Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview

Jerry Miculek AR-15

We’ve been anticipating a Jerry Miculek AR-15 overview article for a long while now.  In case you didn’t know…Jerry Miculek is the greatest shooter of all time.  He’s the fastest and most proficient shooter in the world…holding over 100 national and world shooting titles. 

Very recently, ARBuildJunkie was blessed to able to sit down with Jerry Miculek and get that AR-15 overview…where we talk his history with the AR, handguards, triggers, ammunition choices and more.


A brief video primer on the legend, Jerry Miculek.  One of the better 3 minute compilations anywhere on YouTube.

Q:  Thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.  It’s truly an honor.  What would you say is the number one advice for someone looking to get into competition shooting that wants to improve their rifle?

A:  The biggest improvement you can do is get a good trigger.  That and a compensator are the most important factors on an AR.  Keep in mind, it goes along with where you are as far as your actual shooting ability.  If you are shooting as good as the gun, and the gun is not shooting good enough…then you might also want to change out the barrel.  At that point, go ahead and get a match grade barrel.  But it’s really no use to shoot that match grade barrel if you don’t have the ability to take advantage of it.

Jerry in action with an AR at a recent shoot.

Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview – What was your first experience with the AR platform?

A:  My introduction to the AR was when I shot Soldier of Fortune matches in the early/ mid-80s.  For those matches, you needed that kind of a rifle to compete.  I never owned one before, so I bought a Colt HBAR, which was a competition gun with the round handguards.  It evolved from there.  

The Soldier of Fortune matches also mandated that you use the sights that came with the firearm when you bought it in that category.  So, back then I simply shot with metallic sights.

Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview – How did these early ARs function for you? Were there improvements you felt were needed right away?

A:  The actual AR out of the box was usually 98-100 percent reliable, but what we wanted to do back then was take some of the recoil out of it. So muzzle brakes and the lightweight bolts started appearing.  And then the longer handguards and the free-floating handguards showed up.

The long handguard is a big advantage because you don’t want to touch the barrel to the prop.  If you come into a wall or a shooting position with a carbine length handguard, you are very restricted with what you can brace on or how you can use the prop for support.

Jerry Miculek AR-15

Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview – Can you explain how the long handguard specifically helps?

A:  Say you have a standard military M4 configuration with a very short handguard and 8” of barrel sticking out.  If you come into a wall or window and you have to shoot a precision shot at distance, you want to try to use that prop to give you the maximum support.  But, you are very limited with your short handguard, plus your handguard itself is attached to the front sight assembly.  So, it both impacts accuracy and how you interact with the shooting position.

But if you put a 15” handguard on, the odds of you touching the barrel to anything other than the handguard to the prop become very minimal.  So the long handguard really made a huge difference on how you can use your carbine or rifle in a practical or tactical situation.

Jerry Miculek AR-15
“The long hand guard was a big advantage because you will not touch the barrel to the prop.”

With a longer, free-floating handguard, you are pretty much unlimited if you place it on the prop…you are not going to touch the barrel.  I’ve seen a lot of novice guys come into shooting positions where they take a position, and then not be aware their barrel is actually touching the prop. When they do that, their point of impact changes drastically.  Unless the target is extremely close, they’re just making noise and not hitting anything.


Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview – Free-floating handguards…can you explain that a bit further for the newer builder who may not understand the importance of that?

A:  If you look at a standard handguard on an M4 or M-16, it attaches to the barrel. So any forces that you put on a handguard…a tight sling, or pushing it on a wall, will influence the point of aim/point of impact.  So the free float handguard is exactly that.  It does not touch the barrel, so you can load that handguard with any kind of device you want and it usually won’t influence the point of aim/point of impact, especially when the gun heats up.  That’s where a lot of handguards get the shooter into trouble.  You shoot a few magazines rapid fire and you have a handguard that touches the barrel…that will change the point of aim/point of impact.

Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview

Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview – What are the other little things that shooters may not think of that can have a big difference on performance?

A: A lighter weight bolt assembly is very good for the shooter.  The recoil impulse is a lot shorter and a lot lighter.  With that lighter weight bolt assembly, you can stay on target and you can shoot faster. It’s one of the improvements I do to all of my competition guns.   But there is something important to be aware of when you do this improvement.

When you go with this lighter weight bolt, you must be aware it drastically changes the feed rate of the ammunition out of the magazine. You must have top quality magazines.  Also, your barrel now has to be ramped correctly to receive that cartridge out of that magazine.

Weather-Related Concerns

The lighter weight bolt assembly also makes the gun more sensitive to environmental changes like cold, hot, wet, and dry.  So you have to really keep your gun wet if you are going to put a light weight bolt in it.  A lot of times, you’ll be oiling your bolt every other stage or every stage of fire.

World record & champion shooter, Jerry Miculek, shows us how to completely take down and clean an AR-15 style rifle.

