Coyote Hunting with an AR-15: The Essential Must Have Gear

coyote-hunting-with-ar15

Packing the right gears for your coyote hunting is critical if you’re going to succeed. Coyote hunting has been on the rise over the past few years. Coyotes have continued to sprawl in farms and urban areas which make sense controlling their population.

There are varied opinions on the best weapons to hunt coyotes, best calls, optics and much more. However, the semi-automatic AR-15 remains the best rifle for coyote hunting. It is lightweight and allows you to hide, shoot, stay on target and keep shooting no matter the position of your body.

So, is the must have gear for coyote hunting with an AR-15?

Gears for coyote hunting using the AR-15 might vary greatly depending on the region, hunter, habitat set up and much more. You will need to understand your gears, be agile and know the different coyote hunting scenarios that will offer you the best layout.

In this post, we are going to look at some of the Must-Have gears when hunting coyotes with an AR-15 rifle.

Coyote Calls

This is the second most important item you will require for coyote hunting after choosing your AR-15 rifle. We’ve seen various debates on most social groups and Forums where people are torn between mouth calls and electronic calls. These debates are important in helping you decide the best call depending on your location, situation and time of year.

However, electronic calls seem to have the edge over mouth calls. When choosing the best coyote electronic calls, you need to consider things like sound quality, volume, sound availability and much more. Make sure you know the best calls for the time of the year as coyotes operate on the instinct of feeding, mating, and fighting.

Optics

The optics on your AR-15 rifle will decide or break your hunt. I recommend this awesome post choosing the best ar 15 scope for your successful hunt: Top 10 Best AR-15 Optics & Scopes: From Red Dots to Magnified Review. The standpoint style of hunting will determine the best optic when hunting for coyotes. A quality piece of glass is an essential factor when choosing the best scope for coyote hunting. When hunting coyotes on properties and farms, the ideal shooting range is usually 0-200 yards. This greatly increases when hunting on an expansive country bush.

If you prefer to hunt coyotes at night, then take time and find suitable locations during the day. It is pretty hard finding good locations at night. Scout during the day and get yourself a night vision scope. A night scope will help you do a quick scan. The objective is to see the eyes and not the full body. It even gets easier when hunting with a partner. Split the field area into two and let each partner scan their area without overlapping until you find something.

Coyote Decoys

Decoys are pretty essential as coyotes are very cautious when approaching calls. Most will walk away before they get to a shooting distance if they don’t see anything associated with the coyote calls. While these decoys are not needed most of the time, coyote hunting usually happens in some open field which makes it difficult to draw coyotes closer. Adding some realism in the form of a fur will convince coyotes a lot easier.

Spotting Scope

best-spotting-scope

Photo Credit: IOutdoorPursuit

Spotting scopes are exceptional at spotting the game at long distances. They are less portable than binoculars and require a tripod stand for easy use. However, they offer some of the best clarity and magnification which is ideal when spotting a coyote from long distances.

Shooting Stick

You require a stable rest for the gun since coyotes notice the slightest of movements.  A shooting stick is ideal in keeping your rifle shouldered, up and ready to shoot. Sticks are good especially when hunting on rolling hills where bipods cannot stand stably.

Shooting sticks allow for faster acquisition of the target with minimal movement.

The Suppressor

You will need to suppress the sound from your rifle by getting a quality suppressor. In most cases, you’re going to get at least two coyotes with one lurking behind. A good suppressor will muffle the sound and make it easier to get follow-up shots.

Tip: Pick up a wrap for the outside of your suppressor to make twisting a lot easier when it gets hot.

Hunter Seat and Support

These are not necessarily a must, but if you’re hunting in areas with snow, then you will soon realize the importance of a seat. Your legs will feel dead after 20 minutes of standing in the snow without any coyotes. A quality cushioned seat will ensure you don’t return to your truck so soon.

