Caleb builds an AR

I’ve been wanting to do an AR build for quite some time now. Everyone is doing them, and it seems like it’s a task that runs directly in line with my enjoyment of working on things. However, I realized that I had no idea how to build an AR. Despairing, I turned to my two favorite tools for building guns: the telephone and money.

Colt Sporting Rifle

I called my friend Annie over at Colt Competition Rifles, and asked if I could get one of their new Colt Sporting Rifles that they introduced at SHOT Show sent out to the Sioux Falls office. Annie had her minions ship the rifle ASAP, and it arrived while I was on vacation. So, technically I didn’t “build” this AR, but that was all a bit of a tease anyway. The actual point was to provide a review of the new Colt Sporting Rifle by Colt Competition.

The Colt Sporting Rifle, built by Colt Competition Rifles is an entry level AR-15 that provides a lot of “quality” touches while still keeping the overall rifle’s cost down. Because I’ve not yet shot the gun, here’s a boring list of features:

  • Caliber: .223/5.56 NATO
  • Operation: Direct impingement
  • Weight: 6.4 lbs no magazine/optic
  • Upper: Forged Mil-Spec flat top, no sights
  • Lower: Forged Mil-Spec, enlarged trigger guard
  • Standard charging handle
  • Colt Match Target Trigger
  • Mid weight 16 inch 1:8 twist Colt Match Grade barrel

Some of the other additional nice features are the free float handguard, the Hogue overmolded pistol grip, and the low-pro gas block. You’ll notice that it doesn’t have a chrome lined barrel, forward assist, or dust cover.

Colt Sporting Rifle

For optics I went with a Trijicon RMR on an American Defense Enterprises mount; there is a little rail riser under it as well to get it a little bit higher up on the bore so I can get big head in line with it. The thing that really attracted me to the CSR when I saw it at SHOT is that it’s very much in keeping with the Colt CCG pistol I’ve been shooting for USPSA and IDPA in that it’s a very simple presentation that gives you good features for shootability and function while deleting some of the features your particular use may not require. Since this is a range gun for shooting matches and having fun and not a Serious Fighting Rifle for Operating in Operations, I’m not worried about a forward assist, or a dust cover, or a chrome lined barrel. Your requirements for your rifle may be different, and you may want those things. That’s cool.

I’ll be testing the Colt Sporting Rifle throughout the season; I plan on shooting at least one 3-gun match with it, as well as shooting some two gun matches later in the season as well. The truth is that when it comes to ARs, I’m just a trigger puller, not an armorer. I can field strip it, but mostly I just point it at things and make bullets come out. Keeping following our Colt Sporting Rifle series through the rest of the year here on Gun Nuts, and look for a detailed review of the CSR in an upcoming issue of GunUp the Magazine!


  1. “Iā€™m not worried about a forward assist”

    I retired with 20 years of military time and carried an M16 or M4 for 3/4 of it. I never once used the forward assist. I also don’t know anyone who used the forward assist. I’m sure there are guys who have, but it’s been useless to me personally.

    The dust cover is something I’d probably like to have on my ARs, but I don’t have one on my .300 BLK and don’t really miss it.

    The chrome-lined barrel isn’t just an operator thing. I like it because I find the chrome-lined guns are a little easier to clean, and the AR system (mine are all gas) shits where it eats.

    However, it’s not always easy to find a gun without at least a couple of these additions (the assist and dust cover, usually, because of the batches of uppers being run). I have three ARs at home right now, and only one doesn’t have an assist or dust cover.

    So, if you see an AR with a forward assist, dust cover, and a chrome-lined barrel, it doesn’t mean the guy thinks he’s an operator. It may mean he didn’t find one without those things, or decided the gun he bought suits his needs as a shooter overall and he didn’t want to look for or wait for something like you’ve posted above.

    You probably should build an AR at some point–I’m not an armorer either, but I can build an AR from parts in about 90 minutes. It’s been helpful in diagnosing non-obvious problems and it’s kind of fun knowing how all of the parts interrelate without having to watch a US Army computer animation explaining how the gun works.

  2. You know that whole “shits where it eats” thing is disingenuous and mostly marketing hype right?

    The Stoner-Johnson design directs gas into the bolt carrier group, not into the chamber. The pressure is bled off from the exhaust ports and out of the ejection port.

    Know where most of the fouling comes from?

    The chamber.

    During cycling gasses dwelling in the barrel after pressure drops to ambient (and a lesser extent the gas tube) are drawn back into the chamber as the round is extracted (like a syringe).

    Maybe I’ll design a bore evacuator for AR’s and make millions šŸ˜‰

  3. So are you telling me absolutely no fouling comes from the gas system? Because if you are, you’re wrong. Is it the majority? No. Is there some? Sure. Part of the concept was the idea that the gas would also push debris out of the area, too, SINCE THE GAS TUBE VENTS DIRECTLY ABOVE THE CHAMBER.

  4. I thought the chrome lining for the barrel was to reduce wear as much to make it easier to clean? As much as you shoot I would think that would be a feature you would want. I do think the forward assist and dust cover are easily dispensed with, and this is a very nice, light carbine.

    1. The chrome lining of the barrel performs both functions. A chrome lined chamber makes the seizure/jam that occurred in Vietnam much less likely to be a problem. Not chrome lining a barrel has two advantages the first of which is cost reduction and the second is supposed to be an increase in accuracy.

  5. Because absolutely no gas is vented into the chamber after the bolt carrier moves backwards right?

    Split hairs much?

  6. By the way, I’m not a detractor–I own three ARs and NO AKs at this point in my life, and I have no plans to change that, except to build another AR, possibly.

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