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Seeking AR15 Advice

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by d80buckeye, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. d80buckeye

    d80buckeye New Member

    Jan 2, 2012
    Hi... I'm a new poster to the forum but I've been an avid reader.

    To cut to the chase I've been looking at purchasing an AR15 in the next year, say, before November as I'm not sure this year's elections will yield much favor for the firearm community. With that being said I've been doing somewhat extensive research on the platform and have determined for the casual shooter there is such a thing as "too much" so I don't want or break the bank nor do I want bottom of the barrel. Based on this research here is what I've determined:

    - Usage: would be for purely recreational purposes. I'm interested in long-distance shooting just for kicks but let's be honest... I'd like to own one before you can't.
    - Barrel (length): Obviously longer is typically more accurate but from what I've been reading there is negligible muzzle speed between each increment (maybe 100fps). I have a 12ga for self/home defense so extra length won't affect that decision.
    - Barrel (twist): 1/9" looks pretty standard, not sure if I'd ever need 1/7".
    - Barrel (type): 5.56 for flexibility of ammunitions costs
    - Upper: leaning towards the A3 for future flexibility of a scope but would like opinions between A2 & A3
    - Lower: pre-ban obviously, not sure what the other options here would be
    - Brand: Another point of contention. I have been looking at DPMS, Bushmaster, and Ruger. Cheaper than dirt has a wide array of all of those so it gets a little fuzzy.
    - Stock: adjustable
    - Trigger: I've found that I like my trigger light on rifles so adjustable would be nice.
    - Cost: I'd like to spend under $1000 out the door but if some fuzzy spousal math is required to overcome quality shortcomings so be it. I'm not opposed to building it piece by piece but there are a LOT of parts out there. I build computers so I'm sure this is the firearm equivalent of building a PC from scratch however is this approach necessarily cheaper or worth the effort?
    - Accessories: open to suggestions here as well.

    Any thoughts from current or previous owners to help nudge me around would be greatly appreciated Thanks.
  2. brian923

    brian923 Active Member

    Jul 4, 2007
    Seems like you want an m4 style rifle. You can get good quality eifles for well inder 1000$. Check out rock river arms, stag, smith and wesson, cmmg. And theres probly a ton more than i just listed. I saw a really nice smith and wesson sport at the store. It cost 649$. Was an m4 with adjustable stock, magpul flip up rear iron sigth (thoigh i think its the plastic version) a 1/8 twist 16 barrel with flash hider, a pmag magazine, dust cover, forward assist and brass deflector.
  3. Bovice

    Bovice Participating Member

    Sep 27, 2009
    Any of the ready-assembled rifles from the manufacturers you listed would be fine. They can all be had for 800-1000. It can get slightly more expensive if you want to custom-build your own. But you do get exactly what you want.

    My ideal AR is as follows:

    Barrel: 16", pencil profile, caliber 5.56. A2 flash hider is fine.
    Twist: 1 in 7 (since I reload and can change bullet weight on a whim)
    Upper: DPMS Lo-Pro A3. It doesn't have a dust cover, brass deflector, or forward assist. I have never needed these features, so I'd rather omit them.
    Lower: Any mil-spec lower receiver
    Stock: collapsible, standard M4 type
    Fore-end: Aluminum free-float tube
    Sights: A2 front sight, removable A3 carry handle (has A2 sights)
    Grip: Magpul MOE

    The combinations are limitless. Look at a bunch of ARs and figure out which parts you like and don't like, and use that to assemble one that you like.
  4. DoubleTapDrew

    DoubleTapDrew Mentor

    Feb 23, 2006
    Why do you want a pre-ban lower? There are no differences between them and current production lowers unless you live in a state that will alow "preban" lowers.
    There are a LOT of options under $1000.
    DPMS, Ruger and Bushmaster are fine low cost options. If you are willing to step it up a little and still stay under $1k I'd look into BCM, Daniel Defense, Spikes, and LMT. Most of them are 1:7 twist but that just allows you to shoot heavier/longer bullets and typically aren't less accurate than 1:9 barrels with the usual 55gr or 62gr stuff.
    You likely won't find an adjustable trigger on a production AR (at least not in that price range) but there are tons of aftermarket triggers available and some are pretty reasonable.
    You might also look into the S&W ar-15s. They seem to be quite good for the price range.
  5. Stack

