With no prior military service and an affinity for wing shooting, it took a while for USGI builds to reach the top of my list. In fact, I was planning to build a new snow goose shotgun when the opportunity to start on an A2 build landed in my lap. Of course, I couldn’t pass it up. And, honestly, after a slew of higher-end builds, it was probably about time to touch base with the basics.
After researching my options, I determined Fulton Armory was the best choice for upper receiver parts due to the overwhelming expertise within their organization, availability of good quality parts and their compatibility, and reputation for customer service. Plus, their prices are competitive, especially for stripped receivers and parts kits.
If you so choose, a small bump in price will also net you a fully-assembled FAR-15 upper receiver. I opted for the stripped upper receiver and parts kits to aid with testing and evaluation of The Device MK I Mod 0, and also because I get satisfaction in successfully building my firearms.
Now, The Device (above) is an animal all its own. Technically, it’s a tool; a beastly hunk of milled aluminum that’s designed to secure upper receivers. Specifically, it provides the most usefulness with assembly and maintenance of A2-style upper receivers. And for this A2 upper it worked perfectly, although it wasn’t needed for many steps in the assembly process.
Fulton Armory also won me over a bit with their availability of firearms guides, including The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide by Walt Kuleck and Clint McKee (see my review here). I found it to be a great resource and I recommend it for all owners of AR-15 platform weapons.
Plus, each copy is autographed, which is a neat way to for the authors to show pride in their work.
But back to the hardware…
The Fulton Armory stripped M16A2 USGI upper receiver I received was nearly flawless. The Type III Hard Coat Anodized finish is as good as it gets – consistent and smooth. I found one near-microscopic nick in the finish that barely made it into the 7075 T6 aluminum; most likely somehow my own doing since Fulton packaged the upper and parts adequately for shipping.
Both the forward assist and rear sight roll pin holes are nicely beveled on the installation sides, as well as the pivot and takedown pin holes in the lugs.
The square forging mark on the left side of the upper receiver is indicative of the Brass Aluminum Forging Enterprises’ work, a USGI Contractor with much experience and a solid reputation for forgings.
The barrel nut threads were cleanly-cut, sharp, and free of any rogue material or finish. Inside, the receiver is seemingly polished to perfection.
Areas for the rear sight, forward assist, and ejection port cover were all cleanly created and finished and looked great.
And finally, the iconic carrying handle, smooth and sturdy, easily met expectations.
The upper receiver is available with M4 feed ramps, but because of the route I plan to take this build I opted out, as seen above.
In addition, buying the complete Upper Receiver Parts Kit will save you $24.95 when compared to buying the Rear Sight Kit and Upper Receiver Parts Kit separately.
At the workbench, I first sorted and hand-fit all parts, checking for proper fit to the upper receiver. A surrogate charging handle, bolt, barrel, and barrel nut were tested in the upper receiver. Internal dimensions were also tested with The Device’s surrogate BCG/charging handle.
Finally the upper receiver was mated with several lower receivers. Everything fit very well and the stripped upper was locked into The Device to begin assembly.
The dust cover went on without a hitch. It fit perfectly to the upper receiver and testing with The Device’s surrogate BCG found it to be mechanically sound, delivering the resounding and satisfying “Snap!” we all expect.
Installation of the forward assist proved a straight-forward task. The deep and wide bevel on the installation side of the forward assist roll pin hole made driving the roll pin painless.
The forward assist assembly moved freely within the forward assist boss and testing with a surrogate BCG and charging handle confirmed the pawl’s positive contact and correct functionality.
The rear sight base and elevation indexing knob also found their homes with relative ease. The elevation indexing knob is particularly well-made, fit perfectly, and functioned with impressive smoothness. A standard amount of play existed between rear sight base and upper receiver.
Surprisingly, installing the rear aperture was the trickiest part of the assembly. But only because Fulton includes a very good rear aperture leaf spring that exhibits substantial force on the aperture.
A quick final roll pin through the windage knob followed by a function check of the rear sight and I was in business! As with the elevation knob, the windage knob functions very well, delivering precise adjustments and solid lock-up with zero slop.
Fulton Armory’s A2 USGI Upper Receiver and A2 Upper Receiver Parts Kit were easy to assemble every step of the way. I didn’t find myself fighting any part of the assembly; it all came together as expected.
All moving parts – ejection port cover, forward assist, and rear sight – performed their duties without issue and look great. I expect this now complete upper receiver to fare quite well as part of my FAR-15 rifle build.
There is an incredible amount of knowledge and experience within Fulton Armory and their guidance and selection of components most certainly did not disappoint for this USGI A2 upper receiver build. All components are top-notch Mil-spec components; well-finished with near-perfect fit.
Of course, this is just the beginning of this rifle build. The completed upper has yet to be field-tested. If I run into issues I will report back, but I have no reason to believe this complete upper will not perform exceptionally well once it becomes a completed rifle upper. As evidenced through this USGI A2 upper receiver build, Fulton Armory is a top-notch resource for U.S. gas-operated service rifle components and advice.
