Looking for a coyote/prairie dog rifle... the CMMG bull barrel AR's look appealing


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grandviewranch
December 26, 2011, 12:28 PM
I've been on the market for a new varmint rifle ever since I sold my .223 WSSM A-Bolt (for my purposes, the caliber was just stupid). I actually turned a small profit on the rifle, netting $475, and I have $200-300 in additional funds that I'd be willing to spend. I was excited about the Savage M25 Walking Varminter in .223, but when the rifles failed to enter the market several months after their "release", I moved on.

Anyway, one manufacturer that has caught my eye recently is CMMG. I'm a fairly young gun owner and sportsman, so I've never owned an AR15, but I figured a varmint rifle would be a good place to start. I've always wanted to eventually own an AR, and CMMG's bull barrel, 16" carbine looks like a good starting point. They're available on CheaperThanDirt for $700 - just within my price range, plus I already have a very nice Bushnell Elite 3200 Tactical 5-15x40 scope from the rifle I sold.

The question is - will this rifle be sufficiently accurate for coyotes/prairie dogs? I've researched CMMG online, and several sites and forums seem to agree that they consistently shoot at - or just barely below - 1 MOA (Also, everyone seems very satisfied with the brand's build quality, reliability, etc.). Maybe the bull barrel model is a bit more accurate, maybe not, but 1 MOA does seem sufficient for my purposes. Theoretically, it would be good on prairie dogs to around 200 yards, and even further on coyotes. I have easy access to a reloading bench, so I could work up handloads for the rifle. I really like the concept of getting an AR, and I would have a solid lower receiver if I wanted another upper in the future. Opinions would be appreciated, and I really wouldn't mind any alternative suggestions (I really don't think I can swing anything over $800, sorry).

Thanks a lot.

P.S. - I looked through CMMG's site and noticed that they do offer longer barrel lengths for the bull barrel rifles. The problem is, I can't find them anywhere other than CMMG's site, where the retail ($850) is $150 more than CTD's price. If you know a seller that offers the 18" (or even 22") rifles for a reduced price, please let me know!

Update: Here's a $740 option where I buy the upper and lower separately, saving a pretty good amount of money: CMMG 18" SS Bull Barrel Upper (http://www.gunforall.com/shopcart/mcartfree/product.asp?intprodid=12737&thisitem=cmmg%20upper%20223%2018inch%20ss%20bull%20bbl) - $510.
CMMG Complete Lower (http://www.thegunsource.com/item/84314_CMMG_Rifles_Shotguns_CMMG_LOWER_COMPLETE_W_5-P.aspx) - $230. Thanks again.

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A-FIXER
December 26, 2011, 09:43 PM
The question is - will this rifle be sufficiently accurate for coyotes/prairie dogs?

That is the most ultimate desire we all have, but you can do that type of hunting, with an AR. And even out to 350 yrds with some great accuracy the bull barrel will help in the rapid multiple shots and the 1-9 twist will handle the lighter varmint bullets and yet at the same offer good control with the heavier bullets. All you will need is a higher end scope and your off hope this helps. If you have other questions or in depth msg me and/or post the questions.

Eb1
December 26, 2011, 09:57 PM
Look here: http://www.whiteoakarmament.com/xcart/home.php?cat=261

jpwilly
December 27, 2011, 12:14 AM
I like what your thinking. I have a DPMS 20" SSBULL 1-9" and it's a real good shooter but I wouldn't want to do a lot of walking with it. You could get a quality 20" free floated barrel and most likely enjoy the same accuracy without the extra weight of a bull barrel. I'd also recommend 1-8" twist as my 1-9" gets funny with 68+ grain pills.

Waywatcher
December 27, 2011, 12:56 AM
I really like my DPMS Bull 20. Free floated, 20 inch stainless bull barrel. This is my first AR as well. I put a 3-9 Leupold Mark AR Mil-Dot Scope in a LaRue SPR mount.