    Stack New Member

    Mar 26, 2011
    Best advise I could give you is take your time and do a lot of reading and research if you're the finicky type. If it's just another gun then buy a production model and let the factory carry your warranty and field your concerns as required. Personally I lean toward a bit of anal retention and no one AR will suit all my needs. I have built several CMMG WASP upper based economy builds and the 16 bbl is very accurate. The whole MOE upper is about $575.00 including the bcg and charging handle. They are a bit over gassed as are almost all production uppers so if you reload you'll want an adjustable gas block. Have fun!
  6. d80buckeye

    d80buckeye New Member

    Jan 2, 2012
    Brian & Bovice - thanks for the suggestions.

    Drew - Thanks for the callout on the pre-ban lower... do you mind elaborating? Regarding the adjustable trigger I figured it would have to be aftermarket. My main goal here was to keep it around 2lbs pull.

    Stack - research is a vice of mine no matter what I'm purchasing - I tend to do a lot of it almost to a fault. I'm fairly new to firearms so all of my firearm decisions have had a bit more weight than my typical purchases. With that being said I've been trying to absorb as much data as possible and build a knowledge base piece by piece.
  7. crazy-mp

    crazy-mp Active Member

    Mar 17, 2008
    Rock river makes some nice rifles too, my first AR was a Bushmaster, as long as you stay with one of the big companies, your only problem will be picking the one you want. I am a old fashioned guy I like iron sights and I would say A2, plus you will not have to buy a scope or find a carry handle to put on your A3.

    If you don't like the upper you get with your first purchase, you can always get another length or twist upper and sell the old one.
  8. chris in va

    chris in va Mentor

    Mar 4, 2005
    Louisville KY
    I'm extremely pleased with my M&P Sport...definitely not a basement level rifle. 2500 reloads through mine so far.
  9. hardluk1

    hardluk1 member

    Mar 27, 2009
    nc mountains
    M&P15 sport also but PSA is also a good low cost rifle that can be bought for under 600 dollars. 2LB Trigger?? Aftermarket only and at 2 lbs may not hit hard enough to fire 5.56nato ammo. look for 3-3 1/2lb . Aftermarket anyhow. My M&P brakes at 5lbs and is a decent trigger ar AR's go.
  10. Tirod

    Tirod Senior Member

    May 24, 2008
    SW MO
    The list of features doesn't really tilt it much toward an M4gery any more than a A4. Since some long range precision is desired, I'd stick with a 20" with rifle gas. Precision shooting is more prone or bench shooting, and adjustable stock isn't needed as compared to Three gun or CQB with a squared stance and even a vest.

    A good two pound trigger is nice for range use, but a free float and bipod will deliver measurable accuracy, where the trigger will only deliver if the combination can shoot under 1/2 MOA. For now, a simple travel adjustment screw would be more cost effective until experience suggests it's time for the expense. $300 of trigger wont make a $1000 gun shoot 30% better. You'd get more bang for the buck spending another $300 on the scope, moving into the price range over $600 for one.

    Overall, sounds more like a good varmint gun would suit better than misapplying the M4.
  11. KansasPaul

