Help With Learning ARs

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another pake

Apr 24, 2013
Min ne sota, ya
OK, I'll admit it. I'm probably one of the few gun enthusiasts without an evil black gun. And I don't claim to know much about them either. I do have a desire to learn more and I would really like to assemble one rather than buy a completed one.

My personal armory is well represented with pistols, rifles, shot guns and black powder guns, but no ARs. The obvious question, "What are you going to do with it?" is probably best answered, "Enjoy it. Maybe shoot a few coyotes or prairie dogs." I don't need/want a Close Quarter Gun but am very likely to use it in the 100 to as much as 300 yard range.

223/556, might even have a spot for 6.8

Where do I go to learn? Books? Sites? Suppliers? Suggestions?

Thanks! Any help would be very much appreciated.
Google, a stripped lower, and a rifle kit. Palmetto State Armory has awesome deals daily, and right now they have blemished stripped lowers for $60 (which according to many people are rarely, if ever, significantly blemished). Add on one of their rifle kits and you'll be set.

Of course, my recommendation would be to buy an assembled rifle for your first, just in case you have any issues. The AR I built last year would only reliably cycle for the first 15 rounds or so, and I never figured out why. If I had bought it I'd have a warranty to fall back on.
I got mine a few years ago.I didn't think they were for me...not accurate,didn't need semi-auto nor 30 round mags.When the coyotes got thicker,I started thinking something with a collapsible stock would be handy to keep in the tractor cab while I was doing the feeding on the farm.I started reading about them,and ran across a good one for sale used.I had a totally different opinion of them after I shot the first 3 shot group.There are scads of different outfits that will work,I would probably keep it simple and get a good brand already done up,then make changes as you see more of what you want it to do.They really are great rifles,mine will be the one that they pry from my cold dead hands.
If you are wanting accuracy, Rock River Arms is notoriously accurate due to their .223 Wylde chambering. I've seen reviews where their 16" carbines produce sub-MOA accuracy. I'm waiting on a Predator A4 to ship from Bud's Gun Shop myself.
ap, 10/27/13

I was in the same predicament a couple of years ago when I decided to buy my first AR. I also shoot and cast/reload for a number of pistol, rifle and shotgun calibers but had no clue about the AR platform.

AR websites- Lots of good info.

AR books- I ordered several from Brownells which helped a lot. Art Kulek's "The AR-15 Complete Owner's Guide" and "The AR-15 Complete Assembly Guide" are good. I also read Patrick Sweeney's "The AR-15, volume 2". The books are geared for those folks like me with no AR knowledge.

Suppliers- Brownell's is a good place to start.

AR recommendations- that will depend on your use and budget. After much research and the realization that Obama would win a second term in office I ordered an AR before all the price hikes. I got a Lewis Machine and Tool AR in .556. I still use the iron sights and prefer to get more proficient before puttin an optic on it. Some folks recommend building your own but if you're a beginner as I was then it's probably best to buy a quality factory built AR so you can direct any questions or problems to the manufacturer.

Magazines- many options but you need to get quality ones so you have one less issue to worry about regarding malfunctions. I use Magpul P-mags and Brownells GI mags, both in the 20 round variety.

So take a look at the websites, do some reading and research and make an informed decision. The AR is really an amazing platform. Good luck.

best wishes- oldandslow
Where do I go to learn? Books? Sites? Suppliers? Suggestions?

I would second starting on the internet - m4carbine,, and this forum for starters. The AR platform is so immensely popular that there is a veritable ton of free, quality resources out there. Google is, indeed, your friend.

As far as a rifle, I can only speak for my experience:

The very first centerfire rifle I've ever owned, and the second centerfire rifle I've ever shot, is the AR15 that I purchased/built last year. I intend to indicate that, if I can figure it out, someone with your firearms experience will be able to come up to speed with the platform very, very quickly.

I bought a stripped lower from Palmetto State Armory and decided to build it out with a lower parts kit - DIY style. My then-11-year-old son and I assembled the lower in our kitchen with minimal tools and even more minimal expertise. There are great videos and guides for completing the lower build. If I can do it (along with average military recruits), so can you.

And the two of us had a blast doing it, too. FWIW, Palmetto State sells cosmetically blemished lowers periodically for ch-ee-p.

