There are a plethora of companies that make AR parts. From the big dogs like Palmetto State to smaller shops, like Karri’s Guns and Midstate Firearms. We built out a one of Midstate Firearms mid-length uppers, with some pretty cool features. This review will get pretty intensive, so bear with us. If you’re not a builder, or have no AR knowledge, this might be a little over your head, but we will endeavor to make it as accessible as possible.
Let’s start from muzzle and work our way back. This assembled upper comes with an A2 flashhider and crush washer – but it’s not torqued down. As a builder, I appreciate that, as it affords you the opportunity to throw on a muzzle device of your choice right out of the box, without having to unscrew the mil-spec birdcage. You have your standard AR15 threads, so any of your other muzzle devices will screw right on if they have 5/8 x 24 threading (most do).
From there we move back to the barrel markings – this particular upper is 5.56mm with 1:7 twist. All that twist bit means is that the bullet will rotate 1 full turn in 7 inches of barrel, so for this 16 inch barrel, you will get 2+ revolutions, helping stabilize the round as it flies. The barrel itself has m4 feedramps in the breech, and is 4150 chrome moly steel.
This upper also comes with a 12″ free floated quad rail, that, I must remark, is very solid. With no play, you have more than enough rail space to load up a set of back up irons, foregrip, laser/light, and an optic, with room to space. It’s aluminum, and although not as light as say MOE plastic furniture, is still lightweight enough to be welcome in the AR platform. Also, what I really like about this rail, is the cutouts for access to the gas block, should you want to install something adjustable to work with a suppressor and you need to fine tune the cycling.
From the barrel, we move back to the upper reciever itself – which although I am unsure of the brand – is solid and seems to be milspec aluminum. What makes this particular kit extremely solid and user friendly at the range, is the extended latch charging handle. I love extended latch handles, and personally prefer non-ambi models. This one has a sizeable latch allowing you to manipulate it under stress, with gloves, or worst case – with an injured hand. Then we get to the bolt carrier – which is above and beyond the milspec bolt carriers you see normally with phosphate coating. This one is Melonite coated, and similar to the APOC Armory BCGs (which are fantastic) has a very slick action and slides forth freely with minimal lubrication. Obviously never run an AR (or any weapon) 100% dry, but this requires less lube than usual to cycle quickly and cool.
The upper receiver also has a forward assist – a must in my book, and anybody that was deployed overseas will tell you how they beat their hands to a pulp driving a round into battery when sand got in the chamber – which it will. Pictured is the upper mated to an Anderson lower with Magpul furniture I have laying around ready for rotation with any upper I come across. While firing 150+ rounds I had zero failures of any kind, and every time I pressed the Milspec trigger it went bang. You can see some of the groups we laid down in our review of Aguila 62 Gr ammo. Rapid fire, we held MOA groups from 7-25 yards with basic irons. As you can see, I have Magpul MBUS sights on here, and usually run an optic on top for competition or plinking.
Overall, I like the upper very much and with the inclusion of a rail, and available upgrades of extended latch charging handles and a Melonite BCG which lends itself to quick firing and extremely manageable recoil and impulse with a mid-length gas system. It’s flat shooting, quick to jump back on target, and relatively light given the size and stoutness of the rail. And what’s more, these uppers are made right here in the U.S. of A in Clinton, Mississippi. For a small shop, Midstate Firearms puts out great products at an affordable price – which is about $400 as tested. From there you can build your lower, throw some furniture on it, and upgrade the trigger if you so choose.
Pros, what we like: Extended latch charging handle which is easy to manipulate, Melonite treated MPI inspected BCG with a smooth action, 12″ free floated rail, 4150 steel barrel and m4 feed ramps. Mil spec and then some all around.
Cons, what we don’t like: Not much. It’s a solid starting point to build a great rifle for home defense, competition, or plinking.
Update Jan 2018: This rifle has had about 500 rounds through it, most if it brass cased 62 gr or 55 gr. Overall, it’s a fine rifle. The action is exceptionally smooth due to the above-mil-spec BCG. Moreover, it’s a very soft shooting rifle from the middy gas system, coupled with the extra weight of metal rails. That being said, it’s still far lighter than an AK, and is extremely accurate. I have a EPT trigger in here from Palmetto State, and the break is crisp, making follow ups easy. Like any AR, it requires cleaning, but I haven’t had a single stovepipe, FTE, FTF, or failure to go into battery, and I’ve purposely not cleaned the weapon much to test it’s reliability.
So far, it’s passed with flying colors. Midstate is a solid US company and a great alternative for those looking to build their own rifle.