Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

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Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by quazi » Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:43 pm

I want an AR for target shooting and shooting varmints that are after my livestock (usually fox that after my chickens). What I don’t want is a heavy benchrest rifle, I want something that I could potentially carry around and that I can shoot off-hand.

What I have to work with:
*Most of a Ruger AR-556 (I sold off the gas block/front sight)
*Faxon 18” "gunner" profile barrel with a rifle-length gas port (5.56)
*Geissele trigger
(I have other bits and bobs, but I don't think I'm likely to be using them for this project.)

Goals:
*Weight: Less than ten pounds with optics and accessories (less than eight pounds would be cool)
*Accuracy: 1.5 or 2 MOA would probably be just fine, but 1 MOA would be good if the fox makes it to the far end of the hay field.
*Durability/reliability and cost: I don’t want it to be junk, but I also don’t want to spend thousands more on it. If possible I’d like something in-between, that’s of decent quality without spending double to make it 0.005% better, if that makes sense.
*5.56x45mm (this is more of a stipulation than a goal)

Other considerations:
*I’ve only done the simplest things on my AR and I’m a doofus when it comes to mechanical stuff.
*Shooting in dim or dark conditions is likely.
*I wear a headlamp, so I’m thinking I want offset irons.
*I’ll be shooting in cold and/or rainy conditions. I might be going from a thick coat to a t-shirt depending on time of year.
*I probably won’t be using a bipod, but I probably will be using a sling as an aid and jamming it up against improvised rests, so I was thinking a free-float handguard would be a good idea.
*The primary purpose of this rifle isn’t going to be home defense, but it is possible that it could end up being used for that job as well.
*I’m also looking to build a lightweight AR using my polymer lower that’s primary purpose will be home defense. That probably won’t factor into much, but I thought I’d mention it.
*Right now I’m not a sub-MOA shooter. I average about 1.25 MOA when I take my time. If I can get a rifle that shoots better than me that I can grow into, that would be swell as long as it doesn’t cost a lot more money.
*I would like to get a suppressor someday, although that will likely be at least a year down the road (probably longer).

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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by quazi » Thu Jul 06, 2017 2:44 pm

Barrel:
I’m thinking the Faxon barrel will probably work fine, but I’m not married to it. When I originally got it I was thinking that it was a good compromise design that I would use for both my heavy-ish target AR and light-ish AR. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea.

Handguard:
I need a handguard. I don’t like short, carbine-length handguards. I was thinking free-float would be a good idea since this is going to be something of a target AR. I’ve heard that Midwest Industries makes good handguards that aren’t crazy expensive, but I’m open to all sorts of suggestions.

KeyMod and M-LOK seem like good ideas. I’m not super particular, but I’ve heard that M-LOK works well on both plastic and metal handguards while KeyMod is metal only. Would M-LOK be more versatile? (I’m wondering because I’m not sure what kind of handguard I’m getting on my lighter AR and it would be nice if things were compatible.)

Stock:
I want a longer stock than my current fixed carbine stock. I like that fixed stocks don’t wobble, but at the same time I like that it’s easy to adjust for whether I’m wearing a heavy coat or not with an adjustable stock. The Magpul PRS seems cool, but it’s also a little spendy and probably overkill for my application.

I’m open to suggestions on either fixed stocks with a little adjustability or adjustable stocks. Maybe just a “normal” fixed stock with spacers that I can add or remove depending on the season?

Gas block and gas tube:
I definitely need a new gas block as I sold mine and a longer gas tube to go with my rifle-length gas system. I know basically nothing about these things. I wanted a handguard longer than my carbine-length one, as that was too short. Is it worth getting a low-profile gas block so that I can have the handguard as long as I want, or with a rifle-length gas system am I going to have a ton of room before I get to the gas block? I might get a suppressor someday, and those work best with an adjustable gas block, right? Is it worth spending the money to get an adjustable one now or should I not worry about getting one until after I actually decide to spend the time and money to get a suppressor?

Iron Sights:
I’m looking to get some off-set iron sights. My cousin has some and they seem to work pretty well. I frequently am wearing a headlamp and that makes seeing through a scope difficult. I’m thinking something aluminum and/or not folding would be good, as I’d be leaving them deployed most or all of the time and I don’t want to accidentally break them off on something. The trickiest thing might be that I want something weird: a notch-and-post sight and a relatively short sight radius. Peep sights and having the front sight too far away don’t work well with headlamps in my experience. I think I remember seeing a rear sight that had both a small aperture and a large notch, maybe that would work well?