Routinely shoots 3/4" for 5 shot groups at 100 yards with my favorite handload for it; 55 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip over 24.4 grains of Benchmark. (Easy metering powder + boattail bullet, so it's fun & easy to reload them too.)

NG VI
December 27, 2011, 01:05 AM
I had a CMMG M4gery a while back, was very happy with it. Never a malfunction, though I didn't give it the accuracy testing you are interested in, and it had a less accuracy-focused barrel anyway.

Art Eatman
December 27, 2011, 07:25 AM
Most any barrel length or twist will work for coyotes, since you're only going to get one or maybe two shots at any one time. Distances are rarely beyond a hundred yards or so.

Prairie dogs in large towns? Whole different deal. The opportunity is there for rather lengthy strings of fire, so a heavy barrel makes sense. I know from experience with a 22" light sporter that shots to 300 yards are easy, so 20" should work okay.

I have a CMMG upper with a sporter-type 20" slow-twist barrel that I've set up for casual varminting, as a truck gun. No difficulty in three-shot one-MOA groups with a K4 on top--and that was before my cataract surgery. :)

grandviewranch
December 27, 2011, 10:11 AM
Thanks for the responses, everyone. I'm glad to hear that your experiences with CMMG were positive, and I'll take a look at the DPMS upper. However, I think I'm more interested in the 18" CMMG upper, for a couple of reasons. One factor is a beginner's guide to the AR (this guide pertained to "fighting rifles" but most of the information still applies) by an officer.com forum user called jwise (link (http://forums.officer.com/showthread.php?81462-So-you-want-to-buy-an-AR-15-huh)). He ran through a lot of the desirable and sometimes necessary traits you'll want to look for in an AR, such as a properly staked gas key, M4 feed ramps, etc. At the end of this guide, he strongly recommended CMMG, as it had most, if not all of these traits at a very reasonable cost. Additionally, the other reviews of CMMG rifles I've read have been really positive, so I think I'm set on a CMMG lower and (probably) the 18" stainless steel bull barrel upper made by CMMG.

That said, are there any absolutely must-have tools for working with the AR? Where is the best/cheapest place to buy them? I'm a total novice to the AR system, but I know that some special tools/cleaning procedures are involved. I wanted to mention something else but I can't remember it and I have to go, so I'll check in later. Thanks again!

jpwilly
December 27, 2011, 10:33 AM
Sounds like you've got your mind made up to get the CMMG. It will work just fine for many purposes.

I don't use any "special" cleaning tools with my rifles. I have a 22cal cleaning rod and typical accessories and I tear down the bolt and clean everything with the usual carbon removing solvants, rags and brushes. Lately I've just used a 22cal bore snake to wipe down the bore. Haven't noticed a change in accuracy or reliability.

I do run my AR "wet" and use regualar Gun Oil because I don't care for the smell of CLP.

Eb1
December 27, 2011, 10:38 AM
If you are looking for an accurate AR-15 upper you need to look at the link I posted to White Oaks Armament. You will not find a better class or product for the money, and many top HP matches are won with these uppers. Not CMMG. I have owned CMMG, and they are good rifles, but if I wanted known accuracy it would not be from CMMG. It would be from WOA.

Do what you like. It is your money, but I think you need to research a little more before you jump off the cliff from just one book you have read.
Also M4 feed ramps, Lined HF barrels and many other goodies are pretty common these days. They are not a special feature offered by CMMG alone. My PSA Dissipator came with these features at a fraction of the cost of a CMMG upper, and it is just as well built as my CMMG upper.

Nothing special about cleaning an AR-15. Clean from the breach, keep the bolt wet when shooting. Sounds like you have better read some more.

Tirod
December 27, 2011, 11:39 AM
While heavy barrels are commonly assumed to be more accurate, all you really get is more mass. The barrel profile is simply turned down less.

