Next purchase, AR-15


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USAF_Vet
March 10, 2011, 03:34 PM
After being bent over by the IRS this year, my plans all got thrown out the window, but I will end up with about a grand. A far sight from the nearly 9k I was expecting, but it is what it is. The consolation here is that the wife said I can do with it as I please, and I've been itching to get an AR-15 for years.

I'm fluent in the M-16, but with the explosion of the AR market, I'm at a loss as to where to start.

What I would like is a full size AR-15 rifle, with the adjustable M-4 style stock, flat top/ railed A3 style upper, iron sights, and not much more. I'll do all my further accessorizing later on.

I'm pretty adept with the rifle, so I've considered buying the bits and pieces and assembling it on my own, but this being my first AR, I'm more inclined to get a ready made rifle. Or at the very least, a ready made upper and ready made lower and slap them together.

But... I'm a bit overwhelmed. :eek:

Too many darn choices. :banghead:

So I'd like to hear the AR-15 owners sound off. Brands, prices, etc.

I'll have a grand, but I'd like to keep it in the $800 range, +/- $100. It's a pretty standard agreement that when I get a new gun, the wife gets a new shiny also.

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againstthagrane
March 10, 2011, 03:43 PM
if it's just a toy, any of the major manufacturers will do, just get the cheapest one that fits your description. if you want an actual tool stick with BCM, Colt, Daniel Defense or other "top tiers".

I have a DPMS and a Daniel Defense barreled custom upper, they've both been almost 100%. i had a single FTF with silver bear and a magpul 20 rounder with the DD CHF upper

Hunterdad
March 10, 2011, 03:50 PM
Have you considered building your own? Its cheaper in most cases and pretty rewarding.

gotigers
March 10, 2011, 03:55 PM
In order of price:

Spikes
Bravo Co.
Daniel Defense

All are great quality. You can't go wrong with any of them or combinations of them. You won't have to worry about mil-spec, metallurgy, quality control or customer service if you buy those three.

I would go with a midlength if you can work it in your budget. It shouldn't be but a few bucks more. Magpul CTR stock (it has a friction lock that removes woble). m16 bolt carrier group (you dont need chrome coated). 1:8 or 1:7 twist, chrome lined or stainless barrel.

bri
March 10, 2011, 04:06 PM
In order of price:

Spikes
Bravo Co.
Daniel Defense

All are great quality. You can't go wrong with any of them or combinations of them. You won't have to worry about mil-spec, metallurgy, quality control or customer service if you buy those three.

I would go with a midlength if you can work it in your budget. It shouldn't be but a few bucks more. Magpul CTR stock (it has a friction lock that removes woble). m16 bolt carrier group (you dont need chrome coated). 1:8 or 1:7 twist, chrome lined or stainless barrel.

OP - By "full size AR-15 rifle", I assume you're referring to a 20" barrel? If so, Spikes and DD are out of the running, AFAIK.

BCM does offer a nice starting point with their blank 20" upper: http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/BCM-M16-Government-20-Upper-Receiver-Group-p/bcm-urg-gov-20.htm - Although, it's out of stock ATM on their site, unfortunately.

USAF_Vet
March 10, 2011, 05:01 PM
if it's just a toy, any of the major manufacturers will do

I'm not competing with it (yet,maybe someday in the future), I'm not going into combat (I hope) with it, so it's more of a plinker/ HD/ nostalgia rifle.


Have you considered building your own? Its cheaper in most cases and pretty rewarding.

I have considered it, but would prefer one ready made for the first one. That way I can re-aquaint myself with the weapon before delving deeper into custom builds.


By "full size AR-15 rifle", I assume you're referring to a 20" barrel?

Correct. I don't mind the carbine length bbl, and I'm not throwing it out of the running by any means, just a personal preference.

C-grunt
March 10, 2011, 05:18 PM
Id vote BCM. Same price as the lower tier models but built correctly.

john5036
March 10, 2011, 06:12 PM
I'm in the same boat, so I vote that you look at the Spike's pkg for the price point you listed. I spent the day with one of their ARs (the carbine-length), and for the price/purpose it's a tough deal to beat. It's light, it shoots true, and is a fine rifle. BCM is a very close second in my mind but only because they'll be slightly more expensive.

The con: Spike's is currently on a 4-6 week delay, which can be good or bad. Good: In that they still keep their quality controls, or Bad: They're in a rush and QC is lower.

If the rumors are true, this'll be your first AR... *first*... which implies you'll be encouraged to play around and get more.

