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What AR-15?

Discussion in 'Rifle Discussion' started by ConditionOrange, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. ConditionOrange

    ConditionOrange Oregon Member

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    I'm looking at finally getting an AR next year, but I hear a lot of "these are good", "those suck", etc... I just want some honest opinions from people who don't work at the gun shop ;). I want to spend about 1K, so that should put a pretty decent one in my hands. Main questions are: What brands to check out? Caliber, 5.56 or .223? Barrel length?
  2. deen_ad

    deen_ad Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    5.56 will shoot a .223 fine, a TRUE .223 chamber can POSSIBLY be a problem with a 5.56 NATO round.


    The "Trade Rating" is low by 3
    Not everyone posts it I guess.

    NRA Benefactor/Recruiter
    WAC member
    SWWAC member
  3. Gendaito

    Gendaito PDX Member

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    Most ARs are 5.56 in caliber. Very few will have specialized .223 chambers. For the most part, you should be able to interchange 5.56 and .223.

    As far as brands are concerned, there's an AR to fit almost any budget. $1000 will get you a decent rifle.

    What features do you want? Flat top uppers make it easy to mount optics. A2 carry handle uppers are more simple, have built-in iron sights, but mounting optics is harder. Do you want a free-floating handguard with picatinny rails for mounting other accessories?

    Most ARs these days are 16" barrels. 18" and 20" barreled ARs are available. The length of the barrel will affect the handling of the gun, and there's some effect on accuracy (the longer the better).

    There's also different gas systems (which in turn affects the recoil). Most 16" guns are carbine-gas systems (shorter, more violent). Most 20" guns are rifle-gas systems (generally smoother). There's a mid-length gas system as well, which smoother than the carbine-gas system and works well on 16" guns.

    Almost all major manufacturers make decent, passable rifles these days. There are very few brands to avoid (Vulcan, Hesse, Blackthorne). Inexpensive brands such as Del-Ton and Model 1 Sales are pretty solid rifles. Other names include Rock River Arms, Bushmaster, DPMS, S&W, Colt, Bravo Company, Spike's, CMMG, Armalite, Noveske, KAC, Stag Arms, and a host of others.

    CDNN (a big internet dealer in Texas) has Colt 6520's for $900 (A2 carry handle) and Colt 6920's for $1100. Usually the 6520 is more like $1100 and the 6920 is $1250. They also have S&W ARs ranging in price from $850 to $1350 depending on configuration.

    Personally, I would expand the budget and get a Colt 6920 from CDNN for $1100. It's very similar to the M4 that the US military uses (16" barrel rather than 14.5") and has the flat top upper. Colts are very well regarded and will retain their value better than most other brands.

    But really, there's so much to learn, you could spend months and months researching.

    Good luck!
  4. sweetbeard

    sweetbeard Beavertown OreGUN! New Member

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    Ortwien international SBR... full length rifles are fail..

    Coctailer on the boards!!!
  5. Nwcid

    Nwcid Yakima and N of Spokane Well-Known Member

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    The big ones to stay away from are Hesse/Vulcan/Blackthorn as they are the same company that keeps changing names due to poor quality.

    As for what style is best will depend a lot on what you plan on doing with it.
  6. The Cheese

    The Cheese somewhere special Member

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    I would say just build one, but with the prices on guns right now you can get a complete m4-ish type AR for $600-700. The nice part about building one is that you get to choose what you want on the rifle. You only need a few punches, a hammer, some masking tape, an Armorer's wrench, and some vice blocks for the upper and you are good to go. Total is less than $100 in tools and you can have the intimate familiarity with your gun that you can only get by building it yourself.

    For $1k the DIY'er can do quite a bit. Lowers can be had for $80, uppers for $45-60 if you look, barrels for under $200, railed forends for $150, lower parts kits for $60, stocks for well under $100 if you want cheap, carrier groups for $140 (for a nice one, $100 for a cheap one that still works), $20 for a charging handle and another say $40 in miscellaneous odds and ends. Then you can throw some cash at a nice optic and some back up sights.

    Picking out the barrel length, just depends on what you want to do with it. For just range shooting, any legal length. For a handy rifle with out having to SBR it, 16" is where its at. For target and sage rat hunting 20" would be good, could go longer if you want. Most barrels on the cheap end will get you to 2" at 100yds or so with good ammo that will jive with the twist rate. Some nicer barrels will do less than 1" groups with really nice ammo or custom tailored reloads. I have gotten 1" groups at 100yds with my cheap 16" DPMS 1 in 9" barrel and some OK reloads. I know I can do better with better reloads. For the what its worth most AR owners can't out shoot their guns.
  7. SnackCracker

    SnackCracker Lake oswego, OR Member

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    For $1,000:
    BCM Bravo Company USA, Inc. AR-15, M16, M4 Tactical Gear, Parts, Accessories.

