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Thread: Conveting my AR-15 to match grade

  1. #1
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    Default Converting my AR-15 to match grade

    When I started shooting AR-15's just 3 years ago my main interest was wild hog hunting. Became interested in precision shooting when I mounted scopes on my AR's. A few weeks ago I met a former coworker (also a Jim) at the gun range. He was actually the CFO at the company we both retired from. He invited me to test fire his new Rugar precision rifle. I think it was a 6.5. The rifle was all decked out, upgraded stock, $300 bi-pod, and 24X scope. He had 6 rounds in the rifle. At 100 yards I could see the bulls eye was a 1/2" square plain as day. All six rounds hit inside the square a couple almost perfectly. I don't know who was more excited him or me over my shooting.

    His precision Rugar cost around $1200.00 although I found one on line for around $800, last years model. Thinking about
    buying a 24" or 26"match grade barrel for my AR-15, 223. Don't expect it to shoot like the Rugar Precision but how much improvement can I expect with a longer barrel. Thinking about setting up a complete upper receiver with the match barrel.

    opinions??????
    Last edited by jim Glass; 10-24-2018 at 11:19 AM.


  2. #2
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    The truth is that you are not going to see the most improvement by switching barrels.

    Match rifle shooting is a money game. People throwing a lot of money at problems that do not exist or make so little difference that the improvement is imperceptible.

    Your greatest improvement will be in the change to a target trigger and a good scope. That was the improvement you were seeing with the RPR, as well as better ammo shot from a bolt action platform.

    The good scope is normally just a case of throwing some money at a good brand name, but the good trigger is different. Best to go with a good drop in unit. If you decide to do the trigger yourself there is a learning curve involved where you find yourself with an AR that will not release the trigger, or will not reset, or goes full auto. (ask me how I know, go ahead ask!)

    Good quality ammo is also a great factor.

    The 20" barrel allows a longer burn time, higher velocity by about 100fps, but unless it is a target grade barrel it is going to give very little improvement and just that change alone is not going to make much difference in overall performance. The 20" barrel is a holdover from the original issue AR rifle and the limitation to 20" barrel is also to keep people from showing up with a 30" tube to gain advantage in sight radius back when they were shooting iron sights. It is the maximum length allowed, not the best length just hat is allowed.

    Also keep in mind that if you are going into organized competition there will be a set of rules one must adhere too on modifications from the standard rack AR rife. Trigger pull is limited, scope magnification is limited, specific hardware is required or restricted.

    So you are not looking at just a "new upper". You are looking at mods to the upper and lower all to a specific aim while keeping the balance of the rifle intact so that it will function flawlessly.

    I have one AR that I polished the trigger, installed a Leatherwood scope, free floated the barrel (which is a 16" PSA kit barrel) and using my precision reloads it will shoot into 3/4" @100. It will do better with my 6-24x scope but I find that a bit unhandy in the field and it only closes the groups down to around 1/2".

    I have a second upper that will not do the same, close but no brass ring, and it hovers around 1"@100. I think it needs its own ammo prescription but I refuse to have a different load in the cabinet for every AR I own!

    That 1/2"-3/4" is as good as my bolt action .223 using the same ammo. In fact, I bought the Savage bolt action just to have a comparison to measure AR performance too. I was rather amazed that the AR platform with just a smidgen of work would shoot as well as most bolt action guns.

    If you really want to see what an AR will do on targets go over to the NRA national match results and check out what throwing unlimited money at a problem will accomplish. They have both Service Rifle and Match Rifle categories and if you are looking at older results the rules have recently changed in many categories to allow scope use.

    http://thecmp.org/wp-content/uploads...f?ver=01242017

    Scroll down to page 31 for equipment rules.

    These rules exist in an attempt to reduce the expense of match shooting. They are trying to insure the guy with the most money does not win all the matches leaving the starter with a true service rifle wasting his time by competing.

    If you do not plan on using the AR in match shooting then do not restrict yourself by the match rules. Go for a 2 pound trigger, 24x scope and whatever else suits your fancy.

