Thursday, July 6, 2017

Building a $4500 Proof AR15 SBR Beyond Elite that Odin would Call BAD ASS

Building a $4500 Proof AR15 SBR Beyond Elite that Odin would Call BAD ASS

As the oddly worded title hinted, this is a top tier Short Barreled Rifle built on a Battle Arms Development receiver set using Proof Research Carbon fiber barrel, Bushnell Elite optic, and Odin forend. This is likely my most expensive build to date and the reality is the price still could have very easy to pushed higher.

The primary reason for SBRs continued popularity is that they deliver everything we want without any compromises in a short barreled AR15, in a format without configuration restrictions, and without the legal confusion associated with accidentally shouldering an AR15 brace equipped pistol. For this build I wanted a SBR which represented everything I love about SBRs, short, accurate, and fun all in a build which would showcase the cutting edge of components. This all out customized Battle Arms Development PDW lower with monolithically integrated VERT stock

Due to budget constraints of the first version of this build which totaled $900 lower + $200 tax stamp + $240 Geissele Super Dynamic trigger for the lower build alone, I had to wait to build the tier of custom upper I wanted. Sure the upper I featured in the initial review was still drool worthy and hardly low grade by any means featuring a stainless Ballistic Advantage Hansen barrel, Bootleg upper and handguard, and Bushnell FFP AR optic. With the new upper, the current custom build is likely one of those most impressively expensive SBR builds anywhere at a cash register tipping $4567 MSRP.

Notably I did not pick out each of the components because they were expensive, but because they fit the purpose I wanted for the rifle - yes, I can look my wife in the eye and actually state this truefully. There are certainly much more expensive components and optics out there and even super custom Cerakote finishes. Adding an additional $2000 to the price could have been very easy.   Before jumping into each component, let’s run through the list of what is packed into this registered Short Barreled Rifle build:
ATF - $200 SBR tax stamp
BAD-PDW VERT Lower Billet Receiver - $900
BAD-556LW - Upper Billet Receiver - $260
Geissele Super Dynamic trigger - $240
Proof Research 11.5-inch Carbon Fiber Barrel - $940
Odin Works O2 Lite MLOK - $190
JP Rifles Match Bolt Kit - $138
Faxon Nitrided Ultralight Carrier - $180
Geissele Charging Handle - $89
Aero Precision Scope Mount - $80
Bushnell Elite SMRS 1-6.5x24 - $1250
Innovative Industries Stainless Flash Hider - $30
V7 Titanium Ejection Port Door -$57
Stainless Gas tube - $15
Zero Hour Micro Lightweight Gas Block - $55
TOTAL - $4624 - Yeah, this build got out of hand

Battle Arms Development B.A.D- The engineering prowess of B.A.D is reflected in their receivers delivering lightweight with strength, but these are premium receivers which together cost about the same as your average high-end AR15. The BAD-PDW VERT Lower Receiver was previously reviewed so I will summarize the review. Despite the $900 price tag the receiver includes everything short of your favorite trigger group including grip, every upgraded part BAD offers and the integrated VERT stock monolithically integrated into the receiver complete with buffer and spring assembly… which is just freaking cool. Yes, the BAD selector, take down pins, bolt release, adjustable grip, and all the detents and springs are included. 

This remains the most expensive production AR15 lower receiver made, but you do get a lot of features for the money in addition to the killer looks. This receiver set is well integrated with all the included components which means everything actually looks like it all was designed together. BAD has even thought through how the stock collapses while still allowing full function of all the controls.

Of note, like many other super short buffer tube assembles, the VERT stock and included buffer system does require a bit more gas pressure to operate which can require enlarging the barrel gas port a little for reliable cycling. Both the original build with the Ballistic Advantage barrel and the Proof barrel required the barrel gas port to be enlarged slightly to work reliably with the integrated VERT stock.

The $260 BAD-556LW billet upper receiver is the mate to the lower and delivers an extremely light 6.28-ounce weight while increasing strength compared to a mil-spec forged receiver. The upper omits the forward assist to shave weight and actually beefs up other areas to increase strength. The receiver paired beautifully to the Oden forend delivering outstanding continuity of the lines without an ugly gaps.

Geissele - The Super Dynamic trigger has been superb and delivers the full accuracy potential of any barrel, but Geissele is becoming a company delivering more than just triggers. A beautifully machined Geissele Super Charging Handle was added to complete the look, compliment the lines of the upper and it happens to be a kick ass ambi-charging handle as well.

Proof Research - One of the really nice things on a registered AR15 SBR receiver is that you can swap out to any upper regardless of the barrel length. Sure those tiny little 7.5-inch barrels are small, but they are also deafeningly loud. The 10-12-inch range has become my favorite barrel size for AR15 pistols and SBRs. It delivers excellent accuracy at tolerable sound pressure levels and still a size that make a SBR maneuverable. Carbon fiber barrels have intrigued me for some time and Proof Research is really turning heads with the performance of their barrels which are offered for a variety of bolt actions, AR15 and AR10 format rifles.

