Edgar Sherman’s 12.3-inch Suppressed AR Pistol (The ‘Edgar Special’)

“What kind of barrel is that?” 

“Where’d you get that optic mount?”

“Why’d you use that bolt-carrier group?”

Spend any time perusing social media, gun blogs, or product pages, and you’ve probably asked questions like these or seen them asked by others.

Unfortunately, getting answers to these questions is often difficult if not downright impossible, and you can easily find yourself scrolling through an Instagram feed or blog post, flipping through a book, or skimming through a video, trying to identify what gear someone is using and why.

I’ve been in your shoes, too, which is why I created the Gun Build of the Week series.

Every week, I break down someone’s gun build—inside and out, snout to tail—so you can learn exactly what parts they used to make their gun, what modifications they made to their gear, why they used the parts they did, and where you can buy them. 

You’ll also get a glimpse of the guy or gal behind the gun, giving you a better understanding of the preferences, needs, and personalities of the gun community.   

If you enjoy this series and would like to have these articles delivered to your inbox when they’re published, enter your email address in this form: 

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The Guy Behind the Gun

edgar sherman design

Edgar Sherman is a product designer and firearms instructor based in Boston, Massachusetts and Nashua, New Hampshire.

Growing up in a relatively liberal family, Edgar didn’t start shooting consistently until he was 19. 

Unlike most new shooters, who’s first experience with a gun is aimlessly blasting targets at the range, Edgar started competing in precision rifle competitions and quickly developed a knack for the sport. 

Although hockey was his main priority as a teenager, his passion for guns, gear, and shooting gained greater sway over his life as he got older.

When hockey lost its luster, Edgar set his sights on joining the military. His primary aim was to become a Force Recon Marine or Green Beret, but after several months of training, he learned he had a medical condition that precluded him from enlisting. 

Undeterred, he decided to merge his education in engineering with his passion for shooting, military gear, and service in the form of an internship at Ops-Core, one of the largest and most advanced manufacturers of military helmets.

While there, Edgar honed his engineering skills, taught himself to sew, continued burnishing his shooting skills, and built lasting relationships with vets and active duty members of the special forces community. 

And out of this unique admixture of skills and experiences, Edgar Sherman Design was born. 

His first product was a simple camera strap, designed, prototyped, and refined after hours while working at Ops-Core. 

Next, he created what would become his flagship product—the ESD rifle sling—which has developed something of a cult following among the tactical shooting and military communities.

He’s since designed an enhanced angled foregrip, a rifle support bag, and a duffel bag, and he’s working on a plate carrier, an upgrade kit for concealed carry holsters, and more. 

Edgar still shoots consistently, too, and currently has two workhorse rifle builds:

A custom built suppressed AR pistol, which I like to refer to as the ‘Edgar Special’ (let’s make this a thing!), and a recce rifle (which will be featured in the next Gun Build of the Week).

Let’s get to the gun. 🙂

Edgar’s 12.3-inch Suppressed AR Pistol Overview

If you just want to know what parts Edgar used to make his suppressed AR pistol and where you can find them, here you go.

Complete Upper

Barrel: 12.3-inch Ballistic Advantage Hanson Barrel ($215)

Handguard: 12-inch Q M-Lok Honey Badger Handguard ($310)

Gas Block: Superlative Arms 0.750’’ Solid Melonite Adjustable Gas Block ($99.99)

Upper Receiver: Ballistic Advantage AR-15 Enhanced Upper Receiver ($119.99)

Muzzle Device: Q Cherry Bomb Muzzle Brake with 1/2-28 Thread ($75 or free if you buy a Q suppressor)

Suppressor: Q Trash Panda Fast-Attach Suppressor ($999)

Gas Tube: Ballistic Advantage Carbine Length Melonite Gas Tube ($15)

Bolt-Carrier Group: Ballistic Advantage Nitride Bolt Carrier Group ($129.99)

Forward Assist: Ballistic Advantage (included with the upper receiver)

Charging Handle: Q Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle by Radian Weapons ($80)

Complete Lower

Lower Receiver: Ballistic Advantage AR-15 Enhanced Lower Receiver ($94.99)

