I know I don’t usually share much back story for my articles. Mostly because no one wants to hear the struggles of an aspiring writer; however, this time is different. In a time of pandemic and panic, guns, ammo, and gun parts are hard to come by. Everyone is currently in the market, and manufacturers can’t keep up. I held off writing this story until I had the money saved up for parts. I planned to order my parts then write about what I chose and why. After that, I would write a review of how everything came together. I was initially quoted an 8 to 12-week time frame on half my parts, so my plan was solid in my mind. However, a pleasant surprise happened. Within a week and a half, I had everything on my doorstep. I was able even to score a case of ammo a couple of weeks later. Now the gun is built, but due to a busy personal life and hunting season, I haven’t had the opportunity to shoot it. I still have an article planned to follow this one up, reviewing how the rifle shoots. I have a feeling it will be a fun article to write. With that being said, let’s discuss my latest build and what went into it.
Anyone in the AR world knows building your rifle is the ultimate in fun and personal expression. Whether it’s a simple black rifle or a colorful cerakoted one-of-a-kind competition rifle, you will enjoy it. The planning stages can be difficult with all the options out there. You have to weigh your options based on quality, price, and availability. Right now, demand is at an all-time high, and availability is key. Patience is a big part of that, as you may be waiting on back-ordered parts. If you are willing and able, the parts will come back into stock, and you’ll have your heart’s desire. (In my case, a little luck had all the parts quickly.)
I’ve had an upper with a bad barrel for years now that I’ve been struggling to decide what to do with. I wrote about a possible 9mm conversion on it, but when the time came, I decided to buy a complete 9mm upper instead. I also had a stripped lower for years with no purpose. I recently purchased a standard LPK (Lower Parts Kit) for it, which I found on clearance. Thus, my build began. When my stimulus check came at the beginning of the year, I was working and had no plans for the extra cash. I did the most American thing I could think of and bought my first NFA item, a Dead Air Nomad 30 Suppressor. I have a .308 Savage to put the suppressor on (my local coyote population will hate me at the end of deer season), but I search for things that can be used double duty. The .300 Blackout has been around for a while, and I’ve been looking for a soft shooting rifle that my 9-year-old daughter can shoot, which will also take game. All this evolved into my next build. I’ve built a solid .300 Blackout rifle along with a quality lower to make a gun I’ll enjoy, and hopefully, my daughter will too.
The Parts – Upper
For the upper, I needed a new barrel, first and foremost. The barrel is the most important and, for this build, the hardest to find. I didn’t have the money to convert my lower to an SBR, and I didn’t have a pistol lower. This leaves me with a choice of 16″ or longer in barrel length. Because I’m using it with a suppressor, I will also need a pistol length gas port location on the barrel. A 16″ .300 Blackout barrel with a pistol length gas system is a tall order. Most run that caliber with a 10.5″ barrel or shorter on an SBR or Pistol lower. This made my choices limited. I had the choices narrowed down to Rainier Arms Match .300BLK Barrel or Ballistic Advantage 16″ .300 Blackout. They are both from quality companies and have their advantages. I’ve known the guys at Rainier Arms for years now and have never known them to take shortcuts. When the time came, their barrel wasn’t in stock, so I went another way. I still want to try one of their barrels someday but was surprised by the speed I got the other parts.
When it came time to order, neither of these barrels were in stock, and I decided I would wait a bit. I was supposed to be waiting on other parts, so this made sense at the time. I decided the same day everything else came in to look on Brownells again and happen to find a Wilson Combat Recon 16″ Match barrel for $249. This was the price range I was looking for, and the barrel had great reviews. Plus, I’ve always been impressed with the Wilson Combat products I’ve had the privilege to shoot over the years and decided it was a sign. It took about four days to get my barrel in, and I was very impressed.
I’m also going to need a new gas system. My upper was an Adams Arms Piston Driven upper, and I am sold on the benefits of a piston-driven AR. However, the .300 has a shorter gas system than what I currently had, and with the suppressor, I need an adjustable gas block. I bought a new .300 Blackout Pistol Length piston system. With a suppressor creating more backpressure into the action of an AR, a piston system is even more important. I knew I would need it on this rifle, so despite the 8 to 12-week wait, I placed my order. This was supposed to be the thing I wait the longest on, but it ended up being shipped within a few days. The system was a bit trickier to install than their original, but with a little patience and a few bad words, I was able to get it properly installed using the instructions on their website. I have full confidence; it will work as good as my others.
Next, I needed a good optic to mount onto the rifle. The previous optic was repurposed on the 9mm. Because this is a hunting gun, a quality scope is on the list. I hunt in the hardwoods of North Carolina and don’t take shots longer than 100 yards normally. I don’t need high power, but since most shots are taken in the fading light of sunrise or sunset, clarity and good light transmission is a must. I looked for something like a 1-4×32 or close to it with quality glass for low light transmission. My job happened to have a big clearance event, and I got a smoking deal on a Leupold VX-Freedom 2-7×33 with the duplex reticle. For the type of shooting I do and the distance I will shoot with this rifle, this is a perfect piece of glass. I won’t mention how much I paid, but I will say it was 50% off the clearance price, so I wasn’t going to pass it up. I also found a good deal from Midway for the Mark AR scope mount by Leupold and decided the Leupold glass needed a Leupold mount.
