2-Budget AR's-5000rd review/Update

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by DeadEye9, Dec 31, 2016.

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  1. DeadEye9

    DeadEye9 Member

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    ok so both of my "budget" ARs are officially passed the 5k round mark (each) now, so I wanted to do a little mini review to report on their performance. By and large they both performed excellent and that's the main reason I wanted to share. Even to this day some people tell me they want to get into an AR but cannot afford a "good one" so why bother. They go in their local store and see $600 rifles, $1000 rifles, $2500 rifles and typically assume the value ones to be subpar. My experience has shown otherwise.

    First gun is an M&P15 Sport from good old Smith & Wesson. This model is the original with no FA/dust cover. I've owned it a few years now and I LOVE this carbine.
    Specs for those that don't know:
    16" Melonite 4140 steel barrel (medium profile) w/ 5R rifling, 1:9 twist, A2 FSB/gas block, carbine length gas system, single stage milspec trigger, milspec buffer tube, M4 stock. 7076 upper/lower, chromed BCG, gas key, firing pin.

    This has served as my "iron sight" AR for the entire period and my experience with it has driven me to purchase two more M&P Sports to use for SPR builds. Out of the box it is 100% bet your life reliable, with a variety of mags and ammo. I've shot over 1k steel case, brass in all weights from 40-77gr, not a single bobble. My go to for mags is MFT since I prefer them to Pmags and get 10packs for $72, but I've also run the Pmags, Lancers, Hex mags, and USGI mags all with no issues. (My UsGIs have anti-tilts)
    At 100yds it puts up easy 1.5" groups all day with surplus M193 ball ammo and solid 1" with my handloads. This rifle is very light as it comes, 6.4lbs with a mag, so that coupled with its reliability has led me to keep this my iron sight battle carbine. All I added was a sling and a mount to accept a light on the factory handguard. Round count is 5500 and counting with zero complaints. Best of all they can be had for under $550 with MBUS sights, a Pmag and a hard case. The new gen Sport II model is identical except now has a forward assist and dust cover. IMHO these are just hold overs from "MilSpec" and serve no necessary purpose for a civilian rifle. I've been deployed, on duty, and now a private citizen and have never once had to use a FA. And even if I were, there are provisions built into the BCG to seat with your finger if need be, without use of an assist. The dust covers may seem useful, but I've seen them break and cause issues during use several times and really if your taking care of your weapon system as you should you will be fine even in the field without a cover. Deleting these items not only saved cost for S&W but also saved weight on the rifle and made a few less moving parts which are both good things. Anyway, this is neither here nor there as the new Sport has these milspec features anyway, so you will get them if you want them.

    Second rifle is from Anderson and is their AM-15 "Optics Ready" carbine. I paid $475 out the door for this gun brand new during a local sale. I bought it about a year ago now, and Currently they are some on the rack for $495. Specs: 16" M4 profile barrel, chromemoly, standard rifling, 1:8 twist, chromed BCG and gas key, 7076 upper, Anderson match trigger, M4 stock. No FSB or rear sight included. Standard profile railed gas block, carbine gas system. These are also light carbines, weighing 6.2lbs with a Mag but no optic. In keeping with the budget theme, I chose an inexpensive Leupold Mark AR mod1- 1.5-4x20 that I got online for $200. It is a decent close-mid range AR optic for the money and also pretty lightweight. I also added a BCM extractor upgrade for reasons I will explain below. Round count through this gun currently at 5025rds, same weight variety and Mag variety as mentioned above. This rifle is not as accurate as the M&P, 1.5-2" groups with military ball is the norm and I have to REALLY lock down and struggle to get better than a 1.3" with my handloads. (100yd) Reliability with this gun has been good overall but there were a few hiccups. I like to run steel case sometimes for just lighting up steel plates & plinking and out of the box the Anderson wasn't really having a good time with HotShot or Wolf .223 55gr. I was having extraction issues a few times per Mag, so initially I just Added a little o ring in the extractor, which seemed to solve my problem so I then ordered the BCM kit for all of like ten dollars and it was GTG. I also had two or three random issues where when trying to show clear and eject a loaded round after a drill the round wanted to stick In the chamber. This could have been my fault though and not the rifle's; when this happened the stuck live case had a little lube on it and I do run my DI guns wet. I think what happened was the little bit of oil on the round caused a hydraulic suction mechanism of sorts that held the round in the chamber untill manually cleared. This never happened while shooting though, only a couple times when manually ejecting a live cartridge. Aside from that stuff the Anderson has been otherwise totally reliable. For me it's a range gun anyway, I have 10 ARs in total now so not all of them are defensive/battle rifles. I do believe that with a little bit of tuning this could make a good bet your life gun as well though, and for the price being under $500 you are getting a lot of gun. The Anderson trigger is also a good piece, almost as good in my estimation as the RRA 2 stage which I consider to be an excellent affordable option. Anderson calls it their "Proprietary stainless steel match grade trigger and hammer system" and it comes stock with the AM-15. Pull is around 6.5lbs in my estimation, a little lighter than the M&P trigger.

