AR-15 Decision: A2 or Flattop/A3?


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BryanP
October 18, 2003, 06:37 PM
I keep wavering on the choice of whether to buy a standard A2 upper or a flattop and a detachable carry handle. I'm looking for input from people who own either or both. From what I understand, the pros & cons are -

A2 / Integrated Carry Handle

Pros - Less expensive. Structurally stronger. Larger area to stick your hand in to the handle.

Cons - Awkward if you want to mount a scope.

A3 / Detachable Carry Handle

Pros - Quick & easy switch of detachable carry handle / iron sites & whatever else you want to mount in their place. Larger area

Cons - More expensive. Structurally weaker. Smaller carry handle hole.

Are there any other advantages and disadvantages that I'm missing?

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Steve Smith
October 18, 2003, 06:42 PM
Never heard of anyone calling the A3 "weak" or the A2 "stronger." This is not a serious consideration. IMHO, unless you must fit specific competition rules that dictate an A2 configuration, you should always choose the A3 model.

BryanP
October 18, 2003, 07:48 PM
Never heard of anyone calling the A3 "weak" or the A2 "stronger."

The book I read that in was referring to soldiers using their AR's to get past razor wire by laying the rifle down and stepping on it. It claimed that the integrated carry handle made the upper receiver much stronger for stresses of that nature. And I agree, it's not terribly relevant. Of course, if I buy some of what I just made an offer on (flattop) I'll have a true FrankenAR, with parts from DPMS, Bushmaster, Rock River Arms and Century Arms all in one. Maybe I'll put it in a vise and fire it the first time by pulling a string from around the corner. :)

Thanks for the input, BTW.

Hkmp5sd
October 18, 2003, 08:19 PM
I don't know anyone that has purchased the Flattop and wished they'd purchased the A2. I know several folks that bought the A2 and wished they'd bought the flattop.

If may not matter now, but there is a high probability that you will want to attach something to it down the road. Go with the flattop.

444
October 18, 2003, 08:27 PM
I can think of very few reasons to buy an AR15 with a standard carry handle. I own a few of them. On two of them, I don't care. But, if I was buying ONE AR, without question it would be a flat top.

TrapperReady
October 18, 2003, 08:32 PM
HKmp5sd - Count me as one who purchased the A3, and wished for the A2. Shortly after getting it, I decided I wanted to shoot in Service Rifle competitions. Not possible, as the detachable carry handle bumps you to Match Rifle.

Not that big a deal, as I still shot in a number of small local matches to get my feet wet, and am ordering a competition-specific A2 upper. As Steve said, unless there is something like that, the A3 is way more versatile.

As far as the carry-handle goes, I carried M16A1s and M16A2s quite a bit, and almost never used the actually carry-handle. Road marches were about the only exception, and as a civilian I don't have to do those any more. :D

ACP
October 18, 2003, 09:05 PM
BryanP -- I went through the same thought process as you a few months ago and ended up getting an A2 fixed carry handle.

Here are my thoughts/reasons:

1. It's classic. You'll see on AR15.com and other sites there are many members who are getting sick and tired of seeing M4'd flattop forgeries with pounds and pounds of equipment hanging off the ends -- for what? These guys aren't even in the military and they're attaching $350 Surefire lights, IR devices, forward grips, RAS, etc. What you end up with is a self defense carbine that weighs more than an M1A. I think folks who get an AR flattop figure they NEED to add all this stuff to it, since it's a flattop.

2. What's the purpose of your rifle? Mine is for self defense and plinking under 140 yards or so. Why 140 yards? Because that's the lethality limit (i.e. tumbling limit) of the 5.56 M193 cartridge out of my 16" M4 profile barrel. I don't plan on shooting my AR at 200 or 300 yards, and I don't varmint hunt. If you do plan on doing either of those things, then get the flattop -- it makes mouting a scope easier.

3. You can easily mount optics on an A2 rifle -- just look at the newspapers for photos from Iraq. Plenty of folks mount their optics -- I'm talking about red dot sights, EOTECHs, etc. -- atop the carry handle, or cowitnessed with the iron sights in front of the carry handle, above the handguards. ARMS and others make mounts for this (the forward mounting option uses what some call a "gooseneck" mount.) Mouting atop the carry handle doesn't require too funky a cheek weld, plus you can get a "Delta" style cheekpiece if you want (about $70). It's also gives you a nice, erect "heads up" style of sighting that I believe gives you more situational awareness and peripheral vision in self-defense scenarios, though others will tell you it places you head too high and makes it too easy a target, which is a criticism of the M16 A2 sight style anyway (at least to some). But the A2 sight works great for police and military wearing helmets and gas gear.