Sky
March 10, 2011, 07:29 PM
This is not a recommendation but! Was at the gun range yesterday where a guy had ordered a Doublestar which was in and he had paid $540 delivered!!! He knew nothing about ARs and as he was filling out the paperwork I inspected the rifle. Fit and finish was very good. The BCG gas key was not staked properly but I have seen many from various manufactures in the same condition. I think Buds was running them on special when he ordered it but I could be wrong. I just squirted some Breakfree CLP on the BCG put the rifle back together and showed the new owner how to load a mag and insert to chamber a round. He did not speak much English but seemed very enthusiastic with his purchase. He had ammo already so with wife and kids in tow he left for the range. I waited a bit and when I looked outside almost an hour later his wife was shooting the AR. They must have shot 300 rounds. He came back in before they left and pointed and asked about cleaning and tear down. He picked up a can of Breakfree CLP and left. I did ask him if the rifle was OK and no problem. His grin said it all. I would have never even looked at the Doublestar AR because I guess I am a snob?? I figured for $540 delivered it had to be a piece of junk and since I did not shoot it maybe it is or will be?? But first impression was wow! The range owner was trying to order 5 for rentals and resale before I left.

sappnasty
March 10, 2011, 07:59 PM
Rock River Arms makes excellent rifles for a good price....all different types. Including my favorite...the Standard with the flat top receiver. Check it out...
http://rockriverarms.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=225

HOLY DIVER
March 10, 2011, 08:12 PM
BCM gets my vote since your wanting a 20inch model buy the upper and find your self a lower somewhere. if you decide to go with a carbine i would say Spike's because there cheaper and very good rifles

General Tso
March 10, 2011, 08:33 PM
Colt Defense LE6920. Was the number 1 rated in "the chart". Usually around $1100. Can't go wrong. 100% mil spec.

kilo729
March 10, 2011, 09:29 PM
Colt Defense LE6920. Was the number 1 rated in "the chart". Usually around $1100. Can't go wrong. 100% mil spec.

The chart is ancient.

Go with spikes/BCM for best price.

Both are 100% mil-spec as well, and you won't have to pay an arm and a leg just to have a pony on your receiver.

Unless you're into that kind of thing.

Sky
March 10, 2011, 09:30 PM
I do own a 20' Bushmaster, free float, two stage match trigger etc etc with a bi-pod. It is heavier than the 16s or 14.5s but has it's uses. The 24" Bushmaster and the 20" are very accurate rifles with the optics I have. I did not pay retail for either of the Varminter or Predator. Several hundred less in both cases.

If you are going to be humping through the trails and your shooting is 300 yards or less a 16" is plenty for most applications. Not saying you can't hit things farther out with the 16s just thinking of weight and ease of use.

My night scope is heavy ( 2.3 lbs w/o ir?) and is used for night hunting during the summer time on a 14.5". I am saying all this only because it would be advisable from my point of view to figure out what you want to use the rifle for. I like all my ARs but none are top of the chart. CMMGs, Bushmasters, Del-tons and each for me has a special use, Could I get rid of 4 and still be covered; yes. But I hate removing optics and like to think I can grab a weapon tailored for that days anticipated shooting. My favorite brush gun is a 16" carry handle set up with a vortex red dot in the scout configuration. I have never missed meat with any of my guns due to a malfunction; but I am a hunter and do not shoot 3000 rounds a weekend. However I do feel that in an apocalyptic zombie attack the first gun in my hand would allow me to give a good accounting of myself.

Have seen all three of my type manufactured guns at a gun range for rental except for the 20" and 24" Bushies. They get shot in excess of 3000 rounds a month. Never are they cleaned and are abused in ways that I would not put up with. But they all keep working. Figure out your use and then get what will do the job for you. Some of the upper chart rifles can be had for the same price as some of the lower charted ARs anymore. What ever you get if something breaks it can be replaced.

I am lucky in that I usually get to shoot my rifles before a purchase. I did buy the 24" sight unseen here at THR from a member but I have been pleased with it's function and performance. Good luck on what ever you decide to get.

There is always something out there with more points on the coolness scale or more expensive..A friend of mine has over $3000 in his rig and that is not counting his beautiful custom rifle case that I honestly do believe he would faint if the case got a scratch on it! Different strokes for different folks. Below is a comparison of ARs by a user.

http://forums.officer.com/forums/showthread.php?81462-So-you-want-to-buy-an-AR-15-huh

Gordon_Freeman
March 11, 2011, 12:33 AM
I would suggest an upper tier model such as a Colt 6920. You can always get a cheaper model in the future.

Rubber_Duck
March 11, 2011, 12:51 AM
kilo729, I believe Rob_S is working on an updated version of "the chart."

To the OP: I suggest you go with a 16-inch midlength for the most flexibility in what you can do with it. I would almost suggest a carbine length gas system for familiarity (assuming you used the M4A1 in the USAF) but the proper length barrel for this gas system is 14.5 inches and in order to achieve that without paperwork requires you to pin and weld the flash hider in place, not something you want if you plan on changing things around later. Just for the record, the 1.5 inch difference IS noticeable.

Also, a midlength will give you more rail space, as well as making for a smoother/softer shooting carbine that will have a less violent extraction cycle. One option is going all out on the upper (the upper is where it counts the most so don't skimp). Bravo Company offers some of the best valued uppers in the business, they meet all mil-spec requirements while being within budget for all serious shooters. Take a look: http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/BCM-16-Mid-Length-Upper-Receiver-Group-p/bcm-urg-mid-16.htm

kwelz
March 11, 2011, 01:03 AM
The chart is ancient.


