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Which AR-15 upper for 400-500 yard accuracy?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by mtcur3, Aug 25, 2007.

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  1. mtcur3

    mtcur3 Member

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    My family and I are going to a RWVA Apple seed Boot Camp in October http://www.appleseedinfo.org/ . I realize the .223 is not the best long-range rifle, but it's what we have and what we'll be using for the shoot. We have two DPMS carbines and a RRA lower. Four of us will be shooting for 8 days. The kids are 13 old and 15 years old. Much of the shooting will take place at 25 yards. To help with the cost of ammo I'm thinking of buying a couple of AR-15 rimfire conversions kits. Does anyone have any thoughts on this being a good or bad idea concerning consistent accuracy at 25 yards?
    I'd also like to buy an adequate upper for actual 400-500 yard shooting. Should I go with a 20" barrel or will the 16" work? I'd like to spend less than $600 and I don't want it to be too heavy, the kids are small. The shoot is about 5 weeks away so if you know where I can purchase the upper asap please let me know. DPMS and RRA have a 10-12 week wait. Thank you for your help.
     
  2. scubie02

    scubie02 Member

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    well, I've ordered uppers from Stag and gotten them within a couple days to a week. They do have a 20" model, but otherwise just 16"ers which it sounds like you already have. Honestly? I personally haven't owned an AR that's so blazingly accurate I'd be expecting to do much better than hopefully hitting a person SOMEWHERE at 4-500 yds, and I know VERY few people that can shoot at those ranges off-hand and have much prayer of hitting anything. You always hear that the AR's are better than AK's because you can shoot them at 400-500 yards, but in my experience if I put a paper plate up at 100 yds and tell someone "hit that" off hand, the majority of people can't do it consistently. Most people nowadays do any kind of shooting 100 yds + off a bench with sandbags or a bipod or something. The standard non-match triggers that come on AR's aren't exactly conducive to amazing long range accuracy either. I would think 20" would be a better bet though probably if that's what you're looking for without too much weight.
     
  3. funfaler

    funfaler Member

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    Allow me to give you my thoughts on the AR issue and your approach to the Appleseed Boot Camp (great for you, taking your wife and kids, great plan!).

    For the price of 22 kits for your AR, you can nearly get a Ruger 10/22, with Tech-Sights. These are great trainers for the 25 meter range, and give a similar sight picture as the AR sights. This approach will allow you to get some loaner/trainer rifles plus dedicated 22lr rifle for future use.

    The 16 inch barrels on the ARs will do their job out to 500 yards, I do it often. The issue you really have to deal with, with the 16 inch barrel is the shortened sight radius. Having the 20 inch will do little in the gain of accuracy, outside of the extra 4 inches of sight radius, and I am not sure that the added expense of another upper, or several. One suggestion that I will make for your 16" upper, I would look into a thinner front sight post. Something closer to .050" will give you something useful to use for the smaller targets/longer ranges and help you in the Appleseed shoot.

    If you have not been to an Appleseed shoot, I will also make the following suggestions;
    -USGI web slings for use as shooting slings
    -Ear plugs and Ear Muffs
    -Elbow pads, without the hard outer shells
    -shooting mats, cheap foam are just fine

    If you have not gotten it, get Fred's Guide to Becoming a Rifleman and read through it several times, this will really get your mind set for the upcoming event.

    Finally, spend some time 3-4 times a week, getting into the sitting and prone positions, and dry fire your rifle. This will get your body stretched out a bit for the shoot.

    PM me if you would like to discuss the Appleseed stuff more in-depth, I would be happy to share my experience. Also, go to the Appleseed forum and ask questions about the program, http://www.appleseedinfo.org

    Enjoy your shoot!
     
  4. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    your dpms carbines are just fine shooting out to 600 yrds. don't spend any money until AFTER you've been through the program and have a really good idea what worked and what didn't. and don't shoot crappy ammo at 400 yrds and then blame the upper/barrel. :) give it a chance.

    i've used the ceiner 22lr conversion kits in my ARs before and loved them. however, i stopped using them because of the excessive wear to my bolt carrier and upper receiver. i found them to be picky about ammo, but enjoyable to shoot when you find the right ammo. they will almost definitely shoot to a different point of impact than your 223 ammo, so if you get one, sight them both in before you go.
     
