Rifle Evolution

Posted: July 30, 2014 in Shooting
Tags: , , ,

This is how my rifle started its life, a standard, no frills DPMS AP4 Carbine. Nothing really interesting to see here, right? I agree. It wasn’t super flashy, but it was my first real rifle, and I was pretty happy with it.


Like all things in life, the evolution of my rifle was inevitable. After doing a fair amount of research on the AR platform, I decided it was time to start making some changes. The transformation began the following spring when I installed a 7″ Troy drop in quad rail and this absurdly large fore grip by Tango Down.


I thought that looked pretty cool, and the only thing missing was a red dot sight to replace the carry handle. I ordered a Primary Arms Multi Reticle sight as I was trying to keep to a budget and I had heard good things. (I’m happy to report that I still have nothing bad to say about the Primary arms optics. I’ve run them pretty hard and they have always held zero and I have found the battery life to be more than adequate.)

Ok, I’ve got a quad rail, this giant fore grip and an optic. Tacticool FTMFW! But it still needed something. Obviously it was time to class it up by adding some magpul accessories. You can’t be tacticool without some magpul gear. Enter the MOE stock and grip and XTM rail covers.


Yeah ok, that got a little out of hand. I ended up removing the top rail covers for a Blackhawk low profile rail cover. I threw the AFG on for good measure and I thought I was good to go.

Then I discovered ambi parts for standard right hand rifles.. What the…? Parts that will make running my rifle so much easier for the left handed masses?? Sign me up. And so more parts got swapped out for the Magpul ASAP sling plate, Troy ambi mag release Rock River Ambi Safety and the ArmaDynamics ambi charging handle made their way into the picture. And let me tell you, that shit was expensive. It ain’t easy being a left handed man in a right handed mans world. Adapt and overcome.. Check.

Finally, a Geissele SSA-E trigger group completed the mods, (Worth. Every. Penny.) and I was done. Really… I swear.


Why shouldn’t I be done? I had a decent rig. It was reliable, accurate and a blast to shoot. But, I have problems (admitting it is the first step). Like most gear nerds, I continued to look for the next best thing to customize my carbine. I mean, there just HAD to me something else I could do. In admitting that I really only used the dot in my multi reticle sight, I decided to lose the weight and go to the Primary Arms MD07 Micro Dot. I didn’t really love the AFG, so that came off and I put a short Magpul fore grip on instead. So far things were looking up.

Then, I made the mistake of taking a three day tactical carbine course. The training was outstanding, and it was great to check out and shoot other rifles with all manner of different options. The bad news was that I knew it was time to start working on it again. (Hi, my name is Matt, and I have a gear addiction) By the end of the week I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted my rifle to look like.

Cosmetics are optional, but malfunctions make you have to change things, right? After several out of character failures to extract, it became obvious that after nearly ten thousand rounds, my extractor spring had finally failed. Not really the best timing ever, but thanks to the kindness of one of the guys in class, a borrowed extractor kept me running. Then the gas rings went. Well, one of them any way. I mean, it actually disappeared. Can an AR15 run on two gas rings? Sure, but you know, not that well. Add that to the list.

Then the cosmetics. Standby AMEX, this is gonna hurt. Let me start by saying that I never liked the A2 Front Sight Base. After five good years I decided it was time to part ways and go with a free float VTAC Alpha Rail. So I did what anyone else would have done, I got some punches and tried like hell to get the pins out… They didn’t budge. Not even a little. And for my troubles, I managed to mangle them to a point where I was pretty sure they were going to come out it at all. Hmm. Ok, I have an idea. So I bought this:


Oh yeah, this is gonna be just fine.


Nope… Not actually. Looks like I’m gonna need a new barrel.

Son of a… I wasn’t counting on that. Of course the bright side here is that a new barrel would mean a new mid length gas system and low profile gas block. Enter the BCM 16″ 1/7 twist barrel and his buddies the gas tube and gas block. Huzzah.


Finally, I replaced the buffer tube and castle nut as they got pretty banged up when I initially installed the sling plate. Strictly a cosmetic fix, but it always bothered me.


As of summer 2014 here it is in it’s “final” configuration:


The stats:

BCM 16″ Barrel Mid Length
BCM Mid Length Gas Tube
BCM Low Profile Gas Block
BCM Extractor Spring Kit
13″ VTAC Alpha Rail
Magpul MOE Stock
Magpul MOE Grip
Magpul Ambi Sling Plate
Magpul Trigger Guard
Magpul Short Fore Grip
Magpul MBUS Sights
Magpul RSA
A2 Flash hider
Rock River Arms Star Ambi Safety
Troy Ambi Mag Release
Armadynamics ACLM Charging Handle
Geissele SSA-E Combat Trigger
Primary Arms MD07 Optic
DPMS Buffer tube – replaced damaged tube
Castle nut- replaced damaged nut

Needless to say, there isn’t much left of my original AP4. The receivers are still the same, as is the bolt carrier group, pretty much everything else has been changed. Aside from some wear on the lower from plenty of use, it’s pretty much a new rifle. I can’t wait to get it to the range and see how it runs.

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