The 17th Installment of Build of the Week was contributed by Michael G. This is one of the most complete submissions to date and includes prices.
Keep the submissions coming in! We are publishing them in the order in which they were received (with the exception of a single person submitting back to back–those will get spread out).
You can submit your own build at https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/build-of-the-week-submission/
A year and a half ago I purchased a lower receiver from Fulton Armory, which was the starting point of my predator hunting AR build. The objective was to put together a lightweight precision rifle chambered in .223/5.56, for the sole purpose of hunting coyotes. After 18 months of working hard and saving money, my vision of an ideal predator hunting rifle came to fruition.
While similar in appearance to a “recce rifle,” my predator hunting build is not designed for Special Operations. I willingly paid a premium for products from particularly reputable companies and with certain desirable characteristics; not to mention for a custom Cerakote coating. The full build details and the prices I paid are as follows. Note that many of these prices have since fallen, or the items can be found on sale more frequently.
- Fulton Armory Lower Receiver: $124.95
- Upper Receiver: $80.96
- Upper parts kit: $26.96
- Lower parts kit (w/out trigger): $34.95
- Ambidextrous safety selector: $26.96
- Faxon Firearms 14.5” Pencil Barrel 1-8 twist: $230.45
- Bravo Company USA Inc. Extended A2X Flash Hider: $34.95
- MCMR-13 (M-LOK Compatible Modular Rail): $189.95
- MCMR-SM Quick Detachable Sling Mount (M-LOK Compatible): $17.95
- Rubber City Armory Black Nitride Noveske marked Bolt Carrier Group: $195.00
- Geissele 2-stage Trigger: $165.00
- Ambidextrous charging handle: $89.00
- Magpul STR Stock: $79.95
- Buffer Tube Assembly: $83.06
- B.A.D. Lever: $26.96
- 20 round magazine: $14.95
- QD Sling Swivel: $15.00
- Plus Grip: $23.95
- Viking Tactics 2-point sling: $42.70
- Vortex 1-6x Strike Eagle and Vortex cantilever mount: $419.98
- Inforce WML-FDE Light w/shipping: $135.48
- Sportsman’s Elite Pin and weld gunsmith services: $45.00
- Cerakote Southwest 2-color full rifle Cerakote coating: $595.38
- Shipping costs: $100.00 (approximate)
Total Cost: $2,799.49
Weight (unloaded): 8lbs
Total Weight (loaded 20rd PMAG): 8.8lbs
Thoughts on the total cost
The final bill was steep; however, this would be closer to a $2,000.00 build minus the Cerakote job. I requested Cerakote Southwest do a custom pattern using two colors over the handguard, upper receiver, lower receiver, scope, cantilever mount, buffer tube, stock, and two magazines. In addition, the barrel and flash hider are single color Flat Dark Earth. Overall the rifle looks amazing and I am pleased with their work. However, a more budget conscious builder could save money by using only a single color or forgoing Cerakote coating.
Furthermore, since I am a right-handed, cross-dominant shooter, I had to buy a few extra parts to make my rifle fully ambidextrous. These parts include the ambidextrous safety, ambidextrous charging handle, and B.A.D. lever. I highly recommend a B.A.D lever to anyone who runs an AR southpaw, which can make reloads and malfunction clearing significantly easier.
In order to make a rifle that was going to be lightweight, I selected the 14.5” Pencil barrel by Faxon Firearms. To reach a legal, non-NFA barrel length, BCM’s extended flash hider was pinned and welded to the barrel. Furthermore, I chose BCM’s new MLOK compatible free-floated rail, Geissele’s 2-stage trigger, and Vortex’s 1-6x Strike Eagle optic to improve the build’s accuracy potential. These features combined with a padded Viking Tactics 2-point sling make a lightweight precision rifle that is easy to carry for extended periods of time. I reviewed the Strike Eagle for TFB several years ago, and it is a superb choice for predator hunting. Also, I felt that a rail mounted light would be useful for spotlighting under low light conditions.
I used three different factory cartridges to test the accuracy of the predator hunting build. Hornady 55gr V-Max performed the best, with a 1-inch average of three 3-shot groups at 50 yards, or about 2 Minutes-of-Angle. Hornady Black 62gr FMJ and Hornady 75gr Superperformance Match both opened up to 1.5 inches or 3 MOA. While it is possible that my shooting skill poorly represents the rifle’s potential, I did significantly better with 55gr bullets.
Separately, receiver wobble may be contributing to the size of my groups. To address receiver wobble, I installed a receiver shim on the front pivot pin, but a small amount of play remains. Even though the rifle is just for hunting, I don’t like the idea of an unsecured rubber wedge in my gun. I believe that shooting within a 1-inch radius from my point of aim at 100 yards (2MOA) using Hornady’s Varmint Express is acceptable, considering the size, weight, and intended application of the rifle.
Overall, I am happy with the way my predator hunting build turned out. So far, I have put about 200 rounds through the gun, and have not experienced a malfunction. It is a handy rifle, and the two-stage trigger combined with the 1-6x optic makes it very fun to shoot. Of course, I think it looks pretty cool as well. Going forward with future builds I will seek out tighter fitting receivers, and also plan better for shipping costs. At the time of this writing, I have not yet taken a coyote with this rifle. I intend to change that this fall.
Comment below to ask Michael questions about his build.