Apex Gunsmithing
1Aug/15

Lightweight Budget AR-15 Mockup

I posted way back when about an AR-15 rifle build that wouldn't break the bank and would weigh in well under 7 pounds loaded.  It took a while to find the setup I really liked along with a quality pencil profile (0.625" diameter) barrel maker for a reasonable price, but I think I've got this nailed.

Test lower please ignore

There's still opportunity for shaving several ounces without going too overboard, but as it stands the rifle tips the scales at a comfortable 5 pounds, 12 ounces with a loaded 20-round Lancer magazine as pictured.  Don't believe me?

Still room for improvement though...

Parts List

  • Upper: Aero Precision Slickside ($85)
  • BCG: Aero Precision Nickel Boron ($175)
  • Barrel: Faxon Firearms mid-length pencil barrel w/ tube and ultralight gas block ($220)
  • Handguard: Midwest Industries 12" light weight SS M-LOK ($200)
  • Lower: TN Arms polymer hybrid lower ($40)
  • LPK: New Frontier Armory polymer parts kit ($35)
  • Stock Kit: Palmetto State Armory ($35 on sale)

That clocks in at $790 for the core bits, leaving out the grip as your choice or the A2 from the New Frontier LPK.  For a free floated 12-15" rail, decent trigger and nickel boron coated bolt group that's a phenomenal price point.  Throw on a $79 Primary Arms micro red dot or reflex type sight or the pictured set of MBUS backup sights and you're ready to go.

To shave further weight you could use a New Frontier hybrid bolt carrier or a Houlding (Faxon's sister company) lightweight steel bolt carrier, but both add at least $100.

To reduce cost a bit, substitute the nickel boron bolt group for a standard one, a basic hard chrome, or bargain hunt for other brands that may pop up for under $140 on sale.  Faxon is also debuting a carbon fiber free float tube in the near future which may compete with or beat the Midwest rails in price/weight, depending on your taste in handguards.

Needless to say, one of these rifles will be making its way to my office show floor as soon as humanly possible.  Combined with the soon to be fully operational Cerakote setup, a very snazzy lightweight rifle may be coming together!

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