What's the cheapest way to get me into a good quality AR


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DMK
January 25, 2004, 12:17 PM
I've done some searching and have found the cheapest AR or the best AR, but I'm still not sure of the cheapest, good quality AR.

I'm leaning towards a 16" A2 carbine, but want decent accuracy (1MOA?) and reliability. Something that will serve double duty HD, and 100 yard open sight target rifle. Something simple, no optics, rails, swiss army knives, or tactical whatevers.

So far, I'm thinking an RRA A2 carbine is exactly what I'm looking for.

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Chris Rhines
January 25, 2004, 12:27 PM
The cheapest way? Build it yourself.

But a high-quality, stripped lower reciever. I got an Eagle Arms reciever from Quantico Arms in VA for $75.

Get a parts kit. The ones from J&T Distributing are by all accounts pretty good. I splurged for the chrome-lined 1-in-9" twist barrel. The kit ran me $550 with shipping.

That's $625, which ain't bad. You could shave $50 off by ditching the chrome-lined barrel, and maybe a bit more here and there.

When I get mine assembled, I'll let you know how it shoots.

- Chris

DMK
January 25, 2004, 08:17 PM
How do the J&T kits compare with DPMS, Rock River or Bushmaster parts?

I'm not sure I want to build my first one though. I don't even know how to field strip an AR yet.

WalkerTexasRanger
January 25, 2004, 08:22 PM
I will also suggest looking at the boards for a used one. Check here and over at AR15.com, there are always many for sale.. This is not a bad place to start anyway as you might change your mind about exactly what you want from the gun, so easy to sell again and get what you really want.

geekWithA.45
January 25, 2004, 09:12 PM
The first time you strip an AR, it's pretty intimidating, compared to most other rifles.

The 5th time you've stripped it, you wonder what the big deal is.

The 50th time you've stripped it, you wonder why you didn't build it yourself.

The 75th time you've stripped it, you swear you will never pay rack rate for an AR ever again.

If you can skip straight to the 50th strip, you'll save $400+ :)

What I guess I'm trying to say is, don't let lack of familiarity phase you. I regret that I let it throw me, and now I feel damned silly.

There's lots of help out there to guide you through, and I'm sure there's plenty of "AR Buddies" around to call upon if you get stuck.

DMK
January 25, 2004, 09:16 PM
If you can skip straight to the 50th strip, you'll save $400+ LOL! Point taken. I'll start researching parts quality.

Chris Rhines
January 25, 2004, 09:52 PM
DMK, ask me next week. I plan on posting a detailed report.
The JT kits consist of FN and Colt parts, so I'd imagine that they're at least decent. The barrels are Shaw or Wilson (which are the same barrels used on RRA guns.)

- Chris

Knife_Sniper
January 25, 2004, 11:09 PM
You get what you pay for has never been more true than in the world of the AR15.

Above all else, just get a good upper. Get the absolute best you can afford, even if it means saving another two months.

I thought about going cheap for my next AR. Well, I made the realization that I would have a cheap AR.

DMK
January 25, 2004, 11:17 PM
Above all else, just get a good upper. Get the absolute best you can afford, even if it means saving another two months. What would you recommend? I'm considering building the lower, but buying a complete upper. I'd rather not mess with headspace. I had enough of that fun when I built my FAL.

ARperson
January 25, 2004, 11:42 PM
As others have said, build it yourself. Then you also get an intimate working knowledge of the firearm.

We have gone a couple of ways. Favorite is a Cavalry Arms Lower with a Bushmaster complete upper. Cheaper may be a Cavalry Arms Lower, with a J&T Distributing, (Or model 1) Upper. Have had good luck with J&T personally. If you want an aluminum lower, you can find them stripped and look at J&T Distributing rifle kits.

Got my supervisor into an AR for about $600 going this route, optics excluded.

As for J&T Quality. We have shot about 300 rounds from our J&T Varmint upper with little problems. We are getting 1" (the wife) to 2"(me) groups at 100 yards with Q3131A ammo. No failures of any kind.

DMK
January 25, 2004, 11:56 PM
Favorite is a Cavalry Arms Lower with a Bushmaster complete upper. Is that the one piece molded lower and buttstock? If so how do you like that? Is it light or would an aluminum lower be lighter?

Knife_Sniper
January 25, 2004, 11:59 PM
What would you recommend? I'm considering building the lower, but buying a complete upper. I'd rather not mess with headspace. I had enough of that fun when I built my FAL.