Trigger: Geissele SD-3G Trigger ($240)

Folding Stock Adapter: Law Tactical Rifle Folder, Black ($270)

Pistol Brace: Q Sugar Weasel Pistol Stabilizing Brace by SB Tactical (not for sale as a standalone product)

Safety Lever: Q Talon 70° Safety Selector by Radian Weapons (not for sale as a standalone product)

Lower Parts Kit: Ballistic Advantage AR-15 Lower Parts Kit ($60)

Pistol Grip: BCM Gunfighter Mod-3 Pistol Grip ($20)


Sling: Custom Made Thule Strap ESD Sling (not for sale, but his other slings are $45)

Foregrip: ESD Enhanced Foregrip ($24.99)

Optic: EOTech EXPS3-0 Holographic Weapon Sight ($699)

Backup Iron Sights: Magpul MBUS Pro Sights (Front: $84.95 and Rear: $104.95)

Weapon Light: Modlite PLH-18650 Weapon Light ($350)

Light Mount: Arisaka M-Lok Offset Scout Mount ($48)

IR Laser/Illuminator: Steiner D-Bal A3 IR Laser/Illuminator, Desert Sand ($1,449)

Pressure Pad: Surefire SR-D-IT Dual Pressure Pad ($119)

The Why and How

If you want to learn why Edgar chose the parts he did and how they compare to similar options on the market, keep reading.

You can also use the table of contents below to skip around to the parts that most interest you.

Barrel: 12.3-inch Ballistic Advantage Hanson Barrel ($215)

ballistic advantage 12.3-inch hanson barrel

Edgar couldn’t have recommended Ballistic Advantage (BA) more highly, which is a small manufacturing company owned by Aero Precision

They aren’t as well known as Bartlein, Proof, or some of the other big names in barrel manufacturing, but they guarantee sub MOA accuracy from every one of their barrels, or they’ll give you your money back. They’re also remarkably affordable at only $215 for a 12.3-inch barrel (a comparable barrel from Proof is more than twice as much). 

Another thing I personally like about the BA Hanson barrels, is they use a tapered barrel profile with the barrel thickest at the base near the breech and thinnest at the muzzle.

In other words, it features thicker steel where the pressure inside the barrel is highest (at the breech) and thinner steel where the pressure is lowest (at the muzzle).

Many barrel manufacturers leave more metal on the barrel than necessary, and although this is cheaper to manufacture, it means the barrels are also heavier than they need to be. 

Ballistic Advantage takes care to remove as much metal as they can while keeping the barrel sturdy, accurate, and slightly lighter than “government profiled” AR-15 barrels. This barrel profile is thicker toward the muzzle and thinner toward the back of the barrel, which makes little sense and is based on many faulty assumptions that are beyond the scope of this article.

Why a 12.3-inch barrel versus a 14.5-inch barrel for this AR pistol? 

Well, the main benefits of a short-barreled AR-15 (any AR-15 with a barrel less than 16-inches long), is this makes the gun lighter and easier to maneuver in confined spaces, especially with a suppressor attached.

And why 12.3-inches versus 10.3-inches, which is the standard barrel length for most AR-15s? 

Without getting into the nitty gritty details, a 12.3-inch barrel offers a lighter recoil impulse, produces less parts wear and muzzle blast, and boosts the velocity (and thus energy) of 5.56/.223 bullets better than a 10.3-inch barrel. The extra two inches of barrel length over a 10.3-inch barrel is barely noticeable, and well worth the improved shooting experience.

Even when you slap on a suppressor, like the Q Trash Panda, the barrel and suppressor combo is still only ~18 inches long.

You can learn more about this barrel here: 

12.3" 5.56 BA Hanson Carbine Length AR 15 Barrel, Performance Series

12-inch Q M-Lok Honey Badger Handguard ($310)

Q is best known for their titanium silencers and as the creators of the Honey Badger and the Fix bolt-action rifle, but they also offer several of their components as stand-alone products. 

This 12-inch rail is the same one used on the Honey Badger SD, and is exceptionally lightweight at a claimed 13.3 ounces including the mounting hardware.

