We have discussed billet vs. forged before. We have built guns on a few forged lowers, and even some of the less expensive billet lowers. It wasn’t until recently however that I had a chance to put in serious time with a high-end billet matched upper and lower.
It was a cold winter day when my San Tan Tactical STT-15 matched set entered my life. It sat in a box for weeks as I ordered and organized the parts required to start my build.
Why did we pick San Tan?
There is no shortage of quality made billet sets on the market. Some sets look nicer, and some are cheaper. But I have yet to see one that offers the level of function out of the box in an attractive styling that was better priced than the San Tan. So that settled that. It did not hurt either that our friends over at Black Sheep Warrior highly recommended them.
The Features We Love
When I train in tactical classes, I like to do so with a standard forged lower and upper. This gives me the ability to grab and go with any gun I come across in the wild. However when looking to put together a 3 gun or range gun, compatibility was less important to me, comfort, speed, and accuracy were the deciding factors.
True ambi releases are a must due the positions you can find yourself in when competing. There is no need to add adapters like bad levers or a tactical link to manipulate the weapon with either hand when working with the STT-15.
I wanted the ability to run a short throw ambi safety. While this did take some getting used to, I find it to be a nice addition.
A flared magwell was a must. I dislike adding on parts to guns, so having a lower that already is designed for a competitive shooter was a very nice touch. The added ridges across the front make for better grip when shooting in odd potions gripping the magwell instead of the handguard.
The built in QD swing swivel points includes anti-rotation stops every 45 degrees. The QD swivels are also ambi, instead of being mounted on the rear of the reciever near the buffer tube, it is positioned in such a way to hang the gun in a sling nicely, without getting in the way during manipulations.
The Keymod like pattern machined into the upper helps to keep the heat down and aid in faster cooling. Running a gun hard through stages in the south (for competitions I am still a Michigan boy) can lead to some serious heat.
The magwell also can come with or without the San Tan engraving. We decided against engravings so we can brand the gun for 248Shooter or our 3gun team. In Michigan the land of the engravers and CNC operators there is no shortage of people who will be happy to personalize your lower.
Over sized trigger guards are a must have for us in the North. We simply can not afford to not train during winter, and that means your going to need gloves. The built-in over sized winter trigger guard is a nice thing to see from a company in AZ.
While not originally part of my “required features list these items are nice touches:
Moving the detent and spring of the rear takedown pin into the grip and out of the stock, was something I thought would be no big advantage. However having now built a gun this way, I loathe changing stocks or buffer tubes on my forged guns. It is an added nice touch that the upper take down pin tension can be adjusted by a set screw.
Built-in finger rest creates a positive resettable index point for your trigger finger. The finger rest only exists on the right side, as the ambi mag release on the left side. Either one works as an index point though. I will note this feature could be a negative. If you are not bench or prone shooting this grove is almost in the trigger guard and would be easy to slip off during a fall. After further use of this gun I have decided to not use the index point and just keep my finger on the upper to stay well away from the trigger.
Ultra Grip textured controls to ensure positive engagement when manipulating with or without gloves in bad weather.