The headspace on a freshly built upper from an AR15 should always be good with a new barrel and bolt. (I could be wrong here, but this is from what I have read) The barrel is automatically indexed by a small notch...
Im asking everyone here, am I correct in the above? It is my first upper build.

Anywho, I pruchased a Go headspace guage just in case.

Do build the lower, its very easy. I built mine in 15 minutes without the proper tools! :D

(Razor Blade, ballpoint Pen, Hex Key Wrench (Doubled as a fat punch), the parts kits plastic baggie and a pair of pliers)

Anywho, I, as would many others... recomend the following for quality upper receivers.

Bushmaster: "best barrels" (better steel)
Armalite: Lifetime warranty
Rock River Arms: Cheapest parts but still have VERY high quality (Some models lack chrome lining. I say go chrome or go home, but thats just me)

I left out Colt because it can be argued that the quality is almost the same with all four, but Colts price is noticably higher than all three manufacturers.

J&T, Model 1, and those others all make a functioning product, but be aware that they wont match the quality of the top tier manufacturers.
This lack of quality may be in their warranties, their steel, their fit and finish, ect. Some people have put umpteen rounds through a cheaper kit, thats great. However, when ppl mention good rifles to neophytes, its always Bushy, Armalite, Colt, and Rock River. You just cant go wrong.

Knife_Sniper
January 26, 2004, 12:05 AM
Oh and another thing not necessarily related.

I have some cav arms furniture and the plastic is top notch!
I do beleive the MKII is lighter than an aluminum receiver as it lacks a buffer tube and is... well, plastic. Everyone on www.AR15.com respects Cavalry Arms for making a quality product. Be aware though, that their uppers are olympic arms (Last I heard) or maybe it was DPMS? Whoah, I got some reading to do.

ARperson
January 26, 2004, 12:14 AM
Is that the one piece molded lower and buttstock? If so how do you like that? Is it light or would an aluminum lower be lighter?


Yep. It is actually one of their Blue Generation 1 lowers that my hubby had them cut down to A1 length for me. It is lighter assembled than an assembled aluminum lower. Not by much though. I ordered a custom upper from Bushmaster: Flat-top dissipator with an M4 profile barrel, and V-match front sight. (I know, I know, I just like the look of the full length handguards.) It's topped with an Eotech sight. The rifle is very light, not the absolute lightest, but it is totally mine, and I like to be different.

:p

DMK
January 26, 2004, 12:20 AM
Some models lack chrome lining. I say go chrome or go home, but thats just me Why is it that chrome barrels are a point of contention with ARs? Most of my guns don't have chrome barrels and I don't think I'm missing anything with them. Is there something special about the AR that makes a chrome barrel necessary? Also isn't a non-chrome barrel more accurate due to the inconsistancy in the thickness of chrome?

(Not picking on you Knife Sniper, just trying to learn about this stuff. Thanks for the excellent info and thoughtful advice! :) )

DMK
January 26, 2004, 12:22 AM
but it is totally mine, and I like to be different. I've only seen pictures of the stripped lowers, but I like the fluidity of their shape. I'll bet your's looks pretty cool in blue!

Hmm, now I'm thinking it would be cool to build a really light 16" carbine. :cool:

Chris Rhines
January 26, 2004, 12:36 AM
Chrome-lined barrels are much easier to clean.

Non-chrome barrels are slightly more accurate.

- Chris

Mike Irwin
January 26, 2004, 01:06 AM
Is burglary or armed robbery out of the question? :)

c_yeager
January 26, 2004, 02:08 AM
On the Cavalry Arms lowers the new ones (according to their website) are a full pound lighter than an aluminum receiver and they come from the factory with an A1 length stock. I keep thinkning about getting one.

Knife_Sniper
January 26, 2004, 10:23 AM
Why is it that chrome barrels are a point of contention with ARs? Most of my guns don't have chrome barrels and I don't think I'm missing anything with them. Is there something special about the AR that makes a chrome barrel necessary? Also isn't a non-chrome barrel more accurate due to the inconsistancy in the thickness of chrome?

As you know, chrome has a much higher lubricity than standard chrome- moly metal. A chrome lined barrel with chrome lined chamber will aid in reliability because is is easier to extract the spent case out of a chrome lined barrel then a stainless or plain chrome-moly barrel.

It was said that they are easier to clean, this is also another good point about chrome lining.

