What AR-15's not to buy?


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ds/ks
July 9, 2014, 06:30 PM
No experience with AR platform. Not interested in any optics. Just want to get into a entry level rifle, not necessarily the cheapest. I know everyone has their favorites, just want to know what brands to steer clear of.

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tahunua001
July 9, 2014, 06:39 PM
the only ones I can tell you to stay away from are Blackthorne/AKpartskits.
vulcan used to have a bad reputation but everytime I bring it up half a dozen people pop up saying their's function fine so perhaps they have refined things a bit.
aero precision, their stripped lowers are great for a build it yourself project but the rest of the parts are iffy.
don't buy one that lists parts from half a dozen companies, it is likely that it was assembled in somebodies basement and they are either flipping it(like house flipping, build it cheap, sell it high), or they mucked it up and want to pawn it off on some unsuspecting newb.
Remington is just a rebranded DPMS in camo dipping(which peels), don't waste the money, get DPMS.
other than that you are fine with anyone from the low shelf like DPMS, to mid shelf like Rock River arms, to highest quality Seekins Precision.

R.W.Dale
July 9, 2014, 06:52 PM
CENTURY

Yes century


I've seen inside a C-15 and the drunken monkeys and angry beavers didn't spare the bench grinder or file

wojownik
July 9, 2014, 07:02 PM
ds/ks - you'll probably swiftly get a lot of opinions on worst. Yes, there are some really bad AR makes out there, which are objectively ... bad (Century, as noted, is one). If you happen to see a Vulcan, Hesse, Blackthrone in the shop (likely used or on consignment) ... don't walk, but run away.

After that, worst can going to be relative to what you want to do with the rifle. Plinking/informal shooting? Home defense? Getting interested in matches? Are you looking for just something to start out with, knowing you might upgrade things along the way?

With the above mentioned brands, odds are very high that you'll get a rifle that needs work (perhaps major work).

I have several Bushmasters and Colts.

I'd put Bushmaster in the category of "possible" you'll get a rifle that needs some work (four BM rifles over the past 20 years, had to just replace the entire upper on one, but the others have been very good - still have all four).

Colt - I'd put tha tin the category of "not very likely" to have a problem.

Though a lemon can squeeze out of any production line...

rswartsell
July 9, 2014, 07:12 PM
There are varying opinions about Olympic, what is certain is;

1. they certainly aren't top of the marque
2. they spent some time producing cast (instead of forged or billet, they are producing forged now I hear) receivers that were problematic
3. many reports of trouble with customer service

I personally have not owned one. A close friend does and while our combined use has not exposed any really big problems it is less reliable and seems of lesser general quality than his Smith and Wesson M&P 15 Sport and my Colt LE6920. I know that he considers the purchase of the Olympic during one of the Obama panics an "act too hastily" mistake.

If you can find the budget for either the Smith or a Colt 6920 they would be my recommendations. It is often cheaper to buy quality the first time. There are some outstanding prices right now on both the Smith and the Colt if you shop hard.

Robert
July 9, 2014, 07:36 PM
You can not go wrong with an S&W M&P Sport or a Colt 6920. If you shop around there are many good deals to be had on both

Jackal
July 9, 2014, 07:48 PM
When purchasing new, avoid any company/product that doesnt offer a good warranty and strong customer service.

LeonCarr
July 9, 2014, 07:50 PM
IMO/IME the best AR for the money right now is either a Palmetto State Armory (PSA) or S&W M&P Sport.

Both of mine have been 100% reliable and both were right at 650 bucks out the door.

Good Rifles.

Just my .02,
LeonCarr

tahunua001
July 9, 2014, 07:52 PM
When purchasing new, avoid any company/product that doesnt offer a good warranty and strong customer service.
isn't that most of them?

Potatohead
July 9, 2014, 07:57 PM
Not interested in any optics

Even if not, dont plunge in for a non-optic ready AR ( the non-detachable carry handle versions).