In reality, when I weighed the handguard and hardware for a recent customer rifle build, the whole set only weighed 9.2 ounces—even lighter than advertised (a good thing).

This light weight is thanks to the design of the handguard itself and the lightweight clear anodized coating. 

For reference, a 13-inch MK14 handguard from Geissele weighs 12 ounces and a 12-inch Atlas R-One handguard from Aero Precision weighs 12.72 ounces.   

It also has an internal diameter of 1.54-inches, which provides enough room for most kinds of gas blocks (including the Superlative Arms Adjustable Gas Block that Edgar chose).

The main downside of this handguard is it costs about twice as much as a regular handguard. C’est la vie.

Learn more about this handguard here:

Q 12-inch Honey Badger M-Lok Handguard Kit

Gas Block: Superlative Arms 0.750’’ Solid Melonite Adjustable Gas Block ($99.99)

superlative arms adjustable gas block

If you can afford it, it’s always a good idea to install an adjustable gas block on a short-barreled AR-15 if you plan on using a suppressor. 

This allows you to adjust the amount of gas that’s channeled back inside the gun to cycle the bolt-carrier group. If you allow too much gas back into the gun, the bolt-carrier group accelerates faster than it needs to, which causes excess wear and tear on the gun, a harsher recoil impulse, and more violent case extractions (which aren’t a big deal, but are annoying).

When you put a suppressor on an AR-15, this increases the amount of gas that’s forced back into the gun, exacerbating all of these problems.

If you don’t allow enough gas back into the gun, though, it won’t cycle properly. 

By using an adjustable gas block, like this one from Superlative Arms, you can fine-tune the amount of gas that’s channeled back into the gun for both suppressed and unsuppressed shooting. 

When you put a suppressor on your gun, you can reduce the amount of gas that’s allowed back into your gun. When you take the suppressor off your gun, you can increase the amount of gas that’s allowed back into your gun.

And if you want to align your chakras and ensure your rifle a place in Valhalla, you can adjust the amount of gas that’s allowed back into the gun so it functions well when shooting both suppressed and unsuppressed.

Adjustable gas blocks aren’t just helpful when using a suppressor, though. Different brands of ammunition produce different pressures, and you can adjust how much of this pressure you allow back into your gun using an adjustable gas glock.

The Superlative Arms adjustable gas block also boasts a unique “bleed-off” feature that allows excess gas to escape out the front of the gas block. 

This further reduces the amount of excess gas allowed into the receiver, which reduces felt recoil, fouling inside the gun, and the amount of gas that’s blown into your face when firing suppressed. 

It’s also relatively lightweight at only 1.68 ounces and small enough to fit under most standard handguards, including the Honey Badger Handguard from Q.

Oh, and it comes in two colors: Melonite black and stainless steel. I recommend you buy the color that matches your barrel.

Learn more about this adjustable gas block here: 

Superlative Arms 0.750’’ Solid Black Adjustable Gas Block

Ballistic Advantage AR-15 Enhanced Upper Receiver ($119.99)

ballistic advantage enhanced upper receiver

This is an inexpensive high-quality forged upper receiver made of 7075-T6 aluminum.

There isn’t much to say about this except it works, looks nice, and won’t empty your wallet. It’s also the exact same thing as the Aero Precision M4E1 Threaded Upper Receiver, but with Ballistic Advantage markings.

Learn more about this upper receiver here: 

Ballistic Advantage AR-15 Enhanced Upper Receiver 

Q Cherry Bomb Muzzle Brake with 1/2-28 Thread ($75)

q cherry bomb muzzle brake

The Q Cherry Bomb muzzle brake is designed to work with Q’s line of 7.62-caliber rifle suppressors.

It has a few unique features that set it apart from similar muzzle brakes on the market: 

  1. It only weighs 2 ounces, unlike most other suppressor-compatible muzzle brakes like the Dead Air Keymount (4 ounces), Surefire Warcomp (~4 to 5 ounces), and SilencerCo ASR (3.5 ounces).
  2. It functions as an additional baffle inside the suppressor, further helping reduce sound and wear and tear on the suppressor (to a small degree).
  3. It features threads behind a metal taper that presses against the suppressor, preventing copper and carbon fouling from permeating the threads, which can make the suppressor difficult to remove. This is probably its biggest advantage over other designs.

