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View Full Version : Need Your Expertise And Assistance, First AR15, Which Of These Are My Best Options?


Highlander1
August 25, 2012, 12:43 PM
Hello,

As the subject says, I new to this game. I have spent a substantial time reading and researching things here, and talking to the proprietors of two local gun shops, but clearly, I have more questions than answers. Let me first explain my needs, and then follow with some important questions. My shooting buddy and I are both looking into purchasing our first AR15's. Neither of us have any expertise whatsoever, so I don't think that building and assembling our own guns is a realistic option. We will be using the guns for 2/3'rds target shooting, and 1/3rd coyote hunting. Our key needs are accuracy, and long term reliability. We have both been fascinated by these guns and are ready to take the plunge. Our budget is roughly $1000-1200.00, but we could go as far as $1,500.00 max, if it really made a difference. Based on research here, and other places, I have somewhat settled on what I think would be the best option, but need your input to verify what I based that on.

I have been told that it is best to have a Wylde chamber for accuracy if you plan to shoot exclusively .223 ammo. I've been told that chrome lined barrels will last longer, but not be as accurate as standard barrels. I have ben told that hardened stainless steel barrels will provide both accuracy and longevity. True?

My biggest questions concern the makers of these guns. I have seen countless comments indicating that Rock Rivers Arms make extremely accurate rifles, and that they represent a great value. I also have a local gunsmith who swears by them. I've also seen occasional comments that RRA, DPMS, Stag and all of the guns in the $1000.00 range are junk. I've also read many comments that unless you are purchasing a gun from Sabre defense, BCM, LMT or Noveske you are wasting your money. In between seem to be the offerings from Knight, White Oak, Ranier, LaRue and a few others. I could really use some help here regarding the truth about the various brands.

My initial thoughts are that the following may be among the best options based on what I've read:

The Rock River Coyote Rifle

http://www.rockriverarms.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=230&CFID=241069323&CFTOKEN=59656155&jsessionid=f03060405d823f351d35

Rainier Arms Urban Carbine RUCâ„¢ - 16

http://www.rainierarms.com/?page=shop/detail&product_id=2899

18 Inch LaRue Tactical PredatAR

http://www.laruetactical.com/18%E2%80%9D-larue-tactical-predatar-556

BCM Recce-16

http://www.midwestindustriesinc.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=1060


Am I missing better options? The Rock River seems like an optimum choice, since with the 20 inch heavy barrel, and 3/4 MOA gaurantee, it would seem to be the ticket for shooting coyotes which is very important to us. I've been advised by the gunsmith to add a few options/upgrades to it including chrome bolt carrier and trigger, a stainless steel croygenized barrel, and a BCM Gunfighter charging handle. Both of the others, especially the PredatAR have been very highly praised in reviews and by owners. The LaRue would really, really push our budget though. I've also seen nothing but praise for the BCM, and it's certainly more affordable than the laRue. Just not sure what would best suit our needs and be the best value, long term.

Any help would be greatly appreciated with this challenging choice. We hope to use these guns for a long while and enjoy every moment using them.

bbqbob51
August 25, 2012, 01:24 PM
Have you looked at Windham Weaponry?

Creeper
August 25, 2012, 02:12 PM
I've been advised by the gunsmith to add a few options/upgrades to it including chrome bolt carrier and trigger, a stainless steel croygenized barrel, and a BCM Gunfighter charging handle. Both of the others, especially the PredatAR have been very highly praised in reviews and by owners. The LaRue would really, really push our budget though. I've also seen nothing but praise for the BCM, and it's certainly more affordable than the laRue.

And the Larue is still more money after these "options/upgrades"?

Hell, if you're doing all that to a RR... why not just have your gunsmith just build a rifle?

C

Highlander1
August 25, 2012, 02:21 PM
And the Larue is still more money after these "options/upgrades"?

Hell, if you're doing all that to a RR... why not just have your gunsmith just build a rifle?

