AR-15 noob build. Better options than.....


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Just Us
August 15, 2015, 08:22 PM
...a PSA premium rifle kit and PSA stripped lower, that is under $600?

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/catalog/product/view/id/21537/s/psa-16-midlength-premium-5-56-nato-1-7-a2-profile-moe-rifle-kit/

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/catalog/product/view/id/10445/category/4514/

This is what I am looking at. I have been educating myself on the platform, and surfin the interwebs for reviews/opinions on entry level AR's. From what I have found, this seems to be about the best "bang for the buck", and PSA seems to have a decent rep.

My intended use for the weapon would be primarily as a plinker/range toy, and obviously for for personal defense/shtf use if needed. Only upgrades I would consider (bet ya'll have heard that before), would be a drop in rail system, a rear flip up, red dot, and a flashlight.

Any opinions/better ideas are more than welcome!! Please, no "buy a colt, sig, DD, etc." comments, though. I am not a brand fan boy, and $600 is my max budget on the gun itself.
I would rather spend any excess money on good optics and ammo. Thanks!!

Edit:
I was looking at this PRK as well.

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/16-mid-length-light-weight-chrome-lined-premium-rifle-kit.html

Is there a "better than" between those two kits, primarily concerning the barrel profile?

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maxxhavoc
August 15, 2015, 08:48 PM
That is a good middy build kit. You can't go wrong with an FN barrel.

If you can afford it in your budget, I would highly recommend getting this as well
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/alg-combat-trigger-05-199-act.html

Zerodefect
August 15, 2015, 09:34 PM
Yeah, that's a fine start. Go for it.

Next step up, and more expensive,would be this upper:
http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/BCM-14-5-Mid-Length-Upper-Receiver-Group-p/bcm-urg-mid-14.htm
14.5" middy, with a pinned a2x flash hider is 16" and legal. And I swear by BCM's reliability. Just another option for a little more.

spazzymcgee
August 15, 2015, 09:57 PM
A PSA upper will serve you well. The premium line is very nice, and the "PTAC" and "Freedom" lines are pretty acceptable. What I do recommend though is to get a nice BCG if you don't get one with the PSA upper. A good, affordable option is a nitride BCG from Aimsurplus. Also, you might want to shop around for an Anderson lower and see if you could get one cheaper after shipping than the lowers sold by PSA.

tarosean
August 15, 2015, 10:09 PM
I am not a brand fan boy, and $600 is my max budget on the gun itself.
I would rather spend any excess money on good optics and ammo. Thanks!!

Then pick up one of those complete AR's from GrabaGun or CDNN + others, for 479-485.00.
i.e.
http://grabagun.com/sale-items.html?caliber=2617

DougW
August 15, 2015, 11:27 PM
Son built a mid length (kit) and I built a pistol (upper) from PSA. Both are very nice builds, and the fit and finish on both are excellent. Very happy with the results.

Just Us
August 16, 2015, 12:19 AM
"Then pick up one of those complete AR's from GrabaGun or CDNN + others, for 479-485.00.
i.e.
http://grabagun.com/sale-items.html?caliber=2617"

-------------------

Those super cheap pre-built AR's are sub-par on components, cutting corners to sell at a rock bottom price.

The FN barrels and PSA bcg's (esp. the NB premium) are in another pay grade. Not the best, but far from the worst.
Besides, I am a mech-nerd tinkerer, so I would enjoy building (at least partially) it myself. :D

Since I plan to change to a rail anyway, I am now looking at this route:

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/catalog/product/view/id/21696/s/psa-16-midlength-5-56-13-hybrid-upper-no-bcg-or-charging-handle/category/4514/
with this:
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/deals/clearance/summer-ar-sale/5-56-full-auto-nickel-boron-bcg.html
That route would still be middy, comes with a FF rail, and I would have the NB premium BCG!
The barrel is CMV, but doesn't state if it's an FN piece or not.
I still would come in under or on budget. Would lose the A2 fsb, but I want to use Magpul's anyway.


If you can afford it in your budget, I would highly recommend getting this as well
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index...5-199-act.html
I am eyeballing that hard, lol!

Thanks for the input, guys! Keep it comin!

