Spike’s Tactical SBR 5.56mm

“Your barrel is going to be how short?” my friend…


“Your barrel is going to be how short?” my friend asked as he laughed out loud. My response was, “7.3 inches, about as long as a G36K.”

“A what?” he asked…This was going to be a long conversation.

I’ve been building ARs for a few years now and have always started by choosing a barrel, then designing the weapon on paper before any money gets spent. It keeps my wife somewhat happy that way. The reason for the emphasis on the barrel is because the barrel always dictates what the weapon is slated for. A quality 20-inch barrel means sub-MOA accuracy for the sharpshooter, but very little mobility or practicality for the patrolman. Whereas a 16-inch barrel delivers a somewhat decent balance of the two but is still way too long for comfortable work in a CQB environment. So how does one find the balance between accuracy and mobility? Ah, that is the question, grasshopper.

My first AR was “many moons ago” and, yes, it had a 16-inch barrel. Don’t get me wrong, the 16-inch barrel is a great barrel but one can do better without losing a lot of accuracy. Standard carbines are fine but to make a great patrol carbine you have to go shorter, way shorter.

spike-tacti.gifShort Barrel Rifle (SBR)
I was ready to go on this one and then I started second guessing myself. First, did I really want to spend the $200 on the Class III tax stamp, and second, would it be accurate enough? I had always heard a few schools of thought on the subject like, “SBRs are impractical because their short barrels aren’t very accurate.” Okay, define “accurate.” That’s like trying to define “normal.” We’ve all heard the saying, “Normal is relative,” right? Well, so is accuracy. Accuracy is “relative” to the weapon’s role. Just as normal is relative to how weird those around you really are…Thanksgiving with the family? You have no idea!

Another way to answer this “accuracy” question is like this. Acceptable accuracy is contingent on what you demand of the particular weapon at hand. For example, a 3.5-inch grouping at 100 yards is outstanding accuracy for an SBR with a 7.3-inch barrel. However that same number is a joke when you’re talking about a dedicated sniper rifle that should be able to hit a 50-cent coin in three separate areas at the same 100 yards. The other obstacle is that SBRs are Class III restricted.

SWAT teams have known the virtues of SBRs for years. For “slicing the pie” or engaging through the windshield there is no better carbine than an SBR. Also, try bailing out of your patrol car with a 16-inch carbine; it can get exciting. If you’re rolling to a call that’s gone “Hot,” logic mandates you get that carbine down and sling it around your neck just in case you need to bug out fast upon arrival. Where are you going to tuck that extra foot and a half? That’s right, that barrel has to go somewhere, and it usually ends up between your legs. If you had an SBR, however, it would neatly rest at your side even while seated. With the stock collapsed it’s exactly 24 inches long. Yeah, that’s small, but it’s still a whole lot of stopping power in one place.

Lower Details
The first step in building an SBR is the purchase of a lower receiver. Once you have your lower, you’ll need to get it registered with the ATF. Don’t worry, this is easier than you think. The ATF Form-1 is self-explanatory; follow the instructions on the ATF website and you’ll be cleared in no time. Then comes the fun part, building time. You’ll want to invest in an armorer’s video and specs manual to assist you, or find a pal like me that can help you and laugh at you, I mean with you, when you pinch your fingers. Don’t worry, it’s not rocket science.

For my parts I turned to Tennessee Police Supply because I was tired of using parts that I’d bought off the web with expensive shipping only to find them less than pristine. Tennessee Police Supply is a unique business in that you can usually find them at a large majority of the southeastern gun shows. This is great because it allows you to put your hands on the parts that you’re going to build with before actually buying them. Now, parts really make the weapon; however, sometimes components fall between the cracks, literally. The last few carbines that I’d built hadn’t really “blown my skirt up.” Why? Because I’d received kits from certain AR companies that were missing essential parts, and let’s face it, unlike a VW Bug pretty much every part on any top of AR is essential.

