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Old February 23, 2020, 10:32 AM   #1
KBP
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Highest rated AR15 type rifle for the money

I have been shooting for 50+ years but would like to buy a AR15 type rifle. I am looking for an accurate and dependable one. Which would be the best deal for the money? Ruger, S&W, Springfield, or other ? Which is higher rated? I am not looking to buy a $1,000 rifle. Would I be better off building one?
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Old February 23, 2020, 10:51 AM   #2
zoomie
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With your $1000 limit, any you listed will work. I think buy your first one, then figure out what you like and build your next one(s). If you're asking this starter question, you'll be overwhelmed by the choices if you shop component by component.
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Old February 23, 2020, 01:53 PM   #3
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Would I be better off building one?
Possibly not.

If you want accuracy and dependability, there are a lot of already built options in rifle and carbine length that are very good value for money.

Assembling your own is a great alternative of you are having a problem finding what you want (eg a specific barrel and handguard combination) in as built form. However then you have all the specific tools to build more - and the ever present temptation to assemble another.

I have a 16 inch midlength chrome lined pencil barrel upper with an A2 front sight from before my purchase of upper build tools. I can't bring myself to sell it because it's pretty accurate, dependable and light. I never "needed" anything I've built since.

Last edited by zukiphile; February 23, 2020 at 02:17 PM.
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Old February 23, 2020, 02:20 PM   #4
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I looked at Rock River Arms as a starting point for what I wanted to build as I had determined that I wanted the Rock River Arms two stage trigger group.

No knowing how the 24” bull barrel would compare to the 20” bull barrel, I got both. I wanted the .223 Wilde chambering because it removes a lot of confusion about “can I shoot this mill surplus stuff?” Even though I hand load for accuracy. The 24” barrel is like lugging a railroad rail around, but is rock steady. 20” is still hefty. 18 would be fine too, I am sure.

I found both to be equally great accuracy for factory barrels, each shooting 10 rounds consistently under a US quarter at 100 rounds from a simple sandbag rest on the bench, with hand loads. It was super easy to simply bolt together a sub-moa at-15 although it did take two trips to the range to pick an optimal load. (Simple. Crazy simple)

I had never “built” a firearm before I built those two ARs. Now I would say I “assembled” them as it was more bolting together LEGO blocks than any sort of skilled artistry. I got the how-tos from a website that’s basically “ar15” and you guys know which one.

I think the essential parts for a very accurate varmint style rifle are the barrel and the trigger assembly. I got RRA bolt groups, uppers, gas blocks and all that stuff and lowers. Grips, stocks, buffer springs, fore ends... I got all over the place and lots of them second hand.

Anyways, RRA isn’t cheap but both rifles bolted together without a hint of fussing and passed their go, no-go tests immediately and within 3 weeks of lazy assembly and reloading I had two sub moa varmint rifles.

Oh, I was using Swift 8-18 40mm scope. Cheap but good.

Now, if not looking to build at all I’d get a Ruger because if you can’t wrench it yourself I know their customer service will take care of you.

That said, you pay for that service and instead I got a barrel wrench, some punches and go no go gauges instead.

Things that matter: barrel, trigger group, bolt and bolt assembly

The rest is just cosmetics holding them together, pretty much.

In the end, when you say you want an accurate AR, the question is “what is it for” or “how heavy” and “how accurate” and “what kind of sighting do you want?”
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Old February 23, 2020, 02:42 PM   #5
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I have a 25 year old Rock River, a Stag, a PSA, and a Ruger MPR. They are all very good. The Ruger is the newest and came with some nice features for the money, but I have no issues with any of mine and little preference.
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Old February 23, 2020, 07:12 PM   #6
rickyrick
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It’s a difficult question to answer.

The choices of today are pretty good, features considered custom in the past are readily available and considered commonplace today.

Building doesn’t have the monetary advantages that we had during the panic years. I still assemble them because I like shopping for the parts and putting the parts together. Assembling them can give you exactly the rifle you want... but today, you can probably buy an AR with the features you want.
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Old February 23, 2020, 07:41 PM   #7
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The Ruger bottom end 556 is ok but inferior to most others, uncoated barrel (SW is chrome for instance) and they use an odd proprietary bolt carrier, seem generally cheap to me.

#1 figure out if you want an optic on it or can live with iron sights.

The thing almost everyone does is they buy a cheaper carbine with a flat top and a forward sight block. Then they realize they want an optic and they spend more modifying a cheap rifle or they go through permutations of mounting an optic non ideally with the forward site in place...