    Just be aware that AR competition rifles are like reworking 10/22 rifles. You can buy an AR rifle for $400, spend another $400 on a trigger, $1000 on a good scope, and $400 on a custom adjustable stock, couple hundred on adjustable gas tubes. Before you realize what has happened you have $2K in a $400 rifle and you have pulled the groups all the way down from 3/4" to 1/2".
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  3. #3
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    Hmmmmm... Well the idea looked good on paper. Thanks

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Oh I am not saying don't do it, just keep in mind that these things should go in sequence and the modifications considered based on how much real improvement you will get for the money you spend.

    I have had a blast working on my AR rifles just to see how much you can wring out of the stock kit components. Not many people would believe that you can get sub MOA accuracy out of a $400 AR kit gun with $20 worth of aftermarket parts thrown into it.

    And your capabilities are to be considered. I am getting about all I can get out of mine with the mods I have done. If I was way off from my bolt action results I might say the rifle needed this, that, or the other. When the AR shoots the same ammo just as good as a bolt action with varmint/target scope there is not much sense in me throwing a few hundred more at the AR.

    PSA makes a real good nickel plated trigger that replaces stock and it costs about $50. It works and it is safe. I gave me a 5 pound trigger that was real smooth right out of the package.
    https://palmettostatearmory.com/psa-...d-trigger.html


    There is also a trigger/hammer spring replacement available from Midway that is real good.
    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/57...-reduced-power

    I have one lower with a 2 pound trigger but that took a lot of work to make it work. With the AR you will get doubling and reset problems real quick if you mess with the triggers too much. You will also discover that the AR cycles so fast you will get real good 2 shot groups when it doubles!

    Made me almost cry when I fixed it.

    Then there are the scope options. I have found that the AR really shines in that one department. Having a flat top rail and using good quality quick release mounts I have found that I can swap scopes out on a singe platform and retain zero from one scope to the next. I can zero a 1-4x, LER 2-7x out on the hand guard, 3-12x which is my favorite, or the big varmint scopes all to one platform and change them without fear of losing zero or having to resight the gun. I have even swapped scopes between lowers and only been 1/4"-1/2" off zero.

    It is a service rifle, it is supposed to do that!

    It is a great big Lego set that shoots bullets. Play with it until you like what you have. You would not like the one I use and I do not have to like the one you shoot.

    But then you have to consider the fact that I am sitting next to a back porch pellet rifle that cost more than almost any firearm I own, has a 2# target trigger, and it has a 6-24x scope sitting on top!
    Last edited by kyratshooter; 10-24-2018 at 02:07 PM.
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    Ok, lets take a step back and look at this again. Would I be better off buying a
    Rugar Precision rifle? They have them in .223 cal and 22LR. The 22 LR is only $450.00
    Last edited by jim Glass; 10-24-2018 at 05:47 PM.

  6. #6

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    I'am not a doctor, but I have seen this before. Jim is in the throws of a full blown gun jones. There is no cure, you can only treat the symptoms.
    A man full of grits is a man full of peace.

  7. #7
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Oh yes, we have all seen this before!

    A brain disconnect occurs and the shape, form and excitement potential over rule the practical aspects of usability and price.

    It is how marriages happen. Guns are way cheaper!

    The current trend in "precision rifles" I find very entreating, especially when I read the reviews in the better publications. The American Rifleman seems to have a different offering in the precision rifle category every month.

    What I find most interesting is that after paying high dollars, usually between $1k-$2k for an aluminum platform, special rails, free floated barrel, target trigger, adjustable stock and a scope that cost more than my car they have a rifle, that according to the best gun writers and testers in the nation, shoots no better than my entry level Savage Axis w/accutrigger, my TC Compass Rifle, or my Mossberg Patriot rifle, neither of which set me back more than $300.

    In fact my TC Compass Rifle I got on sale for $175, slapped a $25 Walmart scope on it and got 1" groups at 100 yards with Malaysian surplus 7.62x51 ammo after only a slight trigger adjustment (turning a screw).

