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Old February 25, 2013, 10:14 PM   #1
dakota.potts
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First rifle/AR 15 decision

So my research keeps bringing me back to this forum for things I'm googling and I finally decided to join as a goer of other forums regularly.

This is my second post so a brief background: I'm 17 years old now and while I have liked guns and wanted to shoot for a long time my family only got into it a couple of months ago when we took the NRA first steps class and my parents bought handguns to get a CCW with. My mom got a .380 and my dad, having an expert qualification in the navy with a .45, was comfortable getting a compact .40. I have shot both (the .40 is a lot of fun ) but in rifles have only shot a .22

Anyways, I don't hunt. I am interested in long range rifle marksmanship and perhaps NRA 3 gun competitions if I get to that kind of level. For a long, long time I was considering going with a Mosin Nagant rifle because of the cheap ammo. I decided against it as a first weapon because of the kick and weight (I only weigh about 118 myself) and it seems it's a challenging first weapon and the accuracy is disputed from gun to gun. I will be taking a marksmanship class with an instructor at my range where I will be using his rifles at .223 and .308 learning the tenants of marksmanship, spotting a partner, and having the opportunity to go out to 850 yards (whether I can do it is another story). During our talk he recommended an AR-15 and said this recommendation was because they are capable of achieving a sub-MOA grouping. I've been looking and with the recent scare and with ARs always being expensive, they're quite pricey.

Anyways, I'm looking for something that I can say "hey Mom and Dad, when I turn 18 in August, do you want to help me go in on this rifle?". Right now, I don't need .4 MOA at 800 yards. I'm looking for something that I can get comfortable with, is cheap enough to buy into, and can be modified at a later date. I'm looking right now at a DPMS Oracle or Sportical for the money. If I end up with more income than I'm thinking right now, I would have no problem buying up, upgrading, or getting the DPMS and spending some money on some nice sights.

Right now I want something that I can learn with optics and iron sights. If it can shoot some crazy accuracy at 1000 yards, all the better. As of now, though, I'd have no problem upgrading barrel and trigger or even swapping up to something like a .308 or 6.5 grendel (can the lower receiver handle this?) at a later date but for now the rifle will most likely outshoot me for a long time.

.223 ammo preferred
Good accuracy (obviously) but not necessarily amazing necessary
Ideally I could set it up one day with a cheekrest, high power scope and bipod, and then the next day use it with a foregrip and iron sights with a sliding stock or similar arrangement.
$800 might be reasonable. $700 is better for now with room to grow.
If choosing between a platform that can be used as home defense/car gun and one that can't in the exact same specs, I will prefer the one that can.
Reliability is always a plus but right now I don't need to be able to smear mud and honey on the receiver and still have it fire.

I did search for this but nobody seemed to be asking for a situation like mine so I figured I'd re-ask. Sorry if this is an often asked first post but I figured you guys could help me.

I will at some point also look into bolt action rifles for long range and shotguns/handguns for home/personal defense but for now I'm asking about accurate semi-automatics with easy to handle/fairly easy to find cartridges in a modular platform. AR15 seems to fit the bill but I'm open to suggestions.

EDIT: thought I should add that I am right handed but have a fairly strong left eye dominance (I think this is because I have astigmatism in both eyes and the right eye is bad) so I will be shooting rifles and shotguns left handed.
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Old February 25, 2013, 10:28 PM   #2
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Dakota, welcome to TFL!

Sounds like you got off to a good start with the NRA class and .22.

Right now is a tough time to get into ARs at the price point you are looking for. 3 months ago would have been a different story.

The Oracle or Sportical would be good entry level rifles, but as you mentioned would require some modification before you could dependably go into 3 gun or long range. Some other manufacturers you could look into while keeping the price point lower would be Olympic, Bushmaster, Windham Weaponry, Palmetto State Armory, Rock River Arms, Del Ton, Stag in no particular order, and I am missing a couple. For your price point, upper tier like LWRC, Noveske, JP, etc would be above that.

I would suggest saving up some more and waiting patiently for the chaos to subside. In the meantime, you could save more to get a rifle more in line with what you want instead of an entry level piece.
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Old February 25, 2013, 10:35 PM   #3
dakota.potts
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Thanks for the welcome Globemaster!

I know I should probably wait but I haven't been so tempted to buy gear since I got into playing the bass guitar!

Do you have any personal recommendations of those brands so I can take a look? I would love to get into something like a Les Baer but at that price range I better be making some money first. Also, as a beginner, I'm not sure how to judge what is appropriate for me without buying and firing it so tips on that would be great.
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Old February 26, 2013, 08:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
crazy accuracy at 1000 yards,
If that's what you are looking for, you will be looking at AR's in the $2,000+ range.