If you’re using a Q suppressor and plan on ever shooting your rifle without the suppressor, you should get the Q Cherry Bomb. If you plan on only shooting with your suppressor attached, you’re better off threading the suppressor directly to your rifle barrel. In that case, you’d want to buy the Q Half Nelson, which is identical to the Trash Panda except it attaches directly to the threads on your barrel instead of the Cherry Bomb.

Oh, and if you buy one of Q’s fast-attach suppressors, you get both a 1/2x28 (.223-compatible) and a 5/8-24 (7.62-compatible) Cherry Bomb muzzle brake.

Learn more about this muzzle brake here: 

Q Cherry Bomb Muzzle Brake

Q Trash Panda Fast-Attach Suppressor ($999)

q trash panda suppressor

This is one of the lightest suppressors on the market, made entirely of welded titanium baffles. 

Although many people claim titanium doesn’t hold up to the rigors of rapid fire shooting, this is more Internet myth than reality. Well-made titanium suppressors have proven to be just as durable and reliable under most shooting conditions as steel (except for perhaps extended mag dumps or full auto shooting), and are plenty durable for most shooters. 

Q also guarantees their suppressors with a lifetime warranty, so if you break it, they’ll fix it. 

What’s more, all of Q’s suppressors feature a 7.62/.30-caliber bore, so you can use them on your .223/5.56 rifle (as Edgar does) and on your .30-caliber/7.62 rifles.

For example, if you ever join the dark side and get a 300 Blackout upper for your AR-15, you can use your Q Trash Panda suppressor on that gun, too.

But, you might be wondering, aren’t you losing some sound suppression by using a 7.62-caliber suppressor on a 5.56/.223 rifle? 

Maybe, but most people I’ve spoken with haven’t noticed a difference. Some people even say they prefer the sound of a 7.62-caliber suppressor over a 5.56 suppressor, so if you are losing some sound suppression, it’s negligible. 

Learn more about the Q Trash Panda here: 

Q Trash Panda Fast-Attach Suppressor

Ballistic Advantage Carbine-Length Melonite Gas Tube ($15)

ballistic advantage melonite gas tube

This is a standard Melonite gas tube. 

In case you aren’t familiar with it, Melonite, also known as Tenifer in Europe, is a brand name for the process of ferritic nitrocarburizing

This process involves forcing nitrogen, carbon, and other compounds into the surface of a metal to drastically increase its resistance to abrasion, heat, and corrosion—exactly what you want in a gas tube.

Ballistic Advantage also makes a stainless steel version which is also plenty durable and corrosion resistant, and which one you choose depends on your preferences. 

If you have a stainless steel barrel and want the gas tube to match, go with the stainless steel gas tube. If you have a black Melonite barrel, like the 12.3-inch Ballistic Advantage barrel you learned about a moment ago, get the Melonite gas tube.

One more thing you should keep in mind, is that you need to make sure the length of your gas tube matches the position of the gas port on your barrel.

For example, the 12.3-inch Ballistic Advantage barrel you learned about a moment ago has a carbine-length gas port, so you need to pair it with a carbine-length gas tube.

If you’re building a 300 Blackout upper with an 8-inch barrel, as I recently did, then you need to get a pistol-length gas tube. 

Learn more about this gas tube here: 

Ballistic Advantage Carbine-Length Melonite Gas Tube

Ballistic Advantage Nitride Bolt Carrier Group ($129.99)

ballistic advantage 556 nitride bolt carrier group

This is a no-frills Ballistic Advantage bolt carrier group with a nitride finish for improved durability and reduced friction between parts.

Good bolt carrier groups are easy to find, but it’s generally a good idea to get one made by the same company as your barrel. This is particularly true if you’re buying from lower quality brands, which may have lower tolerances than a company like Ballistic Advantage.

Personally I don’t think this is a big deal—I use a Radian Weapons bolt carrier group with a Ballistic Advantage barrel and it works just fine.

