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Old 02-13-2011, 04:39 AM   #1
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Default AR-15 newb questions

Greetings, all.

I've begun the research to build an AR-15. With tax season upon us, I've got some money coming and it's time to build. However, I'm quite new to ARs and don't have any idea what I'm really doing...

So a few questions, some of which may be easier to answer than others.
First, I wanted to make sure that 223 and 5.56 are actually the same caliber. I'd read somewhere that 223 will fire both, but I wanted to ask some experts before I make any final decisions.

Second, I'd like to hear some opinions on brands. I was leaning toward the DPMS due to cost and good reviews on Midway and other sites, but would like to hear what you all have to say.

Third, Both of the upper receiver assemblies I'm looking hardest at are called "slick side" and do not have the forward assist or brass deflector and dust cover. Do these really matter? Will I see any real difference not having them?

Fourth, barrel length. This will be a plinking and fun shooting rifle, perhaps with some varmint hunting thrown in for variety. The two uppers I'm looking at are bull barrels, one is a 16" length, non free floating hand guard (which I know can be added later) and the other is a 20" with a free floating hand guard. Will any accuracy really be sacrificed with 4" barrel length?

20" Bull barrel

16" Bull barrel

Fifth, is the bull barrel really all that necessary? I do want an accurate rifle, and I love the bull barrel look. Does it improve accuracy very much, or will a normal barrel function just as well?

The lower I'm thinking about is an assembly, although I'm not opposed to getting a stripped assembly and building. I'm an automotive technician by trade, so I'm very mechanically inclined. But it will possibly be more cost effective to get the assembly, so that may be the direction I go.

DPMS lower assembly

I will be buying the upper first due to cost, I want to get the larger cost out of the way quickly, then I can save for a little while for the lower.

I also realize that this is no top shelf build, and I really wanted to start entry level anyway. I also realize that a solid platform will give me the ability to improve in the future, and I would like to make sure I get that solid platform.

Sorry about the long rambling post, looking forward to hearing opinions and thoughts.

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Old 02-13-2011, 06:27 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by king1138 View Post
Greetings, all.

I've begun the research to build an AR-15. With tax season upon us, I've got some money coming and it's time to build. However, I'm quite new to ARs and don't have any idea what I'm really doing...

So a few questions, some of which may be easier to answer than others.
First, I wanted to make sure that 223 and 5.56 are actually the same caliber. I'd read somewhere that 223 will fire both, but I wanted to ask some experts before I make any final decisions.

Second, I'd like to hear some opinions on brands. I was leaning toward the DPMS due to cost and good reviews on Midway and other sites, but would like to hear what you all have to say.

Third, Both of the upper receiver assemblies I'm looking hardest at are called "slick side" and do not have the forward assist or brass deflector and dust cover. Do these really matter? Will I see any real difference not having them?

Fourth, barrel length. This will be a plinking and fun shooting rifle, perhaps with some varmint hunting thrown in for variety. The two uppers I'm looking at are bull barrels, one is a 16" length, non free floating hand guard (which I know can be added later) and the other is a 20" with a free floating hand guard. Will any accuracy really be sacrificed with 4" barrel length?

20" Bull barrel

16" Bull barrel

Fifth, is the bull barrel really all that necessary? I do want an accurate rifle, and I love the bull barrel look. Does it improve accuracy very much, or will a normal barrel function just as well?

The lower I'm thinking about is an assembly, although I'm not opposed to getting a stripped assembly and building. I'm an automotive technician by trade, so I'm very mechanically inclined. But it will possibly be more cost effective to get the assembly, so that may be the direction I go.

DPMS lower assembly

I will be buying the upper first due to cost, I want to get the larger cost out of the way quickly, then I can save for a little while for the lower.

I also realize that this is no top shelf build, and I really wanted to start entry level anyway. I also realize that a solid platform will give me the ability to improve in the future, and I would like to make sure I get that solid platform.

Sorry about the long rambling post, looking forward to hearing opinions and thoughts.

