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View Full Version : 16" Cross Machine Tool painted carbine build and overview



Stickman
05-05-21, 15:19
This build started out as a want for something different. I wanted to build something that could be used as a beater, think truck gun, but more along the lines of throw it in the bed of the truck, bounce it around off the interior of a side by side, or strapped down on a quad. The Stick compound has enough firearms that look new which are used for pics, so this was intended to be the opposite.

Enter Aervoe... The military color line of Aervoe is fantastic, and while this paint tends to clog up and leave cans half full, there are ways around that. Aervoe dries slow, which can be annoying if you are used to Krylon, but it wears better than any other spray finish. I would say that while it might not be the level of cerrakote, it is such a good finish that it works as well for my own needs. The colors available through Aervoe are spot on for both natural and military colors. Getting back to the cans clogging, I've found that if I use my compressor with the standard blower / air nozzle, I can push more pressure into the can and often get them back up and spraying. The truth is, if you preheat your surface before you spray, and make sure the finish in your spray can is warm, you should be able to get multiple light coats on without any drips, sags or runs. If you start to seen a sheen, you are spraying too heavy. I think I paid 7 or 8 bucks a can, and at that price, you can write the can off and figure you got a great deal on a great coating. If you have your half a can left and use it later on, that is just a bonus.

I'll break this post up to talk about various areas of the weapon. This alters the format of the previous write ups, but I'll leave it to you guys to say whether you like this or the earlier format better. Below shows the color coating on the complete firearm.

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The receivers for this build are a billet upper and lower from Cross Machine and Tool. I've mentioned before how impressed I am with the level of detail that Jeff Cross puts into his products. The fit between these receivers is phenomenal. Looks are highly subjective, and most AR15 owners already have an idea of what they do and don't like the look of. I personally rate the looks of these very high. The billet uppers (there are a few different versions) are 7075 T6 Aluminum, instead of the more usual 6061 series aluminum. A lot of people don't stop to think about component material, but if you are building something for accuracy or longevity, these things get important quick. If you are a machinist, you probably like the idea that Jeff does all his uppers and lowers on a 5 axis machine. The website states the material choice alone gives a " 65% increase in strength & rigidity over 6061 aluminum receivers." That is good stuff in my book, and while I tend to be more of a grunt than a mechanical engineer, even I can understand the benefits. Lastly, the upper receiver walls are thicker for added support and rigidity.

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Moving along from the receivers, the next most obvious item is the rail, which was coated at the same time as the receivers. The rail shown on this is an earlier model than the one offered now, but the differences are minor and cosmetic. This rail is one of the easier rails to install. Pop the barrel into the extension, then put the barrel nut on (grease it first) and tighten and loosen it a couple times, then give it a final tighten. If you want something on the highly accurate side, remember that super tight might not be the way you want to go. With this rail there is no need to line anything up with the barrel nut, so torque it to what makes you happy. Me? I'm a middle of the road guy, I make it snug and leave it. The rail has extended tabs which prevent rotation and offer a mechanical stop, so this isn't coming loose, and two bolts lock it all together. This build also uses a Cross Machine Tool gas block, which fits snug as a bug in a rug on the barrel. It is always nice to have gas blocks that don't fit loosely. Here again we find that the tolerances from Jeff are exceptional.

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The rail guards and thumb stop/ finger mount are all from VZ Grips and are made of G10. G10 machines exceedingly well, and is quite good at keeping a layer of insulation between heat and your hands. The VZ Grip rail covers come in a variety of colors and textures. They install onto MLOK slots just like any other MLOK attachment. I like these because in addition to the above, they are also something unique, and I appreciate good looks on a weapon almost as much as on the fairer sex. In the front slots on the underneath, I have a 1913 attachment so I can chuck a bipod on this if needed. It doesn't usually have one, but options are a good thing.

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The trigger on this build is standard, nothing fancy. The magazine catch/ release is standard as well. The safety is ambi, and is a 45 degree selector from Rainier Arms. There are lots of companies that make short throw safety/ selectors, but this works well and does exactly what it is supposed to. It is clean and crisp, and while not needed, its a nice upgrade that feels good. Riding inside, you can see the charging handle is from Radian. Radian makes a great charging handle, and the only one which beats it off the top of my head is the one from BCM. The BCM one edges it out by way of options so you can fine tune what you need. Both are solid upgrades. The Bolt Carrier Group (BCG) is also from BCM. I went with BCM because they make great bolt carriers.

