Long ago and far away, I was at a southern Arizona Bloggershoot held at the Pinal County shooting range. That range nestles up against the Casa Grande Mountains, which means that you’ve got one heck of a backstop if your rounds go astray. During the shoot, Kevin Baker and myself spotted a 12’x16′ steel plate nestled way up in the mountains, about 720 yards from the firing line. He had brought his über-sweet M25, and I had the gun in the photo above, my long range AR-15. We decided that steel needed to be rung, so we took turns spotting for each other as we engaged the target with our guns. He tagged with this second shot, and then I hit it myself one shot later. Not bad for 5.56mm.
That gun that I used is actually the very first AR I bought, way back in 2007. The upper is a little weird. It’s a side-charging model made by VM HyTec, an AR builder that went out of business a dozen years ago. The barrel came with it, and it has some nice features. It’s 18 inches long with a 1:8 twist with built-in fluting which keeps the weight down. The muzzle device is a little weird. It’s cut right into the barrel, which means I can’t change it out for another muzzle device or add a suppressor. The hand guard is ancient, as are the scope rings, and there’s a Caldwell bipod on it which is adequate, but not outstanding.
The lower I built myself. There’s a Geissele trigger in it along with an Ergo grip that I really like and the stock is the ubiquitous Magpul PRS. It’s a good gun, but it’s time for a change. The plan is to keep it as my purpose-built long range AR-15, but change things up a bit. I’m on the fence about the upper itself, but that barrel, gas block and hand guard have to go. The hand guard I’m swapping out for something with M-LOK slots to save weight, and the gas block will get something that’s lighter and adjustable.
What caliber I’ll eventually wind up with is still up in the air. On the one hand, I want to push the limits of what 5.56mm can do. On the other hand, there’s new cartridges on the scene such as 6mm ARC and 224 Valkyrie, which have a 1000 yard effective range and can be shot using the AR-15 platform.
The bad news is, thanks to the current buying panic, this project won’t get started until at least the autumn, maybe a bit longer. The good news is, I have plenty of time to work on my technique in the meantime, so I can truly appreciate what I’ll be building.
Should be fun.