Category Archives: Gunsmithing and BIY

Top Four PSA AR-15 Kits

Hi folks. I like building AR rifles and sometimes I just want a kit with all of the parts. Sometimes I will then swap stuff out and the original parts go in a bin but they are nice to have as spares and sometimes I will build the kit with the included parts – it just depends on my mood and budget to be perfectly honest. For years now, my main source for kits has been Palmetto State Armory (PSA) headquartered in Columbia, SC.

I almost always get my stuff off their website but they do have some very cool retail stores scattered around South Carolina. I had an opportunity to go to one a couple years back and it was very cool. Unfortunately, I lacked funds at the time and just picked up a couple of items. A person could put a serious dent in their credit card by going in one of their stores … or their website for that matter 🙂

People used to complain that they were slow to ship and to respond. First off, I always knew they were trying to keep costs low – they always shipped and they did respond – just not right away. For over a year now, I have noticed they are far faster at shipping – sometimes even the same day – and they are also faster at responding. So, if you hear bad stuff about this, I wouldn’t worry about it.

I’ve also heard people question their quality. Folks, if you want a tier one rifle, go buy a tier one rifle or the parts from them. Palmetto gives you a decent combination of quality and price. For folks planning on hunting and target shooting with their friends, I have no reservation to recommend them. If you are shooting in competition or planning to use this rifle in some kind if law enforcement situation or somewhere that requires high reliability, I think you probably need to look at the higher end ARs that are designed to handle tens of thousands of rounds. Look, I’m just being candid – the PSA AR rifles and pistols are solid but they have a different intended audience. There are reasons besides “coolness” where certain buyers must move to suppliers like Daniel Defense, BCM, Knights, LMT, H&K, LWRC, etc.

At any rate, back in April of this year (2021), I asked what their top four complete kits were (meaning everything except the lower receiver) and they had a list! If you like building AR kits like I do, I thought you might find this interesting in terms of what is included:

PSA 16″ 5.56 NATO 1:7 MIDLENGTH NITRIDE 13.5″ LIGHTWEIGHT M-LOK MOE EPT RIFLE KIT W/ MBUS SIGHT SET (Model 516446780)

Noteworthy here is the entry level Magpul MOE buttstock and grip plus Magpul MBUS flip up sights. They are also including a PSA EPT fire control group – this means that the trigger and hammer have nickel boron finish causing them to move easier because friction is reduced.

It has one of the PSA 13.5″ long handguards set for M-Lok attachments. Everything else is typically found in any of their AR kits with a collapsible stock. They make and restock these kits all the time.

The price as of this writing is $669.

PSA 16″ M4 CARBINE-LENGTH 5.56 NATO 1:7 NITRIDE 15″ LIGHTWEIGHT M-LOK FREEDOM RIFLE KIT (Model 51655106915)

PSA Model 51655106915

Despite a cool looking 15″ handguard, this is a basic AR and you can replace the grip and buttstock later if you want. It’s selling so well that PSA is out of stock right now but you can be notified when it is back in stock. They tend to make and restock these kits all the time.

The price isn’t listed right now since they are out of stock but I would expect it to be slightly less than the first kit – unless they are charging a premium for that handguard.

PSA 16″ M4 CARBINE-LENGTH 5.56 NATO 1:7 NITRIDE 15″ LIGHTWEIGHT M-LOK FREEDOM RIFLE KIT (Model 5165450384)

Definitely a basic 15″ railed rifle kit. Everything looks entry level but you can always customize it down the road if you want.

Again, no price as they are out of stock. I’d expect it to be cheaper than the two kits above. You can sign up to be notified when they do get it in stock if you want. They tend to make and restock these kits all the time.

PSA 16″ MID-LENGTH 5.56 NATO 1:7 NITRIDE 15″ LIGHTWEIGHT M-LOK CLASSIC RIFLE KIT WITH MBUS SIGHT SET (Model 5165491598)

This one has the Magpul BUS sights, an interesting looking handguard … and that’s about it. Everything else is what you tend to see in any of their basic AR rifle kits with collapsing stocks.

The price as of today s $649.99

What rifle is in the top photo?

It started out as a PSA 16″ kit. It had an Anderson lower, WMD bolt, and a Magpul ACS-L stock – I like those because they lock in place and don’t rattle. It had a BMC Mod 3 charging handle, Vortex 1-6x scope on a Vortex 2″ offset mount, YHM extended push pins and a PSA ambidextrous selector lever. The fire control group is one of the PSA EPT sets – I do like them for basic triggers. I like Geissele SSA-E triggers the most though. I honestly don’t recall who made the offset sights.

