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Who Makes the BEST 5.56mm Semi Auto

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Newton, Jul 14, 2003.

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  1. Newton

    Newton Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    I really want one of the AR15/M16 semis but I'm totally bewildered by the choices.

    Armalite, Bushmaster, Cavalry Arms, Rock River, Colt etc etc

    I really like the Armalites with the green furniture, but are these the best. This rifle isn't going to be a toy, it has to be as good as the AR can get as a practical/tactical weapon.

    If you wanted the best "stock" 16 inch or 20 inch AR which one would you buy and why.


  2. Reason

    Reason Member

    Jan 26, 2003
    Lewisburg, TN
    Personally, I think that Bushmaster offers the best price/performance ratio of all of them.

    On the other hand, I only have first-hand experience with Bushmasters. :)
  3. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 19, 2002
    If you want name recognition and for it to retain its value, go Colt. Problem with Colt is the oddball parts. They use to use this screwy two piece pivot pin to join the upper & lower receiver. They also had oversized pins for the trigger/sear so you couldn't install standard size parts. The bolt carrier was messed with too and they milled away the back part, giving it less mass and momentum.

    For a more standard gun, Bushmaster has good jigs and hold up well but be leery of their full autos. I've seen a bunch of them go bang, bang jam. BTW, I've got more BM lowers than anything else.
  4. Quintin Likely

    Quintin Likely Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    Relay 3, Target 17
    I'll let you know how the 20" A3 Bushmaster does in about 4 weeks :)
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 21, 2002
    Southeastern US
    I think the Bushmaster is probably the best overall factory AR available.

    That comment was more carefully assembled than it may appear.
  6. CWL

    CWL Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    No such thing as "The Best"
    People who claim it are lying and people who search for it are on a quest. I still am amused by a poster back back at TFL who thought that spending $2500 on a Knights Armament somehow changed him into Rambo.

    It's the Operator and not the weapon. Recent conflicts in Isreal had Isreali & Palestineans both fighting with M16s (Isreal issued to and trained Pales. police forces) -Guess who won?

    There IS such a thing as bad though, and you should start your search on what NOT to get.

    Second is application. Will this be urban, or country shooting? Rifle competition? Self-defense? Guns issued to soldiers have to survive handling by a 19-yr old -they also have cover fire and air support. A customized SWAT CQB weapon has all the 'bells and whistles' but gets babied by a professional. These weapons are also issued, not purchased by the individdual.

    My experience is that most all top brands work. I like Bushy because I bought one for cheap, I also like my Oly. But If I bought DPMS, I'd probably say that I liked that as well.

    Don't really understand this, but you might want to look for local ranges which has IDPA 3-gun matches. Show up, watch and talk to the guys who look like they're petty good. Ask what they use.

    Don't let color of stock influence your decision. You can always paint.
  7. Ian

    Ian Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    The best 5.56 semi-auto isn't any variant or AR-15; it's the South Korean Daewoo K2. The price for a post-ban with an American parts kit and pistol grip is even pretty comparable to an AR. AR magazines, AR-quality trigger, AR accuracy, and AK reliability. Plus an adjustable gas regulator, fixed extractor, no gas in the receiver, and no spring in the buttstock. Everything the AR should have been but isn't.
  8. gun-fucious

    gun-fucious Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    centre of the PA
    this is not really a Ford vs Chevy issue

    its more like Pontiac vs Buick

    They are all pretty much the same product built to very similar specs
    The Bushmaster is a good benchmark for price

    Bushy builds the most units per year for civilian sales
    That volume does have advantages in the marketplace

    Colts are nice but the non standard front takedown point means
    no Mil surplus or other standard uppers will mate up

    some of the cheaper units are less spendy at purchase time
    because they spend less time on the barrel lathe
    or have a cheaper barrel steel or lack a chrome bore
    or the manufacturer over uses the chamber reamers

    the MD AR15 site has a good breakdown of the differences in the major makers
  9. 444