  5. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    I think the Appleseed shoots expect you to fire quite a few rounds in SINGLE-FEED mode.

    An AR-15 with a rimfire kit is an absolute horror to load one round at a time.
    Don't even consider a rifle that will be difficult to load for single shots.

    The course of fire at an Appleseed strongly favors a rifle with adjustable sights such as those found on an M14 or M16.

    I think an optic with a graduated reticle might be OK too. But remember you will be firing from standing, sitting and prone. I can tell you for sure, you better set-up that optic so it isn't digging into your face when you are in the prone position. Its easier to crane your neck for the offhand shots than it is to shoot with blood from an eyebrow laceration running into your eye.
     
  6. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    I second taliv's recommendation. Your current rifles are plenty capable of hitting 20" targets at 500yds, especially with good ammo. Doing it with iron sights may be tougher due to the shorter sight radius and thick front sight post if you are using a 16" (That and I can't even see spotter disks with my bare eyes at 600yds); but I would recommend trying the course with what you have and then considering what changes you would like to make.

    If there is one thing I've learned from instruction is that it is better to buy stuff AFTER instruction; because it is really disappointing to buy something before instruction based on what you think you might need and then discover you don't need that all; but could stand to change something else (if you still had any money to buy it :))
     
  7. GoRon

    GoRon Member

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    Not in the two day Appleseed I participated in. We fired 5-13 rounds per stage.

    I used a 16"AR with iron sights.

    Before my next Appleseed I plan on having a 20" AR to use.
     
  8. mtcur3

    mtcur3 Member

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    Thanks for the info. More questions

    Thanks to all who replied. Here are a few more questions.
    What would be good ammo?
    I reload. Do you know of a good staring place for the AR-15 with 16" barrel? Powder? Bullets?
    Where can I get USGI slings?
    Where can I get the narrower front sight?
    I would like to get another upper before the shoot. One fellow highly recommend the LMT 16" M4. Could you confirm that it would be a good choice? Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge.
     
  9. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    i haven't done an appleseed shoot, but the course of fire sounds very similar to the NRA HP and national match courses. In both of those, the slow fire stages REQUIRE you to single feed, even though you shoot 10-20 rounds in the stage. I know people get away with loading all 10 rnds in a mag (the guy next to me at Perry this year did that, but then, nobody was worried about him winning :) )

    reloads have a well-deserved bad reputation, but that doesn't necessarily make it bad ammo. i only shoot reloads in HP. i shot reloads when i went to Pat Roger's carbine class and Thunder Ranch and had no malfunctions in either places. However, if your reloads are unsafe or unreliable, you've got no one to blame but yourself. I wouldn't use them if I wasn't confident in them, especially if you haven't reloaded them before.

    my normal haunts are all sold out of bullets, and i haven't seen any deals on powder lately. there's a sticky thread in reloading forum with a long list of vendors.

    At the Army Marksmanship Unit's Small Arms Firing School this year, they were saying a lot folks were getting the narrower front sights, but that it was a mistake and that it's easier to center the bull on a wide post than to center a narrow post on the bull. They also said for older folks, it is easier to focus on the larger post.

    LMT is a pretty well-respected brand, but the M4 is not a target rifle. It's great if you're looking for a general-purpose carbine. If you're mostly going to shoot paper, particularly from a bench or prone, there are certainly better configurations.
     
  10. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    I have the narrower sight post on one midlength 16" that needed it with the folding sight. I prefer it for trying to shoot tiny groups over the normal sized post; but for 3gun, the normal post is easier to use. Optics are better than both though. Almost any manufacturer should have the narrower post. I think mine was DPMS.

    On uppers, it depends a lot on what you plan to use it for. I like the 16" midlengths for a good general do-it-all rifle.
     
