The Firing Line Forums

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

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old September 27, 2011, 12:28 AM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: December 5, 2010
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 6,018
First many choices...

So little knowledge. I'm a handgun guy (look @ my signature) and I don't know much about the AR-15 aside from the fact that I want one now ever so bad! Shot one a few times and don't know what took me so long.

So I wanna know brands and everything. Top of the line. To average Joe types. Leave out the bottom of the barrel, cause I don't play with those.

what should my first AR-15 be?

SA 1911 - XD45 - G21sf - G22 - G27 - Hk USP 40 - SIG P226 E2 - Browning High-Power - S&W M19-3 - CZ-82 - Remington 870
Constantine is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 05:17 AM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: September 9, 2000
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 2,193
Colt 6920
RT is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 06:33 AM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: March 6, 2006
Posts: 578
The Colt 6920 is at a good price point (for now) so I'd definitely look into getting one. It may also depend on how much you're willing to spend. The S&W M&P15 Sport I hear is a really good, no frills AR-15 for those who don't have 900-1200 dollars to spend on one. What you plan to use it for may also be a deciding factor. Even if you do get one of the "bottom of the barrel" brands you can always upgrade the critical components later but it's usually better to spend the extra coin and get something that's properly built right out of the box. The brands considered to be top tier from what I know are Colt, Noveske, and LMT. I think BCM is right up there too. The average to lower brands are S&W, Stag, DPMS, Bushmaster and probably a few others I can't think of. That's not to say those won't serve you well, in fact it's likely those brands will do the average shooter just fine because in most cases their owners won't run thousands upon thousands of rounds through them or take them into harms way. Another option is to build your own and that way you can really learn the ins and outs of the AR platform and you'll get exactly what you want!

Last edited by spyderdude; September 27, 2011 at 06:38 AM.
spyderdude is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 07:09 AM   #4
rude robert
Senior Member
Join Date: December 20, 2009
Posts: 115
16 inch barrel is too short, just my two cents. Good price though.
rude robert is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 07:31 AM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: August 22, 2011
Location: McKinney, TX
Posts: 288
Much depends on what you want in an AR rifle...

Do you want a M4 carbine clone? (16" barrel, short gas system,) or more along the lines of a target or varmit rifle (flattop receiver, 20-24" bull barrel, etc.) Or, just more middle of the road A2 type (standard issue, 20" medium or heavy barrel, fixed or removable sights, etc.)

Answer that question first, and you'll have better luck finding where you want to go!
Charlie_98 is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 08:05 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: December 5, 2010
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 6,018
You guys rock! That was quicker than usual.

I want it for strictly home defense, hurricanes (looters), and for when I eventually go back into LE. The 16 is better for that purpose of clearing a home and/or defense purposes. I will ne modifying the rifle through a Navy SEAL that is like my blood. I'll see if I can snap shots of his work sometime soon. Price isn't necessary to tread the water on. I'm going to go big on this one.

So Colt sounds darn good.. I saw an M&P rifle that felt really solid to me when I was messing around with it one day. Didn't get a chance to ever hold onto a Colt unfortunately.

I have this strange thing where I have to feel the firearm or rifle in my hands for a while to decide. Hasn't failed me yet.

Any more options and prices??

Your help is greatly appreciated.

SA 1911 - XD45 - G21sf - G22 - G27 - Hk USP 40 - SIG P226 E2 - Browning High-Power - S&W M19-3 - CZ-82 - Remington 870
Constantine is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 08:32 AM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: August 22, 2011
Location: McKinney, TX
Posts: 288
Given your guidelines, what RT said... the Colt 6920 is pretty hard to beat.

You could always build one... I recently completed an AR build for myself. I have a Colt H-Bar, but I wanted something very light and short... so I built one:

LRB lower, RRA16" upper, mid-length gas system, Magpul hardware, shorty A2 stock. Only thing left is a set of pop-up sights...

I ordered the upper built from RRA, it was exactly how I wanted it; bought a stripped lower and built the lower up.

Charlie_98 is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 11:02 AM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: December 5, 2010
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 6,018
Wow. That is an awesome AR you got there Charlie. That's what I want to hear in my head every time I see my own. I don't feel I have the competence yet to build one. So most likely I'll just be buying one then modifying from there.