C


With the options, through my gun shop, the RR comes in at $1400.00. The Larue is about $300.00 higher, and that would buy me a scope.

Creeper
August 25, 2012, 02:41 PM
I'm sorry... I guess I'm just a little critical when it comes to ARs. The last complete rifle I bought was a collector grade early Colt SP-1 Carbine.... practically everything else since the late 80s, I've built using parts to suit a purpose and/or budget.

Buying a perfectly good gun like the Rock River Coyote and then changing the BCG, barrel and charging handle doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me... unless you get it so cheap that the added costs are totally offset.

Assuming your 'smith knows his/her stuff, you will either save money or have a far superior gun if you build it from parts... sometimes even both! :p

Cheers,
C

Highlander1
August 25, 2012, 03:13 PM
"Assuming your 'smith knows his/her stuff, you will either save money or have a far superior gun if you build it from parts... sometimes even both!"

Cheers,
C


I appreciate the perspective, but no one here in the local gun shops builds rifles. And I certainly dont have the expertise. It's safe to say I am mechanically challenged at the very least. Granted, I wish I was able to build a gun from parts, because hand picking the ideal parts really appeals to me.

Creeper
August 25, 2012, 03:19 PM
I made the assumption that if your 'smith can change a barrel, he can most certainly "build" a gun... as that is the one part where a bit of knowledge and special tools come into play. The rest of an AR build is simply assembling parts.

A good number of the AR guys here on the forums can assemble a gun from nothing but parts in a few hours, or less... if they're in a hurry. :D

There are several video and written DIY demos/descriptions on this site and others... where someone with a small investment in hand tools can easily assemble an AR to be proud of. Look 'em up and have a read.

Cheers,
C

Highlander1
August 25, 2012, 03:24 PM
The guy at the gun shop was actually ordering the options directly from Rock River. Are there any companies out there who will build an AR15 from parts you personally select? And if so, would that ultimately cost me more than simply buying a complete rifle from one of the respected manufacturers?

Crow Hunter
August 25, 2012, 04:35 PM
Based on your requirements you should be looking for something with a free floated stainless or non-chrome lined barrel, a two stage trigger and chambered for .223 or Wylde with a flat top for optics mounting with no fixed front sight base.

Just about any brand gun will be fine for that, just get the one that you feel most comfortable holding and is the right price for your budget.

If there is something wrong with it, the worst thing that will happen is you have to go home early from the range or you miss a coyote. You can always get it fixed, particularly if you get one with a lifetime warranty.

The comments about certain guns and quality has to do with use for defensive purposes and high volume shooting at training classes. A gun that would be ideal for that will most likely not meet your expectations for accuracy.

Buy the gun that meets your needs.

Make sure you actually pick these guns up and swing them around some before you buy and be sure you are comfortable with the weight of a heavy barrel with the optic you are planning on using. It might be ideal for range shooting but can feel like you are trying to hold and swing a railroad tie when you trying to shoot a moving coyote.

RT
August 25, 2012, 05:36 PM
Another option
http://noveskerifleworks.com/cgi-bin/imcart/display.cgi?cat=106

Or,
if you want to "build" a rifle it can be super easy.....
Go here and choose a complete lower
http://www.rainierarms.com/?page=shop/detail&product_id=2746
(If you want a 2 stage trigger, then call and ask if they can install it or just do it yourself later.) Takes a brass punch and about 2 minutes.
Get the lower sent to your local FFL.
Order the grip and stock of your choice.
Find or design the exact upper of your choice with charging handle and bolt carrier group and have it mailed to your house.
http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/AR15-Upper-Receiver-Groups-s/1.htm
Order iron sights and optics/ mount.
Then push 2 pins in the lower and assemble on the kitchen table.

jason41987
August 25, 2012, 06:58 PM
are you really absolutely dead set on an AR15?.. i could think of other rifles that are all around better rifles

10-96
August 25, 2012, 08:10 PM
Highlander1- I hope you don't take what I'm gonna say wrong, but here goes. You don't have a lot of experience with the AR, neither does your hunting pard. A guy you don't know (and doesn't know you) suggests stacking options, which I suspect kinda boils down to: The more money that changes hands- the bigger the cut for him.