4. The A2 sight IS tougher becasue it's integral to the receiver. No one can tell me that a thumb screwed anything is tougher than seamless aircraft grade aluminum. This was one of my main concerns, especially in a self-defense scenario. What if I drop the rifle? Bump it on a wall? It slides down the stairs with me? I have to whack someone with it, then sight and fire at a target some yards away? Is a screw-on A3 going to survive that? I bet the answer is 99.9 percent yes. Do you like 99.9 percent odds? What if you have taken the A3 off and just mounted a red dot or a low magnification sight there? Will that survive? On an A2, you can have a sight mounted up top or in front, and if it's ever knocked off, the battery dies, or it is knocked out of alignment, you still have the irons.

5. YES, you can and should buy back up irons for an A3. have you ever priced them? If you think an A3 sighted AR is $80 to $100 more than an A2, try adding the price of a rear flip-up sight and/or a front/rear combo. Ouch.

6. Want to go with a short barrel/A2 fixed sight, and a longer barrel/A3 flattop for possible precision shooting in the future? That's one of the beautys of the AR system -- Just buy another upper receiver! You can even buy it in another caliber!

To sum it all up, what is the purpose of your rifle? Self defense? I'd go with an A2. Plinking? I'd go with an A2 with a red dot sight. Varmints? A3. Targets? A3.

444
October 18, 2003, 09:21 PM
"These guys aren't even in the military and they're attaching $350 Surefire lights, IR devices, forward grips, RAS, etc. What you end up with is a self defense carbine that weighs more than an M1A."

This is a common internet myth circulated every time a thread like this comes up. I have an AR15 with a Aimpoint ML2, a KAC RAS II, and Surefire 900 series light on it. It weighs a little over 8 pounds. An M1A weighs 9.2 pounds. The 16" AR with nothing on it weighs 7.22 pounds. Since when do you have to be in the military to have an effective sighting system ? Since when do you have to be in the military to have the right to identify your target with a light ? If you are using an AR for personal defense, these are exactly the items you need.

Hogwash :rolleyes:

Steve Smith
October 18, 2003, 09:26 PM
All of you posted excellent replies. I personally have an A2 as my fighting rifle, but that is becuase I use the A2 sights in competition constantly and the platform feels like part of my body. If I weren't so used to using an A2 I think I'd pick an A3.

Hkmp5sd
October 18, 2003, 09:34 PM
You'll see on AR15.com and other sites there are many members who are getting sick and tired of seeing M4'd flattop forgeries with pounds and pounds of equipment hanging off the ends -- for what?

Every AR without a 3-position selector switch is a M4 forgery. Just because a civilian wants to mount attachments to their semi-automatic M4 forgery doesn't mean they have no practical use for them.

I don't plan on shooting my AR at 200 or 300 yards

Me too. That's why mine has a 14.5" barrel on it. That extra 1.5" of barrel just weighs too much. :)

ACP
October 18, 2003, 09:37 PM
444, I always respect your input here, so let me clarify. I'm not saying someone with self-defense considerations doesn't have the same need to identify and deal with a life threatening situation as the military. I believe in learning and taking cues from military and law enforcement experience. But I believe the A3 design lends itself to more, ummm, expensive and perhaps needless customization. That's a personal choice, of course, and we can debate that as well as the pros and cons of stock 1911s and Model 19s versus highly customized ones, whether it's the man or the gun, etc. I just don't see too many photos of A2 all tricked out; I see quite a few A3s like that. I'm glad you weighed your improved A3; BryanP should take that into consideration. I guess I'm happy with my simple A2, though I'd like to get an ARMS mount and an Aimpoint or an EOTECH for Christmas. That's about all I'd do to mine for self defense purposes. But, that's what THR is all about -- different experiences, opinions, input, and letting the reader make his/her decision.

Texas Gunman
October 18, 2003, 09:47 PM
I was always told A2 is more of military assault rifle, while the A3 is for civilian varment shooters.I dont care much for the A3, so I went wwith what I had exsperience with, well sorta, I used a A1 in the army, but I like the A2 sights better, so I went with a bushy A2 shorty, dont have any regrets doing so.

