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Where to start at when shopping for a new AR?

TalicTalic New MemberPosts: 10 New Member
I'd first like to say I'm fairly new to firearms, I've mostly been shooting my new Glock 22 for about a month and I've done some research on pistols. But I'd like to look into buying a AR-15 and the amount of different manufacturers and models are overwhelming. All the addons seem to be confusing, would buying a AR with a picatinny rail system be worth it instead of one without it? What else is good to look for when shopping? I'd like to know what makes a 1200 dollar AR-15 worth more than a 700 dollar one.

The lingo they use on guides for AR-15s are confusing too, I was AR-15.com and I had no idea what they were talking about.

Building one is kinda out of the question, I'm pretty good at putting things together but I think it's better to buy.

I'd like to use it mostly for target shooting and maybe some hunting out here in the desert later on (I'm not sure what's worth hunting out here in the Nevada desert).

Replies

  • snake284snake284 Senior Member Posts: 22,387 Senior Member
    If it's me, I would go and buy a new HBAR Colt and be done with. But it ain't me and that's why I haven't done it yet. Since I bought the 300 WBY Lazermark I can't afford a new anything.
    Daddy, what's an enabler?
    Son that's somebody with nothing to do with his time but keep me in trouble with mom.
  • sakodudesakodude Senior Member Posts: 3,772 Senior Member
    I recently found myself in your position, the desire to own an AR but laking the know-how to choose one over the other. I took a look at what I expected to get out of it and what I would use it for. Did some research, asked some question here and I concluded that for a range toy, I did not need a gas piston, quad rails monstrosity. A basic no frills platform would do me just fine. In the end I choose a S&W M&P 15 sport. Picked it up the past week as a matter of fact. Short of building, about as inexpensive as you can go for a complete rifle. The only models I found cheaper lacked any sort of sighting equipement.

    Good luck choosing.

    Sako
  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,490 Senior Member
    Target shooting and hunting? How far do you plan on shooting out to? What sized critters do you plan on taking? These two questions will help you figure out if you want a carbine (16" barrel) or a rifle (20" barrel) and the type of bullets you plan on using, which will affect the rifling twist you'll need. From there you can answer other questions such as do you want:
    adjustable stock
    iron sights
    free-float forearm (this can aid in accuracy)

    Also, what sort of target shooting will you do? Do you think you might use the rifle in some "action shooting" matchces?
    Overkill is underrated.
  • Diver43Diver43 Senior Member Posts: 10,513 Senior Member
    First off: WELCOME

    I recently build an AR. Prior to that my only experience was with the M-16 that the Army issued me and I was not authorized to do more than field stip it while cleaning. The lower build was not all that difficult I used the instruction sheet that came with the parts kit and U-tube. The wife was concerned that I would blow myself up the first time that I pulled the trigger but it functions perfectly. The upper I purchase fully assembled at a gun show.
    What I ended up with was a home made version of the DPMS Sportacle. An inexpensive, accurate, no frills AR that suits my "fungun" need just fine. You can swap, add, re-build the entire gun at your whim or desire. I say pick what you need or want within your budget and go from there. Learn as you go and have fun doing it.
    Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
  • mythaeusmythaeus Senior Member Posts: 831 Senior Member
    Buying your first AR is the best option and the least confusing way of going about it. Depending on your intended use, you can choose from various configuration, but a typical 16" light weight 5.56 carbine is the most common and as close to all-purpose as you can get.

    What you can get depends on your budget. You can get a decent one on the lower price range like S&W, DPMS, Del-Ton, etc. to high price Noveske or Wilson Combat. A good compromise in term of price range (and to me is the best value) would be a Daniel Defense. DD make most of the their parts in house compared to many other companies that purchase parts from parts suppliers. A slightly more flexible option would be buying a complete lower and a complete upper and put them together. This lets you vary your configuration a little bit and can save you some money. Buying a complete one from a named manufacturer though would give you the benefit of warranty in the case you don't want to deal with fixing the gun yourself.

    Al
    "In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth and have begun striving for ourselves." - Siddhartha Gautama
  • mythaeusmythaeus Senior Member Posts: 831 Senior Member
    Also, your profile doesn't say where you are from. Be sure to check your state and local laws for any restrictions on what AR configurations you can have. NJ and CA for example are very restrictive on "assault weapon" configurations.

