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Building a Complete Weapon System


"Ho'old on there"
Staff member
Forum Supporter
2019 Supporter
Many, many times I have seen people asking for suggestions on a good sight or other accessory for a firearm and most of the time it is a "what do you think" kind of question without any information about:
  • What they have or
  • What they want to accomplish
I have even been one of those people in the past and because of that I have been one of the many people in the Trading Post selling my good equipment that were poor choices at a discount price. Wouldn't it be nice to start a discussion about the thought process behind building a functional and complete weapon system to meet our needs the first time around. I may not be the best choice to start this discussion but someone needs to start the ball rolling.

The beginning of the process needs to be the most important question: What do I need to accomplish? This is like the question behind the guy that goes to the store to buy a drill. He doesn't really want a drill, he wants a hole. Developing a weapon system goes along the same thought process.

In the case of a CCW firearm I need to have the capability to save my life wherever and whenever the need arises. In this instance my requirements are:

CCW Pistol:
  • An easily concealable firearm
  • Easily and quickly deployed
  • Easy and simple to operate, especially if an external safety is involved.
  • Easy to clear a malfunction when the inevitable malfunction occurs
  • Designed to operate flawlessly for an extended number of rounds and in adverse conditions
  • Enough force to eliminate the threat
  • Capable in various conditions I may find myself in, namely lowlight
  • The capacity to meet my needs and a little bit more

I have now established my needs and have a guideline to measure the options available to meet these needs.

It could be something of a somewhat more recreational nature or dual purpose. The recreational needs of shooting in competitions like 3 Gun, Tactical Precision Rifle or USPSA. It could just be for shooting and training with friends.

I recently built a fighting rifle system to meet my combine needs of: 3 gun competitions, training to extended distances, or in a survival situation hunting or protection. My requirements were:

Fighting Rifle:
  • A caliber suitable for this variety of needs
  • Designed to operate flawlessly for an extended number of rounds and in adverse conditions
  • Lightweight enough to be mobile as well as accurate when I get tired
  • Fully Ambi or capable to be operated smoothly by a lefty...me. Ambi being the petter choice for other family members being able to use.
  • Good ergonomics to shoulder, operate, fire, clear malfunctions and carry for extended periods
  • A secondary sight system to meet my needs consisting of quality BUIS
  • A primary optic to compensate for my older eyes, meet CQC requirements and extend to the range of my needs as listed above.
  • A calibrated ranging system/reticle to effectively engage target at points from CQC to the effective range of the chosen caliber
  • Low enough magnification and large enough objective to quickly efficiently acquire targets at CQC ranges
  • High enough magnification to be effective out to the maximum effective range on my caliber choice
  • Solid and reliable construction
  • Illuminated reticle to be capable of being used in lowlight conditions
  • Durable enough to function and remain accurate and repeatable under rough conditions and climates

Now we come to the need of possibly needing to defend my home during a break-in. While my CCW pistol would certainly do an adequate job and I am very comfortable with it I could possibly find myself under-gunned if the break-in was by multiple intruders. The pistol round also may have an excessive amount of penetration being a danger to other occupants of my home or neighbors. My needs led me to the conclusion that a shotgun would be an effective and good choice. To make this practical it needed to fit certain requirements.

Defensive Shotgun:
  • Largest gauge capable of being handled and shot effectively
  • Ultra reliable
  • Simple and easy ambi operating system
  • Minimum capacity of 6 rounds
  • Easily loadable in a shoot one load one situation which may call for loading while empty or of a different type load as the dynamics change
  • Side Saddle with 6 combined 00 and slugs
  • Night Sights without the need for batteries
  • Mount for a Light
  • Short enough barrel to swing quickly and in confined spaces
  • An effective pair of electronic hearing protection located with the shotgun

Whether it is for the fun or the challenge, understanding the fundamentals behind Long Range Precision Rifle adds a different and valuable perspective to all other kinds of shooting. To become proficient at this discipline takes a good understanding of the internal functions and external ballistics of all forms of firearms and shooting. To have success at this type of shooting you need specialized equipment and education. The equipment would consist of:

Precision Rifle and Optics:

  • A caliber with great proven ballistics and match grade available bullets
  • Solid well built bolt style action
  • A quality precision built heavy barrel with sufficient twist rate to stabilize the chosen bullet weight
  • A solid stock/chassis with great ergonomics, solid bedding to hold the barreled action secure with the barrel free floated. Relatively light weight with adjustable comb.
  • A smooth crisp and adjustable trigger with setting capable to 1-3lbs
  • Solid quality base and rings (don't skimp here)
  • Adjustable, swivel bipod (6-9")
  • Quality Optic with:
  • Adjustable and matching turrets and reticle
  • A quality well thought out reticle with adequate subtensions to read quickly and easily for ranging and to hold for follow-up shots
  • High enough magnification and large enough objective to be efficient at ranges of 800-1000m, probably 15-30X at the high end
  • Solid and reliable construction with 30mm (min) one piece tube construction, gas filled and coated lenses
  • Enough adjustment within the turret system to be usable out to the effective range of 800-1000m, combined with a 20 MOA base
  • Durable enough to function and remain accurate and repeatable under rough conditions and climates

This is just my basics requirements for the firearms that I had needs for. Your needs may and probably will vary from mine but the important thing is to identify your need before trying to fill them. Most everything I've bought or built in the past few years have a primary purpose that was my primary focus and I refused to compromise whenever possible there but they all are able to crossover into other areas somewhat effectively. Have a purpose behind where you place your limited dollars. Cheap is not always a good investment, buy quality and it will run for years and won't lose as much value if you decide to change-up at a latter time.