TG

444
October 18, 2003, 09:48 PM
ACP:Yeah, my problem is that I own to many AR15s. The last one I put together was an attempt to make it light and simple. I can understand that philosophy. The only two gadgets I have on it are a tac sling and a tritium front sight.
The thing about getting the detachable carry handle is that you don't have to modify the rifle in any way if you don't want to, but if you later decide to do so, you can. As you mention, having a carry handle doesn't prohibit you from doing stuff, but having the rail makes it easier. I just think the flat top gives you more options. I like options.

I sometimes like to pull chains on here, so don't take it personally.

"I was always told A2 is more of military assault rifle, while the A3 is for civilian varment shooters."
The military is going with the flat top and optical sights, or I should say the Army is.

TechBrute
October 18, 2003, 11:04 PM
I think the correct answer to the original question is: buy both.

Buy the A2 first, so you'll be able to hit the range right away. Then buy yourself an A3 upper and configure it how you want.

Hkmp5sd
October 18, 2003, 11:14 PM
FWIW, all of my AR/M16 uppers are A2s. My personal preference is the original fixed handle. But then, I also like the triangular handguards. I must be a little old fashioned.

Most others I know prefer the A3 upper due to its versatility. TrapperReady is the first person I've encountered that bought the A3 and wished it were the A2.

TechBrute
October 18, 2003, 11:26 PM
I have a Colt SP1 all original rifle with the triangle hanguards and A1 upper with no FA. I also have several FrankenARs that I've built myself, all with 16" A3 uppers. I mostly shoot the A3s, and they all have BUIS on them, too.

Swamprabbit
October 18, 2003, 11:29 PM
Personally, I own 3 ARs and all are of the A2 variety. One is strictly for high power competition so I guess it really doesn't count for this discussion. As for the other two, one is a 16.5" and the other a standard 20". Frankly, I have been perfectly happy with the A2 uppers. I have had lots of experience with a flatop on a "varmit" style AR with a 24" barrel. In that setup, the flatop was a necessity. I have made several good hunting shots with my A2s and don't feel that I am lacking anything. To me, if you have a flattop, you also need either a detachable or fold-down front sight for it to have the most value.

BryanP
October 18, 2003, 11:36 PM
I was originally sold on an A2 because I'm an iron-sights kind of guy, but I just found a potentially very good deal on a flattop 20" w/chrome-lined barrel. If it pans out I don't know if I could bring myself to pass it up. I don't have any particular desire to compete against others in any kind of target shooting so that's not a factor. Plinking and home defense are my applications. Silly question: Do the detachable handle sites work as well as the integral?

Oh, and I anticipated the "get both" responses. One of the reasons I didn't bother posting this question over at AR15.com is that after a few searches that appears to be the stock answer. Sorry, I love firearms but I have other priorities and hobbies as well. Whichever upper I get will likely be all I have for quite a while. If I do get a second one it would probably be a .22lr.

Thanks again for everyone's input.

ACP
October 19, 2003, 10:17 AM
BryanP, one last thing: if you REALLY want to stick your foot in a bucket, ask this question: should I get an AR or an AK? Or an M1A? FN/FAL? Mini 14? 20" barrel or 16" barrel? Sling it or not? Bushmatser, Colt, Armalite, or Rock River? You can spend days at your keyboard... :)

TrapperReady
October 19, 2003, 10:33 AM
BryanP - I can only speak to the sights on my Colt A3-style. They have worked fine all year for highpower shooting. The adjustments are immediate, consistent and accurate and I've had no problem with them losing zero even if I remove and reinstall the handle.

Operationally, they function the same as the A2 sights, although there may be a couple small caveats. At least for Colt, there are some slight differences in the adjustments. For example, the detachable sights have a smaller adjustment increment (which is a good thing -- allowing for more precision).

I have read, although not experienced, that at the longer ranges (600 yards or so), that you can run out of elevation adjustments. I'll have to check, but I think the A2-style sights have markings for out to 800 yards while the A3-style goes to 600 yards.

Mannlicher
October 19, 2003, 04:58 PM
My preban Colt HBAR Heavy target has both. You can take off the carry handle, and its a flat top,, put it back on, and , well, you get the pic.

CleverNickname
October 19, 2003, 05:29 PM
I have read, although not experienced, that at the longer ranges (600 yards or so), that you can run out of elevation adjustments. I'll have to check, but I think the A2-style sights have markings for out to 800 yards while the A3-style goes to 600 yards.

