The black rifle. It’s got so many shapes, sizes, and flavors nowadays. The possibilities are endless, and there are a ton of manufacturers out there. While some just ship them out, and have necessary QC issues, others, like APOC Armory, pride themselves with their products.
As well they should.
I’ve built my share of ARs, especially in the last year since I’ve been on kind of a tear. I am thoroughly impressed with the fit, finish, quality, and accuracy of the APOC Armory Patriot kit. Let’s start with the unboxing.
Parts arrived beautifully packaged and protected, and clearly labeled. (You can see in the video review how they separately the small parts like a low pro gas block and the mini roll pins very well). You get an Aero Upper with the APOC logo on the side of the charging handle latch. It’s printed nicely, not obnoxious, and very tasteful. With the upper, you get the upper build kit – which for the novice out there consists of your forward assist assembly and proper roll pins, dust cover and spring, as well as a barrel nut, which is very well machine, with nice threading on it, as well as a handguard spacer.
Now this is where I really was impressed: The barrel and BCG – two things APOC told me they pride themselves on. And man, are they great. The BCG (bolt carrier group, which contains the bolt, cam, firing pin, etc) is exceedingly well made, staked properly, and branded again with APOC’s logo. It also is a beautiful nitride-like finish, but they also make a Nickel Boron BCG which I’m sure is gorgeous as well. Barely lubed, it moves freely, and has a nice smooth action to it.
Now to the barrel: guaranteed sub MOA is what they say, and I believe it. I didn’t get the chance to check this out on a 100 yd outdoor range, but I pushed it out to 50 yds indoors, and even with irons and a basic red dot and 62 grain 5.56 Aguila ammo, this puppy put together nice groupings mated to a lower with a milspec trigger group. I fired 10 shots, mostly double taps and controlled triples, with my elbow supported, and those holes are touching. The only flyer is my fault, when I got a little zealous, but even so – that’s 1.2 inches away from the main group, and that group has holes basically touching. Again – rapid double and triple taps, at 50 yards, with basic sights.
No scopes, no magnifiers. Very, very impressed. The barrel itself is one of the finest I’ve seen finish wise, and is a 1:7 twist (meaning the bullet will rotate once every 7 inches, giving the projectile 2.28 revolutions before exiting the 16 inch barrel.) With heavier 62 grain rounds like I was shooting, that’s a recipe for astonishing accuracy. The QPQ Nitride coated barrel is very slick and holds up well. When I was sliding on the low profile gas block, I swore I scratched it – but it was perfectly fine. Moreover, the .223 Wylde chamber allows you to shoot higher pressure military spec 5.56mm rounds, as well as .223 rounds, and for a whole lot of ballistic reasons, is slightly more accurate than a regular 5.56 with a 1:7 twist.
I could geek out on ballistics all day, but let’s talk about parts. They’re all solid. The 12 inch free float keymod handguard is solidly machined, with no tooling marks, burrs, or other imperfections. It is also cerakoted a nice flat black. The barrel nut is a bit different than the barrel nut you would use for something with a standard handrail on it, but lightweight yet robust nonetheless. When marrying the barrel to the upper, you have plenty of workspace once you get the barrel nut on, and move the spacer back to rotate on the rail.
Once lined up and level, you are locked in place the the tension screw. You could hammer nails with this rail once it’s on. The low profile gas block is easy to assemble and place on the barrel, and the roll pins were not an issue to drive home – as is the case with some low-pro gas blocks. It’s .750 inches, in case you’re wondering. The carbine length gas tube is solid as well, and easily inserted into the upper once you time it right. In the video I chat about timing the barrel nut on here, and how relatively easy that process was. Like with any full build, when you pull that trigger the first time, you hope you did everything right. And this thing went bang on time, every time. No FTF, FTEs or cycling issues, with a variety of ammo ranging from 62 Grain Aguila to 55 Grain Federal.
You have the option of an extended charging handle, which I’d recommend, as it’s easy to manipulate with gloves or under duress. The A2 birdcage with crush washer also goes on easily, as you’d expect with a build Obviously, make sure you have grease on hand for both the marrying of the barrel to the upper and the flash hider – you don’t need these welded on accidentally from the heat of firing. But that’s a rookie mistake. (Don’t worry, you asked for it and we will do a piece on first build mistakes soon).
Overall, it’s a fine kit, with a scarily accurate barrel, well-above-mil-spec BCG, high quality handguard, with a carbine length gas system. I usually can get nitpicky, but here, APOC knocked it out of the park. A USA made, lifetime warranty upper that is a tack driver – what’s not to love? At about $430 as shown and assembled, it’s a steal and great value.
Pros, what we like: Everything. Sub MOA 1:7 .223 Wylde barrel with a carbine length gas system that is good to go, made in the USA, lifetime warranty, with a stellar BCG, and Aero Upper, not to mention a great keymod handguard that is sexy and gives you a great purchase on the fore end. In fact, I’m going to grab an Aero upper and some Magpul goodies to make this a complete rifle, and send some lead with it in competition.
Cons, what we don’t like: Nada. Solid all around. Only caveat is don’t attempt this build unless you, or someone you know, knows what they’re doing. We’re talking about lots of roll pins, and gas systems, which if done wrong, can lead to some serious issues.
Update January 2018: I’ve run about 1000 rounds, all brass cased factory new, and this thing is a tack driver. On top, I’m running a Sparc AR and this thing puts together solid groups. I even threw a Timney single stage on it, as well as a BCM angled foregrip, and this rifle is not only accurate, but lightweight. With the smooth action of the BCG and the accuracy of the barrel, this rifle is a formidable weapon. All the parts are holding up great, I haven’t had a single issue with extraction or running the rifle. It’s a fine firearm all the way around.
While I do love it, it’s a carbine length system, so it has a bit more recoil impulse than middy or rifle length setups. For that reason, I don’t use this rifle in competition as much. It’s super accurate, but I’m looking for something with more managable recoil so I can run and gun. I only bring that up since it is a hell of a rifle, if you’re looking to build one for competition, go with a longer gas system.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Castiglione lives in Atlanta, and is an avid outdoorsman and competitive shooter.
His where-abouts include getting after it in his garage gym, practicing martial arts, hitting the trails, or running CrossFit and Strongman competitions for his non-profit, Barbells for Bullies, which holds fundraiser fitness competitions dedicated to aiding Bully breed rescues, dog rescues, or other non-profits with similar missions.