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Choosing a PSA Upper for 1st AR Build

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Harriw, Oct 1, 2019.

  1. Harriw

    Harriw Member

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    Hi folks,

    As the title says, I'm putting together my first AR build, mainly from PSA parts. This will be my first AR, and actually my first center fire rifle. As my first and only (for now), it will be a "jack of all trades" of sorts. But realistically it will mostly be for plinking. Our club does have a rifle range that goes out to 220 yards so it will see some proper target shooting, but no competitions or anything. If I ever get into 3-gun, etc., this will be the rifle I start with. NYS's (un)SAFE act has made AR's a bit useless for HD, but it could serve there in a pinch as well if necessary. I'm looking hard at these two uppers, and am torn between them:



    I think I'd really prefer the nitride barrel coating in the first, but I also like the NiB bolt carrier that come with the second. And I'm thinking perhaps the pencil barrel on the 2nd might be preferable as well, but are those benefits worth the "downgrade" of the stainless barrel?

    As I understand it, stainless *should* be a bit more accurate for slow target shooting, but groups will open up more quickly as the barrel heats up (particularly since this one is a pencil profile), and tends to wear out faster (not that I'll likely be wearing either one out any time soon). I can't shake the thought that the Nitride coating would be the preferred finish, and am thinking perhaps it would be simpler and cheaper to drop in a nicer bolt carrier later than to change out the barrel.

    Anyway, just curious what people think of these 2 options. Thanks very much!!
     
  2. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    Get what you like and can use the most, this won't be your last.
     
  3. Harriw

    Harriw Member

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    LOL, yeah, I admitted that up front and ordered 2 uppers instead of just one :) I figured the first would be a short, lightweight pseudo-carbine (16" w/ mid-length gas), and the second would be a longer, heavier setup for long distance (if you can call 220 yards long distance - that's as far as our range goes). But who knows what the 2nd will become :) Or the 3rd... or 4th... :)
     
  4. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Member

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    I'm no expert but I've bought 3 PSA uppers. I personally don't really like the appearance of stainless barrels on ARs but I like lightweight barrels on ARs generally. Up to you based on your needs and preferences.
     
  5. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    I don’t care for the useless grenade launcher cut on the government barrel profiles. I have a PSA upper with the 16” stainless pencil barrel and it’s just as accurate as any of my other rifles except maybe my Colt hbar.

    The whole point of the AR was to be a lightweight and easy to carry rifle. Heavy barrels defeat that. Remember that the A1 rifles you see doing full mag dumps in Vietnam footage handled thousands of rounds through .625 barrels.
     
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  6. js8588

    js8588 Member

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  7. silicosys4

    silicosys4 Member

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  8. stillquietvoice

    stillquietvoice Member

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    Psa # 5165447814 mid length stainless bbl 399. With complete lower parts kit. 516444707 carbine length nitride 399. Complete lower parts kit.
     
  9. DustyGmt

    DustyGmt Member

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    I would suggest you buy a bare bones A2 style and upgrade everything on it yourself, lo pro gas block, free float rail, grip, stock, etc... I believe you can learn alot about the platform in doing so and it's basically what I did.

    Same could be said for building one from the ground up but at least this way you can start shooting right away, plus it's fun to do if you're the least bit inclined. Either way, you cant really go wrong with any PSA products. They are priced low and the quality is good. Any one that catches your eye....
     
  10. Harriw

    Harriw Member

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    Hi folks,

    Thanks for all the feedback! I think I'm going to go with the stainless setup... Still not terribly keen on the fact that its stainless, but both barrels are freedom barrels that could probably stand to be replaced upgraded at some point anyway, and this one will be a bit lighter in the meantime. I'm also thinking the NiB Bolt Carrier in the Stainless package could last a good long time though without the "need" to upgrade.

    Per DustyGmt's point, I am trying to build these up to the extent possible exactly for the learning experience he mentioned (and because I like to tinker with stuff so building my own appeals to me). But I'm adding some creature comforts as I go... I shouldered a few AR's in various LGS's as I was planning this build, and found I really prefer the stocks with more of a cheekweld support, so i wound up springing for a lower build kit that included a Magpul ACS-L stock. I also made sure it had the EPT trigger parts. I'm also thinking I might as well get the M-lok handguard up front.

    Thanks again for all the help!
     
  11. vkeith

    vkeith Member

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    I picked up a similar kit with the SS pencil barrel a couple of years ago and I really like it. I would have preferred a nitrided pencil barrel but they weren't available at the time.

    The SS barrel is fairly accurate and doesn't drift much as it heats up. I even like the contrast of the SS barrel and NiB bolt to the rest of the gun.

    Recently I built a nitrided pencil version for my BIL and the differences between the two barrels (other than looks) are not noticeable.

    l think you'll like the SS barrel. It makes for a light barrel and helps balance the gun.

    ETA

    Check out Larue triggers while they are still on sale for $87. They are a good bit better than the EPT triggers and are the best bang-for-the-buck trigger on the market.
     
  12. total recoil

    total recoil Member

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    You've probably decided on a 5.56, but you might start thinking of a different caliber. I started with the 556, but all the AR guys on this site have hypnotized me and I finally came to with 3 different caliber AR's. Some unknown force makes me go to the PSA web site several times a day looking for something new.
     
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  13. JeeperCreeper

    JeeperCreeper Member

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    Don't worry about the accuracy of nitride vs stainless. I love PSA, but benchrest rifles they are NOT.

