Buy Once, Cry Once (?) Part 2: The AR Pistol

It seemed fitting to write Part 2 of my earlier Buy Once, Cry Once (?) article during the peak of the holiday shopping season.  For those who are too lazy or pressed-for-time to read the first installment, let me sum it up with these few words:  don’t let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of “good enough”.  If you have a NEED for something, get whatever you can that fills that need now.  You can always upgrade/update to what you really WANT later.

I thought it would be helpful to illustrate this process in action, and have decided to use the journey of my AR Pistol as one example.  Readers of this article will recall that, once I decided an AR Pistol was something I wanted (for our purposes, we will describe this as a need, though I realize that is dubious), I shopped sales and the used market to put together this:

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First incarnation

The basic specs were:  Anderson Arms stripped lower, Palmetto State Armory Lower Parts kit, Magpul MOE pistol grip and trigger guard, KAK Industries buffer tube with Sig Brace, Magpul front and rear Generation 2 back up sights, Bravo Company 11.5 inch upper with Daniel Defense 10.0 Lite Rail, Magpul MS3 sling, Magpul Railed Sling Attachment point, Vortex flash hider, Bravo Company Mod 4 extended charging handle, Inforce Weapon Mounted Light, Ergo Ladder rail covers, and Aimpoint PRO red dot sight.

A combination of a desire for less bulk, faster handling characteristics, and a change in BATFE “opinion” of the Sig Brace, led to some changes:

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Second incarnation

Away went the KAK Industries buffer tube and Sig Brace, and on went the Phase 5 pistol buffer tube (I sold the KAK tube and the Sig Brace in order to fund the Phase 5 tube, and had some money left over).  I also replaced the Vortex flash hider with a standard A2 bird cage (in an effort to shave off ½ inch in length and because the Vortex seemed perfect for a different project).

As noted in my article on AR pistols, I enjoyed the faster handling characteristics of the AR pistol in this configuration.  However, once Dave Montana of Hunter Rifleworks built me my second full-size AR (see here), I realized that I could make my AR pistol even lighter, thinner up front, and with all accessories set up the same as my other ARs.  Since I at least try to be practical, it seemed sensible to set them all up similarly so my hands always know where everything is (lights, etc.).

With Dave willing to do the work for me (again), I found it cheaper to ship him the upper of the pistol to reconfigure:

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Latest incarnation

Now it wears a Midwest Industries 10 (actually 10.5) inch MLOK rail, Daniel Defense fixed front sight, Midwest Industries folding rear sight, Magpul ladder rail cover on the top rail, Aimpoint T1 with Tango Down cover, Surefire X300 Ultra, and I’m about to change out the receiver end plate for one with an integrated Quick Detach socket.  Then I just need to decide if I want to go with a Magpul MS4 sling or a Blue Force Gear VCAS sling like my other ARs wear.

To assist me in making these changes, I sold the Haley/Inforce light, the Magpul back up sights, the Magpul railed sling attachment, the 3 Ergo Ladder rail covers, the Daniel Defense 10.0 Lite rail, and the Magpul MS3 sling.  The Aimpoint PRO was moved to one of my full-sized ARs.

Now, some may sit back and laugh at me, saying that there’s no way I was able to break even with all the changes I made along the way.  They’d be right:  I did NOT break even (though the sale of many of the components did soften the overall blow).  However, what those people may not consider is:

  1. I had the use of the AR pistol for more than a year while it went through these three “phases”.
  2. From the get-go, I did not necessarily know what would be the “ideal” set-up for this firearm. There was bound to be a certain amount of trial and error to figure out what works FOR ME.

Thus, what I would say is that the money I “lost” changing things out bought me time.  Living in a liberal utopia where the laws can change almost as the wind blows, it was important to me to get an AR pistol in hand, function-tested, etc., sooner rather than later.  THEN, once in my possession, I was able to use time to my advantage to pick up “extras”, either used or on sale, so that I was able to set it up more and more to my liking.  I did not let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of “good enough”.  While it may not have been in “perfect” configuration for me at the get-go, it was certainly functional and did everything I asked of it.

The result is that I have now gained experience with AR pistols in general, have been able to try out some different weapon-mounted light options, rails, buffer tubes, the Sig Brace, etc., which will help me to make more informed decisions down the road and possibly assist other to do the same.  To me, it’s all worth it.

In addition to Dave at Hunter Rifleworks, I’d also like to give a shout-out to Brian at Desert Tactical Solutions in Tucson, Arizona.  He hooked me up with some slightly discounted items (Daniel Defense front sight, BCM low-profile gas block to replace the one Dave had to forcibly remove from the upper when he replaced the front rail, etc.).  Looking forward to doing more business with Brian.

Readers can anticipate future examples of this “shopping” technique in action.  Thanks for reading.  Feel free to share any thoughts you may have in our comments section.

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