View Full Version : building a lighter AR?

11-07-2009, 8:32 PM
I'm thinking about building my GF an AR for Christmas . She's a smaller girl (5'5" and 104lbs) and doesn't have a lot of upper body strength. I'm thinking the lightest build possible would make it easier for her to enjoy at the range (she says mine is too heavy), and easier to make use of in a defensive situation if such a thing were to come up.

I am thinking pretty much any 223 lower is going to be about the same weight. Is there a particular type of upper that shines for its light weight, other than just whatever the shortest thing i can get is?

if you have any other general advice on putting together an AR for someone who is shorter and has less upper body strength that would be great. not to mention its not just girls, i'm sure there are dudes who might be able to more effectively enjoy a lighter rifle!

mala in se
11-07-2009, 8:38 PM
light is generally going to be in upper 6lbs. you can probably shave weight w/ a handguard vs rail, and an skeleton stock. otherwise the other components are going to be comparable in weight.

11-07-2009, 8:39 PM
The ideal route would be to go the 14.5" barrel with pinned muzzle device as you mentioned. The pencil 14.5" barrel would be even better, but pretty hard to find. And most importantly keep it KISS style with plastic handguards, iron sights, and if really necessary, a light optic such as a Aimpoint T1 or H1, etc. All those tacticool accessories run up weight and is no necessary. Run the Magpul CTR or Vltor Modstock to keep it light and short.

11-07-2009, 8:43 PM
Basic build. Plastic handgaurds, basic flash hider/break.

No front grips, flash lights, rails, rail covers, ect.

You can probably get the thinner carbine length handgaurds. The one used on the CAR-15/whatever the older carbines were called. Might be lighter.

An example is this:

11-07-2009, 8:44 PM
Pencil barrel, for sure. Maybe a 14.5 + pinned flash hider. Remember that a lighter gun will have more felt recoil--she might not enjoy her present...

11-07-2009, 8:45 PM
use the bushy CF lower

11-07-2009, 8:51 PM
use the bushy CF lower

My friend has a Bushmaster Carbon15, but he swapped out the sealed magwell with an bushy open magwell bought from CWS. Its a complete Bushy carbon and its really light. It was actually mine and i sold it to him. I know people say they suck but as from what i found, the later carbon15 were built better and bushmaster corrected the flaws they had with cracking. It is the lightest AR i have ever held or shot and it shoots great too. Just an idea. If she isnt shooting thousands of rounds, why not..

11-07-2009, 9:04 PM
You should also take into consideration the balance of the rifle. A 6lb rifle with a center of gravity an inch or two in front of the magwell will feel heavier than 7lb rifle with a CoG at the magwell.

11-07-2009, 9:11 PM
I've been planning a lightweight AR for a while now. Here's my ideas to put one together.

-A1 upper, w/o SD & FA
-16" Pencil weight barrel
-9" Troy TRX rail
-Lo-Pro Gas Block
-MBUS front sight
-Cavalry Arms MKII lower
-Smith Enterprise Aluminum or Titanium BCG
-Surefire Muzzlebreak

The Smith Enterprise would be very hard to find, they stopped making them a while ago. But this would give you a very light and controllable AR-15 IMHO.


11-07-2009, 9:22 PM
Theres a Cav Arms lower listed in the FS threads here.... $270 i think is the price.

11-07-2009, 9:35 PM
Also remember that lighter rifles equate to more felt reciol that appears sharper in nature. As said, the 'feel' is far more important than the weight. Think of moving heavy objects; you can move objects twice as heavy as those that are bulky or awkward because your body is under less stress to keep the things upright, etc. Same concept as low resistance balance exercises at gyms. Your body is put under more stress trying to control the item than the actual weight of the item.

That said, here are some important things to keep in imnd (have gone through, and still go through, the same things with my wife many times).

1. Muzzle brake. Period. The reduced reciol can be a major plus and could be the deciding factor between them liking it and disliking it. Just keep in mind that they tend to be much louder and cause more felt concussion than a flash suppressor. Try to find something that reduces recoil without making the rifle sound and feel like a cannon. I personally like the FSC556 for this.

