AR - Build or Buy? Options...


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briang2ad
August 18, 2010, 08:30 PM
Could buy this:

http://www.rockriverarms.com/index.c...ategory_id=463

Could buy this: ($970 + 20 shipping after rebate):

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/w...layErrorView_Y

Or:

Build with this as a basis:

http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/BCM-S...m4-14socom.htm

Add a BCG from BCM at about $140 + Charging handle ($20) and I'm at about $550 for starters. I have hand guards and a pistol grip. If I buy an assembled lower, I can go cheap $170, or better (RRA-$240), or I can build a el cheapo setup. It can run as much as $910, or as little as $785 for the most basic M4 with a Daniel Defense fixed rear sight, el cheapo lower or $910 with the fuly adjustable LMT rear sight.

The Smith and the RRA are pretty much full tilt guns with all the cool stuff done. The BCM build will have the Milspec barrel and an M16 MCI bolt. I know all the purists love this, but tell me - is it worth it?

The RRA big downside is that the barrel is NOT chrome lined and I do believe that the feedramps are NOT M4 - which i understand is bad juju.

Also - I do like the fixed sight, and the RRA setup is very nice with the modded carry handle.

1. What would you do?

2. Are there REAL benefits I will see with the BCM barrel with 1:7 twist?

3. What is the best fixed rear sight for the money? DD has no elevation. LMT is pricey at $120.

4. I know the conventional wisdom is that the lower makes NO diff. Anyone disagree?

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kwelz
August 18, 2010, 09:18 PM
Skip the RRA. The lack of Chrome lining and the Dremmeled in feedramps are just scratching the surface of what is wrong.

The S&W is a good starter gun. The BCM is a much better way to go however.

I know it cost a bit more but the money you spend now will save you headache in the future. Save up an extra week or two and have no regrets in the future. Trust me on this. I have wasted so much money by being impatient and buying the cheaper things thinking they would be "Good enough" In other words. YES it is worth it.

Now Benefits of the 1/7 twist barrel? A much wider range of bullet choices for one. A 1/7 twist barrel will better stabilize long heavy bullets which are becoming more common, but also do just fine all the way down to around 50 Grain. The only time you are going to run into trouble is with very light varmint grenade type bullets. Which aren't what you should be shooting out of this type of rifle anyway.

Best Fixed rear for the money is probably the Daniel defense. Although Troy also makes a nice fixed rear as well. The LMT is nice but I am more of a set it and forget it type so I don't see the need for the adjustments.

Lowers don't make a difference up to a point. An out of spec lower will cause you problems no matter who makes it. And the lower you go on the totem pole the more likely you will have an out of spec lower. DPMS or Doublestar have been known to send out more than a few. RRA, for all my dislike of their uppers, makes some nice lowers. Spikes is probably your best bang for your buck. Heck you can get one of their lowers for under $100 right now.

More important than the lower itself (assuming it is in spec) is the lower parts kit you put in it. Don't buy a cheap kit and then wonder why you are getting a second round fired when you release the trigger. or worse a hammer that follows the Bolt home. I have seen both and it isn't pretty. Esspeccially when the guy at the next table over has a badge.

I would suggest a parts kit from GandR tactical. They are going to cost a bit more than a RRA or DPMS kit but they will be of better quality as well.

Hope I have answered all your questions.


ETA: Don't worry about a gun coming the way you "want it" I have found that what I like on a gun has changed the more I learn. And I have yet to see a factory gun come exactly the way I want it. Get quality core components and then go from there.

bri
August 18, 2010, 09:21 PM
I'm new to the AR game, so I won't claim to be an expert. I did, however, do quite a bit research over the last 6 months and my vote out of your choices is the BCM build, without hesitation.

Canuck-IL
August 18, 2010, 09:23 PM
The RRA link doesn't work so I don't know your comparison basis.

M4 feedramps are, IMNSHO, 99% marketing, 1% function.

