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Loving My A1 Retro Build

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Cosmoline, Aug 26, 2012.

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  1. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    It took some searching, but I found a DPMS A1 style slab-sided upper and have mated it with a Yankee Hill lower with the military buttstock. Shot it yesterday and it was really fun. It has the government profile barrel on it in 1/9--so it's not nearly as heavy as the HBAR's that dominate the 20" market but a notch stouter than the original pencil barrels. It shoots either 55 or 64 grainers without troubles. The fit with the receiver is a tad loose and I'll be locking it down better, but even without tweaks or a bench rest I was shooting solid 2" groups with the irons. No jams, either. And it's FUN. I like the Colt carbine I've got, but this one just fits a lot nicer on the shoulder and is a pleasure to rest your cheek on.

    The A1 sights are more primitive and don't have elevation adjustments, but the additional sight radius allows for more precision in aiming.

    Side by side, the A1 style is actually only a few inches longer overall than the carbine. But the difference in sight radius is dramatic. I think that's one reason the carbine works better for close quarters than the rifle, and the rifle tends to be favored for marksmanship. It isn't that the shorter rifle is less accurate, or even that much shorter. It's that your eye can grab the closer front sight a little faster.

    The lack of a forward assist is no loss for me. I don't think we really need those outside of pitched combat and even there it's questionable whether they serve much purpose other than to complicate jam clearance drills. With the A1 you just slingshot it out, and if it still causes troubles toss the mag and replace it with a new one. There's no tapping, just racking. I like that.

    Carrying is a pleasure, from the little I did. The slab side and old style rounded edge triangle profile hand guards are very comfortable and the overall light weight makes it a breeze to tote on the shoulder or over it. Compared with the pokey, jabby, heavy M1A there is NO question which I'd rather haul through the bushes. It's also a real refreshing change from the espresso-machine AR's that have hand guards full of rails and seem to have forgotten that light weight is an attribute.

    In fact I'm of a mind to rig an A1 profile in 6.8 to possibly make this puppy a hunting rifle. Anyone done that before?
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2012
  2. wojownik

    wojownik Member

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    Pictures, pictures, pictures! :D

    A retro build is on my wish list for someday.
     
  3. czhen

    czhen Member

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    Cosmo, share some pics
     
  4. TurtlePhish

    TurtlePhish Member

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    Yes, pictures please! I love A1s- I need to see it. I think an A1 in 6.8 would be pretty freakin' cool. Do it! And show us :D
     
  5. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

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    I love Retro ar's

    Mines a surplus 603 on a no name lower that I bought that way save it had a2 handguards

    Mine has shot sub .75" five shot groups at 100 with the sights ..


    And of course the Retro porn

    1a5952bc.jpg


    c31dbeac.jpg
     
  6. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Nice!

    Here's my two side by side
     

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  7. TurtlePhish

    TurtlePhish Member

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    Cosmo, I'm loving both of those! R.W.Dale, looking classy!
     
  8. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    The old school look is alive and well with many shooters. I know several M4 guys that build A1's after shooting mine.

    BMA102.jpg

    The A1 makes a nice SBR.
    ace01.jpg
     
  9. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I've been shooting this one a lot lately, and one thing that strikes me is how much more comfortable it is than the smaller, collapsing stock carbines. If you've never shot one or haven't shot one in years, you owe it to yourself to try one out with the single piece buttstock and the old style hand guards. particularly when paired with a moderate or light barrel, the rifle is one of the nicest shooting ever made. I think that can get lost in the race towards the AR with the most rails on it. The original design was very ergonomical and user-friendly. Also very well balanced.

    The lack of a forward assist doesn't seem to be a problem in practice. The only problem I've had is the bolt catch doesn't engage fast enough and the bolt gets caught only part-way back. I'm still trying to diagnose the reason, but the fix is to simply slingshot it by hand for a fresh mag, and that's no great trouble.

    I plan to do another shoot this weekend in the snow and will post some pics.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2012
  10. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    The rifles do shoot very well. I am really considering an A1 in the near future but my next build is for sure going to be a copy of my SDM-R I used while in.

    I remember when you were first contemplating getting the AR and were a bit relunctant. Now you have two. They really are a very well designed rifle.
     
