How light can an AR-15 made entirely with off-the-shelf components be? Guns & Tactics sought to answer that question with their ultralight black rifle build project detailed in a recent article:
Two years ago, it would not have been possible to build a functioning AR-15 that weighed under 5-pounds with off-the-shelf parts. They were just not available. Thanks to companies like Battle Arms,V7 Weapon Systems and 2A Arms, that has all changed in the last few months.
We set out on a mission to build the lightest AR possible and when it was all said and done, it weighed in right at 4.5 pounds. In this article we’ll share how we accomplished the build and discuss how well it shoots.
There are essentially two metal options when it comes to lightweight receiver sets on the market with more and more coming every day. Take note we said metal, as we are not factoring in composite polymer based lowers.
- Battle Arms Development – The BAD556-LW is not only badass looking, it is light: weighing in at 6.84 ounces for the lower and 6.31 ounces for the upper for a combined weight of 13.15 ounces. The BAD556-LW is made from tough 7075-T6 Aircraft Aluminum and precision CNC’d to very tight tolerances. MSRP is $499.
- 2A Arms – The Balios Lite is equally as sexy and is mildly lighter than the BAD556-LW. The Balios Lite comes in at 6.5 ounces for the lower and 5.85 ounces for the upper, totaling 12.35 ounces. The Balios Lite is also made from 7075 and retails for $519.99
Either of these options makes a great foundation for your ultra-light build and it really comes down to which looks best to you. We will say that in our experience, Battle Arms puts a lot of attention to detail in their machining and their customer service is top-notch. We have heard great things about2A Arms but we have no experience working first-hand with them.
The article details all the components used in the build, so that the reader can replicate the ultralight rifle if they so desire. Also noted is the rifle’s relatively light recoil impulse. This is because the operating group mass has been reduced, so the “thump” normally associated with the heavy and fast-moving AR-15 bolt group is mitigated. However, its this mass in the moving parts group that lends the rifle much of its reliability, so using lightweight bolt carrier groups may compromise the rifle’s performance in adverse conditions – however, achieving optimum functioning was never the point of the build.
As lightweight components from selector switches to dust covers are released in ever-increasing numbers and variety, it will be possible to build rifles from off-the-shelf components that inch closer and closer to the 4 pound (unloaded) mark.