Why don't you just go with a basic 20" A3 model, stick a decent glass on it, and learn as you go as far as what you need/want? It's entirely possible to load a rifle down with enough crap and gadgetry that it becomes a burden to haul around or put into action if you're lucky enough to be able to cruise CRP and ranchland pastures and such.

Later on down the road, when you get a chance to learn the rifle- you can then evaluate what it is that would enhance your hunting and target shooting.

I do agree with a .223 Wylde chamber or 5.56, heavy (not bull bbl), A2 front sight, 1:9 twist, non-chromed, stainless is good, anything other than a standard GI type bolt carrier group is not needed for your application, at the bare minimum a Rock River Arms National Match 2 stage trigger, carry handle (may want to get into NRA type high power competition), 1 piece scope base/mount such as Burris PEPR, scope in the neighborhood of 6-18, 6-24, or so power scope if your'e varmint hunting, and one of those $9 mesh brass catchers so you don't wreck the cab of your truck with spent brass.

But hey, it's your money- and maybe it's better to learn sooner than later that gizmos and gadgets don't neccissarily make you a better hunter/shooter.

madcratebuilder
August 26, 2012, 09:06 AM
This ArmaLite M15A4(T) (http://www.armalite.com/ItemForm.aspx?item=15A4TN&ReturnUrl=Categories.aspx?Category=8e8e5de6-5022-483e-812b-822e58014822) may fulfill your needs. Great specs with a life time warranty and in your budget. NM barrel and two stage trigger. All this rifle needs is mount and optic.

Don't waste your money on a chrome BCG, charging handles are personal preference and meet the needs of how the scope is mounted.

Coach Z
August 26, 2012, 09:12 AM
My first AR was a rock river and I'm super happy with it. I now have about 3 complete and another 4-5 AR's in various states of completion.

I don't think there is that big of a spread in terms of quality any more. Most of the critical parts are made by just a few manufactures and then sold and rebranded to the boutique name brands.

I'd suggest looking at palmetto state armory and the smith and wesson sport line for starters, figure out what you like/want/need and go from there.

hermanpj
August 26, 2012, 10:26 AM
You can build up a very nice custom rifle over time if you'd like, and in the end you'll have a rifle every bit as good as a LaRue for less $. I bought a milled (i.e. from one solid piece of aluminum billet) lower receiver by Black Rain Ordinance. It came with mil spec trigger group, Magpul MOEl grip, Magpul MOE stock, and a Magpul rear sling mount. One can get an upper receiver assembly with direct impingment, milspec bolt carrier group, 16.5 or 20 inch barrel, with or without carry handle for very little. Or you can buy all of those pieces separately and put them together. Option it out to your current budget and make a long term plan for evolving your gun. Then as time goes on you, follow your plan, e.g. get a higher quality upper receiver, add the BCM charging handle, get the best BUIS, optics, quad rail or free float handguard, change from .223 to .223 Wylde barrell, change flash suppressors, drop in a Timney Trigger - incalcuable permutations. The money spent on the original components is not wasted as they become your back up components.

Brownell's offers a free step by step video course online that covers literally every step of assembling an AR from parts. It requires about $50 of tools ( an upper receiver vice block and a AR-15 armorer's tool/barrel wrench are required as are a set of punches). I found this to be really fun to do, and love my Black Rain-Adams Arms AR-15. There are people who will say this is a "Franken gun" however, they would then be calling all hot rods Franken-cars. What you are doing is cusomizing/tailoring the gun to your exact specifications. If you would like more info including a parts list and rough prices, private mail me. My gun has never had a failure and I have lost count of how many rounds I've shot through it.