When you do become interested in optics you'll be in a pickle.

Ask me how I know:)

Im rolling with a scope riding on top of a carry handle until I can get the funds for a fix (stripped upper). The thing's like a double decker bus. I have to bend down inside so i dont scrape my scope on the ceiling:)
The Tactical Tommys at the range are not impressed when i break that thing out...

Outlaw Man
July 9, 2014, 08:10 PM
If you're not going to war with it or a grueling class/match, there are a lot of choices out there for inexpensive rifles that would be fine for plinking and such - DPMS, Stag, Bushmaster (not really inexpensive), etc.

But with bargains out there from Colt, PSA, S&W, and, if you shop around, Spikes Tactical, all for not much more than any of the above, if you think you'll need real dependability, it's a no-brainer to upgrade.

The Blackthornes and others mentioned in the same breath above aren't worth your time.

SSGT PRIDE
July 9, 2014, 08:27 PM
#1 LOOK AROUND! Read Reviews...Don't be in a big hurry!

I wanted a Bushmaster Varminter for a while...Fantastic reviews and a very well made gun! They ran from upper 900$ range into the thousands. I got one at Sportsmans Warehouse last week on sale for $799 after 200$ sale price / Rebate and have 100 rounds of Remington .223 ammo coming....Not to mention I got 5% off for being a Veteran.

I stuck a nice little Nikon 4X12 Prostaff on it I already owned until I found a scope.....Today I found a scope..Bought a Vortex Viper 6.5 X 20 X 44 Dead Hold BDC...regular price $429...sale was $299 plus my 5% Discount.

Range reports soon!

Jackal
July 9, 2014, 08:54 PM
PSA CHF/Premium or S&W Sport get my vote for budget rifles. BCM/Colt/DD for higher end.

BobTheTomato
July 9, 2014, 08:59 PM
As long as it is a larger brand name you should be fine. If it is a hodgepodge of parts for sale at the local gun store it might not be good. PSA makes a good rifle.

Jackal
July 9, 2014, 09:10 PM
If you know what your looking at, there can be some smoking deals on "parts rifles", but you have to have a keen eye. Such as a DPMS lower, Colt upper and BCM bcg for $600.

Bruce Hanson
July 9, 2014, 09:32 PM
Don't worry about what not to buy, just get a Colt 6920.

Paul7
July 9, 2014, 10:32 PM
CENTURY

Yes century


I've seen inside a C-15 and the drunken monkeys and angry beavers didn't spare the bench grinder or file
I've got a Century assembled A-1 that has been perfect.

cfullgraf
July 9, 2014, 10:33 PM
There are varying opinions about Olympic...

I have an Olympic M4gery upper. I had trouble getting it to fit another company's lower. If I remember, the upper was not trimmed enough in certain areas. But I have slept since then.

Finally got it to work and it did function fine.

I borrowed the lower for another project. I recently bought a new lower for the Olympic. No trouble with the fit this time.

Makes me wary of Olympic.

B!ngo
July 10, 2014, 03:39 AM
So the S&W folks seem to be nailing it right now in their price range. I would not hesitate to buy one in a moments notice. For me, a 'special needs' person, I have been totally satisfied with Stag Arms guns (left handed) but if the right handed guns are the same as the left handers (and they are) they are as good as the S&W and about the same price. Good stuff though unexpected. But for resale value, the S&W will retain more value than the Stag for the right handers. Sad but true.
Finally a bit higher I would not hesitate to go with Daniel Defense. Low key excellence. And a bit higher it's the LMT (though I have confused them with the LWRC). I handled one and was simply stunned and the dynamic and static quality of the components and their manufacture. Wow, if I had the cash and they built a left handed model I would run to the front of the line (not a good idea when people are holding guns...).
B

bannockburn
July 10, 2014, 09:09 AM
No problems with my Olympic Arms or Bushmaster products, though they are of a more vintage manufacture. My friend who has both a newer (heavily modified I might add), Olympic Arms M4 and a Rock River Arms LAR-15 Predator Pursuit, has been very pleased with the reliability and accuracy of both rifles.

