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Old September 25, 2011, 07:30 PM   #1
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Which AR

All right gents, I just created an account and wanted to spur some conversation to hopefully educate myself a bit. I will include a little about me so it frames the question with facts bearing on the problem which should help me get the best answers. I am 29, grew up in Central Oregon, and have been an active duty Army Officer for 8 years. Growing up I hunted everything from "sage-rats" to Elk. I have a few rifles, a handful of handguns, and a couple shotguns. I have carried a Colt M4 during two deployments to Afghanistan along with a Berretta 92F. I am not looking to expand my collection to include an assault/battle rifle. I have a fairly broad experience when it comes to weapons, but would by no means call myself an expert. I would like to get an AR15 in the near future, but am seeking some help picking one out. I will list a few bullet comments to give you my perspective and hopefully get everyone, especially Walt's help deciding.

*I know there is a big toss-up going on between DI and Piston. I will never put a suppressor on this weapon, it will not fire full auto, I am interested in accuracy, but not terribly concerned about having a sub-moa rifle. Quite frankly unless I am benched in I will not be capable of being under 2-MOA let alone sub-MOA. Is there really a difference for a non-SEAL owner between the functionality of DI and Piston?

*I have scoured the inter-web for parts and pieces, and it looks like I can build my own "Franken-rifle" for about $800-$900, but I wonder if putting all those different brands pieces together is going to cause me more heartache in the long run than just buying one "off the shelf"?

*I carried my M4, cared for it, and fired it under many different conditions. I know Colt makes a good product. Last I saw, I was looking at between $1200-$1500 for the models that caught my eye. I suppose I could buy a Stag for about $900, or trip the lights fantastic with a Daniel Defense for about $2500. Is there that much difference in brand? I can understand the difference between Kimber and Highpoint, but as far as ARs are concerned I thought it was always a debate like Ruger Vs. Smith for revolvers.

I suppose I have put enough info and questions on here that I will enrage a few folks out there, I apologize if that is the case. I am just looking for feedback from those that own/build these "black rifles" to help me aid in my decision. I suppose the best way to end this is to say I am looking for a dependable and easy to acquire parts for AR that is accurate enough to plink with or defend myself should the zombies come to my door. I don't want to "waste" money by buying an inferior or problem-ridden product that is nothing but a hassle to own, but I don't want to spend 3 or 4 times as much as I should just for a name and so people think I am a "Cool Guy" Thanks to all who take the time to read my ramblings and provide feedback.

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Old September 25, 2011, 07:49 PM   #2
chris in va
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You'll get a dozen different brand names thrown at you. A lot of it depends on how 'milspec' you want the thing, if that matters to you.

I finally decided to get an AR after getting frustrated with my AK conversion. Poring over countless threads about this brand and that brand, it occurred to me that a list of things important to me would be helpful when considering a purchase.

I suggest you do the same.


Carbine or mid length gas system?
Target, hunting, paper punching, plinking, home defense?
5.56, 6.5, 6.8 etc?
Price range?

Nice thing about 'civilian' AR's is the broader range of configurations compared to the M4 you carried.
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Old September 25, 2011, 07:57 PM   #3
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This upper
This bolt carrier group
This charging handle
This handguard
This lower (need your local FFL to order it for you)
This rear sight
This optic
This optic mount
These magazines
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Old September 25, 2011, 08:10 PM   #4
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I posted a similar thread and someone came along and said I was "trolling". It pretty much turned part of the post into an argument, but some people are just pathetic and need to stir up a conversation here and there to make their life a little more meaningful on the internet which to me is sad. Anyways, the thread had over 70 replies and this is what I have learned from it:

Quality wise Noveske makes arguably one of the best complete rifles, The Colt 6920 is a great out of the box AR for around 1k, and LMNT and LaRue are great rifles at a slightly higher price.

Try not to let anybody ruin your post just because theyre mad that nobody cares about their post.

This was my post, maybe it will help:
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Old September 25, 2011, 08:56 PM   #5
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You won't go wrong with Colt. You can pay more, but I doubt it'll be better.
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I am the weapon; my gun is a tool. It's regrettable that with some people those descriptors are reversed.
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Old September 25, 2011, 09:32 PM   #6
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I still remember being issued the M16A1 when I was in basic training then we got the M16A2s.

You can spend whatever you want and still end up with a decent M4 style rifle.

My First was a Colt Match H Bar back before the 1994 ban. I sold it to a friend who wanted one. I had not been doing to much shooting at the time.

