Jack in the box



A sin­gle AR-15 build as­sem­bled for a mul­ti­tude of shoot­ing ac­tiv­i­ties

At some time you may have heard of the say­ing, “A jack of all trades is a mas­ter of none.” That fig­ure of speech is meant to im­ply that some­one who is fa­mil­iar with a great num­ber of sub­jects is not as knowl­edge­able in any one of them as an expert is in a sin­gle topic. Though this dis­parag­ing re­mark might ring true at times, the cus­tom AR-15 you see fea­tured here puts up a good ar­gu­ment for an al­ter­nate ver­sion of the say­ing: “A jack of all trades is a mas­ter of none, but is of­ten­times bet­ter than a mas­ter of one.” The 5.11 Tac­ti­cal hard case con­tains enough fire­power to tackle any num­ber of shoot­ing sce­nar­ios—from a fast-paced, close-in car­bine class or ca­sual week­end plink­ing to mid-range pre­ci­sion shoot­ing and com­pe­ti­tion ri­fle matches. This cus­tom­ized kit was built and out­fit­ted from the ground up and cen­ters around a shooter who wishes to have most of what he or she re­quires for a wide range of shoot­ing all con­tained in one sim­ple pack­age. In other words, the con­tents of this case set them up for any num­ber of shoot­ing en­deav­ors.

“built for a wide range of shoot­ing en­deav­ors, all in one sim­ple pack­age.”

The Foun­da­tion

The ba­sis of this cus­tom as­sem­bled Jack of all Trades kit is a sin­gle AR-15 lower re­ceiver that shares two very dif­fer­ent up­per re­ceiver as­sem­blies. The lower re­ceiver as­sem­bly started out as a stripped Aero Pre­ci­sion Gen 2 lower. Not just a run-of-the-mill forged lower, the Aero Pre­ci­sion Gen 2 in­cor­po­rates an up­per ten­sion screw that al­lows the fit of the up­per and lower re­ceivers to be fine-tuned with a ny­lon-tipped ten­sion­ing set screw that is in­serted in the grip tang of the lower re­ceiver. This pro­vides for a tight fit with any up­per it is mated to. It also features a dif­fi­cult-to-dis­cern flared mag­well that as­sists in smoother mag­a­zine reloads. The lower is fit­ted with a Gun­tec USA En­hanced Trig­ger Guard as well as the Magnetospeed M-se­ries Grip Sys­tem. For a more de­tailed look at this in­no­va­tive grip sys­tem, read our full re­view of it, Fill­ing the Void, else­where in this is­sue. Other ac­cou­ter­ments in­clude Strike In­dus­tries en­hanced lower parts such as a Strike Switch am­bidex­trous safety se­lec­tor, Multi-func­tion End Plate and Anti-ro­ta­tion Cas­tle Nut, Ad­vanced Re­ceiver Ex­ten­sion, and Viper Mod-1 Stock with op­tional Viper Rub­ber Buttpad.

The Strike In­dus­tries anti-ro­ta­tion cas­tle nut de­serves more at­ten­tion for its de­sign in­ge­nu­ity. It comes with a re­versible re­ceiver ex­ten­sion end plate that can ac­cept three dif­fer­ent sling mount op­tions, in­clud­ing an anti-ro­ta­tion QD socket and a sling loop, as well as an Hk-style hook loop. What makes the cas­tle nut special is that it does not re­quire peen­ing in or­der for it to be se­cured to the end plate. In­stead of peen­ing the plate to se­cure the cas­tle nut, a small socket head setscrew is screwed into the pre-drilled and tapped re­ceiver plate to keep the notched cas­tle nut in place. Fu­ture re­moval of the re­ceiver ex­ten­sion no longer re­quires the dis­lodg­ing of a peened cas­tle nut, but a sim­ple re­moval of a setscrew in­stead. This al­lows easy, re­peat­able changes to the AR-15’S buf­fer tube as­sem­bly while keep­ing it locked in place when re­quired.

The heart of the lower re­ceiver as­sem­bly is its cut­ting-edge trig­ger and buf­fer sys­tems. The KE Arms SLT-1 Sear Link Tech­nol­ogy Trig­ger is a drop-in unit that is un­like any other AR trig­ger we’ve seen be­fore. It lacks a dis­con­nec­tor, which KE Arms says cre­ates a more ef­fi­cient cy­cling method. The sin­gle-stage trig­ger has a clean break at about four-and-a-half-pounds, and its re­set hap­pens so fast that we were hard-pressed to de­tect it. This is one fast fir­ing trig­ger.

“a sin­gle lower re­ceiver shar­ing two very dif­fer­ent up­per as­sem­blies.”

Housed in the buf­fer tube is the re­mark­able Shoot­ing In­no­va­tions Re­coil Re­duc­tion Sys­tem (RRS). Like the trig­ger and cas­tle nut de­scribed ear­lier, this item is an equally in­no­va­tive piece. Shoot­ing In­no­va­tions ex­plains that the RRS was de­signed to com­pletely re­place the AR-15’S stan­dard buf­fer and noisy buf­fer spring to re­duce felt re­coil by 30 per­cent. This multi-piece sys­tem may look com­pli­cated, but trust us when we say that it works—and that it works well.