Personally, I think you could find a decent AR for about $1,300 - $1,500 used. If you want to build it yourself, you could put together a really nice one for about $1,600 or so. Here's about what prices are running for decent parts:

Upper/Lower receiver set: $500 - $700
Barrels: 16" barrels - $200 - $300; 20" Barrels - hard to find, but I'd say around $350
Standard Lower receiver parts kit: $70
Upper receiver parts: $50
Bolt Carrier Group - $300 give or take
Free-floating rail system: Starting at $70......to about $300
Gas block and tube: $70
Muzzle brake or flash hider: $30 on up
Stock Assembly (stock, tube, parts, buffer, spring: $150 on up
Tools: $50
_____________________________________
That's roughly $1,500 - you will still need sights or scope. You can build a very nice AR for about that price.

My thought (and I'm no expert) on 5.56 AR builds is determine the following first:
1. What size/quality barrel do you want/need
2. What receiver set do you want to use (and explain to yourself "why").
3. What bolt carrier group do you want.
4. If you are building your own, I see no reason not to use a free-float rail system (I'm sure some will disagree)
5. I'd build it using mil spec lower receiver parts, stock/buffer tube.

Last edited by Skans; February 26, 2013 at 08:52 AM.
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Old February 26, 2013, 04:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Duzzel: ...any rifle that shoots 3006 or 308 or 7.62 is a legit and powerful rifle and will leave a bruise when firing
Not to be harsh, but what planet are YOU from? OP says he wants a platform to learn from, and that 800-1000 would be nice but not necessary; also admits that at his current skill level, that'll take some time (reading between the lines), and is going for instructional classes.

If he goes with a .308 upper on an AR, recoil is one of his last concerns. If he goes with a moderate weight bolt gun, again, recoil is very manageable. Either platform can be built for superb accuracy given the budget.

Your tone. It's all wrong.

Welcome to the forum dakota.
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Old February 26, 2013, 05:00 PM   #6
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This post has M&P15 Sport written all over it.

That's what I would recommend.
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Old February 26, 2013, 05:38 PM   #7
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I'd have to agree with the M&P15 Sport. Probably the best accuracy for the money. Of course 6 weeks or so ago that money would have been $750 or so. Not real sure what you could find one now for, if you can at all. Good luck with it anyway, sounds like your are going about it in the right way.
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Old February 26, 2013, 06:55 PM   #8
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duzell, I don't even play Call of Duty. That snippet you posted? Look at the text around it. "If it can shoot crazy accuracy at 1000 yards, all the better". Not, give me something that I can shoot the legs off a fly with from across state lines. I acknowledge that for a long time the rifle will outshoot me for a very long time. I even say in the TL;DR section good accuracy is required but nothing insane like under 1 MOA. Was my post too long for you to read thoroughly? I tend to be very verbose.

Yes, I am paying very good money ($450) for a 2 day marksmanship course and it will be the first of many. Among those I have plans already to attend the Project Appelseed when it comes to my area in June. I've been out to the range 3 out of the 5 past weekends and probably put enough ammo down range to pay for the Mosin Nagant, which I've already stated I've decided against and that I want a semi-auto 5.56. Bolt actions will be looked at separately, I promise

To everybody else, I have also been looking at the M&P 15-Sport and that seems like a good answer. My local gun range has an M&P 15-22 that's fairly nice for $500. I held it but fired the Sig 552 instead. I'll probably be forced to save up for something nice anyways as there's nothing in my area right now. I went to Gander Mountain the day before I posted this and there was not a single rifle left that was even semi-automatic, as far as I could tell.

EDIT: As far as building, I am not a handy person and I would rather spend the cost of the excise tax to buy a completely built platform. I would be OK with something that can hit 2 inches at 200 yards (the longest my range allows) and paying a quality qunsmith to upgrade it IF the original platform is affordable enough. If not I wouldn't be averse to waiting a little longer to buy what may be considered middle-upper tier.

Last edited by dakota.potts; February 26, 2013 at 07:03 PM.
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Old February 26, 2013, 07:02 PM   #9
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Dakota, I found out a long time ago that there are certain people who are just better to ignore. Anyone who claims "playing cod games" as some sort of experience in shooting is at the top of that list.
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Old February 26, 2013, 07:15 PM   #10
dakota.potts
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You are right, sorry.

The S&W suggestion was a great one and I'm open to more. Especially if you were in my shoes at one time.

After looking at the Sport again, I'm tempted to go with the T version because of the folding sights and the rail for mounting a foregrip/bipod. Would it be cheaper/easier to try to add these features aftermarket or pay the extra $180 (assuming equal availability)?

