Project Vera – Update

Some time back I took the plunge started building an AR-15. As with my other guns, I planned to build this with someone else’s money, so it’s taken about 8 months to complete.

So far, I’ve completed the lower. Here’s the specs:

Completed lower

The lower is a an aluminum billet lower from New Frontier Armory, While they have made a name with their polymer lower, I went with the aluminum.

The lower parts kit is from DPMS, via Lakeside Guns. Assembly wasn’t too difficult thanks to several Youtube videos and a resolve to be patient.

The stock is a collapsible Tapco stock, made right here in Kennesaw. I also added a padded ERGO grip, that I got from Adventure Outdoors along with the stock.

Then, the pause. I had to earn more money to finish the project. In the meantime, I picked up some PMAGs, so I can be ready.


Time passes. I cut grass, save money, and wait.

In the meantime, I do my research. Based on my experience putting together the lower, and on my research, I decided to let a professional put together the upper. For one thing, most of the houses that did this (and the one I would choose) test fire them afterward, so I would know it was a good assembly.

Finally I made a decision, and started to look for the right combination of specifications.

Here is what I ordered:


It’s the MWA-16 upper assembly from New Frontier Armory, the same company that made my lower. Here are the specs:

  • A3 Upper Receiver forged from 7075-T6 aluminum with extended M4 feed ramps and T markings
  • 16” MATCH GRADE M4 profile stainless steel barrel (from Black Hole Weaponry) with a black finish
  • 1 in 8” Twist with 3 groove polygonal rifling and M4 Feed Ramp
  • 1/2 x 28 threads / .750″ diameter gas block/YHM front flip up sight / gas block combo
  • Chrome lined MIL-SPEC bolt carrier group
  • MAGPUL MOE Handguards
  • MAGPUL MBUS rear flip up sight

What I really like is all the extras like MAGPUL furniture is already included.


So, I finally got on line, and placed my order. Bad news, this was 2 days after the school shootings in Connecticut, and the frenzy was already on. I was first told one to two weeks lead time, but it has now stretched to 6 weeks.

We will see. All I know is I’m willing to be patient, I’ve waited this long.


In the meantime I have adhered to The Diaper Rule, thus: when my kids were young, I knew whenever I was at Walmart, I should pick up diapers. I knew I would need them. Similarly, when I was at the gun store, I bought a PMAG. I now own 4 PMAGs that I paid $15 each for. And, sadly, the stores I go to don’t have any more in stock.


Where can I order a Skittles dispenser?


Liberty Reborn

Besides beefing up the frame with a third pin, when Glock introduced their 3rd generation pistols, (the Gen3), they made an attempt to add finger grooves on the grip. This wasn’t the normal flowing finger grooves of a Smith & Wesson grip, these were raised notches with a rough grip surface in between.

On the full size guns (G17, G20, G21, G22, etc.) these grooves seemed to line up okay with my fingers. But, for some reason, Glock decided that whoever bought the smaller midsize and compact framed pistols must have smaller hands, so the finger grooves were made closer together.

Ever since I got my Glock 19, Liberty, I’ve lived with this design oversight, but, truth be told, it made my hands hurt after shooting a few magazines through it. After a while, I decided to slip a rubber Hogue grip over the G19 finger grooves, and that gave a little relief, but it didn’t solve the problem.

Some people suggested removing the finger grooves, but I was reluctant to deface the G19 frame that much, in the even that I decided to sell it some time. But, I also reasoned that someone who was buying it might actually appreciate a gun that fit their hand.

So, without much further ado, I decided to use a sanding drum on my Dremel tool to zip those finger grooves down flush. I hand finished the job with some 300 grit paper, and smoothed it all with some Armor-All. I then slipped on the old Hogue grip, to index my fingers like they are on my G17, Bruce.

The verdict? I just wish I hadn’t waited so long.

The project in pictures:

Before – finger grooves intact

After – grooves all ground off

The final product, with Hogue grip installed

Project Vera

Last summer, I posted a wish list of guns I planned to buy next. A lot of interesting things have transpired in the meantime, and I use the word “interesting” in the full sense of the old Arab curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

The first gun on my list was an AR-15, and I’m happy to report the kickoff of what I am calling Project Vera.

The first step, and really the one that kicked it all off, was getting a great deal on a stripped aluminum lower made by Northern Frontier Armory, from Mike at Dog Leg Arms. Once I had this, I read a bunch, and tweeted some, and came up with a plan to build a home defense gun with the following general specs:

  • Flat top upper, maybe a Sporting version without forward assist.
  • 16 inch barrel, 1:7 twist. Chrome lined.
  • Red dot optic with co-witnessed iron backups – either 1x or 1-4x.
  • Multi position stock.
  • Single stage military trigger.
  • Weapon light, possibly with a laser.

Later, as finances allow, I plan to get a shorter barrel and a suppressor, since this will likely be used indoors in a defense situation.

I did some research on trigger groups, and looked at some on the interwebz. On Saturday I happened to be at Lakeside Guns in Acworth, Georgia, and saw a DPMS lower parts kit, for just a little more than what I’ve seen. I had no problem spending it, since I not only saved shipping cost, but I got it right now, and I supported a great local business.

Of course, the best part of all is that the lower receiver, the part with the serial number, is the only part of the gun that I have to buy through an FFL. The rest I can buy from Lakeside Guns, or over the Interwebz, or gun shows, or wherever I want. And, not coincidentally, it’s the only part that’s subject to the Ad Valorum tax. This means, if nothing else, I’ll save a little over buying a complete gun then making the mods I want.

Up next: assembly of the lower. Pray for me.

Frankenglock on the Rack – Again

As I’ve related before, my Gen2 Glock 17 Bruce has had just about all its internal parts replaced. It’s about 20 years old, and it still shoots great.

At the GSSF match last September, the Armorers told me of an issue they were aware of with the older, Gen2 frames, where they were prone to develop cracks just behind the locking block. The good news, they told me, was that if I would take it by the factory in Smyrna, they would be happy to do some work to the frame that would prevent the cracking.

So, yesterday, I had some free time, and made my way to Highlands Drive in Smyrna. After signing in, I went to a waiting room, where I was met by an Armorer who knew just what I was talking about.

After about 30 minutes, he came back with my frame, which was cut thus, and the plastic rail relieved some ahead of the cut.

Like a dummy, I didn’t think to take a “Before” picture, but here is a picture I found online for comparison:

Of course. in the process, the Armorer also replaced all the internal parts, so Frankenglock is all set for another 20 years or so, till I pass it down.