Most people eventually decide they want an AR with a free float guard and no iron sights, ie a small scope or a red dot.

If you are set on iron sights, the above is no consideration.. if you would rather have a free float guard then skip the wasted $$ and just buy one that way.

Worth mentioning- look into what a mid length versus carbine gas system is. Most cheap beginner ARs have carbine gas systems, which are neither any cheaper nor do they work better in the typical 16 inch barrel. Nobody really knows why it's just a stupid thing they do with entry level ARs. You want a mid length gas system in a 16 inch barrel, the rifles just run smoother..

My preference is Aero and specifically their M4E1 , IMHO they are a notch about everything in the price range. You can buy/order their complete rifles like this (which my guess a decent FFL could get for $850):

https://www.aeroprecisionusa.com/m4e...n-556-nato-mid

Or you can order a complete lower via an FFL that is exactly the same, then go buy a complete upper, charging handle, and bolt carrier group at someplace that has good deals on this stuff like Optics Planet - you would pay about $20 to have a gunsmith perform a headspace check (verifies important fitment bolt to barrel is ok) and could then snap your rifle together.. this is less assemble involved than after cleaning even. I buy mine this way because it's the cheapest way to go, and I headspace check myself which is easy but does require 4 special tools.

Example complete lower, mind you these are list prices, its cheaper on sale or from anywhere other than Aero directly. A stock just snaps on, about 40 bucks, pick one you like basically - I like the basic Magpul MOE carbine stock.

https://www.aeroprecisionusa.com/m4e...-grip-anodized
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Old February 23, 2020, 08:30 PM   #8
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Now I would say I “assembled” them as it was more bolting together LEGO blocks than any sort of skilled artistry.
For a conventional 5.56 that you're happy with 1 to 1.5 MOA--I'd agree with that. Once you wander off the reservation though in common calibers--that's where I beg to differ. Getting a build to be well-balanced, reliable and consistent is in fact very much an art (or exploratory engineering, however you like to put it) IMO.
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Old February 24, 2020, 04:00 PM   #9
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" The Ruger bottom end 556 is ok but inferior to most others, uncoated barrel (SW is chrome for instance) and they use an odd proprietary bolt carrier, seem generally cheap to me."
The Ruger is nitrided which is considered a better option than CL by many folks these days (unless you're going the full auto). The MPR model has excellent 5R rifling and is extremely accurate. Mine was easily a sub MOA barrel. The odd bolt carrier is called the "Colt cut" Designed to prevent full-auto functionality for the civ market. They work but the pin gets a serious battering and has been known to need earlier replacement. I'm not a fan as they are too light for me. They are not MPI or HP tested. But that's not the end of the world.
"(SW is chrome for instance)"
Nope. It's Melonite, which is a trade name for nitride-QPQ. And the earlier sport models have 5R rifling that uses a progressive twist rate. Also making it very accurate.
OP: I think the beauty of building, is that you can get the exact configuration you want. If you do decide to build, FNH barrels (CHF CL HP MPI) are very highly regarded, will last several lifetimes, and are quite accurate. Expect to pay $300 though... still plenty of money left to complete a solid build.
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Old February 24, 2020, 06:47 PM   #10
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You are correct on the S&W, but because they changed..

SW m&p 15, chrome lined barrel:

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&sour...=1582587400887

On the *standard* Ruger, I don't see any mention of barrel lining - fairly sure they are still unlined..

https://ruger.com/products/ar556/specSheets/8500.html

But still - where do you even find non auto non tested BCGs other than these Rugers or real bottom end stuff? I just think they are way at the bottom of the barrel so to speak.
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Old February 24, 2020, 07:30 PM   #11
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Some of my best shooting rifles have unlined barrels.

If you can shoot-out an unlined barrel as a civilian, then you are obviously in a financial situation in which lined or unlined wouldn’t matter anyway.

If you are strapped for funds, you can’t afford enough ammunition to wear out a barrel, not counting abusive behavior. If you can afford the amount of ammunition to wear out a barrel, then the cost of replacing the barrel or weapon would be minimal to you.

I don’t base a barrel’s performance prediction on whether it’s lined or unlined.

My best performing AR barrels accuracy wise and of the same caliber from best to worst.
1. Naked 4150 chrome molly
2. Nitrided 4150
3. 416r phosphated stainless bull barrel
4. Chrome-lined 4150 FN.