    Or get a BCM upper/lower combo from GR Tactical: G&R Tactical

    Spend some time and do the research for yourself. What do you want to use the rifle FOR? For plinking, you can get any of the ones mentioned... But if you're going to use it to defend your life, or compete in rifle matches etc, spend the little extra and get one of the following: Colt, Noveske, BCM, Daniel Defense or LMT.

    Go check out M4Carbine.net Forums - Powered by vBulletin. Those guys really know AR's and USE them for duty, competition etc. You will also hear about "the chart". It is basically a chart comparing the spec's of various AR manufacturers and how they stack up and if they meet the minimum TDP. The chart can be found here.

    BCM and Daniel Defense are probably the best bang for your buck if you want a "quality rifle".
  8. Dell_dude

    Dell_dude Vancouver, WA Member

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    Here you go...

    Colt 6920, sub $1K.

  9. kickstart my heart

    kickstart my heart South King County, WA Active Member

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    I've owned or currently own the following, and here's my opinion...

    -LMT: Have one of their "Defenders" with a Mike Rock (Rock Creek) barrel and a trigger job done by a gunsmith friend. The gun is absolutely 100% reliable and accurate. Best AR I've owned by far. I also own one of their "Defender" 16" M4 style uppers with a 1:7 twist. It's plain jane and has the standard handguards. Even without it being free floated, it shoots sub MOA when I had a scope on it with Federal TRU .223 55 grain hollowpoints. Pretty good considering I bought it from a guy who said it had "about 200 rounds through it" which is gun forum code for "I don't know". My final LMT goodie is my 10.5" barreled upper on my AR pistol. Great fit and finish, reliable (once I put and H buffer in the lower), and tight (you could hear it/feel it when you cycled the charging handle).

    -Bushmaster: I've owned 5 I think and still have 2. First one I owned back during "the ban". It was a piece of excrement! 16" hbar A2 style. It may have had a burr on the bolt or something. Anyhoo...everytime it'd get hot or dirty, it'd jam so bad I'd have to either "kickstart it" (put the butt on the ground and stomp down on the charging handle), or slam the butt into the ground (eventually cracked the inside of the A2 stock). Sold it to a pawn shop and disclosed it was a can of worms. I'd bought it brand new.

    Since then, the rest have been solid. I've owned their "patrol rifles", "Ultra Light" (pencil barrel) and Hbar. I still own a Ultra Light that has a bunch of uber cool tactical crap on it, and a "patrol rifle". Great guns, reliable, have put a ton of rounds through them, fairly tight fit.

    Smith & Wesson: I don't think these guys get enough credit. In my opinion, they're a "top shelf" AR, or at least close to it. I've owned their standard M&P15, and my AR pistol lower is S&W. The fit and finish were top notch, guns reliable and accurate, really like them. Plus, they're reasonably priced for what they are.

    Rock River: I had one of their CAR A4's I ordered from the factory exactly how I wanted it (heavy 16" barrel, quad rail, 6 pos. stock, gas block, 2 stage trigger). The fit between upper and lower were tightest of any AR I've owned, the trigger was perfect, the finish superb, and it was rediculously accurate (shot a 1/2 moa group with it from on top of a backpack laying prone more than once). Only had a couple malfunctions, and they were due to it not liking aluminum cproducts mags (which I threw away even though they worked in my other guns). Only gripes...it was heavy (my fault for ordering it the way I did), and when I wanted it, Rock River told me there'd be a 16-18 week back order, but ended up showing up at the shop I purchased it at 2 weeks later, and I didn't have the money to pay it off for another month.

    Stag: Really nice from my experience. I've got one of their 6.8's left handed, and it's super accurate. Their 2 stage triggers are awesome. Really impressed for the price. Only thing I don't like on mine is the Hogue grip. That's just personal choice though.

    Alexander Arms: Only have one of their ss 18" 6.5 grendel barrels so far. Handled a few of their guns though. Really like them. Thinking bout buying one of their 50 beuwolf's soon.

    Guns I have experience with through using friends or working on a range/shop:

    -CMMG: Good guns, not a lot of experience with them, but all the one's I've handled and shot I liked.

    -Olympic: My opinion, they're junk. Nothing seems to be mil spec. Had a buddy bring his to a gunsmith friend and it was having malfuctions due to the upper having crappy machining out of spec and the bolt carrier misaligning. I've know 2 guys that had good one's out of 5. I've seen one blow up on an outdoor shoot.

