Several good AR-15 manufacturers/brands were mentioned in post #2. I would give them serious consideration were I you. IMO, you can't go wrong with any of them. I'm thinking there was probably a reason why Bushmaster wasn't listed.
Yes, there was; Most of their guns have m4 profile barrels. The M4 profile barrel really has no place in the civilian market. Especially in california
They have some that have light profile barrels, which i believe have their place,
but their place isn't in a "do it all" rifle like most first time AR-15 buyers are looking for; I'm not criticizing them for this though. They have some with heavy profile barrels, but I have no experience with those, so I can't speak on behalf of them.
I also had a bad experience with a Bushmaster that shot 3.5 MOA with some 69, 65, and 60 grain handloads that shot very well in other 1 in 9 twist barrels of the same length. 4.75 MOA with some Military surplus stuff, and don't get me started with wolf
. I called them, and they wouldn't fix it
I didn't include the Colt "all powerful" 6920 either because they have the dreaded m4 profile barrel, and colt only requires a 5 MOA 10 shot group from the factory, which for 1k I'd expect more. On average the colts I have shot are around 2.5 MOA, which is within what you need for combat, but isn't exactly what you need for when you decide to shoot steel at 500 yards. You pay for the 7075 T6 parts on it, when with a "range gun" that you occasionally take to a tactical carbine course or something akin to that, you won't need the benefits of 7075 T6 parts.
Now that I have P***ed in the Colt fanboys' cereal, let the games begin