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Products Archives - Ares Armor

Understanding Twist Rate for the 5.56

Matching bullet weight to twist rate is vital for maximum accuracy. How do you know which twist rate is right for you?

Brad Fitzpatrick

 

In the 1960’s, when the 5.56×45 and the accompanying AR platform debuted, but rifles had barrels with twist rates of 1:14 inches, or one full rifling twist for every 14 inches of barrel. That’s because at that time the standard choice in 5.56 ammo was a 55 grain FMJ projectile. And although the 50-55 grain bullet is still a versatile and effect varmint hunting bullet, for military and long-range purposes most ARs have switched to heavier bullets. That means that the barrels must switch, too.

Today you won’t find very many 1:14 barrels because, frankly, there isn’t a whole lot of demand for them. They’re good at stabilizing lighter bullets, but they won’t stabilize heavier projectiles. For that reason, the 1:12 is about the slowest AR barrel you’ll see today. Because there’s a “sweet spot” when combining bullet and barrel twist rate, you’ll need to have an idea what type of ammo you’re going to be shooting. If you’re going to limit yourself to 55 grains or less, the 1:12 will work.

 

Originally at 1:14 twist, more common 1:7-1:9 twist rates are available in the market today

But why give up the 5.56/.223’s blessed versatility? Why not get the most out of your rifle?

In that case, you’re probably going to want to look for a faster twist rate that stabilizes larger bullets. 1:10 and 1:9 twist barrels, which work just fine with 55 grain projectiles but will also handle heavier 60, 62, and 69 grain bullets. These two barrel twist rates are situated in the middle of the pack and, generally speaking, allow you to shoot a wider variety of bullets than any slower-twist barrels. But as you go beyond 1:9, barrels do better with heavier bullets and don’t perform as well with lighter ones. Just as slow-twist barrels won’t stabilize heavy bullets properly, fast-twist barrels will sometimes overstablize, which reduces bullet stability and results in poor performance. For that reason, the faster twist barrels—1:8 and 1:7—are best with heavy bullets. 1:8 twist barrels will stabilize bullets up to 80 grains, and 1:7 tubes will actually stabilize heavy, long-for caliber, aerodynamic bullets up to 90 grains.

223_Remington

A small example of the hue variety in bullet profile and weight

 

So, what’s right for your AR? That depends. If I were building a strict varmint gun—something that would almost exclusively fire bullets in the 55 grain and below range—I’d opt for a 1:10 twist rate, which has proven effective for me in the past. The 1:10 is highly versatile and will work with most bullets, from 55 grain polymer tip varmint bullets on up to heavier boat-tails for a little extra reach. If I planned to shoot a bit of every type of ammunition I’d go for a 1:9 or 1:8, which would allow me to take advantage of a broad range of bullets. If I were building a long-range target gun and knew I’d be using bullets from 77 grain on up, well, I’d have a 1:7 twist.

If you’re building (or buying) a 5.56×45 AR then it will help to know twist rates. You’ll understand how your gun and ammunition work together, and you’ll be able to get the most out of your loads.

 

The Best Optics for Your AR

From CQB to nighttime animal control to extreme long range shooting, having the right optic on your AR makes all the difference.

Brad Fitzpatrick

 

I’m often asked which optic is the best for an AR, and that’s a topic I love because it offers me a platform to explain just how versatile black guns can be. AR carbines and pistols are light and compact, and that makes them perfect for close-quarters defensive work. In addition, they’re great for mid-range shooting, everything from 20 to 200 yards. But the reach of the AR extends far beyond that distance, out to 800 or even 1,000 yards. They’re great for hunting, home defense, and competition shooting. In short, your AR can do just about anything.

That is, if you select the right optic. There are a bunch of choices for AR shooters, but here’s a quick guide to some of the best scopes, lasers, and reflex sights based on what you plan to do with your rifle.

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Reflex sights are a great option when shooting CQB-style or when on the move.