Fishbed77
July 10, 2014, 10:10 AM
aero precision, their stripped lowers are great for a build it yourself project but the rest of the parts are iffy.

Please elaborate.

All that I have researched about Aero Precision indicates that their products are of very high quality, and are used by a number of companies, including PSA, BCM, and Spikes.

Tirod
July 10, 2014, 11:02 AM
Actually, about the only difference between a kitchen table parts gun and a lot of the others is that they have batches of parts to sort out and fit together, where the guy with just one each has to live with it.

Almost NOBODY makes all the parts. Most buy parts from vendors - and they aren't saying, either. Even Colt buys out a lot of their parts, and they don't forge, either, only machine.

As for the requirements, "I want a good quality plinker" is a bit vague. It's a semi auto combat rifle, made to do certain things better. Might as well get specific about what you want it to do. First thing is nail down what target at what range you intend to shoot. "Plinking" is less than 100m with iron sights at best, any Ruger 10/22 can do that.

Overall, a flat top upper with free float will likely be a better overall setup. Even if optics aren't a major concern, having the option to mount what you want where you want is important. And having a free float will get versatility that can be exploited later. They aren't radically expensive and will help prevent errors using a sling.

Most of the rest - stock, grip, rollmark, trigger - isn't going to add much to the equation. Ignore most of the hype about them and concentrate on the quality of the barrel and bolt carrier group, where the money counts. In that regard a PSA hammerforged barrel is a great value for the money, and a "milspec" mag inspected bolt will get a minimum acceptable level of quality.

What will be more important than avoiding the poor makers is not focusing on the Brands at all - focus on the parts specifications and that will eliminate the back markers completely.

FinnComm
July 10, 2014, 11:18 AM
I have been totally satisfied with Stag Arms guns

Me too. Mine hasn't missed a beat and the trigger is excellent (readable and sharp/crisp).

I recommend the plus package to get the individually tested internals and the 1:7 barrel (in case you want to shoot longer/heavier rounds, it still handles lighter 55grain bulk just fine).

PS I avoided Bushmaster, as I heard they had been bought out and production moved somewhere else. Also that the quality wasn't as good as 10 years ago. Someone else can mabe confirm if this is true or not.

HOOfan_1
July 10, 2014, 12:13 PM
PS I avoided Bushmaster, as I heard they had been bought out and production moved somewhere else. Also that the quality wasn't as good as 10 years ago. Someone else can mabe confirm if this is true or not.

They were bought by Freedom Arms (Owner of H&R, Remington, DPMS, Bushmaster, Para Ordnance and Marlin) in 2006

Windham Weaponry opened in 2011 and is basically what Bushmaster was before they were bought out.

1858
July 10, 2014, 12:48 PM
PS I avoided Bushmaster, as I heard they had been bought out and production moved somewhere else. Also that the quality wasn't as good as 10 years ago. Someone else can mabe confirm if this is true or not.

I ordered a Bushmaster upper chambered in .450 BM about two years ago. I finally received it a few months ago and I'm VERY pleased with it. I'd have no problem buying another Bushmaster product. I also have a Bushmaster lower with a DPMS upper and it's an excellent rifle.

BSA1
July 10, 2014, 12:57 PM
Windham has a good reputation in my area with general retail price of $850.00. The S&W Sports are getting common for $600.00 (when on sale).

If you are not in a hurry the ARES SCR is a interesting design that uses AR uppers and magazines. However I am going to wait a year to see if it actually makes it to the market and how good of quality it is.

wojownik
July 10, 2014, 04:37 PM
I'd second Windham, but Colt prices are so low right now (CDNN has a Colt 6920 for $899, for example - you can get Windham for as low as $684 from Buds. If an extra $200 can be squeezed).

