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Best/cheapest out of the box AR for a beginner?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Juna, May 24, 2006.

  1. Juna

    Juna Well-Known Member

    So I shot my first AR a couple days ago. It was a Bushmaster XM 15 M4 in .223/5.56mm. Let me just say that I'm hooked! I am definitely going to need some sort of AR in the future! :D I'm a total newbie when it comes to rifles, so keep that in mind.

    What is the cheapest (but still decent, reliable, and relatively accurate) complete AR "out of the box"? Do you recommend a newbie start wtih an M16 or an M4? Which is cheaper, and what are the pros/cons of each? As I understand it the M4 is louder and less powerful due to the shorter barrel.

    I don't know enough yet to build my own AR, so I'm thinking I should leave that option out until I have my own and figure out what I like and don't like.

    Help a newbie out! :D Thanks in advance. I've been trying to find some info on searches, but maybe I'm not searching for the right things.
  2. Justin

    Justin Moderator Staff Member

    Well, what do you want to do with it? :)

    For just general plinking, go with whatever tickles your fancy.

    But before making a choice, you might look into some of the different forms of competition people use AR's in to see if you'd be interested in trying that stuff out.

    Probably the two most well known would be High Power Service Rifle competition and Multigun/3 Gun. The first deals with developing pure marksmanship ability, the second with employing a rifle in situations that are at unknown distances and involve moving.

    There are also plenty of others.
  3. Juna

    Juna Well-Known Member

    Interesting question...

    Well, it would start out being for general plinking since it's fun and I'd need to build up some basic skills first. However, I may eventually dabble in the Multigun/3gun competitions you're speaking of. What are the other 2 guns, pistol and shotgun? I'm into pistols already, and I plan on dabbling in shotguns, too. I was thinking of shotguns first, since they're cheaper, but I'm just too darn hooked on the AR now!

    The thing is, I'll be able to afford a really nice AR eventually (years down the road--so not really a "wait and buy a great gun later instead of a decent gun now" scenario), but right now my budget is very limited. So that's why I'm looking for the cheapest out-the-door AR that is not a piece of junk (rifle equivalent of a Jennings pistol, e.g.).

    Are there any brands or types to steer clear of? Also, any thoughts as to M16 vs. M4? Is one cheaper than the other? I know the M16 has longer range capabilities and more power, and I'll probably eventually buy or build a nice one when I know more and have more time and money. I assume the M4 is cheaper.

    Are all AR parts interchangeable, regardless of manufacturer? I've noticed people buying uppers and lowers from different companies. They don't require fitting/adjusting?

    In pistol terms (what I know more about), what is the equivalent of a Hi-Point in an AR (entry level)? How about a Ruger equivalent (mid level)? Or a Sig/H&K equivalent (upper tier)? And what's a price I should expect to not pay more than for the above three categories? I don't have a clue about pricing, and I don't want to get taken to the cleaners.
  4. Red State

    Red State Well-Known Member

    I cant speak from experience, but I have heard that both Busmaster and Rock River make multiple AR style guns that are pretty good right out of the box.
  5. Don't Tread On Me

    Don't Tread On Me Well-Known Member

    Impossible request.

    Best method is to list your absolute max price for purchasing an AR. When you do that, people will be able to make good suggestions as to what is the best AR you can get for that money.

    Also, what do you mean by out of the box? Do you mean brand-new? Or a factory built rifle (not a parts built gun)?
  6. PFFlyer

    PFFlyer Member

    Also in the market for an ar

    I have been looking around and doing some research on ar-15 as I plan to purchace one in the near future.

    Bushmasters seem to be a great choice. Everyone tends to agree Bushmasters are great quality and prices are very reasonable for an ar out of the box.

    As far as m-4 / m-16, you would be surprised that the m-16 style ars tend to be cheaper (as far as I can tell). I think that features like the 6-position stock and barrel profile bump the price a little on the m-4.

    I am looking at m-4 type rifles as the size makes it a little more practical for a home defense weapon (still mostly for fun). There is a lot of stuff you can read to get people's point of view on the different brands and types of ar's, and I am always a fan of researching stuff a lot before you buy.

    I just thought I'd jump in since I am in the same situation as you right now. Good luck in your search!
  7. lamazza

    lamazza Well-Known Member

    I think your best bet is to save up a few bucks and, rather than a cheap beginner rifle, go buy that Bushmaster. IMO the best way to go is with an A3(removeable carry handle) because you will eventually want to buy a scope or red dot.
    And yes,I believe in Bushmaster all the way. The quality and price is unbeatable.

