First AR purchase


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Krzyshng
December 21, 2011, 11:34 AM
So I've been cleared by the wife to go ahead and pickup whatever I want within reason. So far I'm looking hardest at the Palmetto State Armory 14.7 in middy and the Spikes Tactical 16 middy. Not really looking for manufacturer comparisons as much as barrel length/gas system suggestions between these two and others. Going to be my first and probably only AR, primary use is range plinking @ 100 yds or less.


http://palmettostatearmory.com/8925.php

http://www.aimsurplus.com/product.aspx?item=F1STR5035MLS&name=Spikes+Tactical+5.56%2f.223+Rifle&groupid=11

Thanks for your opinions/replies, I know these topics are a dime a dozen.

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Ghost Tracker
December 21, 2011, 11:49 AM
No interest in a piston gun? Yeah, they cost more but bolt clean-up time sure is quicker. Mid-length gas systems run fine. I originally went with an M4 barrel profile, then added a Bull (varmint) upper, then got another pencil-thin barreled upper, so I'm not any better at deciding that than you are. If you really believe that you'll only have one (which is an impossible, self-delusional LIE :neener:) then your Spike Tactical should do you fine.
Oh, and nice to heard your wife's on-board. After all these years, sometimes I still just quietly sneak 'em in the safe just to stay in practice :evil:.

dldbrandon
December 21, 2011, 11:54 AM
Something to keep in mind is the PSA has a permanently attached flash hider. Well, AR-15s are legos for grown ups, and at some point you may want to change things around. If you want a suppressor or a different flash hider you at some point you will need to get a brand new barrel to do just that.

ugaarguy
December 21, 2011, 04:08 PM
Not really looking for manufacturer comparisons as much as barrel length/gas system suggestions between these two and others.
I'd only run mid-length gas on a less than 15.5" bbl. if you plan to use only full power NATO spec 5.56 ammo. Otherwise, carbine gas on 14"-15.5" bbls, mid length on 15.5" to 18" bbls, and rifle length on anything 18"+. If you go mid-length gas on a bbl. less than 15.5" the rifle may not be totally reliable with lower pressure ammo like Wolf, and some of the less expensive commercial .223 Rem plinking ammo.

No interest in a piston gun? Yeah, they cost more but bolt clean-up time sure is quicker
I would emphatically advise against a piston AR. There is no standard for parts across manufacturers, and they introduce other issues like carrier tilt. If you keep your DI bolt carrier group well lubed cleanup is quick & easy.

kfgk14
December 21, 2011, 05:04 PM
Keep with the DI gun, I almost made the piston mistake, it's just not a good idea. I'd go with the 14.7" from PSA if you will use full-power M193/M855 ammo in the rifle (5.56 NATO brass), the 16" Spike's if you'll be shooting cheap Wolf.

Good choices in rifles. Go join up on M4carbine.net if you want to join an AR-platform-dedicated forum with a large industry presence and very knowledgeable members.

steven58
December 21, 2011, 05:39 PM
I have seen 3 Spikes midlengths and they compared very favorably to my BCM midlengths. They are as milspec as a semi can be, fit and finish were great and they come with the Spikes buffer which is very smooth. One of the upgrades I put on my AR was to remove the birdcage and replace it with BattleComp 1.0. Took about 10 minutes start to finish. If it was a permanently attached birdcage it would have been a real PITA.

browneu
December 21, 2011, 07:39 PM
I agree with Ugaarguy regarding cleanup and think the dirtiness of DI is overrated. I keep my bolt very wet and never had any issues with function or take hours cleaning the rifle. Normally, it's about 10 minutes wiping everything down and a brush and patch through the barrel.

Krzyshng
December 21, 2011, 10:38 PM
I was and probably still am leaning towards the PSA gun, the pinned flash hider is a non-issue with me since I doubt I'll be making changes to it. However the possibility of the 14.7/mid length combo being picky with ammo does cause some concern. I'm not planning on shooting Wolf or other steel cased as my go to ammo but I'm open to cheaper .223 in certain situations.