  11. Dienekes

    Dienekes Member

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    Have shot high power .30 cal. in the past and do a fair amount of 300 yard work in the open these days. Of late I have been using a BM M4gery, at usual range of 150 yards but out to 200 and 250. Have only done two things to it--a good optic and a good trigger. Assuming good eyesight a better trigger is the most productive thing you can do for the average AR. The stock trigger will hold you back more than you think, whereas a nice one lets you perform your best (instead of frustrating you--and especially the younger, less experienced shooter). Between the trigger and good practice you will find the 16" barrel capable of more accuracy than most of us can get out of it.

    If I really wanted to do 400 yard and out work with an AR I would opt for a separate 20" rifle model and run that. Paper punching aside, however, after 250-300 yards .30 caliber really shows its superiority in all respects.

    No doubt that the 5.56 round shoots very well as far out as you can hold and squeeze; but as the old saying goes, "a good big man can beat the hell out of a good small man".

    The good news is that a 16" 5.56 is sufficient for most things out to 150 yards and that is all that is really required. Even the US military admitted that after Korea--but dragged their feet all the way.
     
  12. funfaler

    funfaler Member

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    Keep in mind that the Appleseed shoots are all about the shooter not the equipment. You are going to learn skills, not a competition, or to learn how to "game" a competition.

    The instruction will improve your skills, regardless of what equipment you bring (provided it can shoot straight)

    I would not buy another 16" upper prior to the shoot, there will be no benefit. If you had a 20" upper, then you would gain the longer sight radius, but that would really be the extent of the benefit.

    Ammo, well that is the $60K question. Surplus is fine. Wolf would work if need be. 22LR is fine as well. It is the "shooter" that the focus will be on, there is no reason that a rack/standard rifle and surplus ammo can not make the grade at an Appleseed shoot. Bring what you have. For the boot camp, you will do yourself the favor of having some quality ammo, only from the aspect of rifle function, not "accuracy". Most ammo is accurate enough for Appleseed shooting; ammo is much less a factor in "accuracy" than the shooter, come and learn.

    There is NO single round loading at an Appleseed, so that is not a consideration.

    USGI slings? CDNN has the best price that I have seen for USGI web slings http://www.cdnninvestments.com/m1greenwebne.html

    Narrow front sights? Midway http://www.midwayusa.com/ebrowse.exe/browse?tabid=9&categoryid=17048&categorystring=10636***10560***8807***11619***

    Look at the KNS products http://www.knsprecisioninc.com/SIGHTS%20AR-15%20AR-10%20M-16%20SR-25.htm
     
  13. aloharover

    aloharover Member

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    Personally I see no reason to buy an M4 profile barrelled upper. Every manufacturer charges more for the removed metal and it doesn't noticably effect the rifles weight or handling.
    If weight is an issue get a Double Star lightweight upper.
    If you want a short barrel and are concerned about the sight radius look for a Disappator. This is a carbine barrel with a rifle length sight radius and handguards.
    [​IMG]

    If you are serious about long shots with the 5.56 I would get a 1x7 barrel and shoot heavier bullets, otherwise a 1x8 will be fine.
    Also if accuracy is the most important issue you will really want the .223 chamber instead of a 5.56.

    For handloading.
    For long range, in a 1x7, single loading look to the 77g or 80g Sierra MatchKings.
    The 69g SMKs can be loaded to fit in a magazine and work with a 1x8 barrel.
    For a good Gp round that still yields good accuracy a 55g FMJ works well in the 1x8.
    I use once fired LC brass, CCI mil primers, 25g of IMR-4895. This is not the max load, but you should still start at 24g and work up.
    This load works great in both my 20" and 16" 1x8 rifles.
     
  14. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Typically an M4 barrel is about a half pound lighter than a 16" HBAR barrel. Since that weight is all in front of the barrel nut, I've found it improves handling as well. Of course, part of that depends on whether you are getting a true M4 profile (light under the handguards) or just an HBAR with the grenade step cut into it. The latter isn't going to be nearly as light.
     
