What is your AR-15 quality list?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Tortuga, Feb 18, 2021.

  1. crestoncowboy

    crestoncowboy Member

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    And the Windham bushmasters


    The saddest part of all was that when the ban ended (within a few days....) i just HAD to have me one of them there fancy AR like all 18-20 year olds at that time did. I actually held a real AUG with the factory scope that day that was nearly the same price as a Colt AR. Around 1200-1400. There was no colt or bushmaster in stock so I passed up the AUG and jumped to the real prize... I bought the Olympic. Paid right around a grand too. Lol. Very accurate rifle no chrome bore helped that I'm sure. 1/12 or 1/14 Twist rate too ... it outshoots many bolt action with 40- 55 grain v-max. but terrible build quality. I still have it to remind me that the AR is cool looking but not something I'm crazy about....and because I'd lose like 800 bucks on it....and I could have had a nice AUG... at that time I drove a 500 dollar Mustang with 300k miles on it. A fool and his money....

    A-HOLE gun store guys told me it was Mil-spec. Lol.

    I have had others. a DD and a Colt that went Thousands of rounds with no trouble except for some crappy mags. Neither would hit MOA (or even 2) under perfect lab conditions with any weight bullet with Martin Riggs behind them. Not even the real Martin Riggs. Not the one from the show but the real one from the movie. And an Anderson or two that I bought for under 350 a few years back. They ran a couple mags. Enough to remind me I don't care anything about the AR. Gave both away to family. I shot them in the general direction of a box. They seemed to hit said box.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021
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  2. Charlie98

    Charlie98 Member

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    It really depends on what you expect out of your AR. If you are a bench shooter, well, anything will shoot. If you are a weekend mag dumper, cheap is better because you spend all your money on cases of Wolf ammo for the dumps. If you are a mall ninja, or COD Operator, nothing matters more than the rollmark, and the amount of crap hanging off it. If you actually use an AR as a tool, professional or otherwise, things change a bit... I suspect make and components are chosen more for assembly and parts quality.

    I've had a box stock DPMS Oracle (cheapo entry level, no sights.) I pumped a case of ammo through it in 2 days... not necessarily abusing it, but I'm not kind to my service weapons. Not one hiccup. Oh, yea, the barrel was a spaghetti noodle, for sure, but everything else seemed to work well enough, and the build itself wasn't bad. I gave it to my brother for Christmas.

    I have an RRA upper that is my standard weapon when I'm out and about... it HAS been abused, and I rarely clean it... a squirt of CLP on the bolt and it's good to go. I trust it with my life.

    My original AR is a Gen-u-wine Colt H-bar. While I'm sure it has quality parts, it is not All That and a bag of chips. It has, flat out, the worst trigger in the safe... and it's a 'target' rifle? Add in the Big Pins, and some sloppy fit... and you have a mediocre AR. I'd take my RRA over the Colt.
     
  3. mcb

    mcb Member

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    I like ARs and have hunted with some variation on the platform for the past 6+ years. I just don't put a lot of value in who built it, unless that builder was me. The design is pretty straightforward and well understood. Like I said earlier give me a quality barrel and all the rest is personally tastes and getting it configured for your particular application. After you have owned one or two AR for awhile and really understand them it seem very silly to pay someone to assemble one for you rather than do it yourself and get exactly what you want.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021
  4. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    The only thing that makes it a conundrum is qualitative definitions vs quantitative values for each category. Once you do that, it becomes a check list vs subjective “feelings”. Some people look at how pretty the wood is in determining “quality”, nothing to do with shooting at all.

    1,000,000 rounds is durable. Are we going to trust the one that’s fired a million or the MFG’s ability to make another hat can and use that one?

    10 rounds in one hole at 1000 yards touching is very precise. Again is that the rifle we are going to get or are we counting on them to make everyone the same?

    In any case I think what lower you put the upper on isn’t going to have a huge difference is what the upper can do. A turd upper on a 3D printed lower isn’t going to turn into a fantastic shooter plopped on a JP (feel free to pick a brand you like in substitute) upper.

    A hunk of aluminum that’s Mil-Spec works for me, then I can put parts I like in them. It was created to create a standard, “quality” is a standard that’s defined by the individual. http://www.biggerhammer.net/ar15/milspec/MIL-R-63997B_(AR).pdf
     
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  5. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

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    A certain AR-centric internet forum has been tweaking its "tier list" of ARs for twenty years (or what seems like it). Bor-ing! Pretty much one of the more subjective topics in internetland.