Back to the OP's original question, another brand of AR that some of my friends had issues with was Olympic Arms. Many others say they've not have problems, but I've seen enough to put Oly on a "yellow flag" list.

ds/ks
July 10, 2014, 05:20 PM
LGS has a M&P sport I kinda got a crush on!

Scot43
July 10, 2014, 05:32 PM
Allow me to add my two cents for what its worth. First, be sure exactly what it is you want an AR to be used for. What that means is it a home defense gun only and for occasional plinking or are you wanting an AR that has a guaranteed accuracy from the factory and perhaps used for hunting? Ask yourself, do I want to carry around a 10 lb heavy barreled AR or do I want something light and quick to the eye.
After several mistakes I purchased a Rock River Arms coyote carbine, put a 3x9x40 Leupold on it and never looked back. Its a joy to carry and performs flawlessly. How does it shoot? This is good enough for me:

http://i638.photobucket.com/albums/uu105/Scot43/IMG_0194.jpg (http://s638.photobucket.com/user/Scot43/media/IMG_0194.jpg.html)

Scot43
July 10, 2014, 05:38 PM
This is the Rock River Coyote Carbine described above. Nothing added that isn't needed.

http://i638.photobucket.com/albums/uu105/Scot43/IMG_0212.jpg (http://s638.photobucket.com/user/Scot43/media/IMG_0212.jpg.html)

FinnComm
July 10, 2014, 10:47 PM
What distance are you shooting the group at Scot?

kwg020
July 10, 2014, 10:56 PM
I just ordered a Del-Ton rifle kit. I did not need a whole kit but it was on sale so it was only $15 dollars more than a complete upper only. I have not seen Del-Ton mentioned so it must be in the middle somewhere. kwg

TexasPatriot.308
July 10, 2014, 11:01 PM
There is only one AR and those are ARMALITES.....as far as Armalite frames, Colts 6920 seems to be the best, then Armalites are out there. AR does not stand for Assault rifle or Automatic rifle.....hear so much from uninformed firearms people.

FinnComm
July 11, 2014, 06:08 AM
hear so much from uninformed firearms people.

Yup you're correct there! :)

It all comes down to opinion really, e.g. I don't think 6920s are the best, in fact I know they're not. That doesn't make them a bad purchase.

It all comes down to:

- what you're going to do with it
- how often will you shoot it
- how easy do you want cleaning to be
- how important reliability is
- how important accuracy is
- how much you have to spend

ID-shooting
July 11, 2014, 07:59 AM
"I just ordered a Del-Ton rifle kit. I did not need a whole kit but it was on sale so it was only $15 dollars more than a complete upper only. I have not seen Del-Ton mentioned so it must be in the middle somewhere. kwg"

I tend to avoid these topics becuase it too quickly turn into a "if you spent less than 2k for you Ar you bought junk" or if it isn't compared to the now-outdated "list".

Anyway, my wife and run Del-Ton. Mine is a complete M4 from them, hers is a light-weight carbine on a new "2013" Olympic lower.

We most shoot recreationally, I do more hunting and longer range work than she does. We both just got done with a CQB course and they both ran wonderfully. zero stoppages that were the rifle. Some ammo issues, but that is off topic here.

Anyway, it comes down to how well a rifle is built. There are only so many companies making receivers and parts. Mostly it is crap shoot. I have seen $500 AR's run all day, I have seen $2000 AR's that wouldn't run at all. I just watched a friend fight his Sig AR at the range the other day. All you heard were cuss words when the rest of us were banging away on steel plates. I know Sig makes top-rated firearms, but his has issues.

Anyway, as for who to avoid, I can't say there is one to avoid all together, but with the deals in AR market right now with all the over stocks, it is easy to find a nicely built one from a good solid company.