1. 5.56 and .223 ARE NOT THE SAME. higher pressures come with the 5.56 ammunition. it's a roll of the dice when you shoot 5.56 ammo out of a .223 barrelled (ONLY) rifle. IT'S BEST TO PURCHASE A 5.56mm BARRELLED RIFLE WITH A "MULTI-" CALIBER LOWER, THAT WAY YOU CAN SHOOT BOTH .223 AND 5.56 AMMO WITHOUT WORRYING ABOUT A PROBLEM;

2. there are MANY, MANY different brands of lowers that are quality. do some research, and pick the best one for you: Bravo Company, Del-Ton, Rock River, etc, etc;

3. the forward assist allows for "quiet" loading, ie. easing the bolt forward w/o "gripping and ripping" (pulling the charging handle back and letting it fly forward. the forward assist lets you "ease" the bolt forward, and by tapping the "assist," you make sure the bolt is fully closed;

4. from the reading that i've done (it's alot) about my AR build, you will not really see any difference in the accuracy of barrel length, UNLESS you will be using it to try to "drive tacks" @ range. with that said, the free float handguard WILL (SHOULD) improve accuracy w/in a 1/4-inch i would say;

5. bull barrels are stiffer and resonate alot less than a standard barrel, thus giving the rifle less barrel fluctuation..........which leads to POA (point of aim), POI (point of impact) holding closer together. also, a bull barrel heats up "slower" due to more material, the hotter the barrel becomes, the less accurate it tends to be -- more material = longer heat up time = more accurate shots (to a point);

6. GOOD LUCK AND POST SOME PICS WHEN YOU START GETTING YOUR PIECES, AND START ASSEMBLY.
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:37 AM   #3
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What is your purpose for this first AR? Hunting? Pure target-shooting? 2nd Amendment protection? What?

The reason this is important is in choosing which side to come down on certain balance issues.

Take the bull barrel. Greater accuracy comes at the cost of weight. Greater weight is fine on a bench rest or a bipod at the range. But on a single-point sling while running and gunning the weight could be tiresome.

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Old 02-13-2011, 01:22 PM   #4
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I'd scrape and save a little more. The DPMS uppers you're looking at will do but add $100 or so and you can get much better. As far as bull barrels, go to the store and handle one (any brand) if they have one. Compare against other barrel profiles. The weight may feel good at first but over time you'll likely wish you'd gone with something lighter. As far as 16" vs. 20", when in doubt go 16" but that's up to you, lots of good arguments for either and it really comes down to you.

If you can't stretch the budget look at the Del-Ton kits that complete a stripped lower receiver. Or maybe the CMMG bargain bin ARs.

A lot of us do like to spread out the cost like you said but I think it makes more sense to do the lower first with good components (add an H buffer) and hold off (but continue your research) on uppers until you can answer questions like caliber, twist rate, barrel profile, barrel steel, chrome lining, length, gas length, bolt carrier group, handguards, front sight, etc. etc.

I bet you'll make a more informed decision on uppers if you defer that decision a couple months.

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Old 02-13-2011, 02:11 PM   #5
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Lowers. I gotta jump in here on them. It will boggle the mind how many are out there. you need to find out first if you want milled or forged. Milled are really nice but for the average builder go with forged. You have so many companies out there, so look for the best with the cost. Novasek, Daniel Defence , Spikes, but really look into stripped lowers. I would certainly recomend Palmetto. They sell great stuff at great prices. Get them on twitter, and you will find lowers stripped for 70 bucks at times. Great people.
Then you have to decise commercial or Mil spec. I run both, but you will need to know this for buffer tubes.
Now I know some pople buy complete lowers and just slap on a upper, but build your own. In reality you can build a great ar in about 45 mins with the video and you will know everything about it.

As for slick side, If you want it build it, but why? I just dotn understand wanting one. there is a reason it went the way of the dodo, but if ya want a M16 pure slickside go for it.

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Old 02-13-2011, 02:30 PM   #6
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You dont need a Multi marked lower to go b/w .223 and 5.56.

I honestly would hold off until I could afford something different than DPMS. DPMS doesnt have a great reputation.

For a plnker/fun shooter a 16" would probably work best for you.