    KansasPaul New Member

    Jun 14, 2011
    First let me congratulate you on making the decision to purchase an AR rifle – great rifle and very flexible. Before you jump in to buying your rifle consider carefully what your main use will be. Do you plan to use it primarily at a shooting range or would you do any type of hunting that includes walking/carrying? What type of optics would you want to mount? Realistically how many rounds would you shoot through this – in other words, will this be a hard use gun?
    Not all ARs are built alike. Like many other products, the quality of materials used in construction may not be seen but may affect the life of the rifle. Chrome lined barrels extend barrel life and minimize the effects of humid conditions but typically shoot with less accuracy than a non-chrome lined barrel. Also, barrel profile effects handling – pencil, M4 profile, heavy barrel will each feel different. (also note that a rifle length gas system will shoot softer than a carbine length gas system – there is also a “mid-length” system that is a sort of hybrid). I personally do not like front heavy rifles and I carry mine a lot so having a lighter weight is more important. A free float tube or rail may actually save weight and it will provide a place to mount a bi-pod if you choose to shoot long distance. If you plan to mount a scope you will likely want to have a flip down or removable front sight as the sight post will remain in your optic.
    I won’t get into the whole brand discussion but know that there are a LOT of differences between AR manufacturers and the parts used. For more information I suggest that you go to: www.ar15.com click on the “AR15” tab at the top left side of the page, when in the forum select “AR15 Discussions” and within that topic select the “AR15 Discussions :FAQs” sticky. Most of your questions should get answered there.
    Good luck with your search!!
    BTW, Palmetto State Armory, one of the advertisers here, is well respected in the AR community and their rifles use good quality parts - reasonably priced.
  12. accrhodes

    accrhodes New Member

    Nov 3, 2008
    Buy a BCM and never look back.
  13. MtnCreek

    MtnCreek Senior Member

    Dec 8, 2010
    West GA
    When you figure it out, let me know and I'll go ahead and buy it now; I'll sell it to you in Nov. 2012 for twice what I paid.:)

    If you're interested in shooting it at longer range, you will probably be happy with a 20" flat top w/ carry handle irons attached. That would give you the option of mounting a scope later, if desired.
  14. StrutStopper

    StrutStopper Active Member

    Jul 5, 2011
    The best advice I can give you is to go to M4Carbine.net and do some reading. You'll learn a lot and get the opinions of lots of people with extensive real-world experience with the AR platform. Nothing gets sugar coated over there. After doing some research, there may be certain brands that stand out, both good and bad.
  15. The Capt

    The Capt New Member

    Dec 26, 2011
    North Carolina
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2012
  16. C-grunt

    C-grunt Senior Member

    Jun 12, 2005
    Phoenix Az
  17. C-grunt

    C-grunt Senior Member

    Jun 12, 2005
    Phoenix Az
  18. Rifleman 173

    Rifleman 173 Member

    May 24, 2007
    Central Illinois
    First thing you do is figure out what you need the rifle to do for you. If you want it for hunting large animals, go with an AR-10 rifle in .308 Winchester caliber or get an AR-15 in 6.8 SPC, 6.5 Grendel or 7.62 X 39 caliber. Any of these calibers will work for hunting deer and feral hogs.

    For personal defense, sporting purposes, tactical training and so on, think about a rifle in .223/5.56 caliber or 6.8 SPC. These are the basic calibers used by our military for general tactical work/training. There are all sorts of accessories that have also been developed to help a person in these endeavors.

    For varmint shooting, you might want to consider an AR in .204 Ruger.

    As to makes of ARs... Most ARs are what is called MilSpec. That means that they all meet the same basic specifications in size, dimensions, structure and so on. Quality control is where the differences surface among the different makers. But, in most cases, I have found that just about any AR will probably work to meet my needs once I have it broke in and tested to my liking. My most favorite rifle right now is a Superior Arms that I keep around for general tactical use and local competition shooting. I also own a couple of Bushmasters, a Rock River Arms and a Stag Arms rifles too. I keep 2 20 inch variants around for precision shooting needs, a couple of M-4 clones for tactical work and a couple of others for testing purposes. I prefer the .223/5.56 versions for the most part but have an upper set up for use with 7.62 X 39 ammo.

    One of the really nice aspects of the M-4/AR rifles is that you push 2 pins, replace the upper half, ammo and magazines and you have a completely different caliber to try out. There is a lot to be said that is positive about these system of rifles and how easy you can adapt them.
  19. kfgk14

    kfgk14 Member

    Jan 1, 2011
    Have you looked into Palmetto State Armory? Do it. Great prices on fully mil-spec (this is a good thing) rifles of your description.
    Are you a righty? Oh, good, it's your lucky day.
    Or...if not, then you're building an AR, because you value ambidexterity (ambidextrousness? It's been a while since HS English...)!