Final Verdict

Of course, there are several gears you can still add to the list above like the predator camouflage, hunting packs, proper clothing and much more. However, with the basics already covered, you can easily make your coyote hunting a success. Overall, the must-have gears for coyote hunting with an AR-15 are the calls, optics, shooting stick and suppressor.

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AR15 Lower Receiver Assembly

AR15 Lower Receiver Assembly

Assembling your AR15 lower receiver is fairly easy to do. All you need are a few simple tools, a stripped AR15 Lower Receiver, a Lower Parts Kit, and a Buttstock Assembly.

The stripped lower is the part that the ATF considers being the “gun”. This is the only part that you cannot have shipped directly to your home. You will need to either go to a gun store and purchase a stripped lower, or buy one online and have it shipped to your FFL so that they can transfer it to you.

DPMS Lower

An AR15 Stripped Lower Receiver

Most any lower from any reputable manufacturer will do. Just be sure that it is forged 7075-T6 aircraft aluminum alloy, hard-coat anodized. I've owned and/or had experience with a variety of stripped lowers, including but not limited to DPMS (pictured above), Stag Arms, RRA, MEGA, LAR, Double Star, etc... all of which have been great and I have seen no problems with them.

Here is a picture that shows the specific parts of a Lower Parts Kit ("LPK" for short). I prefer Stag Arms LPK's.

Lower Parts

Lower Parts Kit

Here is a list of the few tools you will need to complete the assembly of the AR15 lower.

  • Pin Punches
  • check
    Small gunsmithing hammer/mallet
  • CAR Stock Wrench or an AR15 armorers tool (for carbine stock installation)
  • 3/16 Allen wrench and/or Flat Head Screw Driver (depending on the stock and pistol grip screw)
  • check
    Loctite (Non-permanent Loctite is recommended on all screws)

AR15 Lower Receiver Building: A Step-by-Step Guide

Now, if you have all of the appropriate tools and parts, you are ready to begin.

Magazine Catch/Button Release

Insert the magazine catch in the receiver (on the side with the roll mark/serial number) and install the magazine catch spring from the other side.

Then push the magazine button onto the spring and spin it onto the threaded end of the magazine catch, tightening it until it is flush. Now your first step is completed.

Bolt Catch

Then insert the bolt catch spring and plunger (with the plunger facing outwards on top of the spring).

Place the bolt catch roll pin in the slot above the magazine catch from the right side, tap lightly with light hammer/punch to get it started but not all the way in. Install the bolt catch pushing the catch in towards the spring while lining up the hole in the bolt catch with the hole in the side of the receiver.

Bolt Catch Buffer and Spring Install

Tap the roll pin in lightly avoiding damaging the lower by hitting it directly (I use a pin punch for this very reason). When the pin is inserted and flush with the hole you inserted it into your second step is completed.

Bolt catch install

Front Pivot Pin

This is a tricky one that can take a few tries and it frustrates many. This tends to be an easy step for me but I know that several people have issues with it. The problem is that the spring can launch the pivot pin detent pretty far if you fail to do it correctly. So I recommend that you set up a “backstop” (a small mailing box usually does the job well) in the direction the spring would shoot the pivot pin detent so that you can more easily recover it and the spring if you don’t get it right the first time.

On the right side of the receiver in front of the magazine well there is a hole where you insert the spring. To begin, insert the spring and then the detent on top. Using the pivot pin, push the detent back far enough for you to insert the pivot pin into its hole. If you did it correctly, the pivot pin will slide into position and the pivot pin detent will line up onto the pivot pin securing it into position.

Pivot Pin Install

Trigger Guard

Simply insert the pin on the trigger guard in the side nearest the magwell.

Trigger Guard Install

Now, you will align the other side of the trigger guard with the holes on the rear of the lower and insert the pin, tapping lightly to install.

Some people choose to squeeze the pin in place by using a block of some sort (thin block of wood) or even a pair of pliers with tape around the ends to push the pin(s) into place, so they don’t have to hammer anything in. This is in an attempt to avoid potentially damaging the receiver. This is a part of the receiver that is more vulnerable to being damaged by excessive force and/or out of spec pin/hole sizes.