After securing my parts kits I turned to Spike’s Tactical for my lower. Their ST-15 lower caught my eye because it looks like a HK416 because of the color-filled bullet markings. The engraved spider logo also gives the lower a rugged and unique appearance, not to mention second looks on the gun range. Now I know that some of you are asking, “Why build with Spike’s Tactical lowers, wouldn’t it have been better to go with insert your favorite AR company here?”

Load Comments
  • MikeJ

    Cool! Thanks!

  • Partiot Gunz

    Yeah this SBR looks cool. I want one but those commies at the BATFE consider this an evil weapon that needs to be registered and have a tax paid on it because oh no it has a short barrel. Just like the author stated, it will never have the accuracy of a 20″ barrel which is more deadly. Think about it. More accuaracy and muzzle velocity than a 7.3″ barrel. If someone is out to do some wrong a law isn’t going to stop them. The Beltway Snipers weren’t using an SBR were they? No, they used a so called legal barrel length rifle made by Bushmaster I believe. Their victims never saw who or what hit them. Robbery is illegal but does that mean that it doesn’t happen. NO, bad guys will do bad things regardless of laws. The people with a slave mindset will argue that SBR’s are easy to conceal but if you were out to bad things wouldn’t a pistol be even easier to conceal. Duh! The BATFE sucks ass. Such stupid laws regarding SBR’s and AOW’s which totally stomp your 2nd Amendment right. Buying an SBR should be like buying any other rifle. Time to wake up America! Get your rights back before those criminals in D.C. take them from you for good. If you think that the so called BATFE laws are sensible then you live in denial and you aren’t a citizen you’re a subject. Citizens are free, subjects are slaves. The End.

  • jrshooter

    Another quality manufacturer near me is a company called gunsmoke enterprises. They make high quality ar’s. When compared to spike’s tactical, in quality and in price, I’m sure many of you would find them to be an excellent choice. If anyone is interested they have a website. They are very helpful and definately know how to make a quality rifle for cheap.

  • Abner Miranda

    My words exactly! I’m a serious Spike’s junkie. I have two of his rifles with more on the way. I like the fact that when you call them with a question they get you an answer right away instead of giving you the transfer tree.

  • SpecOps-13

    I’ve been working with Spike’s Tactical for a number of months. Mainly Test and Evaluation of their AR-15 to 22 conversions and dedicated 22 upper. I’ve used their AR-15 products for a number of years and have always been impressed with their quality and great customer care. I’ve had a number of their rifle and pistol lowers among many other parts. Always pleased. They are definitely worth a look….

    Spike’s Rocks IMO

  • Abner Miranda

    Jeremy, you certainly can’t go wrong with Spike’s stuff. I really like his gear and his raging humor shows in his products line. He has a great smile and loves to laugh and engage you in conversation. I had a chance to hang out for a bit with him and some of his crew at SHOT and got to see some very cool things that are about to come out. Jeremy, yes, buy some more of his lowers because when you see what’s coming down the line from Spike you’ll want to finish those guns off with the new stuff. As for pistons, yes I’ve worked with Bushmaster’s system but I must admit that I really like the Adams Arms stuff a bit better. Check them out on the web you’ll be impressed. They have some new SBR stuff coming out in the PDW kit that will surprise you. As for Obama, all we can do is pray for our leaders my friend. Have a good one.

  • I just wanted to say how much I appreciated your article. I’ve been considering using a Spike’s Tactical lower for a new AR project for the last couple of weeks – and maybe getting and extra lower or two for future use just in case Obama does manage to ban ARs – but wasn’t sure about the quality and haven’t been able to find anyone that has any experience with them. This article definitely helped in that regard. I especially like their “Infidel” lower – way cool! My dad’s a former Marine; I think I’m going to get him one with the Eagle, Globe, & Anchor logo laser-engraved on it. He should like that a lot. Again, thanks for the article; it was especially well timed for me.


