Skip to comments.What about that AR-15..??
Posted on 10/20/2010 8:07:51 PM PDT by Bean Counter
I'm considering the purchase of an improvable automatic rifle to augment my personal collection, and am looking for some input and guidance. There are a lot of options available and I hate reinventing the wheel. I would like to find a mainframe AR-15 that I can improve and expand upon but I am not sure of the best way to do it.
I've had my eye on the gun trader classified for my area here and to no surprise there are a lot of guns to choose from. I've found a couple of AR-15's that are way up in price ($1600 and up) and the weapons are obvious expensive boy-toys with the best fancy frills, but are of questionable value in a tactical situation. Some is a matter of personal taste, and the rest is a matter of practicality. I lean toward the latter.
There are quite a few other AR's for sale here in the local area, for about half that much and with fewer snazzy features, but how do you tell if it's worth the money?
I am no gunsmith, but I am fairly certain I could assemble what I want with the parts I have already found online, in a reasonable amount of time, and within a budget of about a Grand. I'm not sure if that is the best way to go, or if I am better off buying an inexpensive "mainframe" AR and improving it in pieces.
Some informed discussion is invited here, and I would be interested in any advice anyone has to offer. With the economy the way it is, there are a lot of people who are selling guns and ammo, and an equal number who are willing (and able) to buy.
Keyword ‘banglist’ added in order to reach the FReeper shooting community.
You can put together a pretty good AR-15 from parts for right around $500 if you shop around. Very good will run you about 600 to 700. Figure another $50ish for the special tools.
Far as putting it together borrow the tools or buy (resell em after) if you plan on making more. I think headspacing and barrel install was the most technical part and that’s not too bad either, other than that anyone that can use basic hand tools and follow instructions can put together an AR-15 from parts.
Better off with an AR-10.
With basic hand tools I had it assembled in about an hour from instructions I found on the internet. I saved myself $300, easy. And I got to talk to a local FFL and the nice folks at M&A Parts in the process.
From there I can add/modify to my heart's content.
That’s the beauty of the AR-15. Completely modular. Anything from a 16” M4 clone, to a specific hi-power build 20’HBAR. The sky’s (or your wallet depending) the limit.
I like the KISS approach. A2 upper, 20” HBAR, 1:9twist, 3-point sling, and 20 round magazines.
The advantage if you build it is, chances are you’ll be more familiar with the inner-workings and be more adept at recognizing and replacing if it stops running.
Fair warning though, for some, assembling can be addicting. They don’t call it Black Rifle Disease for nothing.
If I was to ever buy another of the type, I'd probably buy TWO Ruger Mini-30s and 10 magazines...and a thousand rounds of Wolf hollow-point 7.62x39, 110grain.
All that for the price of an AR-15.
“I’m considering the purchase of an improvable automatic rifle to augment my personal collection”
Unless you have a FFL, that “automatic” part is going to be tough, not to mention very illegal.
If you meant semi-auto, take a look at the CMMG gas piston M-4. Buddy just got one from CDNN sports for about $1k. Shoots great and runs clean.
You need to go no farther than this:
Does your “about a grand” include optics or just the rifle? (I’m guessing it’s for the rifle alone)
I’d be willing to bet that you could find a decent S&W M&P15 or even a Colt for under $1000 these days (from someone who spent $1200 to $1400 for it new last year during the Obama panic)...
I recommend the Russian Saiga rifles and shotguns. It is basically a proven AK-47 system except the trigger assembly is moved more to the rear of the receiver to accommodate a sport wooden stock so the weapon becomes an import sporting rifle. The wooden stock can be removed and replaced with a handgrip and assault rifle style stock. Other parts can be replaced so it meets BATF requirements (i.e foregrip, magazine, etc) for enough compliant parts to make it still a legal semi auto import. The nice thing about Saiga’s is it comes in 5.56mm, 7.62 x 39 and .308 cal as well as a .410 and 12 GA mag fed shotgun. You can have a stash of these rifles and you need to show someone once on how to operate, load and unload weapon. Same procedures can be used on the various caliber rifles and shotguns. Lot cheaper, AK reliable and more rugged then an AR-15 system.
For a really poor man arsenal, revolvers (.357 mag that can also use .38 cal) and Marlin lever action rifles that uses the same bullets. No mags to deal with, just get tons of bullets for the standoff. Smith and Wesson and Taurus have some real nice 8 shot revolvers. These are very easy weapons to use and teach someone to load, unload and fire. Also add to the arsenal a .22 cal rifle and revolver for hunting and training. Ammo is plenty and alot cheaper then blowing off larger caliber bullets. You save them for the real thing.
If you’re sold on the AR platform, but want to build a custom rifle yourself to your requirements, get a stripped lower receiver $150 or so and get an upper kit already headspaced for 5.56 NATO as opposed to .223. Check Shotgun News- there are many upper suppliers.
If you just want an AR, buy a used one in good shape; they’ve come way down like you say and you can add any gee gaw from there. The tool requirements are minimal.
