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Would it make sense to use a shorter AR barrel for 2 gun bay style matches (PCSL)?


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I've not had much experience in 3 gun, but we have a local club that will run PCSL 2 gun regularly.  Distances do not exceed 200 yards, and most stages are 40 yards and in bay style courses.  The rifle I use is an 18" JP-15 .223 with LMOS BCG, rifle gas, 3 port comp, and adjustable gasblock.  It is great for long distance and is low recoil, but it feels very front heavy trying to work through bay style courses with the 15" MKIII handguard and heatsink.

 

My question for people who are more experienced with .223 platforms - would it be a foreseeable disadvantage to swap to a shorter barrel and lighter handguard? Like a 14.5"?  If a 14.5" platform had the same LMOS and adjustable gb, would the recoil be much different?

 

What I would really like to do is have a 14.5" upper built with the JP MLOK handguard to match my JP5, but I wasn't sure if that would be a waste of money.  Any input is appreciated.

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I built a 12.5 with an EoTech and 3X magnifier specifically for PCSL and shorter 3 gun matches.  Runs like a top.  If your eyes are good you most likely will not need a magnifier.  Unless you have some evil MDs putting 6" steel out at 200 yds, then you may need one.  

 

Rifle works exactly like I built it for.

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It would not be a great disadvantage, no. Especially if you're sticking with a compensator on the front. I like 14.5 and it's what i use for 3gun. With a red dot on it it'll swing much easier than a rifle with an optic, if that makes sense for the matches you're shooting. However if you go much shorter you (and the poor RO) gonna find it irritatingly concussive.

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15 minutes ago, Muricanwerewolf said:

It would not be a great disadvantage, no. Especially if you're sticking with a compensator on the front. I like 14.5 and it's what i use for 3gun. With a red dot on it it'll swing much easier than a rifle with an optic, if that makes sense for the matches you're shooting. However if you go much shorter you (and the poor RO) gonna find it irritatingly concussive.


I like loud noises. How far are your target engagements in 3 gun? Do you have any difficulty out to 200?

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I have a couple of "bay" guns for 3/2 gun or carbine matches. Either 12-14" barrels with carbon fiber hg and stocks work well for me. Also, a dot out to 200 is not a big deal if the need arises. 

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2 hours ago, abigger04 said:


I like loud noises. How far are your target engagements in 3 gun? Do you have any difficulty out to 200?

 

14.5 isn't going to limit you for 200 yards, I regularly shoot IPSC size steel out to 600 with it.

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On 4/1/2024 at 8:01 PM, abigger04 said:

My question for people who are more experienced with .223 platforms - would it be a foreseeable disadvantage to swap to a shorter barrel and lighter handguard? Like a 14.5"?  If a 14.5" platform had the same LMOS and adjustable gb, would the recoil be much different?

A 14.5" mid gas will have more recoil than an 18" rifle gas. Not a ton, but noticeable. How much this matters will depend on your ability and the stages you shoot. If you have a lot of 60 yard paper and other guys with less recoil can get away with fast pairs while you have to take two separate sight pictures, it will slow you down.

14.5" is great well beyond 200 yards. I just had my 13.7" out to 800 the other day. I'm not saying it was optimal, just illustrating that your 200 yard max range isn't even getting a 14.5" warmed up.

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Wasn't for PCSL, but at a time when most of our local 3gun never went over 200y and was mostly fast bay style stuff, I built a rifle with a 14.5" Faxon barrel that comes with a pinned brake in the gunner profile, adjustable gas block and 1oz buffer kit from Taccom.  Super light build that was perfect for matches like that.  I'd say it isn't limited to 200y, but if I were really stretching it, I'd still prefer my Stretch 16" or 18" Criterion build.  It's the one I always grab for close stuff though.  Maybe a tad more recoil, but I'm certain the transitions are faster and probably more than make up for it.

Edited by fbzero
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18 hours ago, fbzero said:

Maybe a tad more recoil, but I'm certain the transitions are faster and probably more than make up for it.

Eh, I don't know. 

I can't measure the difference in transition speed of a 14.5" vs. 18" gun of similar front end weight. And I've tried. 

But I can definitely measure the difference of putting my reticle on the center of a 50yd paper and ripping a .12 split with confidence that the second shot is on, versus a slightly more jumpy gun that requires two separate sight pictures with .30 in between them, or throwing a third shot because of low confidence in the second one. You get a stage with 6-10 mid range papers like that and it adds up quick.

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3 hours ago, TonytheTiger said:

Eh, I don't know. 

I can't measure the difference in transition speed of a 14.5" vs. 18" gun of similar front end weight. And I've tried. 

But I can definitely measure the difference of putting my reticle on the center of a 50yd paper and ripping a .12 split with confidence that the second shot is on, versus a slightly more jumpy gun that requires two separate sight pictures with .30 in between them, or throwing a third shot because of low confidence in the second one. You get a stage with 6-10 mid range papers like that and it adds up quick.


I agree 100%, with two caveats.  First, at the matches I was attending at the time, there wasn't that much paper past 30y or so once the state shut down the 200y bay.  Even with the 14.5", I was confident in doubles on 95% or more of the targets.  Second, my 18" isn't of similar front end weight.  Not saying that the difference would be massive, but my money is that there would be a slight edge to the rifle that offered more mobility at that particular match.

Ultimately though, I probably just wanted an excuse to build another rifle more than anything...

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On 4/6/2024 at 2:28 PM, fbzero said:

Ultimately though, I probably just wanted an excuse to build another rifle more than anything...

Lol, I've made up some pretty silly reasons why I just have to have a very slightly different rifle..

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I like running shorter uppers for PCSL or similar "burner" stages. I have a 12.3" and 10.5" that have served me very well. Both punch 200 with zero problems and I regularly push the 12.3 out to 400 with no issues. One big advantage of PCSL is the ability to change guns between stages and so I'll usually throw in either the 10.5" or 12.3" and then also a 16" or 18" and pick best fit for each stage. If you don't want to go the NFA route a 13.9" or 14.5" with a pin and weld make good options too. 

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