AR purchase before year end

Discussion in 'AR-15 Discussion' started by Virginia58, Nov 14, 2008.

  1. Virginia58

    Virginia58 Member Supporter

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    I consider myself a fairly experienced shooter, mostly with handguns and shotguns. I own a couple of bolt action rifles, but lately have become very interested in the AR-15 (black guns). Reading through the many threads on this forum, there is a tremendous amount of knowledge and advice. My goal is to purchase an AR before year's end. With the current political environment, I've noticed slim picking at my local stores. I don't want to make a panic purchase, but it seems the clock is ticking...

    The consensus of advice here is to build your own for the best bang for the buck. My knowledge of this platform is very limited (mostly what I've read hear and a little hands on shopping and firing a couple of range acquaintances weapons. While I'd love to learn enough about the platform to build one from scratch, I currently don't know enough about the options and their relative merits to get started. My thought was to purchase a "whole" rifle before year end with a versatile set of features, shoot it, learn about it, and hopefully have a chance to build another sometime next year.

    Sorry for the long wind up, but what would be a good AR to start off with out of the box ready to go? I am in Virginia and we have a local gun show this weekend, and another coming to town on Dec 6-7. I want something accurate as possible. Seems like 20" barrel (Wylde) would be a good starter. Would want to mount an optic and shoot at long range. Any recommendations on a way to go?

    Seems that Rock River might be my best bet, but Stag and Bushmaster get their fair share of love too. Like to keep it under $1000 if possible. Not sure what features are most important and which ones you can live without or add later.

    HELP!
     
  2. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    This post requires more energy than I have at the moment - I am sure some of the guys will stop by to help, but I am one AR Burnt Out JD at the moment...

    A 20" Barrel & Wylde Chambering isn't going to get you where you want, if accuracy is your end goal.

    The guys will be by and will help you out I am most sure.

    Don't rush into a full built out weapon that you don't have any say on, with an elevated price tag, because of the fear of the market right now.

    Building one is still the best overall value and the amount of knowledge needed to accomplish that is equivalent to changing a tire & assembling a table kit from IKEA.

    JD
     

  3. balloo93

    balloo93 New Member

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    I will throw some comments at ya! Just my opinion here, but I am a firm believer that the attractiveness of the AR platform in 95% of the cases is the availability of compact size. It's a weapon that has a tactical edge over a longer, heavier, slower to feed bolt guns that offers great accuracy up to around 300yrds. This would be sub 18" barrel lengths.

    To get the best of both worlds, I would point you in the 18" barrel direction, and there are few offerings in that price range.

    There are many options in the 20-24" rifles as well. I can only offer my experience in 16" barreled rifles, but I own both STAG and Rock River Arms. They are both fine weapons. Never had a hick-up that wasn't ammo related.

    Given what I have said, for RRA I would suggest the 18" Varmint:
    http://www.rockriverarms.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=228
    They offer it in 16-24" so you can get what you want.

    The STAG has fewer options in a precission rifles. I'd look into this one for the STAG:
    http://www.stagarms.com/product_info.php?cPath=13_22&products_id=211

    Bushmaster has a good rep now (haven't heard anything bad about them ins LONG time). They do seem to charge a bit more of a premium for the snake logo. They are however an option.
    Competition rifles:
    http://www.bushmaster.com/competition_rifles.asp?cat=16R
    Hunting rifles:
    http://www.bushmaster.com/catalog_hunting_index.asp

    Remington is fairly new on the scene, but the manufacturer of the actual gun parts is not. These are more aimed at hunters. The are rifles built on parts made by established companies, and their rep has been pretty solid! If you can get past the camo finish, they also offer multiple lengths and configurations. Remington:
    http://www.remington.com/products/firearms/centerfire_rifles/Model_R-15_VTR.asp

    Keep in mind, that a vendor may actually be able to get you better prices than the manufacturer lists. At least that has been my experience with both the STAG and the RRA that I own.

    IMO, sinse I like the shorter rifles, I'd go with RRA 18 Inch Varmint A4. The RRA has the advantage of a railed gas block that a flip up front sight can be mounted to.

    I would also recommend you buy a complete upper and then a complete lower and put them together. You save a little cash and you also avoid the tacked on 15% tax for a complete rifle sale. I'd look local for the complete lower and buy the upper from a online vendor.
     
  4. Virginia58

    Virginia58 Member Supporter

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    Thanks balloo93. Good information there and some things to think about. The more I read, the more it sounds like assembling is the way to go, even if it's just the upper and lower halves.
     