That's the way my Bushie's A3 sights were. Considering I've never shot at greater than 100 yards, I'm not worrying too much about it.

jercamp45
October 19, 2003, 05:52 PM
I have been pondering the same question lately.......as I have been bitten with an AR bug........one GOOD rifle.
The fixed stock choice was easy, and I want the 16 inch barrel.....but the sight thing had me in a quandry.
I really only plan to use it for defensive shooting and plinking...so was seriously considering the A2's simple sights(more durable, less parts to maintain and have with you and a little less expense....I mean get a flattop and you HAVE to spend more on the irons or optics).
Thinking you can mount the co-aligned dot on the top handguard, a Surefire and that is all the 'stuff' I need...though I did play with one that had a verticle foregrip and must say it was...interesting.
Was actually looking at the Bushmaster Dissapator that has the full length sighting sytem on the shorter barrel.......any thoughts on that one?
Yes, then I can buy another upper, or a different caliber, IF I want and WHEN my wallet can afford the shock.
But, the KISS rule is a major one in my life, the more you add too the more that can go wrong.
Jercamp45

wardog
October 19, 2003, 08:08 PM
I chose the Bushmaster Dissipator in the A2 configuration.

I'm planning on forward mounting a red-dot sight. My reasoning for going with the A2, was that if the red-dot were to fail / run out of batteries in the field, it could simply be taken off. (Or, depending on exactly where it's mounted you may be able to use iron sights without even taking it off.)With the A3 you'd need to carry around sights.

444
October 19, 2003, 08:18 PM
"With the A3 you'd need to carry around sights."

Yeah, you carry around iron sights, but they are carried on the rifle. You have the standard front sight tower, and you have a rear sight mounted on the rail behind the dot sight or scope. The rear sight folds down. I have an ARMs rear iron sight. It is spring loaded. You flip a lever and the rear sight flips up. There is no reason to remove the dot sight I have mounted, you just look through it, although if you wanted to remove it all you have to do is flip two levers. The front sight tower is no problem at all when using the dot sight, you don't even know it is there.
If you wanted to, you could leave the iron sights up when using the dot sight and you don't even notice them there.
The iron sights function fine; I was shooting steel plates at 300 yards using my iron sights in Gunsite 556.

Oh, and if everything totally goes south; your dot sight goes out and you don't have time to deploy your rear sight, you just use the tube of the dot sight with the front sight with the dot sight tube as a big ghost ring rear sight.

ny32182
October 19, 2003, 09:51 PM
I have a bushy 20" HBAR and a bushy 16" Superlight. Both are A3. I don't have any regrets. Neither have ever had an accessory of any kind mounted.

The idea is that if I ever want to mount something, I can. I've got NO complaints about structural rigidity. I've removed and reseated the carry handles with no loss of zero. Tighten down the screws, and that carry handle isn't going anywhere fast.

One of the best things about the AR platform is its modularity/ability to customize. I see no point in limiting that capability.

Rob96
October 20, 2003, 06:17 AM
I like AR's the same way I like 1911's, SIMPLE. I have a DPMS Classic Sixteen, A2 with 16" barrel. Great carbine. I don't get all into hanging a bunch of stuff off of my rifle. K.I.S.S.

ARperson
October 20, 2003, 10:41 AM
Boy, some of you make it sound like you have to buy additional sights for the A3 if you don't plan on scoping it.

The only practical difference between the A2 and the A3 is that the carry handle is removable on the latter and not the former, at least on my Bushmaster 20". Maybe they've stopped adding rear sights to the carry handle. I haven't been in the market for a standard type AR for a while now.

My suggestion is worth just about what you paid for it, but here it is: if the extra bucks aren't an issue, then go with the A3. In a word, it's more versatile. The only reason I can think of going with the A2 is if you were going to use it for some competitions that required the A2 model.

And this whole business of being stronger makes me laugh. Of course a solid surface is going to be stronger than one with a joint, all else being equal. But how many times in your life do you think you're going to need your AR to step on razor wire? :confused:

Bartholomew Roberts
October 20, 2003, 12:07 PM
The flattop is much more versatile. I started with an A2 and certainly know how to use one; but the only A2 I have right now is a stripped A2 upper sitting in a box.