I had an Olympic Arms with the heavy 20 inch stainless barrel I purchased next. I had a Leupold AR scope and a reflex sight combo mounted on it. My friend now owns it and loves it. I had purchased a lighter DoubleStar a while back for $560.00 and the thing pretty much digests everything I shoot through it and is accurate. I did have to put a extractor upgrade on it though. Cost me $11.00 and it hasn't had a malfunction since then even on steel case ammo. I have an EoTech mounted on this one

My next to last purchase was a CMMG Lower/ Spike Tactical Upper for about $775 and it pretty much digests everything I put through it and it is accurate also. Mounted a Burris XTS 135 on this one.

On Saturday I purchased another Spike Tactical Upper and Lower for $874.00. I Did not have a chance to shoot it due to an injury. It is going to get shot this coming weekend.

So far all these AR-15s have gone bang every time I pulled the trigger and they put the bullets on target. Now they don't shoot super tight one hole groups but some of that is probably me.

The Colt H Bar Match was probably the pinnacle of accuracy as a friend and I used to go out to the 600 yard matches and shoot em for grins an giggles.

Those rifles have met my expectations. I am pretty sure the third one will also. Not to mention that the Spike Tacticals have lifetime warranties.

That said define what you want in an AR-15 and go from there.

I am sure that the Colt, Daniel Defense, BCM, LMT, LaRue and the other brands would be as good or better. Then there are some that are probably not as good and worse. I foresee a BCM in the future as my next purchase. Somewhere down the line some of the other brands. AR 15s have become like Lays potato chips to me can't seem to just eat

I am still stuck on direct impingment AR 15s as the ones I have owned have alwasy functioned. Us old farts are kinda stubborn about Doesn't mean I may not get the itch in the future.

All I will say is whether you decide to build one or buy one you have your work cut out for you because there are a lot of good ones to choose from. There are also a lot of good parts to choose from also. Its almost mind boggling to see the see the choices available.
Have a nice day at the range

NRA Life Member

Last edited by Eghad; September 25, 2011 at 09:48 PM.
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Old September 25, 2011, 09:41 PM   #7
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In my case I have seen the Colt LE 6920 go from $1600, $1500, to $1000 as prices varied over time and political circumstances. My first Colt AR-15 was about $300 quite a few years ago purchased in California. 1975 ballpark. I first qualified with the M-14 in 1972. A few years later it was with the M-16. I would say if you get the LE 6920 you should be well pleased. I can't say anything about other brands now that the AR platform has taken off. I could be right or wrong without knowing either way about how good or bad they may be or not be.
My Colt M-4 style LE 6920 is every bit as reliable, accurate, trustworthy as I could ever epect. Never had any malfunction of any kind. Never had any problems or issues regarding multiple ammo brands, zeroing, POA/POI, or any other. Firing this Colt takes me back to the days when I was a young Marine getting fives and fours and never saw Maggie's drawers.
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Old September 25, 2011, 10:11 PM   #8
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With so many decent suppliers manufacturing AR15 parts I feel the deviation/difference in the quality between them has gotten so small that it's nearly indiscernible. That being said I feel there are a few things if you're building a carbine that don't cost an arm and a leg that for the small price difference can actually make a difference:
Hammer forged barrel (chrome lined)
Quality trigger group as it changes the feel of the gun (Rock River two stage is reasonably priced)
Bolt made from Carpenter's Steel #156
Any free float tube

Things I personally prefer:
Commercial buffer tube
NiB Plated Bolt and FA cut Carrier
EOtech sight - XPS1, 512, 511, whatever
Spikes Tactical H2 Carbine Buffer - very smooth and quiet
3 Point sling
Smooth free float tube
Troy forward vertical grip

My first M4'ish carbine was built by Fulton Armory (the M14/M1 experts). They suggested a mid contour barrel in 1/9, flip up YHM forward gas block/sites and a smooth YHM free float tube. I was hesitant at first about the 1/9 versus a 1/7.
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Last edited by sailskidrive; September 25, 2011 at 10:17 PM.
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Old September 25, 2011, 10:15 PM   #9
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Smith and Wesson

Get the M&P 15 line of ARs. Starting at $599 for the Sport. They have performance models and tactical models. The two I own are the Sport and OR. Both are great shooters and 100% reliable.
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Old September 25, 2011, 10:46 PM   #10
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Gunner, can you build one yourself, yes. Will it be good and reliable, yes.

Has there been a big price drop on AR's, yes. Just about everyone builds them today and they build good and reliable rifles.

The advantage of building one youself, is that you get to pick and choose what parts will go on the rifle (quad rail, free floated or not, type of butt stock, etc, etc.....).