Conclusion

If you’re looking to build a decent entry-level rifle from a kit with all of the parts you need other than the lower receiver, the above should work great for you. At a minimum, they will all give you a foundation to start with.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Pandora’s Box Is Open: 3D Printing Of Firearms

You may be thinking I am kind of late to the game with a post about the 3D printing of firearms but you’d be a bit wrong yourself. This domain is alive and exploding with designs that range from almost entirely 3D printed to sophisticated hybrid designs where some parts are printed and some key parts are leveraged from off the shelf suppliers such as Glock slide assemblies and AR uppers.

Just look at these examples:

This is a rendering of the FMDA DD17 Glock 17 compatible frame STL file.
This is a rendering of the FMDA DD19 Glock 19 compatible frame v1.2 STL file.
This is a rendering of the Mac Daddy frame STL file.
The authors of the Mac Daddy project provide the above photo in their Zip file as an example of the finished weapon. Note, this is not mine – I don’t even own a 3D printer!

There are just tons and tons of designs – AR receivers, AK receivers, vz Scorpion receivers, modern polymer pistol lowers … the list goes on and on.

It’s interesting to look at this vibrant community as a one step removed observer. I am intrigued by the innovation and the designs but I also have zero time to learn 3D printing at this point. Between my day job, Ronin’s Grips, family and the need to sleep at least a few hours every night, there is no free time. My wife also made it clear to me in no uncertain terms that I am not to buy a 3D printer — which really doesn’t phase me because I have no time as I mentioned.

The reason I wanted to take a moment and write this post is so that those of you who are curious can dig into the many how-to guides and access the tons of designs that are accessible at this time. It’s hard to say what way the winds of regulation will blow in the United States or a given state for that matter. In some countries, even the possession of these 3D design files would get you in huge trouble.

With that said, the following links are provided for educational purposes only. Please understand the laws and regulations in your area before you download anything or try to build a weapon. You assume all liability.

Getting Started

The first place you will want to visit is CTRL+Pew. They also have their own getting started guide online that you will want to read plus links to other guides and tutorials.

Where to find the files?

In addition to CTRL+Pew mentioned above, there are tons of download links where people are sharing/replicating a huge “Print2a” repository plus have photos and links to individual designs:

Don’t ask me questions!!

Honestly folks, I am not kidding. I find this topic fascinating from an engineering perspective but I have no plans to get into it. Consider this blog post as an introduction and you will need to take it from here.

For all the authors cranking out these amazing designs – rock on! I seriously enjoy seeing them.

Lastly, why did I mention Pandora’s Box in the title? Because I highly doubt the proponents of gun control will ever be able to close the box again.


Again, the above links and information is provided for educational purposes only. Please understand the laws and regulations in your area before you download anything or try to build anything. You assume all liability.

All renderings and the photos of the Mac Daddy are from files that claim to be in the public domain. I do not own them.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Changing Springs and Buffers in My Beowulfs To Improve Reliability

Okay, so the last range trip went a lot better. The new Lancer L5AWM mags with Tromix followers worked great. The reliability on the pistol was coming along but not where I wanted it and the rifle was disappointing still but I knew what was going on.

7.5″ Beowulf Buffer Spring

My 7.5″ Beowulf pistol is running pretty well but I wanted to increase the forward force of the bolt carrier to strip the next round and chamber it. I was already running an H2 buffer but an other wise normal carbine spring. I upped my game to a Sprinco Red Extra Power Carbine buffer spring that they say is made with the “thumper” cartridges such as the .458 SOCOM, .450 Bushmaster, .50 Beowulf. I bought mine from Primary Arms.

The Mil-Spec Carbine Buffer Spring is on top. The Extra Power spring is on the bottom with one end painted red. That’s handy for knowing what spring is in the weapon at a glance.

I cleaned the pistol, lubed everything and installed the extra power spring and the H2 buffer that was in there. It definitely slammed home harder when I released the bolt.

When we go to the range next, I’ll be taking a standard carbine spring, an enhanced Sprinco spring and the carbine already has the extra power spring already installed. I’m also taking standard, H2 and H3 buffers with me.

Changed the Spring and the Buffer on my Full Size Beowulf Rifle

This rifle was built using an Alexander Arms DIY upper.

When we were shooting this, it had a hard time stripping the next round and chambering it. It dawned on me that they hydraulic buffer that I originally used wasn’t driving the bolt carrier forward hard enough. You see, a Hydraulic buffer has a piston inside that has a controlled leak down rate and, for whatever reason, it was dampening the stripping of the next round properly.

With carbine tubes, you have tons of sling and buffer options. Not so much on rifle length tubes. I did opt for a Geiselle Super 42 rifle-length buffer spring and a slightly heavier Expo Arms 5.4 oz rifle buffer –I bought both from Primary Arms.