Mass gives more resistance to recoil, which the AR isn't known for. On singles or doubles on coyotes, a properly chosen brake or compensator would do as much, saving a lot of exertion hiking in the woods. For long strings of fire on prairie dogs, mass will soak up a lot more BTU's, which means the barrel will be affected by heat less initially. Shoot it enough, and whatever warpage, stress, or inclusions exist in the steel will still affect the point of impact. And once it gets hot, it stays hot much much longer.

That means heavy barrels are for short strings of fire, or those spaced out over a long period of time to allow enough cooling to take affect. It's notable that when faced with the heat of full auto fire in his original design, Stoner still chose a pencil barrel profile.

There is no guarantee that a heavy barrel is rifled more accurately than a normal profile - the premium paid for less work lathing off the extra material isn't justifiable unless a guarantee of higher accuracy - or your money back - is included. And if accuracy is guaranteed, the barrel profile is irrelevant. It could be less than full bull as long as it delivers. Only the maker can ensure that, and the shooter by handloading a variety of loads until the best is determined.

Which means specifying a bull barrel is getting things out of sequence. It's just one feature of many, and doesn't directly affect the actual accuracy - it just compensates for the affect of other byproducts, recoil and heat. Choose a barrel for the accuracy first - among the premier makers who guarantee their work, and worry about the profile afterwards. The rifling, as proven by airguaging, and leade are more important than the profile.

Art Eatman
December 27, 2011, 05:31 PM
Gotta disagree with you Tirod. A heavy barrel is less subject to distortion with heating, which is why they are preferred for long strings of fire. This is particularly true for rapid-fire events.

As far as accuracy for three- or five-shot groups, when not fired in a big hurry, there is little difference in group size between a heavy and a light barrel.

grandviewranch
December 27, 2011, 07:46 PM
So you say the CMMG's accuracy isn't that great? Darn. I guess this isn't going to be as easy as I'd hoped. I mean, a $730 varmint AR sounds great, right? The thing is, I'm working with a fairly small budget. Eb1, I did look at the White Oak uppers and they look very appealing, but it would raise the cost by another $100. Maybe I'm being cheap, but I was hoping I could set up this rifle in the $700 range. Besides, I'd still need to buy scope rings, magazines, and (eventually) a stock and pistol grip to replace the dorky-looking M4 furniture. Basically, though the WOA uppers look very good, they'd really be pushing my budget.

As for the cleaning question, I guess I was wrong. I thought you absolutely needed some sort of scraper thingy thanks to reading a few gun magazines, but as I said, I have almost zero AR experience.

The problem is, I'm looking for a low-priced-but-quality AR to get me started in the black rifle world. I needed a predator rifle, so I figured I might kill two birds with one stone there, but maybe I don't yet have the money I need to get started out. I might bide my time and wait for a good deal or better funds. I do appreciate everyone's suggestions, and if I seem a little reluctant to take a certain route, it's due to my tight budget, not disregard for your suggestion. Again, thank you all for your time and thoughts.

P.S. - I thought it might be helpful if I expand on the type of hunting I'll be doing:
I live in Western Colorado, where the topography and property sizes keep most shooting ranges at or below 300 yards (most of the time). I'm basically shopping for a 300 yard rifle that can maintain "minute of prairie dog" up to that range (even only up to 200 yards would be fine). As I mentioned earlier, my budget is tight - the reason I want to stay in the $700 range is the accessories that I'll have to buy - scope rings and magazines in the immediate future, and a different stock and grip later on.

Art Eatman
December 27, 2011, 11:18 PM
Like I said, I get one-MOA with a sporter-weight CMMG and a K4. I figure that's pretty good for eyebones that are 77 years old. :)

Odds are, with a 3x9 on it and a bit less coffee and cigarettes--and maybe knock off twenty years--the silly thing would do quite a bit better. :)

And, FWIW, I was using some sort of como-se-llama ammo, not tailored handloads.

IOW, I'm just happy as a bug with my CMMG upper...

grandviewranch
December 28, 2011, 09:02 AM
That's good to hear, Art (by the way, good shooting)! I found a review on Cabela's from a buyer that owns the 24" CMMG upper. He says the accuracy is great, so I'm feeling a little bit more positive about the CMMG.

