Published on July 7th, 2013 | by Destinee (FateofDestinee)

Lightweight AR-15 Rifle Builds

When I started putting together my first AR-15, my goal was to keep it fairly light weight so that it would be easily maneuverable for me (despite not being blessed with an abundance of upper body strength). In my research, I found several different approaches to custom rifle builds in the interest of weight saving. Most “lightweight AR-15 builds” included shorter and thinner barrels (for example, 14.5″ pencil profile barres with 1.5″ compensators/flash hiders welded to the end), and minimal accessories. Beyond these common weight saving measures, there are other additional approaches to minimizing overall rifle weight: choosing a lightweight AR-15 lower. Here are three examples of lightweight builds with different types of lowers, and the resulting overall rifle weight.

Using Polymer AR-15 Lowers

Jon from the YouTube channel chaos311clarity has a lightweight AR-15 build he calls his “Chaos Carbine,” that measures in at 6.2lbs (unloaded), and one of the chief components of this light AR is his Plum Crazy polymer lower. It also features a DPMS upper (sans brass deflector and forward assist, in the interest of saving weight), a Daniel Defense pencil profile barrel (with Ares Armor Effin-A compensator), and a Giessele Super Dynamic 3 gun trigger.

Using Carbon Fiber AR-15 Lowers

Recently, I received a rifle from Windham Weaponry for test and eval (T&E) that features upper and lower receivers of a molded fiber composite (that includes 40% carbon fiber).To see my first impressions of it, check out the embedded video above. Unloaded, this flattop rifle weighs only 6.0lbs (including sights). Because this is a T&E gun, all the parts on it are stock, with the exception of the Troy fixed Tritium iron sights (borrowed from my AR build detailed below). The stock rifle comes with a polymer double heat shield handguard, a 16″ M4 profile barrel tipped with a standard A2 flash suppressor, a stock single stage trigger, an A2 style polymer grip, and polymer six position telescoping buttstock.

Using Aluminum AR-15 Lowers

When I started putting together my custom AR-15, “Bruce,” I was also interested in weight saving, but preferred an aluminum lower. My lightweight AR-15 rifle features an aluminum billet LMT Defender 2000 lower, and weighs in at a somewhat heftier 6.6lbs (unloaded). In the linked video, my rifle features a Daniel Defense DDM4V7 upper with 16″ pencil profile barrel (with a 1.9″ Daniel Defense flash suppressor) a Magpul ACS-L buttstock, Troy Tritium round aperture fixed iron sights, a V-Tac Upgraded Wide Padded Sling, and the stock LMT Defender ergo grip and stock 2 stage trigger.

What parts would you like for your lightweight AR-15 builds?

About the Author

In addition to writing for The Arms Guide and her personal blog, Destinee is also a vlogger. She publishes videos on weapons, gear, and fitness on her YouTube channel every Tuesday and Thursday.


30 comments
drmorris9
drmorris9

I would love if they would sell the Windham Weaponry receiver set stripped.  Put that with a BCM light weight 14.5 carbine barrel with a pinned flash hider and standard magpul MOE furniture and you should be sub-6lb with a high quality and durable rifle.

nigray
nigray

new frontier polymer lower

palmetto armory lower parts kit

phase 5 extended bolt catch

american gold drop in trigger assembly

ace skeletonized buttstock

jp captured spring buffer

hogue rubber grip

american spirit side cocking upper receiver

american spirit bolt

daniel defense pencil contour cold hammer forged .625 gas block barrel

tactical enterprises barrel nut

adams arms .625 gas piston system with adams arms bolt carrier

samson ev7 ex forearm

battlecomp 1 compensator

aimpoint micro t1 2 moa red dot optical

alamo 4 square aimpoint optic mount

brownell 20 rd aluminum mag

all for about 6.8 pounds. nice frankenrifle built from scratch

nigray
nigray

new frontier polymer lowerpalmetto armory lower parts kitphase 5 extended bolt catchamerican gold drop in trigger assemblyace skeletonized buttstockjp captured spring bufferhoague rubber gripamerican spirit side cocking upper receiveramerican spirit boltdaniel defense pencil contour cold hammer forged .625 gas block barreltactical enterprises barrel nutadams arms .625 gas piston system with adams arms bolt carriersamson ev7 ex forearmbattlecomp 1 compensatoraimpoint micro t1 2 moa red dot opticalamo 4 square aimpoint optic mountbronell 20 rd aluminum mag all for about 6.8 pounds. nice frankenrifle built from scratch

Eric R Shelton
Eric R Shelton

I used an old Cavalry Arms lower- polymer and it has the stock and buffer tube integrated into the same piece. DPMS Lo-Pro upper (open ejection port, no fwd assist), pencil barrel, and even MagPul MBUS sights. My goal for the build was under $600 and six pounds. I came in at 5.2 lbs, but closer to $700 because I didn't shop quite carefully enough and splurged on a hard chrome BCG for some bling in the Lo-Pro. It's not as nice as my VLTOR build, but I'd put it up against any Bushmaster/Stag, etc.