One Up­per, Many Uses

The first of two up­per re­ceivers in our

Jack of all Trades kit features an En­hanced Light­weight Fluted 16-inch bar­rel by Bravo Com­pany USA (BCM). The shorter of the two

up­pers is meant for ca­sual shoot­ing to more in­tense car­bine com­pe­ti­tions and tac­ti­cal classes. The BCM bar­rel was cho­sen with th­ese uses in mind. The fluted BCM bar­rel weighs un­der a pound and a half and features a 1/7 twist rate and a mid-length gas sys­tem. It has a con­tin­u­ous ta­per pro­file de­signed to of­fer op­ti­mal bal­ance and in­creased per­for­mance in semi-auto carbines.

We were ex­cited to check out the Shoot­ing In­no­va­tions LMB Low Mass Bolt Car­rier Group (BCG) that this up­per was fit­ted with. The fin­ish was su­per-slick and the com­plete BCG, with bolt in­cluded, weighs a measly 5.9 ounces. Cou­pled with the RRS buf­fer sys­tem, it seems like it’ll be a very fast and lightre­coil shooter.

The bar­rel and BCG sit in an Aero Pre­ci­sion Gen 2 stripped up­per re­ceiver. Don’t let its looks fool you; this up­per is forged, al­though it is de­signed to have a “bil­let look.” The re­ceiver was matched with Aero’s At­las

S-one hand­guard in a 15-inch length. The cen­ter por­tion of the top of the hand­guard features no rail sec­tions for weight re­duc­tion rea­sons, while the front and rear sec­tions do fea­ture Pi­catinny rails for ac­ces­sory mount­ing. An­other nice de­tail is that the rail was made to blend seam­lessly into the Gen 2 re­ceiver’s top Pi­catinny rail pro­file. Slung un­der the hand­guard is a Strike In­dus­tries Link Curved Fore­grip for in­creased front end con­trol.

At­tached to the bar­rel is a Gemtech Quick­mount 5.56mm Muz­zle Brake. When used by it­self, the muz­zle brake is said to re­duce felt re­coil and muz­zle climb, which re­sults in faster fol­low-up shots. Gemtech’s line of Quick­mount muz­zle de­vices can also ac­cept both Gemtech si­lencers as well as the Blast Jacket blast de­vice. Both de­vice types can be quickly mounted with a sim­ple twist of the wrist.

The 16-inch up­per is shown with a Blast Jacket at­tached to it. The Blast Jacket does not re­duce the sound at all, but what it does do is throw blast force, smoke and other de­bris for­ward and away from the shooter. This is a great fea­ture, es­pe­cially when shoot­ing prone on the ground where dust and dirt can be kicked up if the muz­zle blast is al­lowed to run amok.

Sit­ting on top of the up­per is the pop­u­lar Holo­sun HS515CU red dot op­tic mounted in a lower 1/3 co-wit­ness Mid­west In­dus­tries MI-QDT1-1/3 QD Mount. In case you haven’t heard, the HS515CU is com­pat­i­ble with any Aim­point Mi­cro com­pat­i­ble mount, which is handy. This Holo­sun model features the pop­u­lar 65 MOA cir­cle dot ret­i­cle that is switch­able to a sin­gle 2 MOA dot and is pow­ered by both a so­lar panel and CR2032 bat­tery. Back­ing up the red dot is a set of flip-up iron sights by Mag­pul. The front and rear MBUS Pro sights are made from ro­bust steel and of­fer re­li­able sight­ing in case the pri­mary op­tic is ren­dered in­op­er­a­ble.

For low-light sit­u­a­tions, the up­per re­ceiver is also equipped with Sure­fire’s new M600IB Scout Light with In­tel­libeam Tech­nol­ogy. The ad­vanced 600 max­i­mum lu­men weapon light con­tin­u­ally ad­justs light out­put so that it is al­ways at an op­ti­mum level. The user can con­cen­trate on more im­por­tant things than

the flash­light. For ease of ac­ti­va­tion, a Sure­fire re­mote switch is at­tached via a Mag­pul ST M-LOK Tape Switch Mount on the left side of the rail. The M600IB it­self is mounted on the right side of the rail with a Mag­pul M-LOK Off­set Light Mount.

For­ward of the Sure­fire’s tape switch on the muz­zle end of the rail’s left side is a Crim­son Trace CMR-206 Rail Mas­ter Uni­ver­sal Green Laser Sight. The com­pact yet pow­er­ful green laser is ac­ti­vated by tabs lo­cated to the rear of its body and it is de­signed to fit both Pi­catinny or Weaver-style rails. Crim­son Trace reports that the CMR-206 of­fers the bright­est green laser al­lowed by law (5mw peak, 515nm, Class 3R). It of­fers two hours of run time and three modes of op­er­a­tion: mo­men­tary, strobe, and con­stant-on. The green laser is perfect for quick run­ning and gun­ning at closer ranges, but can be dif­fi­cult to pick up at ex­tended ranges un­der bright sun­light.

