Saturday in the gun building business

I pointed out that I have a friend who manufactures rifles. He’s mostly making AR pattern rifles, though I understand that he is capable of making a very accurate bolt action rifle. His claim to fame is his FastRail AR-15 handguard. The rail itself looks pretty standard. 4 rails, full length, sharp enough to be rough on your hands. So far, so normal. What makes them special is how they attach to the rifle. Most free float rails are designed to attach at the barrel nut. Bob thought, “Well, if I have to design a barrel nut to hold my nice rail, why don’t I build that barrel nut is such a way that I can take the barrel off quickly and easily. Then I could have more than one barrel for my AR.”
I’m not completely sold on the idea of multiple barrels for one AR. Changing calibers might require you to change optics, though I could be convinced to have .223 barrel and a .300 Blackout barrel since they would both be useful for short ranges.  What really sold me on this was how easy it was to get to the chamber of the rifle. How many of you have cursed your AR (or M-16/M-4 while you were in the military) because it was such a bitch to clean out the chamber. This rifle, you take off the handguard, pop the barrel, clean the chamber, and put it all back together in a snap. Comparing it to the Daniel Defense Lite Rail, it’s about $100 cheaper, and about the same weight.
Here’s some pictures of how to take it apart.
First, here’s the complete rifle. This particular rifle is a full-auto .50 Beowulf. It’s the same rifle that Bob at Bob’s Gun Counter was shooting in this video. It’s an NFA item, dealer sample, and no, you can’t have one. He’ll make you a semi-auto only version, but if you want full auto, get the Hughes Amendment repealed first.

Here’s the upper, bolt, carrier, and charging handle removed. Also included are all the tools you will need to take the barrel and FastRail off with. Unlike other manufacturers, Templar includes this barrel nut wrench. The knowledgeable among you will spot that this wrench is also useful for mounting muzzle devices and the buffer tube. The two square holes are for a torque wrench if you decide you want to use one. They are standard 3/8ths and ½”.

I have used the allen wrench to take out two Allen screws on the right side of the handguard. Then I tightened the Allen screw on the right side. That spreads out the handguard and makes it easy to slip off the barrel nut. Total time, 60 seconds.

Here I have loosened the barrel nut. You see that the barrel nut is much larger than the standard AR barrel nut. What you might not be able to tell from the photo is that the barrel nut is case hardened. That means that you will not gall it (or the case hardened barrel nut wrench) when you remove it repeatedly.

Once the barrel nut is loosened up, you slide the barrel out of the received. The gas tube comes right along with the barrel.

In addition to being able to change barrel caliber or length, you also have unobstructed access to the chamber for cleaning. No more beating the crap out of your fingers trying to reach through the upper receiver.
To reassemble, simply reverse the process. If I hadn’t had to stop, arrange the pieces, and take photos, the whole procedure taking it apart and putting it back together again would have taken about 3 minutes.

Here’s the important info. In order to use this system, you have to have a low profile gas block. The gas block sits under the rail, and the rail has to slide forward on the barrel so you can access the long barrel nut. You also have to put the barrel nut on before you put the gas block on. So if you are going to retrofit this rail, you will have to take the gas block off. Once mounted, the rail is ridiculously solid. (Video)
Here’s the vital statistics.
14.25”   18oz       $269
12.5”      16oz       $259
9.25”      10oz       $249
Add 4 oz for the case hardened barrel nut. Included with the rail are a barrel nut, a barrel nut wrench, an Allen wrench, and a sling swivel stud.
FTC notice – Left Cheek  
Bob of Templar Custom has not compensated me for this or any other post. He was nice enough to let me shoot his rifle a few weeks ago. He was also nice enough to let me come to his shop and learn a bit about how to use his lathe. He isn’t paying me anything. In fact, not only did I pay for my own lunch, I started the day by helping clean up the shop, so effectively, I paid him. I think we’re even though as he is teaching me how to turn an AR barrel. Machine shops are cool.               
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Here’s a close up of the barrel nut, barrel, and the upper receiver.

2 responses to “Saturday in the gun building business

  1. What a cool idea! Have you found any change in zero after removing and reinstalling the same barrel? Does the bottom of the handguard hit the front of the mag well when you open the rifle shotgun-style?

  2. @Anon: Bob claims “minimal” zero shift. He’s sending a handguard to a well known blogger (Not me) to run it through exactly that test. I’ll link when he’s done, but if you read the gun blogs, you’ll probably see it directly from him.

    As for “shotgunning” the rifle, I don’t see why you couldn’t. If you look at the first photo, it looks like there is plenty of room. I didn’t check, I just pulled both pins out, but I have a hard time believing that he didn’t leave enough room to shotgun the rifle.