If you’re not stuck on AR, and your anticipated need is close range, dead nut reliable you might consider the AK as a platform, or even the Romanian PSL (7.62 x 54R) as a longer range .308 equivalent (in firepower). Going Soviet gets you a lot more firepower and ammo(and practice) for the same money.
I just went on GunBroker.com and saw a new Bushmaster ta Buy Now price for $829. This is about what they sold during the Clinton Y2K scare. Sadly the “scare” is real.
Depends what you want it for, AR-15’s are great for the field because they are light but for true home defence somthing in a 308 like a FN-FAL is much more useful.
Personally if a firefight ever comes I want something that will shoot thru walls or crack an engine block at 600 yards. The .223 can never do this.
“I want something that will shoot thru walls or crack an engine block at 600 yards. The .223 can never do this.”
Neither can a 308, but myths are always fun to repeat.
So by ‘automatic’, do you mean “Class III’ (keeps firing as long as you pull on the trigger), and if so, are they legal to own in your state?
If you actually mean ‘semi-automatic’ (one trigger pull = one shot, and then the rifle action cycles another round into the chamber), then a DPMS or Olympic Arms kit is hard to beat.
Had to ask - words mean things...
I bought a S&W M&P15ORC new for $999 in early 2009. I could have bought the same rifle from the same dealer last week for around $700, and there might also have been a $50 rebate available IIRC...
In late 2009 I bought a new S&W M&P15FT for $1150 IIRC, and I’m not sure that I could do any better right now. So it does depend somewhat on the exact model and features. YMMV...
You would think a guy who had been in the Navy would be more careful around boats. Geez. ;-)
Someone posted an AR company in Texas that had great prices and supposedly very high quality.
I forgot to bookmark the web address. About $700.
Anyone here remember the company?
For cheap, reliable, and did I mention Cheap! - consider an SKS.
Don’t bother with the SKS-M. Had one, and while it did feed reliably from AK-47 mags, just a simple part exchange on the regular SKS will give it 20 round capacity without the long mag hanging out the bottom.
And, where else can you get UGLY for so little outlay.
Also, it is more accurate than most any Mini-30.
I forgot to bookmark the web address. About $700.
Anyone here remember the company?
It is likely LaRue tactical. "http://www.laruetactical.com/" http://www.laruetactical.com/
In the '90s I carried a Colt AR-15 carbine. Probably my all time favorite gun. Also the best gun I ever had.
I never fully disassembled it. I just stripped it for cleaning. I thought the AR-15 was easier to strip and clean than my Ruger.22 pistols.
I had only two complaints. I didn't like the sliding metal stock. It rubbed my ribs the wrong way. If I had another AR-15 carbine I'd put the plastic rifle stock on it.
The muzzle flash was huge. I'd replace the factory muzzle brake with an aftermarket one. One with the little holes instead of those big slots. I think the factory muzzle brake looks nicer though.
I always think about my AR-15 and want another. I also think about putting together my own to save money. I agree with the other posters. If you're handy with tools and can folllow instructions, putting together your own AR-15 should be no big deal.
However, the Ruger has the Garand action and is made in the USA. Heck, they're prettier than the SKS too.
I know I’m gonna get flamed for this, but I love my Mini 30. A few enhancements to the gun and it spits out cheap russian ammo without fail. I will admit, it sucked before I spent some time with mods and breaking it in. Now, it is really working like a well oiled machine.
Wolff Heavy Duty Hammer Spring
Reduced Size Gas Bushing
1911 Buffer Pad
ATI Strikeforce Stock w/ Aluminum upgrade
Ruger is now making 20 round mags [one of the biggest drawback to the mini 30 prior to this was the lack of quality mags]
light and laser sight
No. LaRue looks like a good outfit with high end stuff.
It might be High Standard. So many AR15 makers these days.
I have hated the M-16 - AR-15 platform from the time it was introduced. I’m a 30 cal guy, and refused to give up my M-14 ‘back in the day’ (actually an XM-21).... fortunately I was in a position to get away with going against what the procurement system required for regular grunts.
As others mentioned above, I think that an ‘off the shelf’ AK or Ruger mini-14 are better choices.
That said, I LOVE my .50 Beowulf (on an slightly customized AR-15 platform) and have an additional 5.56 upper for it, and it doesn’t suck in the smaller caliber.
If I didn’t have it the gap covered in other arms, I’d seriously consider an AR-15 with a 6.5 Grendel upper, or one of the other six and a half millimeter range projectiles. Much more useful than the pipsqueak 5.56mm / .223 cartridges.
You CAN make the AR-15 into a firearm that doesn’t suck, but it takes either big money, or moderate money and some decent gunsmith skills.
Build your own. It’s not that hard, and you will know exactly what you’re getting.
You can find everything you need here:
They were probably talking about Model 1 Sales.
They have decent stuff. You’ll need to purchase a stripped lower through a FFL, then buy one of their kits to complete your rifle.
Spikes Tactical is out of Arizona, and they have some good stuff too.
