I needed and required M4 feedramps as opposed to AR rifle style feedramps.  I have seen far too many jams and malfunctions from guns without them or ARs assembled in bulk by so-so or less than satisfactory firearms companies.

Barrel

When it comes to gunfighting, I want to be able to have a short enough barrel to be operational inside a building.  I don’t believe in zombies, but urban warfare is more likely in my line of work as a police officer in a big city.  In short, when I built my AR, I wanted a carbine—either 16-inch or 14.5-inch barrel, with a staked compensator to equal 16-inches to avoid lame NFA requirements.

I chose a Daniel Defense pencil style barrel. I wanted to keep it light weight.  Plus, I figured I wouldn’t be blasting rounds fast enough or often enough to heat the barrel and damage it, so I went lightweight.  I opted to add my own flip up front sight later on, so I got a low profile gas block.

Forend

Like I said, I wanted this gun to be light in weight.  I looked at all kinds of great options, but, frankly, I couldn’t see myself purchasing a carbon fiber Lancer front end even though that would have been way cool.  I wanted a free floating handguard that was high quality.

Since I wanted to stay light, I avoided full quad picatinny rails.  I did chose a full p-rail along the top.  I haven’t swallowed the key mod thing yet either, but I might in the future and this gun may be a testament.

While I saw a lot of nice free floating forends, I ended up going with a Gen 2 SS from Midwest Industries.  I avoided the plastic p-rail add-ons.  In my estimate, they’re junk.  After I tightened the screws, they broke.  I opted to buy the metal ones.  Overall, I like it so far.

Forend Accessories

Once again—since I wanted to stay light weight—I went with the LaRue handstop.  I didn’t want a full broomstick handle.  And I didn’t need to order one either.  LaRue sent me a couple a while back and also a couple of copies of the pocket sized US Constitution. Gotta love that!

For my tac light, I wanted something small and light.  I wasn’t too concerned about having super high lumens for bright output since inside a building, where I envisioned the most likely encounter for urban tactics to be, the light would reflect off the walls.  I went through my tactical gear boxes and found a small Insight Technologies X2 subcompact tac light.  The X2 is supposed to go on smaller guns, like a XDS, but it works here too.

If I had some extra dough or a literal tree that produced money, I would have purchased an Inforce Weapon Mounted Light, instead of something I had at hand.

Compensator

Tactically speaking, I believe a good compensator is well worth the purchase.  Forget the A2 Bird cage.  So, I purchased a Battle Comp compensator to reduce my muzzle jump and minimize my flash signature, something not all compensators do.  Plus, I already bought one for my other AR and loved it.

Battle Comp is built with cops and tactics in mind.  I’d like to say I got it for free, but nope.

Flattop rail and upper receiver

I went with a standard, tactical upper and lower receiver from JP Rifles.  Wow—they are top notch.  With a handful of hard and fast requirements for my tactical AR, I had to make sure I stayed on the low-end price wise and retain things like a forward assist.  I didn’t get so fancy that it took away from being tactically operational and what I’ve been used to for many years.

I went with a flattop rail system for easily mounting optics to my weapon.  While I think having a powered scope or optic would be cool for competition shooting or rural settings, I operate mostly in an urban environment.  I did use my Aimpoint mini on a flattop rail, and I made sure I had backup sights available.

Charging handle

I really like the design, operation and function of the BCM Gunfighter charging handle from Bravo Company USA.  I didn’t need the ambidextrous one.

I opted for the medium size charging handle because as a right handed shooter, when I let the gun hang on my SOB B-sling, I don’t like it to get knocked loose. The medium length handle comes out far enough that I can grab it easily, but it doesn’t stick out so much that it annoys me.

Safety warning: Jeffrey Denning is a long time professional in the art of self-defense and any training methods or information he describes in his articles are intended to be put into practice only by serious shooters with proper training.  Please read, but do not attempt anything posted here without first seeking out proper training.