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Old July 7, 2016, 09:05 PM   #1
supersquirel500
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does barrel length matter on prebuilts ar15

This question is not necessarily what you might expect from the title. Feel free to comment on anything I say here as I am fairly new and may need more advice that this question was intended for.

So I'm in the market for a rifle and after an SKS purchase fell through I'm actually considering spending much more than just the initial $400. I've decided that I'de like to save up for an AR-15 instead for various reasons but don't exactly know where to start.
I'm willing to spend up to $1000, maybe a tad more if it's exactly what I've been looking for but after going across at least 15 different manufacturer's sites I don't think my budget is enough for the 18" -20" I was hoping for.
I've decided that to save money I can (and for knowledge sake probably should) assemble at least some of it myself.

I've considered buying completed uppers/lowers and stick them together or also purchasing a complete lower kit and purchasing the completed upper.
Here's the question that I've run into.
On the completed uppers or upper kits I have often seen them sold without the barrel which has made me wonder: If a person purchases an upper without the barrel, will any barrel fit onto it? does it have to be a specific length? Are there different standards of attaching barrels that must be looked into before the purchase? etc.

tldr: I want an ar15 and have $1000 I'm willing to spend. I really don't like the look of an m4 but love the looks of this. I also want to know if any barrel would work to complete an upper or are there length restrictions, or specific ways that it must be attached, etc.

Thanks for the help.
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Old July 8, 2016, 12:51 AM   #2
Quentin2
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Today the 16" barrel is most popular, and for good reason - it does most things well and is lighter and more maneuverable than a longer barrel. 18" is popular, too, and 20" if you'll want to reach out and touch at 500 yards or more. If you don't like the M4 cutouts on a 16" barrel, go with midlength gas which does away with them.

It's really up to you which brand. You may be able to build an AR-15 cheaper than a factory one but it depends on what you want and how much research you put into your components and their quality. Even if you buy a factory AR you should look at the quality of the components.

Usually you can expect quality parts, even from various manufacturers, for a DI AR-15 to be interchangeable. That's not including piston ARs.

You should be able to buy or build a good 16", 18" or 20" AR-15 for <= $1000. PSA is a good place to look, their premium line and freedom line tends to be good.
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Old July 8, 2016, 06:36 AM   #3
Mobuck
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You can buy a decent complete AR for considerably less than $1000.
I don't recommend "building" an upper as a first time attempt. "Assembling" a lower is much easier and within the capabilities of moderately skilled adults.
The barrel length is a "choice" sort of like shoes. Do you want something cool or something to perform a more specific "task"?
16" is the most common since "M-4 gery" type carbines are popular. I don't particularly care for this type as I have no need for the dufus grenade launcher cut on the barrel. A 20" with a moderate to H-Bar profile will be fairly heavy and possibly not as handy for just carrying. An 18" with a rifle gas is a good compromise and should provide a soft shooting, accurate platform. At least 1/2 of my 16" carbines have "mid-length" gas systems since I'm a fan of this option and think it "calms down" the somewhat "over exuberant" carbine cycling action.
While "free float" hand guards are popular(and have the "coolness" factor), I don't feel they are needed to achieve useful accuracy-all my hunting rifles/carbines have standard hand guards.
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Old July 8, 2016, 07:54 AM   #4
Jimro
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Quote:
tldr: I want an ar15 and have $1000 I'm willing to spend. I really don't like the look of an m4 but love the looks of this. I also want to know if any barrel would work to complete an upper or are there length restrictions, or specific ways that it must be attached, etc.
As long as you are over the minimum length, you won't have any problems running into the "short barreled rifle" or "any other weapon" rules of the ATF. That's 16" or 14.5" with a permanently attached flash hider to be 16" total.

What the OP wants is a standard 16" barrel with a rifle length free float tube over a low profile gas block, which is easy enough to assemble.

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Old July 8, 2016, 08:03 AM   #5
tobnpr
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Quote:
On the completed uppers or upper kits I have often seen them sold without the barrel which has made me wonder: If a person purchases an upper without the barrel, will any barrel fit onto it? does it have to be a specific length? Are there different standards of attaching barrels that must be looked into before the purchase? etc.
Yes.

No- as long as it's 16" or longer (otherwise it is a NFA, short-barreled rifle which is illegal without required paperwork/registration).

No. That said, it's always best (IMO) in your situation, starting from "scratch" as it were, to get the bolt/barrel from the same mfg. Often they're sold together and headspace checked. That said, there are rarely issues with headspace as bolts and barrel extensions are CNC machined to very tight tolerances. As mentioned, gas tube lengths must match the barrel.

I will add, that while not a "standard of attaching barrels"- the rifle in your pic utilizes a free-float, keymod handguard. Some of these, will run near half the cost of your budget but quality ones can be had for less. A free-float handguard is a major factor in accuracy and all but the most "budget" factory models are fitted with them.
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Old July 8, 2016, 10:46 AM   #6
4V50 Gary
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20-24" for reaching out.
16" for close-in work.
Sub 16" requires stamp.
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