Huldra Arms Rifle Build
I’d like to preface this by first stating for those of you out there who denigrate piston AR-15s, that my first AR was gas impingement. I don’t think that piston ARs are perfect, however, I am not opposed to innovation either, and am willing to try something new. This isn’t some marketing piece for Huldra Arms, or for piston systems. Like anything else you find on this site, this represents my personal views and experiences. I’m not Gecko45, and I’m not special anything. I’m an average guy writing about guns.
On another note, you’ll see some cool shirts in this article. We can thank Chuck at Sheepdogs, Inc. for those. Chuck is a Marine turned Cop, turned entrepreneur. I met Chuck in Vegas for SHOT Show 2012 along with some other great guys and girls at one of the ITS Tactical Meet and Greets. Look for a detailed review coming in the near future, but these are high quality shirts, at really reasonable prices. Chuck, my hat’s off to you.
The local Mill’s Fleet farm has always stocked its share of Century International WASR’s and such. None of its really floated my boat before. However, in November 2011, as concealed carry was passed in Wisconsin, I saw an AR-15 in the back. My first thought was great now Century is making AR’s, but seeing a handgun counter (also new) I stepped to the back and looked around.
I was really turned off by the marketing that was being churned out, they had a video showing the Adams Arms piston animation, and showcasing their rifles. Nothing they showed was new, and they didn’t talk about the things I wanted to hear, such as barrel twist, Steel used, etc. I tried to talk to the sales guys, but they didn’t know anything other than it was the son of the owner who came up with the rifle. My experience with the Fleet Farm firearms guns staff has not been good. They didn’t know much about AR’s in general, or the Huldra brand specifically. When they told a guy looking for a concealed carry gun that they had sold a bunch of Beretta Bobcat’s, so it must be pretty good, I nearly lost it. I’m not saying there is a problem with Beretta’s, but who seriously recommends a .22lr platform to a grown man for a self defense weapon?
Piston & Bolt Carrier with integrated Key. Note the Full Auto carrier, and the skids to prevent carrier tilt.
I started to think about doing a Huldra Arms rifle when I did some reading on M4 carbine.com, and while the attitude on that sight is very anti-piston, Dave from Team Huldra did a great job of addressing concerns and talking about specs.
Over the next several months I drifted into and out of Fleet Farm often. Magpul items hit the shelves, and I continued to be intrigued by their AR offerings. I’d read the SWAT Magazine article on the Filthy 14, and wasn’t convinced that a piston system was something I wanted, particularly because I had a nice 16 inch carbine at home sporting a Daniel Defense barrel and bolt carrier, Spike’s lower, and VLTOR A5, with Magpul ACS.
Spikes Lower with Magpul BAD Lever
Due to some financial needs, I sold off the upper receiver, and the Daniel Defense Omega rail that had been sitting on my lower, and thus the Fleet Farm AR started to sing to me. I began saving.
After debating between 5.45 and 5.56, I picked up a 5.56 mid length upper.
When I opened the box, I was impressed by the fit and finish of the upper. Everything appeared as it should, except that the bolt carrier kept pushing out the back. Why is there a spring in the bolt carrier pushing the bolt forward?
Bolt Carrier being pushed to the rear by the spring loaded bolt
I did a little research and it appears this is the solution to some piston guns having the locking lugs shear off. The spring maintains forward pressure on the bolt even as the carrier starts its rearward movement. This is a pretty clever way to resolve the issue of not having gas in the expansion chamber doing the same thing. Obviously, as with any spring, it will need replacing at some point, but that is what preventative maintenance schedules are for.
On to the range. I loaded a 30 round magazine, racked the charging handle and lined up on target. 5 pounds and a crisp break later (testament to the Daniel Defense Lower Parts Kit … This is the best Mil-spec trigger I have ever felt) and my first round drilled the target.
Huldra Arms gas block
When I examined my target, this Upper was dead-on accurate right out of the box. One of the most common arguments I hear against piston guns was that they are inherently less accurate. My specimen doesn’t reflect that. Using a Vortex Red dot, At 50 yards, 30 rounds had punched a clean hole in the target 3/4 of an inch in diameter, about 2” out at 5 o’clock. This rifle could shoot!
Just the Lower with new stock and the SLAP plate.
The VLTOR A-5 stock. The castle nut took a nasty gouge when I torqued it to 42 ft-lbs and the stock wrench slipped. Also note the ikickhippies.com SLAP plate.
I called ACE, and arranged to return the stock to them for evaluation. I’m going to stick with the A-5 extension and ACS stock, its comfortable and allows for a significant range of adjustment.
The A5 extension, along with buffer and spring were ordered from Bravo Company USA, and they have a great turnaround time. I also wanted to try the new Magpul sling, which meant that I would need a different carbine retainer plate. I selected the SLAP plate from ikickhippies.com because let’s face it, who doesn’t want to kick a hippie every now and then.
Around the time all my parts were trickling in, I received a box from Huldra Arms. Since I had registered my upper, they took the time to put together a care package for me. It included a couple of hats, & T-Shirts. Thank you Huldra Arms!
Ready for a trip to the range. Magpul MS 3 in two point configuration
I went through 200 rounds in a 2 ½ hour range session. The best part was when I got home, I used a little SLIP 2000 to clean the piston, pulled my bore snake through the barrel, and wiped down a little excess powder from the bolt carrier, reapplied a little lube, and was done. 5 minutes or less. One of the things I love is how the Magpul sling converts quickly from a two point sling for versatility, to a one point sling for mobility in close confines.
Magpul MS3 in single point configuration
This is a rifle I will be keeping. There is a good chance I’ll be replacing the forend with a modular rail, and upgrading from a Vortex red dot to a Weaver 1-5 CIRT scope, but this is a quality rifle that can be had for a reasonable price.
Overall, I was impressed not only by the accuracy, and quality of the upper receiver, but by the customer support they have backing their products. Huldra Arms may be new on the market, but their products appear to me to be worthy of respect, whatever you may think of piston guns.
About the Author
Brian Willis has been shooting since he was a Boy Scout, where he learned many of his first rifle skills. Brian earned his degree in Law Enforcement in 2009, and is a current graduate student. He has 7 years experience in the security business. He’s the owner of a small training company, Red Lion Defensive Solutions located in Western Wisconsin, near the Twin Cities which he started in 2008 to teach concealed carry. NRA Basic Rifle and Basic Pistol.