 

Close Range: For everything out to 100 yards, I like a reflex sight. That’s because they’re compact, lightweight, and they offer a clear both-eyes-open aiming point. The red dot is the fastest and most flexible sight for shots out to 100 yards, and they perform well even beyond that range, but if the bulk of your shots in the field or in competition are closer than a hundred steps, a reflex or red dot is your best option because magnification can be a hindrance (ever tried to take a snapshot when your scope was on 9x?)  On a recent helicopter hog eradication shoot in Texas I used the Trijicon SRS (sealed reflex sight) with great results, but the company’s newest offering, the MRO, is another superb choice. Likewise, Burris’s AR-F3 combines a lightweight, durable FastFire III optic with their durable AR-F3 mount, which allows the sight to sit low and has metal “wings” that protect it. For budget reflex sights, it’s hard to beat the economical Bushnell First Strike, which offers an easy-to-see 5 MOA dot. One other option is a laser sight like the Crimson Trace MVF-515, which has a light and laser. It’s great for moderate-range shooting, and if you have night vision equipment you can opt for the IR module.

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Moderate distance shooting made much easier with a variable-zoom scope.

 

Moderate Range: I consider moderate range anything from muzzle tip to a quarter mile. As previously stated, if my shots are under a hundred, I want a light, compact, reflex sight for fast shooting. If, however, I want to extend my rifle’s range I want the option of magnification. One of the best options is EOTech’s Holographic Hybrid Sight II, which combines an EXPS-2 holographic sight with a G33.STS magnifier. The EXPS-2 holographic sight offers all the benefits of a reflex sight, and you’ve got the option (the magnifier swings in and out of the line of view as needed) for instant 3X magnification. If you’re looking for a standard optic, pay attention to low-power variables like the Trijicon VCOG in 1-6×24. I like this sight a lot because it offers a first focal plane reticle (which maintains constant size relative to the target and aids in aiming) and it doesn’t require scope mounts. Leupold’s Mark AR MOD 1 1.5-4×20 is another great option, and it features a compact, durable design with Firedot illumination and stadia lines. Yet another great (and affordable) option is Nikon’s M 223 1-4×20 BDC 600 scope, which has holdover points out to 600 yards for 55 grain polymer-tipped loads. It also has zero reset turrets, another bonus when shooting at various ranges.

IMG_8443

A large main tube body is important for light transmission, helping you hit that gong way downrange.

 

Long Range: The long-range AR is really a specialized platform, and if you are serious about banging steel way downrange you need to invest in top-shelf glass. For starters, a 30 or 34 mm main body tube makes sense; a good 30mm scope gives you more internal adjustment capabilities for making longer shots, and 34s are better still. You can select either MOA or Milrad reticles based on how you prefer to shoot, but be sure that you get good, clear glass. Other options like a zero-stop are nice when you’re trying to hit a target at a great distance.

Burris’s Veracity has performed well for me, and it’s available in magnification ranges from 2-10 to 5-25. The Veracity has Progressively Thick Crosshairs, which narrow toward the center for rapid target acquisition at higher magnification. The Leupold VX-6 offers extremely clear glass, 30mm tubes, a 6x zoom ratio and T-MOA reticle, which has 1 MOA stadia lines and can be used for range estimations. The VX-6 line is available in a variety of magnifications, from 3-18x all the way to 7-42x! Nightforce’s ATACR line is also excellent, with first focal plane reticles, .25 MOA/.1 Mil-Rad click values and magnifications ranging from 4-16x to 5-25x.

Clearing the Caliber Confusion: .223 Wylde vs. 5.56 NATO

Though they share identical case dimensions, the .223 Remington and 5.56 NATO are slightly different—and the .223 Wylde makes the most of both of these loads.

Brad Fitzpatrick

 

The 5.56×45 NATO broke cover in 1957 as a military cartridge, and since that time it has served in multiple campaigns and conflicts around the globe. The 5.56×45 offered a lot—it was a flat-shooting, fast cartridge with minimal recoil and minimal weight (read: you can carry a lot of them). So great was the 5.56 that it soon followed in civilian garb as the .223 Remington, a cartridge that has remained viable and popular since its release date.

There are some that will tell you that a .223 and a 5.56 are the same cartridge. Well, in terms of case dimension, that is true. So, how do they differ?

