Who's the Honda/Subaru of the AR-lower world?


February 12, 2008, 12:57 PM
Interesting thread going on right now, "Why Buy Multiple AR Lowers?"

This has me thinking: If I were to buy the logic that buying (and at least temporarily assembling into complete rifles) a few AR lowers now might prove legally useful, what are some good bets to seek out? That is, what are the Honda or Subaru of the AR world? Or (inviting wrath) the Hyundai?

That is to say, if inexpensive was very important, but you didn't want plain "cheap," reliability beats looks / nameplates / fancy bits, and you'd like it to still function fine in 20 years with minimal maintenance, what sort of AR lower would you go for? I'd like to have a few around -- if nothing else, I'd like to shoot my Saiga side-by-side with my own AR at some point.

I know, I know: "You get what you pay for." But that doesn't mean some things don't have a seemingly unfairly good value-to-price ratio. Plenty of people complain about their expensive guns, or are impressed by the longevity of something intended as a beater. So dismissive answers implying that price = quality will be happily scoffed at ;)


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February 12, 2008, 01:10 PM
if inexpensive was very importantDPMS. Maybe an Oly Arms, but I wouldn't trust my hand to that company's AR lowers.

February 12, 2008, 01:27 PM
As a Subaru owner, I'll say this. They're great cars, but the parts are expensive as all get-out. I took our station wagon out where I'd normally want my Jeep yesterday, and Subaru's AWD system worked like a champ, even in deep, soft sand. God help you when you have to replace parts, though. Just had to put on some new front bearings and ABS sensors and we paid $1500 for the job, half of which was in the parts, I think.

I'd say that LMT is the Subaru of AR's.

February 12, 2008, 02:07 PM
"As a Subaru owner, I'll say this. They're great cars, but the parts are expensive as all get-out."

Heh. I hear you about the cost of repairs -- I have a 1997 Outback wagon, and it's overdue for some work right now. On the other hand, it wasn't outrageous to buy (used), gets decent mileage, and even considering some necessary repairs over the several years I've owned it, it amortizes pretty well :)

Maybe my analogy should have stuck with Honda / Toyota ;)


BattleChimp Potemkin
February 12, 2008, 02:08 PM
Oly more like the Kia or Hyundai :)

February 12, 2008, 02:14 PM
Don't get me wrong, when we finally kill this one, we'll buy another used Subaru. It's a great vehicle!

Dave Ramsey taught me to re-think the costs of owning a car, and I try to calculate overall costs vs. the utility of ownership.

February 12, 2008, 02:42 PM
So you will need something that is cheaper than the top of the line, easily modifiable, a little less in the way of creature comforts but with a few quirks (like headlights which turn off when you turn off the car) that you really come to appreciate. And the AWD, turbo goodness allows you to overlook some of the more silly design features.

Also...ammo needs to load in from the sides, not from the bottom. Both sides.

I love Boxers!

And it needs to be faster than the competitors out of the box.

I can't remember...was I describing the gun or a car?

In any case, Subaru is hard to compare too. They are high value, niche vehicles. I guess that would be something like a sub $1000 DPMS n .260 Rem?

February 12, 2008, 02:54 PM
Honda....Subaru...(shudder) Please for the love of god dont compare the classic AR to one of the cheap yuppie rice-burners. Our soldiers dont want the impression that they're staking they're life on a Subaru:barf: Thankfully, the rifles dont smell as bad as the cars.

February 12, 2008, 02:56 PM
I find the choice of cars used for comparison here to be interesting. I understand the well built and reliable (though fairly pricey) Honda. Not sure how the Subaru fits in here (looking for the magazine to attach from the side, as in horizontally opposed) and as far as inexpensive, have you priced Hyundai's recently?

February 12, 2008, 02:57 PM
Just curious about the whole ban scare.

