How to upgrade your AR15 to a free float hand guard

There are many reasons why you might want to buddy free float and art on your AR 15 rifle.  The main reason is to increase the accuracy of the rifle.  But installing a new rail on your rifle also gives you the opportunity to add a bunch of new accessories such as grips, lights, lasers, anything else the suit your fancy.  To begin you’ll want to decide what rail you want.  One of the more popular rails is a keymod rail.  The keymod rail is very popular because it is very easy to add and remove mounting rails and other accessories due to the actual keys milled into the rail.

Free Float Handguard

Many manufacturers are making attachments that are simply keymod attachments that require no mounting rail or other attachment device for attaching it to your rifle, which reduces weight and makes it easy to position.  You won’t appreciate how easy the keymod rails are to use until you try some of the other free flow of rails.  Please do not buy a quad rail, they’re very heavy and incredibly uncomfortable in your hand, so the first thing you’ll do is go out and put a bunch of pads on it to make it more comfortable which will add even more weight.  Pony up the big bucks and get a keymod.  When deciding which rail to get, a determining factor is what rail do you currently have, what gas block you currently have, and how long you want your rail to be.  If you have a front sight post you’ll either need to get a shorter rail, or remove the front sight post and put a low profile gas block in.  Removing a front sight post that is pinned in place is no easy feat and will require you to pound on your rifle harder than you ever wanted to.  For many people building a new upper is a better way to go then to modify an upper with the front sight post.  Once we have decided which rail and how long we want it, we can begin by removing the upper from the rifle.  You want to make sure the rifle is unloaded, remove the bolt and place the upper in a vice.  If your new rail requires a new barrel nut, begin by removing the flash hider.  Once the flash hiders removed discard the crush washer as you’ll need a new one upon installation.  You should now be able to remove your old rail, remove the gas block, and then remove the barrel nut.  At this point you’ll want to get your new barrel nut, slide it over your barrel, and hand tighten it to your upper.  Take your barrel nut wrench and attach a torque wrench to it and you’ll want to tighten to at least 30 foot-pounds and loosen several times to make sure your barrel is completely seated before you torque it down to spec.  Once you’re certain that it is seated, torque the barrel nut down to at least 30 foot-pounds, and check for alignment of your gas tube channel.  You’ll probably have to tighten up a little bit more in order to get the gas tube channel to line up, but you will not want to torque it over 90 foot-pounds.  Spec is between 30 and 90 foot-pounds.  Next you want to reinstall your gas tube.  Try to line it back up with the marks previously there, you can test with compressed air to make sure it is correctly aligned.  If any of these parts use screws make sure you’re using loctite.  Once the gas block is on you can install the new rail.  I’ll usually use a scope base and straddle the seam between the upper and the rail to ensure I install my rail in perfect alignment with my upper.  Reinstall your flash hider and crush washer and visually align the center hole with the top of your gas block.  At this point you ready to reassemble your AR and do a functions test, followed by a range test.  Make sure for the range test that you use hearing and eye protection in case something should go wrong.  At this point you can enjoy your new rifle and begin accessorizing.

