WON Landing Page OCT 2022

4 components of a lightweight 3-Gun carbine

She Shoots 2: Michelle Cerino details how to keep the weight of your 3-Gun carbine down to a minimum.




Last year when shooting 3-Gun competition, I used a carbine that is not an AR platform. Although, I liked it a lot and it was accurate, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to try something new this season.  Recently I received a new, lightweight 3-Gun carbine from DoubleStar. My new 3-Gun rifle weighs 6-½ pounds without optics. For those who don’t know, that is pretty darn light compared to similar rifles.

The words “rifle” and “carbine” are generally used interchangeably. The difference is that rifles have a barrel length of 20 inches or more, and ARs with barrels shorter than 20 inches are  considered carbines. Though, using an 18-inch barrel is common in 3-Gun, many prefer a 16-inch barrel because it helps to keep the gun a little lighter. Below are 4 components of a carbine and how to keep it lightweight.


Michelle Cerino rifle

Photo courtesy of Chris Cerino



The stock is a major way to reduce weight on a 3-Gun rifle. Shooters in our family are big fans of the Ace AR-15 ARFX Skeleton Stocks from DoubleStar. The Ace is non-adjustable and skeletonized, so it is easy to use. Just set your optics where you like them, and you’ll never worry about eye relief because your stock closed or opened too far. Non-adjustable means no moving parts, and therefore, less weight. I have use it on my 3-Gun carbine and so do my husband and son.

ARFX Skeleton Stock from DoubleStar MSRP: $89.99



Photo courtesy of J&T Distributing



The barrel can really affect the weight and balance of your gun. My carbine is very lightweight, and I am able to shave off roughly 1-½ pounds by using a barrel that is thinner than most. Sometimes called a “pencil” barrel, the J&T Distributing .625 diameter barrel is very different. Most barrels are generally .750 inches in diameter, so this one is really light. Most people can feel the difference as soon as they pick it up.

16-inch pencil barrel (.625 diameter) from J&T Distributing MSRP: $189.99



Photo courtesy of Chris Cerino


Operating system

One thing that didn’t come with my carbine, but is a must when it comes to keeping the weight down, is a low-mass, bolt-carrier group (BCG). Since I just so happen to be married to the director of Rubber City Armory, I can easily get the parts necessary for this system. The Rubber City Armory low-mass BCG weighs in at 9 ounces, compared to the 13 ounces that is standard. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot, but every ounce adds up. This carrier is also soft shooting. Less moving weight means less felt recoil when firing.

The low mass carrier group from Rubber City Armory MSRP: $249





The handguard on any AR-style rifle can account for a large chunk of weight. I don’t know much about carbon fiber, other than it is lightweight and strong. If they can make bicycle frames from it, it’s gotta be good enough for guns, right? I’m sure I shaved off another ½ pound by using the AP Custom carbon fiber handguard. Mine is a 15-inch version that looks great and runs all the way to the muzzle brake. It’s a huge savings in the weight department.

Carbon fiber handguard from AP Custom MSRP: $129-$199



Besides the 4 lightweight modifications I have listed here, most carbines/rifles have generally the same weight components. Sure, there are other things I used to make the rifle mine. I’ve added multiple pink Ergo Grips. Yeah, I know many people out there don’t like pink, but it helps keep my family members — all males — from using my gun.

I’ve also added the Dueck Defense Rapid Transition Sights ($239.99). These offset, iron sights allow me to quickly transition from long-range targets to close-range targets.

Although, slings aren’t always used in 3-Gun competitions, I have a TAB Gear carbine sling ($55). It’s a 2-point, 1-hand adjustable sling that keeps the gun tight to my body when I’m moving, and is easy to release when I need to.

Finally, the biggest weight addition to any 3-Gun rifle is a magnified optic. On the pro circuit, I shoot the Tactical Optics division. This means I use a scope on my carbine. The weight difference of iron sights, red dot sights and magnified optics is huge. I keep my rifle as lightweight as I can by tailoring my sights to the matches I shoot. If I’m shooting bay-style matches with distances of 100 yards or less, I opt for a simple lightweight red dot.



Photo courtesy of Chris Cerino


What is the 3-Gun rifle of your dreams?

  • About Michelle Cerino

    Michelle Cerino, aka Princess Gunslinger, entered the firearms industry in 2011 when Cerino Training Group was established. She immediately began competing in both 3-Gun and NRA Action Pistol, becoming a sponsored shooter. Michelle is currently a columnist and Managing Editor of Women’s Outdoor News, as well as owner of Pervenio LLC. She also manages social media for Vera Koo and GTM Original. Michelle encourages others to step out of the comforts of home and explore.