  15. Browning

    Browning Member

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    This is what I'm choosing to go with.

    I'd like to go to that one in October in Texarkana Texas if I can make it. If I'm able to go I'll probably bring a 20 inch RRA AR-15A4 with 1000 rounds of Wolf HP (because that ammo is all I can afford right now and a rack grade rifle with iron sights at distance is what it's supposed to be about). That would be my choice anyway, but that doesn't make it "the best" choice.

    That's just what I've got to work with.

    I'd think that the 20 inch AR would have an advantage over the 16 inch AR just due to the longer sight radius at the longer distances (4 and 500 yards) because they'd like for you to use iron sights, but if you're good with a 16 inch AR then that extra 4 inches probably doesn't mean much if you can get hits anyway. Just pick whatever rifle you've shot the most as it's better to take something that you've shot alot vs. taking something that you haven't but that looks tacti-cool.
     
  16. glockman19

    glockman19 Member

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    I personally wouldn't rely on an AR-15 for human targets at that distance I'd look at an AR-10 or M1A.
     
  17. mtcur3

    mtcur3 Member

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    More good info!

    Thanks again to all, especially funfaler. I'm glad to learn that the shoot is shooter orientated rather than equipment orientated. My concern is getting to the shoot and not having what we need for 8 long days! I've ordered a pair of AR-15 type sights for the kids 10/22s. I hope they come in before the shoot. We are taking our vacation to go to this shoot and I want it to be a VERY POSITIVE experience for the kids and the wife. In fact they are giving up the opening week of bow season, so I don't want them to be frustrated by poor equipment or anything else. We've started working on the various shooting positions following Fred's guide to becoming a rifleman. I'm going to take y'alls advice and just put one of the carbine uppers on the RRA lower and go with that for now. I'll order the smaller front sights and the web slings as soon as I submit this reply. If y'all think of any thing else that would be useful to us let us know.
    Sincerely,
    Wilson
     
  18. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Wolf is not going to get it done at 500yds and probably not 300yds. I think you will find yourself frustrated with an inability to hit the target that is primarily a result of your ammo choice. If you are limited by your budget, I would recommend picking up at least a small amount of better quality ammo for the longer ranges and just using the Wolf in close where it will be less of an issue.
     
  19. ken grant

    ken grant Member

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    Unless you and your's are very good shots, for the most part you will be shooting at 25 Meters. Until you are shooting Rifleman scores almost on demand, you will stay at 25 M.
    Once you have made Rifleman, then you can move to the longer ranges.
    It is true that most any military rifle or ammo will work on the longer ranges on the D targets. The most likely problem will be your skills and maybe sights such as on the AK's.
    At one of the Boot Camps at the RWVA Range, a guy was knocking down the pop-up's at 300 yds. with a 10/22. I didn't see it but I heard about it from others.
     
  20. Browning

    Browning Member

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    I left this out, I should have included it.

    I'll be using the Wolf for the 200 to 300 yard ranges, I haven't figured out for sure what I'll use for beyond that range as I think that you're right, after a certain range it won't cut it. I'm going to bring a small amount of match grade ammo (250 rds), I just haven't settled on anything yet for sure. Maybe something like these two as one of the local gun stores had this stuff and my .223's seemed to like it real well...

    http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=MainCatcat602007-cat20839&id=0022901215200a&navCount=4&podId=0022901&parentId=cat20839&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=IH&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat20839&hasJS=true

    http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/product/standard-item.jsp?_DARGS=/cabelas/en/common/catalog/item-link.jsp_A&_DAV=MainCatcat602007-cat20839&id=0022901215196a&navCount=6&podId=0022901&parentId=cat20839&masterpathid=&navAction=push&catalogCode=IH&rid=&parentType=index&indexId=cat20839&hasJS=true

    I've also have shot some new match Black Hills and Horandy .223 ammo through this particular gun, but I don't have enough on hand and I don't think that I'll be able to really buy the really good match ammo in bulk the way I could from Cabelas without breaking the bank. I just usually buy a couple boxes of Horandy at a time. I had a bunch of "Coyote Duster" 55 grain SP that it did well with, but I'm almost out of that. All the gun stores around here seemed to run out of Black Hills remanufactured ammo, I haven't been able to find it anywhere which is what I like the best, decent ammo for a good price.

