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Lots of our readers have declared that we’ve reached “Peak AR”, a notion I’m not quite ready to disagree with. At the 2016 SHOT Show, you couldn’t walk ten feet without seeing some sort of AR-15-related part, accessory, or rifle. Like many of our readers, perusing the racks of $2000+ ARs, I found myself wondering, “What happened to the affordable ARs I was promised?” This late in the cycle, there should be a glut of supply and a tapering of demand, leading to a glorious existence where $350 rifles compete for our hard-earned dollars…right? Instead, everything seems expensive and homogenous. Brownells and Aero Precision seem to have made the decision to right that ship, so to speak. But with an AR pattern rifle in a “real” caliber…

While I’m a dyed-in-the-wool fanboy of 6.5 Creedmoor, I’m not blind to the appeal of the venerable .308 WIN. The ease with which you can acquire ammo aside, it represents a very competent loading for target shooting and hunting. Add the fact that .308 WIN still does well downrange in sub twenty-inch barrels, and the appeal of a gas gun in an AR pattern starts to become very compelling. The problems with getting one are twofold.


First, they’re expensive. A M&P10 will set you back $1200-$1300. A bare bones DPMS Oracle will run about $1000, but if you wanted something like a free-floated barrel, you’d need to pay about what the M&P10 would cost you. And don’t even get started on the piston guns. In either situation, you get what you get as it relates to features. Which leads to the second problem, customization or DIY building.


I enjoy building my own AR pattern guns, and in my mind, there’s nothing on the market that I can’t build myself for less money. And in some circumstances, there’s some things that I can build that the market doesn’t offer. As an example, my sixteen-inch AR uses an Odin Works barrel and a BCM KMR hand guard, something that I can’t go out and buy already assembled.

Thanks to the widely adopted standardization in specifications for the AR-15, I know that everything will fit as long as it’s built to spec. Unfortunately, the AR-10 has never reached that level of standardization so tolerances vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Building becomes a lot harder when the specs differ from company to company. l_100018609_5.

In response to that, Brownells has teamed up with Aero Precision to offer a functionally “built” gun that just requires a hand guard and a butt stock to be complete. This ensures that you’re getting a functional gun out of the box. No need to tinker or build, and you won’t find yourself in the situation many AR owners do — with a box full of take-offs and the rifle you wanted all along.

The butt stock and the hand guard are two of the most frequently swapped parts on a build, so as long as you know what you want, this can end up saving you money in the long run. Brownells is pushing the Apex Machining hand guard and links directly to the BCM Gunfighter butt stock as part of this promotion. As it uses a mil spec buffer tube, any butt stock that fits one should be good to go. Here are the specs from Brownells:

  • Receivers – Forged 7075 T6 Aluminum Receivers.  Lower Receiver includes flared magazine well and upper tension screw to remove upper/lower play.
  • Finish – Matte black hard anodized.
  • Bolt Carrier Group – 9310 Bolt, 8620 Carrier and mil-spec components.  Bolt is High Pressure Tested, Magnetic Particle Inspected and shot-peened. 
  • Finish –Phosphate with chrome lined carrier & gas key.
  • Barrel – Chambered in 308 Winchester (accepts 7.62x51mm NATO).  1-10 Twist. Profile – tapered. 
  • Gas System – Rifle length with installed gas block and tube.  Threads – 5/8-24.  Finish is QPQ nitride.
  • Receiver Extension – Mil-Spec diameter buffer tube assembly with carbine buffer.l_100018609_3

Looking through the Brownells catalog, it appears that the price of the components alone would cost more than $999 (the advertised price), so from that perspective, they seem to have a winner. Upon seeing the press release for the rifle, I reached out to my contacts at Brownells and I’ve got one winging its way towards my FFL as we speak. The concept seems solid, but I’ll hold off on judgement until I see the execution with my own eyes. It appears that they’ve gone with fairly high quality components, but my guess is that the trigger will be typical mil spec. But we’ll see. Here’s hoping that Brownells leaves me pleasantly surprised.

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    • There isn’t a price yet…”Looking through the Brownells catalog, it appears that the price of the components alone would cost more than $999, so from that perspective, they seem to have a winner.”

  1. I only wish they used (or gave the option for) their M5E1 upper and lost the muzzle device. It’s a really nice basic setup to start with.

    • I just realized that I could make a rifle in .243 Winchester if Brownell’s offered it with a choice of barrels or with no barrel. (The .243 Winchester cartridge is a necked down .308 Winchester cartridge so I would not have to change the bolt carrier group.)

  2. The triggers on Aero Precision Parts kits Are I believe the best in the business They’re clean hardly know pre-travel no gritty feeling and break somewhat like glass at about 5.8 pounds. So I think you’ll be very impressed with the trigger even though it is a mil spec. I think they’re buying the triggers from Geissele Or LG which is Mr Guy leaves wife’s company. They only sell them to OEM manufacturers but there a mil spec trigger that’s built Very well known as a creepy crappy gritty feeling.

    • The grip retains one of the springs, so you always get one with a parts kit. There must be many thousands of them lying unused or discarded.