Trigger Assembly

Install the trigger spring on the trigger with the “coils” of the spring on both sides of the trigger and the two legs pointing forward and down (refer to the picture above showing the complete LPK for reference). Install the disconnector spring in the rear of the trigger.

Drop the trigger assembly into the receiver and place the disconnector on top of the disconnector spring with the notch on the disconnector over the spring. You will need to insert the trigger pin in the receiver through the disconnector and to the other side of the receiver locking the disconnector into place above the spring and the trigger assembly. It may take a bit of wiggling and then tapping with a hammer to work it in just right. Just be patient and don’t damage your receiver!

TIP: I highly recommend that you dip the end of the trigger pin in oil such as CLP prior to inserting it, this will help you immensely as you try to work the pin into place. Same goes for the hammer pin as well. If at any time you are inserting a pin and struggling with getting it to go smoothly, try a little bit of oil.

Hammer Assembly

Squeeze the hammer assembly down into the receiver while lining up the holes for the hammer pin. This part can be a little tough to do. After you have installed the hammer assembly, cock the hammer.

Trigger Assy installed

You can pull the trigger to test for function if you'd like at this point, however, be sure to keep the hammer from slamming down with it's full force in this condition (or any time the lower is not assembled with the upper), as it could possibly damage the receiver. I usually place a couple fingers over the front of where the hammer would hit when performing this operation on a lower minus the upper.

Safety Selector/Pistol Grip

This is an easier step. From the left side (the side with the roll mark), install the safety selector. Then install the selector detent and spring (detent goes in first) on the right side of the receiver directly below the selector where you will install the pistol grip. Then put the pistol grip on, being sure that the spring is properly in place with the holes in both the receiver as well as the pistol grip. Don't let the spring get bunched up.

Safety Selector - Grip Install

You will screw the pistol grip screw into place so that it properly holds the pistol grip (and everything else like the spring and selector detent). Make sure to use the lock washer. I also like to use non-permanent loctite on the screw in order to help hold it in place.

Assembled lower minus buttstock-takedownpin, etc..

Rear Takedown Pin

This step is similar to the last one. You will install the rear takedown pin detent in from the backside of the receiver with the spring behind it. Install the takedown pin. Now, the spring will get its tension from the full installation of the butt stock.

Buttstock

Apply some thread locker on the threads of the buffer tube/receiver extension (make sure the castle nut is in place on the extension if you are using a carbine stock). Screw the receiver extension into receiver slowly making sure the takedown spring is still in place but don’t screw it in all the way just yet.

On the receiver in front of the threads, place the buffer retainer spring and buffer retainer into the receiver. Thread the buffer tube until it holds the buffer retainer into place, but don’t screw it so far that it completely restricts the movement of the buffer retainer.

Now you will want to tighten the stock into place. For an A2 stock, you will need to screw it in from the very back of the stock. With a carbine stock, you will probably want to use a stock wrench to tighten the castle nut onto the end plate (or burnsed style sling mount).

Insert the buffer spring and then the assembly into the receiver extension until the buffer retainer holds the spring and assembly into the buffer.

That’s it, you did it!

Carbine Lower A2 Lower

Left to right: A Complete Carbine AR15 Lower, Complete A2 AR15 lower

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AR-15 Maintenance Tips – Keep It Well Lubed!

AR-15 maintenance tips

How long can an AR-15 run without being cleaned?

How long should it take you to clean your AR-15?

I remember my first carbine class I attended. I had a great time on the first day, but when I got home later that day I was exhausted. We had shot something like 700 rounds that day. I was so tired I just couldn't get up the motivation to clean my weapon.

The next day was upon me seemingly pretty fast and I decided to take another AR15 with me as well as the one I used the day before just in case I needed it. I didn't want to use that rifle if I didn't have to though. I gave my primary AR15 a good shot of oil and crossed my fingers thinking that I would be lucky if it ran well all day. Not because I had experienced anything in the past that would suggest it wouldn't work, but because I had always heard that an AR15 will start to choke if it is not cleaned very well every 1000 rounds or so.

