Jack in the box
A CUSTOM ALL-IN-ONE AR-15 SOLUTION
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 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.
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.