Proof Research uses their own match grade blanks which are thinned/turned-down and then partially backfilled with a proprietary composite carbon fiber which delivers near instantaneous heat transfer - thus a less stressed cooler running barrel even when fired at high rates. This patented design delivers retains match grade accuracy which is unaffected by high rate sustained firing. The same group you get with a cool barrel is pretty much the same group you will get with a heavily fired barrel. Though the carbon fiber barrels may look cool, the cool factor is a byproduct of the structurally engineered lighter barrel.

This build was lucky enough to use a 11.5-inch special contract run of SBR barrels made for a government special operations contract.  Proof still stocks the $940 11.5-inch Carbon Fiber Barrels, however they may be a limited release item. The concept was a short barrel which could provide top tier full barrel length accuracy even when suppressed. Based on the tiny little groups I am seeing downrange, I believe Proof exceeded that requirement.  It is important to note that Proof Research barrels are not necessarily lighter and in most cases I have found them to be about the same weight  as a comparable profile steel or stainless barrel. The advantage is the heat wicking property that keeps the barrel and groups from moving around as the barrel heats up - The voodoo works.

Odin Works - At this year’s SHOT show, I spied the insanely ultralight O2 Lite MLOK ODIN Works forend. The engineers have worked their magic to lighten the forend down as much as possible without compromising strength. The featured 9.5-inch 4.81-ounce handguard seemed like it was going to float off the workbench. The mounting hardware and barrel nut add another 2.7-ounces. If you have not looked at the detail Odin is putting into their products, you are missing out on a top tier brand. Even the included MLOK rails have stainless connectors…. just amazing detail. This is a beautiful open design MLOK compatible forend that delivers ergonomics and a full view of the stunning carbon fiber Proof barrel.

JP Rifles EnhancedBolt Match Bolt Kit - A top tier bolt makes all the difference in the world in accuracy and one of the top bolts delivering extremely consistent specs has been the JP Rifle EnhancedBolt. JP Rifles also offers this in a kit including a firing pin, cam pin, bolt, and retaining pin. This is a kit used in nearly every high accuracy AR15 build I have built. The bolt is fully AR15 compatible made from more durable SAE 9310 with improved lug geometry for reduced wear and easier locking/unlocking plus enhanced ejectors, extractors, and gas rings. Remember Mil-Spec is not a spec, but a spec range and JP delivers a bolt which is on the tighter tolerance of the range which means a more solid lock-up and ultimately tighter groups.

Faxon - As noted there is a need for higher gas pressure to cycle the short VERT buffer assembly and one way to increase the recoil the buffer sees is to use a ultra-light carrier. I have used the ultralight Faxon carrier in other builds and liked that it minimized the weight of this build, helped meet cycling requirements, and it paired nicely with with the JP EnhancedBolt.

Aero Precision - The AP ultra-light scope mount is probably the number one mount I recommend to everyone. These are phenomenally consistent, super light weight, beautifully made, hold zero when they are removed and remounted, look like they are monolithically integrated into any upper, and are only $80. Sure I could have chosen an optics mount twice the price, but for this build the trim lines and light weight of the AP scope mount made perfect sense.

Bushnell - The first version of this build featured a $250 Bushnell AR 1-4 FFP which is a nice optic, but represents the entry level of Bushnell’s low power AR optic line. The $1250 Elite SMRS 1-6.5x24 is the other extreme and is the top end of Bushnell’s Elite line… well technically they just introduced a 1-8 SMRS now, but it was not available at the point of this article.

The Elite Tactical SMRS (Short Mid-Range Rifle 1-6.5x24mm Scope) was designed with input from 3-Gun, military and LEO experts to provide ease of use and unfailing reliability. The optic is a non-zooming mil-based second focal plane reticle with a folding zoom lever. What I really liked about this optic was the brilliant clarity and the illuminated BTR-2 reticle with mil-based ladder that does not lock the shooting into preset BDC drop. This has become my favorite lower power variable optic and in the process it keeps me working on my mil-based adjustments.  For a SBR which does have the ability to deliver tiny little groups, this optic perfectly delivers everything you could want in magnification from zero to 500 yards.

Innovative Industries - Over the years I have realized that those fancy brakes do a wonderful job of mitigating recoil and muzzle rise, but they are loud as hell. In a SBR with a short barrel you want quieter, not louder and one of the questest muzzle devices remains a A2 style flash hider. For a showier A2, the $30 Innovative Industries stainless flash hider is insanely well made. I have three of these installed on several build and could not be happier with the quality.

Miscellaneous Parts - Stainless gas tubes are durable and also be hand polished to a beautiful luster as was done on this build. The Zero Hour Micro was found during some searching for a super lightweight gas block. It is a well made lightweight design which I have found no issues from a durability perspective. It would not be my pick as a gas block for full auto, but it has been more than durable enough for spirited shooting on this semi-auto platform. I really did not need the gas adjustability of an adjustable gas block, but minimizing weight was a priority - for $55 the Zero Hour Micro has performed perfectly. The V Seven titanium ejection port door delivers a nice little touch that carries through the stainless bits into the rear of the receiver.

The final build is lightweight and probably total overkill for the intermittent predator hunting it is used for, but the gun has already received a lot of use as a trainer for tactical drills and a few rifle classes. There may still be a few tweaks here and there, however this is about everything I could dream of in an SBR and it is a worthy investment in a tax stamped NFA which I will never sell.


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1 comment:

Unknown said...

this is a lot of wasted money on high quality parts