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Bargain AR Upgrades

RECOIL issue 11 looked at three bargain-basement ways to improve your AR, because although I love high-dollar kit as much as the next guy, I’m a cheap bastard at heart and would rather spend my money where it counts. After an eleven dollar trigger job, low profile gas block and smoothed-out buffer spring, our YHM 16 inch carbine was taken about as far as possible, without dipping into the BRF (that’s black rifle fund, for the uninitiated). At the NRA Annual Meetings I ran into a couple of worthwhile upgrades that don’t break the bank and are easy to install.

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The Rubber City Armory adjustable gas key is a simple way to tune your gas system to the ammo you’ll be burning. Most ARs are over-gassed in order to make them run on a wide variety of ammo, and those with carbine length gas systems are notorious for cycling violently because of this. RCA’s gas key features a set screw to control the amount of gas entering the BCG, so you can dial in your system to toss empties as near or as far as you wish. Unfortunately, unlike an adjustable gas block, it won’t reduce the amount of gas reaching the action, only where it ends up, so your cleaning chores won’t be lessened because of it. Total cost, 45 bucks.

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Crush washers are a cack-handed way of timing a muzzle brake and often result in having to reef on the gun in order to get it just right. Then you’re supposed to use a new one if you unscrew the muzzle device in order to mount a can. The guys at Faxon Firearms came up with an elegant solution to the problem in their Big Mouth brake, consisting of an outer sleeve which is threaded in the opposite direction to the 1/2-28″ muzzle threads. Just screw the brake into place, stop when it’s in the right postion and tighten the lock collar by hand. That’ll be 60 of your American dollars, good sir.