Well, I finished off the carbine class with about another 700 rounds and to my surprise, no failures.

Just for the sake of it, I decided to let it go a little longer without cleaning just to see how long it would go, only oiling it to keep it going. I got it close to 2500 rounds before finally getting bored of the "test" and decided to clean it.

Since then, I have pushed many of my other AR15's to similar degrees and read of countless other accounts online where people have pushed just as hard or harder. I have also slacked off on my AR15 cleanings in recent years.

I hadn't stripped down my BCG's on any of my older AR15's in a few years, but just a couple weeks ago I decided to go through all of them and give them a good thorough cleaning.

I had never let them go for this long, and some of them have seen thousands of rounds in this time. Most cleanings took me about 5 minutes and consisted mostly of a wipe down of the BCG, a boresnake run through the barrel, and re-lubing. I like CLP and have never had a problem with it in my AR15's.

The bolts were filthy, as were the firing pins, etc... and some of the carbon was caked on pretty good. I hadn't been experiencing any failures. I simply decided it was "time" to clean them good.

It doesn't take 30 minutes to clean your AR15 and if you do not have time to clean your AR15, shoot some oil in there and it should run great. When I do a complete thorough cleaning, it takes me 10-15 minutes.

I am not advocating that you should not clean your AR15. I believe a clean weapon works better than a dirty one. However, for as much flack as the AR15 gets for not being able to run "dirty", I don't buy it. Particularly the idea that carbon fouling is an issue. They will run dirty, they just need to be properly well lubed.

I find that keeping the weapon properly well lubed particularly throughout it's early usage is critical as well.

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Building Your Own AR-15 – The Pros of Building Your Own AR-15

build-your-own-ar-15-pros

This may be a little too much hands on for many people who would prefer to simply buy their AR15. However, for those of you who are even the least bit mechanically inclined and have the time to spend building an AR15, I highly recommend it.

stripped-AR-15-lower-receiver

Stripped AR15 lower receiver

I like that it gives me the ability to know and understand the design and function of the AR15 rifle. This gives me a better idea on how to diagnose potential problems and fix them.

It also gives me the ability to hand inspect every part in the weapon to determine quality (to some degree). I can swap out and upgrade parts as well as refinish them in order to improve quality of the part and the weapon as a whole.

It's also nice to be able to make changes down the road when I decide that I want a different upper style, barrel profile/length, etc...

AR-15-upper

A complete 16" AR15 upper

There are various degrees of AR15 building. Anywhere from buying two separate halves (a complete upper and a complete lower) and mating them together (the easiest way to "build") to finishing out an 80% stripped lower and turning down a barrel on a lathe (something that takes a lot more time, tools, and savvy).

A complete AR15 carbine lower receiver

A complete AR15 carbine lower receiver

I read an article not too long ago about the downsides of what some people refer to as "frankenrifles", home built, or even kit AR15's. It went on to mention that these rifles were not reliable and should not be trusted for personal defense.

AR-15-built

A custom built 14.5" AR15 carbine (with a permanently attached 1.5" Phantom Flash Hider), Hogue grip, and Daniel Defense rail

While I agree that many of the cheaper "kit rifles" may be lacking the quality, a home build very well can give a savvy AR15 builder a better rifle than can be purchased off the shelf. However, this starts with using quality components from reputable companies, especially where it matters most.

custom-built-ar15

A custom built 14.5" AR15 carbine (with a permanently attached 1.5" Phantom Flash Hider), Hogue grip, CTR stock, LaRue rail, and ACOG (light sabre not included)

Many people often think that you can save money on AR15's by building them, this can be true but it tends to be most true when you desire to build the best possible rifle for the money. This is because you can buy many parts such as a forged anodized lower receiver from many reputable companies for much cheaper than if you went straight to LMT or Noveseke. Most AR15 lower receivers are going to be the same in quality, regardless of manufacturer. The same is true with many other parts.