Ugaarguy, is your comment based on experience or conventional wisdom? I ask because it seems the trend for 14.5 in barrels is to sport the midlength rather than carbine gas. I've been trying to do some research but the only posts I've come up with involve the BCM 14.5 middy specifically. As I understand it different manufacturers could have different sized gas ports which could mean those favorable reviews for don't necessarily apply to the PSA. For what its worth most people are reporting no problems cycling Wolf ammo with the combination, at least in the cases I could pull up, although they are recommending you swap out to a lighter buffer if that is going to be your main ammo.

Other reasons I'm leaning towards the PSA are the hammer forged barrel, it doesn't come with the MBUS (not knocking the product but since it isn't bundled into the price I'm free to select my own sight), and I can add the MOE furniture for $50 (something I am interested in doing). Is a CHF barrel an actual upgrade or is it just a marketing gimmick?

Also as an aside does anyone else think the finger groove/bump on the standard grip is in a strange spot? It tends to fall exactly where I'd like to place my ring finger so I'm often conflicted whether I should squeeze two fingers above the bump or shift down slightly.

john5036
December 22, 2011, 12:26 AM
Ugaarguy, is your comment based on experience or conventional wisdom? I ask because it seems the trend for 14.5 in barrels is to sport the midlength rather than carbine gas. I've been trying to do some research but the only posts I've come up with involve the BCM 14.5 middy specifically. As I understand it different manufacturers could have different sized gas ports which could mean those favorable reviews for don't necessarily apply to the PSA. For what its worth most people are reporting no problems cycling Wolf ammo with the combination, at least in the cases I could pull up, although they are recommending you swap out to a lighter buffer if that is going to be your main ammo.

Yeah there was a BCM story floating around about a customer who had trouble with steel-case ammo, and BCM essentially told him to not run crappy ammo through his gun. Whether or not this is an AR wide issue, and not just BCM tolerances, it's really hard to tell on the interwebs. Several fixes such as the ones you've also found are all over the place now and the AR platform isn't so drastically different across the board that much of the information you'll get will be universally anecdotal.

Ugaarguy's info is accurate in that it follows the evolution of the AR. The Colt M4 is a 14.5" actual and is a carbine system. Mid-length systems were introduced to serve the civilian AR15 better as we must meet the 16" barrel minimum. That additional 1.5" of barrel does have a quantifiable impact on how the gun performs, albeit to us the civilian end-user, the impact is negligible given how our human life span is shorter than the long-term impact. Shooting-wise, a 16" middy from Spike's is a smooth experience, you'll have fun with it.

I suggest reading PSAs warranty and see if there's any mention of using steel cased ammo, or any other warranty-speak that would discourage its use. Some companies cover the use of steel-case ammo in their warranties, others use steel-case ammo as a way not to do warranty work even if they don't specifically mention it as a void as long as the brass isn't giving you any problems.

Hacker15E
December 22, 2011, 09:55 AM
PSA does not have any limitations regarding steel case ammunition on it's warranty.

IMHO, an AR-15 that won't/can't reliably shoot steel case ammo without significant changes (buffer switches are okay) isn't worth owning. Note that when many people say "steel case ammo" they are also implying that said ammo is the Russian-made stuff which is widely thought of as "underpowered" and has mediocre precision/accuracy. That's not always the case, and there are some better quality non-Russian brands that offer steel. R

You may not want to shoot steel cased ammo at this point, but over the lifetime of the rifle you never know how ammo supplies, your tastes, and economics might change.

I'm certainly no AR expert, but the discussion in post #4 regarding gas systems and barrel lengths echoes what much more experienced AR shooters/builders/maintainers say on the two main AR enthusiast forums.

Hammerhead6814
December 22, 2011, 10:28 AM
Yeah if you think your only going to have one AR-15 your in for a surprise. Once you want more than what a .223 can do, you'll be chasing a 6mm PPC, 6.5 Grendel, and even a .300 AAC in no time!