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Old 02-13-2011, 03:18 PM   #7
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King,

The good news is that all of the reputable AR manufacturers use the 5.56 or 5.56 Wylde chamber in some varmint and predator rifles. By the way 223 and the normal 5.56 shoot well in either! So you will have no concern even if they are marked 223/5.56. The reason that was done is so that the person who does not understand what 5.56 NATO is would not be calling wanting to know what caliber it was! So the markings on the DPMS, Stag, S&W, Rock River, Bushmaster and others may state that designation.
As far as the good varmint barrels like the ones Rock River and other companies use. They are more accurate. Sometimes 1/4 MOA Groups at 100 when the shooter is having a good day and with good ammunition. As the guys said it depends on what you want to use it for. And do not forget anytime you go to a varmint model with 20"+ barrel. Consider the weight if you are going to be doing a lot of traveling with it. That is why a lot of the Predator Rifles have a lighter barrel. However most of the good quality 16" barreled rifles are capable of 1/2-3/4 MOA at 100 yards All comes down to what you want and the application you are going to use it for mostly!
Good Luck!

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Old 02-13-2011, 03:29 PM   #8
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King - Welcome to the Wonderful World of the AR Platform.

First off have you read the stickied threads at the top this section?

There are a couple of threads that have started with people in your exact same situation and they have detailed their progress from step one all the way through to a finished & working rifle.

But as everyone craves the instant satisfaction that the interwebz provides.

1. - Civilian grade .223 is a slightly different dimension than the military grade 5.56mm round. As the .223 is a lower pressure round, it can be fired in a stock 5.56mm chamber, but with less accurate results. Putting 5.56mm in a civilian .223 chamber will also result in less than ideal accuracy and COULD cause problems due to pressure. This is where the Wylde Chamber came into civilian marketing masterstroke. It's a cross between the two, and safe to use with either round without fear, but it's not specifically cut for either dimension round.


2. - There is nothing wrong with a DPMS lower. Or a Del Ton lower. Or any of the commercially available lowers. When it comes to lower receivers there are basically three types (cast, forged and billet).

  • Cast is the cheapest and is probably the lowest overall quality.
  • Forged is pretty much the "standard" and is used by a lot of manufacturers.
  • Billet is the new boy on the block, is the most expensive and is more for bragging rights than really achieving "optimum" anything.
The lower receiver is very easy to assemble and as long as you don't get one produced at Eric Lee's Bar-B-Que House and AR Shop, you will be fine.

3. - Having a forward assist, a dust cover and a brass deflector is a nice feature. While they are not absolutely necessary, they do make it nice to shoot and having the added dust cover is nice for transport.


4. - There is no application for a 16" bull barrel in my eyes. It's too heavy to pack and/or try to clear room to room, with it not being free floated, that just compounds the problem.
  • The 20" Bull Barrel is going to be more suited towards longer range shooting and a nice easy day at the range. Accuracy will be much better between the combination of the bull barrel and the full 20" barrel ( which will assure full powder burn and close to optimal cyclic spin on the round prior to leaving the rifling ).
5. - As talked about above a bull barrel will offer greater accuracy and it will lend itself to a more comfortable day shooting, especially in a groundhog assassination assignment.

Building the lower is a piece of cake. Someone put together a step by step guide that is located at the top of this section, it's been pretty helpful and well received, so you might give it a look and see if it makes sense.

Good luck and PM if you need help.

JD
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Old 02-13-2011, 03:50 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the great information so far!

I feel like I opened a can of worms here, but perhaps that's a good thing.

What it looks like so far, is that everything I've looked at so far is about personal opinion. What do I want the rifle to do. I've been considering a bit, and decided that long range accuracy is not that important to me. I doubt I'll ever shoot over 100 yards, and if I do it will likely be friendly competition between friends anyway, so it won't matter much.

I'm still liking the look of the DPMS parts, but I may go with a different lower and go with a stripped lower and a kit. Any recommendations on a good kit? How about a decent quality cheap lower? I want to have the rifle built by about June, since waiting any longer than that will likely cause me to deplete my AR saving fund for other considerations.

I'm also still leaning towards the bull barrel, but mostly because of look than anything else. From what you've all responded, I probably won't see any difference accuracy-wise for how I'll be shooting.

BTW, I forgot to mention in previous posts, but I've already decided on optics for the AR, I'm planning on getting a Nikon ProStaff 4-12x40. So I will not get any sights on the rifle, hence both of the uppers I posted being flat tops.

Anyway, thanks for the info so far, keep the great stuff coming!

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Old 02-13-2011, 03:59 PM   #10
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Just to verify, we touched on the 223 5.56 issue a bit, my preferred ammo will be 223 due to cost and availability. If I go with a 5.56 upper, will I have any issue firing 223 out of it?

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