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What should I look fr in an AR?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Matt Dillon, Mar 15, 2013.

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  1. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Member

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    Folks, I have never owned an AR, but when the current craziness dies down,I would like to pick one up. There seems to be many options, such as various twist rates, I guess for various projectile weights. And different uppers and lowers. What do I need to know to purchase an average quality ar for range, a little hunting, and the rare need for self defense? Thanks in advance for your help!
     
  2. WYcoyote

    WYcoyote Member

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    The letters BCM on it.
     
  3. greenlion

    greenlion Member

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    Use the search function here, then visit m4carbine.net. That will keep you busy reading for several weeks.
     
  4. Reloadron
    • Contributing Member

    Reloadron Member

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    The forum is loaded to the max with "What AR should I buy" threads. Every poster generally gets a hundred suggestions.

    As to twist? If you plan to shoot heavier bullets and only heavy bullets like 80 grain a 1 in 7 is a fine twist. If you want a general across the board look towards a 1 in 8 or 1 in 9 twist. Since you mention:
    Decide on the style you like, that fits you such as barrel length and stock. Scope or open sights? Budget?

    S&W, DPMS, Bushmaster and others all make a good middle of the road rifle right out of the box.

    I won't get into the Mil-Spec routine or who makes the better gun. Everyone who owns one has the best there is as to manufacturer. Do some thread searches and garner some information, then make the decision.

    Just My Take....
    Ron
     
  5. matrem

    matrem Member

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    A good ( to you) price on a recognized name, and some research on how to check for and/or "fix" any weak points you may find is what I'd look for right now.
     
  6. LiquidTension

    LiquidTension Member

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    The S&W is a good gun for the money. If you're able to spend a little more, Daniel Defense and BCM are the way to go. If you can spend a lot more money, Noveske and LaRue. I'd stay away from Bushmaster, DPMS, Del-Ton, and all of the other budget guns simply because the S&W is basically the same price and has much better build quality and a much better track record according to trainers that see a lot of rounds go down range.
     
  7. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Member

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    Agreed.

    1/8 is a great compromise, and does well with Barnes 55 VorTx for deer duty.

    I say a S&W, and if you can pony up more, PSA or DD.

    Edit to add: Colt has been resting on laurels, and many are offering more for the same price, or a lot more for a lil higher price. What's in a name...
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2013
  8. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    You simply can't go wrong with a Colt either.

    They are the gold standard in durability, reliability, and resale value.

    rc
     
  9. tuj

    tuj Member

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    1/8 twist is a good compromise twist rate.
    .223 wylde chambering (accepts 5.56 safely but is more accurate than 5.56) is a benefit.
    barrel length of your choice

    stick with the DI system, avoid pistons for now unless you buy a reputable fully backed system. Avoid the polymer lowers for now.
     
  10. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Member

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    Especially since they are commanding prices that some whole rifles cost. :banghead:
     
  11. Auto426

    Auto426 Member

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    What you should be looking for depends largely on your budget.

    A basic M4 style carbine is a great place to start. Walmart sells the Colt 6920 for right around $1000, and it's hard to get a better quality gun for the money, especially in these crazy times.
     
  12. LiquidTension

    LiquidTension Member

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    I really want to like the PSA guns since they are built about a mile from me, but I've seen too many screwups and cut corners coming out of their shop. For example, they don't bother to finish the inside of the upper receiver. The quality of the parts is good but their build quality leaves a lot to be desired.

    I also agree that Colts are good to go. Before all the nonsense they were selling for under $1k.
     
  13. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Member

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    I've one PSA under my belt, and one Colt.

    Opposite of your description.

    PSA has good quality, excellent QC, and CS is nominal. Wish I could say the same for Colt.
     
  14. Rubber_Duck

    Rubber_Duck Member

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    http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=7376

    M4C is my home away from THR, and there is a wealth of great info on all things AR. That said, the emphasis over there is on training and hard use, with weapons that run like raped apes. So you won't find a lot of love for Bushmaster, RRA, Olympic Arms, DPMS, or any of the other "hobby grade" manufacturers. So read, read, and read. Educate yourself, especially now, and don't jump on "good deals" until you know what you are getting. In the current market it will be difficult to buy another AR because you made a mistake the first time. Buy once, cry once. If you want to avoid the research just get a Colt. It's a plain-Jane, meat and potatoes AR that will serve you well in any capacity and hold its value. Whatever mods you decide to make down the road, you will still have that Colt underneath the accessories. BCM is also a great choice if you can find one.

    BTW, my username on M4C is El Pistolero in case you decide to join, I'm always happy to help.
     