Legal Angle: Federal law does not preclude the above because it is not "manufacturing a firearm." Federal firearms laws define the firearm as the finished component bearing the manufacturer's name and serial number. Thus the lower receiver literally is the AR-15 firearm. When you get the lower receiver you go through a background check just like any firearm. The law plainly states that an ordinary person assembling parts onto such a legal firearm (lower receiver) for their own gun is engaged in a lawful activity so long as they make no supressors, destructive devices, short barreled rifles, or otherwise do things to violate federal firearms laws. Some gunshop owners will tell you the govnernment will prosecute a consumer who assembles an AR-15 in this manner and then at some later time decides to sell it - under the offense of manufacturing a firearm. However, if you read federal law, it is very clear. The consumer has not manufactured anything. The lower receiver on an AR-15 bears the serial number, therefore it IS the firearm, and it was manufactured by the legally licensed manufacturer, not the consumer who adds parts to it. Therefore, selling an AR-15 you built for yourself in the manner described above is just as legal as selling one on which you mounted a sling. I am not an attorney, but I have read the law thoroughly and consulted a police officer, so this is an informed position, not a professional opinion. Consult an attorney if you are concerned and be aware of any special laws in your state and/or municipality to the extent they may modify or supercede federal law.

TMD
August 26, 2012, 10:36 AM
I have three Stags and all shoot 1" or better. One of them has several thousand rounds through it and is still trouble free and just as accurate. All cost under $1000 as well.

semi_problomatic
August 26, 2012, 12:08 PM
For your intended purposes rock river should do just fine.

Rifles are tools. Sure, professionals may use brand x because its what they need for their extreme conditions; but if you're just using it occasionally you can get by with a ryobi... Know what I mean?

So if you're not fighting over-seas (or locally), you don't compete, and you don't plan on doing a lot of mag-dumps in a jungle you really don't need chrome lined, super slick, chrome-methyl-cryogenically purified, holy light saber flux capicitor parts. There's nothing wrong with getting these parts, but you're on a budget. The important things you need are barrel, bolt, trigger and optics. Everything else is icing.

What kind of bullets will you be shooting? Those light varmint bullets can't handle the same twist those ultra heavy's need to stabalize. So choose your rifling accordingly.

As far as barrel length, if you're not humpin the gun on long trecks weight isn't an issue. Since I didn't read anything about being LEO or home defense so I'm assuming you're not clearing rooms and pieing off corners; I'd go with the longest barrel I could get. I've read there's only a 200fps difference between 20" and 16" barrels, but thats still 200 fps.

Last I was looking, the rock rivers give you a 1 moa gaurontee. Not too shabby for a $1k AR

Mike40-11
September 1, 2012, 06:46 AM
DPMS, Rock River, Armalite, Stag, Smith... All will do what you want and all will have similar durability and reliability.

In all honestly, when you get down to differences like 5.56 vs. Wylde chamber, chrome vs unlined barrel, etc most shooters will never notice the difference.

I shoot service rifle competition. I'm in no danger of winning, but I do okay. I normally use a sub-MOA capable RRA National Match AR and shoot around 265-275 out of 300. And lose most of my points in offhand anyway. Couple weeks ago I grabbed the wrong case and wound up shooting my plinking M4 in a match. This is a mixmaster built from various parts I accumulated over a couple years. Started with a CMMG lower and the rest is "assorted". Don't even remember what all the parts are to be honest, just picked up odds and ends when I saw them at a good price. Never mind the offhand score:o, but shot 97-96 in prone. Bout 3" groups at 200 yards with iron sights. And surplus ammo. And a medium-crappy collapsible stock.

Anyway, my point (eventually) is: Don't overthink it. Any modern AR from a reputable manufacturer will serve you well. So buy the one that has the features you want at the price you like.