2. Lightweight is great but a balanced rifle is more important. ARs tend to be front heavy so opt for the lightest barrel possible. You could even opt for a sub 16" with a perma brake to meet legal lengths. This could also have some weight off the rifle, and bring the center of balance back on the rifle an inch or so.

3. Stock design is important. For some reason all the women I've talked to who shoot find collapsable stocks less comfortable than standard stocks. A woman's breast also tends to be at the toe of the stock. Try to find something that will fit her body shape without being uncomfortable. I've wanted to try that Duo stock for a while but haven't bothered yet. It might be a good compromise. I think women also like the sturdy feel of a solid stock. An A2 stock, even on a carbine build, with a small weight might help for a solid feeling and well balanced stock. Pistol grips also play into the 'feel' as well but it's more personal preference. Just remember that most women have smaller hands so a smaller grip will feel more like holding a baseball and less like trying to palm a basketball to her. It's been my experience (although it may not be the norm) that vertical grips usually add little benifit in a woman's eyes but can be a huge con if it's in the wrong place, wrong size, weird shaped, etc. That, along with the fact that you want to reduce as much weight as possible, makes a railed forend impractical. Even the railed forends that weight less than factory handguards won't weigh less when you add on rail covers, etc. It's just added money, weight, and bulk that is not needed on a build like this.

4. Don't forget about the gas length and buffer systems. Generally speaking, a rifle length gas system will have less felt recoil than a midlength which will have less felt recoil than a carbine which will have less felt recoil than a pistol length gas system. The same is true in regards to rifle buffers generally feeling better than carbine or sub-carbine buffer systems.

5. Optics. Holding a firearm for the first time is very awkward as it is, you don't need to strain her body by forcing her to try and hold her body in an unnatural way to align irons while at the same time holding the rifle. Try for something that requires little instruction on it's use, that is lightweight, and would allow for a more natural hold of the rifle to align the sight picture. Red dots are great for this and in my experience they are looking for more fun than precission so go for a larger MOA red dot so they can pick it up easier.

That said, my ideal starting woman's setup would be:

1. Standard AR lower and flattop upper
2. A2 buttstock with an impluse absorbing buffer like Enidine
3. Tango Down battle grip (hard plastic version - not 'sticky' rubberized version)
4. Light trigger such as a Timeny, Jewel, Jard, etc
5. Midlength super-light/pencil profile 14.5" barrel w/ perma FSC556 or similar
6. lightweight 4MOA red dot like an Aimpoint Micro with a LaRue type riser

That would be my ideal rifle setup for a woman shooter trying to get into the sport.

ETA: Also, many times extended controls can be a huge plus for someone with small hands, low dexterity, and general infamilarity with firearms.

An over looked aspect of comfortable ARs is ammo selection. Many people can feel the difference in handguns or magnum calibers, but it's frequently overlooked in AR and AK platforms. Bullet weight will effect felt recoil. Those 62 grain surplus cartridges will feel MUCH worse than some sub 50 grainers. Try finding, or having loaded, some lighter varmint bullets for female and new shooters. You don't need the things blistering fast either. Some nice mid 40s range bullets at standard pressures will feel more like a .22 than a full sized rifle cartridge.

11-07-2009, 9:44 PM
How heavy is the setup she said was too heavy? Just take her out to the gun store and have her hold some and see what see would regard as an ideal weight.

11-07-2009, 9:46 PM
I've found that some women like the Shorty A-2 Buttstock. It's solid but has a shorter LOP for smaller framed women. The lightest AR I was able to put together was just below 5 pounds, and as the other posters have said, you will need a good muzzle brake.

11-07-2009, 9:51 PM
You can save some wieght in the lower by going with a cav arms lower. There is always the carbon bushy but I would not trust it for self defense. You can also go with a pencil barrel upper with no sights and a doctor/burris holo sght on a larue iron dot. should get you under six lbs no problem. read an interesting post on this on arfcom a while back.

11-07-2009, 10:00 PM
this is the one that she thought was heavy (mine, before optics). i do think the stock setup might make a difference, someone mentioned the boob vs. buttstock issue, i can see how that might be an issue.


11-07-2009, 10:15 PM

Here is a link to an arfcom thread. Good info for a lightwieght build.