How much of a threat is it? I know that almost every candidate has said they will bring the AWB back, but wouldn't it most likely be the same as before? Can someone fill me in to how bad it will probably be.


February 12, 2008, 02:59 PM
I always thought Stag was the "generic" inexpensive mil-spec lower?

February 12, 2008, 03:18 PM
Stag and Rock River are my choices, but then again, I personally hold them a little closer in respect than any car. lol

February 12, 2008, 03:46 PM
"Honda....Subaru...(shudder) Please for the love of god dont compare the classic AR to one of the cheap yuppie rice-burners."

That's one of the more misinformed statements I've read recently.

More like reasonably expensive, quite reliable and very useful. You know the Forester was based on the running gear they developed running World Rally cars. The suckers will hug the road and the center of gravity isn't as high as you'd think.

Okay, I sold my second Subaru, an '02 Forester, and I'm driving an '06 Toyota Avalon, but I sort of miss the Forester, the huge sunroof and ability to haul stuff - like 2 hot water tanks at once, or a large chest of drawers - and still get fairly good gas mileage.

Who's the Honda/Subaru of the AR world? Any of the good makers. You know, RRA or better. ;)


February 12, 2008, 03:48 PM

February 12, 2008, 05:12 PM
Anodized forged aluminum lowers with milspec pin sizes are all about the same...

February 12, 2008, 05:37 PM
Honda/Subaru: Stag Arms, Olympic Arms
Toyota: DPMS
You can spend more on a Bushy, etc, but it's tough to beat the quality of a DPMS, and they're pretty reasonably priced.

February 12, 2008, 05:43 PM
My AR, as well as my car, is American made.

That said, most lowers are essentially the same. Vulcan / Hesse / Blackthorne are the ones to avoid but the rest will treat you just fine.

Mine is a LMT lower, because I purchased a complete lower with their SOCOM stock, but if I were buying just a stripped lower, I'd go with whatever was on sale.

February 12, 2008, 06:01 PM
my car, is American made

America? Probably... USA, maybe not... You don't drive a Ford do you? Hecho en Mexico. :neener:

FWIW, a lot of "foreign" cars are being built in the US these days...

February 12, 2008, 06:01 PM
I've had great luck w/ RRA, Stag, CMMG and Superior Arms. As for the analogy, I'd probably go w/ CMMG (tough to beat their consistency and fit and finish) and RRA.

February 12, 2008, 06:08 PM
what sort of AR lower would you go for?

Generally, lowers are all the same. And they're all within a couple bucks of each other.

Be more concerned with the upper, as thats where the biggest difference in quality comes into play.

America? Probably... USA, maybe not... You don't drive a Ford do you? Hecho en Mexico.

My Chevy Silverado was built/assembled in Canada... and who knows where the individual components came from. Even vehicles assembled in the USA will be mostly comprised of parts from anywhere but here. Seemingly nothing is really "American made" anymore.

February 12, 2008, 06:12 PM
Seemingly nothing is really "American made" anymore.

Think Eldlebrock.

February 12, 2008, 06:23 PM
Just curious about the whole ban scare.

How much of a threat is it? I know that almost every candidate has said they will bring the AWB back, but wouldn't it most likely be the same as before? Can someone fill me in to how bad it will probably be.
It would probably look more like H.R.1022, the AWB the media and a few Congress-entities were pushing last session. It would have banned the Ruger mini-14, all AR-15 type rifles, all civilian AK's, the M1 carbine, FAL's, etc.; ALL detachable-magazine, self-loading rifles or shotguns with a protruding handgrip; all shotguns using a detachable magazine; and any semiauto rifle ever designed or procured for military use (SKS, M1 Garand, etc.) or procured for police use (Kel-Tec, Ruger PC9, etc.). Plus, of course, a ban on any firearm magazine holding over 10 rounds, except tubular magazines for .22 rimfires. If I read the law correctly, AR-15 uppers and such would be banned as well, making the "buy a bunch of stripped lowers" idea perhaps a bit risky. To avoid a civil war, currently owned guns would be grandfathered...for now.