1:7 twist allows the use of heavier bullets - more accurate at longer distances as they buck the wind better - how far do you want to shoot?

No idea on fixed sights.

All lowers are created equal - unless they aren't ... if it's in-spec, it'll become an invisible basis for the trigger group and upper, where it really does matter what you get. I've seen nice builds on a variety of off-name lowers - the holes are either square and in place or they aren't. If you have the option to return an out of spec lower, then cheap is fine.

What would I do?
I only shoot an AR in HP service rifle ... freefloat tube is a high priority and I still go stainless over chrome lined. Next in line is a good, adjustable 2-stage trigger.
/Bryan

briang2ad
August 18, 2010, 10:01 PM
RRA, for all my dislike of their uppers, makes some nice lowers.

Found a site with a RRA Lower complete for $240 shipped. That is what I was basing the build price on. I suppose it does not have the two stage match trigger at that price, but I thinki it is the best deal I have seen. Another forum suggested "surplus ammo" or Aerotek or something - I just figure Spikes of RRA wold be better. If you went with a stripped Spikes, what inner kit? Stock? That is why I think the $240 assembled deal is best.


BTW - If I go 14.5" midlength on the BCM, can I use regular M4 hand guards???

Thanks.

Zerodefect
August 18, 2010, 10:10 PM
You'll need middy length handgards for a middy.

I'd ignore all the $$$ counting. Figure out exactly what you want, then get quality components. It cost what it costs, no need to over do it, but it'll be cheaper in the long run if you spend what is needed to get it right.

Your on the right path with the BCM uppers. I'd also look into the 14.5" or 16" middy Recce uppers as well. 12" rails help alot.

kwelz
August 18, 2010, 10:38 PM
LPK is really easy.

http://www.gandrtactical.com/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=GRT-LPK&reference=/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi%3Fsearch%3Daction%26keywords%3Dkits%26searchstart%3D0%26template%3DPDGCommTemplates/FullNav/SearchResult.html

Grip wise I like the Tango Down better than Magpul and for stocks it is a tossup between the Magpul CTR or Vltor Emod depending on the use of the gun.

Oh and don't bother with the RRA 2 stage. They have a nasty tendency to go single stage when actually used. Stick with the stock trigger till you get a better feel for the gun. You can always drop in an aftermarket later.

On thing about that RRA kit, the Receiver extension will be commercial not milspec, which will limit your stock options a bit more.

Cascadia
August 19, 2010, 01:48 AM
re: rear sights, if you want to shoot iron sights almost exclusively, consider hunting down a USGI carry handle. You can buy them new for $80-90, but because they are not very tacti-cool, you can often find them pre-owned for much cheaper. You'll get about what you're looking at for that LMT rear sight you are looking at, mechanically. It just takes up space that could otherwise be occupied by your choice of optics. If you go the optic route, you have any number of good flip-up BUIS options. But for an M4, iron sights are a fine idea. You'll probably reconfigure things sooner or later, anyway.

re: stock, I like a good cheek weld and never really have liked the traditional M4 butt. I really like the SOPMOD that came with my LMT, although it might be a bit much for your budget if you decide to build. They go for a couple hundred bucks and even I will admit that's silly. I also like some of Magpul's products.

re: build vs. buy, I would want to weigh my options. Price this thing out and see where you land. I did, and I will only build for fun. Among a whole other bunch of considerations, I figure that at the price of ammo and components, the cheapest thing I will ever do with a rifle is buy the thing. The difference in price between a Bushy or a RRA or a Colt LEO or an LMT begins to matter very little after your first couple thousand rounds, or three thousand if you are reloading. So weigh it out...what do you really want? I know a lot of people who do their own builds and, invariably, their first build was nowhere near as good as their third. At that point, any one of them could have paid for one REALLY sweet machine complete with disco ball. Aside from the pride of DIY, if this will be your one and only AR, I would buy the best rifle I could justify.

