Also, any info on the .223 round itself, the effectiveness, range and ammo variations?
Check out those links and kick around some ideas, then when you have an idea of what kind of AR you are interested in, come back here and we can talk specifics.
January 24, 2004, 11:52 PM
ARs are the tinkertoys of the rifle world, so here's a basic, breakdown, which can't possibly be complete.
For all intents and purposes, you can think of them as rifles in 3 segments:
Each of these come configured in "pre & post" ban configurations. All "pre-ban" configs must have been assembled into a complete rifle prior to the magic date, and I won't spend a lot of time discussing them, as all new rifles are "post ban" configs.
In general, a "preban" will have a normal flash hider, a bayo mount, and possibly a folding/collapsing stock.
Upper receiver: Many barrel types to choose from, ranging in length from 16 to 24 inches, varying weights, for general use, target, varminting, and so forth. Your basic choices are stainless steel or chrome moly for long distance/competition use, or chrome lined for ease of maintenance. You also can choose between a "flat top", which makes scope mounting easier, or the classic AR handle, which makes scope mounting somewhat problematic. Detachable handles are available for most flat tops. At the end of the muzzle, you can go with a naked crown, or one of various types of muzzle brakes.
Lower reciever: They're all pretty much the same, although you can select a 2 stage trigger rather than the military 1 stage trigger. Post ban lowers have a hump built into them which prevents the installation of the M-16 autosear, and thus pleases the ATF. A lot of people wind up replacing the GI spec grip handle sooner or later, for something else that fills the hand better.
Buttstock: Basic choices are psuedo collapsible, normal GI looking thing, or custom wireframey looking things.
Basic models, in a broad brushstrokes:
Rifles intended to approximate full length M-16's, in an AR sort of way.
Rifles intended to approximate M-4 carbines. These are typically 16 inch barrells with the "half length" handguards. The front sight post is closer than normal, as the gas block is build into it.
Dissipators: I've only seen these by Bushmaster. They're 16 inch carbines, with a full length handguard, a proprietary gas block, and the sight post is out front, at the correct sight distance.
Specialty: Floating handguards, varminters, carbon rifles, etc.
Hope that gives you the lay of the land.
January 25, 2004, 11:52 AM
Thanks guys. Exactly the kind of info I was looking for.
So.... assuming I am not in a hurry and shop around (once I decide what I want) -- what kind of price can I expect on a new lower end or lightly used AR?
January 25, 2004, 12:26 PM
Prices are going to vary depending on brand and feature spec. At around $5-550 I believe the least expensive retail AR is the Olympic Arms Plinker (http://www.olyarms.com/usa.html) (scroll down, it's just above the OA-98 Pistol at the bottom). I've never seen one up close but I hear the fit and finish on this model is less than spectacular. You might want to ask people who already own one.
As a general rule you can't go wrong with a nice Bushmaster, (http://www.bushmaster.com/shopping/weapons/pcwa2s20.asp) but they will run you about $800+ or so.
You have many options. If you just want to spread the cost out (and have no interest in assembling one) you could buy a good lower, (http://www.gunbroker.com/auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=15214491) wait a bit and then buy an upper (http://www.gunbroker.com/auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=15188584) to put on it. The cost won't really be changed but you won't have to spend it all at once. The disadvantage of this is that you can't call Bushmaster and say "my new rifle doesn't work, fix it" if you go this route.
I would spend some time hanging around on the AR15.com forums. (http://www.ar15.com) There's lots of useful information.
If you enjoyed reading about "Considering an AR" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!