The chart was updated constantly till Rob got tired of dealing with idiots last month and took it down. He is working on a better version currently.

As for what to buy.

DD, Colt, BCM.

Tirod
March 11, 2011, 09:26 AM
Building is fun, educational, and lets you put something together not readily offered on the market. It's not necessarily cheaper at all, many of us opt for the upgrade or nice to have feature, and all said and done, the budget figure is as useless as the one Congress publishes.

No rush, think about what you want this gun to do specifically. Then drill down thru the selection of what barrel, upper, optic, furniture, and trigger it needs to accomplish that. So far, a $599 Bargain Bin gun would almost do it. "Full size" implies 20" barrel, and the better choice is a fixed stock, not carbine. Good example of getting things out of order, the 20" is a longer range precision or varmint application, which implies range and open field use, prone shooting, and the need for a good cheek weld because sighting the gun takes a lot more time.

Adjustable stock is more CQB, three gun, and use of body armor. M4's are more optimal for urban vehicular use, the Squad Designated Marksman gets the fixed stock 20" for optimal longer reach at scoped upper ranges.

Choosing parts not compatible with the end use doesn't mean getting a versatile all around user, it often winds up not doing anything well. So, specify the actual task, and run down the list of what is optimal for it.

Example - Hunting rifle in fall/winter. In the AR, 5.56 isn't always preferred, or legal. For medium game like whitetail deer, a move up in caliber offers a surer kill, reduces tracking, and is more humane. YMMV, I have shot deer with .308, .and .30-06, they were all well under 200m. Considering optimal choices for that - 6.8SPC with 16" midlength gas barrel, A3 rail upper, red dot optic (which I've used since the '70s,) fixed A1 stock, TD grip, and rifle length handguard (not free float.) The military trigger got an adjustable setscrew to limit overtravel. All major parts are Foliage Green as that's superior to black in the field.

Optimize, not customize, you get a better tool, and it will likely be different enough.

Moose458
March 11, 2011, 09:39 AM
I also vote for the BCM upper. BCM also has blemished lowers at a good price. Being ex-air force myself, I went with this addition:
http://i246.photobucket.com/albums/gg92/Moose458/548053-R1-06-7.jpg
http://i246.photobucket.com/albums/gg92/Moose458/548053-R1-08-9.jpg

1911WB
March 11, 2011, 10:08 AM
I liked my Spikes Tactical Midlength 16" so much that I bought a second ST 16" M4 which I like even more (scary accurate). Others have already mentioned Daniel Defense, Bravo Company and LMT, any of which would be great choices. I wouldn't consider Oly & DPMS if you can afford the better companies listed. WB

Guns and more
March 11, 2011, 06:13 PM
I always recommend reading this site:

http://forums.officer.com/forums/showthread.php?81462-So-you-want-to-buy-an-AR-15-huh

It's written for cops, but it's not too much information as in AR 15.com.
He hits all the things to look for.

He ended up recommending a CMMG and I bought a Colt 6920, but I knew why and I've never regretted it.

john5036
March 11, 2011, 06:34 PM
Moody, that's an excellent styling on that lower, but then I'm partial to the AF. I'm a proud son of a retired AF father.

suzukisam
March 11, 2011, 06:36 PM
I've built many ARs and if you do little research you'll find that ar components are all about the same. people love to tell you that one brand makes them better or worse and the truth is that many parts are all made in the same plants in many instances. for an example the metal milspec magazines can be bought for about $8-9 with a government plate on the bottom. if you buy a colt or bushmaster stamped on they are $30.00 at cabelas. and most of them are all made in the same factory. A guy was telling me one time that they have boxes of floor plates and and depending on who ordered the mags depended on what plate they got. also you receivers last I knew were only made in three places, however machined by each individual maker. so as long as the machining is clean and to spec it doesn't matter whos roll mark is on the side. I have purchased nice lowers for as little as 50.00. just find the cheapest deals you can and then do some research on the parts. you'll find that many of the haters are people who have purchased colts and other high end ARs and don't want to admit very nice rifles can be had for considerably less. and colt of all people have had their share of issues in the AR15 market. I own some very nice"high end" ARs but I'm not a snob and I'll be the first to tell you there are very nice rifles much cheaper

Birddog1911
March 11, 2011, 08:22 PM
I might suggest you build your lower to save money, and buy the complete upper. The lowers from Palmetto State Armory and the Surplus Arms and Armor lower at AIM are the same forgings as Spikes, and others; Aero Precision. Great lowers, great price. Depending on what you pay for a lower parts kit (LPK), you could be in a complete lower, minus stock, for about $135. Then just choose your upper.

Bravo Company (BCM) is owned by a veteran, and has perhaps unheralded customer service. For instance, Paul just sent me a proprietary barrel nut wrench this week, for nothing. If EVER someone had a problem with one of his products, he'd jump to take care of that customer. Not to mention the quality of his builds, and how hard his equipment is run with success.

If I may be so bold, take a look at M4carbine.net, and look up the different brands. There are a good number of shooters over there who run their equipment very hard, including a number of tactical gun instructors. You'll see what they recommend, and why.

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