    Side Note: After talking to a Rock River rep at the recent NRA show I am even more convinced that a chrome lined barrel is the way to go.
    The RRA rep says: 'well, a chrome lined barrel is necessary if you are fighting in the jungles because its a rust inhibitor, but otherwise its not neccessary and it hurts accuracy' -sorry but BS!

    I own a Bushmaster with 16" barrel and have no problems at all with sub 1" groups at 200 meters
  8. migz808

    migz808 Member


    Check out AR15.com for more Q/As. I'd say build one to your liking and so that you know the in and outs of the gun.
  9. Hawkmoon

    Hawkmoon Well-Known Member

    "Cheapest" and "Best" are mutually exclusive.

    IMHO, the best out-of-the-box deal for an entry-level AR is the Olympic Arms "Plinker Plus," hands down. Originally it was available only as a 16" carbine. I believe there is now also a 20" Plinker version available.
  10. Freddymac

    Freddymac Well-Known Member

    lamazza is right

    When it comes to AR's even the "cheap" ones ain't cheap. You are better off waiting a little while, saving up some more cash and buying a good one, or building exactly what you want. At the range, either rent different brands and configuration or ask someone that you see shooting one if you can try it out... We AR folks are usually pretty friendly.:D

    Once you have an idea of what you want, go for it.
  11. bbutler

    bbutler Well-Known Member

    Go with a rockriver .
  12. GoRon

    GoRon Well-Known Member


  13. GoRon

    GoRon Well-Known Member

    If you get a RRA get a mid length gas system. That's what I have and I love it. Wish I had a chrome chamber and barrel so I wouldn't feel inadequate when surfing ARFCOM.
  14. Juna

    Juna Well-Known Member

    How much does a basic olympic arms run? what about a RRA? I saw that the bushmaster was listed as $850 on one of the previous posts.

    I also saw a post on here that someone could build an AR for $5-600. Is this really do-able for a newbie just with tips from the AR forum? Just curious, b/c that would be nice to only spend that much and use the extra $250-350 for lots of ammo.
  15. Seraph

    Seraph Well-Known Member

    Juna, you can save a little money buy assembling one yourself, but you'll need access to certain task-specific tools. If you have to buy these, it will eat into your savings margin. If you have a friend who already owns the tools, borrowing that friend's tools and knowledge will get her done.
  16. Lonestar.45

    Lonestar.45 Well-Known Member

    I'm in the market for one too. The Olympic Plinker Plus rifles I've seen at the gunshow here are between $600 and $650, depending on the vendor. You may be able to get one for under $600 if you really shop around. I've priced a build, and yes you can build one that is a little better for cheaper, but I think for my first one I'm going to try to save up for a Bushmaster (or, heaven forbid, trade for one).

    As much as I like my AK and SKS's, I think it is time to expand my semi-auto horizons.
  17. Gary G23

    Gary G23 Well-Known Member

    Stag Arms
  18. Drakejake

    Drakejake Well-Known Member

    I just bought a DPMS Panther Lite. I am very happy with it. It came with a plastic case, cleaning kit, manual, and two 30 round mags. It has a forged aluminum upper and lower, closely resembles more expensive ARs, and is light (5.7 pounds empty) and handy (16 inch barrel, adjustable stock). I saw the rifle listed on GunBroker.com. The seller was Greg Calvert, Greg's Guns, Russellville, AR. (g.calvert@avc-wireless.com) I paid $639 plus $20 shipping. Greg was very easy to deal with. I think the price I paid is a few dollars lower than the going rate. Others who deal in DPMS include Tejas Gunwerks and Dynamic Armament.

    Last edited: May 25, 2006
  19. rino451

    rino451 Well-Known Member

    Couple of things...

    Rock River Arms. Great but not inexpensive.

    Chrome lines parts are easier to clean and reduce fouling than SS, chromemoly, etc.

    Olympic's plinker is probably the most inexpensive rifle you'll find that will actually work out of the box from one of the large manufacturers.

    That said, you can get a Bushmaster or DPMS and some others used for as low as $600 and maybe lower.
  20. Chucksredvette

    Chucksredvette Active Member

    I have a DPMS 16" with flattop, an aimpoint, 6 pos buttstock, rails with a vertical front grip, and BUIS. I also have an Armalite 16" A2 upper with a scope, front rails with a vertical grip, hogue pistol grip, 6 pos stock. Neither has ever failed me.

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