Learn more about this bolt carrier group here: 

Ballistic Advantage Nitride Bolt Carrier Group

Ballistic Advantage Forward Assist

A standard forward assist that came with the upper receiver—nothing else to say.  

Q Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle by Radian Weapons ($80)

q radian raptor charging handle

The Radian Weapons Raptor ambidextrous charging handle has become the standard for all tacticool, gucci gear, and high-end AR-15 builds, and for good reason.

It’s smooth, comfortable, and works equally well when using either your right or left hand. 

In this case, Radian Weapons made a Raptor charging handle specifically branded for the Q Honey Badger. 

One thing I’m a little surprised by is that Q didn’t opt for the Raptor SD, which is designed to reduce the amount of gas that sneaks through the upper receiver and into your face when shooting with a suppressor. 

Either way, you can’t go wrong with a Raptor regardless of what kind it is. 

The only downside, as usual, is the cost, but in my opinion it’s well worth every penny.

Learn more about this charging handle here: 

Q Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle by Radian Weapons

Ballistic Advantage AR-15 Enhanced Lower Receiver ($94.99)

ballistic advantage enhanced lower receiver

This lower receiver is made from forged 7075 T6 aluminum, which is the standard for AR-15 receivers. 

As a general rule, forged receivers are generally stronger than billet receivers, but they aren’t as attractive.

When a lower receiver is carved out of a single piece of metal—a billet—the manufacturer can create sharper, more aesthetic lines and more complicated shapes 

On the other hand, forged receivers are, well, forged, which means they’re pushed into shape using high heat and pressure. This creates a very strong but not very attractive receiver.

In this case, although the receiver is forged, it looks much more like a billet receiver due to its clean lines around the magazine release and trigger guard and carefully flared magwell. 

This receiver also features three other unique features: 

  1. A nylon-tipped tension screw that you can adjust to reduce and wiggling between the upper and lower receivers. 
  2. Safety indicator engravings that work well with either 45- or 90-degree safety levers.
  3. A small screw for holding in place the rear detent spring. If you ever plan on building an AR-15 or already have, you know this little spring likes to shoot across the room, never to be seen again. This little screw helps prevent that from happening.

This lower receiver is identical to the Aero Precision M4E1 Lower Receiver (and probably manufactured by Aero Precision), but features the ballistic Advantage logo.

Learn more about this lower receiver here: 

Ballistic Advantage Enhanced Lower Receiver

Geissele SD-3G Trigger ($240)

geissele 3d-3g trigger

When it comes to fast, smooth shooting, it’s hard to find a better trigger than the Geissele SD-3G.

It was designed for 3-gun competitions, where engaging multiple targets accurately and quickly with multiple shots is often required, but it’s become a favorite among tactical and recreational shooters, too.

It’s so fast, in fact, that Geissele doesn’t recommend this for military or personal defense use, where it might be too easy to accidentally fire the gun. That said, most people agree this trigger is fine for just about every application as long as you practice with it. 

Learn more about this trigger here: 

Geissele SD-3G Trigger

Law Tactical Rifle Folder, Black ($270)

law tactical rifle folder

The Law Tactical Rifle Folder is a metal joint that lies between the back of the lower receiver and the buffer tube of the rifle that allows you to turn a regular AR-15 stock into a folding stock.

When the stock is extended and locked, your AR-15 is able to function as it would normally. When folded, the buffer tube is separated from the lower receiver, making the gun inoperable. 

Best of all, you can still use a standard mil-spec adjustable AR-15 stock or pistol brace.

This gives you the advantages of a folding stock with the ergonomics of an AR-15.

Here's a closeup of what it looks like on Edgar's AR build when locked:

law tactical rifle folder

The main downside of the Law Tactical Rifle Folder is weight—it adds around 8.5 ounces to your rifle. As Edgar pointed out to me, though, this also helps balance out the weight of a suppressor on the front of your gun, and is hardly noticeable. 

Oh, and it’s pricey at around $270. That said, you have to keep in mind that a tremendous amount of R&D went into this design, which is part of why this is one of the first folding-stock adapters for AR-15s to become popular. 

