The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Art of the Rifle: Semi-automatics

Thread Tools
Old August 18, 2013, 01:00 AM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: February 25, 2013
Location: Greenwood, South Carolina
Posts: 1,780
Difference between bottom-of-the line and quality AR 15's

I've been really wanting an AR 15 for a while but the money for one that I want, like an S&W MP15-T or a RRA is a little much. It's just hard to come across $1,000 spending money and setting the price as low as $600 would make a big difference.

So I'm wondering what the difference is between a completely bottom of the line DPMS Oracle or similar and something that's a little more decent. Is there a reliability difference or accuracy difference or anything like that?

All that's really important to me:
Reliable feeding even of cheap ammo
Capable of accuracy at least 2 MOA at 100 yards with a 5 shot group
Quad rail fore end (could mount one later)
Won't have any issues overheating if I have to shoot decent length strings or such
Feels somewhat put together and doesn't rattle or shake
Flat top with fore end rail for accepting an optic and BUIS

Other things that nicer models have options for are things like ambidextrous safety/mag release (I'm left eye dominant and shoot left handed) which I imagine could be added later but seems complicated.

What do you guys think?
dakota.potts is offline  
Old August 18, 2013, 04:59 AM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: March 23, 2010
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 272
In my opinion, the AR platform is pretty accurate probly not by design but with some accidental luck. I have owned two box stock ARs, a Colt and a Sabre, but built 4 others and they have all been more accurate than your spec of 2 MOA. If you truly want to save a bunch of money, why not build it yourself. There are blem sales out there which sell complete lowers and uppers for cheap.

For plinking and casual target use, I would not hesitate to build up a Palmetto State blem, as an example. Looking at less than 600 for everything if you wait for the right sale. Bottom line is if you are really going to give it some wear, who cares about a blemish that's hard to spot anyways.

For some serious targeting with your buds who bet all the oil wells in Texas, you gonna need a lots better barrel freefloated AND a great trigger like the Geisley I just got. Wow, what a sweet snap of a release. Just those two added at least 300 to your build but it'll shoot with the best.

If you want a name brand, you just gonna pay. GULP
SmokyBaer is offline  
Old August 18, 2013, 07:25 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: September 10, 2007
Location: Racoon City
Posts: 933
Smokey is right. If you are patient and disciplined, you can build a top quality AR by shopping sales at Palmetto State Armory for as much as you would pay for a low end AR.

I would counsel you to know your vendors and stay away from those with a spotty reputation if you decide to roll your own.

Don't get caught up in name brands; many of those outfits are milking their marketing hype.
Questions about 7.62 NATO and 308 Winchester? Click here.
FALPhil is offline  
Old August 18, 2013, 07:54 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: March 23, 2010
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 272
Here's a great starter from right here on this site's classifieds...
SmokyBaer is offline  
Old August 18, 2013, 08:06 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: November 24, 2010
Location: Spring, TX
Posts: 1,398
Difference between bottom-of-the line and quality AR 15's

That is a decent deal. A lower is a lower is a lower. So long as the holes are in the right places and the right sizes lowers are rather universal. What will make your AR shine or just blend in is the upper assembly. A good barrel and the BCG assembly being properly staked as well as gas tube installation is all critical.
ripnbst is offline  
Old August 18, 2013, 08:45 AM   #6
Join Date: August 14, 2013
Posts: 20
I find the main difference between top end and budget pre-assembled AR's to be minimal. The cheap ones are still pretty accurate, and the expensive ones will still malfunction if you don't keep them clean. I've never built one, so I can't real say in that department, but I've been told that's the way to go.
rifleguy is offline  
Old August 18, 2013, 04:55 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: June 15, 2008
Location: Georgia
Posts: 6,931
For most casual shooters to use at the range, hunting, or even for personal defense the budget guns are probably going to work just as well as the $1500+ guns.

But if you are a serious competition shooter who shoots thousands of rounds a year the better guns will hold up longer. Same for someone in the military who may need to use the gun under the harshest condtions and expect it to last for years I'd have more confidence in the better guns.

For me, the AR's in the $700-$800 price range meet my needs. If the day ever comes that I truly need a better gun there will be plenty laying around for me to pick up. To borrow a line from the movie "We were Soldiers"
jmr40 is offline  
Old August 18, 2013, 05:21 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: May 29, 2007
Location: St. Louis, MO area
Posts: 3,972
There's other things you can't necessarily see.

Better metal quality in the bolt and barrel = enhanced reliability in more abusive scenarios.

Not every added accessory is created equal; there's a bunch of difference between an el cheapo drop in two piece round profile railed forend and a Daniel Defense Lite Rail or LaRue rail.