We bought a fully assembled, barreled upper receiver some time later (also from Palmetto State). In reading, the upper assembly seemed simple enough but definitely required more firearms-related knowledge than I had - re: things like headspacing, etc. We waited for a sale on an upper close to what we wanted and figure we paid a minimal markup over what we could've paid to assemble it ourselves. That said, the markup was/is well worth it for the peace of mind that our upper isn't likely to blow up in our faces...

We're now in the process of building out a second lower as a start to a new project rifle. A third will likely follow.

The best part of the platform from my newbish perspective? It's fun, easy to use/assemble/maintain, friendly for our whole family to shoot (including the kids), and - with the right bullets - the .223 is capable of taking on anything I will need to shoot here in VT.

Good luck.
I like the build tutorials on That's how I built both of mine. Its very easy to build from an assembled upper and BCG and stripped lower.

I like RRA uppers. Lowers I have used PSA and Spikes. Triggers I like Geissele.

Oh and you sort of asked what the 5.56 on the AR is good for. Well is a great varmint round in 45 or 55gr loads. For home defense, it has less penetration than a 9mm, so you could argue its a little safer. With 75 or 77gr match loads, you can shoot small groups out to even 1000 yards if you have the optics with enough elevation. At 100 yards, match ammo from a good upper shot from the bench should be 1MOA capable for 5-round groups easily.
Thanks everyone! I appreciate the help.

WVRJ, I may have to build a multi gun rack for the combine. One rack for shotguns/pheasants and one for rifles/coyotes. Fun stuff.

Seriously tho, I do appreciate the responses from everyone.

My wife laughs and thinks that I may have enough guns. Is that even possible?
I've assembled many rifles but had not put together an AR then one day I just decided to do one just for the experience. I now love the AR because it is a different kind of shooter on many fronts. Reloading ammo for, choosing a configuration for and learning the build greatly expands on the overall shooting experience.
Two things that are critical to know about your first build:
1) Make sure the feed ramps in your upper receiver and the feed ramps in your barrel extension are both cut M4; even if you have no idea what I'm talking about right now.
2) Be sure you understand that you will likely change your mind about specific parts as you gain knowledge. Be prepared to buy parts that will resale and know a local forum where you can do that.....even if you have no idea what I'm talking about right now.
I may have enough guns

Excuse me, could you translate this into English for me? I understand what each word means but for some reason it does not appear gramatically correct to me.
RRA makes very accurate rifles. So do others.

If you put one together yourself, I'd look for a parts kit without a trigger, so you can put a nicer trigger in it. Most parts kits come with mil-spec triggers, which aren't all that nice. RRA makes a nice trigger. So does Geissele - but they are spendy. (ETA - most people think Geisseles are as good as it gets. They have several models depending on what you want to do.)

Most uppers will shoot pretty well. For what it sounds like you want to do, I'd look at one that is floated.

If you are patient, you can definitely put one together that will shoot well fairly inexpensively.

Let us know what you decide to do.
Something to consider when getting into buying a Barrel or complete upper

When you get a good idea of the main use for your AR you should consider what twist rate you will need for your use. If you will be using heavier bullets like 75- 77 grain bullets I would suggest getting a 1-7 twist barrel or upper assembly. The 1-9 does well for 45 grain to 62 maybe 68 grain bullets, but somewhere depending on the ammo the 1-9 twist is not enough to stabilize the bullet. Again if you are just plinking, shooting or shooting small pests the 1-9 twist will serve you well. If the varmits get larger in size and you need a heavier bullet the 1-7 twist will be the way to go. The 1-7 will do all of the commonly available ammo in 5.56x45 up to 77 grains. I have 3 AR15`s and 2 are carbines with the collapsible stocks one with 1-7 and 1 with 1-9 and the third is the only AR I did not put together myself, it is a Colt Match HBAR with the A2 stock 20 inch barrel and 1-7 twist. I put a Timney trigger in it. All of the are excellent shooters. Bottom line is when you get your first AR you have to have another one and then another one!! AR`s are addictive!!!
My personal armory is well represented with pistols, rifles, shot guns and black powder guns, but no ARs. The obvious question, "What are you going to do with it?" is probably best answered, "Enjoy it. Maybe shoot a few coyotes or prairie dogs." I don't need/want a Close Quarter Gun but am very likely to use it in the 100 to as much as 300 yard range.

223/556, might even have a spot for 6.8

I'll take a stab at this. Take a look at the lower assembly tutorials already posted. Keep in mind that the AR-15 was developed as a military rifle. It's easy to field strip and clean, and even armorer level tasks are relatively simple and easy to do with minimal tools. All that to say, that the AR-15 type rifles really are user friendly.