There’s enough deviation in the same barrels of the same types that it sometimes doesn’t matter.
The above mentioned barrels aren’t very far apart accuracy-wise, so my experience is merely anecdotal and by no means scientific.

All I’m saying is that in the big picture for civilian use, lining matters little.

A good barrel is a good barrel, and a bad one will never be good.

All that said... sink the most of your money into the barrel and trigger, But... don’t skimp too much on the rest either.
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Old February 24, 2020, 08:35 PM   #12
riffraff
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Originally Posted by rickyrick View Post
Some of my best shooting rifles have unlined barrels.

If you can shoot-out an unlined barrel as a civilian, then you are obviously in a financial situation in which lined or unlined wouldn’t matter anyway.

If you are strapped for funds, you can’t afford enough ammunition to wear out a barrel, not counting abusive behavior. If you can afford the amount of ammunition to wear out a barrel, then the cost of replacing the barrel or weapon would be minimal to you.

I don’t base a barrel’s performance prediction on whether it’s lined or unlined.

My best performing AR barrels accuracy wise and of the same caliber from best to worst.
1. Naked 4150 chrome molly
2. Nitrided 4150
3. 416r phosphated stainless bull barrel
4. Chrome-lined 4150 FN.

There’s enough deviation in the same barrels of the same types that it sometimes doesn’t matter.
The above mentioned barrels aren’t very far apart accuracy-wise, so my experience is merely anecdotal and by no means scientific.

All I’m saying is that in the big picture for civilian use, lining matters little.

A good barrel is a good barrel, and a bad one will never be good.

All that said... sink the most of your money into the barrel and trigger, But... don’t skimp too much on the rest either.
My issue with the Ruger is it's just overall cheap, ie if you must buy an entry level $600 AR I say pick another one, ie S&W..

Keep in mind a Daniel Defense, known to be real high end in accuracy and otherwise, is a chrome chf barrel, also their uppers are even condoned for full auto use. Good barrels are just better, the hardest way to make them is surely chrome lined and accurate, but can be done, just costs more.

With that said, the average shooter with an AR is buying it to shoot off their shoulder, kick up dust, and run some ammo through. They are absolutely outstanding and a blast for dumping ammo, making smoke, smashing up clay pigeons in a berm < 100 yards away, a bolt action just can't do that.

I think you can absolutely shoot out a barrel, I've put 5k rounds through barrels, not shot out but if they weren't lined I bet they would be seriously on their way. Hell I've got a .308 with over 3.5k rounds through it.

IMHO accuracy is important within reason, < 3 MOA is about all you need for most purposes people want a carbine for, and is about all you see with the ammo we tend to run through these guns (sure maybe 2 moa), and they all pull that off. Or at least I value being able to make a rifle hot and not worry about damaging it more than a nice group, again for a carbine off my shoulder.
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Old February 24, 2020, 08:57 PM   #13
rickyrick
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Sure, I don’t disagree with anything you said, but compared to the cost of the ammunition needed to shoot out a barrel, the actual cost of the barrel is negligible by comparison.

I also think that someone who has accuracy in mind for a particul!ar rifle, probably won’t be doing mag-dumps with it either.

I the OP can meet their needs easily with $1000

I have had great luck with AeroPrecision
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Old February 24, 2020, 09:16 PM   #14
riffraff
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Originally Posted by rickyrick View Post
Sure, I don’t disagree with anything you said, but compared to the cost of the ammunition needed to shoot out a barrel, the actual cost of the barrel is negligible by comparison.

I also think that someone who has accuracy in mind for a particul!ar rifle, probably won’t be doing mag-dumps with it either.

I the OP can meet their needs easily with $1000

I have had great luck with AeroPrecision
Me too on Aero, their M4E1s are just outstanding, right down to the charging handle just very well done..

Agree - seems to take a good $3000 in ammo to wear out a barrel in 5.56 and even the fairly expensive barrels are only 10% of that cost.

I have both classes of rifles but usually I'm reaching for the high volume short range versions when I go shoot. Is just more fun for me I guess.
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Old February 24, 2020, 09:39 PM   #15
rickyrick
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It’s is more fun for sure.
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Old February 25, 2020, 04:07 PM   #16
jwamplerusa
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Ruger MPR, under $600 if you shop hard. Above average trigger, and an 18" tube for a hair more velocity.
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Old February 25, 2020, 04:20 PM   #17
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I'll go a different route and suggest looking at a used aero precision, or even some lantacs will come down within a few bills of $1000 if you're lucky. Look around, I found a Daniel defense in 300 blk at my local gun store for 1250. Unfortunately I left to talk to the wife about it and it was sold by the time I went back the next day!