  11. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    I'm eyeballing a retro AR-10 build next, so I think I'm hooked.
     
  12. horsemen61

    horsemen61 Member

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    Awesome I love the look of the guns guys I will get one someday
     
  13. Hondo 60
    • Contributing Member

    Hondo 60 Member

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    When I bought mine, I wanted one like I carried 35 years ago
    (my gosh has it really been that long?)

    OK, so I added a scope - my eyes aren't what they used to be.
    And I need a new pic. - that background is pretty much a loser.

    ar15a1.jpg
     
  14. Coop45

    Coop45 Member

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    Nice rifle, forty fours years ago for me. Think three prong flash suppressor/c-ration opener.
     
  15. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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  16. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Thanks! Here's hoping for a Christmas bonus.

    Hondo--I stuck my beat-up Colt scope on mine but it refused to keep zero. I think I'd need shims to keep it from slipping. Either that or the thing just isn't locking down firmly enough due to age and abuse.
     
  17. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    Cosmoline

    I never was a big fan of the triangular handguards so first chance I got I swapped them out for the round ones that were designed for the A2. Other than that I have kept my Colt SP-1 Sporter in the same stock configuration as when I bought it nearly 35 years ago. I have tried a number of different scope configurations but have found I still do some of my most accurate work with the iron sights.

    And you're right about how the solid one piece stock and slightly longer sight radius makes for a more positive feel with the gun and for more precise shots at long range.
     
  18. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Took the old school AR out for an "Ice Station Zebra" shoot today. It was single digits in the morning but got sunny and warmed up to about 18. I'm having trouble with the bolt not locking all the way back between magazines. The problem could be short stroking but brass deflection is right where it's supposed to be according to the charts and I have no other problems. I suspect it may simply be a problem with the bolt catch spring, which is pretty simple to rule out. I noticed twice that even when I manually pulled the slingshot back, the bolt catch failed to engage and had to be nudged. Not dispositive, but strongly suggestive.

    Other than that, which is a minor issue, it was flawless with no jams or sticking in spite of the weather and the fact that the rifle was exposed to the cold all the way there on my bike. I put on a magpul winter glove trigger guard extender which works great with light gloves. The only serious issue I had all day was that the wind stopped and my glasses kept fogging up. I need to mount a small defroster on the carry handle!

    I've shot a wide variety of military rifles and carbines in the cold up here, and with all due respect to my beloved Finn Mosins this retro AR is BETTER in the winter. The big handguards are great for a gloved left hand and the plastic stock doesn't freeze your skin. It's just incredibly comfortable shooting. Almost too easy. Even with my glasses almost totally fogged up--when I could only see a little vague green blur at 100 yards and a blurry black post--I was still able to shoot 6" groups from kneeling. Only one or two rounds fell outside the green target. When the glasses were cleared I was shooting 2-3" from kneeling and squatting and that's with full winter cycling gear on which makes everything slippy.

    Plus it's just nice to have a rifle that won't give you frostbite if you brush against it with bare skin. The alloy simply doesn't seem to get as cold as steel. And unlike modern AR designs, there's nothing on this rifle to poke you or snag wool clothes or gloves. Every surface is streamlined like an airplane. There was some logic to that! And though longer, it's just about as portable as the carbine. The lower fits in the backpack and the upper slides into a 16" carbine scabbard behind it.

    It's fast becoming my funnest rifle.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 24, 2012
  19. Kurt_D

    Kurt_D Member

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    I ordered a couple of NDS A1 receivers and have finished one. It's my favorite rifle to shoot, though I don't have a lot of 55gr 5.56. I also like my A2 but the A1 is just a bit lighter and the A1 stock is exactly where I put my tel-stocks on carbines. My other A1 receiver set may change to a new production 1:9 to use all my 62gr stuff.
     
  20. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    The DPMS upper is 1:9 thankfully. I'm not sure what the story is on it, found it on gunbroker. There are some fancier ones around but absolutely nothing was in stock for months. There seems to be a real shortage of full size barrels that aren't bull or heavy target models.
     
  21. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    my ar with a extra upper,the light weight colt is super for carrying and the medium weight barreled upper is good for more range. eastbank.
     

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