re: 1:7 twist, actually, that faster twist prefers 55 gr. bullets. The slower 1:9 will shoot tighter groups in theory. In practice, we are talking about an automatic carbine here, with a 16" barrel. No matter what your twist is, it is what it is. If your build is an SPR, then you might have more to think about.

re: chromed bores, bare M4 ramps, etc...lots of this stems from military applications. The M4 ramp is really necessary on an SBR of 14" or less, but at 16" they are nice to have. I have heard reports of some rifles lacking M4 ramps bending bullets with little or no effect on accuracy or function. I just don't know. The "dremmeled" ramps like RRA has are cut after the lower is finished, so they lack corrosion protection and could theoretically be rough. The chrome bore prevents corrosion, too. But serious shooters have trouble wearing out bores, not having them rust, so unless you are splashing around brackish swamps a lot, these considerations might not really matter to you. Or, maybe they do.

I would strongly suggest considering the used market for good production rifles. ARs are actually very long-lived, and most gun owners might hit the range three times a year. With all of the "Ford vs. Dodge vs. Chevy" arguments that plague the AR, many people ditch their "second tier" rifles for "first tier" rifles, when a "third tier" rifle would probably suit their needs. At any rate, a gun dealer down the street from me always has two or three nice Bushies for sale for around $700...often with optics, spare mags, a case, you name it. I think they are all trade-ins from guys wanting to step up a tier, and few (if any) look like they've had more than a couple hundred rounds through them. One I saw recently came with three mags, and only one had ever been fired from! $700, it went out the door with a fella who came in to see if his new Kimber had made it in yet. Not saying Bushy is the greatest AR, but they do build better rifles than most peoples' first builds. And at $700, you sure have a heck of a platform to start improving upon as the paychecks keep coming in. I have not seen many of the RRAs you like, used, but that might be different in other parts of the country.

For a build, just keep quality parts in mind. Don't go cheap. But if you start pricing this thing out and it goes close to $1000 for good parts, consider an LMT or Colt. Just remember that the nice thing about the AR platform is no matter what you decide, there will always be someone there to tell you that you made a horrible decision.

briang2ad
August 19, 2010, 05:21 AM
http://dynamicarmament.com/items/ar-15-lower-receivers/stag-arms-lower-6-position-stock-staglower6position-detail.htm

I guess this would keep the build cost down, and be Milspec...

OK - maybe I need to stick to a CARBINE upper? Are handguards/rails hard to get for a 14.5"?

Zerodefect
August 19, 2010, 09:12 AM
Not really and they aren't a wear item so you only buy them once.

http://www.rainierarms.com/?page=shop/detail&product_id=1707

briang2ad
August 19, 2010, 10:07 AM
ANY advantage to mid-length?

I already have some S&W handguards to the M4 std length.

Zerodefect
August 19, 2010, 10:10 AM
You can reach out further on them.

Not a big deal CQB, but at longer ranges a longer grip can increase accuracy and smooth out transitioning from one target to another.

Check out: "3 gun grip stance" "Magpul grip stance"

Cascadia
August 19, 2010, 10:45 AM
The only problem with a 14.5" barrel is the Federal tax stamp and paperwork. Anything under 16" is by Fed definition an SBR, regulated just like AOW, silencers, destructive devices, etc. Not saying you can't or should not do it, but I live in Washington State and would not be allowed to fire such a weapon without crossing a border (and telling the BATF my plans to do so). I can own it here, I just can't shoot it here...for now! But Federally I believe that's a $200 tax stamp, a letter from your local sherf or chief of police, and a bit of a wait on paperwork to assemble the barrel on top of the material cost. So, myself, I would stick with a non-regulated length. 1.5" is not going to hang you up on anything, but 14.5" will land you inside a bunch of regulations and cost you more to do it legally.

