The upper is a complete BCM upper. BCM is, in my opinion, competitively priced considering the quality manufacturing and lifetime warranty. This was important to me because my department only covers costs/damages to department issued equipment. Meaning that if I was involved in an accident and my rifle was damaged, I’d have to pay out of my own pocket to fix/replace it.
I started by purchasing a 16in mid length complete upper with a mod 0 comp and a Troy VTAC handguard. I wish I had waited a little longer because BCM was just about to release their KMR handguard. Don’t get me wrong, the VTAC is a good handguard, but it’s a lot heavier than most free float handguards and there aren’t a lot of direct attach accessories. The upper remained largely unchanged for a long time.
Eventually, I changed the VTAC out for an ALG defense EMR. I love this handguard. It weighs less than half of what the VTAC did, has a very slim profile, and feels rock solid. The best part was getting 13in for only 90 bucks with a lifetime warranty (ALG’s customer service is awesome). I also switched out my 16in m4 profile barrel for a 14.5in BCM pencil barrel. 16in is great, but I figured that shaving some weight and making the rifle a little more maneuverable while still being rifle legal was worth the cost of selling my 16in to buy the 14.5.
I did a lot of research when deciding which muzzle device I was going to marry to my barrel. I narrowed my choices down to the PWS FSC556, BCM Mod 1 comp, Griffin Armament M4SD II, and your run of the mill A2 Birdcage. All of these are great muzzle devices, but I decided to go with Griffin Armament for a few reasons: it’s a good blend of flash and recoil reduction, it is compatible with other griffin armament devices (such as their silencers and blast shield), it achieved a perfect score (5 of 5) in the National Tactical Officers Association, and, frankly, looks way cooler than the A2 birdcage. So far it hasn’t disappointed.
I tried out a myriad of different foregrips/handstops and ran a cutoff Magpul mlok vfg for a long time. Currently I’ve settled on using a BCM short vfg on an mlok accessory rail. After using this for about a month I decided a wanted a slightly more aggressive angle and… mounted the vfg “backwards”. I also cut off a little extra length. Lucas Botkin of TREXARMS uses the same kind of setup and posted a youtube vid on the subject.
I originally planned on purchasing a complete Palmetto State Armory blem lower, but BCM lowers started becoming available and I liked the idea of the quality of my lower matching my upper. I purchased the lower from G and R tactical. I ended up replacing the BCM mod 3 grip with a Magpul K2. Different people like different grips. To me, the texture and size of the K2 are perfect. With the gunfighter grip, it felt like my hand was slipping when conducting reloads/malfunctions. The tang on the K2, coupled with a more aggressive texturing, prevents this and makes my grip feel more secure/consistent.
I originally had the BCM mod 0 stock, but changed it out for a B5 Systems sopmod Bravo for a more consistent cheek weld. I have to dip my head a little lower and “swim” for the red dot with a slim line buttstock.
I honestly don’t know what trigger is in here – whatever BCM was putting in their lowers before their PNT was released. I don’t have any complaints about the milspec trigger. It’s consistent, reliable, and I’m already familiar with it. I may switch it out for an ALG ACT in the future.
WHITE LIGHT SETUP:
I knew I there was a high likelihood of using this rifle in low light. Night vision is too expensive for me (and my department), so I never bothered considering what implications that would have on my rifle setup.
I went through a few different light/mount combinations. Being able to control the light ambidextrously was important to me. I started with a surefire G2x tactical on a couple different mounts, but wanted something lighter.
I also tried an Inforce WML, but it was difficult to use in conjunction with the ALG defense handguard. I didn’t mount it at twelve o’clock because I like an uncluttered sight picture. I also couldn’t utilize the light with my support hand if necessary when mounted at 11 or 1 o’clock.
Eventually I tried a Streamlight Protac 1L Dual in a Way of the Gun light mount. I loved it. It’s lightweight, strong, and sits very close to the rail, making it easy to control with either hand. Only downside is I wanted more lumens…
I finally got a Streamlight Protac Rail Mount 2. I’ll probably do a review specifically dedicated to this light and how its setup. For now suffice it to say its a bargain and hasn’t given me any problems. I have it on an Arisaka Inline Scout Mount.
Deciding what optic to run was very important. Initially I was leaning towards a 1-4x or 1-6x with an etched reticle. Although unlikely, the former infantryman in me is still attached to longer distance shooting. I’d also be able to range estimate and more easily identify threats. However, department policy doesn’t currently allow for variables (though there is talk this will eventually change).
So, I started looking for a red dot. My red dot needed to be lightweight, tough, and have a long battery life. All signs obviously pointed to the Aimpoint T1/H1… but finding one under $500 (even used) was impossible and money was tight. There are a myriad of other good red dots out there now that are significantly cheaper (Primary arms, Vortex, Burris, etc) but department policy only allowed certain manufacturers such as Aimpoint, Trijicon, and Eotech, so those weren’t an option. Then Trijicon released their Miniature Rifle Optic.
I was patient when it was first released. I read every available article I could find on it and watched youtube video after youtube video (the best ones being by Haley Strategic, Sage Dynamics, SupersetCA, and Last Line of Defense). After thoroughly doing my homework, I decided that this red dot would do what I needed and save me some cash that Aimpoint wouldn’t. After a few good months of use on a Midwest Industries QD, I can honestly say I love this red dot. Not only did it fulfill my criteria, but it has some unique features that set it apart – namely the larger objective view and ambidextrous control knob.The control knob is very helpful because most other red dots have it mounted on either the right or left side, which limits your ability to make adjustments with either hand. I know some people have complained about “magnification”… I can only notice this phenomenon when looking through the glass at my TV when I’m intentionally looking for it, so this didn’t bother me.
I did try setting it up in different spots – all the way forward, all the way back, and eventually found the spot that I found ideal for consistent target acquisition and target transitions.
I don’t think the camouflaged/not black rifle principle is really a necessity for an leo patrol rifle, but I’d always wanted to try and I think it makes the rifle more uniquely mine.
I coated the whole rifle in a desert sand/brown before going over that coat in a flat dark green. I then draped the rifle with an old laundry bag and applied the brown with a piece of cut up cardboard to avoid consistent stripes/patterns. I am very pleased with the result and the colors do well in the various areas/seasons I patrol. It’s getting pretty beat up, but that’s all good. I like the worn/jaded look and re-painting won’t be hard.
I had to exercise a lot of patience in putting this together. I don’t have the budget to throw down $2,000 at once, but I knew I didn’t want to settle on mediocre parts. I bought and collected the various elements over the course of 13 months. I know I could have bought something “just as good” for half as much and not waited longer than a human gestation period. But to me, it was worth the time and money to produce a weapon that is prepared for whatever problems I could face.
Complete parts list:
- BCM upper receiver and BCG (640ish)
- BCM bcg/charging handle (mod 3)
- BCM 14.5 pencil 1:7 barrel
- Griffin armament m4sd II pinned/welded (90)
- ALG defense EMR handguard, 13in (90 – on sale)
- BCM vfg shorty (20ish)
- Magpul BUIS (80)
- Trijicon MRO (500ish)
- Streamlight Protac rail mount 2 on Arisaka inline mount (100)
- Way of the Gun sling (15)
- BCM lower receiver/lpk (370)
- B5 systems sopmod bravo (45)
- Magpul k2+ pistol grip (20)
- Contains extra batteries for light and optic/550 cord/other small parts