In a nutshell, it would take the California ban nationwide, but adding to it a ban on SKS's, Ruger mini-14's, M1 Garands, M1 carbines, M1A/M14 type rifles, and Kel-Tecs. In other words, as close as possible to the situation in Australia with regard to rifles.

BTW, the Toyota Camry is American-made; the Ford Crown Victoria is an import...

Urbana John
February 12, 2008, 06:59 PM
I've got a new Advil Arms "lower" coming this Thursday----on sale for $100 US. Free "engraving" !!! I'll let ya all know how it goes together!!
And I can compare it to a DPMS AP4 308, a Sabre Defense 223, and a Colt HBAR in 223
Course, I'll need my "new" DPMS Model BA-M12 upper to "top" it off!!!

February 12, 2008, 07:06 PM
"Advil Arms"?

A google search doesn't help me much, and that sounds like a joke name :)

Then again, there's BOHICA's .50 cal, so ... got a link? :)

EDIT: Got it -- Anvil Arms. Ha!

I just found that last year the Pennsylvania Firearms Owners Association had a run made of lowers with some logo on them, or at least had planned to. (I don't see a followup, just ran into this: http://www.pafoa.org/forum/group-purchases-127/12138-ar-lower-group-buy.html

I like the idea of an engraved lower generally.


February 12, 2008, 07:43 PM
Around Christmas I needed a complete A2 lower for a build and got a DPMS because that's all that was available. The workmanship is as good as I've seen and better than most...no regrets here. It also has just about the best stock trigger pull I've felt...and it stayed good even after firing a couple of hundred rounds. The last 2 Bushmasters I bought seemed to have good triggers when I bought them, but they got "sticky" and creepy after firing...I think the parts were just soft so I replaced them with RRA 2-stagers.

February 12, 2008, 08:03 PM
+4 or something on DPMS. I have the .308.

Joe the Redneck
February 12, 2008, 08:19 PM
See if you can follow my thinking on this.

During the ban, the price of "outlawed" guns shot though the roof. I remember seeing ak underfolders for crazy money at gun shows.

Never saw anybody buy one.

If a person is generally worried about another AWB they are going to buy the gun now, not after the election.

If they can't afford to pay the regular price now, what do you think the odds are they will be able to afford to pay you an inflated price after the ban.

And if there is no ban, what ever you buy in now "used" and worth less than you paid for it.

Seems like a lose/lose deal. I just don't want youto get stuck with a bunch of lowers.

That's my 2 cents.


February 12, 2008, 10:25 PM

Believe me, I don't even have the money to get stuck with a bunch of lowers :)

But since I'm in my early 30s, and intend to beat that Japanese guy who topped 120 years old, I'd like to have a few ARs around for me to shoot. I can scrounge the money to buy a few lowers (that's what odd jobs are for ;)), and that's all I plan on -- not speculating on them as investments, exactly, except that I'd like to pass them on to deserving heirs sometime in the far future.

So far, I've not regretted any gun purchases -- something I can't say about certain other things on which I've spent money. Keeping it reasonable (two? three?) in terms of possible AR lowers, I can't see being upset about those, either. After all, what if my one-day-yet-unchosen wife wants to outshoot me at the range?

So, I'm not worried about regretting the purchase of a couple of respectable, inexpensive lowers, which is all I want. I see where you're coming from, but the only pre/post-ban price difference I care much about is the one that applies to me.



February 12, 2008, 10:37 PM
Evolution arms lower, 80 bucks all day long.

February 12, 2008, 10:45 PM
my car, is American made
America? Probably... USA, maybe not... You don't drive a Ford do you? Hecho en Mexico.

FWIW, a lot of "foreign" cars are being built in the US these days...

I should clarify. My car was made in the United States of America, A GM plant in Lordstown Ohio more specifically, in April 2007.

