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How to Choose Good Quality AR Upper

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by BSA1, Jul 27, 2015.

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  1. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    I am doing my first AR build and am in the process of acquiring parts. I pretty much have decided on everything for the lower which leads me choosing the upper assembly.

    I want to buy a complete upper. I originally was going with 300 Blk. but having done a lot of research the 300 seems best in short barrels. As I don't want a SBR until I am sure I like the AR I am most likely going with 5.56/.223.

    From what I have read the accuracy for a AR comes from the upper assembly. Most likely 16" barrel. Pest control on the farm, self-defense, playing on the range.

    I looked at Palmetto State Armory website and frankly am lost with all of their selections. So what features makes and how do I choose a good quality upper?
     
  2. wally

    wally Member

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    IMHO some of the best bang/buck accuracy wise comes from Model 1 Sales. They use Shaw barrels. Their 16" fluted bull barrel is one of my favorites. RRA uppers cost a bit more but usually are a bit more accurate, they'd be a good choice too.
     
  3. atblis

    atblis Member

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    Build a 5.56/223 for your first AR15. Ammo is cheaper and everywhere. You'll be able to shoot it as much as you want. 223/5.56 in general will be more accurate than a 300 BLK. 300 BLK is also a shorter range cartridge. I would only go 300 BLK if you wanted/needed the larger bullets for hunting (deer, hogs), or if you planned on going suppressed.

    16" or 18" midlength would be a good choice. 20"ers are also very pleasant to shoot, and I spend a lot of time shooting them.

    I've been burned by Palmetto a couple times, but I've also received some nice parts at a good price. I would avoid their PTAC line as I've seen some really shoddy stuff shipped. "Premium" if you go PSA.

    I would go with a SOCOM barrel profile. A little heavier, but not too heavy.

    This but with a CHF instead of the melonite. The current line of melonite barrel might be good, but the CHF barrels from FN are known to be decent.
    http://palmettostatearmory.com/inde...ato-1-7-socom-melonite-freedom-rifle-kit.html
     
  4. burrhead

    burrhead Member

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  5. minutemen1776

    minutemen1776 Member

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  6. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    Accuracy comes from a variety of things. The barrel is a big factor, but so is ammunition, shooting position and the shooters skill. Magnified optics help as well, as the AR platform can out-shoot its iron sights. Change any one thing, like shooting without a support, or cheap ammo, and it will pretty much negate most everything else.

    I'd recommend looking into how much you plan on shooting from a support and what type of ammo and optic you plan on using. If the answer is quality ammo from a rest almost the entire time, a highly accurate upper (like the WOA) is a good investment. If you plan on shooting from a variety of positions, using mostly FMJ ammo, then the PSA would be a better option. If over the life of the gun you plan on shooting more than several thousand rounds, a chrome lined barrel is also a good idea.
     
  7. Ankeny

    Ankeny Member

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    Great article on Accurate Shooter about what makes an upper accurate. The article is by Robert Whitey and can be read Here.

    Of course high power competition accuracy comes at a price. There are countless mid-range uppers from many manufacturers that shoot sub- MOA with good ammo, and they run like the Energizer Bunny.
     
  8. LiquidTension

    LiquidTension Member

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    For an occasional plinker PSA is a good bargain. For a serious use gun BCM is the best value. I get excellent groups out of my regular 14.5" BCM upper. I can only imagine what one of the FN CHF barrels could do.
     
  9. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far.

    This is not a bench rest or target gun but it needs to be accurate enough with good quality ammunition to be interesting. Maybe 1.5" m.oa. In other words the potential needs to be there.

    I have shot a lot of Mini-14's over the years and have yet to find one that I consider to be accurate which is why I am interested in a AR. I have a .223 carbine now that is reliable but has "combat accuracy."

    BCM is more than I want to pay. I'm thinking around $400.00 tops. I don't want to invest $1,000 in a gun which I decide I don't like.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  10. Mike C2

    Mike C2 Member

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    PSA has 16" Midlength 5.56 NATO 1/7 SOCOM Melonite Freedom Rifle Kit w/ Vortex Spitfire 1x Prism Scope for $499 right now. If you Google the Spitfire, most places have it for $300.

    This is a great deal for a good upper complete with etched reticle illuminated optic. Oh, and the rest of the rifle parts except a lower. I've had a hard time not buying one, but I'm AR'd out!
     
  11. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    That's a good deal. Generally most ARs can do under 2moa with the right load. I have shot 10 round groups under 1.5moa with the PSA Premium. I have a PSA Freedom with a SOCOM profile, I don't shoot it much (saving it for the next panic) but I do love the profile. It doesn't add much weight, but it is much slower to heat up under the handguards.

    I use both my ARs seriously, one is a PSA while the other is mostly PSA. It's become cliche to say "Brand X is okay for plinking, but BCM is better for hard use." I've seen people run all sorts of guns hard, that is far more about the owner than the gun.
     
  12. bikemutt

    bikemutt Member

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    If weight is not a concern, Wilson Combat barrels are an excellent choice.

    Not sure if they sell complete uppers.

    I'd look real hard at a Mega Arms two piece upper with Wilson Combat barrel.

    20150618_173840_zps05j2ytyz.gif
     
  13. Lennyjoe

    Lennyjoe Member

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    If it's your first build the best bang for the buck is what you can afford. The quality is in the barrel and BCG. Handguards, gas blocks come in so many varieties it can be confusing. Upper receivers have many different options as well so stick with a basic receiver and spend the extra on the barrel and BCG.
     