Telling you to purchase one brand or another is not helpfull since most of the parts no matter the brand is made by two or three companies and sold under someone elses name with mninor changes. The only company that makes all their own parts for the whole rifle is Oympic Arms.

Who's good, they all are but it is a long, long list.

Alexander Arms www.alexander
Daniel Defense
Double Star
J.P. Enterprises
Les Baer
Lewis Machine & Tools
Olympic Arms
Para USA
Patriot Ordnance
Rock River Arms
STI International
Smith & Wesson
Stag Arms
Wilson Combat

Si vis pacem, para bellum
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Old September 25, 2011, 11:41 PM   #11
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FWIW, whatever you decide on, well I got a "cosmetically blemished" lower to save some $$$ and you can't even tell where it was blemished (inside the trigger guard, lol). That was BCM. I saw RRA sells some blemished ones too.

Good luck.
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Old September 26, 2011, 07:46 AM   #12
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I have the colt LE Advanced 6940 and well it is by far the best I have owned or shot. I love that rifle. I did need to do just a little trigger work to smooth it up a bit but that was it. It is a tack driver on the range and has held up to everything tactical that I can through at it. I will be giving it a lot of use as my primary duty rifle. I paid 1300 for it NITB which I think was a super deal. It is chambered 5.56/.223 and has a 1:7 twist. It eats any ammo that I feed it but I like the M855 the best and it seems to enjoy it aswell.
Now when I made this purchase I was looking for a new duty rifle for my work(PMC/PSC) so I had to have one just little better then a plinker so to speak. But there are many good rifles out there, just know what you are going to be using it for and go from there.
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Old September 26, 2011, 08:13 AM   #13
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JR (aka RDNK Gunner), Welcome to TFL. Great first post too.

Back in the day, there was... COLT. Armalite too, Then Bushmaster came along. Originally the quip was in regards ARs, "buy A, B or C" but that was then, things happen, everyone and their brother got into the AR platfform or system. Nowadays, some say Bushys... not so great, but they work. Armalite today is not ArmaLite of yesteryear, but they too work well. Colt works, but for a while people commented on pin sizes, (maybe they still do,, dunno). To me the Colt is still the baseline for comparison in terms of quality, cost, CS, etc. What is above it and what is below it and why (cost, QC, CS, etc).

So, if the above happened (and it did/does) with only three of the early mfgs, you'll always find plusses/minuses for each.

What I find ironic, is that you sir, you've BTDT and used said weapon where it counts. Maybe you should be telling us what you learned and experienced as to the pros and cons of the platform in hard use, eh? (I kid, kinda)

Enjoy your time here at TFL. Let us know what you do end up getting, how your first build goes (photos and range report too) or an outright purchase of a complete system.

Here's my obligatory link to some eye candy, bits and pieces to be put together...
A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." - George Washington, January 8, 1790, First State of the Union Address
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Old September 26, 2011, 08:16 AM   #14
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As long as most of the internal parts are mil.spec. you can just about do well with any of the major brands though shopping around with all the many external options can be daunting. I am a BCM fan myself.
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Old September 26, 2011, 09:38 AM   #15
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If you can swing it get a colt, lmt, bravo company, or spikes tactial.

All will serve you well, that said DI is the way to go, i have a lmt 10.5" that i run suppressed and right now its at 2500 rounds since its last cleaning, to keep a good ar runnig allyou need to do is keep it lubed and clean every 5k rounds or so

There is nothing wrong with the DI setup, all my marine buddies will attest to that, their platoon has never had a rifle jam on them but they teach to lube it well
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Old September 26, 2011, 10:02 AM   #16
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From one Army Officer to another (although you are three year groups ahead of me, Sir) get yourself a Smith and Wesson M&P15 and call it good. There are a gajillion brands, and they are all good. By the time you wear out an M&P you'll be ready to rebuild it from the ground up all by yourself.

Machine guns are awesome until you have to carry one.
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Old September 26, 2011, 10:37 AM   #17
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I would suggest the piston-driven Sig 516 rifle.
Sic Semper Tyrannis
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Old September 26, 2011, 02:29 PM   #18
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I suggest building one of your own as it will give you an intricate knowledge of how the rifle works that way if anything ever breaks you can fix it yourself.

This is what I am doing. People swear by several different brands but there are ones that are re-occuring. Of those Spike's Tactical is probably the best value. Palmetto State Armory products are made by the same company as Spike's and is cheaper yet.

I am buying most of my components from Palmetto with the exception of Magpul Stock, Magpul Mags, Troy Ind forearm and sights.

Last edited by ripnbst; September 26, 2011 at 02:37 PM.
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Old September 26, 2011, 04:52 PM   #19
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Colt 6920 for $995
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