National Match rifle project update.

I’m making progress on my NM AR-15 project.

I ordered all of the small parts from Midway USA a few weeks ago, a mix of DPMS and Olympic Arms parts. A couple of things are on backorder (pivot and takedown pin detent springs and the charging handle assembly), but I’ve got most of the odds and ends to put both the upper and lower together.

One thing I’m going to do is collect all the parts before getting started putting it all together. My son is really interested in helping me with this and learning about AR-15’s. He’s got limited time so I’ll probably wait and build the whole thing with him in one or two sessions after we get all the parts together.

As far as the more expensive parts, I ordered a barrel yesterday (I guess you could call it a birthday present for myself), as well as the assembly tools I’ll need and a few more small parts (including a couple of 20 round magazines).

I ended up having to settle for a lower range barrel than I would have liked to have. Every big name barrel maker is at least 5 to 6 months behind on orders. I would have been perfectly happy to spend up to $400 on a barrel if I could have gotten one from a big name maker in a reasonable amount of time.

The only place I found with a DCM approved match barrel that even came close to matching my specs was a DPMS carried by Midway USA. I looked and made phone calls, and google searches, and researched specs for two weeks before making this decision so it wasn’t done lightly…but I still hope I don’t regret it.

I must say that the price is right, and the reviews that the barrel has gotten have been pretty universally good. I ended up getting the DPMS 20″ Stainless Steel HBAR countour in .223 with 1×8 rifling. The one they have in stock is the model threaded for a flash hider. I don’t see any need for a flash hider on a competition rifle, but that’s all they had and the DPMS web site says that all barrels are on indefinite backorder, so I don’t see them getting any “post ban” non-threaded barrels in any time soon. I really wanted the .223 Wylde chamber dimensions also and this one is chambered in .223 Rem. The .223 Rem chambering is supposedly more accurate because of the reduced leade, but I can’t shoot 5.56 ammo in it so I’ll have to be careful about that.

It does have an adjustable FSB installed, so I won’t have to worry about getting Machine work done as I would have if I had ordered a stripped barrel from one of the bigger manufacturers. I was worried about that. I don’t know the gunsmiths around here well enough to know who to trust with that and I simply don’t have the tools to do precision machining.

So, anyway, I went ahead and ordered the barrel even though it’s not exactly what I wanted. it was only $149 with my dealer discount at Midway USA so it does fit into the “tight budget” aspect and getting the barrel so cheap will mean that I’ll hopefully be able to finish the whole project a little sooner than I originally thought. I figure by the time I shoot this barrel out in a few years, the AR feeding frenzy will have died down and I’ll be able to get a White Oaks or other higher-end barrel in a reasonable amount of time. Even if I can’t, when the round count starts getting up there, I can always order a replacement barrel at least six months out so that I’ll have it before the old one is completely gone…assuming that AR’s haven’t been banned by then and I can still get a barrel at all.

Also, I got another important piece of my build at a very much reduced cost. Anyone who read the comments to my last post on this project might remember that Gregory of West By God! left a comment offering a BCG in trade for an SKS trigger job. Of course I jumped at that so I got a complete, never used Bolt Carrier Group for the cost of shipping, a set of SKS Wolff replacement springs and a few hours of work. What a great deal…and I heartily thank Gregory for making the offer. I sincerely hope he’s happy with the reworked trigger.

At any rate, here’s where I’m at so far:


NM Rifle Build costs
CMMG Stripped Lower $125.99
YHM A2 Stripped Upper $69.00
Lower Parts $39.19
Upper Parts $27.97
Barrel Parts $22.16
DPMS Barrel $148.99
Bolt Carrier Group *$66.65
Magazines (2) $22.98
Tools $49.96
Taxes/Shipping/Handling $33.75
Running Total $606.64

*BCG cost includes parts, estimated labor and shipping for the SKS trigger job traded for the BCG

I’ve pretty much decided where I’m going to get the remaining parts.

From Rock River, I still need the Free Float tube and handguard ($115), the 1/4 moa NM sights ($110) and the buttstock assembly ($65). From Bushmaster, I need their adjustable 2 stage trigger (127.95) and their sight and muzzle cover set (14.95). And weights from Ray-Vin (37.90 for the set).

It’s looking like I’m going to get this done for right around $1100.00. Not bad. I would have preferred to put another $150 or $200 into it and gotten a better barrel…but whaddaya gonna do? And yes…I realize I’m not really saving money here…that I probably could have gotten a ready made RRA or Bushmaster DCM rifle for not much more than this…but half of the purpose of this project is the satisfaction and experience of assembling it myself.


4 thoughts on “National Match rifle project update.

  1. Right now, I'm planning on This One.

    I'll order it from Midway USA if they ever get them back in stock, otherwise I'll order directly from Bushmaster.

    The only other one I'm thinking about is the Jewell. It's quite pricey but a number of competitive shooters I know use them and swear by them. Since I didn't spend as much as I was anticipating on the barrel, I may just spring the extra $75 for the better trigger. Haven't decided yet.

  2. BTW: Every time I start to think I've made a firm decision, I start thinking about it and waffling again.

    On the one hand, The Bushmaster trigger is probably good enough for my skill level.

    But on the other hand, will I be satisfied with it over the long haul?

    The barrel and the trigger are two of the three most important ingredients for accuracy. Since I'm (involuntarily) skimping on the barrel, should I invest more in the trigger to make up at least some of the difference?

    I probably won't really completely decide until I actually place the order in a month or two.

  3. Just go with a 1/2 min. rear sight: you won't be able to shoot well enough to take advantage of the 1/4 min. adjustments. Fulton Armory had them at Camp Perry for a great price this year.

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