It's also supercharged. If that's not American, I don't know what is :neener:

Since we're being picky, my AR lower was made in Milan, IL and the upper I'll be picking up in a week or so will be made in Oregon.

For what it's worth, I've lived my entire life in southeast Michigan. I could drive from my house to the GM world headquarters, then to the Chrysler world headquarters, then to the Ford world headquarters, then back home and still have gas left in my tank. While some foreign cars are made in the United States now, practically everybody I know has at least one family member in the domestic auto industry. One of my grandfathers worked for GM, the other for Ford. I have an aunt who works for Ford, and a cousin who works for Chrysler. My brother and I both work at tier 1 automotive suppliers dealing mostly with domestic companies. Mostly Chrysler, GM, and Ford for him, mostly the United States government for me. Our economy relies on the domestic companies, there's a WHOLE LOT going on besides just where the car is assembled. I've worked for four different companies now, all of which have supplied mostly to American companies. While some domestics are manufactured here, don't fool youself, buying domestic puts MUCH more money back into our economy.

February 12, 2008, 10:51 PM
I've had great luck with all my Double Star lowers. AR15.com had a group buy for $90 each including shipping/handling. I bought eight. :D

February 13, 2008, 03:24 AM
DPMS is a lot like my Subaru. It doesnt cost as much as their performance competitors but works just as well.

With around 330 BHP/380 TQ it definitely competes with them and get 25 MPG.



Urbana John
February 13, 2008, 04:23 AM
Edit--------That's Anvil Arms!!!

MY BAD!!!!


February 13, 2008, 04:34 AM
Superior Arms makes nice lowers. The finish isn't as nice as Bushmaster, but they are inexpensive. They also have a trigger adjustment screw that allows you to lighten the trigger pull on a standard trigger group. I have one that I'm going to build up into a varmint rig.

Now what I wonder about are those plastic lower receivers with the stock/buffer tube built in. I have no idea who makes them. I've seen them for about $70 bucks at the gun show and I wonder if they're like the Yugo of lowers?

February 13, 2008, 03:19 PM
If you are referring to the cavalry arms lowers, those are supposed to be pretty good. Not sure if there are cheap knock-offs of that design though.

Personally, if I were to stock up on more lowers, I would stick with the same manufacturer on the assumption that any upper that works on one lower will then work on the rest. It would suck if there was enough tolerance difference that some uppers wouldn't work well with certain lowers.

I can't see how it would ever be possible to ban AR-15 uppers other than to strike the flash suppressor and bayonet lug. There are single shot lowers out there, as well as fixed mag lowers that could slip by almost any ban. Not to mention the upper is just a machined part with no status until mated with a lower.

I think AMMO is what they are going to go after. 95% of shooters are low volume hunters, rimfire shooters, or shotgunners. They would be mostly oblivious to a centerfire ammo "microstamp" or tax increase bill that would royally screw the rest of us. I can also see a "military caliber" ban like Mexico, though there are plenty of hunting caliber black rifles out there with many more on the horizon (in camo colors no less).

February 13, 2008, 03:56 PM
As far as I can tell there are a few tiers in the AR lower market:

Lowest and to be avoided: Hesse/Vulcan Arms

$85 - $100 stripped and higher than normal variations in machining: Olympic Arms

$100 -$120 stripped, less common but decent quality: MEGA

$110 - $120 stripped, good quality ("Honda"): DPMS, Stag, Bushmaster, Double Star, CMMG, RockRiver (complete lowers will be $250 - $300)

$130 - $140 stripped: top quality: LMT, Noveske (complete lowers will be $330 - $500)

The stripped lower is pretty much the same from the $120 - $140 levels. There starts to be some differentiation in the lower parts such as the triggers, etc. The real differentiation in quality is in the uppers with barrels, bolt carrier groups, sights, charging handle, and handguards.

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