Accuracy? Well, in all honesty... you wont be able to tell much of a difference unless your shooting at gophers at 200 yards. Or your a benchrest shooter...

Also, chrome is much harder then steel, so a chrome lined barrel will last much longer, especially if you decide to go rambo with the gun for fun.

My chrome lined 16 inch bushmaster can score 1 MOA at 100 yards. (1 inch 5 shot groupings). I was amazed when I found out what my rifle could do. :what:

The funny thing is, the ammunition was 40 round wally world value pack.

I have been told by some that my rifle is the exception not the rule (I got lucky?) but most chrome lined barrels will be safely under 2 MOA, most of them scoring 1.5 MOA all day easy. If you want less than an inch at 100 yards, go stainless steel or plain chrome moly. If you want a long lasting barrel that increasing your reliability and decreases cleaning time, go chrome.

DMK
January 26, 2004, 11:24 AM
On the Cavalry Arms lowers the new ones (according to their website) are a full pound lighter than an aluminum receiver and they come from the factory with an A1 length stock. I keep thinkning about getting one. Wow, pretty good warranty also:

http://www.cavalryarms.com/MKII.htmlCAV-15 MKII Receivers have a life time warranty. If your receiver ever breaks in the course of normal use we will replace it for free. If your receiver ever breaks through misuse, neglect, or by accident (fire, car wreck, etc.) we will replace it for $30.00 plus shipping.

DMK
January 26, 2004, 11:29 AM
As you know, chrome has a much higher lubricity than standard chrome- moly metal. A chrome lined barrel with chrome lined chamber will aid in reliability because is is easier to extract the spent case out of a chrome lined barrel then a stainless or plain chrome-moly barrel.
Good point about the reliability factor. I hadn't considered that. So it's not just a chrome lined barrel, but a chrome line chamber is important for that benefit.

I also see your point about the accuracy being a deciding factor. There's a lot of other variables that may stack up for or against you regardless of the chrome barrel.

c_yeager
January 26, 2004, 11:29 AM
According to fellows over at AR15.com the cavalry arms guys will make good on that warrenty as well. Cavarms also has its own forum there and they post on the site at large. You gotta wonder what their profit margin on their receivers is though if they can replace one for $30. Once the tooling costs have been made up i bet they can turn these things out for somewhere in the $5-$20 range if that.

DMK
January 26, 2004, 11:35 AM
If I buy a Rock River carbine for example, I'm stuck with whatever configuration they sell it in. However, if I build my own, I start to look at each component and consider little improvements here and there. Perhaps I'll spend just a little more on the reciever and get a lightweight Cavalry arms, perhaps for just a few dollars more I can get a light skeletenized stock too, perhaps it might be worth it to spend just a few bucks more and get that better barrel or trigger group. Pretty soon incrementalism has me building a pretty pricy rifle. :eek:

geekWithA.45
January 26, 2004, 12:19 PM
Pretty soon incrementalism has me building a pretty pricy rifle.

Well, at least incrementalism is good for something!

:neener:

Knife_Sniper
January 26, 2004, 02:57 PM
My latest build is costing me mega bucks.

RRA lower receiver $130
Bushy parts kit $60
Ergo Grip $18
CAV arms C1 stock $60
Cav Arms M4 type 20 inch grip $20
Two new barrels (one post one pre for sunset) $418
Mini-y comp $30(in case ban doesent sunset I can weld it on and lose bayonet lug)
RRA upper $90
Les Baer bolt and carrier $200
Charging handle assembly and two stock screws $20
Detachable carry handle $100

All tools needed to assemble upper $140

As you see... say it with me... OUCH.

However, If I had purchased a brand new bushmaster for $750
and upgraded selected parts.. it would run around $1500

If I do it myself I end up with $1286.
I save a little.

MrAcheson
January 26, 2004, 03:54 PM
Two new barrels (one post one pre for sunset) $418

Ummm I'd watch it with doing something like this. You may not have a post-ban rifle with pre-ban features, but the mere possibility of you having one can be enough in some jurisdictions...

Sulaco
January 26, 2004, 04:01 PM
I just got done doing the same thing you want to do. I wanted a cheap priced, good quality AR for plinking and home defense.

I did tons of research and found out that the absolute cheapest and easiest way to get one was to buy the complete upper and complete lower and put them together (2 pins).

This way, you don't have to pay the 11% FET tax on a complete gun. Just make sure you buy the two parts from two different dealers or you are breaking the law.

