Category Archives: Michael Ware

Brownells BRN-180S – The Pistol Configuration Build Up (Part 1 of 3)

Brownells BRN-180S – The Pistol Configuration
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The BRN-180?  What’s that?  Do you remember as a kid when Grandma made those really sweet chocolate chip cookies, and your Mom made the best oatmeal cookies ever?  Those are some of the best memories, ever.  However, you’ll never forget the night you spent over at Jimmy’s house only to catch a whiff of his Mom’s cookies, wafting through the kitchen window outside where you were playing.  The mind-blowing part of that playdate was when you took your first bite – Jimmy’s Mom, known as “the coolest” henceforth had put chocolate chips in her oatmeal cookies and merged to the two best treats in your childhood into one yummy little package.  Thus, the BNR-180…
Some of you may know the history of the AR-18.  It was another Stoner design coming out of the time period the AR-15 had been conceived.  The AR-180 was the semi-auto version of the select-fire AR-18.  They employed stamped steel receiver work, not a great deal different than an AK.  There was some welding involved, but not a lot.  I could write an article solely on the AR-180, but I’d rather point out some of the features and move forward.  What we’re primarily focusing on is the short-stroke piston contained in the upper portion of the AR-180.
Brownells has been doing some innovating as of late.  Only 25 miles from my custom shop, I spend plenty of time there and know many who work there.  I was excited when I heard that not only had there been some life breathed into this platform, but someone decided to build this up so it would mate to an AR-15 lower receiver.  Genius!  I love it!  I nearly gave Pete Brownell a hug the next time we visited.
There isn’t a huge need for a piston in most AR-15 applications.  Direct gas impingement works fine.  But if you intend on making a short weapon and not only configuring it for a small storage footprint but expect it to work in that same small footprint, your options dwindle quickly and elevate in cost.  The idea that I could snag a 10.5” BRN-180S upper, utilized an AR-15 lower, and also incorporate a side-folding brace or stock that allowed the weapon full use with or without the brace folded was exactly what I’ve been looking for.
Brownells BRN-180S – The Pistol Configuration Build Up
I opted to avoid the “Short Barrel Rifle” designation this time, and instead went with a wrist brace.  I built up a 10.5” BRN-180S pistol instead of an SBR.  My intended use is ‘general’ in the grand scheme of things, but it was intended on becoming a truck gun if you will.  I don’t mean the kind of junk you toss under the seat just in case you need something someday.  No, this is meant to fit into a small space, be rapidly accessed, and go like mad.  I came up with the following build list (Brownells part numbers included):

078-000-537 10.5″ Brownells BRN-180S Upper
080-001-382 BRN-180 Lower Receiver
100-013-641 BCM mod 3 gunfighter grip*
078-000-330 Lower Parts Kit
100-025-392 BAD enhanced parts
100-028-507 Elftmann trigger
100-032-047 side folding wrist brace

(*note – I ordered in the BCM Mod 3 that contains the “duckbill” thinking I was going to use a different lower receiver.  While I zipped that duckbill off with a belt grinder in 4 seconds, if your lower won’t accommodate the “duckbill” that protrudes above your middle finger, then order a different model.)
Brownells BRN-180S – The Pistol Configuration Parts
I had a Sig Romeo 5 I had ordered in from Primary Arms for a different project that was unused, so I mounted it for the optics.  I also had been wanting to get my hands on the new SilencerCo 36M I’d heard so much about.  My relationship with SilencerCo goes way back and they’ve really treated me well over the years.  I love their product and how the product is supported by their representatives.  You can find that can at Primary Arms HERE.
Brownells BRN-180S – The Pistol Configuration Parts
When I get in the parts I’ve ordered for a buildup, I organize them and make a quick note on everything.  When I laid these pieces all out, it really hit me just how simple this genre of ‘building’ truly is.  The upper is self-contained, there is no buffer nonsense on the lower, and the trigger was a ‘drop-in’ to boot.  If you can’t put this thing together, any self-respecting smith can, and in a hurry.  I’m not suggesting you run out and burn your Gadsden Flag in protest, but this type of work is very beginner level, so don’t let that intimidate you.
One of the things that slap you in the face pretty quickly is the rear end of the Lower Receiver.  Often referred to as a ‘buffer tube’ by the industry, you have no need for a receiver extension. Thus, the Brownells matching lower for this unit employs a Picatinny rail instead.  This makes the attachment of a side-folding brace very quick and eliminates parts, cost, and weight.
BRN-180 Lower Receiver (Bottom)
BRN-180 Lower Receiver (Left)
BRN-180 Lower Receiver (Right)
I’m not sure I logged more than just a few moments putting together the Lower Receiver.  In fact, this was the first Elftmann Trigger I’d installed with the idea of keeping it, so I paired this skeletonized trigger with some parts from Battle Arms Development.  They paired nicely in terms of appearance and the BAD product is known for quality, so I decided to try them.
These pictures, just as many, don’t offer the BRN-180S justice.  This is a great option, and you can see it pleases the eye.  Curb appeal aside, I’m really anxious to run this through the paces.  The BRN-180S checks all the boxes for what I have long wanted to accomplish with a price tag that won’t break the bank, coupled with a weight that isn’t extreme.  I have two follow up articles to this one where I’ll take you through the performance, features, components, and how it worked out as a truck gun.  The BNR-180S on face value is solid, so I’m hoping it proves to meet or possibly even exceed my expectations.
Brownells BRN-180S – The Pistol Configuration Build Up

About Michael Ware:
Michael is a Christian husband and father to two children. He owns and operates Controlled Chaos Arms, a premier custom weapons shop in the Midwest. He serves as Chairman of the board of Directors at the Iowa Firearms Coalition. The pursuit of truth drives him in research and his writing.
Michael enjoys shooting, hunting, and fishing throughout the Midwest and Rockies. An avid outdoorsman and tireless supporter of all Second Amendment virtues, he can be found in his gun shop, in a tree stand with his kids, or on Capitol Hill lobbying in support of Freedom and Liberty at any given time.

