Meeting Jarhead Survivor / My AR-15 build

So, this past Wednesday, I had the privilege to meet up with our very own Jarhead Survivor and spend time with him at his made-it-a-half-a-century gala. His family is beautiful and welcoming, his demeanor warm and intelligent, and his burgers – really friggin’ good! (just ask my son!) However, I must say that his 33-foot trailer seems a bit foo-foo for a guy who professes to climb mountains on a regular basis. :-P


Jarhead Survivor’s idea of “roughing it”



But, really, Andy and I had a great time making fun of his chatterbox computer geek nephew with him, eating his birthday cake and ice cream, getting our pictures taken with half-drunken people from the campsite across the way (Jarhead looks pretty good in a sombrero). After everyone went their own ways, he showed off some neat gear (I really liked the Sven Saw and Sawvivor) and he showed us how to light a fire with a Firesteel. Very cool stuff.

Jarhead shows us how to build a fire with a Firesteel in the campsite firepit.

Jarhead shows us how to build a fire with a Firesteel in the campsite firepit.


However, meeting someone for the first time, you notice idiosyncrasies you never really thought would be there, and sure enough, Jarhead had a few. I thought I’d share these with you, since I thought you fine readers would like to know what kind of a fellow is at the helm of this lil’ blog.


– He insists on being called “Jarhead Survivor” in lieu of his real name. If you refer to him by his real name, he will open-hand slap you and refer to you as a “stupid motherf–cker” for the rest of the day. True story.

-Whenever the door to his camper opens, the “Marine Corps Hymn” plays over loudspeakers. For seven minutes.

-If you make direct eye contact with him, he growls.

-His four-year-old son can recite every line in “Full Metal Jacket”, and his lovely two-year-old daughter can shoot a return azimuth with a lensatic compass.

-He openly refers to Bear Grylls as a “wicked sissy girl”, yet has him on speed-dial.

-His calves make Fabio proclaim, “I can’t believe they’re not implants!”


..but other than that, he’s a great guy. Thanks for the great day, JS…and happy birthday!


…anyway, on to business:


My AR-15 build


I had several emails and a comment asking about my AR-15 pictured in my last article about torturing a Magpul’s an easy, inexpensive build, but one I had fun with. It was put together with relative simplicity and budget in mind, yet with lots of storage and utility. It’s in 5.56mm/.223, even though I don’t believe it’s the optimum caliber. (I think the .300 AAC Blackout would be a far better round, but logistics are pretty poor for the caliber…and the military and most of America stocks up on 5.56, so it makes quite a bit more sense in that regard.)


Anyway, I have far less than $1000 in the build. The most expensive single purchased part was the Windham Weaponry SRC (Sight Ready Carbine) upper barreled receiver bought complete. It has a 1:9 twist 16″ heavy barrel. I replaced the handguards with an inexpensive Amazon-bought quad rail . It works great, and I covered them with Magpul ladder rail covers in Olive Drab (OD) green.

The rest of the gun is as follows:

Weaponcraft stripped lower receiver (bought just days after the Sandy Hook fiasco, $175)

Palmetto State Armory Classic Lower Parts Kit, with the trigger, hammer, and disconnector engagement surfaces polished to a 1200-grit surface, for a MUCH better trigger pull. (future how-to article)

-Magpul MBUS flip-up back-up sights

Magpul MOE grip (with a spare DPMS spring kit inside)

-Magpul ACS rear stock, with a spare firing pin, extractor, ejector, cam pin, firing pin retainer pin, sample tube of Frog Lube, and other doo-dads)

Magpul ASAP single-point sling adaptor (though I’ll admit that I don’t use it much; I’ve found that single-point slings suck for moving around)

-GI nylon web dual-point sling – just the ticket for easy carrying with a backpack through the woods.

Brownells riser scope block – brings scopes, red dots, etc. on standard scope rings up to excellent eye-level for optics use.

Warne medium quick-detachable rings – retains zero even after dismounting.

ADCO Ranger 1″ 3MOA red dot – kind of a cheapo red dot I’ve owned for years, but it’s proven itself very reliable, with good battery life, over a range of conditions. I will admit, I have a Bushnell TRS-25 coming for trial soon.


The upper receiver, lower receiver, buffer tube, and other bits and pieces I personally sprayed in Lauer Custom Weapons‘ Duracoat “Tactical OD Green”. I liked the way it looks with the matte black of the rest of the parts, and I’ve gotten nothing but jealous compliments. Look for a future article on how to Duracoat – it’s a very tough, very snazzy-lookin’ spray-on finish that can be applied in layers for a camouflage pattern, or in single colors (like I did).  Keep an eye out!


That’s about it for today; have a great Wednesday!


Questions? Comments? I know, I know…I need to work on my comedy routine.


Stay safe!





11 comments… add one
  • Babycatcher August 28, 2013, 9:52 am

    Sounds like you had fun! Maybe we will be blessed enough to meet Jarhead someday! :)

  • Roseman August 28, 2013, 3:18 pm

    Nice job!

  • T.R. August 28, 2013, 6:14 pm

    Need to put a few things on my SCAR 17 , but have to wait for that , as money needed for other things .

  • Jason August 29, 2013, 12:28 am

    I just bought a lower receiver & am about to build the rest – is there anything you’d do different? I’m not afraid to spend a few bucks for better quality stuff but I don’t want to spend foolishly.