LongTimeGone
December 22, 2011, 12:03 PM
After all these years, sometimes I still just quietly sneak 'em in the safe just to stay in practice .

I actually did this with my Spike's M4 LE.
She caught me cleaning it and asked when I bought an "assault" rifle.:D

Anyway, my Spike's has run fine with steel Tula and pmc bronze as well as the cheap American Eagle walmart sells.

StrutStopper
December 22, 2011, 03:01 PM
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the PSA CHF barrel is manufactured by FN. Not too shabby...

john5036
December 22, 2011, 03:13 PM
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the PSA CHF barrel is manufactured by FN. Not too shabby...
Not all of them are stated to be made by FN it seems, still would have to pay attention to the product specs for that particular detail, also whether the barrel will have the FN stamp. What a lot of them do seem to say is that the barrels use FNs "4150" alloy recipe. In which case, it's another way of saying they are per the "mil-spec". Using 4150 inside of quotes, and then also being CMV, isn't the same as 4150 steel, but perhaps a delineation of grade being at 4150.

If you'd like to see the purported DoD spec sheet, try this link - it includes three categories of ORD 4150: ORD 4150, Resulfurized, and Chrome-Moly-Vanadium.

MIL-11595E - assist.daps.dla.mil/quicksearch/basic_profile.cfm?ident_number=9234 (https://assist.daps.dla.mil/quicksearch/basic_profile.cfm?ident_number=9234)

Krzyshng
December 22, 2011, 05:42 PM
Point taken on the 14.5 mid length, I was previously thinking since it was becoming such a popular setup it was reasonably tested/proven. Now I'm thinking the 1.5 in difference probably isn't worth the possibility of ammo sensitivity.

Thanks for the replies, still haven't made up my mind completely regarding manufacturer but barrel length/gas system at least is solved. Also the CHF barrels allegedly made by FN are pretty much why I'm still leaning towards getting a PSA upper over the Spikes. Might just be marketing buzzwords but its working on me at least.

Eb1
December 22, 2011, 06:10 PM
I just purchased the "Mock Dissipator" from PSA. So far the rifle has shot fine, and hasn't given any issues. I have shot 55 grain FMJ Black Hills and 69 grain SMK hand loaded with LC brass and H4895. Zero failures, and accurate.

I have not been to a longer range yet, but at 25 yards it is shooting one hole groups off-hand with either load.

It is a 16" M4 barrel CHF Barrel with rifle length hand guards. It has a DPMS A2 Rear Sight, and I have a detachable scope mount that will carry scope when I decide which scope I want to put on it.

Here is a pic of the rifle:

http://rob-barley.com/PSADissipatorSmall.JPG

Tim the student
December 22, 2011, 11:26 PM
What is the appeal of the mock dissipator? Just a longer sight radius or is there something more?

Eb1
December 23, 2011, 09:51 AM
Mid-length gas system.

SSN Vet
December 23, 2011, 10:53 AM
If it was me, I'd get the PSA rifle....

I love my kit built middy, but find that middies can feel front heavy....

both the Spikes and the PSA advertise a Gov't profile barrel.... but the Spikes is going to be 1.3" longer/heavier.

That PSA middy is what I wanted all along... but their wasn't nearly as many choices back in '06. The only change I'd consider making would be to use a 1:9 barrel. My 16" 1:9 stabilizes the 69 gr. SMK perfectly, and yet I can shoot my M193 clones all day long. I guess you have to ask yourself what ranges you're really going to shoot the rifle at and whether or not you will ever have a reason to shoot at a target taking cover (sounds like a trip to prison to me).

As for the steel case ammo.... I'd suggest setting up to reload, as even Wolf isn't exactly what I'd call cheap. I load 55 gr FMJBT Winchester bulk bullets over 25 gr. of H335 all day long for ~14 cents/round.