I do like the idea of going middie, though. It just depends on how you want to shoot this rifle. If you are going build, you really have few limits. Why constrain yourself to an M4 if there's something else you want? That's my biggest gripe about LMT...if you want anything other than M4, it's time for the custom shop. That's wrong.

greyling22
August 19, 2010, 10:50 AM
cdnn was running a special on smith ar's a while back. they may have some still. beyond that, I like my spikes gun. they specs are there, the price is right and it's run fine for me. the guys over at ar15.com like them. but all your options seemed good.

Zerodefect
August 19, 2010, 11:16 AM
The only problem with a 14.5" barrel is the Federal tax stamp and paperwork. Anything under 16" is by Fed definition an SBR, regulated just like AOW, silencers, destructive devices, etc. Not saying you can't or should not do it, but I live in Washington State and would not be allowed to fire such a weapon without crossing a border (and telling the BATF my plans to do so). I can own it here, I just can't shoot it here...for now! But Federally I believe that's a $200 tax stamp, a letter from your local sherf or chief of police, and a bit of a wait on paperwork to assemble the barrel on top of the material cost. So, myself, I would stick with a non-regulated length. 1.5" is not going to hang you up on anything, but 14.5" will land you inside a bunch of regulations and cost you more to do it legally.

I do like the idea of going middie, though. It just depends on how you want to shoot this rifle. If you are going build, you really have few limits. Why constrain yourself to an M4 if there's something else you want? That's my biggest gripe about LMT...if you want anything other than M4, it's time for the custom shop. That's wrong.


You can get 14.5" uppers with a A2x hider permanently pinned on from BCM. That ends up being a legal 16.1"

briang2ad
August 19, 2010, 11:18 AM
Just got the Smith for my son - OR - now it wears all the Magpul and YHM stuff. Very nice.

I may want to do something different. Probably will go BCM - they seem to be 'accepted' here and there as Milspec, blah, blah.

Middie is OUT. If I want Magpul stuff on it, I need standard, and don't want to pay extra...

The BCM upper, Stag lower, and LMT sight will likely come in around $900.

Need to find a deal on the FIXED rear sight. I want rugged, but adjustable both ways.

I do think S&W is a good deal now though, and their warranty has to be the best in AR land.

WHY do MOST gunmakers put out 1:9 if 1:7 is SOOOOO much better and more versatile??????

Canuck-IL
August 19, 2010, 11:22 AM
WHY do MOST gunmakers put out 1:9 if 1:7 is SOOOOO much better and more versatile??????
Most offer both ... and even the occ 1:12 - if you're varminting and want to shoot the lightweights, they're useful. Keeps the bullet from vaporizing on the way.
/B

briang2ad
August 19, 2010, 11:29 AM
ANY advantage to the SOCOM weight barrel? Or, will that ruin handling???

TonyAngel
August 19, 2010, 11:53 AM
You can buy a 14.5" barrel and use it in a build, as long as you either have it on an SBRed lower, handgun lower or pin a muzzle device to it that will extend the length beyond 16". I typically just add something like a Levang or Smith Vortex to a 14.5" and weld in a blind pin to make it permanent, within the meaning of the applicable federal statutes.

With regard to the carbine vs. mid length issue, the mid length is going to shoot softer. You also gain the benefit of a longer sight radius if using iron sights and you're going to be running some sort of handguards make use of the stock front sight base. From what I understand, Magpul is going to be releasing a mid length set of handguards soon.

Of course, if you're going to just add a free float rail, it doesn't matter what gas system you go with, since you can just use a low profile gas block and cover it with the handguard. At this point, choose either carbine or middie. It makes no difference.

Some think that a carbine gas system is more reliable with a 14.5" barrel. I'm running a 14.5 with a carbine gas system and I have to say that my 16" with middie system shoots smoother.