It makes it susceptible to cold because usually when you put a lightweight bolt in, you are going to put a gas system that you can adjust. If you adjust the gas system in hot weather, when you go to a cold environment, you have to be aware of a few things.  The lubricants can become a lot stiffer. The burning characteristics of the cartridge itself change. Chamber pressure changes.  So, you have to open up your gas system and go to a lighter weight oil in the cold climates…and overall just be aware that everything you do in the hot might not work in the cold.

Keep in mind, that when the military makes a platform to shoot like the M4, it actually over cycles drastically. This allows them to run when they are very dirty. So when we tune them for a race gun, we’re tuning them for minimum everything….minimum recoil, etc., Because of this,  different environmental factors can really change the performance of the firearm, and you have to be on top of it all the time.

Jerry Miculek AR-15

Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview –  I think it’s accepted by most you’re the world’s greatest shooter, so it would be negligent to not ask you some AR shooting tips.  Any advice you can share with our readers?

A:  Your rifle has to be up to speed from a quality perspective.  Just because it looks like a rifle doesn’t mean it is one. (laughs) So, what you want to do is actually go out and shoot your barrel.  Go out and shoot two or three 30-round mags very fast and see if it changes point of aim/point of impact at around 400 meters.  That’s one of the longer distances we shoot at.

What you want to be aware of is that as the gun gets hot, a lot of lesser quality barrels will change point of aim/point of impact…so you want to be aware of that and sometimes it’s actually predictable, and sometimes it isn’t. So if you have a gun that is not being agreeable with you, its time to put a good barrel on it.

Jerry Miculek AR-15

Ammunition Matters

And of course your ammunition choices have to be up to speed too.  You want to have good ammunition.  Bulk ammunition is usually just that…its usually a minute and a half to maybe three minute ammunition.  So if you shoot anything at 400 yards, that means your target size is 12 inches already without your wobble or bad shooting position.  So, you want good ammunition that’s going to be minute of angle or under. 


Trigger

You also want a good trigger, because that trigger is going to probably be more important than sight alignment.  Trigger control is more important than sight alignment in just about every shooting position. So, if you have a nasty, gritty trigger and you can’t apply the horsepower to the target correctly, it’s going to really affect you in the end.

So good trigger, good ammunition, and a gun that is going to be reliable.  I want my gun to function 100%.  It might not be the softest recoiling gun, but when I step to the line, I want that combination to run because you don’t get a second shot at it.  Don’t over-engineer your equipment and go for consistency.

Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview – Can you talk briefly about your personal AR Build?

Jerry Miculek AR-15
Jerry’s Open Division/3-Gun Rifle

A:  On my rifles, I use the Jerry Miculek Compensator. I actually built that thing years and years ago.  I spent a few weeks on the range trying different compensators and that actual design did not impact accuracy on a broad range of guns I had available to test.  Its got a very slight downward push and you can clock it a bit to the left or to the right if you are a lefty or a right handed shooter.  Its working really good.  I wouldn’t change that.

Jerry give an overview of his Jerry Miculek Compensator

The trigger, I use a Mossberg JM Pro trigger.  I helped those guys engineer that trigger.  It’s a really good, fast trigger.  I set a world record with it about a year and half ago.

Jerry Miculek AR-15
Mossberg JM Pro trigger.

I usually use a JP lightweight bolt and his Silent Captured Buffer System and then a gas block of some sort.  I want a good adjustable gas block so I can tune my ammunition.

Jerry Miculek AR-15
JP Enterprises Ultra Low Mass Bolt Carrier

Finally, I use Magpul magazines, and the Smith & Wesson M&P series of rifles.  The receivers and uppers are very consistent so it’s a good platform, and my guns usually run 100 percent.

Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview – Is there any other advice you’d want to pass on to AR builders?

Go with the name brand products.  Checking your chamber after you build one is mandatory.  You gotta have a chamber gauge to check your build.  There’s a lot of things out there selling cheap, and lot of them are out of spec. They can’t sell them so they sell them as blems.

Match Case Guage –  “Every round I shoot in a match, I’m going to gauge it.”

Also, I’d advise shooters…you want a drop gauge for your ammunition. When you go to a match, you want to drop every cartridge in a drop gauge to make sure it’s going to work in your rifle…I don’t care who makes it.  Every round I shoot in a match, I’m going to gauge it.

Jerry Miculek AR-15
Jerry has been known to dual-wield AR’s from time to time.

Jerry Miculek AR-15 Overview – Finally, can you talk a bit about your YouTube channel? It’s one of my absolute favorites.

A:  On my YouTube channel, what I usually do is go out and shoot different guns.  All I do is sight them in and I take them out to the range and see how fast I can shoot them.  To me,  it’s just having fun.  When I was young, that was the idea of having a firearm, just taking it out and having fun with it.  We try to make it safe. We try to make it entertaining.  We might have a little bit of information in there.

We also have our Patreon channel and there are some shooting tips available.  We’re going to try to expand our Patreon channel where we do more shooting tips and more gun modifications in the future.

A tremendous thank you to Jerry Miculek for taking the time out of his rigorous training schedule to sit down with us, for more information about Jerry, hit him up at the links above or via his website.

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