The parts that are the most crucial to get from high quality manufacturers tend to be barrels and bolts foremost, with special consideration given to other parts such as triggers, sights, buffer tubes, stocks, etc...

pencil-barrel-ar15

Customized AR15 A2 flash hider was turned down on the ends with a lathe and given a more unique look to better fit the skinny profile of this 16" pencil barrel AR15 carbine

Depending on the degree of customization you will need a variety of tools. To simply assemble an AR15 lower to a complete lower, you would need the stripped lower, a lower parts kit, desired sling mounts, and a buttstock assembly. The tools needed would be a set of pin punches, a small hammer, stock wrench (for adjustable carbine stocks), allen wrench, loctite, and possibly a flat head screwdriver.

To build an upper, tools needed would need a barrel wrench or AR15 armorers tool, action blocks for the upper receiver, vise (to hold the action bolcks), pin punches, etc...

This along with the barrel (including front sight base/gas block, gas tube, handguards, and possibly barrel nut, delta ring, etc...), upper receiver, upper reciever parts kit, sights and/or optic of choice, desired sling mounts, among other possible things.

And to a larger degree, depending on the complexity of your build, you may want or need an air compressor, drill press, silver solder, lathe, etc...

duracoat-camo-pattern

AR15 Carbines refinished with Duracoat in camo pattern

I have personally helped dozens of friends and family members with numerous builds in a variety of different configurations.

Compatibility between various brands usually is a non-issue. Once in a while, you will get an upper from brand "X" and a lower from brand "Y" that will have a tighter and looser fit. A tight fit is usually cured by usage of the AR15, shooting, assembling and disassembling. A loose fit can be cured with an Accu-Wedge.

Sometimes the finishes will not match perfectly (this is merely cosmetic and will not affect the function at all). Receivers can have anywhere from a black, gray, or even purplish coloring depending on the manufacturer and the particular “batch”. Refinishing is an option if this bothers you that much.

Of course, there is also the option of swapping out the receivers.

Fit and finish is nice, but it doesn't translate to anything where the rubber meets the road.

Many of Colts newer AR-15’s are made with larger pin hole sizes that won’t fit the majority of receivers out there (except the ones they made to match them) as well as odd (large) sized FCG's in an effort to over-comply and appease the ATF. This way, their “civilian” AR-15’s won’t be compatible with M16’s. Normal Receivers and lower parts kits won’t be compatible with these Colt receivers either, as Colt is the only one to have taken this drastic measure. It’s annoying and it keeps me from ever wanting many parts from Colt in my AR-15’s. Many people feel that Colt has sold out to the ATF and boycott their products altogether (I haven't gone that far yet).

You can match up Colt lower receivers with other types of uppers if you get an adapter for the large pivot pin.

Having built several AR-15’s, I can say that there is very little problem using parts from different manufacturers to construct an AR-15. I have rarely assembled an AR-15 with all the parts being from one particular manufacturer. All of my personal AR-15’s are mutts.

A Few Things You Should Know About Building an AR-15

Federal law Prohibits you from building a rifle with a total barrel length of less than 16" unless you apply for and are granted the $200 tax stamp for an SBR (short barreled rifle).

If you do not have the tax stamp and intend to put the upper on a rifle lower that is not registered with the ATF, you must be sure that your barrel is the minimum required length. In order to achieve this minimum length on a shorter barrel (than 16") such as a 14.5" barrel, you need to permanently attach a muzzle device that will bring the overall barrel length to 16" or greater.

If you are building an AR15 pistol, you need to register it as a pistol from the moment you get it from the FFL. A pistol AR15 CANNOT have a buttstock or a vertical foregrip.

A registered SBR can have a buttstock and a barrel of any length.

Although I oppose many of the laws regarding restriction on barrel lengths, select fire capabilities, etc... I do NOT recommend or condone ANY illegal modification to your AR15. It is simply not worth it.

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