Top: KynSHOT hydraulic buffer and Mil-Spec rifle-length buffer spring.
Bottom: Expo Arms 5.4oz buffer and Geiselle Super 42 Rifle-length buffer spring
The Kynshot buffer is very nicely made but I don’t think it’s the best choice for this application. I will save it for future projects.

When I cleaned the rifle prior to installing the new spring and buffer, the one surprising thing I found was that it was fairly dry. Why? I have no idea and this would have impacted functionality at the range also as I assumed I’d lubed it already before putting it away. Yet another example of my memory not being what it used to be.

Given that surprise, I went through and applied Super Lube oil and grease before installing the new Geiselle spring and Expo buffer. Afterwards, the action slammed home very easily.

I will take the hydraulic buffer with me back to the range for testing but am somewhat skeptical of it right now. The rifle is set for the next range visit at this point. Another Mil-Spec spring and buffer will be in the bag as well.

Conclusion

We have a ton of snow right now and I’ll have to wait to test my hypotheses. I expect that with the above changes, the two Beowulfs will run very well now.

I hope this helps you out!


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Looking for a Cool AR Rifle Project? Build a .50 Beowulf

Interest in the Beowulf round is growing as people buy the low cost 12.7×42 chambered pistols, rifles and kits. 12.7×42 is the metric designation for the Beowulf and is being used by groups wanting to avoid a trademark problem with Alexander Arms.

The Beowulf is one heck of a thumper delivering massive kinetic energy on target from the base AR-15 platform. That’s the remarkable part – it uses a standard AR lower! To give you an idea of the size of the round take a look at this photo. From top to bottom: .50 Beowulf 350gr XTP, 5.56×45 55gr FMJ , 7.62×39 123gr FMJ and a loose 9mm 124gr Hornady HST. The Beowulf sure dwarfs the little 5.56×45 round!

I’ve owned two .50 Beowulf’s and my current one was built using an Alexander Arms DIY kit that allows you to add the handguard and brake that you want. They are built on standard AR lowers so if you have an AR today, it’s just a matter of adding an upper in this caliber or you can do a whole new dedicated build – it’s up to you. I’ve also done a number of posts about my builds in case you want to learn more – click here to see a list.

A Beowulf upper can mate to any in-spec AR lower. This is a Spike’s lower with an Ergo group, Magpul PRS III and Geissele trigger.

What caught my eye the other day and prompted me to write this post is that Primary Arms has noticed the growing interest in .50 Beowulf and is now carrying a variety of parts and ammunition. They have a lot of products in stock and they ship fast. I’ve placed a couple of orders with them for parts over the past month and they are still shipping stuff out either the same or next day – that’s remarkable given how busy the industry is right now.

To give you some examples of .50 Beowulf products that Primary Arms has currently, they have the Alexander Arms DIY 16″ barrel kit and also the Timber Creek Heart Breaker muzzle brake, which is my favorite Beowulf brake.

This is the 16″ DIY kit. Alexander Arms has done all the fitting for you. It comes with one magazine as well. In terms of the upper kit, I found the machining and parts fitment to be excellent.
This is the Timber Creek Heart Breaker and it does a remarkable job of reducing the recoil. It has three heart shaped ports on each side that redirect the blast backwards to propel the rifle forward and reduce recoil. The three circular ports on the top help reduce climb. Seriously, this is a solid brake.

For ammo, there is an increasing variety out there – Alexander Arms makes their own with a variety of loads plus there are other sellers out there with their own offerings. I’ve found the Alexander Arms 350 grain Hornady XTP ammo to be accurate and the XTPs really open up on impact.

The is older packaging. In 2019 I noticed Alexander was using an eye catching color scheme of navy, black and white – same ammo just a different box. The Alexander Arms .50 Beowulfl 350gr XTP ammo is packed 20 rounds to a box and Primary Arms has it in stock.
Here’s the whole Beowulf.

So, if you want a fun build, get the kit, the handguard you want, the brake you want and take it from there. For folks who like optics, I’d recommend something that can help with fast moving up close targets as well as out to about 200 yards — I paired mine up with a Vortex 1-6×24 Strike Eagle and the 1-8×24 model would be great also.

This is my 1-6×24 Vortex Strike Eagle using a Vortex cantilever mount on my current Beowulf rifle.

One last comment, I make my own magazines using the reliable but inexpensive aluminum D&H magazines that PSA sells. They typically go for $9.99 on sale to $12.99 normally and right now they are on sale in case you want to snag some – they also have their special going on where you can get one of their 36″ rifle cases plus 7 D&H magazines for $109.99

This is one of the 30 round D&H 5.56 magazines that you can use to hold up to 10 Beowulf rounds.
This is the very well made 36″ PSA rifle case deal that includes 7 D&H mags.