Even if you decide you only want to use iron sights, you still have way more options with the flattop. Want M1/M14 iron sights on your AR15? Someone makes a set that attaches to the flattop. Want fixed AR15A2 sights with no carry handle in the way? Want a folding sight that drops down when not in use? Want hooded space gun micrometer sights? Want the plain old carry handle?

With a flattop you just have flexibility that isn't there in the A2.

MrPink
October 20, 2003, 12:48 PM
The flattop is so much more versatile:

For my farm/home defense carbine: flatop carbine with an EOtech and a KAC 300M BUIS. The BUIS is a flipup that stays out of the field of view until needed.

For a longer shot: flattop HBAR carbine with a scope. Mounted just right for a proper cheekweld and don't need the delta cheekpiece.

The only carry handle uppers I have are for the 614 and M16A2 I bought. I used the 614 upper to make a XM177-style shorty upper. The A2 sits in the safe.

XxAR10xX
October 20, 2003, 02:06 PM
I don't really see why, other than competition, that someone might want to get the A2 over the A3. The advanced optical sights are faster than regular iron sights, short or long distance. A3 is a more versatile platform, and if you want to change your mind about optics and accessories, then it's easy to do. Plus if you were in a home clearing SHTF situation at dusk or night, would you want to have a red dot anyways?

Well actually if I were to clear my house in the middle of the night, it'd be with my AK and a Cobra sight. :) (yeah I know it's another topic, and don't tell me about overpenetration because I don't care) :D

444
October 20, 2003, 02:31 PM
We are getting to the point of beating a dead horse here and people are going to do what they are going to do anyway.
The bottom line is with a flat top, you can use a carry handle. You can use the flat top with iron sights. You can use the flat top with an optic. You can use a flat top with a scope. You can use a flat top with night vision equipment with or without the red dot. And you can pick and choose any one of these options at will and change it back and forth in seconds from one configuration to another. Even if you don't see yourself doing any of this, you can if you want to; and most of us know from personal experience that just because that might be the farthest thing from our minds today, six months from now we might have a burning desire to do it all. If you like the look or function of the carry handle, you can have it. If you don't, you can have that also. If you own more than one AR15, you can also switch these various sighting devices back and forth between the rifles in seconds anytime you want to. You can even use these sighting devices on non-AR15s as long as the weapon has a Weaver rail. I have two lever actions equipped with the AO lever scout rail. I can remove the optic from my flat top AR and put it on the lever action if I want to. I have a Ruger PC9 equipped with a Weaver rail. I can put any optic for my AR on it if I want to and then put it back almost effortlessly. A good example of why you might want to do this: I have a variable power scope with an ARMS mount on it. If I am working up handloads or I want to see just what kind of accuracy any one of these rifles is capable of, I can mount this scope and shoot the rifle off the bench for max accuracy. Then I throw two levers to remove the scope and go back to a faster, battle type sighting system. If I get drawn for an elk tag, I can put my Aimpoint on my .444 Marlin and use it for elk, then come home and put it back on my AR.
I have an M4orgery flat top that has a carry handle mounted on it. I have never used any other sighting system on that carbine. BUT, I can if I want to.

txgho1911
January 7, 2006, 07:20 PM
quote:
1. It's classic. You'll see on AR15.com and other sites there are many members who are getting sick and tired of seeing M4'd flattop forgeries with pounds and pounds of equipment hanging off the ends -- for what? These guys aren't even in the military and they're attaching $350 Surefire lights, IR devices, forward grips, RAS, etc. What you end up with is a self defense carbine that weighs more than an M1A. I think folks who get an AR flattop figure they NEED to add all this stuff to it, since it's a flattop.

I was just researching AR scoping options. Now I need a keyboard as well + hand washing for sticky fingers.

Capital Punishment
January 7, 2006, 07:42 PM
Just get the A3, its only a few bucks more. That way if you ever want to put on optics or a scope you can easily. Even if you think you dont want any right now you might later.

You would be kicking yourself if you got the A2 and then wanted optics/scope.

Cant lose with the A3.

MatthewVanitas
January 7, 2006, 07:43 PM
Check out our ongoing thread on A1 uppers: http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=174656

Pic of my new upper is partway down the page.

If you're going fixed carrying handle, consider A1 over A2: the sights are sturdier, and it has the pleasant side effect of looking cooler and more streamlined. Yes, the sights aren't as quick to adjust, but they're also harder to knock out of setting, and fewer moving parts in general. It's also a couple bucks cheaper in some cases.