Eb1
December 23, 2011, 11:40 AM
It isn't a matter of prison to me. A 1:9 if true will shoot 69 grain SMKs fine. Sometimes that is, but if it is a 1:9.x then you maybe left holding your breath.
From what I have seen a 1:7 twist does just as well with 55 grain bullets as a 1:9 twist, but allows you to shoot the 75 grain HP from Wideners, and the excellent 77 grain SMK from Sierra.
It also isn't a matter of shooting behind cover, but better ballistics out to 400+ meters. At least for me.

There are times when plinking is fun, and others when match shooting is even more fun, and your not going to shoot a 55 grain bullet in wind past 300 meters with any success. It is not going to happen. The dope is just to much on the rifle.

1:7 = no loss for 55 grain bullets, but better success rates for the 69 grain bullets and above because of their length not weight.
1:9 = superb accuracy for 55 grain bullets and below with iffy success with anything larger than 62 grains.

This is from my experience with AR-15 rifles as they are the only .223 caliber rifles I have owned, but I am positive the same goes for any rifle in this caliber.

Agent Tikki
December 23, 2011, 01:49 PM
I'm a big fan of lightwieght barrels, are you considering the LW models? I believe they are the same prices as the mid weight profiles.






Also as a general rule of thumb, i like to reference this chart, made by Dieselpower from the Calguns.net site. Mind you there are exceptions...

http://i1124.photobucket.com/albums/l576/kuzshekiya/223and556twistgraphed.png

Eb1
December 23, 2011, 02:11 PM
I had a 1:9 twist HBAR. Well it was labeled that way. I checked it by using tape and a cleaning rod several times. It was actually 1:9.5 barrel twist.

The gun would not shoot anything but 55 grain bullets well. Yes, you could hit the paper @ 200 yards, but groups were 4 to 6 inches for anything over 64 grains.

This is why I use 1:7" twist uppers from White Oaks for service rifle comp "High Power", and I bought the 1:7 twist CHF barrel from PSA.

1) it is 1:7 twist. I can shoot very accurately with common 55 grain loadings of .223 and 5.56. I can also shoot the same match ammo out of my carbine accurately.
2) it is a CHF barrel on my carbine "Dissipator" from PSA, and is lined; so is the bolt. It will never wear out. It is rifled and made for "Machine Guns" such as the M249, and with me shooting it semi-auto I don't think my grandchildren will be able to shoot the barrel out in their lifetime after I am gone. I have shot these barrels before out of similar rifles like mine, and the accuracy was superb. Not as good as the White Oaks uppers, well some were some weren't, but for my go to AR and not a comp. rifle it is fine, and I cannot wait to shoot it 200 meters to verify my rifle.
3) most 1:9 twist are like #1. Most are not exact, and if you want to shoot heavier match bullets it is a crap shoot on if you get an exact 1:9 twist. So is the 1:7 twist, but the variance is large enough that it will not matter.
4) if you ever want to shoot 600 meters with your AR. Do not get a 1:9 twist. If the wind is over 10 mph you'd be lucky to hit the target. It is a danger IMO (well not immediate danger. Just unpredictable results dangerous) to shoot those 55 grain pills from a .223 that far. Your rifle or scope will most likely will not have enough dope to compensate for the bullets travel.
Just something else to think about.


Good luck with your purchase. I am sure which ever route you go will be an educated one, and you will be a happy EBR owner as most who own the platform are. I would have to say that the AR platform is the most versatile in our countries history. It allows you to choose a caliber for every situation accept African dangerous game calibers, and that is not really true because you can get a single shot .50 BMG for the AR lower. Right? It is a wonderful design, and to be honest other than T/C being able to shoot BP. I think it is the best platform for any household, or hunter for that matter if you really get down to the "you get what you pay for" aspect. One never changing lower with many different calibers available to you. That can make for one heck of a marksman.

