Mr. General Utility

We build with a purpose using premium Aero Precision components

Real Avid’s new AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit includes all of the essential tools (and then some) and literature to get you rolling on building your own AR. It’s now become a must-have kit when you set out on a ground-up build.

I like buffets, but not for the reason most people seem to like buffets. For me, it’s not about the volume of food I can physically fit on my plate and subsequently stuff in my mouth, it’s the fact that I can pick and choose the food I actually want, and precisely how much of it I want. It’s for this same reason that I enjoy building my own ARs.

All of the Aero Precision upper receiver components (minus the bolt-carrier group and charging handle) spread out and ready for assembly. Included were an 18-inch, fluted 416-stainless-steel Aero Precision barrel with a .223 Wylde chamber (for use with both .223 Rem and 5.56 NATO ammo) and 1:8” twist, lightweight 15-inch ATLAS R-One M-LOK handguard in an FDE finish, an M4E1 forged 7075-T6 aluminum, fully assembled upper receiver also in FDE, and a stainless-steel, rifle-length gas tube and low-profile gas block.

Depending on the chosen components, from a financial standpoint, building your own AR-style rifle may or may not cost less than a comparable factory-built rifle. In the end, however, you have a rifle built to your spec, precisely how you want it. While outstanding, factory-built AR platforms of nearly every configuration imaginable can be found on dealer racks, even though we’re spoiled for choice these days, I have yet to see one configured to my exact vision.

If I only had one gun, it would probably look something like the one I’ve built here—my interpretation of an 18-inch-barreled USSOCOM MK12 SPR rifle. The MK12 SPR (Special Purpose Rifle) represents a hybrid-type rifle: a reasonably light, half defensive/half offensive weapon.

Our first step was to join the Aero Precision gas tube to the Aero Precision low-profile gas block via the included roll pin, and with the help of the Real Avid Bench Block, punch set and Armorer’s Master Wrench/Hammer, which has replaceable heads that are optimized for the material you happen to be working with.

But in civilian hands, the “special purpose” moniker isn’t all that accurate. I like to think of this particular configuration as more like a “general utility” rifle that can fulfill multiple rolls, such as dispatching coyotes on the farm, medium- to long-range target shooting and—with the right optic—home defense. A jack of all trades if you will, and fully capable across the spectrum of most AR-15 needs.

If you’ve never tackled an AR build before, let me assure you this isn’t rocket science. There are a few necessary tools and a few tools that are just nice to have, all of which can be found in the Real Avid AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit we used to put this build together. Due to space constraints, however, we’ll be skipping some of the minutia of component assembly, but Real Avid does include literature with the Armorer’s Master Kit that touches on the finer, illustrated details. For greater detail on each AR component we used, the descriptions on Aero Precision’s website are absolutely first rate. Let’s get to building!

Next, we slid the newly mated gas block/rod combo onto our Aero Precision barrel with ?????? and secured it into place with the dual set screws. I use blue Loctite on nearly every fastener (I’d smear Loctite on my sandwiches if it was FDA approved) and these set screws are important ones.
Reaching back into the AR-15 Armorer’s Master Kit, using both the Real Avid Lug-Lok Upper Vice Block locked into a vice to engage the barrel’s locking lugs and provide a secure fixture to leverage upon, and the Real Avid torque wrench, we torqued the barrel nut using the special tool (both supplied with the Aero Atlas handguard) down to 45-ft. lbs. (the general spec is 30-80 lbs.)

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