Be a little discerning with used rifles, and also know that you may have to replace certain parts sooner than normal. The good news is that PSA barrels are inexpensive and VERY well built (FN blems I beleive) and BCGs are interchangable and you can definitely find great deals on them down the road.


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Old March 6, 2020, 10:39 PM   #18
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MPR Ruger AR-556. Check it out, this model 8514 is available in stores. My quest started with a possible build, and this upgraded or enhanced model did it for me, last week.
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Old March 7, 2020, 08:51 AM   #19
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Ruger uses a few proprietary parts which is what made me shy away from them. I went with a S&W back when they could be had for $400 new. I’ve since bought a Palmetto State Armory and highly recommend them as well.
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Old March 7, 2020, 11:07 AM   #20
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I think something to point out is all the better ARs have some degree of proprietary parts, trigger guards, hand guards, uppers tapped with threads, flash hiders, barrel profiles etc. The purely mil spec ARs are more often than not absolute bottom of the barrel (exceptions like Colt of course).. but when they modify stuff just for the sake of cheap manufacturing, ie a commercial sized buffer tube for instance, IMO that's when it's bad. The absolute best ARs are full of proprietary designs that make them better for the most part.
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Old March 8, 2020, 11:48 AM   #21
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I don't know that you'd be better off building one from a cost stand point, but you would get exactly what you want.

The other thing is, if you are even the slighted bit inclined, building an AR is damn fun. That said, some of the uppers can be a really pain to torque and still get the gas tube to line up correctly.

I've built as many as 6, some were total builds and some were lower builds with purchased uppers.

Either way, it's fun to do and you really understand how they work and that they really simple, reliable rifles.
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Old March 11, 2020, 10:17 AM   #22
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I've built several AR's - all for about $450 each at most. They all run flawlessly. Nothing has ever broken on them. And, they are as accurate as I need them to be. One has an Echo trigger (trigger unit was additional). I run a lot of cheap wolf steel-cased ammo through the one with the echo trigger. Fun, fun fun! If anyone could tell me what more I would get for an additional $500, I sure would like to know!
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Old March 14, 2020, 08:33 PM   #23
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Quote:
I think something to point out is all the better ARs have some degree of proprietary parts, trigger guards, hand guards, uppers tapped with threads, flash hiders, barrel profiles etc. The purely mil spec ARs are more often than not absolute bottom of the barrel (exceptions like Colt of course).. but when they modify stuff just for the sake of cheap manufacturing, ie a commercial sized buffer tube for instance, IMO that's when it's bad. The absolute best ARs are full of proprietary designs that make them better for the most part.
Mfg using their own brand of parts is not the same as “proprietary”.
Proprietary means they make it such that you can only ever use their parts and not parts from some other mfg. Ruger uses some proprietary parts meaning they can’t be swapped out with other standard parts...
I agree most mfg have some degree of their own parts, but by and large, most mfg make their parts to a standard design so that you can swap them out with another mfg should you choose to.
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Old April 23, 2020, 11:17 AM   #24
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I'd say build one. It's super easy and you can piece together the parts you want. One of mine has a stainless Wilson Combat barrel (16" midlength/midweight) and a Velocity 3 lb. trigger. With a scope, it can shoot sub-moa groups with Hornady 55gr FMJ handloads. I can't be happier with it.
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Old April 23, 2020, 03:56 PM   #25
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KBP.... what is the intended use ?

IE ... collapsible stock ?

What barrel length looks like what you'd like ?

General use but pretty good accuracy ?

Coyote hunting ? So a variety of distances, and you might be carrying it ( weight wise ) ?

What ammo would you typically use ? Bulk FMJ ? ( usually not very accurate ) Decent accuracy ammo ? ) 15 bucks a box )... or match ish ammo ?

I'd suggest you assm. your lower ( can be readily assm. with no specialized tools, except the possible castle nut wrench ( carbine stock wise ) ... and then buy a better barreled complete upper. And even then ... your first choice might be OOS.

White Oak has an excellent, well respected reputation...

https://www.whiteoakarmament.com/sho...ck-uppers.html

Last edited by bfoosh006; April 23, 2020 at 04:01 PM.
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