greyling22
December 23, 2011, 02:16 PM
if I was doing mine again, instead of a 16" gov. barrel, I would have gotten a 20" lightweight barrel. 16" is too short for the 223, and the muzzle blast is deafening. I much prefer shooting my 20" bolt action 223.

ugaarguy
December 23, 2011, 02:38 PM
Also as a general rule of thumb, i like to reference this chart, made by Dieselpower from the Calguns.net site. Mind you there are exceptions...
You trust a chart that doesn't even state the correct bbl. twist for the M16? The M16A1 used a 1:12 twist bbl. The M16A2 uses a 1:7 twist bbl. I also disagree with that chart's weight ranges. The M16A1 with it's 1:12 twist bbl is no more accurate with M193 ammo (55gr FMJ) than the M16A2 (1:7 twist) is with the same ammo (see quote below). The idea that a 1:8 or 1:9 twist will shoot 55gr .223 ammo more accurately than a 1:7 twist is a lie that's been repeated so often people think it's the truth. The other assertion, that most people shoot 40gr and 55gr ammo the most is also quite a stretch. Maybe that was true 10 or 15 years ago, but I'm not seeing it now. I'm especially not seeing it with AR-15 / M4gery shooters. The 69gr & heavier match & ballistic bullets have become extremely popular in the past decade. Winchester's 64gr Powerpoint soft point is also a very popular all purpose .223 load.


US Army FM 23-9 p. F-15 (p. 210 of 305 in the PDF) http://www.ar15.com/content/manuals/FM23-9.pdf.

The M16A2 rifle with its 1:7 twist fires both types of ammunition with little difference in accuracy out to a range of 500 meters. The M16A2 and its ammunition are more effective at ranges out to and beyond 500 meters due to a better stabilization of the round.

The two 10-round shot groups in Figure F-15A were fired by a skilled marksman at a distance of 274.2 meters, using the same M16A1 rifle. The 25.4-cm shot group on the left was fired (and zeroed) with M193 ammunition. The 6-foot shot group on the right was fired after substituting M855 ammunition.

Figure F-15B shows two 25.4-cm shot groups fired by the same skilled marksman at a distance of 274.2 meters, using an M16A2 rifle. The shot group on the left was fired (and zeroed) with M855 ammunition. The shot group on the right was fired after substituting M193 ammunition.

Agent Tikki
December 23, 2011, 03:46 PM
You may just be correct about the 1:12 twist on the earlier m16a1 models. Please keep in mind that I didn't make this chart. I use and share it as a reference as a general guide for what ammo works with what twist.

What I find interesting is that you look at this chart and interpret it as saying 1:9 and 1:8 is more accurate for 55 grain projectiles than 1:7. Where does it say that? o.O
The chart show that 1:9 is optimal for 55 grain length projectiles. It shows that 1:7 is optimal for 69+ grain length projectiles. Doesn't say its gonna be more accurate. We are just talking about getting that round stabilized.

And I think you're off a bit too on ammo popularity. I don't know anyone who shoots 40 grain ammo. But almost everyone I know shoots 55 grain ammo target shooting or plinking or at carbine classes most of the time. Wolf .223, PMC, M183 XM183, Herter's .223, almost all of the cheap stuff is 55 grain. Though 62 grains are a bit more popular now too. I don't think the longer hunting rounds or precision type rounds are going to usurp the 55 grain bullet anytime soon. Sure I've used 69 77 and 62's, but when I'm plinking a couple hundred rounds in a day or throwing 800 rounds downrange in a class, no freaking way I'm using that kind of ammo.

HKGuns
December 23, 2011, 04:32 PM
Where exactly does that chart (Nice little guide BTW and thanks for posting it, even though I don't think its 100% accurate either.) say anything about accuracy there arguy? Or, are you simply trying to impress everyone with your AR knowledge and pick his post apart?

I too shoot mainly 55 grain bullets, they also continue to be the most prevalent rounds found on sale in most places.