Zerodefect
August 16, 2015, 01:45 AM
http://www.shop.masdefense.com/images/1421889039087861016917.jpeg
$464.99


http://www.shop.masdefense.com/images/14214501988892107890289.jpeg
$339.99

Jackal
August 16, 2015, 12:11 PM
Unless your willing to buy individual components and assemble yourself, its pretty darn hard to beat PSA.... They sit right in the sweet spot where price/quality meet. However, I've been seeing Colt 6720's as low as $750 online, that extra $150 sure would buy better resale value down the line... Fit between the upper/lowers will be a lot better than the PSA too. PSA lowers are machined quite generously to allow fitment to almost any upper (they dont want phone calls saying "I cant get it to fit"). This makes them loose/wobble masters with most uppers. Not a deal breaker certainly, but just something to be aware of. I've built at least 10 AR's on PSA lowers and they are the loosest lowers I've ever used.

ironworkerwill
August 17, 2015, 12:25 AM
Loose upper to lower mating is not something one can build out. It be remedied with an accu wedge.

Conversely one of the cheap polymer lowers I had once fit very well. But plastic gives....aluminum, not so much.

henschman
August 17, 2015, 12:28 AM
No, you can't do better than that for the money. PSA kits are the best value going for a serious use AR. I would go with the light profile one. The handling is noticeably better. There is no downside, as it is only lighter from the gas block forward, where it has negligible effect on accuracy or anything else.

M1key
August 17, 2015, 02:28 AM
I like the Aero Precision Gen 2 lowers. They have a 4-40 hex screw that tightens the fit on the upper assembly. Good design.

M

Blade First
August 17, 2015, 12:30 PM
That rear takedown pin's detent/spring channel is threaded for the tiny 4-40 allen-head set screw. If you experiment as much as I do with different stock configurations, it's mighty handy.

Here's what tensions the Gen 2 lower to the upper:

http://aeroprecisionusa.com/ar15-stripped-lower-gen2-anodized-black.html

Aero Precision products are of exceptional quality...just what you'd expect from an aerospace engineering company. :cool:

Just Us
August 17, 2015, 03:22 PM
I checked out the Aero gen 2 lower. That tension screw looks like it could be easily replicated with some patience, a drill press, a tap, and an appropriate screw on most any lower.

I have been reading ALOT of reviews/opinions on PSA, and this is the first I have heard about loose upper/lower tolerances.
I don't mind spending a little more coin if necessary to get a guaranteed tight fit. Is there a reasonably priced lower that is known for this, or is this something to expect on entry/mid level gear?

I don't expect "swiss watch" precision, but a clanky rattle gun would drive me nuts! :banghead:

readyeddy
August 17, 2015, 03:26 PM
My one PSA AR has no rattle or loose fit. It locks up tight.

ironworkerwill
August 17, 2015, 03:37 PM
Looks like someone at Aero had their thinking cap on.

Also the easy way out:accuwedge (http://www.brownells.com/rifle-parts/receiver-action-parts/receiver-hardware/accu-wedges/ar-15-m16-accu-wedge-prod16662.aspx)

Jackal
August 17, 2015, 03:38 PM
The lower tension screw that some companies use now are awesome when speccing parts from multiple vendors. That tension screw gives you matched receiver set solidarity at stripped lower prices. :D Either way though, for the money, PSA and Anderson are hard to beat in the forged lower market. The Anderson lowers with integrated trigger guard are quite nice as well, worth a close look.

Nathanael_Greene
August 17, 2015, 07:23 PM
How about Anderson uppers?

Jackal
August 17, 2015, 07:49 PM
How about Anderson uppers?

I've only used the Anderson lightweight upper, the one with only the brass deflector, no forward assist or port cover. I really liked it. Very light, well machined and paired with a Faxon barrel, it had quite literally perfect M4 feed ramp alignment. I do however prefer the Aero Precision lightweight upper over the Anderson, due to the Aero having the port cover. I will note, in my experience, the Anderson upper was more well machined than the Aero was. YMMV

henschman
August 17, 2015, 08:52 PM
My one experience with an Anderson upper isn't great. It replaced a PSA upper that I mangled on a barrel install gone bad. Something is out of spec in the front takedown pin hole. The pin is ridiculously tight in it, unless you pull the rear one first and swing the lower down 30 degrees or so. This is on a PSA lower that has for many different uppers with no issues.

Upper/lower slop is a non-issue. It doesn't have any effect on the functioning or accuracy of the rifle.

btg3
August 17, 2015, 09:03 PM
I went with a premium mid-length upper and built the lower -- both from PSA. No regrets. Would do it again. In fact, already have the stripped lower.

DO IT!!!

Jackal
August 17, 2015, 09:11 PM
Upper/lower slop is a non-issue. It doesn't have any effect on the functioning or accuracy of the rifle.

Exactly. The time it can be bothersome is when using a scope, due to the possibility of scope cant due to loose upper/lower fit. Since your cheek is welded, a little torque on the upper can tilt it enough to cause your crosshairs to cant. Not an issue unless your going for tiny groups, in which case you likely have a matched receiver set/tension screw already.