    I, for one, could care less. Pretty much any modern manufacturer's factory AR will serve the average AR-owner's needs. Most guys don't shoot near enough to really test the limitations of their ARs.

    Most of the problem guns I've seen over the years at the range, gun schools and during training are home-builds where guys try to source the cheapest parts possible.

    Some of the best ARs I've worked with were (some of) the old Bushmasters one of my employers issued -- we beat the crap out of them, and they kept ticking. Current employer issues Colt M4s (same carbine I was issued in the military 'cept sans fun-switch), I'm totally good with them, own two as personal weapons. I even like the Springfield Armory Saint I bought last year, super-accurate. Have owned the S&W M&P-15 and it was worthy. Goes without saying my Daniel Defense rifles are superb. I've shot a lot of BCM and Larues, all good. I've seen the Rugers perform well and the one SIG I tried seemed darn good as well.

    My point is, a "quality list," as jmorris notes,
    thus is really pointless.

    One just needs a list of specs for the uses to which one will put his AR.
     
  6. Buzznrose

    Buzznrose Member

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    Cant argue with anything in Old Dog’s post. Most 16” ARs today are fine and will run well on good ammo, mags, and lubricant.

    I have ARs from DD, SOLGW, and BCM. I trust them all to perform. But I also keep a spare BCG and some lower parts just because stuff breaks!

    These days, I mostly shoot my “Black Friday Special” PSA and it runs fine too.

    Keep them lubed and use good mags...you’ll generally be fine.

    I’m not a fan of self builds. I’m sure most are fine, but cheap builds are to be avoided IMO.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
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  7. armoredman

    armoredman Member

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    I have one. Upper is a mix of Aero parts and a Bear Creek .223 Wylde barrel. I HAD the opportunity to get a much higher quality barrel but I stuck with the gift I had been given. This was originally put on a CavArms one piece poly lower with mixmaster parts, (mostly Stag), that, after I replaced a bad disco with another $5 disco, ran like a top. It now sits on a PSA MOE+ lower and a SIG Romero5 squats on top. You do not want to know what i actually paid for the original setup - it was mostly donation items. It is accurate as a milspec, (from what I was told is acceptable), 3-4 inches at 100 yards with most ammo, works extremely well clean or filthy, and I like it. I am not an operator of anything but a telephone and a computer, so I doubt I will have to use it for much than plinking and home defense. My son has a complete PSA Freedom rifle that also runs like a top, and is accurate enough for what he does. Bought it during the salad days, so it cost me less than $400 at the time. We happy with our bargain basement guns.
     
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  8. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    I'm not an AR aficionado, so while I recognize the reason to have a list, I have no list.

    My only AR was purchased the same way I've purchased most of my firearms. Which is to do some research into guns "made" by a manufacturer that is known to make a reliable product at a price I'm willing to pay.

    Funny thing is that back when I bought my AR, the "manufacturer" that put it together was actually on a list. Nowadays, that manufacturer seems to be bypassed, forgotten, and not on a current list.

    Then you have the multitudes that are in post #18.

    All this makes me think that most civilian buyers of complete and ready to go ARs might as well buy from a commercial manufacturer that makes more than just ARs.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021
  9. Uffdaphil

    Uffdaphil Member

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    No American AR manufacturer can come close to the dependability data set of Colt, Knights and LMT due to their adoption by the military. Are some others like Larue or BCM as dependable? Probably, but can’t be demonstrated like the aforementioned.

    Just about any brand will generate anecdotal “just as good” claims because the one they own has never failed. I’m of the crowd that says a good barrel, BCG and trigger in most any in-spec forged lower/upper receiver will be dependable if assembled correctly and well maintained. What defines “good enough” is subjective. I know what I’ll bet my life on. Your bet may be different.

    If I were just getting into ARs and wanted to save a few bucks, I’d get a factory upper by BCM, Colt, LMT Defender (Not MRP) or Sionics and a stripped mil-spec forged lower with a good rep for around $120. They are simple to install a parts kit or cheap to pay someone to do it for you. That way you can skip the gritty standard trigger and not have to pay for two 2 tube-spring-buffers if you want to go with the A5 system.
     
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  10. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    To me there are 3 basic "levels" of quality in a factory AR15. Full disclosure- I mostly build my own. That said, examples of the "higher tier" would be offerings from Larue, Barnes Precision, Geisselle, and the like. The "middle level" would include things like most S&W models, most DPMS, Ruger, and the other typical GI M4 clone types- and even the standard issue M4. Then the lowest level - those various cheap guns made in Washington state in the 80's and 80's, and the obscure brands sold at gun shows with cheap barrels, poorly assembled and with low quality parts, junky gas blocks held on with little screws, etc. To me, the most important parts on an AR are a decent barrel and trigger, with DECENT quality parts, properly assembled. This is sufficient for use for most people, and generally describes the typical M4 in use with conventional US mil personnel, minus accessories- which is a completely different conversation.
     
