AR Accessory Roundup
After a long, hot (and frustrating) summer with limited range access, I've finally done enough work with some gear I've been waiting to try out for what seems like forever. Some of the products are options worth considering for your AR-style rifle. They're primarily for the standard .223/5.56 rounds, but I've also used a couple on the new .22LR units coming into the marketplace.
To me, a good trigger - one you're accustomed to - is the difference in a good, accurate rifle and a good, accurate rifle I shoot well. There are several very good ones out there, but I've had good luck using Timney's drop-in units. I have them in my personal AR-style rifles. I like the ability to have two identical-feeling triggers on the .223 and .308 rifles (both are set at 4 pounds - heavy for some folks). I understand they're also no problem to put into Smith & Wesson's new M&P15-22 model. Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to visit Timney's manufacturing facilities, and had the chance to see the triggers being made, assembled and tested. Lots of hand fitting and testing involved, and that made me feel good about them.
Timney Triggers by the dozen. The ability to make all your triggers feel the same makes your shooting more consistent
Two versions are available for the AR-15, the competition at $194.95 or the skeletonized at $259.95. The AR-10 is priced at $234.95 - all prices from the Timney website (www.timneytriggers.com
And you can't ever hit what you can't see, especially in brush or mid-ranges with changing light conditions. That's where my aging eyes get their hardest workout. I was pleased to have the opportunity to try Leupold's Mark AR 1.5-4x20mm scope on a pair of rifles. With the duplex reticle at minimum magnification, I was comfortable using the scope in heavy brush. Set at 4x, it gave more than adequate magnification to bring targets into my shooting comfort zone out to around 240 yards. The scope's capable of more than that, but I'm not going beyond my abilities to hold steady in a basic rested or prone position. The scope's light (about 9.5 ounces), short (9.2 inches), and quick to zoom with positive feel and quick function. I set the scope for my eye, locked the "fast-focus" eyepiece, and had no problem getting on target.
Light, bright, and affordable. Leupold's Mark AR 1.5-4x20 mm can help you see better at close to intermediate ranges.
What really caught my eye on this scope was the fact I wasn't going to have buyer's remorse from the price. It's a very capable piece of optics with an MSRP of $349. I've seen it online at prices as low as $279.99.
Here's a confession: I do not clean my firearms as regularly or as well as I should. That's why I got excited when I got a call about a company called Fail Zero. Honestly, I thought it was another of those wonder lubes that would keep my stuff running slick as a whistle after it was applied. When a box arrived, I admit, I was surprised. It was not a lube kit, spray, or even a wipe for my AR's internals. It was a completely assembled bolt and carrier system and new hammer - in a nice wooden box. It is designed to replace those components in my rifle.
Since getting that surprise, I've had those components in several different rifles, in exactly the same operating manner: no cleaning or lubrication. Since the claim was "never needs lubricating" I tested it that way. I was surprised when it worked as claimed for more than 2,500 rounds through several rifles. On reason for the multi-rifle testing was just to see if it would work in a variety of manufacturer's guns (it did). The other was the simple fact that I didn't know anyone individually who had enough ammo to give it a thorough testing. But the testing from gun-to-gun seemed a better test than most for a component that makes "just drop it in" claims.
As pretty as you'll ever see FailZero components. I like them when they're nasty dirty and still slick operating.
We all fired a variety of ammo, maintained our gear differently, and found the EXO Technology, an acronym for a coating process that gives "permanent dry lubricity" performed as promised. EXO Technology is in use by both law enforcement and military units, so it has stood up in tougher tests than I could derive. But that durability comes at a price. The components for 1911s or AR-rifles are available on the Fail Zero website (www.failzero.com
) and prices range from $123.35 for an AR Bolt Assembly to $660 for the 1911 Upgrade kit (Slide, receiver, hammer and trigger assembly kit).
Finally, an add-on that came to me completely by accident. While visiting U.S. Shooting Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma recently, fellow visitor Dave Reeder, combat tracking instructor and writer, asked me to look at something. From his backpack, a strange-looking AR-stock. Dave, unlike me, has the occasion to use all sorts of tactical gear- including body armor, LBG and more.
With all that gear in place, normal stocks don't fit very well and put the operators in some strange positions to get aligned behind their weapon optics. The Tactical Duostock's butt angle mades it possible to get a stable lock on their weapon and quickly get solid line-of-sight on your optics. All those things mean more when you're in combat, but it didn't take long to realize that the same things can be said for guys moving from warm to cold-weather shooting conditions.
The Tactical Duostock- it really isn't missing a piece or bent, it's designed to get ARs in better shooting alignment faster.
I liked the way it looked, and took Dave up on his offer to take a unit home to give it a try. It's now on my rifle - I like the way it feels and fits. If I were doing high-speed, low-drag work, I'd probably put skateboard tape on the end of the stock for better grip in a variety of conditions, but at $89.99 for the universal stock or $129 for the kit that will convert a fixed-stock to an adjustable Tactical Duostock, it's not a budget breaker. See for yourself at www.duostock.com
Those are a few of the components that you might consider for a new rifle, a buildup or simply "tricking out" your rifle. With the prices of ARs coming back down from the stratosphere, these components could quickly double the price of your rifle.
Remember, I am writing about things I like. Fit and "look" are subjective - lots of people consider the "modern rifle" to be somewhat homely.
I can answer that objection with some really good-looking wooden furniture I've seen for them, but since I haven't seen or used them on a rifle myself, that's better left for another time.
-- Jim Shepherd