Magnified optic:
I definitely want a magnified optic on it. I’m thinking about creating a separate thread for this as I’m more picky about scopes than other things. Right now I’m leaning towards something like a 1-4x or 1-6x, but if I could get something like a fixed ~3x that was better in a lot of ways than a variable of equivalent cost that would also be an option. Illumination is strongly preferred. I think the reticles in the style of the ACSS or the one in the Vortex Strike Eagle are interesting, but definitely a secondary consideration.

Buffer:
Currently my AR is setup for a carbine-length gas system. Does this mean I should go ahead and get a new buffer and spring for a rifle-length gas system, or would it be better to wait and see how it performs before making changes?

Light:
I definitely need a light on this. I’m willing to sacrifice weight (to a reasonable extent) to get something crazy bright as this is intended to be an outside rifle. This one I think I’m going to put off until Black Friday as I have a light and mount I can use right now.

Trigger:
I’m going to swap out the trigger for the Geissele I got on sale, as switching back and forth between the stock Ruger trigger and my Savage Accu-Trigger is disappointing.

The rest:
I’m thinking about leaving the receivers, handguard, bolt, etc. just the stock Ruger AR-556 parts, unless there’s a good reason not to.

Tools:
I know I want to get one of those AR vice block thingmajigs. The last time I just wrapped a towel around it and tried to be careful with the vice, which was lame. Any other tools that would make my life easier?


Now that I’ve used my AR for a few years and got to try a few others I think I have a better grasp on what I like, but I still don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to buying components and getting everything put together. Any assistance and suggestions would be appreciated.

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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by brothaman » Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:56 am

If you want a good tight fitting adjustable stock, look at MFT stuff. The ones I have fit nice and tight. They aren't super expensive either.
Also, for your purpose. I don't think you need the offset Irons or a Fixed 3x. Try a 3x9 or a 2x7. You'll be able you run on low magnification and still line up quickly. Even with a 1 inch scope on low mag you should be able to make snap shots. I don't think you'll need Irons at all. Think of the Mod H rifles. I'd spend that money form the offsets you planned on a good scope mount. But,.. all these things are subjective. This is just my take on it.
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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by Asymetryczna » Fri Jul 07, 2017 9:16 am

What about Victor longsprings? Can u trap or do you have loose running pets to worry about? I can hardly think of a firearm that won't take a fox, my first was with a Browning A5 12g and most others with a single shot .22lr ; so, I cannot think of any AR in any config that wouldn't work. Light, lowlight, no light - you must master the engagement. Fox are OODA-loopers.
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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by quazi » Fri Jul 07, 2017 12:47 pm

brothaman wrote:If you want a good tight fitting adjustable stock, look at MFT stuff. The ones I have fit nice and tight. They aren't super expensive either.
Also, for your purpose. I don't think you need the offset Irons or a Fixed 3x. Try a 3x9 or a 2x7. You'll be able you run on low magnification and still line up quickly. Even with a 1 inch scope on low mag you should be able to make snap shots. I don't think you'll need Irons at all. Think of the Mod H rifles. I'd spend that money form the offsets you planned on a good scope mount. But,.. all these things are subjective. This is just my take on it.
Thanks for the MFT recommendation. They are pretty reasonably priced, so it's nice to hear that they work well.

I'll have to check out the Mod H rifles, as I haven't heard of them before.

A couple reasons why I like the idea of offset irons, even when paired with a red dot, are glare from a headlamp and fog from my breath. Either one makes glass temporarily unusable, and all the shots I've taken at fox so far have been really fast. Of course, if I was trying to be sneaky I'd preferably not have my headlamp turned on, but it's nice to have options. (Face plants into the snow are another concern of mine, but thankfully that hasn't happened to me when carrying a rifle... yet. :lol:)

I was thinking about a more traditional 3-9x, but I'm not sure. I'm pretty quick with them as long as the eye relief is correct for me and I can get the rifle into a normal position. I'm leaning towards a 1-4x or 1-6x in a variable just because in my limited experience they have even less problems with eye relief when dialed all the way down.

Another option might be a red dot with one of those flip over magnifiers, but for some reason those have never appealed much to me.