Last edited by dakota.potts; February 26, 2013 at 07:23 PM.
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Old February 26, 2013, 07:23 PM   #11
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If your looking at the AR type I would go with a windham weaponry. I dont know if it will get you a 1000 yards but at 300 its pretty good. I would also go with the .223/NATO .556 giving you 2 types of ammo to pick from... I also love it because the kick (recoil) is comparable to my .22
Before this whole thing with guns and ammo you could have got a decent one for around $850 range maybe even cheaper in some states. But now you might have a problem just finding one never mind what the cost will be... And ammo went from .30-.50 a round to .75 -1.25 a round. And try to find some in stock somewhere... If you do dont tell anyone until you stock up...LOL

Good luck
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Old February 26, 2013, 07:27 PM   #12
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While I love my AR for the price of one especially now you can get a darn good bolt action and scope in the same .223 chambering. You can learn to control the trigger, your breathing and given the opportunity you can shoot a pretty far distance with it. You don't have that sometimes automatic reaction of "shoot again" that a semi-auto has, and bolt actions even used ones are pretty easy to get right now compared to an AR. there is certainly nothing wrong with an AR choice but to me you are better served in the beginning with a simple bolt action rifle, then you can move on from there into a life long enjoyment of rifle shooting with whatever platform you like the most or better yet more than one.
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Old February 26, 2013, 08:26 PM   #13
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Dakota, welcome!

Lot of good info posted already. Seeing people call others a moron on this forum is very rare. You asked legit questions for a beginner. Why do people who have more knowledge want to bash newbies? I don't get it. Anyway, welcome and please ask any questions you have. Isn't that the purpose of TFL? To learn and pass on knowledge?
Anyone who thinks playing some damn video game makes them a gun guru has a lot to learn.
I own and enjoy both the AR and Mosin. Duzell, he asked about an AR platform. Why insult the guy? Duzell, you say you are 22, and then knock the OP who is 17. You are both kids to me. I enjoy helping people of all ages learn about the shooting sports. And I have no problem learning from a person of any age if they are more knowledgeable than I am.
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Old February 26, 2013, 09:03 PM   #14
dakota.potts
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Thanks for all the welcomes, guys.

Throughout my life, for some reason, most of the people I've heard talk about guns or having guns (including my friends growing up) were jerks. So for a while I assumed that all gun owners were gruff and tough. Since we've started shooting, though, every time I have been around shooters (at the gun range, a show, or a gun shop) they have proven me wrong as one of the friendliest crowds I have been with (excluding a special minority).

As far as bolt actions go: I definitely want a bolt action. I know that I can get to a gun show and get a bolt action Savage for under $300 and it will be nice. I don't know what I can do as far as ARs go since there are so many and they're so similar to the uninitiated. I'm not going to lie, if I had money in hand before I made an AR purchase and a nice rifle came up at the right price, I'd probably buy that first. When I take my marskmanship class I will be using the instructor's bolt action .223 and .308 rifles. Just like having a nice bass, though, if I can save the money and it's fun I figure there's nothing wrong with having a nice rifle that's better at the sport than I am.

Also, I won't hide that I see something like the Clinton ban happening at some point (typically a middle ground between the extreme and those who don't want anything passed) so there's a little bit of me wanting to see if I can get in and buy something that's not handicapped in case there are any new laws to comply with.
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Old February 26, 2013, 09:17 PM   #15
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Welcome to The Firing Line, dakota.potts! We have some very knowledgeable folks around here who, I'm sure, will be happy to help you out, & some who already are. I can't answer your questions about the appropriate rifle, but a beginner's class is an excellent way to start. I hope you come to enjoy shooting as much as the rest of us.

I've cleaned out one post for bashing of the new shooter, and, from the looks of the thread, I think we're done with that. Aren't we?
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Old February 26, 2013, 10:17 PM   #16
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I'm generally a noob myself, but I'm gonna throw this out there anyway. I was very pleased to find a barely been fired Mossberg MMR Hunter. I hadn't owned an AR in 15+ years, and wanted a carbine'ish rifle. Last one was a 20" A2 style rifle, open sights; knew I didn't want a repeat of that but did want the AR platform. But then this one came up for sale by a friend of a friend on Facebook. I attempted a quick review of it here: http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=511377 This thing will shoot! So, I inadvertently am now enjoying a rifle I wasn't really in the market for. Don't overlook the used market (probably not in any better shape than the new/commercial marketplace... just.. don't overlook it).