One thing about the upper I'm looking at is it doesn't seem to have a front sling swivel. How hard would it be to install one? Would the WOA upper be worth it because of that factor?

Tirod
December 28, 2011, 09:39 AM
Shoot it enough, and whatever warpage, stress, or inclusions exist in the steel will still affect the point of impact. And once it gets hot, it stays hot much much longer.

That means heavy barrels are for short strings of fire, or those spaced out over a long period of time to allow enough cooling to take affect.


Gotta disagree with you Tirod. A heavy barrel is less subject to distortion with heating, which is why they are preferred for long strings of fire. This is particularly true for rapid-fire events.

I'm not sure we disagree. My point is that far too many pick the "look" of the heavy barrel and interpret it as "accurate," when in fact the manufacturer actually makes no substantiated claim or even guarantezees it. It's called "Marketing to Ignorance." I sell auto parts and the hot rod side is filled to bursting with BS bling sold to separate a driver from his money.

If you don't have a decent bore rifled to maximize accuracy, the profile isn't going to make up the difference. As far as accuracy for three- or five-shot groups, when not fired in a big hurry, there is little difference in group size between a heavy and a light barrel.

"Heavy barrel" in no way constitutes "precision rifling." It's just a gimmick if the quality isn't there.

jem375
December 28, 2011, 10:34 AM
Another owner of a DPMS bull barrel 20" SS AR. This is my coyote rifle and is very accurate, but carrying this thing around without a sling in the snow is pretty tiring for these old legs. But, I will do it anyway unless I decide to use my other DPMS with the EO Tech and the 16" barrel...
Good luck on your choice, the CMMG will no doubt work just fine also...

Matthew Courtney
December 28, 2011, 11:04 AM
All else equal, heavy profile barrels are more accurate because they are stiffer. The stiffness means that they whip less due to firing vibrations and the bend less in response to both internal stress changes from temperature changes and external stresses from various forces. Shorter barrels are more accurate for the same reason.

The myth that longer barrels are more accurate is based on two truths and faulty logic. Many longer barrels account for higher velocity, and projectiles moving faster results in less impact variation from wind and/or range estimation error. Longer barrels also usually allow for a longer sight radius and a longer sight radius on a rifle is more forgiving of sight alignment error. In other words, a longer barrel may help us shoot a rifle more accurately, but if we take human error from the equation, shorter barrels are more accurate.

grandviewranch
January 1, 2012, 10:52 AM
So I've been doing a lot of research, and I finally made my purchase today. I found a Rock River Arms Predator Pursuit (20" barreled) complete upper on GunBroker for $545 plus shipping. I felt like it was a very good deal and I'd read nothing but positive reviews of RRA's varmint setups. I decided on the Predator Pursuit because its barrel is lighter than a full bull barrel (actually cutting a pound of weight), its accuracy is still top-notch, and the price was very good. Though the WOA uppers were appealing, they were out of my price range.

That said, I'm still on the market for a lower. I'm thinking either RRA or CMMG, but I'd like to know of any other recommended complete (sorry, I don't think I could stand waiting for 4+ components to ship, if nothing else :D) lower receivers in the $200-230 range. Also, I'm getting ready to buy rings, will "high" Weaver Tactical rings suffice for a scope with a 40mm objective and (I'm not sure of the terminology here) the parallax controls as part of the bell (adding a few mm of bulk)?

