Saturday, March 14, 2015

AR Pistol Build Part 2


I finally had a chance to sit down and write the final part to the AR pistol build. Some things have changed with the law since Part 1 was released.
Here is a link for you to keep yourself informed and on the right side of the law. If you don’t want to deal with the headache of changing laws, get an NFA trust and buy a sbr and a suppressor. This post will still help with assembling and sourcing parts for any AR platform build. So we are clear, an AR pistol is not a rifle, disclaimer over.
Part 1 ended with the pistol lower being completed. The next phase of this build began with planning out the upper receiver for the pistol. I prefer to support smaller companies for gun parts for many reasons, customer service being on top of that list.

I wanted a top tier billet receiver, choosing SanTan tactical was a no brainer. These guys make some of the best uppers and lowers on the market. I picked a burnt bronze for the color to change it up a bit. Enough can’t be said for doing business with smaller companies and will see why throughout this post. The guys from SanTan are all about interacting with their customers on social media; little things like telling a customer how sick their build came out goes a long way. Try getting feedback on your build from Bushmaster, DPMS, or Colt.

The barrel was next on my list. Again I wanted to go with a smaller company but wanted top tier performance. AR pistols have a bit of a bad reputation for having malfunctions due to the short gas system causing short stroking and other various malfunctions. This pistol is to be used as my home defense gun and cannot afford to have a malfunction of any kind. I did some serious research into companies who have the right attitude and put out high quality components. That is when I found Ballistic Advantage.

Deciding on the length of the barrel was not easy, this pistol needed to be easy to maneuver and 100% reliable. If you are having this same issue do this: IGNORE THE INTERNET and anyone who doesn't even gun. These people will just spew half truths from YouTube videos they've seen and act like they know what they are talking about. Do what I did and call someone who actually makes barrels and shoots these guns. I called Ballistic Advantage and explained my situation to the super friendly guy there and without hesitation he said, “You know what, let me get Clint to help you, he makes the barrels.” Again name one company who will do that. Clint got right on the phone, he was genuinely engaged and interested in my build and really gave me that warm and fuzzy of what customer service really is. I told Clint I wanted a 100% reliable pistol that I could trust with my life. Clint asked me a series of questions ranging from what muzzle device, BCG, and buffer weight I planned to use. He made a few suggestions on what he typically does to make his pistols run without issue. We agreed to go with their 10.3” barrel. He then mentioned that he has a line of barrels called the Hanson Series. This barrel profile was developed by Clint Hanson and this is a brief description from their page on exactly what a Hanson series barrel is.

“The Hanson Profile, just like the quality and accuracy you have come to expect from BA, the Hanson continues this pattern. This barrel is essentially shoulder-less, symmetrically limiting barrel “whip”. The Hanson is designed to return to its home position sooner than other barrels which are beneficial for follow up shots at a high rate of fire or full auto fire. It has lightweight feel without the lightweight limitations. It is truly ideal for what an AR-15 is meant to do.”


I went with the Hanson series and Clint promised me that if the pistol did not fire every kind of ammo out there without issue to send the pistol to him and he would personally go through the pistol and do what needed to be done to get it running. Again, try to get that kind of guarantee from any major manufacturer.

The next part of this build was choosing the muzzle device, this was a no brainer. I went with the Noveske KX-5. If you build a pistol you will not be disappointed with the flaming pig.

Now that the most difficult part was over I moved on to choosing a rail. I’m active on Instagram (Follow me) and when I was looking at some SanTan fitted firearms I saw this rail that looked like nothing I have never seen before. It was love at first sight. I immediately found out who makes them and was pleased to see they are a small company. I gave SLR Rifleworks a call and again a surprisingly pleasant person answered the phone. I shared my vision for this pistol and explained I wanted the rail to end at the beginning of the brake. We settled on the 10” Keymod Solo Series rail and added a couple hand stops for good measure. These guys have a connection to a company who coats their rails for them and for a small fee I was able to have my rail match my burnt bronze upper.

I wanted a BCG that would run problem free with little maintenance. I decided to go with the Spikes Tactical nickel boron coated BCG, these are a bit pricey but worth it.

Assembling the upper is really easy, just pay attention and have the proper tools. Just hop on YouTube and you can find plenty of great videos with step by step instructions.
Now came the tough part, choosing the optic. I have an Eotech EXPS 3-2 on my rifle with the Magpul Pro mbus and that combo is amazing, but I do not need something like that for this pistol. This pistol’s main purpose is to engage threats at a distance no longer than 100 yards. I didn’t feel the need for backup sights on this. For this setup I went for the Aimpoint Pro. This optic has earned a reputation for being super rugged and performing like an optic that is double the price.

I finished the assembly of the upper and all but sprinted to the range to test fire and zero the pistol. After having three fail to eject malfunctions and overall shitty function I went home crushed. This pistol that I spent this time and effort into was a dud. The next morning I called Clint at BA for some help and he dropped what he was doing to help me diagnose the issue. I explained the issues that I was having and we were able to come to the conclusion that the charging handle I was using was the culprit. It was warped and the finished was terrible. The charging handle was binding up the operation of the pistol, so I swapped the junk one out for a BCM Gunfighter mod 3. I went to the range the following day and wouldn’t you know it, the pistol ran like a sewing machine. I put 300 malfunction free rounds through the pistol and held groups far better than I was expecting for this length barrel.


I wanted to take the pistol to a course that would put it through a serious amount of stress, mud, and dirt. I used this pistol for the second day of Fighting Rifle taught by Tactical Response. The second day of this course was a brisk 45 degrees accompanied by a cold downpour all day.
Post course BCG
The only malfunction I had was due to a muddy magazine that created a double feed. We put approximately 600 rounds through the pistol that day and it ran flawlessly in the mud and rain.

Here is the link to the YouTube video I made from the course. 













Something to consider if you plan to build a pistol; a single point sling is key for maintaining a nice cheek weld while keeping that brace clear of your shoulder. All you need to do is push the pistol out and the sling tension will be more than enough to have a nice tight cheek weld.

My three favorites!

I couldn’t be happier with this build. The companies I used for this build have gotten a lifetime customer out of me based on this experience. If you have any questions about building an AR of any variation feel free to contact me and I’ll help you as much as I can.
What are your thoughts on the Pistol platform in AR and AK?
Let me hear your input!

Head over to Olmsted Risk Solutions to learn about how to run a PTR like a boss!


Say fit and keep that Warrior Mindset!