Sighting in your new rifle and scope combination

Crosshairs

What good is a rifle that you can’t shoot accurately? One of the most important things about setting up a new rifle is getting the scope sighted in properly. What exactly does this mean, well let’s dig into it and see what happens. Some basic things to take into consideration are you’ll want to break in your barrel if it is a target barrel. Breaking in the barrel is a long and tedious process, but well worth it if you will be using the gun to shoot extremely tight groups. Barrel break in is a whole other topic of discussion, but the basic process is to shoot one round and then clean out the bore, shoot two rounds, clean out the bore, and so on and so on. Once you have this process done, we can move on to sighting the rifle in. Depending on your caliber, the base and rings that you choose may vary. For higher recoiling rifles, you may want to choose sturdier and stronger rings and basis. The help of a competent gunsmith can help you choose the right ring the bases for your rifle. Once you’ve chosen your rings and bases, and installed them with your scope properly, we can begin the fun part, shooting. Although not required a bench rest or lead sled can greatly help with this process. Not only will this reduce the recoil felt while shooting, but they will help you hold the gun in the same place while you break the trigger, hoping to remove any unnecessary movement isolating the shooter out of the equation as much as possible. If you are striving for the bench rest accuracy, it is advisable to put up wind flags, so you can monitor the wind conditions and take into account while you are shooting. If you’re using a bolt action gun, remove the bolt and peer down the barrel, this is your starting point. You’ll want to make sure that the barrel and the scope are both pointing towards the same impact point on your target. Depending on your skill that should either be 25 yards or 100 yards. You want to at least get on paper initially, to preserve your ammunition. Now we get down to the fun part, you’ll want to set your bags and rest up so that when you remove your hands from your rifle the rifles is still pointing at your target with the cross hairs exactly where you want them. When you have this setup, load one round into the chamber and prepare to fire. Using proper breathing techniques break a clean shot. If you feel of the shot was not clean and you jerked the trigger or moved the rifle, do not count the shot and repeat. However if you feel the shot was a good clean shot, reload your rifle with one round and repeat. You’ll want to use the same process as the first shot to determine if you had a good clean shot, if so move on and repeat with a third shot.

Hopefully if you are using good quality components, your shot should be very close. At this point you can begin to adjust to scope. Unscrew the turret caps, return to your shooting position, hold the rifle at your original point of aim, and adjust to the best of your ability the cross hairs to line up with the bullet holes. Once you feel you have adjusted and gotten it as close as you can, repeat the three shot group as previously done. Make sure to repeat it exactly and carefully as you did previously, the more care you take now be more accurately you’ll be able to shoot your rifle when it matters.

Rifle Cleaning Basics

Today we’re going to take a look at some advanced rifle cleaning techniques. We will include a good list of do’s and don’ts that we see a lot of people do in the rifle shooting community. Most of us learned clean by going to the sporting goods store and we go and buy a standard rifle cleaning kit. Your standard kit that you buy the store is fine, I have nothing against them, they will include your standard solvent, patches, bore brushes, patch holders, just about everything you need to clean a rifle.

Rifle Cleaning Supplies

If I were to complain about one thing in the kit it would be that 3 piece cleaning rods. They used to come as steel, which can seriously marring scratched inside of a bore. Nowadays they mostly come in brass and aluminum, which is a little better, but still not that great. A minor issue I have with the cleaning rods is they make it difficult with some guns to clean from breech to the muzzle. You should always clean from the breach to the muzzle whenever possible. Another small detractor from the three piece rods, there exists the possibility that they can come unscrewed from each other, which I have had happened, it was a real big pain to fix. If you’re stuck on using cleaning rods, try to find one piece coated cleaning rods. This will alleviate most the problems we discussed above with the three piece cleaning rods. These will be the easiest of rods on the interior surface of your bore and will help you to not scratch and damage the crown on your rifle. The crown is a very important part of the barrel because it is the last part of the barrel to be in contact with the bullet as it leaves, so you want to make sure it stays in absolute pristine condition. Crown and end of the barrel damage definitely decreases the accuracy of any rifle. The top of the line rod would be the carbon fiber rod. These are going to be the most flexible, and will not cause any damage to the inside of your rifle bore. If you’re not a fan of cleaning rods, bore snakes and cables are an excellent way to go. There’s no chance of scratching or damaging the inside of your barrel with a bore snake or cable, and these are very easy to use breach to muzzle.

If this is by far my preferred method to clean out barrels. These are very easy to use. The bore snakes are a one piece solution to cleaning a rifle, you can put your solvent and cleaner on the very beginning of the snake and then oil of the very end of the snake, and pull it through a few times and get a very good result and a very clean barrel. If you’re tight on time the bore snake is the best way to go it will get you the best result of the least amount of time. After you remove all the solvent from the barrel, you’ll want to lubricate and protect the barrel with a very light oil, this will prevent rust and drive out moisture, so the next time you go shooting your rifle is ready to go.  Taking the time to clean your rifle after shooting will ensure your rifle stays in great shape and is always ready for action.