    Al
    "In a controversy, the instant we feel anger we have already ceased striving for the truth and have begun striving for ourselves." - Siddhartha Gautama
  • bullsi1911bullsi1911 Moderator Posts: 10,928 Senior Member
    As with anything, the first place to start is with an honest evaluation of your needs, and projected uses.

    You mentioned target shooting and hunting. So, for those two things, you would probably want a heavy barrel, good trigger, flat top with no front sight tower and a free float tube. Lots of guns like that out there.
    http://www.bushmaster.com/catalog_xm15_PCWVMS20FPRED8.asp
    http://dpmsinc.3dcartstores.com/LBR-CARBINE_ep_117-1.html
    (BTW, those are both made by the same parent company)
    Go to a well stocked store of gun show and check the options

    BUT, if you want it to go double duty as home defense, along with hunting and target shooting, then you start getting into compromises. You would want to mount a light, and have fast shortrange sights at the ready, along with longrange capability.

    Is it JUST longrange that you are looking for?
    To make something simple is a thousand times more difficult than to make something complex.
    -Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • TalicTalic New Member Posts: 10 New Member
    Alright, that helped guys. I looked up some of the history on the H BAR and it pretty much summed up the differences between carbine M4 type AR-15s out there and long barrel more expensive AR-15s. This video was pretty good at explaining it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evhGauf0lMw
    I'm looking for more on the long range type of rifle, I'm not really looking to do any type of military drills or using it for home defense. I have my Glock for home defense. I'm not looking at strapping a flashlight or anything else except a scope.
    When I do start hunting I'll probably go with coyote since it requires no license and they're pretty easy to find around here in the Mojave desert here in Nevada. Mountain lion also comes to mind. There's a lot of wide open space out here in the desert so I believe a longer range rifle would be more useful. There's also elk and mule deer up north but I believe licensing is kinda hard to get for them. Would hunting elk and deer have any effect on the type of AR I should be look at?

    I'd also like something that wouldn't be picky with ammo. I'd prefer to buy cheap ammo for target practice and a nice rifle that's gonna have problems with cheap ammo is a bad purchase for me. I feed my Glock a diet of TulAmmo and I would like to do the same with my rifle. What has me concerned with the H BAR style is the heavier bullets and getting the right twist for it.
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,116 Senior Member
    Talic wrote: »
    Alright, that helped guys. I looked up some of the history on the H BAR and it pretty much summed up the differences between carbine M4 type AR-15s out there and long barrel more expensive AR-15s. This video was pretty good at explaining it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=evhGauf0lMw
    I'm looking for more on the long range type of rifle, I'm not really looking to do any type of military drills or using it for home defense. I have my Glock for home defense. I'm not looking at strapping a flashlight or anything else except a scope.
    When I do start hunting I'll probably go with coyote since it requires no license and they're pretty easy to find around here in the Mojave desert here in Nevada. Mountain lion also comes to mind. There's a lot of wide open space out here in the desert so I believe a longer range rifle would be more useful. There's also elk and mule deer up north but I believe licensing is kinda hard to get for them. Would hunting elk and deer have any effect on the type of AR I should be look at?

    I'd also like something that wouldn't be picky with ammo. I'd prefer to buy cheap ammo for target practice and a nice rifle that's gonna have problems with cheap ammo is a bad purchase for me. I feed my Glock a diet of TulAmmo and I would like to do the same with my rifle. What has me concerned with the H BAR style is the heavier bullets and getting the right twist for it.

    That's the appeal of the AR. Once you have a lower you want (trigger you like, buttsstock and pistol grip), that is considered to be the gun.

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQjqDGJq0ia0qd9uPyERBQ7X5fu-fKnjdrIKCTVrzm-4zn4CQpZrOqr-Wdh

    Then you can get whatever upper you want shipped right to your house. There are more uppers than you can shake a stick at.....

    Varmint in .223, which can be a 24'' heavy barrel to shoot off a bench or a shorter lighter 16'' or 20'' barrel which won't be to heavy to carry while hunting.

    rraar0550_6.jpg

    For deer you could go .243WSSM, .25WSSM, or 6.8 PC....