Just Us
August 17, 2015, 10:42 PM
Well, I just dropped the hammer on the PSA lower. Will start gathering the rest over the next few weeks, wish me luck!

Thanks everyone for the input and advice!

Jackal
August 18, 2015, 12:14 AM
Well, I just dropped the hammer on the PSA lower. Will start gathering the rest over the next few weeks, wish me luck!

Thanks everyone for the input and advice!

Awesome. Be sure to check PSA around the holidays for some killer deals.

MachIVshooter
August 18, 2015, 01:28 AM
The barrel is CMV, but doesn't state if it's an FN piece or not.

If the barrel is FN, it will say so. I'm not sure where PSA sources their other barrels, but they seem to be decent. I have two of their "freedom" stainless middy uppers and one .308 18" stainless; all have been reliable, and very respectable in the accuracy department. A couple of friends have had the PTAC phosphate uppers, and while they never equipped them with optics that would demonstrate the rifle's accuracy potential, they're able to hit what they're aiming at, and the rifles run just fine.

Having said all that, give this one some serious consideration:

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/ar-15-05/barreled-upper-assemblies/psa-16-midlength-5-56-nato-1-7-sqr15-slim-melonite-freedom-upper-no-bcg-or-charging-handle.html

It isn't much more, melonite makes the barrel more durable, and I think you'll find the balance better with a pencil or LW barrel than gov't profile or heavy.

Just Us
August 18, 2015, 03:44 PM
If the barrel is FN, it will say so. I'm not sure where PSA sources their other barrels, but they seem to be decent. I have two of their "freedom" stainless middy uppers and one .308 18" stainless; all have been reliable, and very respectable in the accuracy department. A couple of friends have had the PTAC phosphate uppers, and while they never equipped them with optics that would demonstrate the rifle's accuracy potential, they're able to hit what they're aiming at, and the rifles run just fine.

Having said all that, give this one some serious consideration:

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index...ng-handle.html

It isn't much more, melonite makes the barrel more durable, and I think you'll find the balance better with a pencil or LW barrel than gov't profile or heavy.

I have considered that one. Unsure as I have been reading up on the "melonite vs chrome" debate, and skeptical of the durability and "heat induced" inaccuracy of the pencil profiled barrels. Both would probably be a non-issue for a casual shooter such as myself, but I would like to have an "overbuilt" rifle for a "you never know" type scenario.

Probably been reading TOO much, lol. The options and variables to consider when building a "just right for me in my mind" AR is almost overwhelming, especially when cost is a factor.

MachIVshooter
August 18, 2015, 10:14 PM
Unsure as I have been reading up on the "melonite vs chrome" debate, and skeptical of the durability and "heat induced" inaccuracy of the pencil profiled barrels. Both would probably be a non-issue for a casual shooter such as myself, but I would like to have an "overbuilt" rifle for a "you never know" type scenario.

Remember that the other one you're considering is only phosphated steel, which will be less durable than nitrided (melonite) or chrome lined tubes.

The advantage to nitriding is that it's cheaper than chrome lining, and also doesn't require an oversized bore to compensate for the lining. All else being equal, an untreated or nitrided barrel will be more accurate than a chrome lined one. The only real advantage to CL over nitride is corrosion resistance.

Yes, thinner barrels are more prone to stringing as they heat, but it's a temporary condition. And if precision is your aim, even a bull barrel should not see the number of shots in rapid succession that would cause a pencil barrel to string.

I built this 4.59 lb featherweight; one of the places I cut weight was turning an M4 profile 4140 barrel down to sub-pencil profile:

http://i110.photobucket.com/albums/n117/Hunter2506/Machining%20projects/IMG_1419_zpsegzxlkkf.jpg

http://i110.photobucket.com/albums/n117/Hunter2506/Machining%20projects/IMG_1381_zpswnmdjhwq.jpg

The rifle shoots 1.2 MOA with varmint ammo, 1.5-2 MOA with various ball loads. It shot like that before we did mag dumps on an M-16 lower, and continued to group that well afterward.

I have 11 ARs, only one of which sports a CL barrel. The rest are all 4140, 4150 or 416 stainless. Except for the 22" Wilson bull barrel, they all shoot about the same, regardless of pencil, LW, govt or heavy profile barrels.

beeb173
August 18, 2015, 11:39 PM
http://www.cdnnsports.com/black-forge-556-optic-ready-carbine.html#.VdP5YPlViko

on paper this looks like a great $600 AR

1:7 twist
dual heat shield
M4 feed ramps
forward assist and dust cover.