SSN Vet
December 23, 2011, 08:27 PM
I'm not really into arguing these topics.... But a too fast twist barrel can present a problem with light bullets...over stabilization.

The AR platform can be set up to do a lot of things, but there's not a single configuration that can do them all. In my mind, pushing a 55 gr bullet 3,000 fps (flat trajectory and terminal ballistics that yaw, tumble and fragment) is one of the hallmarks that I wouldn't want to give up. And though I'm no expert, I've read over at AR15.com, that 1:7 barrels over stabilize 55 gr bullets.

"An over-stabilized bullet rotates too fast and its axis tends to keep its orientation in space. The bulletīs longitudional axis becomes uncapable to follow the bending path of the trajectory"

http://www.nennstiel-ruprecht.de/bullfly/fig15.htm

Some guys have lot's of opportunities to shoot serious long ranges and that's what they want to set up for. I don't have access to anything over 200 yds without spending quite a bit of money, and even then, I would have to travel pretty far to find a range that is longer than 300 yd. YMMV

Eb1
December 23, 2011, 08:44 PM
An over-stabilized bullet on a high-angle trajectory lands base first

I don't know about you, but I am not in a trench shooting volleys across European farm land.
Also your forgetting a key point, and that is velocity of the projectile. You cannot shoot a .223 fast enough out of a standard chamber with a 55 grain bullet out of a 1:7 twist to make your point valid IMO.

I am not arguing any point, but you cannot tell the difference of a 1:7 twist shooting a 55 grain bullet at distances in practical shooting to make a comparison between 1:9 and 1:7 twist barrels from an AR-15.
And like has been said before. Most people who want a 1:7 twist want the ability to shoot the longer/heavier bullets, and also shoot 55 grain bullets with great success.

And people who shoot distances of 600 meters are shooting the better match bullets which demands the stabilization of the 1:7 twist barrel.

especially when fired vertically
I don't shoot straight up either.

SSN Vet
December 23, 2011, 09:03 PM
The link shows an extreme example to illustrate the point, which is, that if the bullet spins too fast, it can't maintain it's alignment to the path of the trajectory (yes your going to see some pretty serious drop out at 600 yds). And if axis of the bullet isn't aligned to the path of the bullet, you will lose accuracy. Evidence of an over stabilized bullet can be keystone holes in the target (with larger than normal groups).

Regardless, I haven't heard that guys shooting in long range matches or popping prairie dogs favored 16" barrels. So that leaves the main advantage for 70+ gr bullets in carbine length barrels as penetration of cover.....which is not a driving concern for me.

Again, YMMV

Eb1
December 23, 2011, 11:50 PM
Anyway you look at it I guess, but I'd take a 600 yard shot with a 69 grain SMK out of my 1:7 16" barrel over shooting a 55 grain pill out of a 20" with a 1:9 twist to 600 yards.

Brockak47
December 24, 2011, 12:06 AM
go with PSA fit and finish on mine is superb havn't shot it yet, just got it yesterday
fits together like a glove real tight, all in all very happy with it. ( long as it shoots good )

http://i207.photobucket.com/albums/bb198/kingkobra7/0013.jpg

kwelz
December 24, 2011, 12:28 AM
go with PSA fit and finish on mine is superb havn't shot it yet, just got it yesterday
fits together like a glove real tight, all in all very happy with it. ( long as it shoots good )


How can you make a determination of being happy with it when you haven't even shot it?

WNTFW
December 24, 2011, 01:03 AM
"How can you make a determination of being happy with it when you haven't even shot it?"

Perhaps in the spirit of the season he is not filled with bitterness & negativity. He did say as long as is shoots good. So I guess the rifle looks & feels fine.

Brockak47,
Hope is shoots perfectly for you. Do you have a link to that particular rifle? I did manage to snag a PSA BCG. Like you I have not shot it yet but maintain a level of bliss even though ignorance may be a factor. Being men sometimes we go by looks. BCG seems pretty nice.
Is this your first AR?
Enjoy!

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