About a week has passed, and this is what my rifle looks like now:
Magpul MOE handguard and grip, a couple P-Mags, and a Vortex Strikefire red/green dot scope.
I really like the feel of the Magpul stuff--the stock handguard was loose, as I mentioned in my first post, and I really dislike grips on any gun that have finger grooves, leading to the elimination of the stock grip. The MOE handguard is nice and tight, with no slop that I can feel; though it is meant for an AR-15, with just a little bit of tweaking (had to bend the two rearmost metal tabs inward just a titch to get it to go on), it was a drop in part. The MOE grip doesn't have finger grooves, is a little bit fatter than the stock grip, and has a nice, slightly rough surface, as well as having a snap out core to store random stuff in. I should mention that I chose "foliage green" for absolutely no reason whatsoever. The P-Mags snap in and fall out easily, a great improvement over the magazine that came with the gun, which fits in the magwell too tight.
I decided to go with the Vortex red dot because it was the fastest, least inexpensive way for me to get into the game. Time will tell how it holds up under recoil, but Vortex seems to have a good customer service reputation, so hopefully it won't all end in tears. If all else fails it can go on another gun.
Next on the list is hunting down my friend with the range membership to get it out in the real world, then (in a couple pay periods from now, for sure) comes some sort of iron sights (I still haven't decided whether to get the clamp on front iron sight that Bushmaster sells (about halfway down the page here) or to switch out the gas block entirely for a railed one. Then, a nicer stock, then a telescopic scope. And dashed liberally in between all those steps, a ton of .308 Winchester. And maybe a nicer sling than the bit of nylon webbing it came with. And probably a bayonet, since it has a lug for one.
As always, I welcome any thoughts or advice, and offer no guarantees that I will follow any of it.
And, I will just say, I am probably having more fun with this than is strictly necessary.
Insert Standard Disclaimer here: FCC FTC FAA FFA FGH FAC F ET AL.: You'd think you guys would get the idea that blogger write about stuff for the simple reason they like to show off their cool toys, not because there is some sort of grand conspiracy of being bought out by the companies who make the products they write about. But, I guess not. Go suck eggs.