  5. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    Okay, feeling a bit better after the weekend and avoiding the AR questions for a few days.

    Virginia58 - I believe you said you wanted to shoot at longer ranges, but here is the beauty of the AR platform. You only have to buy ( or buy pieces and assemble ) ONE LOWER. That's it. The lower is the only registered part.

    Once you have one lower, you can put any number of configurations on it, from a short barrel 16" for a CQB situation, to a 20" heavy barrel Varminter style, and they can be different calibers too. You may have to change the bolt head, but you can buy an upper chambered for .223/5.56mm, then buy a bolt kit and shoot .22lr rifle out of the same upper.

    Then you can buy an upper that accepts 7.62 x 39mm ( AK Rounds ) - change out the bolt head, slap on the upper to the same lower and now shoot cheap Russian ammo all day long.

    As for assembly, a lower is a handful of parts: Ready for this?

    1) Lower Receiver ( stripped )
    2) Stock ( fixed or collapsible )
    3) Buffer & Buffer Spring - they both go inside the stock
    4) Buffer Detent and Spring - This keeps the Buffer and Spring inside the stock when you open the weapon for cleaning or maintenance
    5) Pistol grip. 1 screw to hold it in place, usually comes with a trigger guard and comes with the spring and detent for the Fire Control Selector
    6) Fire Control Selector - Safe/Fire rotate back and forth
    7) Trigger ( Get a good one or tune it as it's one of the key accuracy parts )
    8) Trigger Spring, it comes on the trigger and is usually already in place
    9) Trigger Pin - 1 pin
    10) Hammer
    11) Hammer Spring
    12) Hammer Pin - 1 Pin
    13) Take Down and Pivot Pins ( 1 Ea for 2 of them total )
    14) Take Down and Pivot Pin Detents and springs ( 2 each as well )

    THAT'S IT!

    Assemble per directions and you have a working lower. Buy an upper, buy 10 uppers, slap them together onto your working lower by using the Take Down and Pivot Pin - Fire accordingly....

    It's really pretty easy. Brownells has a guide on line, with a handy shopping list, those clever bastards.:D

    In the Knowledge Base here there is a step by step guide with pictures if you would like to see how easy it really is....

    Hope that helps.

    JD
     
  6. janikphoto

    janikphoto New Member

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    Wait a minute! Since when did Ikea start selling AR kits?!? ;)
     
  7. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    Oh those wacky Swedes are ahead of every "assemble it yourself" curve, they just don't advertise them. :p
     
  8. slowryde45

    slowryde45 New Member

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    They stock them back in lawn & garden, under lawn aeration and shrub trimming equipment.

    And over in beauty & fashion, under body jewelry and piercing.;)

    Slo
     
  9. slowryde45

    slowryde45 New Member

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    Judging from the availability of kits and such right now, I'd say if you are looking to pick something up before the end of the year....your best bet might be to pick up a complete upper and a complete lower and put them together. As someone already pointed out, you will save a few $$'s doing it that way, and it will give you somewhat of a feel of 'assembly', even if you are only pushing two pins. I think you would be hard pressed to find all the parts necessary to build a complete gun from parts right now, and from the sounds of it, it may be 12-16 weeks or more before stock gets replenished.

    On the other hand, there are still a few complete uppers and complete lowers out there, without the long waits. I just picked up a complete RRA (Rock River) upper last week, only 4 days from order to door. That being said, the choices are more limited than they were last month at this time, but you should still be able to find something that will fit the bill.

    Locally, lower assemblies go very quickly, like some folks buying 5-10 at a time :eek: Ahhh, but the beauty of capitalism, those same folks are posting on the Equipment Exchanges, Craig's List, etc, trying to make bucks off of all this. :(

    But do some searching on here, you should be able to find a few threads with links to sites that members have used and recommend. Brand wise, what you mentioned works well. It all depends on what roll mark you want on the side of your receiver, just as it is up to you what brand of jeans/shoes you wear, or what car you drive. Is one better than the other, in the lowers, as long as you are staying with the main brands, away from anything CAST, then you are pretty much good to go.

    Sure there will be some that scream Mil-Spec is the only way, or you have to use this brand over that one, or whatever. At this point in the AR game, I don't think there many out there, at least not in the main brands, who are trying to cut corners by slipping out some junk, or anything that would not hold up to designed use.

    Same thing with the uppers. There you can find some differences in barrels used (manufacture, material-stainless,chrome alloy, twist ratio, etc), or the bolt carrier groups, flat top w/ or w/o handle, A2 with built in handle, etc. If you are thinking scoped, I would recommend the A3/A4 flat top uppers, and not pay for the removable handle - no need for it. That will also save you close to, if not over, $100.