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  11. Omaha-BeenGlockin

    Omaha-BeenGlockin Member

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    Mine is a Colt-----I remember the days back when the only good AR's were from the A,B,C manufacturers. The gun hasn't been fired in nearly 10 years and is only kept for if things get really bad---sorry Joe, you can't have it. I loaded up 10--15 mags this summer when the civil unrest was really popping--fortunately I haven't needed to use them but they are still loaded.

    I haven't even fired an AR in nearly 10 years except for a Ruger that I had for a couple months that was a decent enough gun.
     
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  12. BigBore44

    BigBore44 Member

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    My AR’s upper manufacturer (5.56’s, x39’s and 450BM’s) isn’t on ANY of the lists. My lowers are all PSA with upgraded triggers. I suck at AR’s I guess. But I have 5 AR’s in 3 different calibers, that shoot MOA or better, and have lifetime warranties, for what some paid for 1. I’d call that value if nothing else.

    I’ve seen Lambos, Ferrari’s, and Bentley’s break after 40k miles. I’ve seen a Chevy Suburban and Nissan Frontier go over a million miles. It’s a crap shoot.
     
  13. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    I think a lot of the people that put their favorite brand of high end AR on the plinth of greatness would be surprised to find out how many of the parts and pieces were bought in bulk from the same suppliers that are selling parts that go in the mid priced guns and then screwed and pinned together along with a bunch of other sourced parts into a complete rifle.
     
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  14. Pivot Dr

    Pivot Dr Member

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    I’ve got 2 ARs, one a factory DPMS, the highest priced one they sold some 10 or so years ago. Mostly the reason I bought it was because our local PD and Co. Sheriff dept. did a bit of research before they equipped both departments with them. They had 2 each Colt H-bar, Bushmaster, DPMS, and one other less common higher end brand I don’t recall this second. After a half dozen cops and deputies ran them through their paces for many thousands of rounds in a couple months, each officer voted the DPMS head and shoulders above the closest competitor, the one they expected to be the winner, the Colt H-bar. Mine isn’t a target rifle but it shoots cheap bullets to mimute of golf ball an 100 yd. My other one is a self build. I got a custom built lower from a gun club in Virginia where my son used to be a member. The actual manufacturer makes upper and lowers for several of the big name gun manufacturers. I bought a very heavy DPMS Match upper, has no forward assist, and put a Kreiger stainless 20” match 7.7” twist barrel on it. A JP adjustable gas block, M-16 full auto bolt carrier and Brownell’s private label bolt, yada, yada. The lower has the $75 kit with exception of the $250 Giesselle trigger. A Magpul telescope stock with the latch lock lever on it. Now this is a target/match rifle. 68 and 69 gr Hornady, Barnes, and Sierra bullets drift 5 shots into a dime to penny sized, sometimes smaller, hole at 100 yd with boring regularity. They aren’t tricked out with fancy forearm and rails etc, just a nice round tube with fish scale grips on them. I’ve probably got about $1,200 each in them. High end, top quality, fancy brand name, (Ever hear of Lafayette Gun Club?) they aren’t, but they do everything I want done. Oh yes, I also have a complete JP 22LR upper that I occasionally stick on one of the lowers. Haven’t got enough bullets through it yet to settle it down, but it shoots as well as my heavy barrel 10-22, but not up to my CZ 452 American standard yet. I’m holding out hope though. They aren’t impressive, but shoot as well as those that are.
     
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  15. Mousegun

    Mousegun Member

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    You will not find a better factory trigger on anything as good as this one and a polishing stone makes it even better.
     
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  16. Chuck R.

    Chuck R. Member

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    I kind of like the old AR15.com list better, the one that compared the carbines to the M4 TDP as that actually graphically portrayed the difference in tiers .

    My factory guns are Colts (LE6920 and and AR6951 (9mm)), neither have given me an issue in thousands of rounds and I've used both in a couple carbine classes. Both have been upgraded with Geissele triggers.

    My homebuilds (that I've kept) have all cost far more than the Colts due to barrels, triggers, AGBs, rails, stocks etc. I've never had an issue with any of these either, but I put money where it counts in barrels, BCGs, and triggers. They were also built for a specific purpose, not just "M4"ish carbine.