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Up top we see a few thing a little more prominently. First off is the flash suppressing compensator from ..... you guessed it, Cross Machine Tool. This muzzle device does more than just scream noise, it adjusts the feel of the firing weapon, as well as kills flash to a larger degree than straight up comps and brakes. Yes, it is a Jack of All Trades device, but its pretty slick and I like it. I've had a standard A2 muzzle device on this weapon previously, and this makes it a bit smoother overall. The flash light mount is from Gear Sector, and I''ll once again lament, wail, and gnash my teeth that Jason Trusty closed up shop on Gear Sector. His designs and implementation were outstanding. This mount locks in place off the 1913 sections on the top rail, and cradle the light at the 1030/ 1100 position. This makes it perfect for activating the push button light. The dual fuel model Surefire is long enough that it forward mounts in a manner to prevent barrel shadowing. I think everyone already knows that if you are concerned about your light, put a piece of clear tape over the lens when you are shooting and pull the tape off when you clean the gun. Or if you are lazy, just grumble and clean the lens later like I do when I forget.

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Up top we can also see there are Daniel Defense fixed sights attached to the receiver and rail. Its my opinion that DD really made the perfect sights with these if you are looking for attachable fixed sights. Yes, I understand the front sight is secured to the rail, and its possible the rail could bend on hot LZ with a downed chopper, that the rail could be run over and tweaked, or that I may need to break and rake a window using the front sight and then possibly question alignment. Yes, I know all of those could happen, but those really aren't my larger concerns in life. Things can always happen, and if your primary weapon goes down, you better find peace with God while you make your way to another gun. Also, I've been known to mount an optic up top, so I still have options..... and my optic is my first option. I only mention these things because if I don't, someone else will.

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The grip section of this build continues with the VZ Grips theme. The VZ Grip pistol grip comes in a long and short version, and with a variety of different textures and colors. The one on here is a shorter version, and while it is comfortable, I think that at some point I'll swap it over to the longer full sized model. This grip gives solid texture, but would be better suited to someone with smaller hands or a smaller weapon. This is no slight on VZ Grips, I think it is more a matter of understanding intended purposes for various items. This issue is so minor that I've left this grip in place for a few years, so it really is a most minor of whines from me.

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The butt stock on the carbine is the early model BCM stock. While I do feel that the newer stock with cheekweld is more comfortable, on this platform this model just feels "right". Sometimes the feel of something is hard to articulate, but when something feels right you just know it. I doubt this stock will get changed out for a new model. BCM allows for clipping in a QD on either side, or running a sling through the stock. Either option works, the questions become more a matter of if you need unyielding strength with a never drop free feature, or, you have a need to clip and unclip your sling from your weapon. There is no arguing that QD points are highly simplistic. Press them into place, and then give them a tug to make sure they are securely locked in. Each failure I've seen on the range has been a guy who clipped a sling into place and didn't tug on it. Of course there are real word possibilities that you could press the release and that murphy could rear his ugly head at the worst possible time. You pays your money and you takes your chances.

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Last up we hit the optic and optic mount. The choice of optic for this weapon is the Aimpoint Comp M5. I'm not even sure if there is a point in explaining why Aimpoint is the choice. I don't want to fall slack this far into this article, so I'll throw out a few reasons. First and foremost, durability. I can think of nothing that is even a close second to the durability of an Aimpoint. It isn't a matter of being chosen by the military, because we have all seen the military make miserable choices. It is a matter of knowing the products and using them on a regular (if not daily) basis. A quick story here, I once used a different optic on my duty weapon and at the end of shift a call went out of a kidnapping in progress where a recently released felon had abducted his ex girlfriend and drug her into an apartment. I pulled into the back of the complex and was grabbing my carbine while heading into shadows for concealment when other units called out the guy was coming out the back. My optic was dead, no matter how many times I punched those buttons it wasn't going to work despite the fresh batteries in it. Dissimilar lighting conditions meant I was using iron sights at night across a brightly lit parking lot, trying to view a dark background of a dark man in dark clothes. There were a few lessons learned, one was about optic durability, and another was about battery life. With an Aimpoint there is no need to turn it on and off, just leave it on, and if its a duty weapon swap the battery once a year (even though battery life is something like 5 years).

After the optic we also have the optic mount. I've slowly switched out many of my optics to mounts developed and manufactured by Reptilia. Reptilia mounts are of billet 7075-T6 aluminum with a Milspec Type III hard anodized finish. The steel portions are Nitrided 4140 steel. Reptilia also brings three choices of height for the T1, T2, H1, H2, M5 (along with all the other companies that now use this platform), and also anodized in three colors. However, for me, that isn't what makes Reptilia the go to mount on the market. The difference becomes the team that designed the items, the end user and specific requests they have (usually mil units), and the incredible security in which the mounts give the optic. Ask anyone who has a Reptilia scope mount what it was like laying the scope in the cradle... for myself it was almost like a suction feeling as it went into place. Absolutely unbelievable.


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Here you go, enjoy some more pics....

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Stickman
05-05-21, 15:20
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17K
05-05-21, 22:39
Super nice beater.

I saw it on IG and had to come over here to read the specs

Stickman
05-06-21, 09:43
Super nice beater.

I saw it on IG and had to come over here to read the specs


Awesome, were you able to click the link? On my iPad I can’t click any links on IG.