Wood AR-15 Build: The Upper
The Upper: VLTOR Modular Upper Receiver
If you have been following this series you will surely notice a trend when we write, there are many options to choose from when selecting an AR-15 upper. These days there are tons of options for every piece of an AR-15. Pretty much all uppers are made from aluminum and, much like AR-15 lowers, they are available forged or billet. Also like lowers, they come in many colors and for those who want an exact color/design match between you upper and lower many manufacturers offer upper/lower sets. Since we are going to be using an 80% lower the upper/lower pair was out of the question. We also knew we wanted a forged 80% lower (read why here) so we wanted a forged upper to keep a similar aesthetic. Also, just like forged lowers, forged uppers are supposed to be a more durable than their billet counterparts.
Forged it was. The next question we faced was whether or not to get an upper with a forward assist. Many shooters these days are opting for uppers that don’t have a forward assist because they think that the weight/bulk they add to the upper is not worth the rare occasion in which they are used. We wanted one because we aren’t particularly concerned about the weight, do appreciate the ability to ensure a round is properly chambered (especially if the bolt has been ridden forward) and, having cut out teeth on M-4s, are influenced by more than a little nostalgia.
The third major consideration was whether or not to get a “flat-top” receiver. From the start we knew we did want a flat top, which are more common than M-16 style handled uppers. We like the look of the continuous rail from upper to handguard and thought it the best platform for our Trijicon MRO.
With these three criteria in place, the last decision to make was which manufacturer to choose. A few minutes of internet searching for “the best forged upper” will almost certainly lead you to VLTOR. The company has a great reputation in the AR-15 world, especially for their uppers. We were very excited therefore, when we found their MUR (Modular Upper Receiver) with all the specifications we wanted: forged, black anodize, flat top rail, forward assist (with a bonus that the forward assist and the dust cover are pre-installed).
Price: $179.95 (MSRP)
Material: 7075 Aluminum
Length: 7.657 inches
Height: 2.121 inches
Weight: 9.80 ounces
Feed Ramps: M4 Style
The reputation of the MUR does not out do its reality. We are very impressed with the quality of its finish as well its very solid feel. Quality can often be felt in hand and this upper is no exception. It feels and looks great. Our 80% lower isn’t milled yet so that we can’t speak to its fit with our milling work, but we did test it with another manufacturer’s lower and it fit very tightly. Beyond the “no wiggle” that people often mention when describing tightly fitting uppers and lowers, the MUR was snug to the point that it took a fair amount of effort to remove it from the lower.
We would like to give big thanks to VLTOR for sponsoring the upper for this project.