I bought a complete RRA A2 20" upper and paid $394 shipped. I then bought a complete RRA A2 lower and paid $240.37 shipped and includng the FFL transfer fee.

That comes up to $634.37. I haven't seen anything new complete or parts that can compare with the RRA (in my opinion) and beat this price.

I think for you a 16" upper would work fine. You can always buy a 20" upper or barrel and switch it out later.

Knife_Sniper
January 26, 2004, 04:02 PM
Im not worried. Its going immediatly to a friend and will not be in my possesion. He is purchasing the barrel, and will sell it to me after sunset.

DMK
January 26, 2004, 04:14 PM
I just ordered two Eagle(Armalite) stripped lowers for $75 each from the USMC (www.quanticoarms.com). With shipping and FFL transfer fees, I'm only into it for $198 so far.

It looks like I'll be building both a 16" carbine now and a 20" rifle later. :)

I knew this was going to start costing me money. :p

DMK
January 26, 2004, 10:02 PM
I bought a complete RRA A2 20" upper and paid $394 shipped. I then bought a complete RRA A2 lower and paid $240.37 shipped and includng the FFL transfer fee. Sulaco, where did you get such great prices on those Rock River assemblies?

Chris Rhines
January 27, 2004, 10:33 PM
Much to my surprise, my JT M4gery parts kit showed up today. :D

First, the bad news - JT forgot to include the bolt, bolt carrier, and charging handle. Oops. They'll be getting a call tomorrow morning.

Next, the good news - the parts that did come look excellent. The upper reciever fits tight to my lower, and shows no sign of porosity or tolerance problems. The finish is perfect (a bit lighter than my lower, but I really can't compain about that.) I swabbed out the bore with some Kroil and it looks pretty good.

I'll post some pictures as I get the thing built up.

- Chris

DMK
January 27, 2004, 11:53 PM
Keep us posted on how that thing falls together Chris.

Brigrat
January 28, 2004, 01:11 AM
Join the military!

:D :D :D :D

c_yeager
January 28, 2004, 06:03 AM
Sulaco, where did you get such great prices on those Rock River assemblies?

Im not sure where he got them but, i would suggest taking a look at www.adcofirearms.com they have a stellar reputation and good prices on RRA and others. This is also the place to get chrome-linned RRA M4 barrels. Check out his "build your own M4 upper" thing. Its pretty cool.

DMK
January 28, 2004, 08:54 AM
Im not sure where he got them but, i would suggest taking a look at www.adcofirearms.com they have a stellar reputation and good prices on RRA and others. This is also the place to get chrome-linned RRA M4 barrels. Check out his "build your own M4 upper" thing. Its pretty cool. Thanks for the tip C-Yeager. After a bit of searching around, I also found www.rbprecision.com They also seem to have excellent prices and responded to my email questions very quickly.

squibload
January 28, 2004, 11:01 AM
Not the most popular brand on this board, but Olympic's Arms Plinkers are the cheapest factory AR out there, AFAIK.

They use cast receivers, but if you want to keep cost down, it would definitely work.

Factory warranty, and they're decent shooters.

Black92LX
January 29, 2004, 01:50 AM
Here is a DPMS Panther Lite 16" Carbine for $619.99

not sure that price can be beat.

http://www.impactguns.com/store/dpms_panther_lite.html

http://www.impactguns.com/store/media/dpms_panther_lite.gif

DMK
January 29, 2004, 09:00 PM
Im not sure where he got them but, i would suggest taking a look at www.adcofirearms.com they have a stellar reputation and good prices on RRA and others. Man, Steve at Adco is the man. I called him this afternoon to ask a bunch of questions. After thinking over the options, I went to their website and ordered an RRA flattop carbine upper, detachable carry handle, lower parts kit and an A2 butt stock kit. Just as soon as I placed my order, I got an email from Steve because I ordered a different variation than we talked about on the phone. He just wanted to follow up and make sure that was what I intended. Just a couple hours after that, I had another email with a tracking number! Most of the other vendors I spoke told me there's be anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks to order this stuff.

:cool:

Sulaco
January 29, 2004, 10:03 PM
Not to mention you only paid 4 dollars for shipping.

Your are right, Steve is the man!

:D

telewinz
January 30, 2004, 12:14 AM
Olympic Arms "Plinker". Shoots and feeds as well as my Colt SP1 and is alot more accurate. Comes with a no questions asked lifetime warranty.

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