    993965.jpg

    Want a heavy hitter? There is .50 beowulf or the 458 SOCOM

    5937d1172910485-alexander-arms-50-beowulf-ar-15-calibers.jpg

    (223/5.56 NATO, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8 SPC, .458 SOCOM, and .50 Beowulf)
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 20,726 Senior Member
    I shoot a 223 AR out to 500 yards. If you're looking for long range, I'd suggest a heavy barrel, 20" minimum and possibly 24", free float fore end, Flat top uppers and an upgraded trigger. I'm partial to the Rock River Varmint, with the EOP (elevated optical platform). It comes with their 2 stage "National Match" trigger, which, IMO, is a VAST improvement over a "mil-spec".
    You'll want a 1:9" or faster barrel twist to stabilize the 69, 75 and 77gr match bullets (My RR has a 1:8")
    I also have uppers for the 6.5 Grendel and 50 Beowulf rounds mentioned in the previous post. The Grendel is a FABULOUS long range round and the Beowulf is a serious thumper within 200 yards. It's not as accurate as my other uppers, but it smacks deer sized critters down with authority
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • breamfisherbreamfisher Senior Member Posts: 13,490 Senior Member
    One thing to consider when you mention the Colt HBAR: older ones have a 1:7 twist, newer ones have a 1:9 which may or may not sufficiently stabilize longer, heavier bullets. For that reason, the Colt HBAR is not often seen in long-range matches unless it's an older model.
    Overkill is underrated.
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 8,075 Senior Member
    Talic wrote: »
    There's also elk and mule deer up north but I believe licensing is kinda hard to get for them. Would hunting elk and deer have any effect on the type of AR I should be look at?

    I'd also like something that wouldn't be picky with ammo. I'd prefer to buy cheap ammo for target practice and a nice rifle that's gonna have problems with cheap ammo is a bad purchase for me.

    Well. . .it sounds like you need to be looking for multiple rifles. You want cheap ammo, so you want a .223/5.56, yet you are expressing an interest in deer and elk, for which the .223/5.56 is usually considered not nearly enough gun - it's not even legal for that use in many areas.

    The .223 can be a very accurate round - proven to be so in NRA Highpower competitions to distances exceeding 600 yards. For that game, the 20" barrels are a must, both for sight radius and velocity. But for hunting larger varmints (coyotes), there's the issue of terminal performance to consider. The .223 can kill paper at 600 yards, but its effective range for a humane kill is going to be less than that - regardless of barrel length - which is why the carbines enjoy so much popularity.

    To me, anyway, the AR isn't much of a hunting platform (unless you're hunting VC, NVA, Taliban, Republican Guard, etc...). Regardless of what you chamber it in, your powder capacity and ballistic capability is going to be limited by the length of the magazine well that was designed for small cartridges intended to be controllable on full-auto. You could step up to the .308-based AR-10 platform, but then you get a much heavier gun that still has the same kind of magazine length limitations when you start thinking about larger than deer-sized game. Because of these factors, my attitude is that for targets that shoot back, I'll accept the added weight and maintenance complexities of an autoloader. For stuff that doesn't, I won't.

    For your coyote rifle, you'll get more accuracy for your dollar and less potential for finickiness with cheap ammo from a .223 bolt action. Remington has a few 20" barreled 700's that have a 1-9" rifling twist, which will handle all but the heaviest (and relatively rare in the market) competition bullets. For deer, the .308's will absolutely get it done, but for elk, they're more of a short range option. For that application, life really begins with longer, .30-06 length actions firing with significantly more steam.
    WWJMBD?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,788 Senior Member
    I recognize where you are at, as far as making a decision on what to buy, as I was at about the same place a few months ago. I wanted a varmint type set-up that I would be shooting from a fixed position, so the heavy barrel models appealed to me. Also, I did not want a bunch of crap hanging off of it, and I wanted it to look somewhat like a conventional rifle. I reload, and had recently acquired beaucoups of new, primed .223 brass, Varget powder and and some steel core practice bullets, so target shooting was a major part of the plan.

    After asking a lot of questions, I settled on a Rock River complete lower with the National Match trigger and A4 stock (standard M-16 type rifle stock) and purchased a complete DPMS upper from Midway in the 20" heavy barrel, and added a Harris bipod, Burris PEPR scope mount, and a Nikon Pro Staff 3-9x40 scope that I had on another rifle. It all slapped together in a few minutes and was ready to go. I have been having a ball shooting it and tinkering with different load combinations, and it is quite accurate.