Michael Ware Linkedin
Controlled Chaos Arms Website
Controlled Chaos Arms Facebook
Controlled Chaos Arms Twitter
Controlled Chaos Arms Instagram

The post Brownells BRN-180S – The Pistol Configuration Build Up (Part 1 of 3) appeared first on AmmoLand.com.


Problem with AK You Say? Options for Mounting Optics to AKs

RS Regulate AK-303 Full-Length Rail – Brownells
U.S.A. –-(Ammoland.com)- The problem with the AK you say? Optical mounts and options. Frankly, you’d be right about that. I remember the thoughts zipping through my beanie the first time I bought one of the original Russian surplus Night Vision scopes – the 1PN58 if my memory serves me correctly. I was a bit dumber then and saw it advertised someplace, made a remark about it openly, and was egged on my buddies to “buy it or you ain’t a man…”
Who wants to be less than a man, right? I bought it without paying any attention. It came in, I opened this stinky green little tackle box they customarily were housed in, and inside was this foreign-looking gray scope that appeared to attach to the side of a weapon. “This isn’t what I ordered,” was the comment I remember blurting out, to which my right-hand man, Dave, remarked, “You wanted Russian Night Vision for your AK? That’s what you get…”
Ever since then I’ve been more discerning about what I order and how I intend on attaching it to my AK variants. We need to understand some things first. Consider the mounting problems associated with any AK akin to the venerable 870 Remington. The original design of both firearms places your eye down low so you sight right across the top of the weapon. This is fine if you never intend on adding optics or modifying much on the weapon. When do you, however, some challenges and additional considerations apply.
The top cover of any AK can be removable or riveted into a hinge configuration. Only when the front of the top cover is hinged in place would I be willing to mount any optic to the cover. Even then I don’t like it much. When these parts move around, you simply cannot count on repeated shot placement. Railed dust cover replacements can work, but they move, so keep that in mind. I firmly believe railed gas tubes, fall into this category as well. Sure, they can work, but they aren’t designed or affixed to the weapon in a truly solid and repeatable method, so your zero is going to wander. For close up work, you might be fine, but nobody wishes to have their point of impact shift all over the place. Know what you’re potentially headed into if the mounting method moves on you.
There are modified side mounts that aren’t too bad. While some are pretty cheap and look like an afterthought, there are some that are darned solid and provide stable platforms to mount your optics. I know it shouldn’t boil down to price, but if you can buy an optical side mount for your AK for $16, you haven’t purchased much, so keep that in mind. Midwest Industries, Arsenal, RS Regulate, and a few others offer some solid products in this arena.
MIDWEST INDUSTRIES, INC. – AK-47/74 SCOPE MOUNT
I have witnessed people at the range using barrel mounted optics. While they can be stable, most of those mounts are pretty rinky-dink. When you attach anything to something round and lift it way up in the air, it’s as if you’re begging to see how quickly you can bend, move, rotate, or tweak it. These just aren’t good first choices for optics mounting folks.
There is a saddle-style mount out there as well. It looks eerily similar to those you see on shotguns like the 870. The theory appears to have merit, but I haven’t had a customer ask me to install one yet, so my personal experience with this mount is limited to that of strictly academics.
I tried a few of the rear sight rails and if you can get them really tight, they aren’t too bad. You’re essentially removing the rear sight ramp and installing some picatinny rail that hangs after over the cover. I wouldn’t attempt to mount much of a scope to one of these, but something small like an Aimpoint Micro, Zeiss Z Point, Vortex Optics Razor, or Trijicon RMR can work well. If your sight is low profile and small you can make this mounting system work. The bigger your optic is, the more trouble you may run into, so be cognizant of that limitation.
The evolving accessories like the forward rails that replace the handguards are really good too. Most can be affixed in a really solid fashion, but you add a bit of weight out front. Keep in mind there is no such thing as ‘free lunch’ when we add accessories like this. You’re taking off paperweight handguards and adding something, even if it’s aluminum, that can be a tad heavier. That isn’t truly the problem. The problem comes with what you bolt on the railed handguards, as you are adding more weight further away from your body/core. When you use a railed handguard like those from Midwest Industries, Troy, Arsenal, MAGPUL, or Texas Weapon Systems, you can mount or configure just about anything you need. If you’re running a scope though, keep in mind your eye relief, and consider a ‘scout’ scope or the likes.
There’s something for everyone out there and you can pick up most of this stuff at Brownells if you’re shopping online, but you’ll need to carefully weigh your options to find what works best for you and your application. Also, don’t forget that you want a good cheek weld so your sight easily and repeatedly down your optics bore, so your choice of stocks will impact this greatly.

About Michael Ware:
Michael is a Christian husband and father to two children. He owns and operates Controlled Chaos Arms, a premier custom weapons shop in the Midwest. He serves as Chairman of the board of Directors at the Iowa Firearms Coalition. The pursuit of truth drives him in research and his writing.
Michael enjoys shooting, hunting, and fishing throughout the Midwest and Rockies. An avid outdoorsman and tireless supporter of all Second Amendment virtues, he can be found in his gun shop, in a tree stand with his kids, or on Capitol Hill lobbying in support of Freedom and Liberty at any given time.

Michael Ware Linkedin
Controlled Chaos Arms Website
Controlled Chaos Arms Facebook
Controlled Chaos Arms Twitter
Controlled Chaos Arms Instagram

The post Problem with AK You Say? Options for Mounting Optics to AKs appeared first on AmmoLand.com.


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