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013
  15. InkEd

    InkEd Member

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    Buy from a reputable manufacturer and you'll be fine.
     
  16. Warp

    Warp Member

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    personally I'd look for


    Knights Armament Company (KAC)
    Lewis Machine & Tool (LMT)
    Daniel Defense (DD)
    Colt
    Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM)
    Noveske
    LaRue Tactical

    Spikes Tactical
    Smith and Wesson (S&W)
    Palmetto State Armory (PSA)




    But that's just me.
     
  17. Mobuck

    Mobuck member

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    Depends on whether you suffer from "logo ego" and can't be satisfied with a gun that works regardless of the little picture stamped on the side. I've never owned one of the so-called prestige brands but if they're so much better than the "hobby brands" I do own, they would have to aim and shoot by themselves and reload their own ammo.
     
  18. ObsceneJesster

    ObsceneJesster Member

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    I was looking at a PSA upper. What do you mean the don't finish the inside of them?
     
  19. Revoliver

    Revoliver Member

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    LMAO!
    If seal team six doesn't use it then by god why did you buy it?!


    To the OP, here is a helpful quick reference quide:
    https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pwswheghNQsEuEhjFwPrgTA&single=true&gid=5&output=html
     
  20. Matt Dillon

    Matt Dillon Member

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    Thanks so much, guys; you've given me quite a bit to think about, and I will be going over to the other forum to check it out, per your suggestion.
     
  21. Girodin

    Girodin Member

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    One of the main things to consider when taking advice or opinions on ARs (and any other gear) is the experience of the person giving the recommendation. Many people will tell you I have X brand AR and it has been 100% reliable. That sounds well and good at first brush. However, it is a pretty meaningless statement. 100%, to use an extreme, example could mean they have fired 1 round and it went bang. I've often found that if I ask a few more questions, some of these folks are in fact referring to guns that they have merely fired a few hundred rounds from. Furthermore, these statements typically provide no context for the conditions of use. Even thousands of rounds tells us very little if they were slow fired round, maybe 25 or so in a range trip and a good cleaning and oiling between each trip. X brand may run like a top when subjected to such use. Screw a suppressor on it and run it through a three day 1500 round carbine course and the warts might start to show. Shoot a years worth of three gun and it might be a different story.

    You may not intend to shoot suppressed, or shoot a couple thousand rounds in a weekend, or use the rifle for defense and that is fine. However, it is nice to know what a recommendation is based on. In my humble opinion someone shooting a few hundred rounds casually on a square range under ideal conditions says nothing about a gun.

    A further problem is that many people simply don't have experience with a large enough sampling of guns to give very meaningful input. This is why I tend to value the opinions of those that see a lot of guns and a lot of rounds fired every year under varying conditions. These people include competitive shooters, carbine course instructors, and even some individuals that get out and shoot a lot. An example, Travis Haley at one point stated that he shoots around 100,000 rounds a year. In addition he probably teaches about ten open carbine courses a year (he likely does more training for others as well). These class tend to have 25-30 students I'd imagine based on my experience. They are typically 1200 round classes. That's about 36,000 rounds fired during the class by students. That's 360,000 rounds over ten classes taught. In sum, that is a guy who probably sees north of 500,000 rounds fired a year through hundred of different guns, in semi trying conditions, by lots of different people. He has been doing that for a lot of years now. That is an opinion that is slightly more informed and meaningful than, my brand x has been 100%. The same is true for guys like Pat Rogers, Larry Vickers, Costa, etc, etc. If you ask these guys they will tell you that some brands consistently fair better in terms of reliability and durability in their classes, particularly when guns have suppressors. Certain brands have earned their reputations. It really is not simply that folks want to spend more, or buy cool guy gear.

    To my mind their is simply not enough price difference between well proven brands that do not cut corners in the manufacturing and assembly process and the others to worry about buying a lesser gun. Over the life time of a gun, what is a couple hundred dollars?

    When you list defense as an intended role it will change what many people will consider an advisable gun. This is true of both brands and configurations.

    As to my recommendations I agree with the above advice to do some reading at M4Carbine.net. There are many very knowledgeable posters. it can also give you some context for, and additional information about, the spreadsheet linked to above. Those things make it a more useful tool IMHO.