A thermal scope seems like it would be really cool, and they're coming down in price. I don't want to spend over a thousand on the scope for this rifle partly because I think down the road I might get one.
Asymetryczna wrote:What about Victor longsprings? Can u trap or do you have loose running pets to worry about? I can hardly think of a firearm that won't take a fox, my first was with a Browning A5 12g and most others with a single shot .22lr ; so, I cannot think of any AR in any config that wouldn't work. Light, lowlight, no light - you must master the engagement. Fox are OODA-loopers.
My mom's boyfriend is a trapper, and we talked about setting some up last year. We do have a lot of animals running around though.

I think the best thing for me to do is build better fences. Another dog that would protect the birds (our are old and deaf) would be really good, but I don't want to take responsibility for another animal at this point.

I think that any firearm could work in the right situation, but both of the times I've had to shoot at a fox were pretty similar. It happened really early in the morning (~4 AM), involved both me and the fox running around a lot with me being barefoot in sleeping clothes. Once it was very light out (middle of summer) and once it was very dark (late fall). Funny thing is that both times the fox and I were in basically the exact same places, a little over fifty yards apart. The first shot was with a shotgun loaded with 00 and I missed (there was a little bit of fur and the fox didn't come back, but no blood that I could see). I think that was stretching the range of an cylinder bore shotgun. The second time was with a .22 LR and I nailed it in the head (I missed three snap shots at close range a couple minutes previously).

Another consideration might be that there are also coyotes in the area, and I'm pretty sure they've nabbed chickens from us in years past. They're bigger than a fox, so something with a little more juice than a .22 LR might be nice.

I'm of two minds, because on one hand a shotgun with birdshot could be used to shoot safely in more directions than a rifle. I wouldn't want to shoot my rifle to the East and I have to be a little mindful when shooting it in certain Westerly directions. On the other hand a shotgun with birdshot doesn't have very good range.

Maybe one of those rifle and shotgun combination guns like Savage used to make would be ideal? Or a double-barrel shogun with one of those insert adapters? Dang it, I wasn't trying to talk myself into another firearm. :lol: Even if I went that route I'd still have to finish setting up my AR, and I don't know if it would make a big difference in how I choose to configure it.

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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by quazi » Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:16 pm

So I'm looking at a Midwest 15" lightweight M-LOK free float handguard: https://www.midwestindustriesinc.com/pr ... g3-blk.htm

I'm also looking at a MFT Minimalist stock: http://www.missionfirsttactical.com/Pro ... spec-Stock
(I was tempted by the MFT Utility Stock, but I just don't know why I would pay $40 more for a little storage compartment.)

I figure I'm just going to buy the gas block and gas tube off of the Faxon website, as they don't seem to be more expensive than other places and I figure then I know it will work.

I'm still not sure if I should be buying a different buffer, since mine is currently setup for a carbine.

I think I'm going to keep my Vortex Spitfire 1x on it for now and wait until Black Friday to buy an optic. That give me more time to think and there will probably be some good deals by then.

ETA: I need to buy some sort of weird wrench to get my barrel nut off, right?

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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by 91Eunozs » Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:25 am

The barrel is fine, and the rifle-length gas system will make it softer shooting if anything. You should be gtg w/the carbine buffer and spring you already have in there and any generic low profile gas block. I'll send you one for free if you need one; all mine are .750" in diameter so confirm thta's what you have/need. Remember to pick up a rifle length gas tube as well.

You could get a heavier buffer and different springs to experiment, but I wouldn't do it unless you're having failure to feed issues. Even then I'd be more inclined to drill out the gas port in the barrel to whatever your gas block has and control any excess gas with an adjustable gas block.

What distance are you shooting? If less than 100 yards or so a simple red dot should suffice... Primary Arms is good value for the money. That would allow regular BUIS as well.

I'd go with a 13-15" free floated handguard; just ensure it has all the mounting hardware, including the barrel nut. Midwest Industries is fine, and there are generic versions all over ebay. You can get vise blocks and a barrel nut wrench cheap and do the barrel swap yourself.
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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by RickOShea » Sat Jul 08, 2017 11:44 am

Just double-checkin' here, but is this the Faxon barrel you have:

http://faxonfirearms.com/18-gunner-5-56 ... -4150-qpq/

If so, looks like it will need a .625 gas block.
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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by quazi » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:06 pm

RickOShea wrote:Just double-checkin' here, but is this the Faxon barrel you have:

http://faxonfirearms.com/18-gunner-5-56 ... -4150-qpq/

If so, looks like it will need a .625 gas block.
Yes, that's the barrel I have.