CraigC
August 19, 2010, 12:04 PM
I had some apprehension about building my first because I had zero experience with the platform outside handling them in shops. Now that I have my $600 S&W, have a couple hundred rounds through it and have had it apart, I'll build the next one.

kwelz
August 19, 2010, 12:06 PM
WHY do MOST gunmakers put out 1:9 if 1:7 is SOOOOO much better and more versatile??????

Why do most AR makers cut corners and not charge significantly less than the good manufactures?

SOCOm weight barrel is an advantage in Full auto fire. For a civilian shooter it just ads weight.

rcmodel
August 19, 2010, 12:10 PM
Cabala's has DPMS Oricle carbines on sale right now for $699.

Bushmaster M4's for $999.

Remington R15's for $999.

Pretty hard to build one for $699.

rc

Welding Rod
August 19, 2010, 01:51 PM
Since all 3 of your links are non-functional for me, I can only guess what variant you are thinking about. It also is not clear if this to be your first AR or not, but based on your questions, I assume it may be. I also assume you are buying it for personal use and not as a duty gun.

That being the case, here is my 2 cents:

Consider a 20" rifle.

You want the "best" rear sight? Get an A2 reciever.

The 16" "tactical" carbines with the bells and whistles have their purpose as duty guns, but they just don't have the fun factor that the plain old rifles do at the range.

I have owned at least a dozen ARs from Colt, Bushmaster, Rock River, and BCM (upper). Most of those were carbines, some with quad rails, magpul stocks, and the like. What do I want to grab when I want to shoot an AR? A plain 20" A2. Second to that is a RRA 20" SS HBAR with A2 stock, aluminum free float tube, and a very nice Leupold Mk 4 optic.

Those two configurations are what I have found to be the ultimate for range shooting pleasure. I could have saved a lot of money on the carbines had I known that ahead of time.

The prededing is purely personal opinion, obviously.

briang2ad
August 19, 2010, 04:42 PM
Right now, its about S&W OR BCM build with their upper. I really don't want a 20" - in my book, its not going to be that much more accurate especially at "real combat ranges" (less than 150M) and it just makes it harder to carry and point quickly, etc. Wish I had a carbine at Ranger School back in the day. Just don't ned the 4".

RRA out because of the non-chrome lined barrel, althtough the stock etc. are way cool.

Smith has everyone beat on being around when I pass it on, and having superior CS.

Majority on these forums are VERY inclined to BCM being the deal, becuase of the 1:7 and Milspec on all. It may be worth it.

I do like being a bit left on the chart.

DoubleTapDrew
August 19, 2010, 06:29 PM
WHY do MOST gunmakers put out 1:9 if 1:7 is SOOOOO much better and more versatile??????
1:9 is a good compromise for people who want to shoot 45gr-70gr bullets which covers the majority of them. With a 1:7 you can shoot heavier match bullets that seem to be popular and accurate like the 75-77gr Sierras, Noslers, etc. With a 1:9 you are limited to around 69gr or so before it starts keyholing.
With a 1:7 you may find some thin jacketed lightweight varmint bullets spinning apart en route to the target.
I'd go with a BCM even if it's a few hundred $ more. It'll only hurt your wallet once. I wanted a LMT and a Middy so I went with a LMT lower and BCM midlength upper.

TonyAngel
August 20, 2010, 08:54 AM
I'm not wild about RRA, but it is a better than run of the mill brand. I thought all of their barrels were chrome lined. If they do offer one that isn't, there's probably an upgrade to chrome lined for about $40.

I have lots of BCM stuff and it's all nice. I consider it to be a level above Bushmaster and RRA because of the materials used in the barrels and the fact that their barrels are MP and HP test, as well as their bolts. I believe that there's just less chance of premature failure that way. Of course, I have Bushmaster and RRA equipment that has seen thousands of rounds and didn't have any trouble with those either.

Another bang for the buck brand that you should check out is Spike's. Aimsurplus is running some killer deals on their uppers.