    When I recommend guns to friends and family as well as buy for myself I stick to the following brands:

    Noveske

    BCM

    LaRue

    Colt

    Daniel Defense

    Not all of these offer the same "value" IMHO, but they are all pretty well proven guns. For a general use gun you are unlikely to regret buying a gun from any of them. You ask for an "average quality" gun. Their are so many makers of ARs it is hard to quantify what average quality is. However, to me it would be a basic mil spec gun. Some guns, for example offerings from LaRue and Noveske, are not mil spec but IMHO exceed mil spec guns in certain respects. To put it another way to me Mil spec is a floor for a defense gun. It is not a ceiling and it can and is exceeded by some makers in certain respects. Your average comments make me thing that something like a basic colt or BCM is probably more up your alley than a LaRue, KAC, or Noveske in terms of price. Which I pick among the listed brand really depends on, price, specific intended uses and preferences (for example if accuracy was my biggest concern with longer distance shooting being a main use I'd get a LaRue). These days I typically buy Noveskes.



    I also have one PSA gun. Given the price ($600) it was too good to pass. I think PSA is a brand that is building a good reputation but is not as proven as some of the others. I will say given the very limited use, around 1K arounds in a few outings, I've put through the PSA I've been happy thus far. PSA is my recommendation when price is someones number one criteria. However, the price of PSA guns have been creeping upwards along with their blossoming reputation. They have of course had some hiccups but their response and correction of those teething problems seemed to be appropriate from what I saw.
     
  22. Warp

    Warp Member

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    Girodin: In the spirit of your post...besides everything that my research has led me to believe...one of the reasons I recommend Colt specifically is that I have one. I have put about 2,070 rounds through it. This includes ~460 in a single (partial) afternoon, and some other equally "demanding" uses. It has been nearly flawless. I had one failure to feed that I 100% blame on the magazine (20 round PMAG, failed to feed on the 2nd to last round, crushing the case of the round, I no loner have that mag, it's a known issue on some 2nd Gen 20 round PMAGs I didn't read about until after I had that mag, which is why I never loaded that mag for anything but range use to begin with)

    I have also attended a fair number of Appleseeds and other events, including matches, and just open range time, and witnesses my share of various malfunctions or other problems with various rifles, which is why some of the names people recognize were NOT on my suggested list.
     
  23. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    Lots of good information posted.

    My 2 cents worth is AR-15 platform rifles can be had from 16" barrels to at least 26" barrels. Calibers from 17 caliber to 45 or 50 caliber. Military look-a-likes to varmint/predator/hunting models. AR-15s can be quite flexible. Lots of things to consider.

    I did not have much interest in AR-15s until I was involved in Service Rifle competition. I then learned how accurate an AR-15 could be at reasonable costs.

    For me, AR-15s are like Lays potato chips. I just could not just have one.
     
  24. Skylerbone

    Skylerbone Member

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    Beyond brand or twist rate is the consideration given to the features of the rifle. Choosing a flattop AR makes life easier should you choose to add optics later on or having a free floating handguard for better accuracy potential and making it a smooth style with optional short rail mount locations to give your hands a break. For accuracy and in general a more pleasant shooting experience, a decent trigger makes for a worthwhile upgrade as does a non-chrome lined barrel. Even the style of stock you choose can be a big factor depending on your chosen set-up.

    Take the time to make a list of what you feel is important then compare it to what's being offered the price of altering potential candidates. I'll recuse myself of the brand debate as there are always people who will find a nit to pick or an expert to cite or a slur to use for any but their preferred brand. Some brands have earned a bad reputation and some are merely accused of it by relentless and hollow argument/inference. My "hobby grade poodle puncher" has managed to punch nearly 4,000 rounds into sub- 1" groups without any failures to feed, failures to fire, failures to eject, failures related to 12 magazines of 3 brands, failures related to ammo or any other failure of any sort. It has seen 400+ round days as well without additional cleaning or lubrication, though I never "ran it hard" by tossing it into a lake, burying it in sand and mud or throwing it out of a moving vehicle. If you plan on such abhorrent treatment, someone will surely link a YouTube video suggesting the perfect brand for you which will be back in action after "only" a cursory cleaning and a few tap rack drills.
     
  25. Girodin

    Girodin Member

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    Warp, I hope you know I wasn't calling you, or any other particular individual, out. Rather, it was a general comment. You do raise a very good point about diagnosing malfunctions. I'm sure I can make any gun malfunction if I don't properly maintain it, say for example don't ever lube the thing. That's not a gun issue. Same if I put a bad mag in the gun or I fail to otherwise maintain the weapon. Similarly, a shooter can induce various malfunctions that have nothing to do with the gun per se.

    Here is a good article by Par Rogers, it is more of an article on lubricating an AR but touches on some of the other themes talked about in this thread starting at the bottom of page 74 the last paragraph http://www.ar15.com/content/swat/keepitrunning.pdf

    http://www.ar15.com/content/swat/keepitrunning.pdf

    They can be significantly shorter than 16". Granted it may require some additional paper work, and some locations have additional restrictions, but still.
     
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