There's some things that are pointless places to spend money. A $300 billet lower receiver isn't going to perform any better than an $80 forged one (assuming the forged one is to spec). However, that $160 bolt carrier group with the Carpenter 158 bolt that's been HP/MPI inspected and had the gas key screws properly staked in is easily worth the extra over that $120 one that's none of those things.

You don't need to spend $1500 to get a good AR. You may not even need to spend $1000. But the super low cost ones likely did cut some corners somewhere. Not every corner matters (a commercial receiver extension isn't that big a deal vs. a mil-spec one), but some do.
Technosavant is offline  
Old August 18, 2013, 06:57 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: April 5, 2009
Posts: 477
Here is a link to an old but still relevant post by someone I consider knowledgeable in the AR business. If this fails, Google "so you want to buy and AR" and read the post by jwise.

Who else but a cop with lots of experience in ARs. If you take the advice as general instead of specific, then the names don't matter. In the end, he says basically ANY AR will do what you ask. Some may give you better piece of mind. I own a Colt LE6920 and my son a Colt LE6940. Both have been without fail - zero issues. Zero.
grumpa72 is offline  
Old August 18, 2013, 07:33 PM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: June 18, 2009
Location: NorthWest USA
Posts: 1,761
I agree with those who suggested PSA. For the price of a DPMS you get a much better rifle with better materials. PSA is the worst nightmare of DPMS, Bushmaster, Windham and their ilk.

I have PSA, BCM and Daniel Defense. You don't give up much with PSA. In fact, if you use a BCM BCG in the PSA I'm not sure if you give up anything!
Quentin2 is offline  
Old August 18, 2013, 11:09 PM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: November 23, 2010
Posts: 3,159
If you are patient and disciplined, you can build a top quality AR by shopping sales at Palmetto State Armory for as much as you would pay for a low end AR.
Fishbed77 is offline  
Old August 19, 2013, 06:45 AM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: February 2, 2010
Posts: 3,162
"Won't have any issues overheating if I have to shoot decent length strings or such"

Not much need to spend a pile of cash on a high dollar rifle if you're going to use it for a "bullet hose" as one of my customers described the AR he was buying. ANY rifle will get hot during rapid fire. Some will allow you to do this more than others but ALL will suffer to some extent.
I have several AR carbines that cost me less than $500(bought/assembled well before the current mania) but provide adequate accuracy(under 1" with suitable ammo) and 100% functionality.
Mobuck is online now  
Old August 19, 2013, 01:29 PM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: February 25, 2013
Location: Greenwood, South Carolina
Posts: 1,780
Definitely not used as a bullet hose. I just don't want to have to set it down and cool it off (or worry about the barrel warping) if I decide to do a couple strings that might equal a magazine or two. I doubt I could afford much more ammo than that anyways
dakota.potts is offline  
Old August 19, 2013, 03:49 PM   #14
Senior Member
Join Date: January 16, 2002
Location: alaska
Posts: 3,229
Look at the AR15 as an investment. Yes it will take a decent chunk of change to buy into, but once you have it, then you will be saving up for accessories, extra magazines, ammo, optic, quad rail, and maybe you decide you like the idea of having the iron sights offset by 45 degrees so you dont have to worry about cowitnessing the sights.
You will find you have easily spent over $2000 on what you hoped would just be a $600 purchase.
"Every man alone is sincere; at the entrance of a second person hypocrisy begins." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use." - Soren Kierkegaard
spacemanspiff is offline  
Old August 19, 2013, 10:08 PM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: March 7, 2012
Location: Eastern PA
Posts: 160
Difference between bottom-of-the line and quality AR 15's

I just finished my first AR build that totaled around $950. I picked up a Stag complete lower locally for $315 out the door(wish I woulda bought a PSA stripped lower and classic LBK so I didn't have to pay sales tax, but oh well, live and learn), a PSA complete 16" 1:7 HP/MPI barreled upper with Midwest Industries SS12G2 free float hand guard and BCG/charging handle for $535 on their daily deal, and a set of Magpul MBUS backup sights for another $100. Basic rifle for $950, and it's a better handling, smoother running, and much better shooting rifle than my buddy's S&W M&P15 that he paid around $1200 for.