How much does that Colt usually go for on average again?

SA 1911 - XD45 - G21sf - G22 - G27 - Hk USP 40 - SIG P226 E2 - Browning High-Power - S&W M19-3 - CZ-82 - Remington 870
Constantine is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 01:13 PM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: November 24, 2007
Location: South Louisiana
Posts: 1,323
I am in a similar boat myself. I too am looking at purchasing my first AR, and I too was willing to spend a little to get a high quality rifle. I wanted something that would last me for quite some time, and I also wanted something that would hold its value well. Though I haven't placed an order yet (still shopping around), I decided on a Colt SP6940.

The 6920 is a basic M4 clone with plastic handguards and a removable carry handle rear sight. I personally wanted an AR with a quad rail and flip up sights. The 6940 uses a monolithic upper with an integral quad rail and comes with front and rear flip up sights. The 6920's can be found for right around $1000 and 6940's for just under $1300. A drop in quad rail is around $250 and flip up rear sights go for $60-$120. I decided to just go with the rifle that has all the features I want right out of the box, since a 6920 with addons would end up costing more than just the 6940.
"Si vis pacem, para bellum" - If you want peace, prepare for war.
Auto426 is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 02:56 PM   #10
Join Date: June 19, 2011
Posts: 77
Colt is very good, also to be considered are Daniel Defense, Bravo Company, Noveske, LMT, and LaRue. All make some excellent rifles. Check out some of the AR specific forums and, there is a ton of great resources on those sites specific to what you are asking and in great detail.
Aiko is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 03:26 PM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: September 9, 2000
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 2,193
If you wanna change to a free float rail, Daniel Defense makes some rails that can be installed without removing the FSB. Otherwise, you can also cut down the FSB and install a long rail.
RT is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 06:57 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: December 20, 2009
Location: Backwoods, Northern MI
Posts: 784
I'd go with Spikes or BCM. They are definitely top quality. They are every bit as good as Colt, and cheaper too.
”Gun control is like trying to reduce drunk driving by making it tougher for sober people to own cars.” ~Unknown
DubC-Hicks is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 07:28 PM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: August 16, 2010
Location: TEXAS
Posts: 124
Buy quality, buy it only once. Buy might regret it.

If the money is tight, get a Stag, DPMS, Smith and Wesson, Bushmaster, etc and don't think twice. Few people make a bad AR these days due to intense competition.

If you can afford to pay a small $100-300 premium, look at Daniel Defense, LMT, BCM, Colt. They a higher level quality product which can withstand more abuse and keep on working.

There is probably not much difference to the average user but you can be assured of a quality product that a Tier 1 operator would not hesitate to take with him in harms way.

If you are like most people, you will eventually accessorize it and try different things so I would stick with the basic flattop design until you know exactly what you want. Handguards/Rails are cool but they add bulk and weight. I would try the basic configuration until you know exactly what you want. Magpul makes an inexpensive plastic handguard that allows you to attach some rail pieces for attaching accessories.

Given a choice since you are starting with a blank slate, I recommend the midlength gas design for 16 inch carbines over the carbine length gas tubes. There is not a big difference between the two designs, but the midlength design is a tad bit more reliable due to lower gas pressures and there are newer handguard designs and rails coming daily for the midlength gas tube AR.

The only advantage of the 20 inch AR is a higher muzzle velocity useful for long range shooting. The 5.56 really runs out of gas at 600 yards and you need a pretty fancy setup with free float rails, good riflescopes and good shooting ability (reading wind) to achieve meanful hits at that range. I think a 5.56 bullet traveling at 600 yards acts like a 22LR at point blank or something to that effect.

Since most ARs are rarely shot beyond 200 yards, the 20 inch barrel offers little for most folks.

Last edited by Flakbait; September 27, 2011 at 07:37 PM.
Flakbait is offline  
Old September 27, 2011, 07:34 PM   #14
Uncle Malice
Senior Member
Join Date: May 11, 2009
Location: Phoenix
Posts: 4,455
Hey Constantine,

Here's my input.... it may or may not be what you wanna hear. I'm also no expert by any means.

Are you stuck on the AR platform? Have you considered a nicer AK?

