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As match organizers, we get a lot of questions about gear preferences and set-ups for our style of competition. Run n Guns are different from most matches in that there is no chance to re-supply or make repairs while on our courses. Equipment must be reliable and robust to withstand the abuse of the course, yet also light enough to carry across 6 to 8 miles. So in a new initiative we wanted to build a rifle that is meant to highlight what an ultimate Run n Gun setup may look like for those just getting into the sport or for seasoned veterans looking for new upgrades.

Each rifle we see on the course is personalized to its owner, from components to optics, no two ever seem to be the same. A little bit of everything comes through the stages: from the cheapest Palmetto State Armory kits, Factory Rifles off the shelf, to fully customized builds. Seeing hundreds of setups and seeing what our top competitors utilize, along with years of our own competition experience, has given us insight into what we would view as the best rig for the job.

In our experience, we have found it best to build our rifles from the ground up, like the build we will be presenting below. There are several great factory rifles out there, but we prefer to personalize/customize our rifles to fit the style of competition and budget.


In our opinion, there are 3 main factors to consider when building a rifle for Run n Guns:

  • Durability

  • Weight

  • Versatility


Unlike many forms of competition, Run n Gun beats the hell out of your equipment, making durability critical to the success of your outing. Without the opportunity to go back to the car and fix problems or make adjustments, you could be running up to 8 miles with your rifle on a sling through creeks and over mountains, and engaging stages designed to stress the shooter and their equipment to failure. There is nothing worse than experiencing a rifle malfunction or to have an optic get knocked off midway through the match. As our motto states, you are there to test your gear (among other things), thus, when building a rifle, you need to use quality components that can endure punishment.


Run n Guns can and will send you across some rough terrain; does “test the elements” sound familiar? You must consider how much weight you are willing to carry across all your gear. We see many competitors choose to carry all the accessories, lights, and tools, while others opt to go as minimalist as possible. The same thought process must go into the rifle components in your build. We’ll just leave you with this thought on the matter: Ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain!

Our unique courses offer a variety of ways to task your weapons systems. You will want to have a versatile rifle that will be able to accommodate a wide range of shooting. Our matches have seen rifle targets from 20 yards to 650 yards which can push the limits of any setup or carbine weapon. Although most of our rifle targets sit between 100 and 300 yards, we don't want shooters to get too comfortable, so we keep them guessing by mixing up target sizes and ranges. In the true spirit of Run n Gun, we force shooters to assess the limits of their rifle both near and far. Having a versatile setup allows shooters to engage these targets at any range, position, or in any condition.

Key Investments

As with many things you can spend as much or as little as you want when building a rifle. Some platforms we have seen come in well below $1,000, where others can reach over $7,000. It is all about your budget and what you want out of the rifle. While many components have cheap alternatives, we have found the list of parts below to be worth investing money in when you can:

  • Optic

    • Do not cheap out on the optic. We’ll repeat that, if you can’t see it, you can’t hit it (prior competitors can save your “hidden target" comments for another article). We have seen too many failures on our courses because competitors came out with a cheap setup. When you consider the inputs and preparation required for one event: training, ticket, ammo, gas, and time spent on the match, it sucks getting stranded halfway through the event with an optic that does not hold zero because it couldn’t handle you jogging with it. If you want to take the conversation a step further, it’s a bit pointless to put your quality optic on a subpar mount that also can’t handle the course of fire movements.

  • Upper & Lower

    • Use quality uppers and lowers. We get that a $45 PSA blemished upper sounds great, but it really does not hold up. You can get quality parts between $100-$150 if you are on a budget. You’ll notice an immediate difference in the quality and fit of components versus those other cheaper options.

  • Trigger

    • Triggers are a simple and relatively inexpensive upgrade that you can add to your rifle. By reducing your trigger pull you will see an increase in accuracy. Then, couple that with a short trigger reset to help you send that next round down range quickly. There are lots of options out on the market so you can choose the right one for you, but we would suggest a single stage with a lightweight trigger pull.

Receiver Set and Lower Parts

M4E1 Builder Set w/ ATLAS S-ONE Handguard

SKU: APCS100188

C2E Contour Connect Receiver End Plate QD


MOE-K2+ Grip – AR15/M4


BKF AR15 H1 Carbine Buffer (3.8oz)


AR-15 Airlite Series ‘Minimalist’ Stock


Tactical Springs LLC M4 / CAR-15 Standard Power (Color Coded WHITE)

SKU: 25003

BKF AR15 Lower Parts Kit


Gen 2 Mod 2 Anti-Walk Pins

SKU: -

AR-15 Single Stage

SKU: 667S

We selected an Aero Precision enhanced builder kit with an ATLAS S-ONE handguard as the base for this build. We have used this platform for multiple builds and absolutely love it. While we own lighter weight receiver sets, the durability of the Aero builder kit balances out the slight weight increase for us. The enhanced upper and lower certainly look the part of a Run n Gun rifle and the ATLAS S-One is a great handguard that gives users a thin, free-floating handguard. This handguard is very slim allowing shooters to get a full grip around it while maintaining its durability.

  • Pros

    • Low price

    • Extremely reliable/high quality

    • Versatile

  • Cons

    • ATLAS S-ONE lacks a QD attachment at the front, requiring an additional mount


Triggers are a very personalized choice with multiple factors to consider. There is single stage, two stage, or your mill spec crunch-o-mantic. Replacing a mill spec trigger with a quality drop-in trigger can improve your shooting and change the feel of your rifle. Do your own research and test various types to determine your personal preference. For this build we choose a 3lb Single Stage drop in Timney trigger. Having used it in the past, it has a very crisp and lightweight trigger pull with a very short reset for follow-up shots. Although the Timney trigger comes with set screws, we chose to further lock it down with KNS Anti-Walk Pins to ensure that nothing comes loose during a match.

  • Pros

    • Drop-in assembly is easy to install

    • Trigger pull and reset are very crisp

  • Cons

    • High price


For the lower parts we chose to use the BKF Enhanced Lower Parts kit. It’s a great bundle of parts for a very low cost.

  • Pros

    • Low Price

    • Solid components

  • Cons

    • ‘Enhanced’ is a relative term – we would have liked to have seen larger safety selectors and bolt release

To reduce weight, we choose the GunTex USA Airlite Series Minimalist Stock. This is an extremely light stock/buffer tube combo that sheds a significant amount of weight. This setup fully assembled is lighter than most stand-alone stocks by themselves. Using a fixed stock is a risk as you lose the versatility of an adjustable platform – however after reflecting on how little we change our stock length during a match, we think the weight reduction is worth it.

  • Pros

    • Lightweight

    • Durable – fewer parts to break

    • Complete stock kit available

  • Cons

    • Not adjustable

    • Wish the provided endplate was for a QD adapter


We selected a Sprinco buffer spring because of their reliability and our experience with them in the past. We were able to call them up, give them the spec on our build, and they provided us with a recommended spring type. Anyone who has done some in-depth spring research with tuning a rifle knows how valuable this is; too heavy and you’re going to run into problems with the rifle not cycling, too light and you risk damaging the frame over time.

  • Pros

    • Low Price

    • Reliability

  • Cons

    • N/A


To complete the lower, we added a Magpul MOE K2+ grip. Seeing how this rifle is going to be used by multiple people, we preferred a common industry grip that most shooters had utilized before. The K2+ grip is very ergonomic and comfortable to use with a rubberized coating that allows shooters to handle the weapon for long periods of time. Also, the added storage and locking endplate allows shooters to carry some additional supplies without the risk of those parts falling out.

  • Pros

    • Ergonomic

    • Durable

  • Cons

    • N/A