AR15s - M4s and questions I have


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Gaiudo
February 10, 2006, 01:16 AM
After a couple years holding out for graduate school to end and the cashflow to start back up again, I'm looking for my first AR15/M4. First, thanks guys that posted on the recent AR15 pic thread, that sealed the deal for me; those were absolutely beautiful.

However, I am a bit in the dark about all the options. To exemplify my ignorance... what's the difference between an AR and an M4? For the life of me can't figure it out. Yes, starting this thread out strong... :-)

Maybe the best way to answer alot of this would be to direct me somewhere I can read up on the topic, figure out what's out there. No use making y'all do all the work for me. So if someone can point me to a good AR infostation I can read about it.

I know this isn't one of those topics I can just ask "hey, which is the best option out there", but people's opinions would still be appreciated. This is a first for me, and I like getting things started on a fairly high-quality note. So in the sub-$1500, what are the best option's I have?

Also, I would love to get my hands on a .308, but getting that in an AR, does that kinda defeat the purpose for a lightweight controllable gun?

Thanks

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CrazyIrishman
February 10, 2006, 01:53 AM
Gaiudo,

In general, a "real" M4 looks like an AR15 but the AR15 is semi-auto while the M4 is select fire like M16's . A garden variety AR15 has a full buttstock, 20" barrel, and round or triangle handguards.

M4's have shorter barrels ,short oval handguards,collapsible stocks and different FCG(fire control group, select fire vs. semi auto)and bolt carrier as compared to an AR15. Both use the same magazines and most use the same ammo (5.56). Some clones of the AR15 have .223 chambers instead of 5.56.

Are we talking about $1500.00 in US dollars?


HTH

Don't Tread On Me
February 10, 2006, 02:11 AM
Well, forget the military designation for these weapons, it is irrelevant to even discuss due to various laws.


Generally speaking, AR-15's come in 2 flavors, rifles and carbines. Rifles have 20" barrels or longer, Carbines have 16" barrels, sometimes shorter with the appropriate license.


M4 is a military designation for an M16/AR-15 pattern rifle with a different config. In the civilian world, it mostly refers to an AR-15 rifle that has a 16" barrel, a flattop rather than a fixed carry handle, a collapsing stock of the newer design, the barrel has a contour design to facilitate the mounting of a grenade launcher...and a few other smaller things.


Rifles are usually always 20" while some are 24". Most of the 24" are target guns/ varmint guns. They come in 2 flavors, A2 carry handle, or flattop.


Regular carbines have the older style collapsing stock, and sometimes a fixed stock, a regular straight barrel without the grenade launcher groove..and are most often A2 top, rather than flattop (A3 as it's called)



If you have $1,500 to spend, your best bet by far is to get the COLT LE6920. It is the best "M4" rifle out there. The only things that seperate it from the real M4 our military uses is 1.5" of barrel and lack of full-auto parts. Beyond that, they are identical.

cbsbyte
February 10, 2006, 02:13 AM
First, an AR is a generic term used to describe the civilian model of the M-16 military models. Though both models look very similar there can be many differences. Though you can build a Ar-15 to the same specs of a M-16, without the burst mode. Most civilian commercial models have a 20" heavy barrel, with a 1-9 twist rate, and no 3-round burst mode. Military 16A2/A4 rifles have a lighter 20" barrel with a 1-7 twist rate to stablize heavy 77 grain bullets, and have either 3-round burst or full auto modes of fire. The M-4 is a carbine rifle in use with special forces and now many frontline troops for close combat. It has a flat top, for optical red dot sights, a collaspable stock, 14" barrel and comes with full auto mode. The civilian M-4s can have a 14 barrel but must have a two inch extension to bring them to the legal 16inch requierments. As you probably already know civilian ARs also come in many different shapes and sizes only limited to by the builders desires.

DBR
February 10, 2006, 02:30 AM
Try "AR15.com" as a source of general info. Take your time getting familiar with the breed before you spend your money. These days the best value is probably "Bushmaster". I own two of these. "Rock River Arms" is also excellent. Colt, while considered the original and still top of the line is pricey for what you get. All of these suppliers have websites - do a Google search. Stay away from unknown suppliers they are generally trouble.