    P.S. Do you have any experience with the piston conversion system from Bushmaster?

  • Abner Miranda

    Sgt Tsang you can reach me through the magazine at tactical-life@harris-pub.com Just let them know that you want to contact me and I’ll do my best to get in contact with you and answer any questions I can. I’ll let the boss know to be looking for your email. Hope to hear from you soon. Abner

  • Definitely a fan of this article. Getting ready to head back to civilian life from the USMC and am very interested in building one myself. Abner, could you shoot me an email at your convenience? I have some questions I would like to ask you. Thanks.

  • Abner Miranda

    Wardog911, see that’s what I’m talking about, somebody who gets it. I always choose an SBR to protect my home because it’s short, maneuverable, and accurate. A shotgun while definitely more suited to stopping people is also really good at missing people when firing buck. By the same token, If you fire slugs and miss you have so much mass and energy behind it that you might kill a loved one on the other side of the wall. So yes 223 is certainly the way to go. If you guys want to have the maneuverability of an SBR and the balanced function of the piston/op rod system. Keep your eyes peeled for some upcoming stuff from Adams Arms. They have an SBR system made for the 7.3 barrels and it works flawlessly. Check them out on the web or just give them a call, they’re great guys. Catch you guys later I have to go back on patrol now…lunch is over.

  • wardog911

    great artical im a savilian who put my SBR together with a DPMS lower and a 7.3 barrel as well. As mentioned in your artical it is great for what it was built for. I have a pic of a 4 foot flame shooting out the front of the weapon, verry cool. I have since added a HTG suppresor and have been verry pleased with its performance at 25 yards even with the suppresor.
    LOKI0629- he never said anything about it being the ultimat SBR. I prefer the rifel over a shotgun due to the lack of a shot gun patern for my familys sake. the last thing i want is a random patern of shot flying through my house. Even with the penitration of the .223 round i can better predict its path and plan my shots better.

  • Abner Miranda

    Gun Junkie, I like your comment about the rock salt bag, that’s hilarious. My Sergeant and I just had a good laugh about that one. As for your question about the accuracy on this SBR, I wish there were a way to get some pics to you or upload them here. I have some shots of me standing beside a target that I nailed from abut the 20 yd mark or so. Every shot is inside a 5 inch radius. Accuracy only really decays at about the 75, but it only really falls away to the point where you can’t quite consistently hit the 10 ring but you can definitely keep it in the kill zone. Thanks for your positive comments. I really enjoyed building this SBR and had a blast testing it. Keep your eyes peeled brother there is another great weapon from Spike’s Tactical coming to the magazine soon.

  • GunJunkie

    I thought that it was a great article. Very interesting subject matter and useful information. Living in the South, I was particularly pleased to find the reference to Tennessee Police Supply. I don’t go to a lot of gun shows anymore and that should prove to be a good reference in the future. Not to mention that I have some work to be done on a couple of weapons and I just have not found a gunsmith locally that I trust in some time.

    I really would like to see what the weapon is capable of in groupings at 50, 75, & 100 yards fired from a vice.

    Don’t mind the other two responses above. I knew as soon as I started reading that there would be people making comments about their own personal preferences or beliefs over what you have done here.

    It’s funny that today the dreaded subject is a raging meth-head. Back in the old days it was the super strength walking dead unstopable PCP addict that was the most dreaded/feared subject that could be imagined. Meth-heads are easy, toss in a well sealed bag of crushed rock salt so that they can’t see who threw it. They think it’s Christmas when they see the bag.(before they have a chance to inspect it) then rush in on them.

  • loki0629

    No, this isn’t the ultimate sbr at all. The ultimate sbr is built by Tromix and is based on the saiga ak platform (shotgun and rifle). One of his sbr’s is chambered in .308. Anyone who thinks a .223 is good for house clearing has never tried it for real.

  • For all of yhe situations and distances you mention for clearing a room or building I would much prefer a short barraled shot gun w/tactical ammo.