Learn more about this rifle folder here: 

Law Tactical Rifle Folder, Black

Q Sugar Weasel Pistol Stabilizing Brace by SB Tactical

Originally designed by SB Tactical for the Q Sugar Weasel, this pistol brace is similar to the SBA3 brace from SB Tactical, with two differences: 

  1. It’s gray.
  2. It’s much stiffer than the normal SBA3 brace, making it feel more like a real rifle stock and less like a pistol brace (just don’t tell the ATF). 

This brace isn’t available for sale as a standalone product, and the only way to get one currently is to first buy a Q Sugar Weasel. Edgar got this directly from Q because he’s a great dude, but don’t feel bad—the SBA3 brace is still a great alternative (and what I use on my ‘Edgar Special’ AR-15 build). 

Q Talon 70° Safety Lever by Radian Weapons

q talon safety lever by radian weapons

Short-throw safety levers—ones that only require a 45° turn instead of a 90° turn—have become more and more popular.


As a general rule, you should be deactivating the safety lever just before you bring your gun on target and activating it as soon as you’re finished firing, and a short-throw safety makes this process faster and easier.

As Edgar points out in our interview, though, there’s one problem with this design: sometimes it’s too easy to deactivate the safety lever. 

Edgar learned this when he accidentally deactivated the safety lever on his AR-15 when climbing on top of a shipping container in a shooting class.

Obviously, you don’t want to accidentally turn off your safety, especially when you’re running and gunning and especially when you’re using a light trigger like the Geissele SD-3G.

To get the best of both worlds, Q worked with Radian Weapons to develop a version of their Talon safety lever that required 70° of movement to activate or deactivate. 

This offers ergonomics close to that of a 45° safety lever while maintaining the safety of a 90° safety lever.

Personally, I haven’t had any issues using a 45° safety lever, but I also don’t run and gun as much as Edgar does. If I did, I’d probably err on the side of caution and use a 70 or 90° safety lever.

This safety lever isn’t available as a stand-alone product, but you can learn more about Radian Talon safety levers here: 

Radian Weapons Talon Safety Lever

Ballistic Advantage AR-15 Lower Parts Kit ($60)

You can’t go wrong with almost any lower parts kit made by a reputable company.

In case you aren’t familiar with it, a lower parts kit includes all of the small springs, pins, screws, and other parts you need to assemble an AR-15. Sometimes, as in this case, these kits also include grips, safety levers, and a trigger. 

If you’d rather save some money and buy a kit that doesn’t include the trigger or grip, I recommend the Aero Precision lower parts kit (Ballistic Advantage only offers kits that include the grip and trigger, wom wom). 

You can learn more about the Ballistic Advantage lower parts kit here: 

Ballistic Advantage AR-15 Lower Parts Kit

BCM Gunfighter Mod 3 Pistol Grip ($20)

BCM Gunfighter Mod 3 Grip

This is an ergonomic pistol grip designed for shooters who use a more modern, chest-facing-the-target stance, which forces your shooting hand closer to your shoulder. 

Here’s a picture of Edgar demonstrating what this looks like: 

There are many grips made for this modern shooting stance, but the BCM Gunfighter Mod 3 is one of the most popular. 

The main difference between the Mod 3 and the Mod 0, 1, and 2 Gunfighter grips, is the Mod 3 is about a ¼-inch wider than the other variants.

You can learn more about this grip here: 

BCM Gunfighter Mod-3 Grip

Custom Made Thule Strap ESD Sling ($45)

This is a custom-made version of Edgar’s best-selling ESD sling, using a Thule cargo strap instead of standard nylon webbing.


It looks cool. 😎

It also matches the gray Q pistol brace and handguard, which is neat. 

These aren’t available right now, but Edgar may do a limited release version in the future.

You can learn more about Edgar’s ESD sling here: 

Edgar Sherman Design ESD Sling

ESD Enhanced Foregrip ($24.99)

You don’t need a foregrip on your rifle, but it is a nice upgrade that’ll make your shooting experience more enjoyable. 

The main purposes of a foregrip are to . . . 

