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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

Upper Components

14.5" 5.56 BA Hanson Midlength AR 15 Barrel W/ LO PRO, Performance Series

SKU: -

E-BCG Full Auto Style (.223/5.56) TIN


M-LOK Polymer Rail, 5 Slots


Melonite Gas Tube

SKU: -

Dragon Muzzle Brake .223/556




The WARHAMMER Micro Mod2 AR-15 Ambidextrous Charging Handle


M-LOK QD Sling Mount


HTP Scales in MLOK

SKU: -

We opted for a Ballistic Advantage 14.5” Hanson barrel with a Low-Profile gas block. The shorter barrel with a pinned and welded muzzle break on the end, to reach the required 16 inches, lends itself to heightened maneuverability. Considering the minimal number of targets past 300 yards, we felt comfortable with the shorter length. BA has very high-quality barrels that have an exceptionally long lifespan. Their barrel steel is very resistant to heat which is critical to accuracy should the shooter start to hit a high volume of fire. The barrel is on the heavy side; so, for users looking to cut out more weight, there are pencil versions. While those pencil barrels are also very good, we have found that the groupings tend to grow once the barrel gets too hot.

  • Pros

    • Accuracy

    • Lifespan

  • Cons

    • Weight


As noted, we chose to hit the 16” barrel requirement by pinning and welding a muzzle to our 14.5” barrel. The Lantac Dragon muzzle break fit the bill for us on this build. These are very common breaks and are very good at directing gas to stabilize the rifle during firing. This could prove to be important for staying on target if a Match Director has you engaging a target multiple times or shooting in some obscure position. The main drawback of this break, coupled with a shorter barrel, is that it is loud…very loud. If you do not mind upsetting some of the Range Officers, this is a great competition muzzle device.

  • Pros

    • Functionality – directs gasses to stabilize the weapon

    • Weight

  • Cons

    • Noise

    • Caution setting the muzzle on/in a barricade when firing, Ask us how we know...


Since our competitions put shooters in unconventional positions, we are very big proponents of ambidextrous charging handles. Sometimes this is related to strong or weak handed shooting while other times is it is an access issue.  An ambidextrous charging handle helps with quickly charging, handling/clearing, or addressing any malfunctions within the weapon. Breek Arms makes several variations but we choose the Warhammer Mirco Mod2 charging handle. We really liked that it was a long thin charging handle that would be easy to access. Unlike other ambi charging handles this does not seem to flex from just grabbing 1 side verses both at the same time.

  • Pros

    • Solid construction

    • Large grab area

    • Low price

  • Cons

    • Handles might get caught on loose gear


For the Bolt Carrier Group (BCG) we choose the Lantac E-BCG. Its common knowledge that a lot of the BCGs out there are all made by a few manufacturers and re-branded; but Lantac makes theirs in house and are very high quality. The tin plating was an added feature that we selected to go with the cerekote on the rifle, but you can choose if that’s something that you think is worth the added cost.

  • Pros

    • Solid construction

    • Reliable

    • Smooth cycle

  • Cons

    • High price

    • Weight

We also choose to add some accessories to our Atlas S-One handguard. First was the Railscales Karve-P handstop and HTP Scales; these give the user a great hard stop and some grip on an otherwise very smooth rail. The Scales also help protect the shooters hands from the heat transferring from the barrel to the handguard as it will get hot eventually. We also added a Magpul QD sling mount at the front of the handguard (since it doesn’t have one factory) and a polymer rail for the Bi-Pod that we will be utilizing.

  • Pros

    • Lightweight

    • Functional

  • Cons

    • Cost adds up

Optics and Mounts

AD-RECON Scope Mount 


Razor Red Dot

SKU: RZR-2001

CVRD Offset Mount


Switchview Throw Lever


Razor HD Gen II-E 1-6x24

SKU: RZR-16008

Did we mention earlier that optics are important? Building a great rifle and throwing a bargain optic on top of it is a horrible practice. You get what you pay for in the quality of these optics from the materials, glass, technology, and construction. Additionally, most of the larger companies have lifetime warranties that will replace or repair your optic should something go wrong. We chose to mount a Vortex Razor HD 1-6x24 and a Vortex Razor Red Dot on a QD mount so we can remove it if we don’t anticipate using it for a match.

When considering that a lot of matches are pushing the rifle targets further out, we knew we wanted something a little more powerful than a 4x optic while still giving us the versatility of a true 1x. Vortex has several high-quality optics, but we opted for the Razor 1-6 HD with the BDC reticle. We were immediately impressed with the clarity of the optic as it lets in a lot of light along with the eye relief. The BDC reticle is also great for quick engagement and ranging. The one downside of the optic that we have come across is the weight, but when comparing its reliability, versatility, and increased magnification we found it was worth it. If you want to take the usability up a level, add a quick throw lever on the optic to allow for a much faster transition between magnification.

  • Pros

    • Clear glass

    • Solid construction

    • Reasonable price

    • Lifetime warranty – we have tested this on a few of our Vortex optics and they are true to their word

  • Cons

    • Weight


We mounted a Vortex Razor Red dot primarily for use in our matches with Close Quarters Combat (CQB) scenarios, as well as quick transitions between near and far targets. By affixing it on a QD offset, we can quickly attach or remove it based on the match we are attending. The Razor provides a large field of view giving the user a lot of relief between transitions to and from the red dot.