    I recently started stretching out my distance and shot a 1.9" group at 300 yards, last week, using the bipod with my fist as a rear rest - not too shabby for an old fart with mediocre bench rest skills, who completely ignored the factory break-in recommendations for the barrel. My conclusions are that it is a well designed platform for precision shooting, and that the mid range of quality is fine for someone of my skills.

    I have about $900 invested, since I already had a scope, but that bought me exactly what I was hoping for.
  • TalicTalic New Member Posts: 10 New Member
    Thanks guys, that really helps. If I do decide to go hunting it would probably be coyote but I will be target shooting with it as the main usage. I'll give it some thought if I want to use it from a fixed prone position long range shots or shorter carbine ranges for plinking. It sounds like it'll be a good idea to get two different upper receivers for whatever you want to use it for that day. I'll be certain to stay away from the big rail systems that a lot of flashy ARs have in the show rooms, the sales people sure try to push them on you. It seems like handling with different size barrels is something to consider, I'll go to my store and see if I can see the differences between the various lengths.

    Rock River has a lot of customization, which is nice, a little pricey but that's the way to go for custom colors it seems. Daniel Defense looks to be big on rail systems and handles, that's a turn off. DPMS and Bushmaster looks good, I like how the DPMS website has all the different configurations to choose from. I know my local store has a good amount of Bushmaster so I'll go check them out.

    I also want to get a scope on it so that's something I do need to shop for.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    "Where to start at when shopping for a new AR?"

    The AR store, of course............:tooth:
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,788 Senior Member
    Talic wrote: »
    Rock River has a lot of customization, which is nice, a little pricey but that's the way to go for custom colors it seems.

    If you are already thinking two upper units, you might want to try something like the DPMS Sportical, as a complete unit, to get used to the platform. Then, when you are ready to do some 'finer' shooting, you could upgrade with a nicer trigger and a heavy barrel. Don't skimp on the scope if you ever intend to try any precision shooting - there's no sense in investing $700 - $1000 and then sticking second rate mounts and a cheap scope on it. You will likely be shooting it a lot, simply because it's fun to shoot, so buy something well made, with a bright sight picture, and consider some sort of graduated elevation reticle, for shooting past a hundred yards. I like Nikon BDCs, personally, and intend to upgrade to something with a little more zoom and side focus. Nikons have great optics and sell for less than a Leupold, but there are other mid-range scopes that would serve you well.
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,116 Senior Member
    bisley wrote: »
    If you are already thinking two upper units, you might want to try something like the DPMS Sportical, as a complete unit, to get used to the platform. Then, when you are ready to do some 'finer' shooting, you could upgrade with a nicer trigger and a heavy barrel. Don't skimp on the scope if you ever intend to try any precision shooting - there's no sense in investing $700 - $1000 and then sticking second rate mounts and a cheap scope on it. You will likely be shooting it a lot, simply because it's fun to shoot, so buy something well made, with a bright sight picture, and consider some sort of graduated elevation reticle, for shooting past a hundred yards. I like Nikon BDCs, personally, and intend to upgrade to something with a little more zoom and side focus. Nikons have great optics and sell for less than a Leupold, but there are other mid-range scopes that would serve you well.

    Even though it is easy to do, I don't think it is any cheaper in the long run. If I could get every penny back out of my Bushmaster and start over. I would just get a Rock River Predator Pursuit from the beginning.

    pupredp.gif

    Note about Rock River. Better make up your mind soon as RRA is gonna take a couple months to get an order done and these times are going to increase the closer we get to November.......

    Actually the quicker you get anything, the better. I bet prices on all Evil Black Rifles increase just like they did before November 2008.....

    ETA; While you are at the gun stores, better pick up some .223 now..... Won't find that that in a couple months either..
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,116 Senior Member
    Perusing RRA site...... all of their triggers are already on indefinate backorder. I imagine all they are making are going into complete rifles...
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • bisleybisley Senior Member Posts: 10,788 Senior Member
    jbp-ohio wrote: »
    Even though it is easy to do, I don't think it is any cheaper in the long run.