Not as many folks will build you an upper on an A1 receiver, but Bushmaster will. I think it was actually a couple bucks cheaper than the A2 option.

I realize that the A3 has a lot of good things going for it, but
a) Everyone has an A3 upper these days, and I'm a contrarian
b) I plan on setting a BZO on it and leaving it be
c) I plan to use the iron sights at all times. If I can afford $300 for optics, I can afford a new upper. But I don't anticipate adding optics to my main AR carbine; might possibly if I get a 24" bechrest AR down the line.

So, there's my vote for A1 sights. Anyone with me? *crickets chirping*

-MV

CentralTexas
January 7, 2006, 08:04 PM
WHat is becoming a more popular hybrid & best of both-
http://makeashorterlink.com/?C57722E6C
CT

odysseus
January 7, 2006, 08:56 PM
IMHO, unless you must fit specific competition rules that dictate an A2 configuration, you should always choose the A3 model.

I agree with this fully.

Lex
January 7, 2006, 09:04 PM
+1 on getting the A3. It gives you the opportunity to practice with irons and add glass to the flattop as an alternative.


Lex in NC

Zundfolge
January 7, 2006, 09:25 PM
You'll see on AR15.com and other sites there are many members who are getting sick and tired of seeing M4'd flattop forgeries with pounds and pounds of equipment hanging off the ends -- for what?
And many of those same "Arfcomers" are just keyboard commandos with no real field experience (a common situation on most gun forums).

The vast majority of fire done with those FA/Burst capable M4s is still semi auto ... in the Army, clicking the selector to FA without permission will often get you chewed on by your superiors.

A semi auto M4gery is 99% as useful as a full auto M4. Since most of us are never going to have to assist a machine gunner in either a self defense or SHTF situation, there really is little reason for full auto carbines (that said, if I could afford 'em I'd have a safe full of 'em :D ).



As for which upper to go with, I've owned two A2s and the only reason I bought the last one is because it was a killer deal. For the little extra cost the flat top is going to be more versatile.

Bartholomew Roberts
January 7, 2006, 11:32 PM
4. The A2 sight IS tougher becasue it's integral to the receiver. No one can tell me that a thumb screwed anything is tougher than seamless aircraft grade aluminum. This was one of my main concerns, especially in a self-defense scenario. What if I drop the rifle? Bump it on a wall? It slides down the stairs with me? I have to whack someone with it, then sight and fire at a target some yards away? Is a screw-on A3 going to survive that?

There is a nice picture of an ACOG on a thumb-screw TA51 mount gripping what remains of the upper receiver of an M4 after the track the M4 was tied to was hit by a 155mm IED. The explosion ripped the upper receiver (forged aluminium) in half; but the ACOG mount is still grabbing what is left of the rail.

Now, not having a lot of ACOGs or 155 shells, I can't say if that is the usual result or an anomaly; but it has always made me feel that anything that will destroy a thumbscrew mount on a 1913 rail is equally likely to destroy the rifle.

TIMC
January 7, 2006, 11:47 PM
Won't put a long post because everything has pretty much been said with the exception of "MHO" which is...
I own three AR's all are A-3 configuration. I have no desire for an A-2.

USMCRotrHed
January 8, 2006, 12:04 AM
I'm fairly new to the AR world, but i;ve shot M16's for a few years. The AR-15 is so versitile that you can make it do what you want. My advice is first of all figure out what 2 things you want to do and buy a rifle that has a lower that will perform that task for you. Then buy an additional upper that will do everything else you want. ( The wife hears: "But honey, it's only one gun, the rest is just gun parts") My advise is to buy a rifle that meets your primary mission first, then get an upper that can be accessorized.

I prefer a service rifle class competition rifle with an additional A3 upper with a 16 inch barrel. That way you're ready for competition and anything else that comes your way. The A3 should handle anything you want to add.

Bottom line, but the competition class rifle first and add to it later.

But most of all...Have fun with it.

No_Brakes23
January 8, 2006, 12:48 AM
I plan on getting a flattop for flexibility. I learned to shoot on the M16A2, so I am comfy with that, but I don't really like the sight pic of an A2. If I want to shoot service rifle comps I will just get an A2 upper. That's part of the beauty of the AR, its flexibility and modularity.