Just Us
August 19, 2015, 06:11 AM
Remember that the other one you're considering is only phosphated steel, which will be less durable than nitrided (melonite) or chrome lined tubes.

Yeah, i didn't notice that the first time I looked at it. Scratch that one, and thanks for pointing it out.

The more I read, the more I realize that, realistically, just about any configuration would suffice for my anticipated usage.
I kinda would like a nickel/chrome bcg, and a CL barrel just for ease of maintenence if nothing else.
How is the lightweight barrel in terms of recoil vs a bull/heavy barrel? Is it easier to stay on target for follow ups with the heavier barrel?

I do like the idea of lightening the gun amap, but I want a very manageable weapon as well.

Thanks for your input.

MachIVshooter
August 19, 2015, 10:40 AM
How is the lightweight barrel in terms of recoil vs a bull/heavy barrel? Is it easier to stay on target for follow ups with the heavier barrel?

Depends on a number of things. Gas system and buffer weight affect felt recoil and muzzle behavior more in the AR than the differences in barrel profile. The above pictured rifle is actually more pleasant than a lot of 16" guns with carbine gas systems, because they are over gassed. My brake plays a role, too, of course.

Lightweight guns can be just as well mannered as any other with a good pairing of gas system and buffer, and a proper muzzle device. I build my own brakes & comps; some designs noticeably push the barrel downward (left), while others hold it quite neutral (right):

http://i110.photobucket.com/albums/n117/Hunter2506/Machining%20projects/IMG_1401_zpsifepbkzn.jpg

What you want depends as much on the build as what type of shooting you'll be doing. You might wonder why you'd want a brake that causes downward muzzle movement; in very rapid or full auto fire, the countering forces keep the muzzle very close to level, and it's easier to apply upward force on a rifle than downward if necessary. This way, you maintain sight of your target. The more neutral comps are better for slower firing, though.

Just Us
August 19, 2015, 04:09 PM
Depends on a number of things. Gas system and buffer weight affect felt recoil and muzzle behavior more in the AR than the differences in barrel profile. The above pictured rifle is actually more pleasant than a lot of 16" guns with carbine gas systems, because they are over gassed. My brake plays a role, too, of course.

Lightweight guns can be just as well mannered as any other with a good pairing of gas system and buffer, and a proper muzzle device. I build my own brakes & comps; some designs noticeably push the barrel downward (left), while others hold it quite neutral (right):



What you want depends as much on the build as what type of shooting you'll be doing. You might wonder why you'd want a brake that causes downward muzzle movement; in very rapid or full auto fire, the countering forces keep the muzzle very close to level, and it's easier to apply upward force on a rifle than downward if necessary. This way, you maintain sight of your target. The more neutral comps are better for slower firing, though.

Nice work on the brakes.

I understand and agree. What I have been reading concurs with what you are saying.

Realistically, this gun will be 93% a range toy, and I am not into rapid fire so much, and not into precision long range shooting. The weapon will be fortunate to have 300-500 rds of food per year. Just want a smooth-shooting, reliable/durable, all purpose type rifle. So I feel based on that criteria, my target will be a 16" mid-length, light barrel either "melonited" or chrome lined, and hopefully with a nickel bcg. Later would like to add an adjustable gas block to really tweek the dwell/recoil.

I have heard compensators help recoil, but are extremely loud to the sides? Probably wouldn't be a hit at the range, lol...

The one you suggested just might be the ticket. Not sure about that rail though, and I wish it were a complete kit.

David4516
August 19, 2015, 06:52 PM
Largely just repeating what others have said but PSA makes good stuff. I've built two ARs now with PSA uppers, one in .223 for my wife and a 9mm for my Dad. No issues with either rifle they work fine.

Regarding the barrel, even the heavy barreled ARs are thin under the hand guards. I don't get it, seems like all that does is put a bunch of unnecessary weight at the muzzle end of the rifle. My next build will be with a light weight profile, just seems more logical.

Speaking of logical, resist the urge to get a quad rail. It doesn't make sense to have rails all over the place if you're only going to attache one or two things. Just get something like the Magpul handguard that lets you attach rail segments where you need them, and leave the rest smooth. I ditched the quad rail that came with my Windham rifle and went with this:

http://www.impactweaponscomponents.com/product/moe-mid-length-hand-guard-w-iwc-s-qd-micro-mount-n-slot/

It's the basic Magpul "MOE" hand guard modified with a QD sling attachment point (I like the QD slings). Speaking of QD you might want to also consider one of these:

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/180467/noveske-receiver-end-plate-with-quick-detach-sling-swivel-mount-point-ambidextrous-ar-15-lr-308-carbine-steel-matte

MachIVshooter
August 19, 2015, 11:59 PM
Nice work on the brakes.