Edited to add: The dealer generally gets about 25-30% off list so you should have some room to negotiate price. Personally, I prefer the civilian 16" HBAR type barrel. The M4 is lightened under the handguards and has a reduced diameter section after the handguards for mounting a 203 grenade launcher. In my opinion neither of these features improves the AR as a rifle for civilian use.

There is a model AR10 that is 308. It was actually Stoner's original design. Armalite is the Stoner company that makes this model.

SomeKid
February 10, 2006, 02:34 AM
http://www.eaglefirearms.net/images/AR%20CAR%20A2%20CM.jpg

Gotta admit, I really like it.

cbsbyte
February 10, 2006, 03:17 AM
There is a model AR10 that is 308. It was actually Stoner's original design. Armalite is the Stoner company that makes this model.

Common misconseption. The orignal Armalite company that Stoner worked for was owned by Fairchild aircraft. It went out of business 30+ years ago. The Armalite rifles are now made by Eagle Arms. Who bought the rights to the name ten years ago.

Gaiudo
February 10, 2006, 03:35 AM
Yes, about $US1500 (I'm only in Canada until April, if you were refering to my profile).

Correct me if I am wrong: alot of the variants seem to lay with the uppers. Are there that many differences in the lowers? If there aren't could I simply purchase the best lower I could afford (Colt/Bushmaster/Rock River...?) and then look at a variety of options for uppers? For instance, if I love shoot longer distance out at the range, but intend to use the gun primarily for house-work, I would then look at the available options for both a 24'' upper, and the lower carbine.

Finally, what are the benefits of having the flat-top vs. carrying handle? The flattop is useful for if you want a scope/red dot, etc, right; is there also an option to mount a carrying handle on the flattop, or is it one or the other? As for calibers, this isn't one of those deals where you can swap out an upper and bam, you have a new platform, right? That would be nice.

Anyways, that seems to be a great starting point to work from. I'll hang around Ar15.com and see what I can pick up. I guess the problem is that the majority of the dialogue (rightly) assumes a great deal of knowledgebase that I don't have at this point, so I get lost in the conversation. Thanks for the insight.

Optical Serenity
February 10, 2006, 04:16 AM
Get a Rock River, and you will be very happy.

GoRon
February 10, 2006, 09:42 AM
I love THR but for all things AR, AR15.com (http://www.ar15.com/forums/board.html?b=3) is the place to go.

Bobarino
February 10, 2006, 02:44 PM
yes you can get a complete lower for around $200-$250 depending on stock, trigger etc. this part is considered the actual "firearm" and you'll have to purchase it like any other lung gun. after that, you can slap any upper you want on it. takes about 10 seconds to change them and uppers require no FFL's to purchase. so with a $1500 budget, you could get a nice lower and two or maybe more uppers. get a rifle and a carbine. the optics mount to the uppers so when you change from one to the other there is no zero shift. i'd recommend flat top uppers. you can always put a carry handle on it if you choose for $80 or so but the fixed handles are there to stay. there are so many options for AR's it made my head spin. i have mine dressed up the way i want it now but i also now want about 86 other variations. they're like those potato chips. you can't have just one.

Bobby

blfuller
February 10, 2006, 04:36 PM
I would hold off and buy the new Sig 556. This rifle is going to be released in August of this year. Go here for a discussion on highroad:

http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=181715

Go here for the skinny on the ARF:
http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=3&f=118&t=267997

Search for Sig 556 on:
http://www.sigforum.com

http://sigforum.com/movedimages/para/556/556a.jpg

AFhack
February 10, 2006, 09:34 PM
Gaiudo, take a look at

http://groups.msn.com/TheMarylandAR15ShootersSite/_homepage.msnw?pgmarket=en-us


It answers a lot of AR type questions I have.

Rambosky
February 10, 2006, 10:28 PM
http://home.carolina.rr.com/rambosky/MT%20M4%20Logo.jpg

kennyboy
February 11, 2006, 07:13 PM
I'm looking for an M-4 too. Until someone convinces me otherwise, I will buy the Bushmaster M-4A3 with 6 position telestock. It is about $925. I have heard the only thing better about Colts are that they have a picture of a pony stamped in the metal. The Bushy is less expensive, has better customer service, and has the same, if not better accuracy and reliability as Colts.

vanfunk
February 12, 2006, 07:42 AM
Kennyboy,
There are many important differences between the Colt M4 and the Bushmaster. I have had many examples of both brands and can say unequivocally that the Colt is the better of the two. The reasons have been hashed out here before so I won't get into it again in a thread, but IM me if you're interested.

Otherwise, trust me, the Colt is better, and not just for the pretty horsie.

HTH,
vanfunk

Rob96
February 12, 2006, 05:34 PM
I'm looking for an M-4 too. Until someone convinces me otherwise, I will buy the Bushmaster M-4A3 with 6 position telestock. It is about $925. I have heard the only thing better about Colts are that they have a picture of a pony stamped in the metal. The Bushy is less expensive, has better customer service, and has the same, if not better accuracy and reliability as Colts.


$925 for the Bushy??????????? That puts you right near Colt prices.

Don't Tread On Me
February 12, 2006, 05:58 PM
He should dig up my post where I listed the difference between a Colt and a RRA...and that isn't even a complete list, yet was 20 or so items long.

Gaiudo
February 12, 2006, 06:00 PM
Ok, new vocabulary... RRA? Would you kind explaining?

Don't Tread, do you happen to know the location of that thread you were talking about?

lycanthrope
February 12, 2006, 06:05 PM
RRA is Rock River Arms.

Gaiudo
February 12, 2006, 06:08 PM
gotcha, I'm on track now. Thanks.

Gaiudo
February 12, 2006, 06:24 PM
So, given that most of my recreational shooting will be done at longer range, and that most of the "housework" will be done in a carbine environment, perhaps looking at the best of both worlds might help. There seems to be an idea floating around that the Colt LE 9620 is a good tactical carbine, a solid platform. So just for the sake of argument, lets say I start with that.

However, admittedly the vast majority of my shooting is done out at the ranch on groundhogs and other miscellaneous and obnoxious critters. For the longer range work, I was reading some reviews on the Bushmaster Varminter (for such a review, see http://www.gunblast.com/Bushmaster_Varminter.htm); I don't know whther simply slapping on the Bushmaster Upper would do a grave injustice to the full Varminter package, but it would certainly be better than nothing. After a few more months of saving then, I could have a Jewell trigger assembly installed on the Colt Lower.

So there we have it, a solid tactical platform, with a solid long range upper for the playtimes. The Jewell trigger would be nice regardless. Any thoughts?

Don't Tread On Me
February 12, 2006, 06:34 PM
RRA = Rock River Arms. A very good brand of AR-15 rifle.

The best AR that you can purchase as a civilian is the Colt LE6920 or the "6920" as some say. It is the closest AR to what the military actually uses. Also, those in the know, most expert carbine instructors across the country agree that the Colts run reliable a higher percentage of the time vs. other brands.


Instead of comparing the Colt to a specific AR, I will list many of the features it has that most do not. Bushmaster, RRA, and a few others may have some of these features, but not all. In fact, they do not have most of them.


Colt 6920::


1] "M4" feedramps.
2] 4150 barrel steel.
3] Chrome lined chamber & bore.
4] Real 5.56 NATO chamber.
5] Actual M4 profile barrel (thinner under handguards, not HBAR)
6] M4 handguards, made of material that does not melt. These are more heavy duty too.
7] Dual heatshields inside of handguards.
8] Sling swivel mounted on side, not bottom.
9] F-height front sight base. This is to properly align with flat top uppers.
10] Barrel & Bolt are pressure tested using a 100gr, 77,000psi proof load.
11] Barrel & Bolt are MPI tested.
12] Actual M16 bolt carrier is used, which has a shrouded firing pin, and the full mass at rear.
13] Colt properly and securely stakes the gas key - will NOT come loose.
14] Enhanced extractor spring.
15] Actual M4 buttstock.
16] Military spec buffer tube (receiver extension).
17] H-buffer
18] Castle nut used to secure receiver extension is STAKED down, will not come loose.
19] Fire control group parts fit/finish is visibly better and smoother. Better machining. Same with charging handle.
20] Detachable carry handle is proper height and spec.



There's a few other things I've probably forgotten. I'm not saying that a Bushmaster or RRA isn't a fine AR. They are. They are among some of the best. All I am saying is that there IS a difference between a Colt and these other brands. Will it make a differnce for you? I don't know, but when the difference in price is $200...you make the choice. Some see some of these features as important must-haves. Others see them as nitpicking...