      I could get rich by inventing a clever spring retainer that will keep that pesky spring in place until you put on your MOE or whatever. I suspect the grip costs about 50 cents, so the retainer would have to come in around a nickel. Imagine future archaeologists unearthing A2s from our landfills. Real WTF moment for them.

  3. I guess I don’t understand. Tyler you start the article by talking about the vision of 350$ Quality AR fully assembled rifles: “there should be a glut of supply and a tapering of demand, leading to a glorious existence where $350 rifles compete for our hard-earned dollars…right?” then you discuss a $1000 rifle that still needs to be customized with stock and handgaurd. Thought you were making a point in the beginning until you got into the 1000-2000 dollar AR10s.

    IMO the Ruger Precision rile in 6.5 looks like a good offering with a retail price of 1200ish. But you still need a good optic tacked on to that.

    So where are these $350 quality 556 ar14 rifles you (and I) are dreaming about?

    • Agreed. I’m intrigued by this newest offering, even at the $999 price point. But this article was built up around the premise of $350 AR set-ups. As a result, the conclusion of the article does not follow the initial premise.

      I can buy a M&P Sport gen 2 for $600-$650 all day long. Is it worth it? Absolutely. I’d get really excited, however, if there was finally a comparable set-up for $350, which is what this article lead me to believe was being announced.

      • You guys are getting fixated on the preamble.

        Any good 2A supporter knows you should never get fixated on the preamble.

      • The price does not seem to be directly related to the cost of the components, but instead the demand for the products. The cost of manufacture is, I suspect, significantly less than half the retail asking price, such that the true whjolesale cost of components is closer to Tyler’s magic $350 mark.

    • AR14?? Just checking to see if Ruger finally made the Mini-14’s compatible w/ STANAG/GI mags……Anyhoo, I agree with you Pete. Love the .308, but jeeezz AR-10’s are expensive (and sometimes picky b******). Stock up on 5.56 while ya can. And “hi-cap” mags. Along with whatever cool AR toys, I mean, tools your lil heart could desire. Every time you buy an “evil assault rifle,” a liberal-Commy-tree humping , Democrat pot farmer married (excuse me, “civil-unioned”) to his box turtle craps themselves and keels over, leaving rainbow-colored skid marks on the ground……

  4. Sadly, the State of CT has ensured that I won’t be buying this. Well, at least until the USSC says otherwise.

    But if I were, I would want it without the bolt carrier, cocking handle and trigger. Because I’d want at least a NiB BCG, an Armageddon Tactical cocking handle and a Timney trigger. So why make me toss the ones it came with? Since I don’t have the tools to put the barrel on the receiver, and since nobody cares about the brand of buffer tube, it’s good that they’ve done those things, but the BCG, trigger and cocking handle are easy user upgrades.

    • I believe they supplied those components because components from other manufacturers may not fit in your upper or lower receiver. Unlike AR-15s where everything is pretty much standardized, AR-10s are not. (I only learned this two weeks ago myself.)

      Thus the emphasis on the fact that Brownell’s is offering a rifle with the most important components pre-assembled … allowing the buyer to customize the remaining components onto a standardized buffer tube and surface (to mount forward hand guards).

    • Likewise. Although all my uppers and lowers are all AR-15 compatible variants. I dread building a sweet AR-10 lower, only to try in vain to pin a slightly different spec upper on it. I’ve somewhat resolved to buy the Armalite AR-10 3 – gun, which I think is awesome, but don’t feel like spending over $2,000 on an AR-10. I really like stainless steel barrels, and I’m jonesing for an 18″ AR-10 barrel with a 1:10 twist rate. Also I don’t like the pencil barrels on some of the bargain AR-10’s.

  5. Aero sells the M5E1 complete upper with free float hand-guard for $595, I got a blem’d E5 lower for $110, add the $40 LPK minus trigger/grip, $20 MOE grip, $45 ALG trigger, $20 buffer tube and I’m in for $830 plus a stock. Great deal.

    • One question though how is the fit between the two receivers?? I’ve had some experience with the m5 e1 series 308 receivers and it seems to me that they leave a lot to be desired with the fit between the upper and lower. I prefer an upper and lower that don’t rattle or wobble Not so with the Aero Precision Mfive you one Series of receivers.

  6. Like a couple of people have said above, just buy the parts separately from Aero and then build the rifle yourself. Get a parts kit without trigger group and grip, then get the grip and trigger you want. Problem solved and you are still most likely under 1200 bones.

    • Out of curiosity, I headed over to Aero’s website and put together a parts list. I was able to find everything except the barrel nut on their site. Brownells had it listed though. So here’s the list of parts w/ their associated costs.

      -Stripped Lower – $185
      -LPK (w/ trigger and grip) – $89
      -Buffer Kit – $65
      -Complete Upper – $155
      -BCG – $199
      -CH – $30
      -Barrel – $250
      -Gas block – $30
      -Gas tube – $15
      -FH + Crush Washer – $14
      -Barrel Nut – $30 (Brownells)

      $1062 is the total cost. Going to the LPK only drops $44 off that cost. Add in the tools you’ll need to mount the barrel, which are different than the ones you’d use for an AR 15, and Brownells’ built gun still looks like a winner. Its close, but the built gun is less expensive.


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