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AR-7 Upgrade project

Discussion in 'Maintenance & Gunsmithing' started by darkminstrel, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. darkminstrel

    darkminstrel PDX Well-Known Member

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    I posted a question in another section of the forum about fibre optic sights and fonud what I was looking for...sorta.

    My AR-7 is a pretty straight shooting rifle and reliable to a point. I want to make this my permanent small game/emergency rifle so I've been researching ways to make it better than when I got it.

    History;

    I'm the third owner of the rifle but from the story I was told I am the second to actually fire it. It is the Charter Arms variety and uses the standard post+peep sights, has no mounting rail, and has the old style mag release. The previous owner had no mags for it and didn't have much interest in tracking any down. I found a number of mags of both repro and original make and after a good cleaning went out to shoot.

    Temperment;

    Like all models of this rifle the thing is just finicky about what mags it wants, and what ammo as well. It likes to unseat the bullet from Rem Super X, feeds 500-900 Thunderbolts before it's too dirty to strip them off the mags properly, and really dislikes anything with a ridged bullet causing mis-feeds galore. After polishing the trigger assembly and replacing a couple springs I had a great rifle on my hands. Beyond the feeding problems I was able to get good accuracy at 50m and can reliably hit Minute-of-Squirrel every time.

    Upgrades;

    So far I've polished the throat of the barrel from 600-2500 grit paper and (cleaned) fired cases will drop out with no snagging. I've cut an abbreviated feed ramp and polished it up. I did this because I noticed that a couple of my mags would feed the rounds slightly low and cause a FTF. Now the ramp is cut they slide up and in. I've lapped the muzzle with polishing compound and a tool from Brownell's so even though it doesn't have a target cut there are clean rifling channels for the bullet to grip all the way to the crown. I've also taken to using Ram-Line mags exclusively. Yes they do break apart due to the poorly glued and pinned halves...but I found a solution for that.

    Upgrades not completed;

    As I stated at the start of this thread I want better sights. I don't prefer peep sights and never have. It just doesn't work for me. Couple that with the non-contrasting blade front sight and I had to work much too hard to make accurate hits. Yesterday I went out and purchased a fibre optic sight set designed for the 10/22. What's great about this is that the dovetail for the front sight is very nearly the same dimensions as the AR-7 so only some minor fitting is required. The real gem is the rear sight leaf.

    The rear section is comprised of a long sight block that has one set screw, one height adjusting screw, and one windage screw on the rear leaf. The best part is the dovetail on this block; it's an incredibly low profile and only 1mm wider than the spine(ridge, thing on top) of the receiver. I'll be able to cut a nice dovetail into that spine and have enough material around it so that I'll not worry about it peeling off due to heavy use. With this mounted I'll have a contrasting orange front and green rear 3 dot sight system that I can see in nearly every light condition.

    Conclusion;

    I'll be adding pics on the project shortly.
     
  2. Skang

    Skang WA Well-Known Member

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    Cool, can't wait to see the pictures.
     
  3. Fishnutz

    Fishnutz Hillsboro Member

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    Id really like to see pics too.:thumbup:
     
  4. waltermitty

    waltermitty seattle Active Member

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    it is my belief that trying to gussy up and upgrade an AR-7 is akin to putting lipstick on
    a pig. now, having said that, i'm intrigued by project and if there is a reasonable way
    of improving the function of my AR-7 w/o spending a ton of money, I'm game :thumbup:

    oh, I did have the barrel threaded from which a lightweight, Gemtech sound suppressor
    hangs. it's the shiznick...and it maintains the overall svelte package as intended.
     
  5. darkminstrel

    darkminstrel PDX Well-Known Member

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    Pics are still coming. My camera of choice's macro setting is very very poor so I'm retaking the shots once the dovetails are fully cut and smoothed. Also have to wait on a shipment of parts for my trigger mod as well.
     