AlessioBaldi
AlessioBaldi

Like Boris "the blade" said: "Heavy is good. Heavy is reliable. If it doesn't work, you can allways hit them with it". XDI usually go hunting with pretty heavy scoped rifles (my 700 for example weights about 13lb) and shotguns, so ARs and AK for me are just lightweight. But my sisters have some problem handling my AR and AK, both with only iron sights and without accessories, for long periods of time. A lighter rifle can help for sure, but i wander if the pound, or little more, of lessern weight really makes a difference, considering the incrased price and compromises like the thinner barrel.

peter3101
peter3101

I moved to NJ, here apparently you need to complete 14 forms have 3 signed affidavits, a note from the State Police, and a blessing from the pontiff just to build a lego gun........

NateGranzow
NateGranzow

I don't think I could have gone heavier with my AR without adding a bull barrel. I just call it "character building" when I'm lugging it around the woods.

Shoot to hit
Shoot to hit

Heavy is reliable, case in point, my M1A with Nat. Match barrel, and 20 round magazine. Light is good, but I like the sturdiness of my M1A more than the light weight compactness of an AR platform. I'm still young though, and the heavy rifle doesn't seem to tire me out like the rest of my friends and family. For now....

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

@AlessioBaldi I have a heavier/precision build in the works... but it has been slow going with the recent scare. I'll have some video/article on it in the future, though. ;D

JunkfoodZombie
JunkfoodZombie

Plus, you have to deal with all those damn jughandles. They suck! XD

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

@NateGranzow Lol @ "character building." I have an article coming up about heavier builds... Looking forward to the response on that one. heheh

ristin59
ristin59

The lighter, the better. Less weight to hump around.

But are the priceslower on the polymer parts or are they still trying to rob us?

AlessioBaldi
AlessioBaldi

Different rifles for different jobs.

When i need accuracy, i know weight is my friend. When i need mobility and speed, i know compactness lightweight is my friend.

But sometimes i bent to a compromise, and end up bearing a 13lb long range rifles up the mountains and into the woods all day long, just for the sake to be sure to hit a deer at any distance lol.

Great rifle the M1A, allways wanted to own one, as for the Garand.

AlessioBaldi
AlessioBaldi

Is that going to be a 20 or a 24"?As a lightweight option, i'd like to have a very lightweight 7.5". I can't assemble it on my own, but there are a few gun makers here that build excellent AR on the customer specifics. The price, needless to say, is a little prohibitive.

peter3101
peter3101

Do you know my Mother in law?

peter3101
peter3101

@NateGranzow @peter3101  Thanks it does not help that my Mother in Law is also in this State. Even great pizza, bagels,  and diners cant make up for that......

FateofDestinee
FateofDestinee

@ristin59 For my wimpy chicken arms, it means I can keep the rifle at the high ready for longer stretches of time.

FSDFirearms
FSDFirearms

@ristin59We use FMK AR-1 polymer lowers in all of our custom AR builds and our price has never gone above $99 - even during the "craze" at the beginning of the year.

In fact, on my husband's 6.8, loaded and including a scope, the scale registers 6.7lbs! Can't go wrong with a GOOD polymer lower!

FMK offers a lifetime guarantee on their lowers and they're made here in the US, so you really can't go wrong with em!

Shoot to hit
Shoot to hit

@AlessioBaldi Agreed, different rifles for different jobs. My M1A is too big for close up quick shooting in a brushy area, but is a superior rifle for mid to long range shots.  I too like the Garand, it's one of my favorite rifles,  but I chose the M1A for the detachable magazines when I had to make a choice as to which one to take home from the gun store. Eventually I would like to ad an AR-15 to my gun collection so that I can have a light weight rifle.

AlessioBaldi
AlessioBaldi

I would have bet on that, we seems to have the same all time favorites xD

From that movies i really enjoy Brickhead's liners, vut this is also freakung motivating: " the fact that you've got "Replica" written on the side of your guns. And the fact that I've got "Desert Eagle .50" written on the side of mine, should precipitate your balls into shrinking, along with your presence. Now fuck off!" Lol

JunkfoodZombie
JunkfoodZombie

You know MAC. Might wanna check into a Tavor. More weight in the rear and a short overall length.....means it handles better and feels lighter. Goes great with any Batman apparel you own as well! :)

ristin59
ristin59

I completely understand that!

ristin59
ristin59

That's cool! I need it lighter.

Too many years throwing around electrical motors & compressors have done a number on the body.

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