    Actually, I like what you had in mind, with the 20" Wylde chamber, but then again, that's just my personal preference. For a first time gun, I think that would offer you the best overall performance, with just about any ammo out there. Also, try to find that same barrel with a 1:8 twist ratio, and you'll be good for ammo up to 75, maybe 77 grain. Again, just my personal opinions there.

    With the upper, lower, you'll be close to that $1000 mark, so a scope would be additional $$'s. Here, the sky is the limit, as I have scopes on my AR's that range from $30 no-name red dots, to Schmidt & Bender tactical scopes. It's all in what size wallet you brought, what your needs are (as defined by yourself), and what feels comfortable to you. Sure, we can all (collectively or individually) tell you what to buy, based on what we have done personally, or in some cases, what whoever said, or read somewhere else. But bottom line is, it's your $$, and your happiness or regret, at the cash register and when you get it home.

    So do your homework, ask away with any questions you have - we'll try to help as much as possible, let your fingers do the mouse pushing and research online for brands and brand reviews (lots of gun magazines, tactical sites, etc do reviews on most of the major brands and models and post their reviews on the net), if you have time, go to a local range that may have a few models to rent, or ask to shoot friends guns and ask them what works and doesn't work for them...and why. That should give you enough info to help you make the right choice. But don't hesitate too long, or you may be waiting for a WHILE ;)

    Slo
     
  10. RMTactical

    RMTactical New Member

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    Building an AR15 is a great idea, but it is not the only way.

    I recommend Stag Arms if you are on a budget. LMT if you have more money to blow.
     
  11. Virginia58

    Virginia58 Member Supporter

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    Wow! A lot to take in, but I thank you all for taking the time to educate me.

    JD - I took a look at the some of the sites with step by step assembly instructions and it doesn't look too tough.

    My fear is that I have waited too long in this buying frenzy climate. I checked a dozen of the online parts suppliers and their cupboards are bare for the most part. I checked one of my local stores and the owner said they were hit hard the week after election, but have some parts and whole rifles on order (no idea on backorder).

    Good news is that there are dozens of firearms dealers and shops within an hour of me. I plan on checking a number of them this weekend to see what they might have available in the way of parts. Then more research....

    There is a large, well represented gun show coming here on Dec 6-7. I will be hitting it early on opening day to see what is availble there (my experience has been that the prices there are very competitve). Hopefully, I can find enough parts to get a good start or maybe an entire upper or lower assembly.

    If I understand correctly, the only part you have to use an FFL dealer for is the lower (either complete or stripped)? That should be my first purchase if I can find a good deal?

    Thanks again for the advice. Looking forward to joining this "club" and learning more. I like the idea of potentially having multiple rifles just by changing out the parts.

    ...and I'll check IKEA too
     
  12. slowryde45

    slowryde45 New Member

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    Virginia58,

    PKFirearms, link , still has uppers and parts IN-STOCK.

    Check their site, if the item does not appear on the site, then it is out. But they do get replenished, too, so check back with them.

    I ordered a complete upper from them and had it in 4 days, and I'm on the west coast. Price wise, from what I can tell, they are not gouging like a few others out there.

    As for a complete lower, you will have to find one locally to you, or find an FFL nearby, then find a lower and have it transferred to him and pick it up there.

    Just a few hints.

    Slo
     
  13. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    No worries, I think you will find the guys here more than willing to help out a fellow 2A enthusiast without the usual clique' club mentality.
    It's not - one of the members here, junho, is a young guy with a budget & didn't know a thing when he showed up, except that he wanted to get one. He read a few of the threads, asked a few questions, ordered some parts, asked a few more questions, built the thing himself, took it to a gunsmith and had it checked out. It passed with flying colors and his range report was very good with an impressive final 3 round grouping from a mostly stock AR. His thread is sticky'd to the top of the AR section. Anyone with a decent amount of wrench turning ability can build these things, it's just all the constant BS and "Operator Hype" about how a home built gun won't keep you alive when you need it most. Slo & I take exception to that belief. :p

    That is correct. Either a stripped lower, or a complete built lower, is the only thing that is required to pass through any official record keeping and the usual background check. Once you have one lower, you can buy 10 uppers off the internet for all sorts of applications and no one would be the wiser.

