Why Did I Build It?
This gun was designed to fill a couple roles for me. I had recently sold my first AR, an off-the-shelf Bushmaster M4 with the intent to build my dream gun. (ok, an economical dream gun. My actual dream gun is anything from Cobalt Kinetics, or Taran Tactical) One of our goals at My First AR15 is to show you what you can build for the cost of an off-the-shelf rifle. My needs for this gun were as follows:
- It needed to perform in competitive shooting. Trying a 3-gun course is on my bucket list.
- It needed to be accurate and comfortable at 300+ yards. For bragging rights, varmint hunting, and… zombies.
- It had to look like epic. I wanted something that looked unique, like nothing else you’d see at the range.
- It had to be affordable. My goal was to keep this build under $1,200.
If you were thinking that I had some similar demands for my 10.5″ pistol, you’d be correct. I once again chose Ghost Firearms for my upper, and I went with one of their matching Titanium Blue skeletonized lowers to finish it off. I settled on the blue color after seeing that they had a blue completed upper with a gorgeous stainless steel dimpled barrel in stock.
This was my third build using Ghost’s stuff and once again I’m blown away with the quality and custom look they are able to offer for the price. The two things I absolutely needed from this gun that none of my previous carbines had to offer, was I needed a lot of magnification so I could comfortably reach out and touch someone at 300+ yards, and a light-weight trigger. A standard mil-spec trigger, with its hefty 5.5 lb trigger pull was going to get in the way of competitive and long-range shooting. As I previously mentioned, trying out a 3-gun competition is on my bucket list, and I knew I wanted to future proof this gun, making sure it would perform acceptably for a novice 3-gunner. Obviously, there are other upgrades that intermediate and expert shooters would choose, but I needed something that if I got the urge tomorrow, wouldn’t inhibit my already modest skills.
Here’s what I decided on:
- Ghost Firearms Elite Completed Upper In Blue Titanium Cerakote I had seen this upper on Ghost’s website while ordering parts for previous builds. It had been at the back of my mind for months, and when I saw that it was still in stock, I had to have it. Free-float hand guard, diamond-dimpled stainless barrel with a 1:8 twist, chambered in 5.56/.223, and matching stainless muzzle break. This thing turns heads. Price: $369
- Ghost Firearms Skeletonized Stripped Lower Receiver in Blue Titanium Cerakote I knew I wanted the lower to be a matching color, and the striking look and weight reduction of the skeleton variant was a bonus. Made from 7075-T6 Forged aluminum. Price: $119
- Ghost Firearms Nickel Boron M16 Bolt Carrier Group M16 Bolt Carriers are a bit heavier than the standard AR15 variant. This improves dependability in cycling of the gun, but adds about an ounce in weight. For more information regarding the differences, a nice write-up can be found here. Price: $129
- Ghost Firearms LPK and Buffer Standard Mil-spec buffer and lower parts from Ghost. Price: $65
- Elfmann ELF-SE Drop-in Trigger I spent a deal of time perusing the web for quality, light weight triggers in the sub-$200 price range. This one looked excellent. If you’re not a fan of flat triggers, they have the same model in curved configuration. It has zero creep, a very crisp break, and installed easily. Price: $169
- Mission First Tactical Battlelink Stock Comfortable to shoulder, minimalist-style stock. Quality feels superb. This thing has excellent reviews. Price: $49
- ATI X2 Pistol Grip If you’re looking for something with better ergonomics than a standard mil-spec or Magpul pistol grip, look no further. Note: The grip comes in two pieces and has one extra screw compared to your usual mil-spec installation. Bolt the hard plastic piece in per usual, and then slide the rubbery, grippy bit onto it until it snaps into place. Then install the last screw at the bottom. Price: $20
- Primary Arms 1-6x24mm Scope in gray and Mount I knew I needed at least 6x magnification to be comfortable at long distances with this build. This scope was highly recommended by a couple friends of mine, and I’m quite pleased. PA’s ACSS reticle is an excellent system for adjusting for wind speed and bullet drop. The illumination is adequate, the glass is very clear. The adjustment ring is a little tighter than I think I’d prefer, but besides that it’s a fine piece of glass. Price: $310 with mount
Total Price of Build: $1,165 before tax, shipping, and FFL fees.
I’d eventually like to switch out my charging handle on this with the Strike Industries charging handle, or a similar enhanced model with an oversized latch. I have the Mil-spec one on there until while I research this upgrade more. It’s a similar story with the selector switch. I’m also trying to decide what I need on the front of the gun. I am trying to decide between a vertical fore grip and a bipod of some sort, so I’ll report back when I’ve made my decision.
“How Does It Shoot?” First Impressions
I’ll eventually have a long-term use report for this gun, but so far it’s been to the range only twice, and I’ve not even begun to “stretch it’s legs” so to speak, and throw some lead 300-400 yards as it was intended. I hastily sited it in with a laser, and took it to an indoor range the following day. Everything cycled and functioned perfectly in the first 150 rounds, the ergonomics provided by the ATI pistol grip and Battlelink stock are superb. It’s comfortable and lightweight to hold for extended periods of time. Accuracy was excellent, but so far it’s only seen about 100 yards or so. I will report back on this gun as it matures and I figure out more about how I’d like to use it.
If you think this build is sexy, silly, or have questions, throw us a comment below.