.223 / 5.56 is a great way to start. Even with the panic and the still higher ammo prices .223 / 5.56 FMJ remains some of the least expensive center-fire ammo. I usually recommend a 1:7 twist bbl because it will handle anything but the lightest construction varmint bullets all the way up to the heaviest bullets that will fit an AR mag. The 1:7 twist is also great at handling the long for caliber copper solid bullets that are becoming more and more prevalent. However, you're thinking about shooting P-dogs, so you'd probably be better served with a 1:9 twist bbl for shooting those super light varmint bullets. The 1:9 twist will stabilize almost everything weighing up to 69-70 grains, and Hornady even says the 75 grain bullet used in their TAP lines will stabilize in a 1:9 twist bbl.

I know you don't have a desire for the in close uses of an AR-15, but at least take a look at some of the many barrier penetration threads that have been posted here. In short, ballistic tip and JSP bullets in .223 / 5.56 have much lower penetration than pistol or shotgun rounds. Just some good info for future reference.

You mention a combine, so I assume you're a farmer. When I worked in gun retail I sold many flat top AR-15 style carbines to farmers here in North Ga, and I always got positive feedback when these folks came back for future visits. Most of them mounted a red dot of some flavor on the rifle, and others used a fixed rear sight with the A2 style dual apertures. They all liked that in low light the red dot sight or the more open ghost ring style night aperture made it easy to get on target when a yote or other varmint needed to be dispatched. They liked that the flash hider kept them from being blinded in low light as well. They liked the light recoil and low muzzle rise that allowed for faster follow up shots (regardless of lighting) when there were multiple 'yotes to be shot at times like cows calving or a group of the things finding their chicken houses. The surprisingly good accuracy got the attention of all of these folks as well.

16" bbls and collapsible stocks were popular because they made handling going from truck to tractor to on foot very easy. The collapsible stock also allows the length to be adjusted in small increments to fit any family member or go from further out in the summer when wearing light clothes to a click or two in to account for thicker clothing in the winter. These farmers also liked the lower penetration risks mentioned above, and how their AR-15 carbines loaded with proper ammo didn't require any changes to go from 300 yard and in varmint buster by day to house gun at night. That's the near universal feed back I got from my customers who were farmers down here.

I like that by pushing out two detent retained pins on the lower I can remove the upper and install another upper literally in seconds. Since the lower is the serial numbered firearm, switching uppers on an AR is just like swapping bbls on a pump shotgun. That ease of switching calibers and / or configurations is one of the best things about an AR-15 type rifle.

Then there's the furniture. All it takes is removing and replacing one screw to switch out the pistol grip. Most collapsible stocks don't even require any tools to remove and replace on the buffer tube. Most fixed butt stocks only require removing and replacing a single screw as well. You can remove the hand guards by hand, but a $20 hand guard tool makes it easier. It only takes a minute or two to switch out hand guards either way. All of those parts are available in just about every shape, color, and texture you can imagine. It's very easy to make an AR-15 fit you physically and aesthetically.

As for other calibers, 6.8 SPC II is a neat caliber. It's almost a rimless extra short case 7-30 Waters equivalent, but it does require its own magazines. .300 BLK gets near .30-30 ballistics and uses standard .223 / 5.56 magazines. Those are two of the more popular calibers of many that will run on a standard AR-15 type lower.

I hope this explains some of the appeal and utility of AR-15 style rifles.
Thank You everyone!

This exactly the type of thing that I find helpful.
Even the responses to my wife. :p

Seriously, for me and this platform there is a lot to learn but it is starting to come together. I think that this will be fun. And I thought that building a personalized Harley was addicting.

Anyway as I think through this a little, I'm leaning towards a 5.56/.223 to start but I can see already that this is probably just the start. I found the same to be true of 1911s btw. One leads to another. I do intend to use high quality parts cuz, well that's what I tend to do. I usually don 't regret it too much. And I do reload my own ammo once I get a new gun settled in with factory stuff.

The idea of 6.8 intrigues me but it can wait a little I guess. One thing that I have noticed is even magazines for 6.8 are 3-4 times as much as those for 5.56.

ugaarguy, thanks for your detailed response. Yes, I am a farmer, more or less retired, but your comments about collapsible stocks, sights etc were especially helpful.

Anyway, Thanks Again! And by all means if anyone thinks of more advice, please speak up.
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