Mobuck
September 1, 2012, 07:03 AM
I have to say I'm disappointed in my 18" barrelled, Wylde chambered, melonite coated, "_____ _____" made upper. I won't mention actual names because it might not be a univeral problem. I'm not a noob to the AR and have enough experience to see a trend in the performance. Numerous othe rrifles have shown good to excellent results with various ammo but the one I picked because it had all the features recommended for top performance ends up being picky and troublesome.
My suggestion is pick a 20" Hbar upper from one of the middle of the road makers, put a 3-9 or 4-12 scope on it, get some decent 20 round mags(you don't need 30 for a hunting gun and those don't work well from the bench), equip it with a stud for a bipod, add a sling, and use it until you decide whether you really like it or not. I carry a 16" Hbar carbine virtually every day from Dec 1 to March 15. I like a 20" but it gets to be a hassle one the ATV and doing chores. I lose about 50 yards of range with the 16" vs 20".

essohbe
September 1, 2012, 11:39 AM
BCM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wyosmith
September 1, 2012, 12:15 PM
I have made a lot of them over the years. It's my opinion that your best option is to build your own, and get every option you want and skip all those you don't want. Your price range is realistic if you build.

If you can't buy the action blocks, and the barrel/combo tool (I would not if you only intend to make 1-2 rifles) and you don't have a good solid bench and vice, you can still do 95% of the build yourself.

You simply buy all the parts you want and hire a gunsmith to install the barrel. Most smiths only charge about $20-$25 to do that.

Everything else you can do yourself with non-special tools and you'll get the rifle you really want.
If that is interesting to you, PM me and I'll talk you through how it's done.

223 shooter
September 1, 2012, 01:36 PM
The Rock River seems like an optimum choice, since with the 20 inch heavy barrel, and 3/4 MOA gaurantee, it would seem to be the ticket for shooting coyotes which is very important to us. I've been advised by the gunsmith to add a few options/upgrades to it including chrome bolt carrier and trigger, a stainless steel croygenized barrel

If you are leaning towards Rock River look at the Predator Pursuit Rifle that already comes with a stainless cryo barrel and still with the Wylde chamber. The barrel is suppose to be the same as used on their National Match ARs.

I picked up a Rock River A4 Varmint 18" a few weeks ago. Found an dealer on gunbroker and got it for $935 plus $30 shipping and $15 transfer for $980 total.

As to the trigger , mine registers at 3.25lbs which I can live with for now.

I have some rounds loaded up and hope to shoot it very soon.

marine6680
September 2, 2012, 09:49 AM
As was said... You are not crawling through a jungle or desert doing recon missions... you don't need to spend the extra for the premium parts/rifles from Noveske and the like.

RRA makes a good rifle, I would say its close to the more respected brands as far as build quality and reliability. I owned one, and never had a single problem with it. Sure I never ran a carbine course, but I suspect it would have done fine.

You need an accurate rifle geared toward hunting... Noveske, BCM, they are not set up for that. Sure, they are pretty accurate for a service rifle, but not as much as dedicated hunting ARs.

Chromed bolt... not needed really, but its a $60 upgrade up to you. All the standard bolts should be chrome lined inside if they meet milspecs. Its the inside of the bolt that matters most.

The charging handle... not really needed... not even in a tactical rifle... sure, its a little bigger so its easier to find under stress, but thats about it. No real benefits to a hunting gun unless you just want it.

Barrel... chrome-moly (standard non-chrome lined steel) and Stainless steel barrels will give you the best accuracy.

Stainless is not always a guarantee of acuracy... its all in how much attention to details are done when making the barrel. A chrome-moly can be just as accurate. The difference comes from how the barrels handle being heated up during firing. As the barrel warms, the accuracy/point of aim can change. Some materials handle this better than others.

Chrome lined barrels last the longest before showing a noticeable drop in accuracy. Stainless is next, followed by standard chrome-moly steel. The barrels still remain serviceable well after you notice the accuracy drop though, its just that it may shoot 2 MOA rather than the 1 MOA when new. Chrome lined is really for corrosion resistance against harsh environments, corrosive ammo, and poor maintenance that a service rifle may see.