Eb1
January 1, 2012, 10:56 AM
I have one of these, and it has an awesome single stage trigger.

http://www.karrisguns.com/ar-15-lower-receivers/complete-and-assembled-ar-15-lower-receiver-with-a2-stock

grandviewranch
January 1, 2012, 11:25 AM
Oh this is beautiful, Eb1. Great reviews and a great price! I'm leaning toward an M4-style stock and the versatility it provides in possibly changing to a Magpul (or other aftermarket manufacturer's) stock, so I think I'll go with the M4-stocked cousin of what you posted. Nevertheless, thanks for the link! It's actually cheaper than what I expected! Lol thanks again.

mshootnit
January 1, 2012, 11:26 AM
For mounting the scope high rings on an AR generally are still too low. You would need extra high tactical rings or a set of mini risers (1/2" risers) to put your high rings on. The better option is a one piece base with forward offset. I bought the Wilson Combat accu-rizer and I really like it but there are others like the Burris PEPR mount, there are two or three from Leupold, a nice one from Armalite, and there is the most popular LaRue LT104.

The High rings will clear the objective but your head may be too low for comfort and good shooting form.

+1 on that Karris Guns link. That particular lower receiver is very high quality, custom rifle quality. I compared one next to another lower and the quality was noticeable.

Eb1
January 1, 2012, 12:15 PM
I have had a few CMMG lowers, and they are nice, but this time for this rifle I took a chance on the lower from Karris, and I am very impressed. The pins are smooth and fit perfect with my PSA Dissipator. I couldn't be happier, and if I had $169.00 to spend, I would buy another right now.
The A2 stock is not the greatest in the world (i.e. has plastic door instead of metal that I am use to), but for the cost, and the time saved, it is put together very well. I will own another from them, but I have to say that the trigger on this built lower is the best single stage trigger I have owned. I have shot really nice 2 stage triggers, but prefer a 1 stage. Simple, and can be fixed with simple parts, etc. The trigger on this gun has zero grit. ZERO! It breaks smooth, and resets very consistently.

You're welcome. Karri is a good person to deal with. Everything was quick, and email was always answered. I recommend the service highly.

Forgot to show the rifle. Doh!
16" PSA Cold Hammer Forged M4 profile barrel w/1:7 twist (FN?), Barrel is lined and so is the bolt, Mid-Length Gas System, PSA forged upper, MOE Rifle Hand guards, Surplus Ammo Lower from Karrisguns.com, C-Products 20 rnd Curved Mag, DPMS rear A2 Sight.
http://rob-barley.com/PSADissipatorSmall.JPG

grandviewranch
January 1, 2012, 02:25 PM
So you think I should go with a fixed stock? I just kind of like the idea of the collapsible stock better... I know there are some slight wobble issues with the base M4 stock, though.

Eb1
January 1, 2012, 02:45 PM
Go with what you want. I never suggested any particular. Just showing you where to get a good deal.

mshootnit
January 1, 2012, 03:18 PM
go with the CTR collapsible stock. The assault weapons ban will be back eventually. I don't see this country getting any more free.

grandviewranch
January 1, 2012, 04:55 PM
Okay. Thanks again, Eb1! By the way, that's a nice rifle. Good looking setup.

Mshootnit - my thoughts exactly, but mostly based on preference. I don't think the anti-gun lobby is nearly as potent as they were leading up to the AW ban, and hopefully they never will be again. With so much pro-Second-Amendment legislation and a pro-gun popular sentiment, I really hope that bans are a thing of the past (I am speaking from pretty limited experience, though).

Eb1
January 1, 2012, 10:58 PM
As far as a fixed stock goes or not. I prefer the fixed stock look and feel. I prefer 20" AR-15s, but took the opportunity to purchase a 16" with mid-length gas system at a decent price.
When I go out to just shoot with buddies it is good to have a shorter rifle. At the distances this rifle will be shot at, even when hunting, will be under 300 yards. Mostly it will be a dense woods yote get'r using 69 grain Sierra Match Kings or 65 grain Sierra Game Kings. This is why I went with a 1:7 twist barrel on this rifle.
I have a WOA Service Rifle 8/3 fixed handled upper with a 1:7 twist, and 77 grain SMKs are like raw meat to a wolf. So are the 69 grain SMKs.
This PSA upper has shown to shoot 55 grain Black Hills FMJ and 55 grain Soft Points very well also. I haven't seen any over spin from a 1:7 twist with 55 grain bullets.

