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.
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.
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.