    My stainless PSA rifle is a 2 MOA rifle at best. Normally around 3 MOA with moderate quality ammo.

    But they run. And cheap.

    I'd go with Nitride and 4150 barrel material.

    And the BCG finish doesn't matter. They all work, but Nickel Boron isn't any more easy to clean than Nitride. If you ever clean it. Phosphate is fine too, just prefers a little more oil to be equally as smooth.
     
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  14. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    Buy, or build, exactly what you want the first time.

    I fell into the trap of getting a "mil-std" and then changing only what I needed. Which ended up being everything that has not been used since the eighties!

    Getting a "base model" and then switching everything out leaves a bunch of plastic base parts lying about that will not be used for any other rifle.
    After all, if you took them off your first rifle, why would they be put on a second, more specialized rifle?

    I have five ARs and the glacier grip forearm and puny pistol grip from my first still sit in the box in the closet. Removed for upgrades, why would I want to downgrade a new one?

    And, since I've thought of it, into the trash they will go today.


    Welcome to the wonderful world of ARs!:thumbup:
    They even come in 12 guage...

    [​IMG]

    Though it sports a Luth-AR stock and K2 grip now... (it doesn't end...:D)
     
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  15. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

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    Just to give you something else to think about, check out Bear Creek Arsenal, they have sales on 556 or 223 wylde a lot, so far the quality of mine is good.
     
  16. DustyGmt

    DustyGmt Member

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    I just used up a bunch of milstd parts, car15 handguards, grip, trigger, CH, etc for a build because I actually wanted a classic mil spec rifle. I realize most dont but those parts actually came in handy for me and saved me a few bucks....
     
  17. illinoisburt

    illinoisburt Member

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    For whatever it's worth, we've done a few ARs now with PSA and BCA uppers (rifle, carbines, and braced pistol with flash can). All have functioned perfectly which is probably more testament to the design than our abilities. Bear creek barrels are showing much better accuracy with the bulk ammo we are using with less than half with group size of the Palmetto ones. Maybe just luck but have heard similar results from other people as well.
     
  18. Robbins290

    Robbins290 Member

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    One my second PSA ar15. For the price, they are reliable and accurate. No complaints from me.
     
  19. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    I’m having 5 kids build ARs and they’re starting with bare bones milspec then choosing to earn (or not) the parts they want. The exercise is there in learning and cost savings helps with a bulk endeavor. I too could easily see my way to a base carbine at any given time just because.

    Now for PSA I own one complete lower and two complete uppers, both NiB BCGs and a worthwhile upgrade imo. Weight savings with a pencil vs A2 isn’t a consideration for me but everyone likes what they like. I really do like nitride finishes but both my PSAs are SS as it was on sale.
     
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  20. DustyGmt

    DustyGmt Member

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    I can attest to the quality of PSA 1:7 SS pencil bbls. I get moa groups with IMI 69gr razor core.

    As someone else pointed out, it would be smart to pick up a Larue MBT while they are $89 shipped. I dont see them lasting forever at that price. Feels like a much more expensive trigger and for not too much more than an EPT from PSA it is definitely nicer, crisper.

    If you dont like a 2 stage though, and you want to stick with single stage. The EPT is decent, especially after a few hundred rd break in....
     
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  21. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    Both will serve you well. You are probably not going to see an accuracy difference unless you start shooting match grade ammo and use a good scope.

    If you choose the stainless barrel just be wary of doing mag dumps or getting the barrel really hot. Heat will harm the stainless barrels more than it will the 4150 barrels.
     
  22. ilbob

    ilbob Member

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    I suggest getting ten or 15 different ones so you can shoot them all and decide what you like best after shooting them.

    Of course you might decide you like them all and end up having to buy a bunch of lowers and parts kits to accommodate the uppers you had laying around.
     
  23. Charlie Horse

    Charlie Horse Member

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    My father in law and I have a solution for this. The good folks at Gun Parts Corporation (Numrich) have a solution. They'll buy you old parts. We've both saved up boxes of "stuff" and sent it in after awhile. This of course is not ideal, but when you're fumbling around on that first build, it can be a way to get rid of all that stuff you upgraded.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
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  24. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    I chose Plano storage organizers and small sealable plastic bags from Hobby Lobby with a little CLP. Checking parts inventory earlier in the week I’m lacking only a receiver extension, hammer, trigger, and disco to complete the next kid’s build. I’m only stymied by the one who wants a 10/22 build which will begin life courtesy of Brownells.

    As much as I like the new full length M-LOK railed uppers I now own, I think a (faux) dissipator is perhaps my next want. I do find the Luth-AR Palm Handguard comfortable and quasi-retro so who knows. OP, I was always told to spend my money on the upper, which is fantastic advice, but I feel too many neglect the lower which does indeed host not only the fcg but also multiple uppers if available. One good lower can get you by until you’re ready to build a second.
     
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  25. vkeith

    vkeith Member

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    Larue has a single stage version of their trigger now. IIRC, the pull weight is a bit higher than the MBT-2S.

    Both the single and two stage are available with curved or flat triggers, and all are currently on sale.

    I have not tried one of the single stage triggers yet so I don't know if they have the same high-quality feel as the two stage.



    I still have a couple of EPT triggers in guns (until I can afford some more Larues) and while they aren't a match grade trigger, they are much crisper and cleaner than most mil-spec triggers.

    They are a good deal when they are on sale for $30 or when they come with a kit.
     
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