Art Eatman
January 1, 2012, 11:04 PM
Being lazy and a cheapskate on some things, I used the original sling but just knotted a loop in the barrel end. Sorta neat knot, you understand, but still...:D

grandviewranch
January 4, 2012, 07:15 PM
After a couple of days of browsing, I ordered this (http://www.karrisguns.com/ar-15-lower-receivers/ar-15-lower-magpul-moe-mil-spec-stock-). It's an Aero Precision-made, Surplus Ammo & Arms-marked complete lower receiver with a Magpul MOE stock and ambidextrous sling back plate included for $200, shipped (Props to Eb1 for the link to this site). It sounded like a great deal, so I ordered.

I picked up a (just one; I'll buy more later on) 20 round Magpul PMag from another online retailer, so all that I need is a scope mount. I like the PEPR and its type, but I wish I could find something similar for under $50. I found a "TMS" mount with pretty darn good reviews here (http://www.amazon.com/AR15-Flat-Piece-Mount-Picatinny/dp/B002BLLFQE) on Amazon. Amazon is out of stock, but I can get one off of ebay for $28 shipped. Opinions? I really like the PEPR setup but I'm not sure if $70 is in the cards right now.

Eb1
January 4, 2012, 07:32 PM
20 round C-Products Mags from Midway for $9.99 are good feeders, and fall right out of the mag-well on these lowers - FYI

Eb1
January 4, 2012, 08:45 PM
Did you see this in the specials? Not a Magpul, but it is $30 in your pocket.
http://www.karrisguns.com/ar-15-lower-receivers/ar15-complete-and-assembled-lower-with-6-position-stock

grandviewranch
January 5, 2012, 06:10 PM
I saw it, but the MOE stock plus sling swivel plate sold me. It's $60 of upgrades for $30 more.

Do you know how long it takes for Karri's to ship? My FFL's been in for two days and so far, no communication as far as shipping. I hope it's not one of those multiple-day (or even -week) processing deals where they're waiting for parts to come in.

As for the scope mounts, I do have an old M4-style airsoft gun that I used to get an idea of where my scope would be mounted (shouldered the rifle at my preferred stock length and held up the scope with my left hand to look through it). It wasn't perfect by a long shot, but it seems that my particular scope has the right eye relief to not need an extended mount (I'm also 6'1", so I think that helps move my eye back from the receiver when shooting). Maybe some ultra-high scope rings would work fine?

Eb1
January 5, 2012, 06:33 PM
Nah.. It took about 4 days for them to ship to me. I don't think it will be a multi-week deal.
They may have a deal where they ship twice a week or something.


Scope:

Does the Magpul have a check rest that can be raised?

I have Magpul hand guards on my rifle, and I like the look of the stock you're getting. I might switch, but I have always liked a plain looking butt stock. I don't like a lot of moving parts on guns or motorcycles.

grandviewranch
January 5, 2012, 11:08 PM
Ooh I'm having last-minute doubts... I'm not sure if the MOE will balance the rifle correctly. I might change my order to a fixed stock if I can. If not, I'll just see how it works out.

The A2's have aftermarket weights available, counteracting long/heavy barrels. The collapsibles are handy, but they're light (which can be good or bad) and they can be wobbly... It's a tough decision.

grandviewranch
January 12, 2012, 06:30 PM
I changed my order to a lower with an A2 stock. From what I've read, it gives better cheek weld, stability (zero wobble), and balance. Ended up going with Eb1's suggestion. The rifle should be coming together as a whole sometime next week (I already have the upper and a magazine).

grandviewranch
May 10, 2012, 05:32 PM
Zombie thread! I figured I should post a couple of pictures of the setup I ended up putting together. All told, besides the scope and sling I already owned, it ended up costing me around $800. It shoots and cycles well, and I'm very happy with it. The RRA upper's barrel is quite heavy, but I can deal with it.

http://img195.imageshack.us/img195/1212/dscn3920a.jpg

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