It is Everyone’s Rifle

From Thunder Ranch, The Aero Precision Media Event. August 9-12 2019

The AR-15 is everyone’s rifle. It remains the premier multi-tool of the firearm’s world. No platform is more configurable to any user’s needs or adaptable from one need to another so quickly. No platform has greater commonality right now, the entire market builds to support the AR-15. AR’s are the most self sufficient modern platform, able to be completed from the bare receiver up with factory parts and very simple tools.

It is Everyone’s Rifle, and Aero Precision will help you build it.

Aero Precision and Ballistic Advantage held one hell of a get together to reaffirm just how true that working concept is. From a pile of factory ready to assemble parts to a functioning, zeroed, and ready to run duty carbine in the span of one gorgeous morning. Then putting that rifle to a hard run test in a 2-Day Urban Precision Rifle course, via the team at Thunder Ranch.

The Aero Precision & Thunder Ranch Media Event

Thunder Ranch of Lakeview Oregon at the Aero Precision Media Event
That view though

On August 9th, 12 of we humble writer folk gathered at the invitation of Aero Precision, Thunder Ranch, and their partners for what was to become one of the most entertaining, informative, and valuable media events I’ve had the privilege to participate in.

GAT Marketing, coordinated and brought us all out to this mountainous landscape, outside of Lakeview, OR.

You can build it, it’s your rifle.

Aero Precision Ballistic Advantage and  Rise Armament all forming this compact 14.5" barreled AR going to be topped with an eotech VUDU 1-6x scope
Rise Armament and Ballistic Advantage goodness inside.

Friday morning we sat down on an open air patio to a neatly laid out pile of parts. Aero emailed us what could best be described as a ‘rifle menu’ where we got to pick out all the good stuff we wanted to play with. I ordered a #1, hold the pickles.

Configuration #1: 14.5 ATLAS R-ONE Build:Price as built with optic $3257.61.
Price of parts available from Aero Precision/Ballistic Advantage: $1344.66

I wanted a compact mobile rifle that was a short as possible while still being Title I (non NFA). The parts list was precisely my kind of build. Much of it consisted of the same parts list that ended up in my SCDM project. Others were new and untried.

The not yet dirty dozen of us had varying degrees of experience building AR’s. We ranged from one who had never done this (or at least was willing to admit as much) to those like me who have armorer certifications and build a few for fun each year. The Pro’s from Aero and Ballistic Advantage who do this on the daily floated around us, giving us tips and generally demonstrating they ‘why’s’ behind the directions.

Other articles you’ll see on this event will probably detail the build process. I’m going to skip that one. Why?

They do a way better job of explaining it and visuals are everything when putting these together. For my part, I will say that the M4E1 receiver set is the greatest set of parts I have ever had the pleasure to work on. The threaded bolt catch alone saves so much aggravation and hitting things with hammers that it is the greatest of all time. I’ve worked on Colt’s and FN’s more than anything and the M4E1 spec is better than mil-spec, period. It is vastly more user friendly during assembly, maintenance, and parts upgrades.

As I get time I’ll review some of the major parts in detail, like the ATLAS, but suffice to say succinctly they have made a builder’s life easy.

KJ of GunTalk putting in the RA Trigger as I do… something… probably about to torque the ATLAS barrel nut, in the background. There were stations for the specialty tool items, specifically torquing the barrel and putting the receiver extensions on.

It was a productive morning.

Stache was around to assist us too. Also for head scratches… ok, exclusively for head scratches.

It’s your rifle, zero it.

By the early afternoon we had 12 functioning rifles. Time to zero those EOTech VUDU’s we mounted on top of them.

Brown Range, 100 yard zero.

There’s a mountain of data on the internet about proper zero’s. My personal favorite is a 50/200 confirmed at 200. But keep in mind that different rifles, sight heights, barrel lengths/muzzle velocities, and ammunition all influence your zero. Purpose and equipment choose your zero also. A rifle set to shoot hogs, prairie dogs, or coyotes at 200-500 yards will have a zero to match and a rifle set to burn holes into the chest of a home invader at across the room distances will too.

Zeroing also function tested the not yet dirty dozen to work out any possible bugs. My #1’s bolt had a tight fit but smoothed out after 100 rounds. Function tests are critical! Spend some good ammo and proper lubrication to work the parts in.

AR’s are a working balance of parts trying to do their jobs within fractions of a second, one part moving too fast or too slow will throw the entire thing into a mess eventually, either through greater parts wear or an unacceptable stoppage rate.

This concluded Training Day 1. Twelve working rifles.

Keith Finch
Keith is the former Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. He got told there was a mountain of other things that needed doing, so he does those now and writes here when he can. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. Teaching since 2009, he covers local concealed carry courses, intermediate and advanced rifle courses, handgun, red dot handgun, bullpups, AKs, and home defense courses for civilians, military client requests, and law enforcement client requests.