LaRue Tactical is in Leander, Texas. They mostly sell high end $$$ expensive guns and parts, but the quality is also excellent and comes with a lifetime warranty. I shot one of their 7.62 OBR rifles last weekend, and it was the bomb!
I've built several AR-15 kits, and I think the best source for the basic kit is http://www.model1sales.com/
I bought several AR-15 receivers locally for $99 and got the kits from Model 1. The most expensive kit was the Dissipator at about $550. If you build the kit yourself you will have a much better understanding of how it works and you will have more options that you can choose when you customize it for your personal use.
I've owned an AK-47 for twenty-five years and it has never jammed or not fired. At one time I didn't clean it for about 5 years just to see what it took to make it jam. I finally got so embarrassed from having such a filthy weapon that I broke down and cleaned it.
I bought one of the first Mini-30 rifles and the damned thing stunk up the range. The barrels were crap and never should have been put on ANY decent rifle. God alone knows where half my shots went to. Stunningly inaccurate. I finally sent it off to be rebarreled and had a stronger spring installed so it would fire cheap Wolf ammo. I spent as much money rebarreling and improving the rifle as I did on the initial purchase.
That was the first and last Ruger I'll ever buy.
If you build an AR-15 you will have access to 40 years of modernization and after market improvements. It will be easier to find replacement parts for the AR-15 if anything bad happens.
I hope this helps a bit.
I don’t have much to add. I’d suggest not getting an upper with a fixed carry handle because the options for optics are better with a flat-top(and you can just add a detachable carry handle if you like that look.) An adjustable stock looks cool(and I’m sure has value in fitting different people with widely varying dimensions or when using body armor or not), but I think I’d prefer a fixed stock on my AR15 and probably will change that on mine someday. As far as brands, midrange brands are roughly comparable—CMMG(might be considered the top of the midrange), Rock River, Bushmaster(which I own), DPMS, S&W, Stag, Armalite and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few. Yeah, some are closer to milspec than others, but they’re all decent AR15’s. Colt, LMT, Noveske would be a step up from those. The brands that I hear or read the most negative comments about are Vulcan, Hesse, and to a lesser degree Olympic.
Full-auto is legal in most states, you don’t need an FFL.
You just need to pass a local LEO and national FBI background check, and send $200 to the Treasury, you’ll get a tax stamp back, then you can go get the weapon.
I used to be a class III dealer.
The AR15 is like Legos. You can put together pretty much whatever you want. If you want the most opportunity for customizing, you'll want to start with a flattop receiver to allow for iron sights, optics or both
Next think about barrel length. Do you want a short, easy handling gun, or one with more long range potential. Short means a barrel that has to be 16" (including flash hider), longer means 20" or longer.
Short usually means a collapsible butt stock, longer means a fixed one. Bushmaster is a good name, Rocky River means good value but there are dozens of good makers out there. Spend a few days research and you'll never look back.
Although the AR is one of the most forgiving rifles, as it can be built from scratch using many different mfgs to complete a good rifle, my only suggestion would be use good quality parts.
You can grab a off the shelf Bushmaster DCM for the match grade stuff at around 1K, or you can build your own in various calibers.
The last I built was on a DPMS lower, with a Model 1 Sales CAR A4 heavy barreled Upper chambered in 7.62x39, everyone that has fired the weapon loves it.
Don’t get lost in the thought of putting one together, it is fairly simple, buy a factory head-spaced Upper and you will only need the most basic of tools for the rest.
A friend decided he wanted to put one togther from parts... and that is what he did! He bought all the parts (including the stripped Lower) and we sat at the table and fully put the rifle together in about 30 minutes, afterwords he just looked at the finished product and said “That’s it? I though it would be much more difficult”.
Some good mfgs to start with... DPMS, Rock River, Bushmaster, Stag Arms, Olympic Arms.
take a look at the CMMG gas piston M-4. Buddy just got one from CDNN sports for about $1k. Shoots great and runs clean.
I was thinking about splurging for one of those, hows it working out? of course it doesn't matter now since I lost my guns in a mudslide .. yeah, that's it...a mudslide.
Not too many of those in Missouri, but they can be bad.
BTW, in case the original poster is interested, some videos from Brownells on building an AR
I own 2 AR-15s, one of which I built myself, but I still do not understand the difference between .223 and 5.56 NATO. I thought they were, for our purposes, exactly the same.
Thanks for the correction!
Thing’s a tack driver at 100 yards. Nice picatiny rail on top for accessories. Really does run very clean even when shooting Russian (Wolf) ammo.
Sorry to hear about the mudslide. Did I ever mention that I lost all my firearms and ammo in that boating accident? Still don’t remember why I thought cleaning all of them in a rowboat was a good idea...
( ignore 'N' - I'm pretty sure they're the same )
what ive been told anyways...
See here: http://www.thegunzone.com/556v223.html
Short version: If your upper is stamped “5.56,” you can shoot both. If it’s stamped “.223,” you risk catastrophic failure due to higher chamber pressure if you shoot 5.56 with it, esp. if it’s an older rifle.