Having the proper equipment will only take you as far as the effort you put into learning how to use it and time you spend practicing to become proficient with it. Have fun, get out and run your gun and get good with it.
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Nice start

Great job Ken. This will really help people to build a quality system the first time. I am interested in reading what your opinions are.


"Ho'old on there"
Staff member
Forum Supporter
2019 Supporter
Defensive shotgun added. I really love to train with and shoot shotguns. They are so versatile in what they can do and the force that they can project. They are definitely equalizers when out manned or out gunned. Like all things though proper and constant training and practice is needed to keep an edge.
Great post. I agree with much of what you typed, especially the journey of how you arrived at your conclusions.

I would suggest a sub-section about mindset.



"Ho'old on there"
Staff member
Forum Supporter
2019 Supporter
Most of what I'm sharing has come from trying to make the wrong choices work and then evaluating why they didn't and moving forward. It sure is a kick when it all comes together. There are so many good members and trainers here to learn from and I look forward doing exactly that. I have also found much wisdom in looking into what our military is using, specifically, as they have proven these firearms in the most harsh and deadly conditions.


I have found this to be very helpful. Thank you for the time you have taken in creating it.


Avtomat Kalashnikov
I love it! I truly wish i had something like this to read before buying my gear.

What about a section for accompanying gear/kit for our weapons and accessories?


"Ho'old on there"
Staff member
Forum Supporter
2019 Supporter
That is an interesting point. You can have the perfect firearm for your purpose but if can't deploy it or reload it quickly and smoothly you still haven't met your needs.


1 Mile Shot Club
Good post Ken, just saw it for the first time.

I have even been one of those people in the past and because of that I have been one of the many people in the Trading Post selling my good equipment that were poor choices at a discount price.
Ill share some of my experiences along these lines...

I too have traded much of my old gear through the Trading post. Some of them were early buys when i didn't know any better but more recently my use and expectations of my gear is evolving once again. While my precision rifle evolution is well covered and well documented on this site my other 3 firearms types are going through an upgrade in quality...

Pistol-At the start of this month I entered my first ever competition that involved more than just precision rifles(Utah State Sniper Shoot) and had carbine and pistol stages. I picked up a glock 34 about 2 years ago to replace my Keltec jam-o-mattic 9mm and S&W with the intention of using it in competitions. Im glad I did! Not only did it function 100% flawlessly I also had enough time and rounds down range with it to come in on top of our squad of 8(although not top overall). I resisted jumping on the Glock bandwagon for years but im now firmly on board because they just plain work. I watched a fancy 1911 race gun fail 4 or 5 times during the same course of fire.

The G34 lead me to pick up a G29SF for CCW upgrading from a 380 LCP.

Carbine- However my carbine was an abysmal failure, so much so that It broke down before the match and I borrowed a friends rifle. I bought it about 8 years ago when i thought all AR platforms were the same. I added some Cheaper than Dirt parts and thought I was good to go...wrong! I now have a SunDevil upper and lower to build off of and not skimping on any lesser quality parts this time around. I have a USO 1.8-10x scope that will top it off. Its not a true 1 power like all the 3 gun guys like but it should work if i enter a 3gun comp. Certian Tactical Precision matches require an carbine as a secondary rife so the added power will helpful be since targets can be as far as 400-500y. Ill post pics as this one comes together.

Heres the list of parts so far learning from my past experiences.
Sun Devil Upper and Lower
Gisille, or how ever you spell it, trigger.
Magpul MOE
Grizzly LAR front grip- won it at the USSS match.
18" Barrel 1/8 twist from Scott at Specialized dynamics.

Shotgun-This is my most lacking area of firearms. I have a Winchester sx3 for skeet/trap and hunting but nothing along the 3gun/tactical line. I like the Benillies but not the price tag. I have plenty of time for research before its time to buy.

Here is a brief over view of my travels down the road that Ken highlighted. Hope it helps or take it for what its worth.


"Ho'old on there"
Staff member
Forum Supporter
2019 Supporter
Most of the time the firearms we bought were sufficient to shoot at the range but once I started training with them and running practical fighting drills under time pressures I found out that they were lacking in certain features. Until you are put under pressure most anything will work but the point is if you plan to use any of these firearms to protect your life it will always be under pressure and usually more extreme pressure than you can put on yourself during a training session. In my case the Glock pistols worked but the fighting rifle and defensive shotgun both failed, for me. They were all quality firearms but the ergos and features failed in practical fighting application.


"Ho'old on there"
Staff member
Forum Supporter
2019 Supporter
I've recently starting thinking about the support systems for a primary weapon. The ability to run and feed your weapon, diagnose and clear malfunctions and transition from one weapon to another is crucial in the ability to need to defend ourselves. Over the next few days I will be putting together a battle belt. It has been a process trying to understand the various options available but I've gone back to the starting proposition of "what are my needs".
1. CARRY: Ruger LC9s

2. COMBAT: Steyr AUG

3."TURKEY" SHOTGUN (HOME DEFENSE): BENELLI M1 W/ pistol grip stock, short barrel, long magazine & fitted for bayonet!!

4. LONG RANGE RIFLE: 6.5 CM Ruger Precision Rifle

So far so good with all of them.