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Foxtrot Mike 9mm AR Build: Challenge and Triumph

All I wanted was a Foxtrot Mike 9mm PCC. This nomenclature is silly, because if PCC stands for “Pistol Caliber Carbine”, what I wanted was definitely NOT a carbine. What I wanted was one of their side charging pistols with an 8 inch barrel. No, this isn’t remotely the same as a real MP-5, but a “cousin” if you will. Palmetto has been goofing around with an MP5 clone for 5 years now, with no product for sale, so I’m over it.

Of course, things couldn’t be that simple. Several of my closest associates had decided to add something new to their arsenals. Most were leaning toward AR Platform pistols, but I’ve got plenty of those. Like a knucklehead, I got the silly idea to venture into 9mm land. Here’s a caution for you- don’t do it. If you simply must have one, you’re likely better off buying the complete firearm (like I’d planned on doing in the first place.)

In reality, getting the complete firearm right now is likely impossible. Per the norm, most people don’t decide to purchase a hose until the yard’s on fire.  As a result, the entire gamut of all things firearms is in upheaval. In the event future normalcy returns, and you simply must have a 9mm “PCC”, just get one that’s completed.

Everyone is looking for projects right now since most have to stay home. While staying at home, don’t start tinkering with this platform until you have the proper tools to safely do the job.

Here’s the twist- if you tinker primarily with the AR platform, you already have the necessary tools to perform surgery on .223/5.56, and possibly 7.62×51, or .308 stuff. If you decide to start fooling around in the 9mm arena, just stop. You CANNOT do your work correctly with what you possess for the other firearms. If you didn’t know- there is absolutely no “standard” for the 9mm world.

Oh sure, there are some variants that lean on AR host receivers, and some variants allow you to change up safeties, triggers, etc., but that’s about it. If you already have what you need to work on what we’ll loosely describe as the  braced 9 mm. stuff, great, go forth and do amazing things. If you do not, just save yourself the headache, and avoid the platform. Trying to get required fixtures and what not for assembly isn’t exactly easy right now. I’m trying to help you avoid the mistakes I made. I managed to assemble the firearm, but it took some improvisation that’s not a great idea for those with little/no experience.

Getting exactly what I wanted was pretty much out of the picture from the jump, so compromises were made. I wound up with a barrel that has a tri-lug adapter, in the event I wanted to waste even more money/time with a suppressor. Here’s an insight for you- suppressors are neat, but tedious. Expect issues from the muzzle rearward as you continue your journey with them. This is because a suppressor was an after thought. There are applications where they’re necessary, but I’m not personally needing one. Having spent considerable time with them, not a fan. That’s the beauty of freedom and choices though, isn’t it?

Long story short, none of the FFL holders locally had what I wanted, nor were they interested in reaching out and acquiring anything. No biggie- I can secure most everything myself. The FFL in charge of getting the lower dropped the proverbial ball, and the lower was gone. By now, due to terrible timing on my part, the great Charmin Drought had begun, quickly followed by other equally esoteric items, like margarine. I got a lower, but it was a matched upper and lower “forged billet” set. Yawn. Yes, it’s nice, but it’s still just aluminum, and further jacked up the original project. As a result I’ve got the original complete upper, locked away.

So I wound up with yet another “mutt gun”, but that’s okay. The culmination of bits/pieces all came together to produce a reliable straight shoting specimen, so what is there to carp about? Not much, as it turns out.

While not professing to be a Black Belt in firearms surgery, I’ve managed to be an armorer on several firearms types for 2 decades now, and it was about the most frustrating time I’ve had with a conventional firearm. It’s not due to technical difficulty, but from all the misinformation and wonkiness about these particular setups.

The intent here is to share information and attempt to help others while also not bashing products. This isn’t a “9mm thing”, it’s an all firearms in general thing. I’m most comfortable with conventional military style firearms, as they’re predictable. When you wander off the path into something like even an ordinary .22, take a look inside and compare that to a military set up and differences are readily apparent.

Breaking things down, I’d not choose the magwell adapter route, but it does offer you the opportunity to use a lower for more than 1 caliber. To keep things even simpler, this is what I do- I just get a different lower for each firearm. My state can get wonky about things, and I’m too old for prison due to someones potentially clouded “perception”. You might be happy with a full sized 9mm “carbine”, but this was an attempt to capture a little MP5 nostalgia. About the only commonality I wound up with is the caliber.

I’m not thinking of this thing as a defense tool, because I learned a long time ago that a rifle (carbine) ends hostilities far better than a pistol cartridge. While refusing to get lost in the weeds over unnecessary caliber conundrums and “what if” nonsense, yes, it’s superior to a conventional handgun as far as stability is concerned. There are only 2 types of people who honestly believe a handgun is a viable tool for defense. The first is the person who has little experience outside of television, and the second is the person who can put a bullet in an eyesocket out to 15 yards. This is the end of the list, folks. For the rest of us, we know that we need a larger more powerful tool to end hostilities.