Specifications: Fulton Armory A2 USGI Stripped Upper Receiver
Price as reviewed (A2 – no feed ramps): $99.95
Overall: * * * * *
Fulton Armory’s stripped A2 USGI upper receiver is a precisely made, rock solid, well-finished Mil-spec upper receiver. Featuring beveled pin holes, sharp barrel nut threads, a great carrying handle, and flawless Type III hard coat anodize finish, Fulton’s A2 upper receiver is an excellent choice you won’t want to skip over for your next build.
Specifications: Fulton Armory A2 Upper Receiver Parts Kit
Price as reviewed: $69.95
Overall: * * * * *
A complete kit consisting of all new, very clean parts, Fulton Armory’s A2 Upper Receiver Parts Kit pairs beautifully with any stripped Mil-spec A2 upper receiver.
Posted in Product Reviews, Rifles Tagged with: A2, ar-15, Clint McKee, Forged, Fulton, Fulton Armory, Gear Review, Gun review, gunsmithing, M16, M16A2, M16A2 rifle, Rifles, Service Rifle, Upper receiver, USGI, Walt Kuleck
I didn’t realize how much I missed instructional books until last month when a copy of The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide (Vol.2) by Walt Kuleck and Clint McKee arrived at my doorstep with the inaugural parts of my latest project, the FAR-15 rifle.
I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve become quite accustomed to digital dialogue and diagrams, and I’m not complaining either. But there’s just something nice about a real book in your hands. Maybe because it’s as much of a tool as any other on the workbench or how the act of writing notes in ink solidifies them on the pages for the remainder of its existence?
Whatever the reason, I was looking forward to a refresher in the basics and most excited to (hopefully) learn a new trick or two.
The Guide’s authors, Walk Kuleck and Clint McKee, both began their love of firearms at a young age and share the same passion for U.S. gas operated service rifles. Their knowledge is expansive and I’ll be quite fortunate if I am able to amass the level of insight they have before my brain bails on me.
What’s more, each copy is autographed by the authoring duo, a neat touch and simple show of pride in their works.
And in fact, there are a surprising number of books available by Mr. Kuleck and Mr. McKee, including Complete Assembly Guides for the M1 Garand, M14, and M1911, with accompanying author Drake Oldham. A litany of other guides and manuals can be found in the books section of the Fulton Armory website.
Tracing the roots of how I ended up with The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide (“The Guide“), we quickly arrive at The Device MK I Mod 0. The Device is a machined aluminum tool used to secure AR platform upper receivers for assembly, maintenance, and disassembly.
Given The Device has features specific to A2 variants, building and disassembling a USGI A2 upper was realistically the best way to test it. While picking out the upper receiver and parts kits on Fulton Armory’s website, I came across the book.
The Guide is extremely well-written, providing concise and easy to understand steps. Assembly is split into sensible chapters, each following the same format and including a full list of required parts and tools.
The steps are written-out in paragraph form and then immediately followed by the same steps in photographic form with captions. Pitfalls are called-out and tips, notes, and testing procedures are also detailed.
The photography in the book is top-notch guide photography, clearly showing all parts and pieces required, specific steps and techniques for assembly, completed portions of the process, and tools. All photos and images are also captioned, outlined, or otherwise referenced in the written instructions.
While assembling the Fulton Armory A2 USGI upper on The Device I referenced each step outlined in The Guide. The two things I appreciated the most were how clearly and specifically The Guide conveyed information, and how the photos were well-positioned near the relevant text.
The Tests, Tips, and Pitfalls throughout the book provide the type of insight most people would expect to gain from an in-shop conversation with a highly-qualified gunsmith.
After reading The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide in its entirety and following the suggested methods while completing a straight-forward USGI A2 upper receiver assembly, I believe it to be an excellent resource. I will surely be referencing it throughout the reminder of my FAR-15 build.
With the overwhelming incorporation of electronics in most everyday items, we’ve become accustomed to re-buying instead of repairing. If you own a firearm, it would behoove you to know how to fully assemble and disassemble it and books like The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide by Walt Kuleck and Clint McKee are the perfect electricity-less resource for all levels of experience.
Specifications: The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide (Vol. 2)
Price as reviewed: $21.95
Overall: * * * * *
The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide is a concise, yet very adequately-detailed reference guide for assembling any and all parts of most AR-15 platform rifles, although the rifle used in the examples is a USGI A2 clone. The photos are very helpful and extremely clear and the tips, tricks, and pitfalls, including when to (and not to) use which types of grease and oil, will be invaluable to beginners. I highly recommend all AR platform rifle and pistol owners keep a copy handy.
Posted in Military, Product Reviews, Rifles Tagged with: A2, ar-15, Armorer, army, Book, Carry Handle, Clint McKee, FAR-15, Fulton, Fulton Armory, Gear Review, Guide, Guns for Beginners, Gunsmith, gunsmithing, Marines, Military, msr, Rifles, USGI, USMC, Walt Kuleck