    So, make that decision. Either way, I'd actually advise you to build your lower at least. It will save you money to build the lower.

    Parts list?

    How hard is the $1000 ceiling?

    If it's hard, look into the wonderful world of M4carbine.net. They'll hook you up with good deals, used parts, fill you in on proper assembly, and most importantly, fill you in on what goes into a good AR. When you join, just spend a while reading in the general and technical AR discussion section. It will really catch you up to speed on mil-spec, TDP, etc.

    Right now, you can get a lower from palmetto state armory for $50. You can get a great lower parts kit from Spikes Tactical, I want to say you can get a standard for $70 and an enhanced (better coatings and pins, ambi safety, better pistol grip) for $150. Buy a stock kit and cheap, standard black plastic stock from PSA, they come as a kit for $50 if you scour the website. So, for $170-$250 you have a complete lower.

    Palmetto State Armory gets you a barrel, bolt carrier group and upper receiver for $370. Scrap the front gas block (unless you have access to a milling machine/drill press, if so scroll down) and get a low profile gas block ($30 or so from bravocompanyusa.com), and a gunfighter charging handle ($45 from prev. website). Buy a Smith Vortex flash hider for $50 or so, and then track down a Midwest Industries SS-12 free-float rail (under $160 if you hunt around). Buy a mid-length gas tube from Bravo Company for $15. Now Buy Magpul front/rear sights, should cost $80-90 total. The grand total for that upper is $770, at the high end. Shipping will factor in, so plan on spending slightly more than the price here.

    So you saw above, come here if you have a mill?drill press? Well, do some google-ing and find out how to use a mill and a taper pin reamer to taper pin your front sight base. The reamer costs almost nothing from midway USA. Now, take the Dremel tool/hacksaw you own (right?) and cut the triangle front sight base off the gas block, to make what is effectively a low profile gas block. This info can also be found on the internet. Black Krylon will alleviate any shininess that may bother you. This process will save you $10-15, and you may want to invest in it if you have plans for more AR's down the road (they're very addictive).

    So, now, put it all together. Others can describe the process better than I. Scour the internet (m4carbine.net will fill you in) for a good guide.

    Total, that should be $940-ish on the low end, $1025-ish on the high end. Sales may pop up, used parts can be found, and some people will just plain give you stuff. Keep your eyes peeled and do some scanning at m4carbine.net and ar15.com for people trading AR parts and such, many a great deal to be had.

    If you're willing to wait around for the best deals, sales are run often by many companies, especially the christmas season, Holloween, etc. I had a rifle assembled with entirely Black Friday purchased parts for a lot less than you'll pay for the above outlined build.

    Accessories...this depends. You'll want some good mags. Bravo company carries good USGI 30 rounders. Magpul mags are good. The Lancer L5 AWM mags are excellent, the best option for 20 rounder's IMO.

    I'd advise a good sling. Blue Force Gear VCAS with an HK snap hook on the front (attached to a Magpul RSA sling loop on the front) and just woven onto the rear stock (you can research other attachment options later) would be a good addition. For about $70 right now, you can buy a great chest rig for the carriage of your magazines (Blue Force Gear 10 Speed Chest rig, Basic M4 Load), and if you eventually wanted to enter a carbine course for additional training in the use of the AR-15, you could use that chest rig very well.
  20. tyeo098

    tyeo098 Senior Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    The Old Dominion



    A fully functioning M4 (some assembly required, its not hard, trust me) for what? $465+60= $520? Now you can spend the other $480 on ammo and training.

    Its highly suggested you learn on an entry level rifle, then work your way up to the fancy-pants stuff like BCM and DD

    EDIT: Somewhere on here I saw someone had a polymer (complete) lower for around $129.00? That plus any upper would reduce costs.

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