Go Long

Now that the bases are cov­ered in the closer ranges with the 16-inch up­per, what this kit needs is some ac­cu­rate, mid-range reach. An 18-inch AR-15 bar­rel shoot­ing qual­ity match 5.56mm rounds should hit tar­gets re­li­ably and ac­cu­rately out to 600 yards and be­yond. The goal of our sec­ond up­per is to give the Jack of all Trades the ad­di­tional abil­ity to cover more ground in terms of dis­tance and ac­cu­racy.

This mid-range up­per is built on a Gun­tec USA AR-15 Stripped Bil­let up­per re­ceiver.

The up­per is fin­ished with a Strike In­dus­tries AR En­hanced Ul­ti­mate Dust Cover and Strike For­ward As­sist. The Gun­tec USA up­per is sold as a set that in­cludes the com­pany’s 15-inch

“The shorter of the two up­pers is meant for ca­sual shoot­ing to more in­tense car­bine com­pe­ti­tions and tac­ti­cal classes. ”

Mod Lite Skele­tonized Se­ries M-LOK Hand­guard. The hand­guard has M-LOK ac­ces­sory at­tach­ment points on the top, bot­tom, left and right and a short length of Pi­catinny rail on the muz­zle end for the at­tach­ment of a back-up iron sight.

The ac­cu­racy for this up­per is brought to you by a Bal­lis­tic Ad­van­tage 18-inch, .223 Wylde cham­bered, Spr-pro­filed bar­rel. The bar­rel is made of 416R stain­less steel and is ag­gres­sively fluted for con­sid­er­able weight sav­ings. Bal­lis­tic Ad­van­tage claims that the fluted bar­rel is al­most a pound lighter than a com­pa­ra­ble non-fluted bar­rel, all with­out sac­ri­fic­ing any ac­cu­racy. The bar­rel has a 1/8 twist rate and a smooth-shoot­ing ri­fle-length gas sys­tem.

Like the 16-inch up­per, this one uti­lizes a Gemtech Quick­mount Muz­zle Brake so that the Blast Jacket and a Gemtech One si­lencer can be swapped be­tween both. The One is a .30 cal­iber sup­pres­sor made of ti­ta­nium, which helps it main­tain a light weight over other sound sup­pres­sors. It mea­sures about 7.8 inches long, weighs just over a pound, and is rated to re­duce sound by 32db. Both up­pers also use BCM am­bidex­trous Gun­fighter Mod A44 charg­ing han­dles for pos­i­tive ma­nip­u­la­tions. What’s unique to this up­per are its BCG and gas block. The Shoot­ing In­no­va­tions Su­per Smooth BCG is ex­actly what it sounds like. It’s a full-auto-pro­file bolt car­rier group that is ex­tremely smooth. To help tune the up­per to run smoothly and on a va­ri­ety of am­mu­ni­tion, a Seekins Pre­ci­sion ad­justable gas block was in­stalled.

“the goal of our sec­ond up­per is to give the jack of all trades the abil­ity to cover more ground in terms of dis­tance and ac­cu­racy.”

Sta­bi­liz­ing the ri­fle is a UTG Re­con Flex M-LOK Bi­pod. The bi­pod di­rectly at­taches to the left and right sides of any M-LOK hand­guard and

The Aero Pre­ci­sion Gen 2 lower in­cor­po­rates an up­per ten­sion screw that al­lows the fit with the up­per re­ceiver as­sem­bly to be fine-tuned.The M5E1 uses stan­dard DPMS 308-pat­terned com­po­nents, so it’s good to know that up­grade accessories are plen­ti­ful.

Far left: The KE Arms SLT-1 trig­ger is a drop-in unit that lacks a dis­con­nec­tor, which the man­u­fac­turer claims cre­ates a more ef­fi­cient cy­cling method.

Left: The Shoot­ing In­no­va­tions RRS is de­signed to re­place the stan­dard buf­fer and buf­fer spring to re­duce felt re­coil by a claimed 30 per­cent.

Slung un­der the Aero Pre­ci­sion At­las S-one hand­guard is a Strike In­dus­tries Link Curved Fore­grip for in­creased front end con­trol.

Far right: From left to right—low Mass BCG, Su­per Smooth BCG, and the RSS buf­fer sys­tem are each made by Shoot­ing In­no­va­tions. BCM’S Gun­fighter Mod A44 ambi charg­ing han­dles are used in both up­pers.

Right: Aero Pre­ci­sion’s Gen 2 up­per looks like it’s bil­let, but it’s ac­tu­ally forged. The Holo­sun HS515CU is both bat­tery and so­lar pow­ered.

Our sec­ond up­per as­sem­bly is based on an Aero Pre­ci­sion Gen 2 stripped re­ceiver and Bal­lis­tic Ad­van­tage 18inch Spr-pro­file bar­rel.

The mid-range up­per is equipped with a Nikon Op­tics Black Force 1000 1-4x scope se­cured by Warne mounts.

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