Like many have said before me, lurk on the PSA site, watch for their infamous "daily deal" and "weekend deal" as we'll as their blem sales. My next build is gonna be an A2 style build, my lower priced out through PSA is gonna come to about $275 with shipping and transfer at my local FFL.
xLPlushy is offline  
Old August 19, 2013, 10:13 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: March 7, 2012
Location: Eastern PA
Posts: 160
Difference between bottom-of-the line and quality AR 15's

Here's the same basic rifle I just built, just 100% PSA. Awesome deal with the optic. Figure $25 shipping, and $30 transfer added to the advertised cost and you have yourself a wonderful rifle.
xLPlushy is offline  
Old August 20, 2013, 06:55 AM   #17
Senior Member
Join Date: March 23, 2010
Location: Tennessee
Posts: 272
wow... 899 with a Strikefire optic too. Not bad.
SmokyBaer is offline  
Old August 20, 2013, 07:05 AM   #18
Junior member
Join Date: October 25, 2012
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 736
Re: Difference between bottom-of-the line and quality AR 15's

You want to fire two mags back to back? You'll be alright with anything quality.

In your price range I say Wyndham Weaponry.
breakingcontact is offline  
Old August 20, 2013, 07:26 AM   #19
Senior Member
Join Date: August 10, 2000
Location: WI
Posts: 1,125
Get a quality barrel, bolt, and trigger. For everything else you can get by with cheaper parts as long as they are in spec.
A plan is just a list of things that doesn't happen.
bedlamite is offline  
Old August 20, 2013, 08:07 AM   #20
Senior Member
Join Date: December 29, 2010
Location: Shoshoni Wyoming
Posts: 1,260
It's best to build yourself so you can get the exact rifle you want at a reasonable price. It's not much cheaper than buying, but I have found that when you buy you often have to settle for what is offered, and not get exactly what you want.

I for one, like to have places to fount a down grip on a free float tube and I also want a light mount. But I detest quad rails. Way too much stuff out front that has no use at all for me, cost more money and makes a larger forend which helps nothing.

I use Rock River triggers as a rule and I stone them to a super nice pull.

I use heavy buffers and Tubb flat wire buffer springs.

I have grown found of Green Mountain barrels which I can make from stainless or carbon steel in 1-7”, 1-8” 1-9” or 1-12” twists depending on customers wishes. I also do them in 1-11” .277” bore to make 6.8 SPC rifles, and I have a few 6.5 Grendels and 300 blackouts under my belt too.

I use CMT uppers and Lowers.

In building you can have any grip, and stock and you can install LH friendly controls so you don’t have to “up-grade” later (which means buying the parts twice.)

You may need to have a gunsmith install your barrel for you if you don’t have the tools, but other than that you can build your own AR on your kitchen table if you buy the book on building one first. A small vice on a work bench is helpful but not necessary. I have done 2 ARs for my friends daughters on their kitchen table in Reno, just to show them how it’s done and to show them all that it’s nothing to be intimidated by.

If you buy a barrel finished (as most folks do) any good gunsmith can install it for you on a stripped upper in about 5-10 minutes. I do this for men and women around here for $20. I don’t think it should cost much more in St Augustine.

If you build yourself you can have any caliber that fits on an AR-15 lower, any barrel length you’d like, Stainless or blue, in any twist you’d prefer. You can have any stock, and grip, left hand friendly, any sights, any optic and mount, any trigger, and forend and so on.

A “high end build” will cost some. It’s easy to spend $1400 on building a top of the line AR, but if you were to build one in the M-4ish style with only the basics you’d cut that price nearly in half

I like to build because I don’t have to compromise on what I (and my customers) want. They get exactly what they want and pay for nothing more.
Wyosmith is offline  
Old August 20, 2013, 11:14 AM   #21
Senior Member
Join Date: September 27, 2004
Location: Montana
Posts: 414
My opinion, FWIW (very little in general, even less if arguing with the wife):

I was in the same boat recently. Finally decided to just go for it when I had the money, and bought a Windham Weaponry CF flat top model. I knew it was a compromise. But I also knew that it was going to be a basic model that could get me into the world of AR's. I will never shoot enough rounds through it to wear it out.

In the end, I would just buy a basic model. You can use it to learn about the AR platform, and you can always buy another "high quality" build later, piece by piece if you have to, as the money comes. I love my Windham, it shoots minute of tannerite target at 100 yards, and makes a solid home defense carbine. That's all I need.
G26, Ruger LCP
Ruger 10/22
Savage 111 LWH .270 Win.
Without the 2nd Amendment, none of the others would exist.
Hans is offline  
Old August 20, 2013, 02:44 PM   #22
Senior Member
Join Date: February 18, 2013
Location: closer than you think
Posts: 967
I have 3 AR's.

Colt AR15. .223 $600 sub moa.

DPMS Panther .308 $1000 sub moa

RRA lar-8 match .308 $1800 w/scope I put a 20 rd mag in one 0.5 inch hole well gigling with glee

The number one cause of death in the 20th century. 290,000,000 citizens were first disarmed and then murdered by their own governments. This number does not include those killed in war.
We're from the government, we're here to help
Boomer58cal is offline  

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:20 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2015, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2015 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11499 seconds with 7 queries