    This is the stuff that my AR is usually loaded with, but I can't buy a whole lot of it if I want to stay married.

    http://www.ableammo.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=10480_14658_14743_14902_14766&products_id=75720

    http://www.ableammo.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=10480_14658_14743_14902_14766&products_id=75657

    I should have included that in my previous post, but it skipped my mind. I've used Wolf to make hits out to 300 yards before, but it wasn't on demand at a range in front of a whole bunch of people. It was in a relaxed atmosphere out of the back of a pickup bed. I'll get to find out if I can do it under pressure.

    I probably end up getting 250 rounds of the 55 grain V-Max from Cabelas for $114 unless I can find some of that 52 grain Black Hills Match somewhere at a cheaper price. I can't seem to find any.
     
  21. aloharover

    aloharover Member

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    Good point, but again, why not just get the pure A1 diameter barrel?
     
  22. ken grant

    ken grant Member

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    I have never tried any Wolf Ammo as I laid in a good supply of good ammo before things got so tight, but I wonder how many can out shoot the ammo when shooting from positions and using iron sights.
    I am not talking about Target shooters but the normal everyday shooter.
    I attended the first Boot Camp at the RWVA Range and I shot over a 1000 rds. and didn't shoot everyday. This was with an M14A.
    I was 69 yrs. old at the time and wasn't in good enough shape to shoot everyday. Tired,stiff and sore was the name of the game for me.

    DID MAKE RIFLEMAN THOUGH
     
  23. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Yeah, my AR loves all of the Hornady ammo. That will definitely do the accurate part; but unless you can find some of the steel-cased Hornady Practice ammo, the cost is a bit steep.

    Always an option if the manufacturer offers it.

    In my experience, if you can hold tighter than 4MOA in field positions, you can outshoot Wolf ammo.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2007
  24. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    heck, i can outshoot wolf/surplus ammo standing and i'm just shooting scores in the high expert to low master class range.
     
  25. Pacer

    Pacer Member

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    I'll respond to the issue of "single loading" as a "formerly active" and still current RWVA instructor for the appleseed program, as is Funfaler, I believe.

    Most of the course of fire is NOT NRA hipower NOR CMP national match stuff.

    There is a "preference" for loading using a "2+8" configuration, like prior garand loadings, mostly to "force" a magazine change during the string....and its concomittant NPOA reset.

    The course IS about the operator, not the gun, hence the 25 meter/ yard predominance. Keeping all rounds in 4MOA (1 inch at 25) is harder than it looks.

    It is ALSO about most stable position, so "Offhand" (which to us is "standing WITH A SLING) is reserved for the 100 yard stage...kinda like a shoot in a quik break while evac'ing.

    400 Meters (yard) and up are shot prone. But even slow prone is at "rifleman cadence" which is typically one shot every 4 seconds (--Breath in/out and check NPOA, breath in-out to respiratory pause, focus hard on the front sight as the trigger is independantly pressed to the surprise break, eyes open to "follow through" (count two) before trigger reset, and repeat.--)

    THERE IS NO "MANDATORY" SINGLE LOADING in this program of instruction.

    Event the initial trial calls for a minimum of 8 rounds, and all "zero'ing" is based on GROUPS, not single shots.

    Come out, I promise you will get something you didn't know/understand before!

    And if you are that rare guy or gal that absolutely knows better than us, come on out and show us, then become an instructor.

    There is a standing challeenge, that to my knowledge has never been met.

    Come out and fire your rifle and your ammo COLD BORE at the 25 meter targets for the 40 rounds in the target times established, in the position sequence established. Clean our clock and get your money refunded!

    Pacer
     
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