Thanks for the offer, 91Eunozs! Looks like I'll have to buy one, but they aren't very expensive.

Sounds like I should just stick with the buffer setup I have, which is fine with me since it saves me money and hassle.
91Eunozs wrote:What distance are you shooting? If less than 100 yards or so a simple red dot should suffice... Primary Arms is good value for the money. That would allow regular BUIS as well.
When it comes to fox I've taken shots at maybe ~5 yards and I've taken shots at ~55 yards. Our hay field has the potential for shots at over 400 yards, and I've seen predators hanging out back there before. Of course, I also have a bolt-action .223 with an 8x scope that I can go grab, but it's nice to have something that can do the job up close and far away as necessary.

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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by quazi » Sat Jul 08, 2017 3:25 pm

So, would this be the kind of wrench I need to get: https://www.midwayusa.com/product/12393 ... ench-ar-15

The Midwest handguard is supposed to come with a wrench, but I heard that most free float handguards have proprietary barrel nuts, so I'm guerssing that it won't work as a general purpose wrench..

The Ruger AR-556 has a proprietary delta ring, but I think the barrel nut is standard. Does this look normal to you guys?
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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by RickOShea » Sat Jul 08, 2017 4:04 pm

Yeah, that looks like a regular barrel nut. That PRI wrench ought to work on it.
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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by quazi » Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:10 pm

Cool, I'll probably start ordering stuff then. Any other AR-specific tools you guys think I'll need?

I'm probably going to mull over iron sights and optics until Black Friday. For right now I've got a fixed 1x scope that seems to work pretty well, it just lacks any magnification.

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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by quazi » Tue Jul 11, 2017 3:00 am

Goddammit my mom saw a fox hanging around the area today, so I think "I should put a long gun in my car in case I see it when I'm coming home from work." I step out the door and the damn fox runs right in front of me and I'm standing there with an empty shotgun in one hand and the shells in the other.

I loaded one as quick as I could and took off in the direction it went, but I couldn't find any sign of it. They are pretty damn fast.

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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by quazi » Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:39 am

I slept out near the animals. Woke up when I heard the ducks freaking out. Saw the fox. Blasted it with birdshot. The first shot hit it in the shoulder, which created a nasty but shallow wound. Second shot was to the head, which finished it off.

I don't think it got any of my birds. I'm glad I spent the time on the fences, even though it put a lot of my other projects behind.

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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by ultra magnus » Fri Jul 14, 2017 5:52 pm

Id think live traps would be easier on you, safer, and then you could release the cute little foxos somewhere far away.

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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by woodsghost » Fri Jul 14, 2017 7:31 pm

I"d also consider Federal Flight Control with #4 Buck. It will have a really tight pattern till maybe 15-20 yards, and still do at 50 yards what most shotguns do at 20-25. Plus the #4 will be safer for neighbors and still deadly on foxes.

Plus no real need for another gun. But keep up on the AR. You need that :awesome:
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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by quazi » Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:55 pm

ultra magnus wrote:Id think live traps would be easier on you, safer, and then you could release the cute little foxos somewhere far away.
Live traps are something I might look into.
woodsghost wrote:I"d also consider Federal Flight Control with #4 Buck. It will have a really tight pattern till maybe 15-20 yards, and still do at 50 yards what most shotguns do at 20-25. Plus the #4 will be safer for neighbors and still deadly on foxes.

Plus no real need for another gun. But keep up on the AR. You need that :awesome:
My mom's boyfriend gave me some old waterfowl loads that he had, but something like you're talking about might be even better. That might have a little bit too much range though.

I already own the AR, I just needed to replace some bits and get a few new bits, so it's going to happen regardless of what I do about the fox.

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Re: Moderate weight target AR/fox blaster

Post by brothaman » Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:17 pm

quazi wrote:
ultra magnus wrote:Id think live traps would be easier on you, safer, and then you could release the cute little foxos somewhere far away.
Live traps are something I might look into.
We caught a bobcat in a rabbit box once. Boy was that fun.
I bet you could catch a fox like that.
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