HoosierQ
July 11, 2014, 09:24 AM
In my opinion S&W has really changed the AR-15 game. They produce some very high quality ARs in a wide variety of configurations...there's one to please just about everybody. And they've done so at a very reasonable price. You can get the Sport for about $650 and it is very well made. You can get their higher end models and they are no better in terms of quality, they just have more stuff (the sport is very bare bones - quality bones but bare).

AND once you get up at their higher end models, it is a very easy financial step to Colt...no leap, just a step.

In other words, S&W provide high quality product right up to where Colt starts (arguably with some overlap).

Stag makes a good rifle but with S&W in the game...why bother IMHO. Now if their just building market share and a price hike happens, that may revert the game.

ultratec1
July 11, 2014, 10:16 AM
I have had no issues at all with any of my Rock Rivers.

skywalkrNCSU
July 11, 2014, 12:20 PM
If I were to do it all over again I would get a basic lower from a reputable company and slap on a BCM blemish upper. Those things are AWESOME for the price.

sauer1911
July 13, 2014, 12:41 AM
After months of IDPA shooting, I decided to take my S&W MP15OR 5.56 with a gas piston, out for a trip to the outdoor range.:)

I was shooting 55grain .223 ammo. I used a Eotech Red dot scope. After getting the scope dialed in at 50yds, I though how hard is it to try to hit the 200, 250yard steel plates, with a Red dot scope?;)

I lined up with both eyes open to see where the shot goes with both eyes, and was very happy with many a resounding ping on the plates, some were 10 in a row!:eek:

about 450-500 yards out and up at an angle of say 30-35degrees, is another steel plate that the guys with .338 lapua and 50bmg would shoot.

I took aim and boy oh boy if that flat shooting little "Sport Rifle" of mine didn't hit that plate time after time! :cool:

It was awesome! It really made my day at the range!

Be safe.

M1GarandDeerHunter
July 13, 2014, 01:19 AM
I have had Zero issues with Colt, Bushmaster and Rock River. The Colt has been especially reliable for me, a Hbar from long ago, and now ready for a new barrel.

rondog
July 13, 2014, 01:42 AM
A few years ago I bought a very lightly used DPMS carbine and have been very happy with it, although the trigger is gritty and I'd replace it if I could afford to.

Of course, as soon as I bought it I started reading reviews on forums deriding DPMS AR's as low-shelf junk. Seems some regard them as the HiPoints of AR's. Not my experience, just be aware that not everyone considers them worthy.

Jackal
July 13, 2014, 03:00 AM
DPMS is fine for 90% of shooters, its the folks like myself that want that little extra that better specs can provide. If I was hunting coyotes, I'd have no prob reaching for a DPMS. If I here a bump in the night, I'd rather reach for a BCM.

FinnComm
July 13, 2014, 02:04 PM
I have had Zero issues with Colt, Bushmaster and Rock River. The Colt has been especially reliable for me

I'm not trying to be an idiot. But if you have had zero issues with Colt, Bushmaster and Rock River, how exactly has the Clot (sic) been "especially reliable"?

bluetopper
July 13, 2014, 03:34 PM
Bought a Mossberg MMR Hunter 20" AR for $530.......highly recommend.

Scot43
July 13, 2014, 07:34 PM
group was shot at 100 yards.

M1GarandDeerHunter
July 13, 2014, 08:43 PM
Finncomm, I had builds that I put together, that had issues. There was a learning curve with it. The other two are national match rifles, with somewhat tighter chamber dimentions that I had to be more careful with reloaded match ammo (headspace). Once I learned to use a snap gauge to chamber check all reloaded ammo for inconsistencies , I had NO problems. The Colt due to its more generous chamber simply sucked up the ammo and ran. Like I said, for me, there was a period of learning these rifles. Hope that helps.

Zach S
July 13, 2014, 09:16 PM
If I were new to ARs, I'd get a 6920 and start from there. Milspec parts are actually milspec, and not labeled as such because they fit.