  6. rdb241

    rdb241 Puyallup Washington Gold Supporter Gold Supporter

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    AR-7 Barrels at AR-7 Customized Accessories, LLC




    Here is your optic solution. The middle barrel. I saw this very same barrel at the last WAC show mounted on a gun. It is Weaver mount but you can get adapters for picatiny. I just bought my own AR-7 last week. It is the original Armalite and has the black and brown marble stock. This stock was offered for only 1 year. 1973. It came in the original box and all of the original paperwork. Let's start a little competition here guy's, who can trick out there AR-7 the best??????????
     
  7. darkminstrel

    darkminstrel PDX Well-Known Member

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    Not for my end goal. I want the rifle to still store in the stock as it's designed to do. I want the upgraded performance and sights with no extra footprint.

    That said;

    Progress Update:

    Cut the rear sight dovetail using my dremel for the rough-cut and a triangular diamond file to finish. The first cut was so close that I needed only a couple light swipes to finish and the rear block slid in perfectly. In order for the sight block to fit correctly I had to remove the peep sight tower and smooth that surface out as well. I'll be tapping the top of the receiver for the elevation screw. The construction of the bolt is such that even with the screw tightened down it won't interfere. I'll be sure to get the correct length of screw as well to minimise the possibility of binding.

    The front sight was more tricky to be honest. The dovetail shape of the modern 10/22 sight and the AR-7 sight is significantly different so I've had to do a bit of work to make them mate. The AR's sight ramp was filed down 3 'steps' and polished. This cut the dovetail in half. Next the new sight insert base was also filed down to match. I haven't completed final fitting but when done the barrel will slide in the stock with no mods needed.

    Work to be Completed:

    The rear sight block will not allow the receiver to fit into the stock at this time. Minor clearancing needs to be done on the stock to allow the receiver to fit.

    The trigger surfaces are going to be polished up for a crisper release. 2000 grit paper and light strokes should do it in a few seconds.

    I'm just a short time away from having this done! We're planning on taking a trip out this week and I'm hoping that my project is done so I can conclude this thread with a proper range report.

    (still working on pics, I'm no photographer and I doubt you all want blurry pics of my feet)
     
  8. darkminstrel

    darkminstrel PDX Well-Known Member

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  9. skiddyfisk

    skiddyfisk Grants Pass New Member

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    I can't see those :( I'm looking to perform similar surgery on mine - but my goal is to mount a rear iron on the barrel so as not to have the alignment change between takedowns. Was hoping the photos would educate me somewhat. Can you repost them, on imgur.com maybe?

     
  10. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    My thoughts too. Other than work to make it more reliable, which usually means finding the ammo that functions better in it, and making sure the mag feed lips aren't damaged, IMHO an AR-7 is just what it was designed to be. A last ditch survival rifle.
     
  11. skiddyfisk

    skiddyfisk Grants Pass New Member

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    Maybe, but it's also an inexpensive gun to play around with.
     
  12. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    That's what I told my wife just before I bought my last "project rifle. At last count it's approaching $5,000 but shoots a bullet almost twice the size.

    I guess there are different definitions for the word "play":cool:
     
  13. Capn Jack

    Capn Jack Wet-Stern Washington Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Nothing quite like an AR in .458 cal., but I would still find it tough to put $5,000.00 into one.;)

    Jack...:cool:
     
  14. deadshot2

    deadshot2 NW Quadrant WA State Well-Known Member

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    An AR perhaps but with bolt rifles it usually ends up being all those expensive add on's. $1,000 stocks and $2,500 scopes are a couple items that add up quick. From there on it's "a couple hundred here and a few hundred there" before you have the cost of a good used car invested. This was a build that started with a factory action and barrel. Try one that starts with a $1500 action and $800 in barrel/work.

    When I look at what some of my friends have invested in their "Hot Rods", my hobby seems rather cheap. Check the price of a "Crate Engine" for a Hot Rod build. The real performance models run in the $12,000 to $15,000 range and that's just an engine.
     
  15. Capn Jack

    Capn Jack Wet-Stern Washington Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Yeah Deadshot,
    I learned about how cars can keep you broke a long time ago.:rolleyes:
    I would love to have a cased set of Westley Richards African Doubles, but
    my "banker" says, "If I want to have lead in my golden years I have to keep
    it simple" (cheap).:thumbup:

    Jack...:cool: