Taking the plunge--which AR-15?


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SteelyDan
June 10, 2003, 04:17 AM
I've been thinking about getting an AR for awhile, and have finally decided to get one. So, I have a few questions:

1. Manufacturer: My understanding is that Bushmaster is the best bet. The only other ones I would consider are Rock River and DPMS. Go Bushmaster?

2. Barrel length: I believe that what makes these guns effective is their velocity, so isn't a 20" barrel better than a 16" (or 14.5") barrel? How big a deal is this?

3. A2 vs. A3: I don't understand what the difference is, nor have I read any reason why the A3 is better. Are there any important differences?

4. M4: Seems like the M4 is the rage these days, but how well does the short barrel perform?

Thanks for any help, I'm kind of excited about this purchase.

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Rob96
June 10, 2003, 05:14 AM
Stick with the A,B,C,D &R's of AR's. I went with DPMS and haven't regretted it. I have the Classic Sixteen (16" barrel), and love it. Great accuracy and reliability. In addition to the mil-spec phosphate the uppers and lowers are also coated in teflon, which adds a deep dark black finish.

xtarheel
June 10, 2003, 07:48 AM
I've been going through the same mental exercise. Got the money saved up and ready to buy. I'm looking for something I can do some informal target shooting with at the range but also use on Wiley Coyote at out to 275 yards or so. After looking at all the oferings on the internet, I'm leaning toward the RRA varmint flattop version with a 20" Wilson air gauge barrel. They claim 3/4" MOA. I could throw my Leopold 4 X 12 on it for hunting and install the detachable carry handle/ rear site and detachable front site for plinking. The list price with out the detachable sights iis $950 on RRA's site. Anyone know what the "street price" should be? Is this a good rifle? Thanks

whoami
June 10, 2003, 09:14 AM
1. Manufacturer: My understanding is that Bushmaster is the best bet. The only other ones I would consider are Rock River and DPMS. Go Bushmaster?

You would be pleased with any one of those rifles. Each one makes a quality product. The ONLY think I'd say is that if you go Bushmaster, and the rifle you want needs to be ordered, be careful as certain rifle types might take some time to get in (some at minimum 6-8 weeks delivery)

2. Barrel length: I believe that what makes these guns effective is their velocity, so isn't a 20" barrel better than a 16" (or 14.5") barrel? How big a deal is this?

That, and generally the better sight profile, as the front post is further away on the 20". It really only gets to be a big deal depending on application. If you're just plinking at 50-100 yards...the difference will be minimal. If we're talking 'hog hunting at 400 yards....the 20 would serve you better.

3. A2 vs. A3: I don't understand what the difference is, nor have I read any reason why the A3 is better. Are there any important differences?

Yup. A2 = fixed handle. A3 = detachable handle. A3 gives you more options for mounting optics, since removing the handle gives you a rail on the upper to mount just about any optics you want. Not a big deal, but mounting a 10x scope for distance shots on the carry handle won't be fun....

4. M4: Seems like the M4 is the rage these days, but how well does the short barrel perform?

Depends. This is actually something that gets me. I know a lot of people who say they get 1 MOA, and sometimes even less, out of a 16" barrel. They do....but sometimes forget to mention that that's with a free floated barrel, match quality ammo, optics, and off of a bipod or sandbags. Much different when shooting offhand, with factory loads and no freefloat. I'd say, offhand, and I'm not a very good shot.....I can keep the hits on torso pretty easily at 100, with only an aimpoint or iron sights. At 200 it opens up pretty wide though, offhand. A better shot I have no doubt could keep it in the 2 MOA area at 100.

Basically, I'd say this. Decide what distances you're going to shoot, what targets you want to shoot, and what optics you might want to employ. THAT will go a long way in telling you what would be the config to best fit your needs. Personally, I like the 16"...it's a nice compromise of accurcay and size...lightweight and easy to carry with mounted optics. But I wouldn't use it past 200 yards or so.

BE WARNED - this could lead to an afflicting and debilitating disease. I got my first AR, a Bushmaster 16" M4, a few months ago. I'm now saving for a new upper, and planning on building an SPR. They are VERY addicting to shoot!

I'm looking for something I can do some informal target shooting with at the range but also use on Wiley Coyote at out to 275 yards or so. After looking at all the oferings on the internet, I'm leaning toward the RRA varmint flattop version with a 20" Wilson air gauge barrel. They claim 3/4" MOA. I could throw my Leopold 4 X 12 on it for hunting and install the detachable carry handle/ rear site and detachable front site for plinking. The list price with out the detachable sights iis $950 on RRA's site. Anyone know what the "street price" should be? Is this a good rifle? Thanks

Good rifle? Definitely. Haven't heard of any probs with their varminter. I use their 2 stage trigger (which the varminter has), and it's an EXCELLENT trigger. The 1/8 twist of the barrel will help you with the heavier bullets, which I think you'd want to use on the 'varmint cong'. As to what the street price is...probably not much difference, depending on local. I've seen them go as low as $850, and as high as $1000. There's a dealer on AR15.com, Pete from Legal Transfers, big RRA dealer....has great prices and he could probably hook you up with one of the 'US Property' marked RRA lowers for it. I've dealt with him before, and the service and prices are hard to beat.

Zak Smith
June 10, 2003, 09:28 AM
I strongly recommend Rock River. I've had both a Bushmaster and a RR and the RR was much better- it's finished better, fits better, and jams less. The Bushmaster would FTF/FTE once every couple hundred rounds. My RR has not failed or jammed yet.

Plus, the RRs come with an excellent two-stage "match" trigger.

The main advice I'd give with regard to configuration is to sit down and think about exactly what you want to use this particular rifle for, e.g.:

Do you want iron sights or a scope mounted? ACOG? Aimpoint? This will determine if you want a carry-handle upper receiver or a flat-top.

How far do you want to shoot? Do you want to shoot the heavy 75, 77, or 80gr bullets for long-range? If so, you might want a 1-in-8" twist barrel. If you just want to shoot 55gr and 62gr surplus, then the standard 1-in-9" is fine.

Want it to be light (easier to carry and transition between targets), or heavy (easier to shoot accurately)?

The configuration I'm leaning towards for 3Gun type competitions is a 18" or 20" medium barrel with a 1-in-8" twist, free-floated mid-length handguards, and a flat-top with an ACOG or low-power variable short-eye-relief scope.

-z

cslinger
June 10, 2003, 09:37 AM
I have nothing but good things to say about Bushmaster. Besides they could use our support after the bad PR they picked up after "sniper":barf: shootings.

Zak,

Funny I have always liked RR and feel they make a quality product, especially for the money but when I was comparing Bushy and RR side by side, I felt the Bushy had much better fit and finish. Now we got a great deal on our Bushy but if I were to have to choose between a RR and a Bushy based on normal prices I would go RR because I didn't feel the fit and finish difference should warrent as much of a premium increase in the average Bushy.

Our Bushy has never missed a beat to this point and has first rate fit and finish.

I am not slamming RR as we almost bought one and I have quite a bit of respect for there product. I am just surprised that you think the fit and finish is better and that you had a Bushy that jammed that much.

Anyway in my research Armalite, Colt, Bushy, Rock River, Armalite Eagle Arms and to a lesser extent DPMS all make a pretty decent product.

Rock River is the best bang for the buck in most cases.
Bushy seems to make the best product right now.
Colts are great but you are paying a premium for name alone.
Armalites can be hit and miss.
Eagle Arms are just Armalites without a lifetime warr.
DPMS seems to be putting a good lower together right now.

That is my limited research and experience.

Chris

jem375
June 10, 2003, 10:08 AM
I agree with Rob96........any of the mentioned rifles will do the trick.......longer barrel better for open sights......my son had a 16" and sold it for a 20" barrel, much better......We have DPMS's, but, have shot all the others and they all are good ar's...........

Z_Infidel
June 10, 2003, 10:35 AM
I've been very happy with my Bushmaster 20" A2-style rifle. Thousands of rounds through it without a single stoppage or failure.

bad_dad_brad
June 10, 2003, 10:55 AM
Mine is a Bushy 16" A2 shorty carbine. Very happy with it. I felt the 16" barrel was a good compromise for what I wanted my AR for - fun, plinking, self defense and occasional pest control. Most of the accuracy and power of a 20" barrel and much handier (not to mention almost a pound lighter).

One of these days I plan on getting a 24" flat top upper for target work. But the folks on THR are correct. An AR15 is not just a rifle, it gets to be an obsession of modifications, tinkering, add ons, etc. I think I have already bought about a dozen extra things to play with mine.

Buy one - you will not regret it! And stick with the name brands already mentioned. One advantage of the Bushmaster is that it is 100% mil-spec (non-target models that is).

Onslaught
June 10, 2003, 11:05 AM
....But I wouldn't use it past 200 yards or so.
People tend to over-exaggerate the velocity loss/effectiveness of a 16" barrel.

A 14.5" or 16" barrel is Point of Aim, Point of Impact out to 250 meters using LT Col. Santose' method of zeroing. At 300 meters, you just click to 8/3 (or 6/3 depending on what your sight says). I can ring the 360 yard metal sillouette all day long from the sandbag with my 14.5" barrel. You won't get any big benefits out of a 20" barrel until you get out past 300 meters.

The only real drawback that a 14.5" barrel has at shorter distances is in combat using the military FMJ on a human target... The FMJ bullet is less likely to fragment at velocities under 2700, and gets worse below 2550 (which is still smoking BTW) and a 20" barrel keeps the bullet above 2700fps longer (another 100 meters or so) than the 14.5" barrel. But if you're not in the military, using FMJ ammo, shooting human targets, that's not an issue.

This is actually something that gets me. I know a lot of people who say they get 1 MOA, and sometimes even less, out of a 16" barrel. They do....but sometimes forget to mention that that's with a free floated barrel, match quality ammo, optics, and off of a bipod or sandbags.
Probably... but the same can be said for the 20" barrel and 1MOA accuracy. There is absolutely no discernable difference in the accuracy between identical grades of rifle in a 16" vs. 20" barrel at 100 yards. There may be a difference in ones ability to balance and shoot a heavier rifle accurately, but that has nothing to do with the rifle.

BusMaster007
June 10, 2003, 11:15 AM
This would be an excellent choice for a first AR15:

http://www.bushmaster.com/shopping/weapons/pcwa3s20.asp

http://www.bushmaster.com/shopping/weapons/Images/pcwa3s20.jpg

Sleeping Dog
June 10, 2003, 12:45 PM
Personally, I wouldn't get a short A2 style, just because the sight radius is too small and the front post is too close for my eyes. I like a front post that's "way out there", like on the nose of a 26" barrel (Swede Mauser).

If you're getting a flat-top & optics, then barrel length probably doesn't matter that much.

I like my RRA A2, 20" barrel.

Regards.

xtarheel
June 10, 2003, 08:08 PM
Whoami: Thanks for the lead. I ordered on from Pete at Legal transfers this afternoon.. Good price.. Thanks

Peetmoss
June 10, 2003, 09:19 PM
Pete is one hell of a guy to deal with. I have bought a lower from him. I was very pleased with the complete lower and Pete himself. Pete wil get first dibs on my next AR purchase.

4Truck
June 10, 2003, 09:43 PM
I went through the same decision making process a few months back, and after all the AR's I looked at Armalite came out on top, now a thousand or so rounds later I am very pleased with my purchase.

My rifle is the M15A4 w/ 16" HBAR, that I mounted a BSA red dot sight on for plinking and CQB should the situation arise, but I also have a Leupold 4-12 in QR rings for it for eliminating the Yotes.

444
June 10, 2003, 09:48 PM
I just purchased my 10th AR15 within the last week. This one is a .458 SOCOM, but I digress. Out of all the ARs that I own, if I could only own one, it would be a 16" Bushmaster flat top. Hands down, without question or further thought.

Leaky Waders
June 10, 2003, 10:32 PM
...on 16Apr03 I finally selected my purchase - a bushmaster xm15 - e2s. I have literally (< 4 hours ago) checked out on leave to start vacation. I plan on shooting it for the first time tommorrow in my in laws field - it's over 100 acres.

I visited ar15.com too...they are very helpful. The only thing is you need a permanent e-mail to get a password there no hotmail/yahoo. I don't know about you, but I don't remember geeky e-mail addresses assigned to me by some phone company so I had to use a work e-mail...yet I digress...

After purchasing the rifle, I found some 20 round colt magazines from a nice gun shop. I also purchased some bushy magazines via their catalog. (5, 10 and 40 rounders) N.B. the 40 rounders from bushy are very stiff in the mag well...i.e. they don't fall out like the colts when you mash the magazine release.

The magazines from bushmaster also came as an incomplete order. They forgot to send me two that I was charged for - we called and they just sent the magazines later that week - no muss, no fuss. Their persons on the phones are very pleasant.

The bushy comes in a nice plastic case and sighting in target.

I liked the solid handled weapon myself..but I already have a scoped varmint rifle in .223 - a browning a-bolt. If I didn't then I'd probably would've purchased an a3 model.

I also preferred no muzzle compensator versus a normal muzzle to eliminate noise. Many persons complained about the ak shorty's noise on the other board. If I were to purchase a short model then I'd get their newest ultralight shorty model w/o a compensator...mainly for looks...I'm vain ;) The shorty models stock is not a storage bin like the regular stock.

I purchased a bushmaster because the marines I queeried liked it, the company has a great customer service reputation, the weapon I handled had a great trigger pull, and quite frankly I like their logo...I know...the silly vanity thing again.

The weapon feels a little heavier than my issue toa...but then again..it's only been a while since I handled one so I may've been wrong.

On Ar15.com the people can tell you different specs from each manufacturer - they vary a little bit as per chrome lined barrel and caste versus forged parts.

Like others have alluded...ar's are the lego's of the gun world. And it's almost more of a hobby building and customizing them than shooting them. Luckily for my wallet..I'm still in the shooting (well gonna be shooting) stage.

v/r,

LW

SteelyDan
June 10, 2003, 11:26 PM
Thanks for the advice! I really like the look of the Bushy XM15-E2S, in A3 flavor, posted by BusMaster007. I'm about 75% sure that will be my choice. It's listed at $1095 at Bushmaster. Can anyone suggest a good place to buy from, and hopefully knock a bit off the pricetag? Does Pete at Legal transfers have a web site, and does he only handle Rock River?

xtarheel
June 11, 2003, 07:20 AM
www.ar15sales.com is Pete's e-mail. He is very responsive and helpful. Do I now get the feeling that I have a "complete" AR on the way (marked US Property by the way), the next step is to start collecting "uppers"? Is that how this disease runs it's corse?:D

Leaky Waders
June 11, 2003, 07:56 AM
fwiw my weapon cost like 870 nib out the door...I think I could've gotten it a little cheaper...but I hate to haggle.

"But ya got a haggle."

I wouldn't have made monty python proud...

Cdnn investments offers the new ultralite bushmaster for 699.99 on the front page of their latest catalog. The catalog is available on the web too @ cdnninvestments.com. I've never ordered firearms through them but have several of their magazines and accesories for other stuff. gunsamerica.com is another on line firearms 'store' that can give you an idea for the price of a new or used model in your area.

Have fun joining the black rifle club. I'm going to shoot mine now...maybe I'll post a review after I'm done.

whoami
June 11, 2003, 08:41 AM
People tend to over-exaggerate the velocity loss/effectiveness of a 16" barrel.

A 14.5" or 16" barrel is Point of Aim, Point of Impact out to 250 meters using LT Col. Santose' method of zeroing. At 300 meters, you just click to 8/3 (or 6/3 depending on what your sight says). I can ring the 360 yard metal sillouette all day long from the sandbag with my 14.5" barrel. You won't get any big benefits out of a 20" barrel until you get out past 300 meters.

The only real drawback that a 14.5" barrel has at shorter distances is in combat using the military FMJ on a human target... The FMJ bullet is less likely to fragment at velocities under 2700, and gets worse below 2550 (which is still smoking BTW) and a 20" barrel keeps the bullet above 2700fps longer (another 100 meters or so) than the 14.5" barrel. But if you're not in the military, using FMJ ammo, shooting human targets, that's not an issue.

I probably should have been clearer....as I wasn't intending to perpetuate the '14.5/16 inch useless beyond 100 yards' myth. Generally, I do very little of my shooting supported. I sandbag to sight in, and usually just use a bipod or bags for the M70. The rest of my shooting is done either standing or kneeling, and occasionally prone. From those positions, I found the longer sight base of the 20" more comfortable.

Probably... but the same can be said for the 20" barrel and 1MOA accuracy. There is absolutely no discernable difference in the accuracy between identical grades of rifle in a 16" vs. 20" barrel at 100 yards. There may be a difference in ones ability to balance and shoot a heavier rifle accurately, but that has nothing to do with the rifle.

I was just reminded of an accuracy feud on AR15.....when someone questioned the claim of getting MOA at 300 yards out of a 14.5" barrel...the picture showed it being a free floated (don't recall exactly, but I think it was the ARMS SIR) with scope sitting on sandbags. Easy to doubt that kind of accuracy when the specifics are not known. The comment I made was with regards to reports of accuracy, and expectations thereof. It'd be VERY rare for someone to replicate MOA at 300 yards with a stock M4gery and iron sights, for example.

Whoami: Thanks for the lead. I ordered on from Pete at Legal transfers this afternoon.. Good price.. Thanks

Do I now get the feeling that I have a "complete" AR on the way (marked US Property by the way), the next step is to start collecting "uppers"? Is that how this disease runs it's corse?

No problem. Just glad I was able to help.

Hehehe....yeah, you'll get a few uppers. Then you'll realize how lonely they look, and that a lower ain't all that expensive for them. Then optics. And what ever you do....avoid anyone who says the word 'SPR'. They look too cool, and you'll be way too hooked on getting one to be put off by sticker shock!

aerod1
June 11, 2003, 04:55 PM
I have a Bushmaster XM15E2 A3 with a 20"barrel. I highly recommend the Bushy.

Jim Hall

Leaky Waders
June 18, 2003, 11:00 PM
finally got to shoot the weapon - it was fun for all who played.

It fed all but one round - we shot close to 400 - and I hit the forward assist to seat that one. Basically it was the magazines fault - it was loaded full to 20 and the lips seemed to be a farther distance due to the pressure of the springs and weakening of the magazine welds. It didn't happen w/ any other magazines. I need to toss that one - too bad my son threw it in the pile of good mags...now I have something to hunt for next time we shoot it.

I found the front sight to require lotsa adjusting to bring the point of aim up to the 25 meter center of target. But once i got it there it stayed in nice groups. I fired 3 shot groups w/ a rest then used a hasty sling standing and seated for playing at 50 and 200 meters. It hit the paper each time - at 200 meters it hit the paper or the plywood ~ a 4 foot by 2 foot sheet. I wasnt using a rest and was standing so I thought that was pretty darned good - for me anyways.

Overall the trigger is well... it's a typical military trigger w/ a lot of slack...however once the slack is taken up it breaks like a glass rod w/ a moderate pull - I'm guessing like 10 lbs...but it's just a guess. Overall the trigger really isnt that bad - I'm not going to swap it out - but it was very noticeable after shooting a s&w 686. It seemed much better in the store...funny how that glamor goes away once it's out of the air conditioning ;)

The magazines - preban colt 20's and the bushy 10 and 5's worked well w/ the exception of the one mentioned above. I shot varmint roads, federal premiums, and lots of winchester white box 5.56. To tell the truth, I really didnt notice much difference in accuracy - of course this wasn't your scientific shoot. It was shoot the target and the can and the plywood etc. Basically it's a fun gun w/ small game potential. Also, owning one adds the benefit of being more familiar w/ the US riflemans rifle if ever the need arose to use one in conflict.

Overall I'me very satisfied with the bushmaster and highly recommend one to anyone looking to purchase an ar.

v/r,
LW

444
June 18, 2003, 11:13 PM
A couple of tips, if I may (disregard if you know all this).
Trigger reset: When you fire do not just release your finger and let the trigger freely go. Fire the shot, follow through by holding the trigger to the rear, then release pressure on the trigger until you hear it reset and let it go no further. This eliminates all that slack except for the first shot. Dry fire and try it a couple times, you will see what I mean.
Zero: For a 5.56 AR, the optimum distance to zero is 50 yards. This will give you a 200 yard zero. Check out this link, in fact the whole website is great info: http://groups.msn.com/TheMarylandAR15ShootersSite/improvedbattlesightzero.msnw

Flash Hole
June 18, 2003, 11:50 PM
SteelyDan

I got my XM15-E2S A3 at The Sportsman Warehouse in Coon Rapids Two weeks ago for $780.00. Great gun!!!

Flash Hole

SteelyDan
June 19, 2003, 12:26 AM
Flash Hole, thanks for the info. I've been out of town or otherwise tied up for the last week, but I did go through my latest copy of Shotgun News and didn't see a single ad for a Bushy. Weird. So, I 'll be heading up to Coon Rapids tomorrow or Friday.

xtarheel
June 19, 2003, 07:54 AM
My RRA 20" varminter upper came in yesterday. What a barrel! Got my Leupold 4 X 12 scope on it now just waiting for the "US Property" marked NM RRA lower and I shold be in business. Guess I should buy a magazine also.

SteelyDan
June 19, 2003, 08:12 PM
Zee new XM15-E2S A3, she is mine. Picked it up about two hours ago. Gees, I'm now officially evil.

I see it's a little more complicated to disassemble and clean than an AK... ;)

Flash Hole
June 19, 2003, 09:28 PM
SteelyDan

You now have a great gun.Did you go to S. W. in Coon Rapids?
If so Ill need to see them about the finder fee.
Have fun and good shooting.
JOHN

SteelyDan
June 19, 2003, 11:47 PM
Flash, yeah you're entitled to a finder's fee, I got it at Sportsmans Warehouse. But it wasn't easy. I'd never heard of the place, so I checked my phone book and there was no listing. Did a switchboard.com search and came up with some place in Fridley. Well, Fridley, Coon Rapids, thought you might have been off a bit on the city, went to Fridley store. Wrong place, but they directed me to a place in Spring Park or something. Again, wrong place. So I drove to Coon Rapids Boulevard and stopped at a couple gas stations to ask where Sportsmans Warehouse is.

At an Amoco, some girl with a pierced tongue told me to drive back down the road to the Pizza Hut, because they'll know where it is. At this point, I was willing to follow such strange advice. And sure enough, the counter person at Pizza Hut gave me great directions. The rest is history.

By the way, mine cost $20 more than yours ($799). I probably got one of the good ones.:)

Thanks again for the tip.

Leaky Waders
June 21, 2003, 07:23 PM
"At an Amoco, some girl with a pierced tongue told me to drive back down the road to the Pizza Hut, because they'll know where it is." Wow I may use that line to write the great american novel if that's ok w/ you. What a start!

444 - thanks for the trigger advice.

SD - Congrats on your purchase. The rifle isn't really that hard to disassemble once you've done it a few times. I don't plan on really cleaning mine until it looks really dirty. I sprayed it down w/ some rem oil and left the barrel alone. I've heard there's more damage done by cleaning a barrel (over scrubbing) than over shooting one.

My rifle will be a fun shooter, maybe a hog hunter, and a novelty plinker for all of my non-military friends to handle.

It's funny when I showed it to my neighbors and friends they were like "Is that legal?" Like I'm Panch De Villa or something. I'm like of course it's legal, none of the things I own are illegal. But people see the black rifle and equate it w/ terrorsim or crime or something. The Clinton/Gore/Liberal Media propoganda really worked.

congrats again,

LW

BusMaster007
June 21, 2003, 11:03 PM
Good job, SteelyDan :)

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