Monday, December 25, 2017

Mirror Polished Barrett REC7 AR15

Mirror Polished AR15 Faxon Superlative DI Build

My FFL dealer acquired some very old naked un-anodized Barrett Firearms AR15 receivers with their original REC7 Barrett logo. The receivers were actually made a decade or so ago by Saber Defense for Barrett under an OEM relationship. This are fun receivers and with Barrett REC7 AR15s starting around $1900 these receivers have some cache’ since you cannot buy stripped Barrett AR15 receivers. 

Just with the name Barrett on the side, any build is cool enough, but I wanted to really make this build shine… literally.

Getting a mirror polish on aluminum is not hard, but it is time consuming. As long as you start with an unanodized receiver set and have a bench grinder with a set of polishing wheels, the polishing time is under about five hours including the hand final polishing with Flitz polish. In a previous article, I hand mirror polished a completed Matthews 80% billet lower with just a Dremel, Flitz and a rag and that process sucked. This time around I sprung for a $45 Ryobi Bench grinder and a $20 kit of buffing wheels and compound - well worth the investment to polish any metal.

The Ryobi polishing wheel kit includes recommendations for matching wheels and compounds, however after some experimentation, I discovered the hard sewn wheel with stainless polishing compound applied did the best job biting into the oxidized forged aluminum and aggressively smoothing out imperfections. 

Technically hand sanding with increasingly finer grit sandpaper and then polishing would net the best results and a flawlessly smooth finish, but I actually wanted to see some of the imperfections in the receivers to add a bit of character. The second polishing step was to wipe down the entire piece with Flitz, let it dry a bit, buff off with the sewn denim wheel, repeat until the shine started popping uniformly on the receiver and then follow up with a few hours of hand polishing and a coat of oil. The result is a receiver set which has the mirrored appearance of being hard chromed.


For this build I wanted a really unique super lightweight AR15 with virtually no recoil. To reduce both recoil and weight, a super-lightweight Faxon 16” Gunner barrel was paired with a Faxon ultra-light BCG and a Superlative Arms adjustable gas block. This allowed the gas pressure to be metered down further to take advantage of the ultra-light Faxon BCG that requires even less pressure to operate. 

An ultra-light Aero Precision ATLAS free-float handguard was added along with an ALG mirror polished stainless brake, James Madison Tactical trigger kit, Brownells buffer tube and AR lower parts kit, Phase 5 And-Plate Swivel, Strike Industries Poly ejection port cover, Magpul trigger guard, Rogers HABU Advanced Charging Handle, and Rogers Adjustable Cam-Lock Stock.

The Faxon barrels have seriously impressed me with their accuracy, quality, and price. These guys are doing a phenomenal job at making impressively accurate light barrels for AR15s, AR10, and even now Glock barrels. If you do opt for a Faxon barrel add on a matched headspaced bolt; my experience is this add-on greatly increases accuracy. Faxon has two lines of AR15 barrels, a 5.56 Nato production barrel models (usually well under $200) and their match grade .223 Wylde models ($200-$300) - both lines are available in a variety of similar profiles from heavy to light weight. 

The Match grade .223 Wylde models are more accurate, but their 5.56 Barrels are phenomenal barrels on almost any build and about half the cost. Faxon created their own unique “Faxon Gunner” profile which is a modified super light pencil profile with a light taper for improved accuracy under extended fire. I have a couple barrels in this profile and love them. No since adding extra weight where it is not needed. Consider Faxon’s BCGs as well. The BCGs are extremely well made and a much higher grade than the $99-$129 BCGs on sale everywhere.

Superlative Arms arguably makes the finest adjustable gas block on the market. The SA gas blocks feature melonited construction, are offered in a wide variety of .623”, .750”, .875”, and .936” sizes with SA’s patented bleed off system which dumps the excess gases. The quality is outstanding and the 30-position detent system allows a lot of fine tuning and prevents the common self-adjusting problem of most gas blocks.

Though I write for Aero Precision, I picked up this ATLAS handguard on sale at my dealer to get this build done. This is my first experience with the ATLAS handguard and I am impressed. Of note, I originally was going to use a Superlative Arms piston system, however of note it would not fit under the ATLAS handguard. 

Look for that system on another upcoming build. The ATLAS has been minimalistically designed to provide the smallest overall diameter while reducing weight. The very unique mounting system on the ATLAS includes a proprietary barrel wrench and a dual detent-ed wedge screw system. Though it took a few moments to figure out how it went together, it is a pretty unique system and is insanely rock solid.

Bill Rogers is a world class tinkerer, inventor and firearms instructor. Personally I think he has made some of the most unique real-world usable products on the market. This Rogers Stock is what I consider the best multi-position stock on the market because it is the only stock which comes with two shims for commercial or mil-spec sized buffers and also can be tightened into position with an intuitive and very fast cam-lock lever. 

When locked down, the stock feels like a rattle-free fixed stock, but hit the adjustment lever and the cam lock automatically disengages.

Yet another build where Brownells came to the rescue, as they are only a two day shipping route to me for most orders. It never fails that I “only need” a few things to finish a build and this case it was the James Madison trigger kit, lower parts kit, and buffer tube assembly. Brownells helped me get this dones before the end of the year instead of sometime in January.

Eotech are always a favorite optic for fast fun shooting and I had an EXPS3 which is perfect for a build like this. The Eotech EXPS3 also has a QD mount which allows me to swap between other optics quickly and still maintain MOA accuracy when reattached. With a mirror finish, this probably is not going to be a hunting gun and just something fun and the Eotech is the perfect choice for taking advantage of the very fast shooting capabilities of this lightweight near recoil-less build.

The grip featured is my own style modification that I have been doing for years. I start with a standard $4 A2 grip, a paracord slot is milled into each side of the grip, and all the existing texture and finger grooves are ground off. I hand texture the grip with a wood burning iron and then very tightly wrap the back of the grip with paracord. These are insanely comfortable grips and always look awesome for about $6 in materials.

Without the Eotech attached, the final build weight is only 5.65 pounds and the recoil was drastically reduced to almost nothing thanks to the adjustable gas block and lightweight BCG. This build is certainly capable of excellent accuracy, however that was never really the intent of this rifle. For me, this is a fun training gun, plinker, and competition gun to beat on steel and Rubber Dummy targets with that looks different than everyone else’s black rifle… and of course since no one can buy one of these Barrett receiver sets, it makes it all that much more unique. As you can see, a little polish work goes a long way to make something really special and unique.


Check BROWNELLS for the best deals on firearms and accessories

Faxon -
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Aero Precision -
Rogers -
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