Why Did I Build It?
About 5-6 months ago, I decided it was time to jump on the PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) bandwagon. I wanted something that would readily fit in the car, would be easy to maneuver in tight spaces like the hallways & rooms inside my home in case God-forbid I ever had an intruder to dispatch, and I wanted it to use the same ammunition and magazines as my other ARs. I didn’t want it to look like just another “black rifle”, so I began searching the web for companies that sold hand guards, uppers, lowers etc that were cerakoted in unique colors. Cerakote is a durable, thin-film ceramic-based coating that is most often the material of choice for the colorful unique pistols and rifles you see on the interwebz. I also wanted top quality materials and tolerances, and it needed to be affordable.
Whew, that’s a tall order.
I stumbled across Ghost Firearms by accident a month prior to my build whilst researching “ghost guns”- a popular term used to describe an unregistered, unserialized gun made in your own home from an 80% lower. I was impressed by the pretty uppers I saw on their site so I did some more research on them. There’s not a ton of information out there about them, by all accounts it seems that they’re a small operation out of Daytona, FL. I put some feelers out in facebook builders forums, and no one had anything bad to say. Now that I’ve built several guns with their materials, and have fired hundreds of rounds with them, I can confidently say they’re top quality in the price range. They offer a custom look and quality at reasonable price. Their Tungsten grey upper caught my eye. I knew I wanted a 10.5″ barrel; as .223/5.56 has similar ballistic properties in a 10 inch barrel as it does in a full-sized 16″ barrel. I didn’t want to compromise accuracy with this shorter gun.
At the time I placed my order, it seemed every company that offered a Tungsten Gray cerakote lower was out of stock indefinitely. I found a shop that would take a plain aluminum lower and coat it for me; but as you can see in the pictures their coating is not the same color. In my opinion, it adds to the character and uniqueness of the gun, even if I was a bit disappointed by the mismatch at first.
Below is a list of the parts that make up my build, along with a description of what it is and has to offer:
- Ghost Firearms Completed Upper in Tungsten Grey This thing just looks and feels sexy. I opted to upgrade the standard black nitride barrel to stainless steel due to our humid summers. I am a huge fan of the look and utility of free-floating handguards; and the M-LOK mounting system is my personal favorite versus keymod or quad-rail. The last thing I wanted was this beauty corroding or rusting, plus it looks strikingly beautiful. I also upgraded from the standard “bird cage” style muzzle device to their “Ghost AXE” muzzle break. It looks epic and helps control recoil, which was something I was concerned with shooting a rifle-caliber round from a 10″ barrel. Barrel is 1:7 twist. Price with upgrades: $338
- Ghost Firearms Titanium Nitride Bolt Carrier Group Titanium Nitride has a gorgeous gold color, and more importantly it offers excellent durability and abrasion resistance. It also has considerably less friction than standard Mil-spec BCGs that don’t have any special coatings. Price: $129 on sale
- Aero Precision Gen 2 Lower Receiver As previously mentioned, I struggled to find a Tungsten lower in stock to finish this build. I found a shop that would coat a plain aluminum lower for me in-house, but the shade doesn’t match. It’s more of a bronze-ish color. Price: $99
- Ghost Firearms Mil-spec Pistol Build Kit I opted for the Nickel-boron coated trigger stuffs here. Corrosion resistant, and low friction. Also, it’s shiny… This package includes ALL lower parts, including the pistol buffer tube and buffer spring, and pistol grip. Price: $65 on sale
- KAK Shockwave Blade Arm Brace AR pistols just look naked without an arm brace in my opinion, I like how this one looks like a rifle stock and it is fairly comfortable to shoulder. It attaches easily, simply slide it over the buffer tube and torque down the included set screw. Price: $49
- Strike Industries ARCH 15 and LINK Curved Foregrip The bright blue gives the gun a nice splash of color. You cannot use a vertical foregrip on a pistol, but the LINK offers excellent ergonomics and multiple ways to hold your gun. As for the charging handle, the latch is oversized and the entire thing feels more solid than a typical Mil-spec offering. It’s a very worthwhile upgrade, and changes the entire feel of chambering the gun for the better. ARCH 15 Price: $32 LINK Price: $36
- Primary Arms Advanced Micro Dot This is really nice little red dot. It’s super bright (and adjustable), the glass is really clear, and it is rated for 50k hours of battery, which really appealed to me. I had to buy a riser for it to get it at a comfortable height when shouldering the rifle, I found an inexpensive no-name one on eBay for around $15. I’ve used Primary Arms products in the past and this fit the bill for a quality optic in the price range I wanted. See our review for more information. Price: $169
- Total Cost For Build: $917 (before shipping and FFL fees)
“How Does it Shoot?” First impressions & Long Term Use
The tolerances, fitment and finish for Ghost and Aero products was absolutely perfect. I’d like to mention, that it is common for a built AR to have some minor issues when they’re brand new. They should be well-lubricated before you hit the range for the first time, and an occasional malfunction right off the rip isn’t uncommon. I ran 200-300 rounds of Federal Brass in standard P-mags through this gun right away and it didn’t disappoint. Having not shot a pistol AR before, I was a little taken aback by the extra noise and muzzle flash from this build. All of that is normal in a short barrel firearm, but it was a new experience to me. Everything operated and cycled perfectly from the first round. I’m extremely pleased with this gun. It’s been to the range 3 other times and puts a smile on my face every time. If you’re considering building your own AR platform pistol, you should check out our article on the subject.
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