This project was due to a temporary loss of reasoning on my part. I’ve watched hours of video on the topic, and as much time reading. I’ve used many many real submachine guns over the years, and just wanted something a little different. As a person who can possess a semi-auto , this is as close as I can get.If this would help another person, even better.

At this point, the disclaimer. None of the stuff I mention was given to me to promote anything. To be fair, other than Foxtrot Mike stuff, I wound up with a bunch of stuff that was not wanted in the first place, so that statement won’t exactly get me free swag from anyone. Free swag/handouts, ammo, all of that is what the beggars on You Tube do. If I fall that low in life, I’ll go lay down in the road and let Nature take its course.

Anyway, for the brace, Gearhead Tail Hook, Model 2- this was a great product that I got due to a flash sale. It was pretty much half off. I’ve admired these for awhile, and now I have 1.

The upper and lower are Angstadt Arms, and they’re a matched set. Like Gearhead, this stuff is expensive. Again, it was on sale for a very good price, so I lucked out. It has very tight tolerances, and it uses Glock magazines.

The barrel is from Trybe, and if you’ve not heard of them, check them out. They have really good stuff at very reasonable prices. The handguard is Foxtrot Mike, as is the Bolt Carrier Group, and the buffer. Foxtrot Mike will likely be the one to beat.

Foxtrot Mike has a great thing going, and I’ve got to see some of them in real life in conventions. They’re a great bunch of guys, as are all of these brands. I’m not bashing anyone here, I was just hesitant to spend the amount of money some of these products cost on a puny 9mm.

I use KAK for most of my muzzle devices because they offer a lot of variety as far as length and diameters. Buying from them means I’m not having to sell bodily fluids to get stuff. Oversized controls and ambi safeties are pretty generic stuff thats had just about anywhere. The trigger is a Geissele SD3 gun, and that’s about it.

The optic is a Holosun 507C. These and Trijicon RMR 2 are the ones to beat for ruggedness and reliability per Sage Dynamics testing. The triple “Fun Stick Pouch” I made myself. After all, in fantasy land, you might need this stuff if a 9mm pistol is somehow a “go to” choice.

Zeroing was a breeze. Holosun is the optics titan (my opinion only) and they make optics for more companies than most people realize. This is similar to Anderson making 40% of the lowers on the market, minus their logo. Meanwhile, the ignorant blast Anderson while praising their (insert brand here) as the greatest ever. The 507 has “shake awake”, as well as a small solar panel. This means that it’s good for quite some time. These are very well priced, and tough as nails.

Magazines- pretty much everyone makes some sort of Glock magazine, and this was a big draw to lean this way. After zeroing was done, I tried out several types. These included factory stock specimens of various ages as well as ETS, KCI, RWB, and MagPul.

If you have problem hi-cap magazines, there is nothing a Wolff spring with 5% extra power can’t cure. Consider this- a factory 31 or 33 round mag from Glock was around $35. You can “rebuild” a weak mag with a Wolff spring for about $18.

The RWB (Red White Blue) have questionable quality control.They are made in Korea, and are NOT to be confused with KCI USA. KCI also has very reasonable prices, and their stuff works flawlessly in whatever I put them in.

KCI USA has reasonable prices, and their stuff works flawlessly in anything I put them in.

As far as ammunition, I pulled my usual trick of just mixing things up. For ball rounds, there were 115, 124, 147 offerings. I did the same with hollow points. There was 1 combo, however that keenly interested me, and that was an ETS 21 rounder loaded with nothing but USA Forged steel case. Both the ammo and mags have been flawless in all my Glock stuff, but this combo in the mutt gun was dead on arrival. I’m not sure if it was the ammo or the mag, but it was not good.

All shooting was done at 50 yards or less, and the target was 6 inches wide by 18 inches tall. This fits most people from base of throat to belt buckle. With a Geissele trigger, it’s far too easy to fire way too fast. While this is not a bad thing, it can quickly become an expensive thing.

This experience has provided me with enough education for perhaps 2 additional articles if anyone is interested. As to when we’ll all be able to have the whole equation of ammunition, time, and an open range to shoot? who knows? It’s going to be awhile no doubt.

Just about everyone “essential” is working tremendous overtime in an effort to keep things going, and this remark isn’t intended to upset anyone, but here we go. With this struggle, the amount of new gun owners has exploded. A lot of these people will be needing ammunition after things calm down, as well as all of the necessary stuff that goes along with the shooting sports. This means that the vendors will be needing to expand their operations, and that’s not a bad thing at all (in my eyes)

Until next time, Stay Safe (wear your mask) and Train Often (if you can)

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