If you have a rifle with a fixed front sight, and standard drop in style hand guards there is a simple way to get a lighter weight rifle that also functions better and looks awesome. That is to install a free floating rail onto the gun with a low profile gas block. The standard front sight has a lot of heft to it and brings the weight closer to the center of the rifle. By putting a longer free floating rail on, you spread the weight out, and give the rifle more potential for accuracy by free floating the barrel. Another thing that helps is an adjustable gas block, this will allow you to tune the rifle and make it recoil as little as possible allowing for faster followups. One of the companies making both is SLR Rifleworks.
SLR Rifleworks is based out of Winter Garden FL and make all manner of AR-15 accessories from Rails and Gas Blocks to Receivers and even Sound Suppressors. They have some great products that are not only well made but are attractive. Knowing that I wanted to make this rifle lighter and better balanced, I gave SLR Rifleworks a call and after a short conversation settled on the Solo Series 13″ rail. The rifle has a 16″ FN Barrel that has been turned down to a pencil weight with a mid-length gas system. I also asked for one of their Sentry adjustable Gas Blocks to get the most from this light carbine.
First thing I did was remove the muzzle device and pushed the pins on the front sight off. Then removed the front sight and finally the barrel nut. The SLR Rifleworks supplied barrel nut was lighter than the stock barrel nut. The installation of the SLR rail was very simple. Just install the barrel into the receiver, then torque the supplied barrel nut to the specified torque. Once you have done this, install the gas block being careful to line up the gas ports. At this point you can install the rail onto the barrel nut. Once it is in place, tighten the 2 small brass tipped screws on the bottom until they are snug, and then make the cross screws tight. The forces generated by the 4 screws is such that the rail cannot move and is a simple design. Finally put on your muzzle device and you are finished. For this rifle I took a Battle Comp off and put a SureFire brake on in it’s place.
The rail has some great features such as KeyMod attachment pieces along the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions until the last section of the hand guard where it is raised at those same positions for small rail sections and QD cups that will accommodate a QD Sling. There is just the right amount of rail to put a bi-pod and any accessories you would find yourself wanting. The finish of the rail is pleasing and not easily scratched and also seems to have enough material removed to allow the rifle to not get too hot under sustained fire, which I will have to try. SLR also offers a tan version of this same rail for only $40 more which is a deal. At a retail price of $209.99 on the SLR website, I think this rail is priced perfectly. It costs less than some of the bigger names in the industry and after having some of those rails, this is a much more useable rail as it sits.
I was able to do a quick 10 round function test, and the rifle shot perfectly on position 6. The Sentry 7 Gas Block runs $114.00 on the SLR Rifleworks website and is around the same price as other gas blocks with similar features. It is the only one that is user serviceable as far as I have seen, a feature that is handy if the block were to fail for some reason. On the next installment of this rifle build, I will adjust the gas block down to as light as possible, then go over some other accessories that I have not yet installed. Look for a Mission First Tactical grip and Minimalist Stock, a set of Diamondhead USA polymer sights, and more. This rifle as it sits (with MFT and Diamondhead gear) weighs in at 6lbs, and has little recoil. This is a great fighting carbine and proves that a light and reliable carbine is a lot of fun to shoot. Keep watch as this gun gets suppressed, and night vision in the future.
Please visit www.slrrifleworks.com for details on this rail and gas block.
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