 

 

Technical Dimensions of the .223 Rem vs. the 5.56 NATO Cartridges

Technical Dimensions of the .223 Rem vs. the 5.56 NATO Cartridges. Image credit: here

 

The short answer is that they differ with regard to pressure and chamber dimensions. Pressures in the 5.56 cartridge are higher than the .223, and as a result the chamber of the 5.56 is different as well. There’s more throat length in a 5.56 barrel—about .077 inches—and the angle of the throat is different to accommodate increased pressures. It is, therefore, alright to fire a .223 cartridge in a 5.56 chamber, but going the other way can cause pressure problems. Simply put, the .223 doesn’t perform as well in 5.56 chambers as it could. If you have two cartridges that are so similar in external case dimensions why not have one chamber that makes the best of both loads?

Enter Bill Wylde. Bill had the idea to create a chamber that would serve the 5.56 and the .223 Remington equally well. The .223 Wylde has the same chamber angling as the standard 5.56 chamber, so there’s no problem with pressures, and it also has a .2240 freebore diameter. The result? You have a chamber that is sufficient to handle the hotter 5.56 load without concerns about pressure and you get the gilt-edge accuracy that’s common in many quality .223 rifles.

 

The .223 Wylde Chamber Dimensions

The .223 Wylde Chamber Dimensions

 

Is there a compelling reason to switch to a Wylde chamber? Well, the most obvious reason is that you can fire .223 ammo without giving up accuracy and 5.56 ammo without worrying about excess pressure. Sure, you can fire .223 ammo all day from a 5.56 without worrying about pressure problems thanks to generous chamber size, but if you really want to tighten those groups that .2240 freebore diameter helps. In fact, .223 Wylde chambers are known for extreme accuracy, which is better on the whole than what you can expect from a standard 5.56×45 chamber.

Better accuracy, more versatility with ammo—so what’s the downside? Well, right now that can be cost and availability. The gains that the .223 Wylde provides haven’t prompted a whole bunch of companies to swap to that chamber, but there are certainly .223 Wylde-chambered target rifles out there. Do you need a Wylde? No, but it will help your long game and will make your AR rifle even more versatile than it is now.

 

 

Billet vs. Forged Lowers! What’s Best?

Forged Versus Billet Lower Receivers on the AR-15 Platform

Ares Armor offers a variety of 80% AR-15 lower choices, which should you choose? There’s plenty of lively discussion about the pros and cons of each. Why the difference in price? Which is strongest? Which is lightest? What grade of aluminum should you look for? The discussion and debate seems to never end. This short article should help clean up some of the discussion and allow you as a customer make a more informed decision on an Ares Armor AR-15 lower receiver.

Manufacturing Processes 

There are multiple ways to manufacture a lower but the most commonly discussed are forged AR-15 lowers and billet AR-15 lowers. 7075-grade aluminum is used for all Ares Armor 80% lower receivers. Forgings are made by hammering together two roughly shaped halves of hot aluminum and cleaning up the profile with machines later. This allows for minimal machining, keeping cost of production low, and overall a more affordable lower.

Billet AR-15 lowers are made by taking a single block of aluminum and having a CNC machine mill out the profile of a lower. This process takes longer, as the CNC machine mills an entire block of aluminum into shape, as opposed to starting with the rough shape in place. Billet lower manufacturing also allows for more unique designs and integrated features to be achieved.

Material Quality 

There are two main grades of aluminum used for AR-15 parts, 6061 and 7075. These numbers are used to grade and specify what type of aluminum alloy manufacturers are working with. There is also often a subgrade added to the end of the alloy number, “-T4” or “-T6,” for example. These numbers measure the temper placed on the aluminum, meaning how metallurgists heat treat the metal to give it different properties other than what is found in the base alloy. 6061-T6 and 7075-T6 are two of the most common aluminum alloys around in AR-15 lower receiver use. While 6061 aluminum is a very useful and serviceable alloy, it is not as rugged as 7075-grade aluminum, especially when tempered to the “-T6” designation. Ares Armor’s AR-15 80% lower receivers are made from 7075-T6 aluminum alloy, the highest possible quality material selected for end users to own.