Some companies offer nitrided barrels... it makes the barrel last longer and more corrosion resistant, just like or better than chrome lined, but the barrel still remains as accurate as a regular barrel because the process does not deposit a layer of material in the bore. It is a chemical conversion process, so no dimensional changes occur. If you can find a company offering these type barrels, they are a good option, just not as common.

You will not have any problem unless you plan on shooting 7000-10000 rounds down the barrel, as that is around the time you will notice the lower accuracy... so long as you are capable of shooting that well. A competition shooter might notice accuracy drop sooner or you may not notice it until 15000 rounds.

Cyro treated... up to you... Armalite claims that it offers no verifiable benefits under careful lab testing... Up to you to decide if you trust their claim. Armalite is well respected overall so that may count for something.

Hunting... 18-20 inch barrels are probably best... fixed stock as well, but not needed. A rifle length or mid length gas system is better as well, but I don't think any hunting rifles would come with the carbine short gas system.

The RRA come with their match trigger, its a nice trigger, so no upgrade is needed, unless you just want to, or feel you need a better trigger.

RRA offers several rifles that should fit your need. The predator pursuit, the ATH, and the rifle you linked above.

Armalite has several rifles that fit your needs.

Heck, you would probably do well with a DPMS rifle geared toward hunting. You will not be subjecting these rifles to high stress, so this cheaper brand may serve you fine... Sort of like how a Ruger bolt action may serve you just as well as a more expensive Remington.

But either way... you will be able to find a good hunting AR for around $1000 or less easy. $1200 will get you a real nice rifle if you want to spend that much. No need to go BCM, Noveske, or the like unless you just want to, and I am not sure if they offer hunting focused rifles, or barrels designed with max accuracy in mind, as I have not looked because I am not in the market for such.

Highlander1
September 2, 2012, 11:41 AM
Thanks very much for that reply, Marine6680, it was extremely helpful and provided me with solid information on most of my key questions or concerns.

Your endorsement of the Rock River also helps, as the other options are 6 months or more backordered, but my local gunshop owner has a special relationship with Rock River, and can get us what we want in a couple weeks.

jimbob86
September 2, 2012, 12:10 PM
Neither of us have any expertise whatsoever, so I don't think that building and assembling our own guns is a realistic option.

I am not terribly mechanically inclined, but managed to put a Palmetto State Armory kit (with a barreled upper reciever) together for less than 700 bucks with just the hand tools lying around my house..... there's a hojillion youtube vids out there, and I picked one and followe along....

The avantage of building it yourself is that you get exactly what you want, nothing you don't.......

Take your 4-7 hundred bucks left over in your budget and buy some decent glass, or some ammo, maybe a handloading set-up.....

marine6680
September 2, 2012, 05:57 PM
Glad to help. :D

HKFan9
September 2, 2012, 09:13 PM
Just about any brand gun will be fine for that, just get the one that you feel most comfortable holding and is the right price for your budget.

If there is something wrong with it, the worst thing that will happen is you have to go home early from the range or you miss a coyote. You can always get it fixed, particularly if you get one with a lifetime warranty.

The comments about certain guns and quality has to do with use for defensive purposes and high volume shooting at training classes. A gun that would be ideal for that will most likely not meet your expectations for accuracy.

Buy the gun that meets your needs.


^ Winner

Marquezj16
September 3, 2012, 10:18 AM
There are AR15s designed for hunting. Here's a couple of examples.

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_765956_-1_757785_757784_757784_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y

Also, Ambush Firearms (Daniel Defense) came out with one also.

https://ambushfirearms.com/shop/rifles/ambush-5-56mm-mossy-oakr-break-upr-infinitytm.html

Don't let the sticker shock you, that's MSRP. They should sell a little less.