I’ve done a couple carbine builds in the last year, but wanted to try out a pistol. I thought when I first got into shooting sports that their viability for practical applications were limited because of their barrels, or lack of a stock, or a myriad of other issues why it wasn’t worth the time or expense to build or buy one.
Well, I was wrong.
While a pistol, especially with anything less than a 14.5 inch pinned barrel or a 16 inch carbine barrel, won’t have the ability to “reach out and touch someone” it still is both a fun range toy, and practically tactical. I picked up a pistol build kit from a smaller manufacturer in Kentucky – Karri’s Guns.
A couple of my buddies recently did pistol builds, and I checked them out and got the bug. I needed to build one out ASAP. I snagged a really cool package with everything except the lower – including a KAK pistol brace – in 5.56.
Then I scooped up the ever-present and super affordable Anderson lower. Then I started my build.
All in, it took me no more than 30 minutes once I got all my parts. Both the shipping from KG and Brownells were speedy and on time, with no hiccups.
The shipment from KG arrived well packaged, with all my small parts nicely separated. I didn’t need to search for detents and bolt catch parts. If you didn’t do a build before, it might be a tad confusing, but if you’ve done builds, everything was super easy to locate. The upper came assembled, with a very nice flash can on the barrel, and an integrated aluminum rail with keymods.
I was very very impressed with the workmanship, milling and assembly, but my surprise didn’t end there.
The only tricky part of the build for me, as it always is, was putting the A2 style pistol grip on, where you need a modicum of patience to seat it right and not cross-thread it.
I was very pleasantly surprised by the machining on the trigger group. I mean, just look how clean that looks for a standard mil-spec trigger that comes with the lower parts kit! No burrs, no machining marks, all business!
Everything went together smoothly – smoother in fact than other builds I’ve done with bigger companies – like Palmetto State Armory and an Anderson lower. With those, either the magazine catch roll pin, detents, or trigger guard gave me an issue. Not at all here.
And with this build, I used Militec-1 lubricant and grease, which significantly took the grittiness out of certain parts that usually need a break-in to feel right – like the safety selector or even the charging handle. A nice dab of Militec grease and this puppy was good to go.
Soon, I was at the firing line and sending lead downrange. I’ve heard that pistol builds are finicky – and this one was not. It ate up 55 gr and 62 gr ammo from Federal, Aguila , and even Tula. I sent about 60-70 rounds downrange with decent accuracy from a cheek weld with a padded buffer tube (I didn’t put the Shockwave on because with all the ATF ambiguity, didn’t want any issues regarding it’s use). The only issue I had at all, was one of the trigger pins started to walk out (my fault) so I used Blue Loctite on it when I got home to ensure it didn’t happen again.
So all the humdrum I heard about cycling issues on a 7.5 inch barrel – nope, not true. Granted, I haven’t hit 500-1000 rds you should use as a break-in period, but it performed flawlessly, and quite accurately for something with a barrel not much longer than some pistols. The Sightmark optics helped too.
Now let’s run through the different parts:
Overall, the fit and finish of the upper was flawless. I love the keymod rail, and the flash can looks and behaves just like a Noveske Flaming Pig – but without the cost. Aside from making it look like a space gun, the flash can forces gasses to the front of the user, both mitigating recoil and moreover as a courtesy to other people on the firing line. I’m sure you’ve experienced someone shooting indoors with a muzzle brake – it’s borderline obnoxious, and kind of comical considering most 5.56 weapons are pea shooters in terms of recoil.
I mean, I fire this pistol welded to my cheek and lay down compact effective hits with no stock. It’s relatively lightweight considering it’s all metal – the only plastic pieces of the pistol brace and the pistol grip – around 5.5 lbs fully assembled. The rail on top is continuous with no milling marks or imperfections. And KG stands by their product with a lifetime warranty – and stellar customer service. They responded to my emails with a question about the brace in less than 1 business day. Great, especially with some manufacturers being known for their lack of responsiveness.
The barrel is a 1:7 twist 5.56 rated 4150 chrome-moly with a nitride finish, and the kit comes with a full auto MPI bolt carrier group, lower parts kit (which was well machined, and popped together easily with an Anderson lower from Brownells), charging handle, and A2 style pistol grip, in addition to a pistol buffer tube, buffer, spring, and a Shockwave brace, as well as a foam pad for the buffer tube, which is pictured in most of these shots. I also didn’t have any issues whatsoever assembling. With some builds, the bolt catch, for instance, doesn’t want to seat in the lower without dremeling some metal out of the way. I was happy this was not the case here.
It’s pictured above and below with the grease and lube used to assemble – Militec Lube, which did a great job of lubricating the parts and making everything function cleanly and without grit. It sits atop my Spartan Armor, a great little carrier package with Level III+ ratings.
Overall I am highly impressed with the entire build, as well as the fit, finish, and function of it. Assembly was easy, communication with the company was stellar, and they build a great product with a lifetime warranty. Check out Brownells to grab a lower, and give Karri’s Guns a shout – everything should slap right together with no issues, and you can be sending 5.56 downrange at 2000+ fps in no time.
Pros, what we like:
Quality parts that snap together as they should with no headaches, short of roll pins which are a hassle no matter what company you use. A great handrail and assembled upper, with great value for the package with the flash can and brace included. It cycles all kinds of ammo, and is very accurate for it’s size. Hey, what’s not to like.
Cons, what we don’t like:
Nothing, short of adding an angled fore-grip, this sucker is good to go.
UPDATE 9/1/17 I have about 500 rounds through this gun, and it’s had some issues. I had a buffer break, and I was getting light strikes on the fire control – this was an easy fix. Just swapping out a couple parts.
I also added some Magpul MBUS sights to it, and this puppy is deadly accurate. I am also adding a Magpul AFG, since the ruling came down that you can now shoulder braces, this will get a SB15 or KAK as well. Or maybe eventually I’ll SBR it and grab the Lawman folding stock adapter.
In the interest of full disclosure, we did have some cycling issues, but that was worked out when the parts were fixed, with only a couple FTE’s.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Castiglione lives in Atlanta, and is an avid outdoorsman and competitive shooter.
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.