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Posted: 1/18/2013 9:06:01 AM EDT
I need to go about things backwards, and am looking for some input.
But first, here's what I'm going to use it for, and why I'm doing it all wrong.
For the attention limited, you can skip halfway down to the questions.


In 8 weeks, I'll be moving out of the country for a year. When I return, I'll be married to my fiance of 4 years.
She has unfortunately grown up and lived through some pretty horrible examples of irresponsible firearms usage and handling. It will take me time, years, to gain her full trust in that area, and demonstrate to her how I was raised regarding firearms. THE GOOD NEWS: All previous guns are grandfathered. Anything I have now, I get to keep and use. But after the wedding... let's just say I harbor no illusions about making any significant firearms related purchases for the next ~5 years ;)

I have just recently become very interested in 3gun. Better late than never I suppose! I'm patient, and not the type of person to quickly forget things, so I honestly expect that 3gun will become a hobby for me when I return next year. I don't have cable TV, I've never seen the "pro level" competitions beyond a 90 second youtube clip, I don't have any rosy aspirations of fantasy like that. I simply want to improve my multi-discipline shooting, and I see 3gun competition as the perfect platform to do so. I have some limited past experience in slow fire precision rifle competition, but nothing requiring speed and accuracy, and nothing with pistols and shotguns. I figure I'll probably run in the tac limited and maybe tac irons class.

So that's why I need to build an inexpensive, slightly above entry level 3gun rifle, now, in today's crazy market, and without having ever shot a 3gun match before. Crazy? Yeah, probably. But I'll do the best I can with what I got :) ... Rather than split my money and have two mediocre rifles, this rifle will also do some double duty as a SHTF rifle or all around plinker, but the focus of the build and deciding factor of most parts will be for 3gun.

The final consideration is physical fitness. I'm a programmer by trade. I eat well, but I don't work out, so I lack any significant muscle mass. I realize that is something I will need to improve on over the course of the next year, but weight will definitely be a consideration. I've always favored small and light.

Here's my main questions, I'll keep it simple:

BARREL LENGTH:
Here is my biggest area of indecision about what length barrel to go with. A little 3gun experience would go a long way here, but I just don't have it!

I've owned a few AR's over the years, and currently have a 20" fluted barrel AR, with a cheap heavy quad rail and a bipod. She was adequate for the bench shooting I was doing... but way to heavy for me to shoot more than a couple unsupported shots. (fail for both 3gun and shtf)... Over the past month, without 3gun in mind, I have been slowly collecting the parts to build a lighter weight 14.5" barreled carbine (plus a pinned MB) that I would be comfortable shooting and carrying away from a bench. I have an 11" Troy Alpha rail from Midway, and I may have a source for a 14.5" Daniel Defense Govt. profile barrel w/ carbine gas. Everything is mostly returnable and exchangeable at this point.

Thoughts on that one? It seems many people are using an 18" barrel. I'm not worried 500yd accuracy (It will be a long while before those seconds matter on my score), but I am thinking more about shot followup time. In which case my lightweight + carbine are bad news for that. I'm thinking about changing the 14.5" carbine  to a 16" midlength barrel as a tradeoff between shorter & light weight vs more muzzle rise. Will it be noticeable enough to matter? I'm also thinking about that switch to have the freedom to try different comps without surgery on the barrel...

COMPENSATOR: I have a YHM 5C2 - does the Miculek comp that I've been seeing a lot actually offer a significant performance increase over the YHM, enough to warrant serious purchase consideration?

UPPER: How important is the quality of the upper being used? Right now I've got one of the AO stripped uppers midway seems to perpetually have in stock. I'm assuming as long as the parts line up and it cycles reliably, that will be enough for now - am I going to suddenly find myself wanted to replace the upper shell in a year or two?

OPTICS: no questions. I need to experiment with what I have first. I'll have to find a way to make that purchase next year.

LOWER: no questions.


If you've read this far, THANKS! I appreciate any thoughts are or experience you have to share.






Link Posted: 1/18/2013 1:27:47 PM EDT
[#1]
I don't have the big match experience some of the regulars on the forum have... 4 of Kyle Lamb's North Carolina (North American) Tactical matches and the 6 Ft Benning matches plus a couple of Area 6 3 gun matches... the first "big" match I shot was one of the North Carolina matches and it set the tone for my rifle and shotgun as to barrel length.... we shot a lot from actual automobiles with rifle and shotgun... the 16" carbine length gas upper worked well, the 26" 1100 was soon a 21" 1100....by the time the Ft Benning 3 gun matches started I had upgraded to a RRA full float 16" mid length with a modified Miculek brake (opened up the rear wiper to minimum thread diameter for 1/2x28)....with a second hand TA01, it worked well enough for a 12th place finish on the long range stage for FB3G 2009...my trigger is a RRA NM in an ArmaLite Eagle lower... a Frankengun with an A1 stock.... I have a lot of fun, and occasionally shoot a good stage... for me the 16" is a good fit... I did not like the muzzle heavy AR15T stainless that I cut to 18"...I'm sure others will have different opinions....good luck
Link Posted: 1/18/2013 8:31:26 PM EDT
[#2]
16" is the minimum - don't mess with that 14.5"/permattach nonsense. If you go 16", go midlength gas system. A 16" barrel is OK out to several hundred yards, but runs out of gas beyond 350 or so - that's when an 18" or 20" starts to make more sense. Find out what distances they shoot to at your local matches so you can make an informed decision. For 3-Gun you don't want to go too light either - a midweight is the best. Even if you aren't Arnold Schwartzenegger, an over-light barrel's muzzle will feel very nervous, and your splits/accuracy on close targets will start to suffer.