I bought my first AR - a Ruger SR556C back in the spring. It's a great gun to be sure. I wanted a gas piston gun for the ease of cleaning and temp control.. and let me tell you, it definitely works. I can fire hundreds of rounds, and the bolt assembly is almost completely clean and it's also cool to the touch. The gas block gets very hot and a bit dirty, but that's not a big deal.

I've been getting more into AK's lately. They're just so dang simple, it's stupid. Lots of styles and options(same as the AR) but most things are cheaper for the AK platform. If you're looking at spending enough to get an AR, you can get one of the best AK's available from Arsenal Inc. The SGL21 is a Russian made gun imported by Arsenal in a sporter configuration and then worked over by Arsenal to produce what is as close to the classic Russian AK that you can get in the states. I'm actually picking my Arsenal up tomorrow. I also have a Draco AK pistol on order that I'm going to use for an SBR project.

If you're dead set on the AR platform, I've been very happy with my SR556C. I was also REALLY interested in the Sig 516, but there were none available when I got my Ruger, and I'm impatient.
Glock 43 | Glock 26 G4 | Glock 19 G4 BFG | HK USP 9 | HK USP 45 (Tan) | HK P2000 | HK P30L | HK VP9 | HK 45 C | HK 45 C "Sand" | Walther PPQ 9
Daniel Defense DDM4 V4 | Arsenal SGL 21 | ASA Side-Charger SBR | Savage Mark II FV-SR
Mossberg 590A1 20" SP | Mossberg 590A1 14" Shockwave
Uncle Malice is offline  
Old September 28, 2011, 09:25 AM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: December 5, 2010
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 6,018
Flakbait and Uncle Malice.

Thanks very much for thorough rundown. And the others who took the time to help me out. Greatly appreciated. I think I'll look more into the 16inch barrel and if not Colt than the M&P it will have to be. Next time I'm at the shop (Friday) to get my 1911 fixed) I will check out the wall and see what they have again. Always changes up. They're a lot of brands I didn't recognize here that were mentioned. I gotta feel them out first hand.

Malice, the AK....I've always wanted one of those as well. And I wanted one before the AR..but something just called me to the AR recently. I've never shot an AK before.

Whats the ballistic difference between their cartridges?

SA 1911 - XD45 - G21sf - G22 - G27 - Hk USP 40 - SIG P226 E2 - Browning High-Power - S&W M19-3 - CZ-82 - Remington 870
Constantine is offline  
Old September 28, 2011, 10:56 AM   #16
Te Anau
Senior Member
Join Date: June 17, 2004
Location: Somewhere south of the No
Posts: 3,824
Skip the carbines and go with a mid-length.
"Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it." --American author Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Te Anau is offline  
Old September 28, 2011, 11:17 AM   #17
Senior Member
Join Date: October 26, 2008
Posts: 726

On the left, my guaranteed 1 MOA carbine built by Fulton Armory, ~$1150. On the right, the SailSkiDrive gun show franken-parts $575 special, guaranteed 1 MOV (Minute of Volkswagon).

Both chew through anything I feed them. The cheap one is really light and shoots about 2 MOA at 100 meters. It has an 8610 Rock River bolt and carrier (not milspec) and I've had no issues.

I think the other guys are correct, you probably cant go wrong w/ the Colt 6920... good quality parts and probably the easiest to sell if you need to get rid of it.

Hk USP 45 Expert, USP 40, USP 9, SIG P226, S&W M&P9, Hk 4, Makarov, Desert Eagle 40, Beretta FS92 Centurion, Kimber TLEII 1911A1, Glock 22, SIG P225, 1943 Rem Rand 1911A1, S&W mod 64, Walther PPQ, SIG P229, Browning BDA 45 (SIG P220), Hk45, SIG P230

Last edited by sailskidrive; September 28, 2011 at 11:42 AM.
sailskidrive is offline  
Old September 28, 2011, 07:49 PM   #18
Senior Member
Join Date: September 28, 2011
Posts: 342
about a year ago I picked up a S&W M&P15P. It's the piston driven S&W M4 type rifle. Worked a deal with the dude at the gunshop, bought it and an EOTech for $1400, he tossed in a set of Troy BUIS. First time I cracked her open, I noticed the machining (particularly on the bolt) is kinda rough, and for a minute i thought I was going to have to return it.