To mount our optics, we turned to American Defense Manufacturing. ADM makes very high-quality mounts that we have utilized on several of our competition rifles. While they can be heavier than some others on the market, we think it’s worth the piece of mind that they will keep our optics dialed in.

For our Vortex Razor HD 1-6x24, we opted for a ADM FDE AD-Recon mount with the QD throw levers. For the Vortex Razor Red Dot we opted for the ADM CVRD Offset mount that we could easily remove and re-install as needed. With both these mounts we have the piece of mind knowing that if they need to be removed, we can easily re-attach them and reconfirm zero quickly. Additionally, the locking QD mounts will not come loose (like screws) and can be adjusted to ensure that the mount is tight to the frame.

  • Pros

    • Quality construction

    • Durability

    • Reasonable pricing

  • Cons

    • Weight




QD Sling Attachments

SKU: GGG-1419

FDE Sling

SKU: -

When selecting a bipod, we went with the industry leader that specializes in them, Accu-Tac. These are extremely high quality and well-constructed bipods that can be used on a wide variety of platforms. We opted for the WB-4 bipod with a quick release lever on the front. Thanks to the QD attachment, if we choose not to use (or are not allowed to use) the bipod at a match it can be quickly removed. The legs of the bipod are spring loaded for quick deployment and retraction as the shooter moves from position to position or stowage between stages. It’s wide footprint also provides a very stable shooting platform for when precision is necessary. The one downside to this platform is weight, as there are much lighter options out there, but this was another decision that came down to the quality of the product.

  • Pros

    • Quality Construction

    • Stable shooting platform

    • Maneuverability

  • Cons

    • Weight


Finally, we fitted the rifle with a Spectre Resource FDE Sling paired with some GG&G QD adapters. The sling is very simple and flexible in design which is convenient when you have other gear the sling must work in conjunction with. It is lightweight and dependable, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking on the trail. The only downside is that it is hard to cinch down and get a consistent tight fit using it, but otherwise is a great option.

  • Pros

    • Lightweight

    • Ease of use

  • Cons

    • Retention


When the thought of trekking a rifle across 7 miles starts to hit home, competitors might start looking for every opportunity to shed some weight here and there. Part of the trick is starting that process before you begin building the rifle in the first place. Once a major component is on the rifle, most people tend to stick with it versus swapping it out later down the line. So do your research prior to slapping parts on.

We wanted to show how optics and bipods changed the weight of the rifle overall as you consider what to add to yours. To give an example, our rifle, with no optics or bipods, came out to 5.99 pounds. Below are some various setups and the total weight of the gun after they were installed:

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With our rifle we can customize the setup based on what we expect to see in the upcoming match. If we are going to ‘The Ranch’ we will probably put the Vortex Razor red dot on for CQB engagements whereas for our ‘Venado’ matches we might remove that and put on a Bipod for long distance shooting. Again, the versatility is meant to adapt to the user and the match to gain as much advantage as we can.


By the time you’ve finished procuring and assembling components for this rifle, you may be tempted to run any ammo you can find through it. We see a lot of competitors mixing and matching ammo as they scrape together those final magazines before getting on the course. While this is likely to get you through the day, shooters are losing a lot of consistency and accuracy by doing this. We run Stand 1 Ammunition exclusively in our rifles. Prior to each match we make sure we have enough rounds and that all our mags are loaded with the same batch and grain. If we take 5 Rifle magazines onto the course, we usually have 4 mags of 55 grain and 1 mag of 77 grain. We utilize the 77 grain for any stage(s) that have multiple targets past 300 yards since the heavier bullet is less impacted by wind and holds a higher energy once at the target.

The downside of carrying varying grains is the point of impact (POI) change that the shooter may need to account for while under stress. It is imperative that shooters know where the POI is based on varying grains. There are multiple philosophies on zeroing, but we prefer to utilize the DBC on our Vortex optic (which is set for 55gr) and note where our 77gr impacts when we swap rounds. A Ballistic Calculator can help you with a baseline for the variance in the two rounds, but again you should always go out and verify. 

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After zeroing our rifle at 200 yards with 55gr bullets we verified our BDC (and drops) from 50 to 400 yards. Once complete, we then swapped over to our 77gr rounds and mapped our POI utilizing the same sequence. In our case the rounds were extremely consistent and gave us a good read on the extra drop of the 77gr. Within 300 yards there is minimal change worth noting; 300 yards and further is when we start taking into account the different rounds. A simple, and quick way, to account for the extra drop that we have found is the following: when using 55gr rounds you can center the BDC on the target, when using 77gr rounds center the BDC on the top 3/4 of the target. Assuming a 3 to 4 MOA target, aiming at the top 3/4 of it will usually drop the round into the center of the plate. 


This is a very specific build, for a specific purpose, and we want to recognize that. This rife was built to gain as much of an advantage as we could during a competition. There are a number of components that we would probably not utilize on a duty rifle, truck gun or even for hunting. However, for its purpose it has more than met our expectations.


We took this rifle out to our 2022 Sillwaters event and shot each stage with it. It performed exceptionally, giving us a lot of confidence to make this our primary competition rifle. For the match, we set it up in our lightweight configuration (opting not to use the bi-pod or red dot). The Vortex Razor 1-6x gave us a lot of visibility on targets ranging from 40 to 400 yards and our barrel + BCG + trigger combination made for consistent, quick and accurate shooting. 

We appreciate all the manufacturers who helped us with this build by donating components. We hope this build gives you some insight and things to consider for your next build or upgrade. If you have any questions about the rifle or the building process, please feel to reach out to us.