    -Colt: Really good. Think they're priced a little high. LMT is just as good, if not better in my opinion.

    -Noveske: Really nice. Expensive, but nice. Barrels on them are the shnizz! Going to build my next AR on one of their matched upper/lower combos.

    -Sabre Defence: Great guns. Very sexy and accurate. Their 6.5 grendel stuff is too rich for my blood (barrels are over priced and made of 410 stainless, which don't seem that tough for a $550+ barrel).

    -Double Star: Don't see a lot of them around the Seattle area, but I've played with one, and have shooter/gunsmith buddies that swear by them.

    This is all based on personal experience and opinion. There's so many companies springing up over night that make AR's of good "mil spec" quality. Heck, LMT makes AR stuff for a lot of other companies. Most of the uppers and lowers are cast at just a couple places. Some companies have better quality control than others. You're pretty safe with any of the major brands.
  10. das_napeth

    das_napeth Snohomish, WA Member

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    Tons of people think that you have to have a "brand name" AR. I say pay $700 OTD for the Del-Ton MOE Rifle from Coctailer and be content. Most serious magazine article writers will say that the brand isnt too important and have given the Del-ton line excellelent reviews.
  11. sigshooter86

    sigshooter86 Snohomish County New Member

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    I just bought my first AR a few months ago. I wanted to save some money so I bought the lower at a local gun shop and then bought the upper receiver group online. I decided to go with Spike's Tactical for both the upper and lower, they add some cool features to their products and the quality is excellent. It is chambered in 5.56 and has a 1 in 7 twist. It is a very smooth shooting rifle. I paid about $1000 for it and it came with a free floating rail system which is really nice. I looked at similar setups at stores, I saved about $200. Since I bought it, I put Magpul sights on it and plan to get good with irons before buying an optic.

  12. DoubleTapDrew

    DoubleTapDrew Oregon Well-Known Member

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    A big +1 for BCM. They make absolutely top-tier rifles at mid-tier prices. Everything is what you want (1:7" twist, chrome lined bore, properly staked gas key, parkerized under front sight, MPT tested hardware, etc).
    If you want to go fancy Noveske (an Oregon company) , Colt, and LMT (Lewis Machine & Tool) make great rifles but you'll pay more for the name. Those makers are usually more costly than BCM for no increase in performance/reliability.
  13. MountainBear

    MountainBear Sweet Home, OR Well-Known Member

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    If you can find a used NextGen Arms Patriot, that would also be a good option...
  14. hsullyc

    hsullyc North coast,Nehalem,OR Member

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    I love my Ortwien International,Coctailer will take care of you..:thumbup:
  15. ConditionOrange

    ConditionOrange Oregon Member

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    Tons of info guys, gonna take a bit to digest it all. I will say this, I don't want to build my own. A little too involved and I really don't have the space to do it. I will be using the gun mostly for range/ target practice. Though the main reason for buying is shtf self defense. I want it to be accurate enough for med range shots, but compact enough to be comfortable to carry. I want accessory rails for light/scope etc as well.

    All the AR's I've looked at are in 223, some say 223/5.56 (Does that mean chambered in 5.56, will shoot 223?). I know the rounds are close, but isn't it 223 will shoot out of an AR chambered for 5.56, but not vice versa?
  16. swoop

    swoop Milwaukie, Oregon Well-Known Member

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    ON the BCM web site I saw the M4 MOD 1 which is a copy of the Colt 6920 for $1335.00 + $35.00 shipping + FFL fee so $1400.00 compared to the $1100.00 average price for the Colt 6920.:confused:
  17. accurateone

    accurateone Eastern Washington Member

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    Rock River Arms are tight! You know the upper & lower will fit when you receive it. 223Wylde is the chamber they use makes 5.56 & 223 shoot tight groups. stock 2-stage match trigger. On sale now.. very hard to beat.
  18. clearconscience

    clearconscience Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    I also had a S&W M&P15 and loved it, I had about 2k rounds through it with out a issue. I had to sell it because of money problems, but hands down I would go with a S&W.
  19. iamme

    iamme Lane County Well-Known Member

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    For quality lmt is my pick, though lots other good ones mentioned. For a plinker coctailer will hook it up. Still good guns, just not as good as lmt/bcm etc.
  20. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Ardenwald, OR Well-Known Member

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    It boils down to you get what you pay for. Cheap rifles do not meet mil-spec and have more quality control issues. Mid price rifles are close too or meet mil-spec and have better quality control. High end rifles exceed mil-spec, normally have the best quality control and customer service.

    Do your research before you buy. Prices on rifles and parts are in free fall because of the glut and poor economy. For your first AR buy a factory assembled rifle.

    Don't drink the fan boy kool-aid.