Aero Precision Upper, Lower Receivers and Mounts

By Christopher R. Bartocci

With the numerous manufacturers of the AR-type rifles in the industry, there are a select few companies who provide components to many of those receivers. This includes OEM manufactures of top tier rifles. Most of the companies merely assemble rifles from parts they procure from others. Few actually machine their own parts such as upper and lower receivers. Some companies may provide their own drawings to these companies to manufacture the components and others just buy the final product made with their brand on it. This is how the story of Aero Precision out of Tacoma, Washington begins.

Aero Precision, Inc. first opened in 1995 out of the Scott Dover's garage. These first products were non firearms related but still in the Aerospace industry. In 1998, the company began production of upper and lower receivers for OEM orders and that business has all but flourished over the last 10 years. Aero Precision and ADCOR Industries are two of the largest suppliers of receivers to the industry. That is right up to top tier name manufacturers down to the smaller specialty manufacturers. With all the new companies opening their doors, these orders helped to expand Aero Precision. To fill contracts for the top tier companies Aero Precision had to have outstanding precision and quality control. Some of these receivers are destined to go into thousands of military, law enforcement as well as commercial rifles. Aero Precision spent a good decade building up there name of quality and precision and the time was right to market their own brand of receivers. In 2008 Aero began selling lowers marked Aero Precision, which were Mil-Spec hard coat anodized black receivers. They began selling standard M4-type upper receivers with the Mil-Std 1913 rail and current extended feed ramps. Aero also has a very active R&D department who worked with OEM's to develop new products and when Aero went on their own line, those engineers made some modifications to the receivers to make them truly their own.

Their first departure from the typical lower receiver was their ambidextrous lower receiver in July of 2013. Most of the time prior to this, a vast majority of the lower receivers were considered ambidextrous with an ambi selector and magazine release. Very few offered an actual ambidextrous bolt release. Some add on accessories have been put out such as the Magpul BAD, Phase 5 Tactical and Troy Industries to name a few. These would clamp onto the bolt catch and have an arm that would curl inside the trigger guard. This worked well but there was a major issue with the lever snagging, and in the worst case breaking the bolt catch and destroying the receiver. The mechanism had to be internal. The Aero Precision design took it internal and simple. Making use of the Teal Blue Bravo PDQ bolt catch lever, Aero Precision was the first manufacturer in the industry to mill out their receiver to use the PDQ bolt catch. The Teal Blue Bravo PDQ bolt catch curves back on the right side which is easily lifted to lock open or depressed to release the bolt with the trigger finger. Simple and rugged. No multiple parts to wear out or break. The Gen 2 receiver released in October of 2013 takes it a little farther. To add to the ambidextrous features Aero Precision added a Norgon ambidextrous magazine release lever to the lower. This is a well proven release in use by the Canadian Forces amongst others. For the left handed shooter, the trigger finger can easily actuate the magazine release. Also added was the marking for use with the new 45° angle BAD ASS (Battle Arms Development Ambidextrous Safety Selector). However the patented way the markings are allow you to use a standard selector as well. Both the standard and ambi lower receivers are offered in 2 different finishes; black and tan Cerakote.

Aero Precision has produced a limited run of AR-10-type lower receivers that are fed by the modified ArmaLite M14 magazine. Word has it that Aero Precision is hoping to reintroduce their AR-10-type lower in 2014. This author hopes the new lower will feature the AR-10/SR25 round magazine instead of the M14 type.

The upper receivers produced by Aero Precision as previously stated were the standard Mil-Spec M4 type with extended feed ramps, forward assist, fired cartridge case deflector and Mil-Std 1913 rail. They also introduced a "slick side" upper with the removal of the forward assist but offering the rest of the features of the standard M4 type. This appears to be a trend coming back as well as it has been the topic of controversy since the Ichord Congressional Hearings back in the 1960s about the justification of changes to the M16. The forward assist was placed on the rifle to fill more of a psychological need than a mechanical one. That is why the Air Force first procured the rifles without them. It was not until the big green army adopted the M16A1 that all rifles were switched over to the A1 configuration to maintain parts commonality. Stoner advised against it and testified as to that fact. Several manufacturers, particularly of higher end uppers, are now selling uppers without the forward assist and now Aero Precision is one of them.

While working with another OEM, Aero Precision developed the COP or Continuous Optics Platform. It was first introduced as the ArmaLite SPR in 2008 and later sold by Aero Precision under their name. Aero Precision was recently awarded the full patent for the COP. The receiver is manufactured from a single 7075 T6 aircraft grade aluminum forging and has a constant top rail from the rear to the front of the receiver. On the receiver is the ejection port cover assembly, fired cartridge case deflector as well as the forward assist assembly. The other three sides are custom built as per the needs of the operator. There are panels that are all Mil-Std 1913 rail, 1913 half rail panels, half 1913 rail panels with QD attachment point as well as smooth segments where rail is not needed. This is assembled with two brackets and screws. The barrel nut is proprietary and slides onto any standard barrel. The barrel nut is torqued down to spec without having to index the barrel nut for gas tube insertion. This is a big benefit not only because it is easier but it allows a proper torque all the time rather than not knowing exactly where your torque is when you index the gas tube. Some studies have shown that during the installation of the barrel and indexing of the barrel nut many rifles will exceed the 80 ft. pound maximum and not even know it. The barrel is fully free floated, which not only increases accuracy but cooling as well. The operator can weigh his handguard with whatever gadgets he wants and it will not affect the accuracy of the rifle. Also machined into the receiver is a dedicated thumb perch to improve ergonomics when gripping the magazine well with the shooter’s weak hand. As of this writing, the COP is offered in both black and with tan Cerakote. SAR was told that Aero Precision is working on a .308 version of the COP. Initial release will be full length and mid-length models but a carbine may be in the works depending on demand. This is in fact as of this writing the current main project Aero Precision is working.

Aero Precision also manufactures three different scope mounts. The mounts are all manufactured from 7075 T6 aircraft grade aluminum and hard coat anodized black, the same as their receivers. The rings are composed of the main mount body and a camming scope mount that are held in place by two Torx screws on each ring. The scope mount attaches to the Mil-Std 1913 rail via three Torx screws. The stop notches are machined into the base of the mount. The ring sizes are offered in both 1 inch and 30mm. These mounts are certainly the lightest this author has come across. The last mount offered at this time is a cantilever 30mm single ring designed for the Aimpoint red dot scope – also unmatched in weight. This mount is the perfect height to allow co-witness with the iron sights.

During research on Aero Precision two rifles were built based on the Aero Precision platform. The first was a standard Aero Precision lower receiver with a COP upper receiver. This upper was equipped with an ArmaLite 16 inch 5.56mm barrel with a pinned on A.R.M.S. #41 folding front sight base. The upper used a Fail Zero nickel boron coated bolt carrier group. The lower receiver is the standard black lower.

Aero Precision is at this time in constant expansion. The company hopes in 2014 to introduce complete upper and lower receivers to the market. Aero Precision offers their receivers in black, Cerakote Magpul FDE, Magpul OD, Titanium, Tungsten and Burnt Bronze. When looking at Aero Precision’s pricing, they are very dedicated to building the highest quality in the industry yet be the most affordable on the market. Many who purchase an Aero Precision receiver think they are getting lower cost receivers not knowing that the same receiver that they just bough are the same ones used by some of the most prolific manufactures in the AR business.

This article first appeared in SmallArmsReview.com on March 28, 2014


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