View Full Version : General Guide for First Time Buyers?

October 16, 2012, 01:44 PM
I'm looking to buy my first semiautomatic rifle, just as a general urban SHTF contingency. I live in an area that has seen enough riots and crime for me to justify spending some money on one.

Do any of you have good guides, websites or book recommendations for where I can start learning about AR vs. AK, calibers, applications, parts, uppers/lowers, etc?

I know this forum is a good resource, and I'm learning things, but it's all non-linear. Info about how to change your triggers is useful, but not to someone who doesn't even know which side of the gun the trigger is on (exaggerating).

Would really appreciate any shove in the right direction here. Non-military, non-LEO but doing what I can to learn with a late start.

October 16, 2012, 05:18 PM
to find some prices and a little information on different rifles you can check out http://www.gunup.com/ Have you thought about what features you want in your new rifle, or how much you would like to spend? Another thing to look at is the ammo you will be shooting. Good luck!

October 16, 2012, 05:33 PM
Thanks for that link, mikems. That Gun Finder feature is pretty excellent :)

I'd like to get out of this without breaking $1,000, preferably staying closer to $700. Also, my closest range is far enough away that I can only go on weekends... so this isn't a gun I'm going to be running courses with or firing on a weekly basis. Ammo-wise, I'm more concerned with situational application than cost, for the above reason(s).

If it matters, i'm a pretty big guy, 6'5 with large hands.

October 16, 2012, 06:09 PM
Do you live in Flint, Michigan? Bars on all the windows of all the houses. I couldn't live like that.

October 16, 2012, 07:22 PM
Well how about some free user manuals and guides for AR15's and AK's.

Look here. Go to bottom of the page.


Here are also some good reads. (Note the "Assault Weapons Ban" was only from 1994-2004 and is now no more. **Some states** however still ban certain styles or types of "assault weapons")



Here is also a good read VERY BASIC but some good info non the less.



Crow Hunter
October 16, 2012, 08:36 PM
The 1st thing that you need to do is define your parameters and what is important to you.

2nd is define your budget (which you have done).

3rd is find a weapon that meets your parameters and fits your budget.

A budget of $700 is going maybe pushing it for a "duty" weapon.

$900-$1,100 is probably going to be more realistic for a high quality AR/AK suitable for "duty" use, but depending on your parameters you might be able to do it. You might also find out that you are buying more weapon than you need as well.

What are your parameters? What do you need to be able to do with it and what prior training/experience do you have?

October 16, 2012, 09:57 PM
Do you live where there are any restrictions? You can go as cheap as an SKS or as expensive as a fully tricked out AR. One often overlooked option is a Mini 14. The old ones have a bad rep for accuracy, but the new ones are supposed to be pretty good. They are reliable and ergonomic. It is a good choice in a rights-restricted state. If an AR lights your fire, it is hard to go wrong with a Colt or Smith.

October 16, 2012, 10:12 PM
For defending a home, a rifle or shotgun is a good choice. For "general urban" situations, I'd actually say a pistol is a better 1st gun. My reasoning is that in most states, there is a legal way to carry a pistol, so you can have it with you. If violence breaks out and you are not standing next to your gun safe, a holstered pistol on your person is a welcome option!

That said, rifles generally have a lot more energy behind each round, compared to pistols. Also, for minimally trained people, the length of a rifle or shotgun makes getting hits on targets easier than pistols when talking about similar ranges.

For an AR-15, you can get them in the $700-800 range pretty easily. You could also get a Saiga sporter (basically a semi-auto AK without a pistol grip, bayonet mount, or muzzle brake) for around $400.

I would recommend telling us what you are looking for the rifle to be able to do. We could then help narrow your search and give better advice.

October 17, 2012, 11:48 AM
Thanks for all the replies, let me try to respond to some of the questions...

Rob62 - Went through those links, great great info, thanks for sharing those!

Regarding local laws...

It is unlawful for any person to manufacture, own, buy, sell, loan, furnish, transport, or have in possession or under control, any machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle; or any part designed and intended solely and exclusively for use in a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle, or in converting a weapon into a machine gun, short-barreled shotgun, or short-barreled rifle

So that puts me at a 16" barrel minimum, if I understand correctly. I'm not going to shell out $200 to the freaking fed on my first build just to shave a few inches off the barrel.

I have a 12ga and a Glock, and will be getting my concealed permit soon as well. There's a shooting and weapons training school at my range, and I intend to take a number of courses around efficient/tactical use of my weapon, as well as maintenance.

I don't intend for this to be a long-range rifle (competition style) but I think a 16" barrel is enough that, with some practice, I'll be able to place my shots well at a "medium" range. Were I to ever need this for real-world use, I doubt I'd need range past one city block. I imagine my primary uses would be defending an established position (home, sanctuary of sorts) or protection while moving through an urban area in the open.

No, I'm not in Flint, thankfully. I lived in a town in NJ where there were a lot of home invasions and a moderate amount of gun violence, nearby gang activity (Newark), some police being shot, etc. I live in Seattle now, not a high-crime city at ALL, but between the WTO riots and news stories about mobs attacking people because of their race just down in Oregon... you'll see why I think about keeping myself and my family safe.

Also, I just enjoy having a project (assuming build > buy, which is how I'm leaning). Although I can't figure how, once you've got an upper or lower, how do you know the rest of the parts you buy from other manufacturers will fit? Is it ALL standard?

October 17, 2012, 06:06 PM
Basically yes, parts within different AR15 series or styles of rifles are interchangeable. For example upper and lower receivers, trigger groups, stocks, Bolt Carrier Groups, etc.

i.e. Any AR15 butt stock will fit any AR15 lower receiver as long as you have the correct buffer tube. Any upper receiver will fit any lower receiver.

There are some nuances such as with Colt rifles, some of these have different take down pins and the upper receiver will not necessarily fit any lower receiver.

The more you read the more you will learn. It is a continual learning process. I've been involved in the shooting sports since the 1970's and still learn something new all the time.

Although I can't figure how, once you've got an upper or lower, how do you know the rest of the parts you buy from other manufacturers will fit? Is it ALL standard?

October 17, 2012, 09:01 PM
NJ has more restrictions than what you listed; I don't have a citation handy, but you should confirm the legal requirements before shopping much, as I believe you may find some options unavailable to you unless you move.

October 17, 2012, 11:38 PM
Before you do research, figure out the primary purpose of the firearm. What does 'general purpose' exactly entail? Just because a part is popular doesn't mean it's the best option for what your build.