Conclusion

That’s it for now. I hope you found this helpful and have fun building and shooting a .50 Beowulf.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Primary Arms Has WMD NiB-X AR 5.56 Bolt Carrier Groups On Sale

Folks, Primary Arms has WMD Nickel Boron bolt carrier groups (BCGs) on sale and in stock! These are my favorite AR-15 BCGs and I always recommend them. Note, they make a .308 BCG but I haven’t tried one yet.

Their Nickel Boron coating is excellent the lubricity is superb – even without any oil they move very freely. They also hold up great as well.

The following specs are from WMD’s website:

  • Bolt – Carpenter 158 heat-treated, shot peened and magnetic particle inspected.  Manufactured to government drawings.  Milspec gas rings. NiB-X coated (40% more wear-resistant than chrome).
  • Extractor – Manufactured, heat treated, and hardened per government drawings.  Black extractor buffer and heavy-duty spring. NiB-X coated.
  • Firing Pin – Manufactured, heat-treated, hardened, chromed and certified per government drawings.
  • Carrier – AR-15 or M16 style (heavy weight), 8620 material, heat treated and case hardened.  Manufacturing tolerances on inside diameters tightly controlled.  NiB-X coated for durability and ease of cleaning.
  • Gas Key – Hardened to USGI Specifications and attached using knurled grade 8 hardened fasteners. NiB-X coated.  Staked per military specifications. The knurled screw heads further enhance the effectiveness of the staking.
  • Cam pin – Manufactured, heat treated, hardened and certified per Government drawings.  NiB-X Coated.
  • Hammer – Manufactured, heat treated, hardened and certified per government drawings.  NiB-X Coated.  Can be semi-auto or full-auto.

The photo above is of the WMD BCG in my 10.5″ AR pistol. Here are a few more photos for you as well.

The WMD BCG is at the top and a regular PSA BCG is at the bottom.

So if you are shopping for a BCG – definitely check these out – click here to open the Primary Arms page! I hope this helps you out – these really are my favorite BCGs for the AR-15.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Great Deals On Pistol Braces and Pistols With Braces At PSA

When the ATF reversed the ruling about braces and enabled folks to use them however they saw fit, the demand and supply of pistol braces went into orbit. I have carpal tunnel and a hereditary tremor so for me, using a brace is the only way I can wield a heavy pistol – such as one based on an AR, AK or MP5 type of action.

Examples of Braced Pistols

SB Tactical’s PDW brace is great on AR pistols
IWI Galil Ace in 7.62×51 with a SB Tactical SBA4 adjustable brace
PTR PDWR .308 pistol with a SB Tactical folding mechanism and SB Tactical SOB brace

Palmetto State Armory (PSA)

PSA has come a long way. I’ve used them as my go-to AR parts supplier for years and now they have great deals on parts, kits, receivers, and firearms. They also offer some great deals on braces – by themselves as parts, as part of a kit offering or even on firearms.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.

Palmetto State Armory’s Angry Joe AR-14 Lower!!! Awesome!!

I can’t stand Biden and think this is absolutely hilarious – The” Angry Joe-14″ AR-14 Stripped Lower. LMAO!! Complete with a dog face pony soldier logo!

Click here to go straight to the pre-order page: http://bit.ly/2W7uTqW

I’m laughing my butt off!!


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


My Favorite .50 Beowulf Muzzle Brake

I now have built my second Beowulf and guys ask me about the recoil all the time – the short answer is that it’s very manageable. With just a bit of tuning, I’d put it somewhere between a 20 and a 12 gauge shotgun shooting 2-3/4″ magnum loads. Now that there are a ton of options both from Alexander Arms as well as generic 12.7×42 uppers (the metric designation for the Beowulf so they don’t have to pay royalties to Alexander Arms), a lot of guys are getting into the .50 Beowulf cartridge and ask me about what brake to run with.

My favorite is the Timber Creek Heartbreaker. It does a remarkable job of venting gasses backwards to compensate for the recoil it would otherwise have. I liked it so much on my first build that it was what I used in my second build. It’s very affordable and I’d be surprised if you can find a brake that does a better job!

Side view of the Heartbreaker and you can see where it gets its name.
View from the top. Note the brake includes a jam nut.

Finding The Brake

My first recommendation is to check out Primary Arms – they carry them and ship fast.

The second option is to buy the brake from is eBay. Just make sure that the thread of the brake matches the thread on your barrel because there are two different threads floating around out there.

My Alpha Wulf

I did a series of blog posts when I built my second rifle. My pet name for it was the “Alpha Wulf” or the leader of the pack. It’s all premium parts and probably my best AR build when it comes to paying careful attention to details during assembly. Here are the posts:

I’m a big fan of the .50 Beowulf cartridge and hope you find this post helpful!


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.