An Physical exercise in Obtaining a Custom Upper

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AR-15 upper

I am a reloader. As such, I have a bit a lot more flexibility in the cartridges I decide on to personal and shoot. I am not opposed to owning a caliber that is improved at what I want to be carried out even if it does not come close to passing the “Walmart” test.

Here’s how the Walmart test operates: Can I go to any (gun-friendly) Walmart and have improved than an 80% possibility of discovering ammo for my gun?

You may well not come across the grain weight or brand you want, but you can get one thing that operates.

If you personal an AR-15 in five.56, you effortlessly pass this test. If you personal a .458 SOCOM, you in all probability do not.

If the cartridge takes place to be a 6mm wildcat primarily based on the six.five Grendel case, you are so far away from passing, even World-wide-web ammo web pages appear at you cockeyed.

In that vein, eighteen months ago, I began the method of discovering an AR-15 cartridge that would be an superb hunting selection capable of ethically taking medium game animals out to 400+ yards and a flat shooting paper puncher out to at least 700 yards.

Here’s what my encounter obtaining a custom upper was like.



ar-15 with ammo
Acquire a custom upper is in the end a satisfying encounter for some.

The Cartridge

There had been a lot of twists and turns in my study. Several items seemed fantastic, but turned out to be vaporware or World-wide-web myths. I did come across a cartridge that had substantial traction in the wildcat neighborhood and it did all the items I wanted, having said that.

The cartridge would launch a 105-108-grain 6mm bullet at 2800+ fps from a 24″ barrel. This has vastly superior ballistics to the off-the-shelf “competitors” in the .224 Valkyrie or .22 Nosler.

With the most effective BC 90-grain Valkyrie as the comparison (90-grain Berger VLD), my 6mm Fat Rat upper shoots an 18-grain heavier bullet at least 200 fps more quickly. At 800 yards, this signifies 120 #/ft. a lot more retained power and 10″ significantly less drop.

I am working with a extremely fantastic bullet in the 6mm wildcat (Hornady 6mm 108-grain ELD Match), but I chose to forgo some BC to prevent the finicky nature of VLD projectiles. I also do not want to have to re-zero when I switch from hunting to paper punching.

ar-15 custom upper
A close up of the 6mm Fat Rat upper.

The Business

There are two firms promoting what are correctly the similar cartridge. The a lot more effectively-recognized choice is by (inside the neighborhood) a effectively-recognized shooter. He utilizes a gunsmith organization to make total uppers and total rifles to his specs.

These rifles command a premium value and by all accounts are a leading-shelf offering… when you can get a single produced.

The second choice is a organization that has a diverse name for the “same” round. There is a slight distinction in neck diameter, to take away any want for neck turning and some other gun geek facts. Otherwise, they are “the similar.”

This outfit does not need the acquire of a total rifle, while they make them. Their enterprise model caters to the DIY builder wanting to create from elements when getting flexibility and saving a bit of cash.

I initially attempted to operate with the initially organization. More than a 3-month period, I sent them 5 emails. In these emails, I asked certain queries relating to the cartridge and how to acquire an upper—as effectively as specifics on the requirements of the reduced to mate it to.

None of these emails had been responded to. I did handle to come across and get in touch with the gunsmith organization. They had been fairly useful on the technical elements and gave me a diverse telephone quantity to attempt to spot my order. I named 3 occasions and lastly got a return contact.

The household member with whom I spoke was very useful and knowledgeable. We spoke for at least 30 minutes. His objective was to make certain I was having what I wanted. My cell telephone dropped the contact, prior to becoming capable to total the deal.

In the subsequent month, I produced at least 3 comply with-up calls, to no avail.

The Business, Take Two

At that point, I moved my interest to the other organization, Correct and Dependable Rifles. The owner, Lee Wells, normally answered or promptly responded to my calls. In the third round of communication, I initiated an order for a total upper.

Some of the many hardware bits required to reload the wildcat round and the final configuration of the upper had been not finalized with that order. Some fine-tuning was nevertheless required and a handful of items came up in the course of the method that changed a handful of of the facts.

This is extremely standard for a custom upper job. Soon after numerous rounds of figuring out the finer facts, we had a strategy and a due date. I paid in advance and the wait started for my 6mm Fat Rat.

Inevitable Delays

3 weeks into what was supposed to be a six-week wait, I received a contact relating to the side charging stripped upper. They had been redesigning the upper from scratch to do away with the rear charging manage.

This modify would strengthen the reduced and do away with the rear gas blow-by when utilized suppressed. This seemed like a fantastic thought and I signed off on the delay. It was also going to add 3 weeks to the project time, but I like communication and I like improvements.

The new agreed upon shipment date arrived. By the terms of the acquire, I should really have received an e mail with tracking details to show shipment. My life was extremely busy that week, so I do not have a possibility to contact in the course of enterprise hours.

I followed up the subsequent week, only to come across out that the production of the new reduced ran into a snag and was 3 weeks behind. This was the second of 4 production delays that would set the project back 13 weeks.

Soon after the third delay, Lee did offer you to thread the muzzle and mount a muzzle brake for no cost, as a way of apologizing for the continued delays.

ar-15 close-up
The completed solution.

Worth the Wait

I comprehend in the planet of custom guns, this is smaller cash and a reasonably quick delay. Even in the planet of factory releases—Kel-Tec, I’m hunting at you with the CMR-30 and 3 years—11 to 15 weeks behind is essentially moderately ahead of the curve.

This reality just signifies a lot of in the gun sector have a lot more technical savvy than they have advertising and marketing sense or realistic workload predicting abilities. There are, of course, optimistic examples.

We will redeem Kel-Tec, as their KS7 was not even announced till they had a lot more than 1,000 units prepared for shipment. In that case, they fulfilled the maxim of “ALWAYS below guarantee and More than provide.” Other firms would be effectively advised to do the similar.



For some, the hassle of a custom upper will tremendously outweigh the simplicity of 85-90 % efficiency from an off-the-shelf resolution.

These of us who personal a Dillon 650, two Square Deal B’s and a couple of single stage presses in all probability fall into the custom upper category, at least component of the time. If, for no other explanation (and regardless of the complaining), we like the challenge.

Have you purchased a custom upper prior to? What was your encounter like? Let us know in the comments under.

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