    Monday is opening day for dove season & I have a long tradition of going with a group of guys that are excellent bird hunters, in fact, my buddy is there now scouting for birds.

    Just for T.R. we are going to be in Ehrenberg AZ, on the river across from Blythe. My buddy has a house on the water with a dock & man every toy – yeehaa!

    • Road Warrior August 29, 2013, 4:39 am

      Hey Jason, this was actually my first full AR build, and had to do it on a budget, but I am very pleased with the results. Therefore, there’s not much I would have done differently, but maybe just a couple tips?

      I’m assuming you will want to build a collapsible stock variant? Collapsible carbine stocks come in two variations: commercial and mil-spec. Go Mil-spec, hands-down. There really isn’t a quality difference, with one markedly better than the other, it’s just that all the major manufacturers of components these days are starting to standardize on the Mil-spec dimensions. If you get a good deal on a commercial tube and buttstock you like, I’d grab it, but just be attentive if you change your buttstock and remember which it is. The Mil-spec and commercial tubes have, I think, a .015″ width difference: just enough to be annoying. Check this out for clarification:

      -If you’re looking for a reliable, tough rifle, DON’T get the high-speed, low-drag match triggers unless this will be a dedicated target rifle. While they are of wonderful quality, they have adjustable disconnectors, overtravels, etc. that can really mess with the function of the gun (from making it a one-shot wonder to making it go full-auto) if it’s not properly set up. I once had to do a LOT of adjusting to a customer’s gun that he’d put a very nice natch trigger in, and then forgot to loc-tite the set screws. In my opinion, the possibility of having to dick with the trigger adjustments when you need it is ludicrous. The AR platform works well as designed, I’d run a standard trigger/hammer/disconnector set.

      -I wish I’d put a newer Magpul MOE grip on the gun; they are rubberized and very, very comfortable. Mine is hard plastic…but it was free!

      -If you go with a single-point sling adapter, I’d get a fixed one. My ASAP mount has a ring that moves on a rail. It rattles and dings and now annoys the shit out of me. I’m going to re-install the old fixed loop-type.

      -Don’t be afraid to buy a kit. Palmetto State Armory ( makes very complete lower kits. You can find the one with the options you like and buy everything you need for a lower, in one shot. I’m sure there are other companies out there who do this too, but my personal experience is with PSA, and they were very good.

      -A new fad with ARs is they hydraulic buffer; they’re pretty cool as far as not making your AR sound like a toy when you shoot it (that classic AR “pwing”from the buffer and spring can be annoying and distracting) and they supposedly have excellent reliabilty. I was considering one for myself; might be worth looking into.

      I’m not pretending to be the end-all, know-all here, for I am far from it and will happily admit it, but I would be more than glad to help with any questions that pop up on your AR build. You can run them here or via email. Good luck!

      Also, good luck on your dove hunt! I’ve always dreamed of doing that (dove tastes wonderful!!)…my Winchester 101 and I will do it…someday! :)

    • Anonymous August 29, 2013, 12:26 pm

      Very Good !!!!

    • T.R. August 29, 2013, 12:28 pm

      Very cool , have fun !!!!!!

      • Jason September 1, 2013, 1:23 pm

        We hit our limits in 45 minutes in an area east of Quartzsite. We had 10 shooters as well.

  • Jason August 29, 2013, 10:21 am

    First, thank you for that very detailed response, I greatly appreciate it! I am very analytical so your article & this response fit like a glove into my (warped) brain.

    The dove hunting is something I have been doing for 10 years. The friend I go with hunts all kinds of birds, has for over 30 years & is a close, personal friend. What makes it really cool is it has become a tradition & about 8-10 guys come out to his vacation home & make a great weekend of it. He has a boat, couple of jet skis & a couple of quads that we can all freely use – it is a man paradise come true.

    Where his house is, is in an area where the birds natural migration pattern is. He & another buddy arrive a week ahead of time & they go out & scout for birds – when I say scout they do it right – 4 wheeling, watching bird flight patterns, finding the fields where the birds stop to feed & more. He is better than a hired guide & everybody limits in less than an hour.

    Trust me, I know well I am very, very lucky to have this kind of set-up.

  • Road Warrior August 29, 2013, 12:08 pm


    Couple other thoughts- I don’t know what you’re doing for an upper, but if I were purchasing mine again, I would get one with afixed tower A-frame standard front sight. I’ve HEARD but not experienced that with Magpul (or other brand) polymer flip-up front back up sights, it’s possible to heat them up over extended firing sessions, and warp them enough to change point of impact when they are mounted on a railed gas block like mine.

    Are you going to do the build yourself? If you’re interested, I can to an article on the 1200 grit DIY trigger job sooner rather than later.

    I am seriously, and sincerely, very glad to do what I can to help. I know we’ve butted heads in the past, but I would like to extend an apology and an olive branch over those past instances. I was a reactionary hothead, and did not conduct myself in a manner of which I am proud.

    Let us know how the dove hunting goes! Sounds like you’ll be having a completely miserable time.

    • Jason August 31, 2013, 9:23 am

      Yes, I am going to build it myself – I love that sort of thing & would appreciate anything & everything you’d like to send. Being on the highly analytical & highly creative side, lots of information is fantastic for me.

      As far as disagreements between you & me, no worries & I will take full responsibility for it. It is a long story & you may laugh, even say I am a genius but I caused the ill will for a very specific purpose. I’ll tell you more later on that subject ….


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