  14. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    Lennyjoe,

    In your opinion what upper assemblies are the "best bang for the buck?"
     
  15. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    I should also mention that I am ok with a upper assembly without a handguard. Actually I would prefer no handguard if it makes the upper cheaper in price as I am planning on using Magpul and want everything to match.
     
  16. Ibmikey

    Ibmikey Member

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    5.56 mm is the way to go on your first build however two of my 300 Blackouts are 16"" barrels and the pistol is a 12.5". All three are for supersonic ammo and i use them for plinking and Texas hog hunting. I love shooting and loading the 300 but would opt for the .223 for my first or only rifle. There are so many ways to go with an upper if you purchase individual components or buy a Colt complete upper for that PSA lower and have instant shooting fun...Midway has the Colt for about $650 for a 6920 upper.
     
  17. minutemen1776

    minutemen1776 Member

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    This describes me when I got into ARs years ago. I sunk quite a bit of time and money into building guns with "good enough" components. When I ran them hard, though, problems cropped up. A poorly made BCG is trouble; shoddy LPK components are even worse. After that, I built a carbine using a BCM upper, an LMT lower, and a Daniel Defense BCG. It cost a bit more, but I love that rifle, and it's had ZERO problems. Lesson learned.
     
  18. BSA1

    BSA1 Member

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    Hummm.

    I am not spending a $1,000 to build a gun that I may not like after I shoot it so it sounds like a build in 5.56/.223 is a bad idea.

    Well the lower will stay in the safe until I am ready to build a 300 Blk. (which was my original plan anyway). Since I am not much a fan of the 5.56/.223 with as inexpensive complete AR's are a S&W Sport will meet my needs.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  19. minutemen1776

    minutemen1776 Member

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    Do as you wish. You asked about "good quality," so advice was given on that point. Obviously, price is also a major factor. If so, S&W makes good rifles, and so do many other makers.
     
  20. atblis

    atblis Member

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  21. MIL-DOT

    MIL-DOT member

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    They're temporarilly out of stock, but should be back in soon. Aim Surplus has the Spikes Tactical 16" full upper, with BCG and charging handle, for $499, with free shipping.
    This is realisitcally as good as anything out there, and not much more expensive than many of the budget options, which may or may not be problematic down the road (or immediately).
    Spikes rifles are almost universally considered to be an upper, if not top-tier manufacturer, with stellar customer service.
    You can chintz-out and spend a little less, or you can un-necessarilly spend more, but this right here is about as good as it's gonna get, if you're on any kind of budget at all.
    http://www.aimsurplus.com/product.a...d-Length+5.56/.223+Upper+Receiver&groupid=750

    Specifications:
    • Spike's Tactical M4 flat top upper receiver, Machined from a 7075 T6 Mil-Spec Forging with Mil-Spec Type III Hard coat Anodized finish, T-markings, Spike’s logo and M4 feed ramps.
    •Barrel is certified MIL-B-11595E CMV, M4 barrel extension, Chrome chamber and bore, 5.56mm Nato chamber, 1:7 Twist, Magnetic particle testing on every barrel, Phosphate finish.
    • Government Contour barrel with mid-length gas system.
    • Barrel is Phosphate finished under the .750" F marked A2 front sight base.
    • The M16 carriers are Chrome lined with a Mil-Spec phosphate finish.
    • Forged Mil-Spec carrier key, Chrome lined, attached with Grade 8 hardware and Properly staked.
    •HP/MP Tested Bolt, Each extractor is fitted with a Mil-Spec black insert and Mil-Spec Viton o-ring.
    • Magpul MOE heat shield lined black handguards.
    • A2 Flash Hider.
     
  22. eldon519

    eldon519 Member

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    My recommendation is that if you are trying to figure out if you like the platform, I would buy a used name-brand AR with a well-recognized model. The primary reason is resale ability. Home-builds can be tough to sell, especially if you are just piecing it together with random stuff of unknown quality. Unless you are putting in premium parts with name-brands people will recognize, you might have trouble getting your money back out of it, plus putting in new parts and selling at used prices.

    Something like a used Colt 6920, S&W MP15, etc would fit the bill nicely as you could try it out and likely sell it for what you put into it. Both are good rifles too, so try it and if you hate it, sell it. If you like it, keep it as a backup and build your dream rifle. Then you'd have a nice gun in the closet versus cobbled together budget parts.
     
  23. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    Were those parts PSA, or something not relevant to this discussion?
     
  24. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    The S&W sport is indeed a good, basic AR. Spikes makes a good product as well. From a price/performance standpoint, I'd still get the PSA.

    You've just go to realize something, in the world of guns, there are going to be ones out there that have problems. Since I've been shooting competition over that past 4 years, I've seen tons of guns go down with problems. My high dollar 1911 had hundreds of jams before I got it all figured out. In the club I safety officer for, there are two guys whose guns always have extractor problems. One owns a Glock and the other has a Springfield XD, and customer service has tried to fix both. At the recent 3-gun I ran, there was a guy shooting a Sig AR whose gun ripped the rim right off a case while trying to extract it. He's shot the gun for years without problems and that day he finished the match with someone else's gun. I've bought a $600 scope only to have it immediately break. I've seen Colt and DD ARs come to matches and go down for the count as well.

    If I based my gun owning decisions on someone else having a problems, I wouldn't own a single gun.
     
  25. eldon519

    eldon519 Member

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    I don't see anywhere where OP indicated PSA was all he was looking at. No need to get all protective of your favorite.
     
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