    In summary, I hope I didn't Bore anyone to death with such a long post. I felt this was just a good time to share as not many people send 5000+ Rounds through these entry level/bargain ARs so I wanted to report with my findings to anyone who may be interested in buying one. If I had to choose one or the other it would be the Sport, it just simply shoots as well as my DDM4 that cost almost 4x as much as the Sport so I have to love it. Really though they would both serve you well and are an excellent value. There are a number of really good ARs out there for right at or a little under $1000; Rock River, Ruger, Delton, Windham, Bushmaster etc, but for at or under $500 it really doesn't get any better than these two I reviewed. Also for starting builds as I mentioned these are good affordable starters if you want an off the shelf setup that works instead of cobbling together a bunch of parts. There are various other benefits to doing builds with an off the shelf gun like the Sport too, the biggest being a full lifetime warranty so if it ever breaks just ship it back to S&W and they'll rebuild it for free. Also I will mention the value one last time, you really cant build a complete rifle with good quality parts that will function 100% reliably AND be accurate for much less than $500 anyway, so purchasing one of these Sports or the Anderson is a no brainer in my opinion. Hope this wasn't too long and boring and that someone can get some use out of my experience. Also for the data geeks, which I may be one of, I will list all the specific loads I've tested in these rifles below. Happy Shooting in the New Year!

    Fiocchi 40gr VMAX .223
    Sierra 55gr Blitzking hand loads 223
    Black Hills 55gr FMJ .223
    Independence XM193
    Federal Lake City M193
    Wolf Military Classic 55gr FMJ .223
    Tula 55gr FMJ .223
    HotShot 55gr HP .223
    PMC Xtac 62gr LAP 5.56
    Winchester WCC M855
    American Eagle M855
    Hornady 62gr FMJ hand loads .223
    Barnes 69gr "match burner" hand loads 5.56
    Hornady Superformance 75gr BTHP
    Hornady Steel Match 75gr BTHP
    SSA/Nosler 77gr OTM 5.56
    Sierra 77gr MatchKing hand loads 5.56
     
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  2. kcofohio
    • Contributing Member

    kcofohio Contributing Member

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    Not boring to me. Just call me average (Joe). ;)
    I only have 2 ARs that I semi built. Both came in under $500. And for what I will do with them suits me well. There fun to reload for and shoot. And fairly accurate. But I don't have 5000 rounds through them yet. And that may take several years to happen.

    I agree that most people would do good to get an entry level AR from a reputable company. Many will not get shot much. But, this is America.

    Thank you for your post.
     
  3. DeadEye9

    DeadEye9 Member

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    Yea I know most people don't shoot the volume I do, but that's part of the reason I wanted to post my experiences. Some people only shoot in a year what I shoot every month, but shooting sports and my car builds are my only two hobbies/vices so they get all my attention & money lol. There is definitely fun involved in building your own rifle, and I've done a couple full builds just for the experience. I just think that for most "average" buyers, especially ones new to ARs, would do better with one of these affordable off the shelf rifles. Especially one with a good warranty because it will serve them well right out of the box without any headaches for a newer user.
     
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  4. imashooter

    imashooter Member

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    Really appreciate you sharing your experiences. Nothing boring here. One thing I can't stand are negative comments by those internet intellectuals about parts, weapons, etc who have never laid hand on items they so quickly belittle. Haven't really seen that her that I recall. Thank you.
     
  5. Enkiduthewildman

    Enkiduthewildman Member

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    3,000 rounds through my $600 DPMS Oracle without a single malfunction. None that were the rifle's fault, anyway.
     
  6. FWP

    FWP Member

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    Dec 24, 2016
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    I have an M&P 15 and a few more ARs that cost a lot more. I tell everyone the M&P 15 is the best value out there.

    Thanks for your report.
     
  7. DeadEye9

    DeadEye9 Member

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    I feel the same way. I'm getting ready to add an M&P10 to my collection soon as well. S&W is really offering a lot of value in their AR style stuff for sure. Glad to hear someone chime in about the DPMS also, as I've often wondered how reliable they are. I see them on sale at the local Cabellas all the time along with the .308 model. I know they use a slightly weaker alloy in the receiver than what is used in most, (6061 vs 7075) but even the .308 DPMS is made with the same material so I'm sure it's plenty strong. It's like was said above, sometimes people complain about things "just cause" so I'm glad to hear the things hold up well in the real world.
    On a different note, I just shot/tested for the first time some of Winchesters 62gr open tip .223 in the purple box with the purple annealed cases marked training only. I picked it up local to me for $8 a box and was told it is FBI contract over run. It performed excellent, giving velocities of around 2850 from a carbine and was pretty accurate as well. Also, it performed excellent in gel and left a nasty wound cavity with good overall penetration despite fragmenting quite a bit as well. If you guys see this stuff for sale on the cheap it is definitely worth picking some up!
     
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  8. JohnMc

    JohnMc Member

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    DeadEye9, nice write up, not boring. As has been said, it's nice to hear value-priced rifles getting a fair treatment and not automatically badmouthed.
     
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