  • Give your hand more real estate to hold onto on the rifle, which makes it easier to control recoil and quickly get your gun on target.
  • Put your hand in a more comfortable position while shooting, which reduces wrist and hand strain.
  • Make it easier to brace the gun against walls and other obstacles when you need more stability.
  • Provide a reference point so you can maintain a consistent grip on the gun.
  • Make the gun look cooler.

Most foregrips on the market have a few problems, though: 

Vertical foregrips aren’t legally allowed to be used on AR pistols, like the Edgar Special, so those are out the window in this case. 

Many angled foregrips are bulky and often get in the way more than they help, and they often don’t fit in the hand all that well, either.

That’s why Edgar created the Enhanced Foregrip (EFG).

It’s is extremely small, lightweight, and rugged, and it’s also designed to perfectly match the shape of the fingers on your hand, giving you a better purchase on the rifle.

The back of the EFG also features a textured surface for bracing it against walls and other obstacles. 

Finally, the topographic map pattern on the sides looks great, too.

You can learn more about this foregrip here: 

ESD Enhanced Foregrip

EOTech EXPS3-0 Holographic Weapon Sight ($699)

eotech exps3-0

A holographic weapon sight uses a series of mirrors and reflectors to project an image of a reticle on a piece of glass in front of your eye.

A red dot sight, on the other hand, projects a laser directly onto a piece of glass in front of your eye.  

Both technologies have their pros and cons. 

Red dots, like the Aimpoint Micro T-2, are simpler, lighter, and are known for their exceptional durability and battery life (generally 50,000 hours). 

Holographic weapon sights, like the EOTech EXPS3, have a few advantages over red dot sights, though: 

  1. They provide a wider window through which you can see your target (known as “field of view”). 
  2. They generally have more advanced reticle designs, such as the classic “donut” reticle on EOTech holographic weapon sights. Note that this reticle isn’t necessarily better than a simple red dot, but it’s often easier for new shooters to use and many people prefer it. 
  3. The reticle on holographic weapon sights doesn’t enlarge when viewed through a magnifier, which makes it easier to make accurate shots at long distance. 

And as an added bonus, the person you’re shooting at can’t see the reticle in a holographic weapon sight from their perspective, meaning it’s less likely to give away your position (though to be fair, if someone is staring at the business end of a red dot sight they probably won’t be around long). 

The downsides of a holographic weapon sight are they’re bulkier, heavier, and have a much shorter battery life than red dot sights (around 600 hours for most EOTech models). 

The EOTech EXPS3 is part of the new generation of lighter, smaller EOTech holographic weapon sights, with a shortened battery compartment to take up less rail space. 

The EXPS3 is identical to the EXPS2, except it’s also night vision compatible, whereas the EXPS2 is not. 

You can choose from a variety of reticles for all EOTech models, and the number that comes after the model name indicates the reticle design. 

For example, Edgar has the EXPS3-0, and the -0 indicates it has a single dot reticle, which looks like this: 

eotech exps3-0 reticle

The EXPS3-2, though has a two dot reticle, which looks like this: 

eotech exps3-2 reticle

For most shooters, the EXPS3-0 is the best choice. (Or the EXPS2-0 if you don't plan on using night vision).

You can learn more about this optic here: 

EOTech EXPS3-0 Holographic Weapon Sight

And you can learn more about the non-night vision compatible version here:

EOTech EXPS2-0 Holographic Weapon Sight

Magpul MBUS Pro Sights (Front: $84.95 and Rear: $104.95)

magpul mbus pro iron sights

If you’ve been confused by the acronym “BUIS” thrown around on gun forums, it stands for “backup iron sights.”

Backup iron sights are just iron sights that can fold down out of the way when you aren’t using them. 

As the name implies, they’re designed to be used as a backup solution should your red dot or holographic sight break, fall off, lose its zero, run out of battery, or fail in some way or another.  

For this to work, though, you need to ensure you can see your iron sights through your optic—a technique known as cowitnessing. This way, you can flip up and immediately transition to your iron sights without removing your main optic. 

In this case, Edgar chose to use Magpul’s MBUS Pro sights, which are made entirely of coated steel for durability and accuracy. They’re a bit heavier and more expensive than Magpul’s regular MBUS backup iron sights, which are made of polymer, but they’re also more durable. 