    I saved about a hundred dollars off just buying the complete rig, but that wasn't the reason I bought the DPMS upper. I could get the RRA lower in ten days, with the NM trigger, but the complete rifle you pictured was gonna take much longer. I was timing the purchase so I could do load development and practice during my vacation, and that was the way I could make it work out. I agree, though, that you probably can't go far wrong by buying the whole RRA rifle, if you don't mind waiting till they get around to building and shipping it.
  • TalicTalic New Member Posts: 10 New Member
    bisley wrote: »
    If you are already thinking two upper units, you might want to try something like the DPMS Sportical, as a complete unit, to get used to the platform. Then, when you are ready to do some 'finer' shooting, you could upgrade with a nicer trigger and a heavy barrel. Don't skimp on the scope if you ever intend to try any precision shooting - there's no sense in investing $700 - $1000 and then sticking second rate mounts and a cheap scope on it. You will likely be shooting it a lot, simply because it's fun to shoot, so buy something well made, with a bright sight picture, and consider some sort of graduated elevation reticle, for shooting past a hundred yards. I like Nikon BDCs, personally, and intend to upgrade to something with a little more zoom and side focus. Nikons have great optics and sell for less than a Leupold, but there are other mid-range scopes that would serve you well.

    I think I'll probably do that, if I did go the RRA route I would probably not have enough cash or I would need to save more for a good scope. 700+400 for a scope I can do. 1120+400 is a hefty chunk of cash upfront for a setup. Now it's time to do some research on scopes....
  • jbp-ohiojbp-ohio Senior Member Posts: 10,116 Senior Member
    Don't know what stores you have in your area, but the bigger stores around here also have the Bushmaster ORC (Optics Ready Carbine) on sale for <$700 quite often. It and the Sportical are the most sale advertised AR's I see....

    BCWVMF%2016M4ORC.jpg
    "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not." Thomas Jefferson
  • TalicTalic New Member Posts: 10 New Member
    Alright, I'll keep a eye out.
  • MichakavMichakav Senior Member Posts: 2,634 Senior Member
    Do NOT buy directly from RRA...You will pay much more.

    Look at distributors or local stores..You can generally save a few bucks buy ordering an upper and lower seperately. Also, look for free shipping.

    http://www.ar15sales.com/rracomp.htm

    http://www.ar15sales.com/store/page2.html

    http://www.pkfirearms.com/

    http://www.model1sales.com/

    http://www.mapartsinc.com/

    http://www.del-ton.com/ar_15_kits_s/1.htm ..... A kit may be the best way to go. All you would need is a stripped lower.
  • TalicTalic New Member Posts: 10 New Member
    Michakav wrote: »
    Do NOT buy directly from RRA...You will pay much more.

    Look at distributors or local stores..You can generally save a few bucks buy ordering an upper and lower seperately. Also, look for free shipping.

    http://www.ar15sales.com/rracomp.htm

    http://www.ar15sales.com/store/page2.html

    http://www.pkfirearms.com/

    http://www.model1sales.com/

    http://www.mapartsinc.com/

    http://www.del-ton.com/ar_15_kits_s/1.htm ..... A kit may be the best way to go. All you would need is a stripped lower.

    How is the complexity of building with those kits? Is it just like doing it yourself from scratch or is it like doing a field strip?

    Also, what's the story behind RRA? Are they a higher quality than bushmaster/DPMS? I may do something similar in getting a lower RRA.

    Also, what do you guys think about the free floating barrel? Is it better to have only for longer barrels or would it be good to have on a 16 inch carbine?
  • CHIRO1989CHIRO1989 Senior Member Posts: 12,284 Senior Member
    Talic wrote: »
    Also, what's the story behind RRA? Are they a higher quality than bushmaster/DPMS? I may do something similar in getting a lower RRA.

    QUOTE]

    Supposedly, Milspec means Milspec, you should be able to mix parts.
    I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn away from their ways and live. Eze 33:11
  • MichakavMichakav Senior Member Posts: 2,634 Senior Member
    RRA is on the same level as the others. There are cheaper alternatives to RRA that will be of the same quality also.

    A lower is pretty much a lower. Uppers are a little different story because of all the option. As long as your upper has a decent barrel and a good bolt carrier group it will be fine, assuming it's put together right...

    The only brands I would stay away from are Blackthorne/Hesse. I personally would not buy an Olympic either, but thats just me.
  • bruchibruchi Senior Member Posts: 2,581 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    If you can spell screwdriver, and know which way to turn one, you can build an AR lower. LOTS of videos and information out there on how to put one together.


    Just be very patient when you install the front take down pin and make sure you have spare springs!
    If this post is non welcomed, I can always give you a recipe for making "tostones".
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