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Buildsheet: Light & Bright Rifle

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Pairing Up Cloud Defensive and Ascend Armory

This buildsheet could almost be called a transformer — because it started as one thing and completely turned into another. Realistically, this could happen with anything that’s as modular as the AR-15, regardless if it’s a boat, car, or other type of rifle.

Bearing this in mind, for this issue we have a slightly schizophrenia build. The centerpiece of this buildsheet totally and completely surrounded the new Cloud Defense OWL weapon mounted light. It’s not hard to see why: with 1,250 lumens and a whopping 50,000 candela it makes for a more than excellent weapon light. And the better-penetrating warm color temperature is just icing on top of a rad cake.

While the form factor of the OWL is pretty close to some similar options, Cloud Defensive went one step further with their CORv1 rail, intended for a 10.3- or 11.5-inch barrel. The top of the CORv1 has a step-down to accommodate the OWL or a SureFire ST switch in a Cloud Defensive Light Control System, making for seamless installation. If you’re using a SureFire SR-07 switch or a Streamlight, you’ll want the CORv2.

One thing we found curious about the CORv1 is that there’s a step back up after the switch cutout. This means the rail doesn’t allow for anything else to be mounted in front of the switch; if you’re still into BUIS, the furthest forward you can mount the front sight is the rear of the switch step down.

If you want to rock an infrared laser such as an LA-5 designator or BE Meyers MAWL in conjunction with the Cloud Defensive OWL, you’ll have to get creative — however, for most people this isn’t a huge issue.

The receiver set we used came from Ascend Armory. This matched billet upper and lower pair was originally intended for lightweight builds, as evidenced by the aggressive lightening. What first attracted us to this company was the ambidextrous controls, not the weight. There are bolt locks and releases on both sides of the receiver, all easily manipulated by a trigger finger. There are a whole lot of so-called “ambi” receivers out there that only include a safety selector, but rarely do they go as far as Ascend Armory. We finished off the controls with a Radian Raptor charging handle and their Talon 45/90 selector.

Aside from the proprietary parts and pieces required for use with the Ascend Armory receivers, the lower parts kit was sourced from Luth-AR. While there’s not a ton of bling and bang, all of the assorted components were properly sized and finished.

For the grip we reached out to VZ. These G10 grips are so aggressively textured that you may want to break out some sandpaper before use. No worries keeping hold with one of these installed.

Late into the build we decided that this Buildsheet would be a “pistol.” We had a spare Palmetto State Armory CHF 10.5-inch 5.56mm AR barrel, so that was an easy choice for the upper. We utilized the excellent Maxim Defense CQB pistol brace for the rear end, as the functionality difference between the so-called brace and the stock itself is essentially nil — we say that having both the Real Deal and the CQB brace on-hand.

If you read our last issue of RECOIL, you know that we had a whole lot of good things to say about the Griffin Armament Paladin-5 silencer. Paired with the 10.5-inch 5.56 barrel, popping the Griffin on the end for the duration seemed like a no-brainer. The TL;DR version is: “Great tone, never take it apart.”

All silencers that actually work will return at least some gas back pressure. In lieu of using an adjustable gas block, we opted for a Bootleg Inc. four-position bolt carrier group. With four distinct positions instead of a gross adjustment of just suppressed or unsuppressed, you can easily tune the carrier to the suppressor being used. And a convenient bonus is that you can swap settings with a flat head screwdriver while it’s inside the rifle.

We’ve been playing around with some of the new(ish) SIG SAUER prismatic sights. We’ll say outright that if you suffer from astigmatism and all red dot sights look like balls to you, you should probably look at one. The particular optic we used was the SIG SAUER Bravo3 3x24mm red dot sight. While you may think that any magnification would be wasted on a build with such a short barrel, we have successfully used 5.56mm guns at longer ranges before — it’s not ideal, but 5.56mm is far more capable than most believe. While the SIG Bravo3 has Picatinny rails on three sides, begging for a micro red dot sight, we didn’t see a point with this particular mini-blaster. When mounted on a longer gun, or if you can’t get the hang of the both-eyes-open Bindon Aiming Concept (BAC), then perhaps you would want to consider a piggybacked or offset MRDS.

Ascend Armory Light Weight Match Billet Receiver Set: $610
SIG SAUER Bravo3 3×24: $480
PSA 10.5-inch CHF Barrel: $179
Griffin Armament Paladin-5 Silencer: $945
Maxim Defense CQB Pistol Brace: $380
VZ Grips Operator II Grip: $95
Luth-AR Lower Parts Kit: $65
Bootleg Inc 4-Position Adjustable Bolt Carrier Group: $180
Cloud Defensive OWL: $400
Cloud Defensive CORv1 Rail: $210
Radian Raptor Charging Handle: $85
Radian Talon 45/90 Safety Selector: $49
Ascend Armory Handstop: $40
Total: $3,718

Buildsheets: Past and Present

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