    JD
     
  14. Txhillbilly

    Txhillbilly Active Member

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    Virginia58,if you can find a stripped lower,and want to assemble it yourself,I know Model 1 Sales has complete kits(without a lower) in stock. They have good products,at a good price,and they will let you put together whatever components you want into a complete kit.
    Check out their website.
     
  15. Virginia58

    Virginia58 Member Supporter

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    Quick update...

    I read all the great advice on the forum and decided to get a stripped lower on the books. On Dec 31 I purchased a DPMS stripped lower for $170. I am guessing from some of the previous posts that I may have paid more than I could have, but wanted to get that on the books before the end of the year.

    Now I have to do my research and decide what parts (or kits) to buy first as I take on this project. Probably want to setup this build with 16" barrel. Is there any advantage to buying complete upper kits or better to buy piece by piece. What special tools will I need, and where best to buy any tools required?
     
  16. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    Well, there is a lot to respond too.

    I would say read this thread by Infotech concerning his experience with Model 1 Sales. It wasn't positive and he ended up shelling out some money to make it right.

    The advantage to a full built upper is that someone else has, hopefully, timed the gas system and headspaced the unit for you. The problem is, there are so many people selling uppers right now, you might get a sub par one like Infotech got.

    The benefit of putting it together yourself is that you understand, hopefully upon completion, where everything goes and what it does. So, should you ever have any problems, you understand how to trouble shoot it and fix it. It also allows you to make informed purchases about upgrades you may want to do.

    To build and AR, you need a few tools to do it right, besides the common screw-driver:

    This Multi Tool is very useful. Is it absolutely necessary? Probably not, but it makes things a lot easier and cleaner.

    This Tool would make the operation easier, and anyone who has built one will tell you they WISH they had it, but it's more convenient than NEEDED. :D

    This Tool makes assembling the upper a hell of a lot easier, but again, it isn't absolutely necessary.

    I am sure the guys will chip in a few thoughts. If you have any questions on parts, or anything else, don't hesitiate to ask. Several folks here have built their own from the ground up with no previous experience, like my young padwan Junho. :D

    It's really not hard and when you are done, you will understand the weapon and how it works, which is absolutely invaluable information in my mind.

    JD
     
  17. jce97

    jce97 New Member

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    A little more info please.

    I am looking at building my own ar and have read some great things in this post alone. What I would like to know is, would it be better to buy a complete lower or stripped. I have no problem putting together, just if it makes more since to get a couple or so stripped lowers before ban and start putting them together as time and money offers. Or will some things be impossible to get. Will uppers be safe post ban and trigger units. Thanks for all the great insight.
     
  18. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    Your problem jce97, is that you came a little late to the party. Trying to get the parts for a lower, or even a complete lower right now, is going to be a battle and a half.

    The lower is the only part of the weapon that needs to go through an FFL, so you need to get that purchased before any BAN to be "in under the wire". Once you have a lower "on the books", you can legally build it up into anything you want that is legal in your area ( probably longer than 16" barrel and may or may not include things like a bayonet lug and a collapsible stock ).

    Finding stripped lowers will be easier than finding a full built lower at the moment and it will still be cheaper. But, finding an in stock lower parts kit and some products like stocks, are going to be a pain in the ***.

    Uppers, if they aren't extreme, and trigger groups ( assuming they aren't bump fire or "conversions" ) shouldn't be affected by the new ban that is forth coming...

    What are you looking at building?

    JD
     
  19. jce97

    jce97 New Member

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    newbie questions

    Right now am waiting for rock river to build my .308, but I would like to at the least get the main parts now for maybe two or three more ar's. I would like two in .223 and one more in .308. My main thing is getting the important parts now and piecing together down the road. That was another question should i just get the stripped lower, or the complete. I dont mind waiting as long as I have the important parts. Also the uppers will be ok after ban?
     
  20. Dillinger

    Dillinger New Member

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    jce97 - I don't see the uppers being a problem after the ban to be honest, because they are "not actively controlled" by Federal checks. That means manufacturers in their garages can bang out uppers all day long and not have to worry about it, if they were REALLY industrious. :cool:

    The Lower Receiver is the key - and with that, will be the full rifle. A ban will affect the sale of what is then considered an "Assault Weapon" - which would be the lower to build such a weapon and the full weapon itself.

    If you have the lower receiver, then you mix and match uppers all day long, but once a ban goes into effect, I believe that buying a new model, complete rifle, will be a complete pain in the hind end.

    That's my thoughts from the crystal ball. I would be interested to hear what some of the other guys who were around the last time we went through this nonsense see happening...

    Guys?

    JD