NOPE! Holy hell I love this rifle! the 16" barrel produces a TIGHT shot group. (also gets slightly better muzzle velocity than the milspec 14.5"barrel, while retaining it's maneuverability for CQB) It cycles smooth as hell, and pops right back down on target. VERY solid feeling round after round after round. If I were a cop, I'd have this badboy in my trunk. If the army would let me, I'd carry this on deployment. Fires every single time, BEYOND easy to clean. Also i read alot of complaints about the "increased recoil" with a piston, but if you're complaining about the *ahem*recoil of the big bad 5.56mm NATO round, you should probably go back to shooting airguns with the Boy Scouts. This gun is beyond controllable if you know what you're doing.

I've fired over 3k roudns of of this beast with only one malfunction, and that was because in a moment of absent mindedness, I tried to chamber a round with the range's breech block still in place.

Side note: I learned the hard way at the range to make sure you put a bit of LockTite blue on the threads of the Troy sights at the range when in the midst of a controlled pair, my front sight departed my gasblock and landed in the next lane over.

Thus far I've added a MAGPUL BAD lever,MAGPUL single point sling adaptor, a Badger Tac-Latch, and an MOE trigger guard. This is my appocalypse gun.

*S&W M&P is an absolute dream to shoot.
*Comes with 2 MAGPUL 30rnd PMAG's (If you've never used PMAGs, be prepared to throw out all of your crappy GI mags. They feed ALL 30 rounds. EVERY time)
*VERY easy to clean
*Probably will still fire and cycle if you don't clean it.
*Base model (handguards... no rails except for the top picatinny rail on the receiver) oughta run you about $1000-$1200.
*Can't recommend this gun enough

Last edited by insomni; September 29, 2011 at 10:20 AM.
insomni is offline  
Old September 28, 2011, 09:37 PM   #19
Senior Member
Join Date: September 11, 2009
Location: Florida
Posts: 3,198
Constantine- do yourself a favor and get one from Spikes. Theyre right up the road from me and they a re good people. Good AR's for the money. That, or BCM.
"An angry prophet, denouncing the hypocrisies of our time"
zombieslayer is offline  
Old September 28, 2011, 10:00 PM   #20
Senior Member
Join Date: June 29, 2011
Posts: 710
After many months of research, talking to AR people, thinking about what I wanted to do with the rifle, talking to engineers of AR rifle facilities, thinking about what my expectations were, and what I wanted in the end....


- already equipped with a nice buttstock
- already equipped with a nice pistol grip
- already equipped with a monolithic quadrail
- already equipped with great (yet removable) peepsights
- mid length gas
- free float barrel
- truly a top shelf AR out of the box, rather than upgrading the hell out of something else, or building a Lego gun

Keep in mind this is not the best option for everyone, but after owning and operating this rifle, I am 99% sure it is the best option for me.

I say 99% because I haven't owned a Noveske, or LaRue, or Robinson Arms XCR, or (insert above average AR here).

Just my opinion, feel free to pick it apart
chadio is offline  
Old September 29, 2011, 03:30 PM   #21
Senior Member
Join Date: December 5, 2010
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 6,018
Thank you all so much for all your help. I literally had 1k+ saved up for my AR-15...bad news though...

My car got broken into they stole my radio, my CD's, glasses, and left it sitting on bricks. So kind of them. Better than on the floor right?

Gotta love Miami...well. its at the shop now getting a new alarm and I had to buy some stocks for it to get there off the classifieds.

So no more money for me now

-_____- this is unfortunate. I need a hug...or a range day tomorrow lmao life.....

