The Ultimate Firearms Destination for the Gun Lifestyle

Buildsheet: A Different Kind of Thin Blue Line Build

We try to make sure that every entry in the Buildsheet column has a purpose or desired end use that appropriately shapes the build itself.

In this case, the idea came to us while coaching a new shooter with little-to-no experience running carbines in a dynamic training environment. So what would be an ideal rifle for someone not accustomed to shooting, or moving with 3 feet of pew pew in their hands? Lightweight would be highly desirable so it could be wielded by students of all sizes and builds. Adding features to mitigate recoil could also be useful.

Yes, yes, we know. Software over hardware, good training over cool gear. And we agree. But if we can utilize hardware advances to shorten the learning curve and more effectively suss out needed corrections, why pass those up just to thump chest? Accuracy ought to be as good as it possibly can, at least from a mechanical standpoint. This isn’t to “make the shooter better,” but to remove all doubt that misses and fliers are technique based, not the result of cutting corners on the build.

To shave weight, we talked to two companies who’ve made very good names for themselves in the light-and-fast arena of AR builders: 2A Armament and Battle Arms Development. The foundation of this gun is 2A’s Aethon receiver set, which weighs in at just over 13 ounces stripped. In the interest of keeping this rifle svelte, they also provided titanium takedown pins, gas block, and T4 compensator as well as a fluted buffer tube. Battle Arms Development came with their “BADASS” short-throw ambi safety selector, enhanced and skeletonized bolt catch, and enhanced mag release. The RACK charging handle you see here is also of Battle Arms provenance.

One of the most unique features on this build is the barrel, which comes to us by way of Northtech Defense. Their new Synergy barrels are a hybrid of titanium and 416R stainless. The obvious goal is the accuracy of stainless with the weight savings of titanium. Their 16-inch mid-length gas barrel weighs in at 22 ounces.

We sleeved the Northtech barrel with a Midwest Industries G3 M-LOK handguard. This forend is of the growing ilk that deletes most of the top rail for added M-LOK slots to reduce weight and enhance ergonomics for tape switches and light mounts. There’s still a short section of Picatinny rail at the muzzle end for a front iron sight. We added a set of fixed irons from Scalarworks. These provide enhanced functionality and reduced weight over legacy irons. We also utilized a Scalarworks mount for the Aimpoint Comp M5. A simple, rugged, no-nonsense optic, the M5 stands in a lower 1/3 co-witness.

The guts of this gun were given equal consideration. The bang switch is a KE Arms SLT-2. What we really love about this trigger, from a teaching standpoint, is that KE’s unique Sear Link Technology allows you to press the trigger and receive a positive click even with the hammer down. It also allows you to put the selector switch on Safe with the hammer down. This gives you a semi-automatic dry-fire capability, and full manipulation of the selector lever, without having to run the charging handle at all.

Once it’s time to go live, the Iron City Rifleworks G2 bolt carrier group comes into play. This group features a carrier, skeletonized at the rear for lighter weight and faster cycle time, matched to a bolt of 158 carpenter steel — both coated in their black diamond finish. We paired it with a Sprinco white buffer spring and a CTS AKTIVE buffer. Tuning an AR’s recoil system is a bit of an art. Combining buffers, springs, gas blocks, gas tube lengths, and muzzle devices requires some trial and error. We have experience with all of the components listed here and have gotten them to run very effectively in this or similar combinations. Your mileage may vary.

A VZ Grips pistol grip and a set of Rail Scales XOS panels accomplish front and rear grippage. The XOS panels provide full-wrap coverage with the Midwest handguard and can be had with cut-outs for seamless integration of vertical grips and hand stops, as pictured here.

Last, but most certainly not least, we sent the whole package off to P4 Coatings for the namesake GunKote job. For the uninitiated, this color scheme was hand-matched to the velociraptor “Blue” featured in the movie Jurassic World — to include dino-scale texturing. We think Jason at P4 slam-dunked fidelity to this prehistoric heroine, and tip our hats to our newly minted rifleman (riflewoman) who came up with the concept art.

The end result is a highly capable carbine that tips the scales at 5.62 pounds exactly as pictured and provides a new shooter with a platform that’s easy to handle, with a lot of built-in room for growth, that’s sure to turn heads and ring steel in equal measure.


PARTS MSRP
Aethon Receiver Set $500
Blue Force Gear Vickers push-button sling $80
Handguard: Midwest G3 ML 15” $200
Charging handle: BAD RACK $125
Barrel: Northtech Defense Titanium $689
Optics Mount: ScalarWorks Lower 1/3 $149
Optic: Aimpoint CompM5 $800
Fixed Irons: ScalarWorks $239
Grip/covers: Rail Scales XOS $233
BCG: Iron City Rifleworks Lightweight DLC $330
Titanium Gas Block $70
T4 Titanium Comp $130
Mag release: BAD EMR $22
Bolt catch: BAD Enhanced $15
Stock: MFT Minimalist $60
Grip: VZ Recon Gen 2 Short $85
Selector: BAD Ambi Short Throw $60
Trigger: KE Arms SLT-2 $199
Buffer: CTS Active $68
Buffer Tube: 2A Flute $60
Pins: 2A Armament Titanium $29
Custom Coating: P4 Coatings $650
Total: $4,793


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