The Colt haters will come out and bash Colt on the following 2 issues:

1] It isn't an M4, because it isn't a 14.5" barrel. Well, that's a short-barrel rifle issue that requires special license. Without license, we are limited to 16". This does not effect the rifles quality in any way.

2] Colt machines their lower receiver so that it will NOT accept the installation of a DIAS (drop in auto sear) or other full auto parts. This is pointless because you need special license for full auto, and if you want full auto, you have to buy one made before 1986 anyhow - before the M4 even existed. They argue that Bushmaster and other makers who have "low shelf" lowers are more "mil-spec" than Colt because they can fit the parts. This is rediculous, because all civilian lowers are missing the true-mil spec pin hole used to secure the extra parts. This would be a pin located just north of the selector switch on the lower receiver.

Rambosky
February 12, 2006, 06:59 PM
I'm looking for an M-4 too. Until someone convinces me otherwise, I will buy the Bushmaster M-4A3 with 6 position telestock. It is about $925. I have heard the only thing better about Colts are that they have a picture of a pony stamped in the metal. The Bushy is less expensive, has better customer service, and has the same, if not better accuracy and reliability as Colts.

Colt makes the M4ís for the military. They have to pass some very stringent testing. The quality control is top notch.

lycanthrope
February 12, 2006, 07:52 PM
The problem with Colt is not the large pin or the way they machine. The real problem with Colt is they charge a price comparative to a custom AR. For $1500 you should demand reliability and .5 MOA every time.

You could buy a RRA lower complete and a Viking Tactics/JP Rifles upper and still be a couple hundred less than some stock Colts.

http://www.jprifles.com/photos/JP152.jpg

Same goes for a Clark Gator upper.......

http://www.clarkcustomguns.com/images/gator02.jpg

Or a custom from ADCO.

http://www.adcofirearms.com/detailpics/fde_mid.jpg

Rambosky
February 12, 2006, 08:52 PM
The problem with Colt is not the large pin or the way they machine. The real problem with Colt is they charge a price comparative to a custom AR. For $1500 you should demand reliability and .5 MOA every time.

You could buy a RRA lower complete and a Viking Tactics/JP Rifles upper and still be a couple hundred less than some stock Colts.







What large pin??

lycanthrope
February 12, 2006, 10:55 PM
Colt uses a larger pin to connect the upper to the lower.....so you can't just mate a RRA, Bushmaster, Armalite, DPMS, or other quality upper to a Colt lower without an adaptor.

On another note, my RRA/Gator wears a Jewell trigger. The Jewell is a two stage trigger. I set my first stage to around 2lbs and the second stage to a about 1.5lbs. The break is very crisp. I ripped mine out of my CMP gun a year back. For a do anything gun, I'd just get a JP or McCormick 3lb single stage.

Rambosky
February 13, 2006, 02:54 AM
Colt uses a larger pin to connect the upper to the lower.....so you can't just mate a RRA, Bushmaster, Armalite, DPMS, or other quality upper to a Colt lower without an adaptor.

On another note, my RRA/Gator wears a Jewell trigger. The Jewell is a two stage trigger. I set my first stage to around 2lbs and the second stage to a about 1.5lbs. The break is very crisp. I ripped mine out of my CMP gun a year back. For a do anything gun, I'd just get a JP or McCormick 3lb single stage.

Older Colts had the larger pivot pins. Current production uses the standard size pivot pin.

lycanthrope
February 13, 2006, 08:55 AM
Thanks, that's good information to know. I stand corrected.

kennyboy
February 13, 2006, 05:48 PM
$925 for the Bushy??????????? That puts you right near Colt prices.
Actually, for the Colt price for the most similar gun, it would run near $1300. The gun I'm looking at is not the just the plain Jane model.

Rob96
February 13, 2006, 06:50 PM
Actually, for the Colt price for the most similar gun, it would run near $1300. The gun I'm looking at is not the just the plain Jane model.


You said you were looking at the Bushy M4A3 with collapsible stock. $925 is $125 more than it should be.

ocabj
February 13, 2006, 07:00 PM
Not all Colts use a large pin. You will only find this on Colt receivers where the original spec'ed hole was drilled inproperly and they had to drill a larger hole to correct the issue.

Most Colts have the standard pin size. Mine do. Circa 1991-1993.

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