If you read the title to the tune of “You’ve got a friend in me,” then congratulations! You understood the assignment.
This started as an IG Post, but I am going to expand upon it a little here.
The ‘Friend Rifle’ is a concept I cherish. It is part of the hospitality of hearth and home, a service that any of my close friends can call upon at their need, or leisure, as the case might be. If a friend needs a bed to sleep in, I’ve got them, and as part of that they also get an appropriately capable carbine. Does your guest room come with a guest boom, for the repelling of rapscallions? Did you angry Vodka swilling neighbor cross the border during the late hours of the night?
Obviously, this isn’t for just any casual acquaintance. I have a higher than average allotment of gun savvy friends though, and your personal list should be exclusive too. There are grave potential legal repercussions if you are not discerning in your friends and their armament.
However, with these friends who like to travel, or do travel for professional reasons, should they end up in my neighborhood I’ve got them covered. A place to stay, and a rifle just in case. This negates any necessity on their bringing their own long guns if that would be more inconvenient than is worth putting the hassle into, especially flying. There is always headache and risk of theft flying with firearms.
Built by friends, for friends
The concept of a guest gun, or a friend rifle, isn’t new. It’s actually an old concept under the customs of hospitality that the homeowner offering shelter is also an offer or protection, but those able to take up arms in defense of their host are also held to that obligation.
The dual concept that this particular firearm fulfills is fairly new, since it relies on serendipitous circumstance as well as intent.
Everything on this rifle, and the rifle itself, all came by way of friends of mine. Good deals, good trades, or good opportunities put each piece in my purview and I was able to grab it up and put it all together. Everything here was sourced from a friend. Rifle, optic, light, trigger, sling, and even the furniture changes all came out of resources one or another friend of mine had at hand.
By the cache of all of that good karma, and the great people behind it, I put together an absolute unit of a rifle that I would unhesitatingly take myself and therefore hand to a friend in dire circumstances.
It’s an LWRCi M6-SPR, one of the improved AR’s that have come out of the 21st Century push to continuously improve upon the M16 and M4. It is topped with the nigh indestructible VCOG. It is illuminated by the redoubtable Surefire M600DF. It ignites the chambered rounds with Geissele’s legendary SSA-X in an M4 “Government” configuration that I don’t even see on their website (but it was in distribution somewhere, because it was a retail product), it has it’s control surfaces all enhanced in whatever magic this particular model contains.
Oh, and it’s all ambidextrously set up, rocking my preferred BCM furnishings for grips and B5 Bravo stock. I got you, my left handed compatriots.
The Friend Rifle vs a ‘Buddy Gun’
The LWRCi M6IC-SPR is my Friend Rifle. I have several other rifles too, but those are more Buddy Guns at the moment.
Allow me to explain.
The Friend Rifle, or a Hospitality Carbine if you will, is one expected to perform in a serious manner. It is built on expecting to be used as in a duty oriented role.
The Buddy Gun, the one we bring if a buddy wants to tag along to the range but doesn’t have their own stuff, is more leisurely. That buddy might be new to the sport, or just the casual hobbyist who has fun hanging out with all of the other guys and gals when they shoot. It’s not your best gun, it probably isn’t your worst either, but it probably tends to catch all your castoff ancillaries as whatever rifle is your main squeeze gets the good stuff.
The Buddy Gun is for fun.
The Friend Rifle is the one you would seriously hand off to a friend to save their life. Whether they’re in a dire emerging situation with you and didn’t have their own (like they’re visiting and suddenly, surprise riots/invasion), or its a situation where they need to borrow the firearm to have something because they currently have nothing (one such friend lost everything in a fire and were in a motel of ‘less than stellar’ geographic location as they got things figured out).
These situations demand a higher quality grade than just a fun gun. It might be that they’re taking a course and need a rifle that is going to hold up to the demands of that more rigorous range environment. It might be something where lives are truly at risk. It might be that your toxic and aggressive neighbor(ing nation) is encroaching and you are out of options.
The rifle is just as seriously built as your designated primary, but with a focus on generality in its ancillary selection to accommodate the unknown user. Example: I run a specific LPVO, sling system, an offset optic, and a particular light. I have accessories supporting my body size, shape, and preferred placement. I am going to generalize more on the Friend Rifle, because who it gets handed to is unknown, but the selections will be of the same quality as my personalized serious use rifles.
These type of serious situations, while thankfully rare, are ones where I don’t want to hand off a Buddy Gun. This isn’t for fun. A rifle, med gear, a pistol with good holster, anything they can take custody of to bulwark for the emergency they, or we, are navigating.
I need that friend’s rifle to be operable, durable, and easy to use no matter which friend needs it. Tall, short, male, female, expert, safe novice, leftie, or right handed. I can’t treat it with the casualness of the Buddy Gun. It might be something I pass off and never see again, because the situation is just that type of situation, and I am okay with it. It might save my life in their hands
So when this situation came together the way it did, the new LWRCi got that job.
In short, it is my idyllic concept of the durable multi-role AR.
As such, I would want to be handed such a rifle in my time of need and I prefer to hand off such a rifle at need.
Why not the SCAR? Or X95? Or…
In short, while I like both of those rifles for my personal use, they are more specialized than the AR platform. The AR is exceptional in its role as the general contractor of the rifle world. The X95 is a master of interior remodels and the SCAR is an expert roofer and sider, by way of the housing comparison.
The AR is my best bet, and a high quality piston AR gives me some durability advantages, when I don’t know the circumstances of the need. I don’t know who is going to need it for what. Will it be a friend coming to their first shooting course with me? Will it be another friend who just had his/her house or apartment burn down and they’re housed up with me, or at a hotel somewhere? Will it be someone heading to help their family because their town is getting… hectic, shall we say? They need to act decisively in a short period of time facing unknown threat levels?
I don’t know. But I want the rifle to be able to cover down on the situation in a reliable way.
The Friend Rifle can do it. I can hand it off to someone who has quantifiable firearms experience, from novice to ninja, and the odds are good that they have time on an AR. I can familiarize someone on the layout, the quirks, the basic manual of arms to keep it running in a hurry. They get running and fixing the gun in a few hours of drilling.
One training montage later…
The AR is the best bet on prior familiarity, easiest to run for the most users, easiest to teach unfamiliar users, simplest to supply, and most capable for the most probable required roles.
But why a piston?
Some smarter folk than I have trended towards piston for the simple reason that it curbs the reliability numbers a little further in your favor (roughly half a percentage point). What that translates to in the real is a greater likelihood to get through a few magazines, even under really bad environmental conditions, before encountering a stoppage. If the piston gets me through 5 magazines in bad conditions, where the gas gun gets me 3-4, I want the piston. Especially when the piston didn’t cost me any more than the gas gun would (thank you, friend with a deal).
That’s the ultimate why of this particular Friend Rifle, the price on all the pieces was right. If other pieces had come together the rifle would probably look different. It would have a dot optic, or a different light, or *insert difference*. But the pieces would be of quality and suiting the role assigned, generalist carbine.
However, his is the first rifle I’ve put into the role that absolutely feels right. I put everything on it for the right reason and it is sitting in readiness exactly how I want it to be. That’s what triggered this particular article, if you’ll pardon the pun, was the rightness of putting everything together for it.
Logistics and repairs?
Beyond the scope of the user. Simply put, the rifle as it sits should need nothing beyond the most routine of maintenance. If it gets used to the point of parts failure, that would be an astonishing level of use for what is a borrowed and temporarily possessed firearm. They can then make the efforts to source a repair in the same manner I would have to.
If they cannot, chuck it and pick up the next rifle. Repeat as necessary.