Check out Magpul’s MBUS Pro backup iron sights here: 

Magpul MBUS® Pro Sight – Front

Magpul MBUS® Pro Sight – Rear

Checkout Magpul’s MBUS backup iron sights here: 

Magpul MBUS® Sight – Front

Magpul MBUS® Sight – Rear

Modlite PLH-18650 Weapon Light ($330)

modlite plh 18650 weapon light

The Modlite PLH-18650 is a high-power weapon light that’s able to project light much further in front of the shooter—referred to as throw—than most other weapon lights such as the Surefire M600 Ultra Scout Light

This light produces 1,500 lumens and 29,000 candela. For comparison’s sake, the SureFire M600 Ultra Scout light produces 1,000 lumens and the SureFire M600 Dual Fuel Scout light produces 1,500 lumens (SureFire doesn’t publish candela data). 

Another nice feature of Modlite weapon lights is they come standard with rechargeable lithium-ion KeepPower 3500mAh 18650 batteries and a charger. 

If you don’t like throwing out CR123 batteries every so often, this is a great alternative. 

You can learn more about this weapon light here: 

Modlite PLH-18650

Arisaka M-Lok Offset Scout Mount ($48)

arisaka offset scout mount

Arisaka is best known for their series of weapon lights, but they also make a variety of other rugged, precision machined gun accessories. 

Their weapon light mounts are simple and durable, and give you the ability to mount your light in a few different positions, should you so choose. 

You can learn more about this weapon light mount here: 

Arisaka M-Lok Offset Scout Mount

Steiner DBAL-A3 IR Laser/Illuminator, Desert Sand ($1,449)

steiner dbal-a3 ir illuminator/laser

A laser/illuminator is a small apparatus that attaches to the front of your gun, which serves two primary functions: 

  1. Providing a focused laser beam of infrared light that’s only visible when viewed through night vision devices. Think of it as a laser pointer that only you can see. This beam is also zeroed to your rifle, so wherever you point, the bullet should hit (more or less). This is the IR laser.
  2. Providing a much wider beam of infrared light that illuminates the area in front of you. This is like a flashlight that only you can see, and it’s typically adjustable to different widths, depending on how much you want to illuminate the area in front of you. This is the IR illuminator.

The Steiner D-Bal A3 is known as one of the most durable, reliable, and powerful models you can buy. 

Although the L3 ATPIAL (AN/PEQ-15) tends to be more popular in the tactical community, the Steiner D-Bal A3 is every bit its equal. 

You can learn more about this IR laser/illuminator here: 

Steiner D-Bal A3 IR Laser/Illuminator 

Surefire SR-D-IT Dual Pressure Pad ($119)

surefire dual switch

If you have a weapon light and an IR laser/illuminator, as Edgar’s AR does, you should get a dual pressure pad.

A pressure pad is a small, rubberized switch that allows you to activate either your weapon light or your IR laser/illuminator without moving your support hand out of position. (Your support hand is the one you aren’t using to pull the trigger. If you shoot right handed, your left hand would be your support hand, as it’s supporting the front of the gun when firing).

That is, you can turn your light or laser on or off while keeping your shooting hand on the gun, ready to fire. 

A dual pressure pad allows you to turn on or off both your weapon light and your laser, but you can also buy a pressure pad that only controls your weapon light if you don’t have an IR laser/illuminator.

SureFire makes the most popular pressure pads on the market today, and they’re known for being tough, reliable, and easy to use and install. 

Check out their dual pressure pad here (SR-D-IT model): 

SureFire SR-D-IT Pressure Pad for weapon lights and IR lasers/illuminators

And check out their weapon-light only pressure pad here (ST07 model):

SureFire ST07 Pressure Pad for weapon lights 

What do you think of this “Edgar Special” suppressed AR pistol build? Have any other thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

P.S. Would you like your gun build to be featured in this series? If so, just shoot me an email! Whether you have a tricked out AR, like this one, a gucci Glock, or a cool plate carrier or helmet setup, I'd love to feature it on the site.