Functionality 

In terms of strict function, there are operationally no differences between a forged 80% AR-15 lower and a billet 80% AR-15 lower when finished to proper specification. The main differences are aesthetic; forged lowers from any company will match dimensionally, both internally and externally. The vast majority of forged lowers are made to the latest military specifications. Forged lowers follow those specifications in order to give customers the classic look and feel of a traditional AR-15/M-16, keeping it simple for those who want a straightforward, battle proven design. Billet lowers allow more artistic leeway with manufacturers. Straighter edges, 90-degree angles, designs/decorations, and variations in magazine well sizing, to name a few things that can be done with billet lowers. Ares Armor billet 80%

AR-15 lowers come with clean lines, straighter edges, and an integrated, enlarged trigger guard. Ares Armor Signature III% AR-15 80% lower series offer even more than that: Beefier aesthetics, a flared magazine well, the III% logo on the front milled into the aluminum, all of which offer a more unique styling.

Durability 

Durability might be the most hotly debated part of the forged lower vs. billet lower discussion. General consensus tends to be that due to the nature of the forging process that forged lowers are technically more durable. The pressure applied by the hammering of forging compresses the aluminum and makes the metal grain run in a homogenous direction; both good things for rigidity and durability. Forged lowers tend to be lighter than billet lowers, as they generally don’t have as much extra material from proprietary design differences. Billet lowers do not have those hammer-hardened characteristics, but with the use of high quality 7075-grade aluminum in this day and age any concerns about durability are largely unnecessary. It then ends up, as most things AR-15 will, as a personal preference choice from the end user.

In Summary 

There are many things to think about when purchasing an Ares Armor AR-15 lower receiver, hopefully this brief breakdown of the differences between forged and billet AR-15 receivers can help you make a more informed decision. Ares Armor strives to make the highest quality lowers, parts, and accessories, so buy with confidence knowing you’re getting the highest possible quality of gear. So which should you buy? Only you can make that decision. Stay safe and happy building!

Ares Armor Obama Countdown

obama-countdown

We admit it. We’re doing our own Obama Countdown at Ares Armor. But it’s not what you think. Sure, we are well aware there are 571 days until the next U.S. Presidential Election on November 8, 2016. We also know there are 644 days until President Barack Obama’s last day in office on January 20, 2017.

This Obama Countdown is different. It impacts you much sooner.

It’s time to say “Bye Bye Barack” to our products named after the president. They are being discontinued by Ares Armor. You have until April 30, 2015 to order your “Obama’s Blaster.” All orders placed by midnight on this date will be honored.

the-obamas-blaster

The “Yes We Can Build a Firearm” product was the brainchild of Ares Armor Founder, Dimitrios Karras, a U.S. Marine who bravely served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Launched in September 2014, the Obama’s Blaster exercised the strength of Freedom of Speech in America. Boldly, it came just six months after the ATF Raid of Ares Armor property in Oceanside, California.

The AR–15 Upper Receiver named, “Obama’s Blaster,” created a nationwide controversy. At the time, Dimitri told the media, it was “obviously a joke” and not meant to suggestion action vs. any political figure. He called it, “A commemorative AR-15 part honoring President Obama’s role as the most distinguished firearm salesman of all-time.”

Today, Dimitrios Karras says his point has clearly been made. “The reality is we never intended it to last this long,” Karras said. “However, because of the widespread anti-Obama sentiment, we have had to keep up with demand from the public for this product.”

Silver Linings Playbook

The title of the hit movie sums up the difficult strategic decision, Ares Armor CEO, Bryce Stirlen, had to make. It is a necessary play for the company in taking aim at its business targets on the next level of growth. “There really a silver lining for our customers and supporters,” says Stirlen. “We are just wrapping up production on a new and improved product. We’ll be announcing the news about this in the very near future.”

For obvious reasons, this is all we can say now about this Obama Countdown. However, we want you to know this friends…

No matter what else changes…no matter what you may hear or think…take it from us at the source…the core of this U.S. Veteran driven company is still supporting 2A all the way.

Adds Stirlen, “We know what we’re doing. We know where we’re going. We will continue to expand our business and build our product line. With any makeover, you look different on the outside. But rest assured, we have the same values on the inside. Our company remains 100% committed to supporting the Second Amendment, gun rights, and delivering the highest quality arms and tactical products proudly made in the U.S.A.”

So let the clock on this Obama Countdown begin. There are 14 days until the Obama’s Blaster becomes a blast from the past. It’s available now through midnight, April 30, 2015. Order yours now.

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