    444 Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    The green furniture is no big deal. You can buy green furniture and put it on any rifle or carbine you decide to buy. I have two green rifles and think it looks good myself.
    I own a number of AR15s including lowers by Bushmaster, Cav Arms, Colt, Mega Machine, SGW (Olympic Arms), and Century Arms. I have never had a lick of trouble with any of them. Remember that the AR15 is very similar to the military M16. These are rifles designed to be used by the military in combat. AND they are designed to be easily repaired quickly and with a minimum of fuss. Unlike many sporting arms, the AR15 doesn't have a lot of complicated, or hand fitted parts. With about an hour of research, and only a couple specialized tools, you could build your own AR15 from the ground up. The point being that there is no magic AR15 that one company manufctures that is far better than the others. ]
    Some things to look for in my opinion: forged lower receiver, chrome lined barrel and chamber, mil-spec parts, and a flat top upper. Unless you are going to be doing formal target shooting I would stay away from any "match triggers". I would also stay away from the Bushmaster Mini-Y-Comp muzzle brake.
    If I was going to buy an off the shelf AR15 right now, it would be a 16" Bushmaster Flat Top. To begin with I would get a detachable carry handle, but would quickly transition to an Aimpoint ML2 optic. That, to me, is the best semi-auto 5.56 carbine out there.
    I do want to add that I have never shot, handled, or owned an Armalite. I have heard nothing but good things about them, but have no personal experience.
    I can tell you what the instructors told me at Gunsite. They recommend Colt. They say that this is the carbine which has shown them the least trouble. And this is not to be taken lightly. They see a few hundred carbines a year go through there that fire somewhere around 1500 rounds each per class. When I went through the Gunsite 223 class, I used my Bushmaster and it ran great. I fired about 1800 rounds in a week. Our class was split between Bushmaster and Colt (I dont' remember anything else being present). As far as I know, there were only two carbines that had problems. One of each. The Bushmaster that had problems had never been fired before the class. It's owner had little to no experience with the weapon. I don't know exactly what problems he had but he took it to the gunsmith. The other problem was with a Colt that was a very much used and abused loaner gun that had the bolt break in half. I also took the carbine class at Frontsight. Every AR in the class was a Bushmaster. No one had any problems dispite the very dusty conditions coupled with very high wind; not to mention the heat. In this class I fired about 600 rounds. My carbine ran flawlessly, and I used Wolf ammo for the vast majority of the course. Accuracy at 200 was terrific. No misses on steel at 400.
  10. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Alma Illinois
    Colt.....I have six ARs in various configurations. Three are factory built Colts, three I built using Colt and Bushmaster parts.

    Every manufaturer turns out a lemon now and then. Colt's rifles have gotten closer to USGI in the past couple years. For the most part they have small front pivot pins now that make it easy to swap uppers and even put in a standard push pin if you desire. The larger trigger and hammer pins are pretty much a non issue. The original trigger and hammer pins will last several life times.

    There is nothing wrong with ARs built by the big three, Colt, Armalite and Bushmaster. My personal experience through taking and teaching patrol rifle coures mirrors 444s. The Colts seem to perform the best right out of the box. Every instructor I know except for one will tell you the same thing. I know one instructor of world renoun who will tell you he thinks Bushmaster is the best.

    I have heard a lot of good things about Rock River Arms, but I have no personal experience with one.

    If it's your first AR, buy a factory rifle. Don't buy a frankengun of any manufacturer. Get a new rifle with a warranty. Learn the weapon, then start playing with frankenguns, even building your own.

  11. max popenker

    max popenker Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    SIG SG-550-SP. Just my $.02.

    more expensive than most AR-15s, but far more reliable (high tuned AK-47-derivative), 1MOA off-the-shelf accuracy with good ammo. But hard to find in USA.
  12. Stinkyshoe

    Stinkyshoe Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I went through the same thing. I believe that Bushmaster offers the best value and gun for the money. The upper and lower match together tight(no need for an accuwedge) which tells me they have high machining standards. Get a 20 if you don't mind the extra size and weight. If you will shoot with open sights, get the 20. The extra sight radius will be worth it IMO. If you need a lighter more compact "road hunting gun"(I do not agree with this at all, although I know it is a frequent occurance nation wide). Perhaps a 16 would be best described as a room clearer or tactical gun. If you will shoot will a scope or you could get very similar accuracy and ballistics out of a 16. Don't spend money on accessories afterward. Spend extra $ on ammo and training.

    Excellent choice! You will love the increase controll of adjustments on the removeable carry handle(1/2 moa instead of 1 moa)
  13. jem375

    jem375 Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    DPMS.........I have shot Bushmasters and Colts, and think the DPMS is more accurate and just as good for the money............
  14. ChairborneRanger

    ChairborneRanger Member

    Jun 8, 2003
    I have or have had an Armalite, a Bushmaster, a Colt and a DPMS. The one that seemed to be 'best' overall, not taking in to account $$$ or cost-effectiveness, etc., was, Colt----excellent fit and finish, worked right out of the box, very well built-----it was/is, also, the most expensive of the four.
  15. meathammer

    meathammer Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    Milwaukee, WI
    It's probably not THE best 5.56mm rifle, but I would sell one of my kidneys before I sold my 16" flat top Armalite. :D
  16. Jaeger

    Jaeger Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    Take a serious look at the M96 Expeditionary Rifle and Recon Carbine at Robinson Arms

    That being said, I love my Bushmaster M4 (post ban) except for the Ycomp muzzle brake.

    I think your best choice for a stock on an AR would be an A1 or A2 standard stock. (depending on the lop you need) I have an ACE skeleton stock on my M4 and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

    The telescoping stocks are nice for portability but they are inferior to the standard stock for shooting. The tele stocks that are pinned open for post ban guns aren't a good choice IMHO. The ACE skeleton stock is light, sturdy, very comfortable and has a good look if you need aesthetics.
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