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Building You Own AR: Anderson RF85

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By Mike Burchett

I am fairly new to the idea of “Build Your Own AR15,” but I have found the offerings quite extensive for any project I could imagine. As I delved into the world of Quad Rails, Key Mod Rails, Muzzle Breaks/Flash Hiders, Barrels, Billet Uppers and Lowers, Grips, and Stocks, I found myself quite enamored with the unimaginable selection available. I surfed the World Wide Web for hours comparing this product and that product. I would enter a term like “KeyMod” into my search engine and nothing short of a googles worth of links sending me to the ends of the earth looking at seemingly the same thing appeared. Prices varied as much as the manufacturers and I almost went into a tailspin trying to figure out what was what.

Then I found a little note in a forum talking about something new to the market and quite different than anything else I’d read about. This post was about 5 years old at the time but still the concept is new, innovative and not widespread. When I navigated to the company’s website I found a new process where the manufacturer has worked with Oakridge Laboratories and implemented something called RF85. So you ask: “What is RF85?” Well I’m glad you asked. Imagine having 85% less friction on the working parts of your rifle. Well, it’s out there and it can only be found at Anderson Manufacturing out of Hebron Kentucky.

Mike with his Anderson Manufacturing RF-85 AM-10 in the background while holding his new RF85 Anderson AR-15 rifle.

Anderson claims RF85 allows you to have an “Oil Free Rifle.” What, oil free? Imagine never having to oil your AR15. This opens up so many ideas but first, what exactly is RF85? Is it a coating? Is it a onetime oil? No and No. It is referred to as a “Process.” You may ask: “How does RF85 reduce friction?” According to the RF85 website the answer is: “On the nanotechnology level, additional molecules are added to the metal. The molecules are in the Ca (Calcium) family. Certain forms of Ca, under heat and pressure, react in such a way that the benefit the metal by reducing drag.” When the two pieces of metal move on each other it is actually this layer moving against itself. This reduced friction allows the BCG (Bolt Carrier Group) to cycle faster and cooler.

Clean up is a snap too because not having oil in the upper receiver reduces the amount of carbon build up because there is no oil present to attract and store the burned powder from the gas system. Anderson claims all you need do is wash it along with your sink full of dishes using basic detergent. No extra solvents or sprays are needed. Just wash, rinse and dry as best you can. Fire a couple rounds to clear any water and store. Yeah, I know it makes sense to do it at the range unless you have the awesome problem of living in the country and can shoot from the front porch.
You ask: “Does it work?” According to the various tests completed by many people trying to get them to fail I’d say yes. There have been side by side tests administered by third party groups. I’ve seen an Anderson RF85 rifle shoot dry next to a leading brand rifle lubed properly. Product X ran just under 1000 rounds before a failure occurred. The Anderson rifle ran 5000 plus rounds and the test only stopped because the hand guard was on fire. Upon examination the Anderson rifle looked almost as it just came off the line. Very little wear was visible and it was only in the area you’d expect. The bolt lugs were perfect and appeared as though they could go another 5000 without skipping a beat.

I’ve seen another video where a police officer ran 5000 rounds in under three hours flawlessly. The video shows the office with a wash cloth wrapped around his trigger finger because of the wear and tear to his digit. I can only imagine the rawness and blister he had to deal with for the next week. Just when you think the demonstration is over he tossed the rifle into a creek. The officer shook out the water, loaded up another magazine and proceeded to fire the 30 rounds magazine without a hitch. This is amazing to me. No oil and no failures.

From personal experience I can say there is a huge difference in how the rifle feels to fire. I’ve been working with a friend to build his dream rifle. He purchased a rifle made by another quality US manufacturer and loved it. He has been looking toward the future and with the game of “What If” in the forefront of today’s media, he decided to build a new complete upper to place on his functioning lower. We ordered all the parts needed to assemble his rifle in a configuration to meet his needs and began assembling. The only real difference between the two uppers is the RF85 process and hand guard, and we replaced his muzzle brake with a “Phantom” flash hider. Both uppers have a carbine length gas system so we cannot assign any difference in the feelings to the gas system as we all know a longer gas system feels smoother to fire. Upon completion of our project we just had to make sure everything functioned. One shot later “Mike” had the look of a 5 year old after he got a giant chocolate ice cream cone on a hot summer day. He was amazed as the rifle cycled smoother and softer than ever before. In theory it should have been the other way around as his other upper weighs more and has a muzzle brake opposed to a flash hider. Mike’s intention was to improve his rifle and he’s done nothing less than accomplish this task. He is even in the process of building a match for his wife.

Anderson also makes parts and complete rifles without RF85. I’ve assembled and used rifles in both capacities. Anderson has been producing rifle parts for other rifle companies for years too. Some of the “Other Guys” have contracted the guys at Anderson simply because they value the high percentage of US Veterans being employed, quality US made parts and impeccable service.

The Anderson AM10 rifle in the field.

With just about every configuration covered, you can build yourself an AR pistol in 5.56 and .300BLK, M4 with 14.5” barrel and everything in between up to a 24” target barrel. I’ve seen options of 5.56, .223 Wylde, .300BLK, 6.8SPC and 7.62×39 being offered in regular stock. If you want a fancy spiral fluted stainless steel barrel you can get it. If you want a 20” HBAR you can get it. Lightweight Sport Uppers are available without a forward assist if you want to trim a little weight and cost from your project too. Uppers are available in Raw or White meaning the parts have not been anodized if you are looking to put a special pattern or color on your project too.

One of the products available that has been a big turner is their 80% lower receiver. 80% lowers are complete to the point of needing the fire control pocket drilled out and thus available to the public with no paperwork. This means you can order directly from their site without a Federal Firearms License and have every part dropped off on your front porch by our favorite guy dressed in brown. With the available 80% Jig Kit, your drill press and can of DuraCoat you can turn a Saturday afternoon into a craft day like no other. We’re not building holiday wreathes or ceramics here guys, we’re building a little black joy toy ready to have the hot button pushed. In a matter of a few hours you can produce a functioning rifle with anonymity. I’ve done this little project with great results more than once. All the parts lock into place as if I’d just spent the time and trouble going to the dealer and completing all the paperwork. The first one will cost just a little bit extra with the cost of the jig, but the jig is reusable so after the first one, you will spend a little less on the 80% lower compared to a dealer cost of a complete lower.

If you’re not into building your own rifle don’t be upset because Anderson offers a full line of complete rifles too. From a 7.5” pistol to a complete 3 Gun competition rifle and everything in between you can rest assuredly find something to fill that opening in your safe.

I had the opportunity to use the Anderson AM10 for hunting last year. The AM10 is a .308 variant of the AR rifle. It is RF85 processed and wow, just wow! Sure it’s a little heavy but I was able to go the entire season without worry of oil and cleaning every night as I must with my Remington 700. Wind and rain didn’t bother me and the occasional piece of moss being pulled out of the bolt never effected the season. I have since returned the rifle to its rightful owner but have missed seeing it in my safe. I have a soft spot and have this feeling it won’t be long til I have my own.

So, if you’re looking for a great rifle or rifle part manufactured by a great bunch of guys, be sure to check out all the products from Anderson Manufacturing. You won’t have any issues and if you do, be assured you will be taken care of swiftly as they take great pride in their product.

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