For example, RRA and BM can say their charging handles are milspec because they "fit," but I've snapped one of each...

FinnComm
July 15, 2014, 12:56 PM
Thanks for taking the time to reply M1 :)

FireInCairo
July 15, 2014, 01:13 PM
They say the kits are worth avoiding. Also, home-builds unless you know and trust the person who built it.

A good quality AR-15 can be had with the Smith and Wesson M&P 15 rifles.

M1GarandDeerHunter
July 15, 2014, 03:54 PM
FireInCairo They say the kits are worth avoiding. Also, home-builds unless you know and trust the person who built it.

A good quality AR-15 can be had with the Smith and Wesson M&P 15 rifles.
Today 11:56 AM
FinnComm Thanks for taking the time to reply M1
July 13, 2014 08:16 PM

Fire, I would have to agree, with my somewhat limited experience, starting with high quality parts would be first and formost if I were to try another one. But the experience was worth it. There are so many manufacturers today. Not sure I really want to mess with it anymore.

FinnComm, your welcome. I think Finland and Finnish people are cool btw. We have a fairly large population of them in Michigans upper pininsula. A few speak Finnish yet. Many are expert hunters and fisherman. Thought you would like to know that.:D

Stephen1956
July 16, 2014, 08:42 PM
Impact Guns has the S&W MP-15 Sporter for $599 and free shipping I've seen a lot of good reviews on them but everyone has a different preference but I'd like to have the money to buy one.

Zach S
July 17, 2014, 12:27 AM
They say the kits are worth avoiding. Also, home-builds unless you know and trust the person who built it.

A good quality AR-15 can be had with the Smith and Wesson M&P 15 rifles.
They're lego guns... If you start with quality parts and know your way through a toolbox you can build an AR. Read a few links, watch a few videos, build a nice carbine.

They arent like 1911s were only a few parts are drop in, and even then, some fitting may be required. Out of the 4 ARs I've built, I dont think I've had to "fit" anything, other than a cheap milspec* stock body on a take-off commercial receiver extension, for my rimfire.

*advertised as milspec, since it fit the milspec buffertube.

I recommended starting with a 6920 because its a quality rifle that's fairly easy to come across. The bolt is milspec (shot-peened, MPI, HPT), the charging handle and receiver extension are forged rather than cast or extruded, and everything is properly staked.

Having broke one bolt (DPMS), two charging handles (RRA, BM), having a gas key (RRA) and castle nut (?) come loose, then breaking a buffer tube (?), I wont apologize for being a little picky.

I know Smiths and Stags were a lot of bang for the buck a few years ago, but if I got one today I'd stake the gas key and castle nut once I got it home, then order a BCM bolt and probably a charging handle, which would put me at about the price of a 6920... But with the Smith or Stag, I'd have a spare bolt...

burk
July 18, 2014, 08:52 PM
As a part time seller the only one I've seen consistantly bad experiences with has been the Bushmaster Carbon 15. Don't buy one if you plan on upgrading later, and don't run 5.56 with it. The S & W Sport and Lower priced Stags seem to be the best buys. And if you step up the DPMS Magpul is a great buy (it includes an ASAP) or the Colt 6920. To me Daniel Defense is THE top of the line.

I've run regular Bushmaster M4's for years with no issues, feed them a steady diet of xm193's. I've never seen an Olympic arms, but I've never heard a good report on one either.

Rob96
July 19, 2014, 05:37 AM
I have had 3 different DPMS rifles and never one single problem. Current one is the MK12, their version of the military MK12 SPR. Incredible rifle and scary accurate.

AABEN
July 19, 2014, 07:56 AM
I have a bushmaster and a Arma Lite M15A 4B. The BM is my play gun and my AL is my target gun. It does 1/2 at a 100 yards with my reloads. I did put a Timmy trigger in it.

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