SA 1911 - XD45 - G21sf - G22 - G27 - Hk USP 40 - SIG P226 E2 - Browning High-Power - S&W M19-3 - CZ-82 - Remington 870
Constantine is offline  
Old September 30, 2011, 09:58 AM   #22
Senior Member
Join Date: December 5, 2010
Location: Miami, Florida
Posts: 6,018

Well...had to buy stocks. Looks pretty good and got an alarm too.
SA 1911 - XD45 - G21sf - G22 - G27 - Hk USP 40 - SIG P226 E2 - Browning High-Power - S&W M19-3 - CZ-82 - Remington 870
Constantine is offline  
Old September 30, 2011, 10:53 AM   #23
Senior Member
Join Date: July 21, 2011
Location: Idaho
Posts: 7,729
good average joe companies include
Palmetto state armory(which is mostly FN Herstal parts, FNH makes a lot of the USAFs M4s now)
DPMS panther arms(I have a modified sportical and I have dropped deer at 250 yards with it so all the guys that say a 16 inch barrel is too short just dont know what they are talking about)
Stag arms(they are fairly good quality and make left handed ARs so they blow hot brass to the left instead of the right, just incase you are a lefty)
rock river arms(a lot of swat teams are starting to go with RRAs, they are good guns)
smith and wesson(M&P 15s are pretty good from what I've heard but I've never shot one myself)
remington R15 and R25(these are made by DPMS)
mossberg is making one now as well but it's brand new so you may want to hold off until they work any bugs out of the design.

I would definitely recommend a DPMS sportical (around $600) the only thing they really miss over others is they dnt have a forward assist and a dust cover but in florida I doubt you'd have need of the dust cover and I've never failed to go into battery so a forward assist is pretty moot.

high end ARs include bushmaster, colt, and armalite(the original AR15) but they start to get spendy in comparison. sorry about your car by the way...hope you have good insurance.
ignore my complete lack of capitalization. I still have no problem correcting your grammar.
I never said half the stuff people said I did-Albert Einstein
You can't believe everything you read on the internet-Benjamin Franklin
tahunua001 is offline  
Old September 30, 2011, 11:48 AM   #24
Junior member
Join Date: January 21, 2009
Posts: 1,672
The basic AR depends on an accurate barrel and minimum milspec parts put together right to run reliably. Two pitfalls new AR shooters fall into:

1) the M4 as issued is not what civilians buy. It's carbine length gas on a 14.5" barrel, and that's 5.5" shorter than what the original was designed to do. You don't get optimum velocity, and buying an NFA barrel adds cost for less performance. Super short barrels in AR's make them more of a submachine gun, with it's shortened range limitations and significantly less power. If an LEO needs short, he transistions to a pistol, which works better indoors overall. That's what's "off" with all the Hollywood team doorknockers we see. In the military, there's no choice, you run with the M4.

2) The quad rail is an institutional compromise. Check the supercool SOPMOD poster for what all the services need to clamp onto a rail - there's so many different things issued in generational layers, a quad rail was the only way to accomodate it all. Basically, it's a $300 light mount with 48" if rail, which is more mount than one person really needs. Then, they bandaid it up with ladder guards and make it heavier and less helpful.

The can freefloat the barrel, but that only works when the sling is mounted to the float, and the FSB remains on the barrel. Only then is it separated from bending forces, and still aims the gun to the point of impact. Mounting a BUIS on a free float rail means the sling pulls it around. It might be less, but it's not a free float doing that.

And, most don't care. The average gun and shooter does 2MOA in the service, all you need for a 10" hit zone at 500m, about half of what exists. Good enough.

That's where some of us ignore Brand, and build what works better - not what the Army adopted for a general use gun. Leaving the FSB at rifle length, on the barrel, helps it stay more accurate and there's no fiddling or downtime with the front sight. Not using a free float saves $300 - if something needs to be on there, mount a rail strip for $20, or a dedicated mount. With the money saved, buy a better optic, or at least have one. Red dots are far superior to iron sights in getting a fast sight picture.

A 16" midlength gas dissipator can offer MORE accuracy and reliability, it's all in what you need, not what is issue.
tirod is offline  
Old October 2, 2011, 07:51 PM   #25
Senior Member
Join Date: December 21, 2010
Location: Central FL
Posts: 1,354
If you're fairly new to AR15's like I am, i suggest reading up and learning about all the different things that make a good rifle. 10 different people will give you 10 different suggestions on picking out an AR.

Here is a good article to get you started. it also does a break-down of different AR15's and the writer's opinions on them.

As a new rifle shooter myself, i picked up a Bushmaster M4A3 Carbine.
Justice06RR is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

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 03:32 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.11011 seconds with 9 queries