I'm reloading for it now, so I'm looking forward to see if I can squeeze some sub-moa performance out of it. I'd also just like to repeat what AR aficionados know: it's a big boy's Lego set. If/when all the hash settles down, I'm going to be shopping for a 16" flat-top upper and some good battle sights and an adjustable stock (thinking magpul's PRS at the moment). Anyways...
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Old February 26, 2013, 10:58 PM   #17
dakota.potts
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That does look nice! Does it accept larger magazines, bipod, and iron sights?
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Old February 26, 2013, 11:11 PM   #18
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First rifle/AR 15 decision

Well of course it does. That plays into the whole Lego set analogy. It's a regular ol' AR-15 lower, bolt carrier group, etc. just a different trim package. It can eventually be whatever I want it to be. Could buy a .300 AAC Blackout upper, 7.62x39, whatever. They all work on the same lower. No real reason I couldn't hot swap between calibers. Now there may be some little details here and there, but generally speaking, that about sums it up.
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Old February 26, 2013, 11:23 PM   #19
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Quote:
As far as bolt actions go: I definitely want a bolt action. I know that I can get to a gun show and get a bolt action Savage for under $300 and it will be nice. I don't know what I can do as far as ARs go since there are so many and they're so similar to the uninitiated. I'm not going to lie, if I had money in hand before I made an AR purchase and a nice rifle came up at the right price, I'd probably buy that first. When I take my marskmanship class I will be using the instructor's bolt action .223 and .308 rifles. Just like having a nice bass, though, if I can save the money and it's fun I figure there's nothing wrong with having a nice rifle that's better at the sport than I am.
Bolt actions fire a little differently, so I would highly recommend getting your hands on an AR to practice/rent before ever buying one.
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Old February 27, 2013, 04:33 AM   #20
dakota.potts
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Rent/borrow an AR15? I'd hate to do that. What a waste of an afternoon. /sarcasm

I've got a neighbor who did some work as a sniper for a while and he's real big into AR's. We're on friendly terms (some of the only neighbors on the street that we like, let alone talk to) and he's a good guy. Is it an orthodox/kosher thing to address him on the possibility of letting me go to the range with him (we go to the same range) and asking to put some rounds through his AR? Obviously I'd offer to pay for ammo.
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Old February 27, 2013, 07:18 AM   #21
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It's perfectly fine to ask a man if you can put a few rounds through his rifle. Offer to buy the ammo, and ask what kind you need. He's probably not going to require that you buy top-end match-grade ammo, but he may have some fairly strong feelings about whether you use brass-cased or steel, or lacquer-coated cases.
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Old February 27, 2013, 01:19 PM   #22
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+1 to Spats and Big Bird. If I were at the range and you walked up with a box of factory ammo, explained you were looking to get into ARs and wanted to try a couple to develop your druthers, I'd be more than happy to let you shoot.

Since you are new to the game, let me give you some advice on etiquette. Wait until the cease fire or the person is up taking a break to approach and ask. Having someone hover during a shooting period might annoy some folks. If your range is big enough to have a clubhouse and/or range safety officer, ask around. They will know who the locals are that would be approachable for that kind of request, and perhaps save you from finding the 1 guy who's a grouch.
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Old February 27, 2013, 01:38 PM   #23
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Hey, Dakota, here is some great info for AR15 beginners.
It's well written and has great photos. It's in a LEO forum.
http://forums.officer.com/t81462/
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Old February 27, 2013, 02:26 PM   #24
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Considering AR prices right now, I'd definitely forego getting one. I have a Sport and while it is a good rifle, I paid $630 for it two years ago. It's not a target gun by any means.

Rather, I suggest you look at a bolt action 223. Low recoil, accurate and reasonable cost. It'll do everything a $1800 AR will do, just slower.

Or...you can get a Service Grade M1 Garand from the CMP for about $650. I can't remember if you have to be 18 or 21 though. They're not exactly MOA guns but they are a sheer joy to fire and teach you proper shooting techniques with it's peep sights. They come with new Criterion barrels and stocks.
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Old February 27, 2013, 02:27 PM   #25
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"EDIT: thought I should add that I am right handed but have a fairly strong left eye dominance (I think this is because I have astigmatism in both eyes and the right eye is bad) so I will be shooting rifles and shotguns left handed."

This is off topic but if you ever get the chance and the money built up look into getting the Lasik procedure done on your eyes. It will take care of your astigmatisms and you will possibly not have to wear glasses for the rest of your life. I was born back in 1953 very close to being considered legally blind, spent most of my life wearing extremely thick glasses, and at 59 Y.O. and having Lasik done to my eyes see at 20/20. It is the best money I have ever spent on my shooting and re-loading hobby.
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