An 18" or 20" barrel is generally better because its rifle-length gas system is softer/smoother shooting. Why not save your $$$ for now and upgrade your existing 20" rifle? Get rid the tacticool rail handguard and bipod, and replace with a light weight, smooth free-float handguard of at least 12" length - 15" is better (I like the Midwest Industries SS15). To reduce weight, send the barrel to Adco and have them turn it down a little under the handguard - tell them to want to keep the accuracy so not to go too light. I'm not usually a fan of turning down barrels like this, but given the parts drought right now this is probably your best option. Have them install the new handguard at the same time to save buying the tools yourself. Add a good competition muzzle brake (the YHM you have now is a flash hider only, and does nothing to mitigate recoil) - the Mikulek is excellent for the $$$, and definitely WILL deliver a huge performance improvement.

You don't say what optic you have, but my strong advice is buy the best you can afford - buy once, cry once. Return all the other tacticool parts you bought, and buy a decent scope and mount. I shoot Tactical Limited division and won't use anything but Aimpoint 2MOA red dots and LaRue mounts. The Burris TAC30 gets great reviews if you prefer a low power zoom.

One item you don't mention, but which is the most important IMHO is the trigger. A GI trigger is a piss poor option for 3-Gun. Get a good single-stage match trigger. I really like the JP if you have the skills to install one.

Again, I strongly recommend working with the rifle you already have as it will get you to a match-ready rifle faster than starting from scratch. Shoot a few matches or a whole season, then come back later - after the panic has subsided - and design your ideal 3-Gun rifle based on what you do and don't like about the modified 20".

Link Posted: 1/18/2013 10:21:26 PM EDT
[#3]
Link Posted: 1/20/2013 1:07:04 AM EDT
[#4]
If only I could Jesse, if only I could. I can build it now, and later on I can sell it and rebuild it, but I HAVE to get something now... So I'd like to try and get as close as I can, blind and all :)

A few responses and updates:

I might just build/modify both rifles.... While I will most likely need to sell one of them by the end of next year, I was planning on trying to keep a spare AR in stock for now, given the slimate. So I'll try to rebuild the 20" frankengun (I didn't build it, someone else did, and later had great need of selling it quick). Barrel on it seems pretty good, and a lower is a lower in this market! Shopped around for 15" free float handgards, didn't find anything in stock in Troy or VTAC, but I did find one of the older style MI SS15 in stock. Assuming it's in stock tomorrow, I'll probably pick one up and start modifying the 20" AR. A handguard and brake should do wonders for it. Interesting idea for Adco... they're only a few hours from :)

And in the meantime, I'll still build a 16" mid along side it (IF I can get my hands on a 16" mid barrel!)... 14.5" would have worked well before 3gun, but pinning the MB on the barrel is just bad news for 3gun flexibility. 16" it is. Maybe one day I'll change the 16" or the 20" out for an 18", but that will be ~2+ years down the road. And I have access to the tools I need (AR specific tools that is, I'm no machinist!)

OPTIC: I've got a pretty good idea what to do for the optics. I shot irons growing up, scopes later on. I have a variety of scopes, none suited to this form of competition. I picked up my first ever red dot a few months ago, a relatively inexpensive but decent sightmark tube. I need a bit more shooting time with the red dot before I make the call whether to invest in a good red dot or a good scope, although my guess is that I'll go with the scope. But I won't skimp on the optic when that time comes :)

COMP: seems to me that a good comp is pretty important, Doesn't seem like the right place to save $50, so I'll probably get *something* closer to the $100 range, that will also be less punishing to shoot near other folks. I've just started looking into it, but it seems there's plenty of good options out there, hard to go wrong with a PRI MB QC or a SJC Titan. Better yet, it's one part that's actually in stock and available!

TRIGGER: I haven't decided what to put in for a trigger just yet. Parts availability may play a role. Honestly I don't think I can go wrong with any of the big ones out there. But I will definitely be putting something in :)











Link Posted: 1/20/2013 6:49:52 AM EDT
[#5]
Link Posted: 1/20/2013 7:59:23 AM EDT
[#6]
mm, forgot to mention. I don't reload YET (I'm sure that will be coming). I've got enough .223 put back to shoot the first season without worry. BUT it's all 55gr ammo. So that alone would probably be enough reason to favor an 18-20" barrel. Don't think I'll find an 18" in this market though, so 20" it is :)
Link Posted: 1/20/2013 1:30:48 PM EDT
[#7]
Quoted:
mm, forgot to mention. I don't reload YET (I'm sure that will be coming). I've got enough .223 put back to shoot the first season without worry. BUT it's all 55gr ammo. So that alone would probably be enough reason to favor an 18-20" barrel. Don't think I'll find an 18" in this market though, so 20" it is :)


Then give serious consideration to spending the $$$ on a reloading press/setup instead of a second rifle. The fanciest rifle in the world is useless without ammo, and with current prices you will be saving around $300 per k.
Link Posted: 1/20/2013 3:34:13 PM EDT
[#8]
Quoted:
Quoted:
mm, forgot to mention. I don't reload YET (I'm sure that will be coming). I've got enough .223 put back to shoot the first season without worry. BUT it's all 55gr ammo. So that alone would probably be enough reason to favor an 18-20" barrel. Don't think I'll find an 18" in this market though, so 20" it is :)


Then give serious consideration to spending the $$$ on a reloading press/setup instead of a second rifle. The fanciest rifle in the world is useless without ammo, and with current prices you will be saving around $300 per k.


Already in works, but next year.

"Honey I need this because it will save us money while I do what I love"
sounds MUCH better than
"Honey, I need this because it goes bang better".

And besides, I can always sell the second rifle to fund it if need be, and if not, then I get to keep the rifle AND the reloader
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