As for the "Carrying Handle", my 8 years on the Corps, I never saw anyone, grunt or POG carryin' it that way. The Drill Instructors forbade it, as it was just a step away from violating the four rules. M16A2s are to be carried at Port, Order, Shoulder, Present and Sling Arms, or the Tactical, Ready, and Alert carries. None of those involve the Carrying Handle. Of course civilian are free to carry it that way, I just can't see a good reason for it. Even in a SHTF situation where you might have to BO and walk a lot, the pistol grip and sling make far more useful carrying points.

That's my opinion, worth just what you paid for it.

dolanp
January 8, 2006, 01:41 AM
Boy, some of you make it sound like you have to buy additional sights for the A3 if you don't plan on scoping it.

The only practical difference between the A2 and the A3 is that the carry handle is removable on the latter and not the former, at least on my Bushmaster 20". Maybe they've stopped adding rear sights to the carry handle. I haven't been in the market for a standard type AR for a while now.

The detachable carry handle is usually a 100-120 dollar option if you are customizing the rifle, doesn't come with most basic A3 models. Most people just use a BUIS like ARMS or something similar.

chrisTx
January 8, 2006, 01:52 AM
i'm not a fan of the A3. i bought my A2 because i like it. sometimes i throw a scope up on the handle and tear up targets at 100-200 yards all day. i also carry it as a patrol rifle and usually take the scope off. having used and carried a department issued flattop A3 with an EOTech, i really prefer the A2.

people can whine here all day long about which is better, but they make a lot of models because people have different tastes. pick the one you like.

Bartholomew Roberts
January 8, 2006, 04:34 AM
You guys do realize that the advice in this thread was requested two years ago and somebody decided to revive it with a necropost?

odysseus
January 8, 2006, 05:09 AM
You guys do realize that the advice in this thread was requested two years ago and somebody decided to revive it with a necropost?

DAMN!!! hahaha :D Tricked!

USMCRotrHed
January 8, 2006, 10:45 AM
This thread would have been nice for me to see about 4 months ago when I was going through the same questions.

It may just be relivent to someone else.

dolanp
January 8, 2006, 06:43 PM
Blast those necromancers.

Matt-man
January 9, 2006, 05:33 AM
Since this thread is years old, I would like to point out that the flat-top uppers are now legal for CMP/NRA Service Rifle competition as long as the carry handle is attached. I believe the elevation limitation of the detachable carry handle can be fixed with a modification of the elevation shaft. In addition RRA has a carry handle with NM sights with additional elevation over the normal carry handle sights (25MOA vs. 16MOA).

Also... isn't M16A4 the correct nomenclature for a flat-topped M16?

TechBrute
January 9, 2006, 09:59 AM
Also... isn't M16A4 the correct nomenclature for a flat-topped M16?
No. A3 and A4 are not actual military terms. The civilian manufacturers use them to designate flat top offerings. Most use A3, but Armalite and possibly others use A4.

salty
January 9, 2006, 10:53 AM
For your first upper I would get a CAR 16" flattop with detachable front sight -second upper a 20" varmit flat top stainless and the third an A2 20". Get a lower with a NM trigger - as in Rock River or Bushmaster - and you will be covered.

Matt-man
January 9, 2006, 03:20 PM
No. A3 and A4 are not actual military terms. The civilian manufacturers use them to designate flat top offerings. Most use A3, but Armalite and possibly others use A4.

The M16A3 and M16A4 do in fact exist as U.S. military weapons. The A4 is the one with the flat top and is the current issue for frontline Army and Marine units.

Sources: Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colt_M16#Variants), GlobalSecurity.org (http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/ground/m16-variants.htm)

BryanP
January 10, 2006, 02:30 PM
Dear God, who dug up this hoary old thread I started? Yeesh.

For the record I found a very good deal in the equipment exchange over at arfcom for a 20" A2 upper. I like it.

No_Brakes23
January 10, 2006, 08:51 PM
No. A3 and A4 are not actual military terms. The civilian manufacturers use them to designate flat top offerings. Most use A3, but Armalite and possibly others use A4. I was issued the M16A3 aboard CVN-74 U.S.S. John C.Stennis, 2001-2002. When we were on watch we had our choice between the M14 or the A3, I chose the A3, cause I can't hit the broadside of a barn with the M14. I believe only the Navy has A3s, I only got that on the boat. Every other time I had a rifle it was an A2 or an M249.


The M16A3 is nearly indistinguishable from the A2, but I did notice:
1. All the ones I got were made by FN.

2. The stock felt "fuzzy" like it was made from a different material than the M16A2.

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