    All in all I've taken 4 "high round count" defensive carbine classes in addition to shooting a monthly 3Gun match. It's gotten pretty rare to see an AR screw up that's not just ammo or bad magazine related. Maybe the tier list worked and some companies upped their game.
     
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  17. Bcwitt

    Bcwitt Member

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    Make sure it's a forged lower. Some brands use a forging for a higher grade, & a casting @ a lower price. Be wary of brand names. Brands that are well established are often sold to manufacturers that go the cheap route. It's like anything else, you get what you pay for.
     
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  18. chicharrones

    chicharrones needs more ammo

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    And then there is machined from billet. Seems like billet costs more than "GI" style forged receivers.
     
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  19. mcb

    mcb Member

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    That because is costs more to make it from billet, even with today's CNC machines, not because it is necessarily better or worst than a forged receiver. Forging is a quick, and if the volume is there, cheap way to get a near net shape parts from many metals. If you have to do all that shaping with a cutting process, that costs time and tooling, that are both expensive.
     
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2021
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  20. Bcwitt

    Bcwitt Member

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    Billets are machined from a solid, just like a forging. Forging just gets closer to final dimensions then carving a solid block of aluminum. saves machining time in production. A smaller producer could never afford forging equipment. A billet would be the only way to go.
     
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  21. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    That picture chart is mostly good. Stag should be up higher on that list now. These are the best brands that I've experienced, LaRue, Colt, and BCM are my favorites:

    Boutique perfection grade:
    LaRue, Knights Armament, Noveske, BCM

    Milspec and better:
    Colt, LMT, BCM, Daniel Defense, FN, CZ.

    Darn Good:
    Stag, Savage, Armalite, S&W, Sig

    3 gun competition (all of the boutique brands plus these):
    Savage, Stag, FN, Taran, JP.
    These rifles need their own category. They're super high quality, but lack reliability. They trade reliability for light recoil, and specific ammo requirements.

    If you know your stuff, cheapo builds can be fine. MasDefense, BCM, and Rainier arms have great supplies of parts. You can also build the boutique rifles one part at a time as well as they can.

    I'm not going to mention brands to avoid. They may have improved.
     
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  22. Zerodefect

    Zerodefect Member

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    BCM has been proven as dependable as the military contract guys, many times over. If hardcore reliability is #1 on your list, I'd go BCM before Colt or FN. Even though I completely recommend those as well.

    LaRue is more about accuracy and quality. Sometimes boutique brands optimize performance, but lose a hair of reliability in an unreasonable situation. I'd consider myself blessed if I was issued one. The machining precision of those kits, is insane though. Easiest to build kits of all time.

    For example 16" middy gas is better than 16" carbine gas in many ways. Carbine gas is more reliable though. I'm not going to put carbine gas on a super high quality carbine, ever.

    Same goes for 18" rifles. Rifle gas is best by far. Middy is more reliable, but aside from that, worse in every way. Let's not even get started on certain manufacturers preferences for gas ports and buffers.....lol.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2021
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  23. Bcwitt

    Bcwitt Member

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    Once upon a time, there were just a few makers gunning for GI contracts. These were all high end makers. Somebody came up w a casting blank & before you knew it there were dozens of lower end makers. They sourced parts from each other sometimes. Some startups improved there quality in production, some high end brands get bought out by a board of cheapasses & quality suffers. Variation in quality is huge. That really shakes my buyer confidence in ARs. I'd much rather have a 800$ AK then an 800$ AR.
     
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  24. X62503

    X62503 Member

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    I have two AR's, a pre-Clinton ban PWA Commando and a Geissele Super Duty. I think the PWA lower receiver is cast, but could be rong. It's in the serial number range that suggests it was actually built by Lewis Machine. It has a heavy barrel, an A2 rear sight, and a 3-position aluminum CAR type stock. I have upgraded a few things such as buffer and spring, buffer retaining pin, castle nut, trigger, charging handle latch, bolt, and magazine release spring. It's a nice little rifle! The Geissele came from the maker with no improvements needed, but I had to add a set of iron sights and an LPVO. In comparison with the PWA, the fit, finish, and operation are advanced, and well worth the price to me.

    IMG_0275.JPG

    IMG_0274.JPG
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2021
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  25. army_eod

    army_eod Member

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    My Windham has been great. It is my primary 503D6FD4-E823-48BA-AD8D-78880BD02A40.jpeg SHTF carbine. They are the original Bushmaster guys. This has been modifies a bit.
     
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