    My Patriot Rifle in .308 shoots into 1/2" with handloads. That is just as good as the last "precision rifle" reviewed by the American Rifleman last month.

    My little .223 Axis is just as good.

    The mfg are taking a standard rifle and adding enough goodies to get the price up to what a precision rifle shooter thinks it should cost and shipping it out the door.

    Fact is that if the shooter put the really good scope on his regular old Ruger American it would shoot just as good!

    As for the 22lr??? What can I say I am not a .22lr guy, but I do own a dozen of them ranging in value from "more than I should have spent" to "can't give the POS away".

    As to accuracy capabilities, that is more a function of ammo than of rifle in the present age. I have a 10/22 that will shoot 1/4"@50 yards but I put $500 in parts into it to get that and have to shoot $21 per 50 round box ammo from it!

    I also have a flea market find from the 1970s, an old Stevens semi-auto that I glass bedded and free floated with JB Weld, smoothed the trigger and it shoots Minimags almost as well. It just jams a lot, but so does the 10/22!

    But like everything else if you just gotta' have the precision rifle in some form then go for it. You are not hurting anyone and it will be good fun until the next ammo shortage.
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    You vant precision rifle. Vlad has Mosin can stab anything he can't hit.

  9. #9
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    You vant precision rifle. Vlad has Mosin can stab anything he can't hit.
    From about the same range too!

    BTW while on the original topic of the thread, PSA has a good deal on target triggers as a Black Friday special.

    I saw it and thought of Jim.

    https://palmettostatearmory.com/geis...d-trigger.html
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  10. #10

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    Do you plan on doing NRA match shooting?
    I just do Gallery Bullseye (22lr pistol) during the winter as something to do to get out of the hosue. It's taken 6 years (and lack of money) to realize the guys shooting the $300 rugers with good sites (and in MA, a necessary trigger job) were shooting just as good as the guys with the $3000 Pardini's. Someday I still might put a $200 custom grip on my SW 41, but my entire problem is lack of time to practice as can be seen from steady improvement over the season with once-weekly matches. I'm not gonna drop the 3K on a "better" gun.

    A bullseye is a bullseye as long as it just knicks the inner ring. If you're off by more than that 1", it ain't the gun.
    Last edited by LowKey; 11-23-2018 at 02:20 PM.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I will need to wait until the NRA target shooting admin recognizes the shooting position known and semi-reclining Lazy-boy before I can translate my practice sessions over to usable target shooting.

    I am getting a couple of hundred rounds per night practice in but all is shot from my recliner across the living room into the pellet trap!
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    It would seem that position would present the opportunity to lose a big toe. Please be careful. Then again, we are blessed with 10 toes so what's one or two when it comes to performance shooting? Carry on.

  13. #13
    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Sort of reminds me of a cartoon I once saw.

    https://www.pritzkermilitary.org/exp...oclc/949446111

    I have the recliner angled away from the target trap and off to the right a little bit so I can use the arm rest as a substitute sand bag. It clears my toes by a good foot or so.

    I have a resetting target trap so I do not have to replace paper targets or get up and reset the targets manually. Neat little gadget.

    https://www.pyramydair.com/s/a/Gamo_...enter_shot/312
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  14. #14
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    Been researching a match grade AR. People claim a 20” barrel is all I need.
    Longer barrels can’t justify their additional weight and bulk. Spoke to a guy at the
    Gun club near Palm Coast Florida yesterday. He had a 20” SS bull barrel on an AR15
    and was proud
    To inform me he shoots 1 1/2” groups at 100 yards 223. I didn’t tell him I do that with
    Stock 16” barrel

  15. #15

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    We have an ongoing argument among the pistol teams whether or not a longer barrel is better on a pistol.
    Some say the longer barrel "gets you that much closer to the target" or "the added weight helps with recoil."
    Others say "the longer barrel gives any small movement a magnification that shows on your target."
    Either argument is just "excuses."
    If we are to have another contest in…our national existence I predict that the dividing line will not be Mason and Dixon's, but between patriotism & intelligence on the one side, and superstition, ambition & ignorance on the other…
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