Thanks. They're 6al-4v titanium, BTW.

So I feel based on that criteria, my target will be a 16" mid-length, light barrel either "melonited" or chrome lined, and hopefully with a nickel bcg. Later would like to add an adjustable gas block to really tweek the dwell/recoil.

NiB carriers are fine, and they do clean easier than phosphated. That said, the nitrided carriers are also slick, if you prefer a black finish (I do). AIM has great deals on them:

http://aimsurplus.com/product.aspx?item=XAIMBCGN3BDG&name=AIM+AR%2fM16+.223%2f5.56+Nitride+9310+MPI+Bolt+Carrier+Group&search=bolt+carrier

On adjustable gas blocks; more trouble than they're worth unless you just can't get the thing to run right with any buffer, or if you have cycling issues going back and forth between suppressed and unsuppressed use, or between super-sonic and sub-sonic ammo.

I have heard compensators help recoil, but are extremely loud to the sides? Probably wouldn't be a hit at the range, lol...

Brakes moreso than comps. Standard A2 bird cages and other flash hiders deflect a lot of blast out to the sides as well. If you're trying to keep the blast going down range, you want a flash can, or a linear comp like the Troy Claymore.


The one you suggested just might be the ticket. Not sure about that rail though, and I wish it were a complete kit.

Rails can be changed, but the SQR's aren't half bad, and most folks who try them tend to like hand guards that extend further along the barrel. To me, a 16" tube with a 15" hand guard is both functionally and aesthetically superior to the shorter ones. YMMV, though.

As for it being a whole kit, if you wanted a NiB BCG (or nitrided), the full kit isn't a good option anyway. Plus, you can choose one of PSA's lower build kits with a nice Magpul or B5 systems stock and grip. Personally, I like the CTR or STR for carbines.

This is my "Freedom" upper build with a 15" UTG pro slim hand guard, YHM phantom flash hider, MOE grip and CTR stock:

http://i110.photobucket.com/albums/n117/Hunter2506/aa8528e5-ce1f-44c2-be43-dc6615b1b018_zpsc8b60af4.jpg


Regarding the barrel, even the heavy barreled ARs are thin under the hand guards. I don't get it, seems like all that does is put a bunch of unnecessary weight at the muzzle end of the rifle.

That's government profile; HBAR is quite a bit thicker behind the gas block (.840") than forward of it (.725"). And bull is ~1", usually dropping to .936" at the GB and ~.910" after. On the other end, LW will typically still use a .750 gas block, but runs around .625" fore and aft. True pencil uses a .625" gas block, and will be under .550" fore and aft.

David4516
August 20, 2015, 12:24 AM
MachIVshooter, your rear sight is on backwards :uhoh:

MachIVshooter
August 20, 2015, 12:31 AM
MachIVshooter, your rear sight is on backwards

Well aware, personal preference. Also doesn't matter one bit unless you rely on the "L" and "R" markings to make sight adjustments.

Just Us
August 20, 2015, 03:25 PM
As for it being a whole kit, if you wanted a NiB BCG (or nitrided), the full kit isn't a good option anyway. Plus, you can choose one of PSA's lower build kits with a nice Magpul or B5 systems stock and grip. Personally, I like the CTR or STR for carbines.

What about this one?

http://palmettostatearmory.com/index.php/psa-16-chf-mid-length-5-56-nato-1-7-ultra-light-moe-defender-rifle-kit.html

Seems like everything I would want, and nothing I don't. It has the NiB bcg, light weight chf/cl barrel, middy, upgraded buffer, moe furniture, and nickel/polished fcg. Only other things I would need is a rear buis, and flashlight. (I kinda like the A2 fsb "look")

A little pricier than the other kits, but it's gtg as is (for me). The way I see it, I would be replacing parts and spending money on new ones (seems redundant) with any of their other kits.

readyeddy
August 20, 2015, 03:52 PM
Nice kit. If it's the right one for you, then don't wait too long.

Just Us
August 20, 2015, 09:05 PM
Nice kit. If it's the right one for you, then don't wait too long.

It would already be ordered, but I am waiting on a bonus check from work (that I should already have). :rolleyes:

Hopefully tomorrow, so I can catch the free shipping deal....

MachIVshooter
August 20, 2015, 10:17 PM
What about this one?

Looks like a real nice kit. I hadn't seen that particular one before. Of course, PSA has a lot of kit offerings, and the details change frequently.

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