Lastly, I want to use a QD mount for my suppressor with this rifle, so I’ll need to get a QD muzzle brake that works with my suppressor. I got the call in the middle of October that my tax stamp had come in, and the suppressor was ready for me to pick up. I was more than a little excited to finally get my newest toy after five months of waiting. The Dead Air system allows me to change my suppressor from direct thread to a QD mount using the two spanner wrenches it comes with and an aftermarket Key-Mo system they developed. The Key-Mo runs $249, which is pricey but less than a second suppressor and less of a wait. (That part is still on backorder, and I haven’t made the purchase yet.) When I picked the suppressor up, I noticed they had the comp I wanted in stock. Since they had the muzzle brake that I wanted, I went ahead and picked it up for the average market price of $89.95.
The Parts – Lower
For the lower, I was starting from scratch. I had a BAD ambi-selector that I picked up years ago while working in the AR manufacturing world. Then I got the LPK, which I used for my basic needs (roll pins, springs, etc.). I want to upgrade the trigger. That’s a major part of the rifle, and I wanted it to be good. I also needed a good stock and extension tube kit. I like to upgrade the grips on my lowers, but that isn’t a necessity for the immediate function.
One of my other deciding factors will be availability. When I originally made up my “Wish List,” Brownells had 3 of my parts in stock and able to ship. I had originally decided on the Ballistic Advantage barrel and a Geissele SSP Single Stage Precision Trigger because I could save on shipping by getting it all from Brownells. However, Rainier had a different Geissele trigger I liked more, in stock when it came time to order. I have always loved the Geissele trigger with the flat bow. When I first felt the cleanness of the break and short reset, I had the urge to own one. So Geissele was the way I was going to go.
Unlike most shooters, I prefer a single-stage trigger with a pull in the neighborhood of 3 to 4 pounds. To me, it’s that right mesh of light enough to be precise but heavy enough to dissuade an accidental trigger pull. The two I was looking at were the SSP Single Stage Precision and the Super Dynamic 3 Gun Trigger SD3G. Both come with a 3.5 lb break and an ultra-short reset. The 3-gun trigger is described as a ball bearing rolling on a piece of glass smooth. No take-up or grit is felt, and the reset is right there as you release. To me, this was the way to go.
I ended up ordering the 3-gun trigger from Rainier Arms and got it in a week. As far as price goes, both run about $240, which falls within my budget. My initial impression was that the description didn’t do it justice. It’s more like a ball bearing on a piece of glass with some high-quality lube to help. This is hands down the nicest trigger I own. When I opened the package, it had a warning about accidentally bump firing the trigger. I thought, at 3.5 lbs, how can this be. Once I put the upper on the lower, I figured it out. When they say the reset is right there, they mean right there. I have a feeling that with some trigger time on this gun, I’ll be able to do my best Miculek impression. If it does end up being an issue, they send the trigger with a 4.5 lbs spring to alleviate the issue. I can’t wait to try it.
For the stock, I bought the CMMG Ripstock stock kit. I work part-time in a big box gun store, and we had a CMMG rifle come in a few months ago with this stock on it. I had a chance to play with it for a minute before giving it to the gun counter to call the customer. The stock was solid locking, lightweight, and quick to deploy with a set extension. I have a Magpul UBR stock that I love for these reasons, except the weight. It’s on a competition rifle, so I don’t mind it, but for a hunting gun that my daughter will use, it just weighs too much. The Ripstock fit the bill for me and fit perfectly.
Altogether, the gun came out looking and feeling great. The weight is light, the action smooth, and it is ready to be sighted in with the new suppressor and put through its paces. I cannot wait until the day I find a few hours to play with it and get my daughter behind it. The build wasn’t the cheapest, but it also wasn’t the most expensive, either. Parts can be found and bought online, and stores are getting product in. My experience is probably rare, but the Lord blesses the patient. My advice is to be prepared to wait then be pleasantly surprised when it comes in quicker.
I believe that this build is going to end up being a range favorite. An awesome trigger and barrel paired with parts that I believe will be a perfect mix of accuracy and capabilities. With subsonic ammo and the suppressor, I think it will also be a very quiet and soft shooting .30 Cal rifle my daughter will enjoy shooting. With the right ammo, it should also be a formidable deer and coyote slayer.
I am aware that all builds won’t happen in a week. There is going to be a lot of waiting. It’s just the market right now. However, for a dream to come to fruition, you must be patient. Some things I was fortunate enough to get immediately. Some things I had to wait a little longer on. Some things I missed out on because I didn’t have the funds at that time. For example, I ended up with a barrel I wasn’t even considering because I didn’t have the money when Rainier had theirs in stock.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints recently about stores and manufacturers not having anything in stock. While I empathize with the complaint, I also know the other side of that argument. The stores are getting products in, and the manufacturers are producing their wares. The issue is everyone wants things right now. An example in my store is ammo. We get 10,000 rounds or more in on each truck, but people wait outside the store for 3 hours before we open to come in and make their purchases. It just doesn’t last that long. The same is for parts and guns. They are being made at peak capacity, but everyone is buying. The stuff doesn’t last long enough. I got a quote of a 2 to 3-month wait on some parts and have another email notification that I’m currently waiting on. I hate waiting for anything. Once I get a project started, I like to see it done, but that doesn’t always work out immediately. I have to be patient. I just waited five months for a suppressor. I think I can wait for a few more for parts.
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