Grunt
August 21, 2010, 07:22 AM
Build or buy, huh? Well, to date I have 11 AR-15s and I have yet to buy one as a complete rifle. Building them is child's play and probably the easiest weapon you can assemble from a pile of parts. Best of all is you can build it the way you want using the better quality parts of the cheapest bargain basement parts you want depending on your budget and the weapon's intended use.

jsimmons
August 21, 2010, 07:53 AM
Here's my list of must-haves in a AR-15

16-inch hammer-forged chrome-lined barrel
Chrome-lined chamber
Mid-length gas system
M4 feed ramps
M16 bolt carrier
Mil-spec buffer tube
Flattop upper

Beyond that, everything else is either standard or gravy.

If you want a complete rifle, I would recommend a Spikes or Bravo Company, followed by a Smith&Wesson. If you want to build it yourself, just make sure you buy the best components you can possibly afford. In the end, spend your money in the places that make sense (for instance, there's no point at all in spending $300 on a stripped lower), and keep it as simple as possible. More than anything else, you want a rifle that's reliable when everything is said and done.

benEzra
August 21, 2010, 09:29 AM
Found a site with a RRA Lower complete for $240 shipped. That is what I was basing the build price on. I suppose it does not have the two stage match trigger at that price
AFAIK, all RRA lowers have the nice trigger unless you specify otherwise. I may be wrong though.

ANY advantage to mid-length?
Yes, lots, if you're getting a 16" barrel. The midlength gas system is softer recoiling, easier on parts, and may theoretically be a teeny bit more reliable. You also have a longer sight radius, a longer handgrip that gives you more options in how you hold the gun, since a carbine-length grip makes you keep the support hand close in whether you like it or not.

DoubleTapDrew
August 21, 2010, 01:08 PM
^ sums up why I went with a midlength for my second (first is a M4gery 16" carbine). Very happy with it.
Besides, IMO the 16" bbl and carbine length handguard look slightly awkward with all that barrel hanging out in front of the handguards :)

WyrTwister
August 21, 2010, 04:29 PM
What is more important to you , a rifle with all the cool stuff on it , or a decent rifle at a more affordable price ?

My advice is forget the cool stuff and spend the money you saved on ammo .

God bless
Wyr

Welding Rod
August 21, 2010, 05:17 PM
What is more important to you , a rifle with all the cool stuff on it , or a decent rifle at a more affordable price ?

My advice is forget the cool stuff and spend the money you saved on ammo .

God bless
Wyr
I second that.

It is likely you will find the fancy railed handguards needlessly expensive, bulky, heavy, and unergonomic. The only benefit they provide many shooters is their free float capacity. And that doesn't really help much unless you plan to do very precise shooting from a bipod, or slung up tightly. If that is the case, you will likely find a plain round aluminum free float tube provides the same benefits without as severe drawbacks.

There are options to mount a light without a full rail if you are interested.

I went down the quad route only to find I actually wish I had not. I tried and have found I have no use for a pistol grip, big heavy light (a Surefire X300 is plenty IME), a Magpul angle grip thing-a-magig, etc. I certainly don't plan to mount a laser, night vision, etc.

The only real benefit I have found for my uses is that the quads that have plenty of holes and/or big holes aid in barrel cooling compared to plain round free float tubes. May be a benefit if camped out in a prarie dog town or something and you are trying to shoot a fast very high round count with high precision.

Personally for most civilian shooters I think the floated benefits tend to be more applicable to an applications were a 20 or 24 inch barrel is the best choice, and tend to offer a lot less in application were carbines length barrels are most suitable.

Skylerbone
August 21, 2010, 06:48 PM
M&P 15 PSX and be done with it already. No offense but you don't seem to know what you want or need and still haven't (unless I missed it) stated an intended purpose. The above should rock your world long enough for you to save money for another should you deem it necessary and comes with the 5 free magazine rebate.

Buy some nice gloves, a bunch of ammo and have some fun already 8 )

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