Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Best Bang for the Buck

I am finally breaking down and seriously considering an AR15. I have heard that you should stick to the ABCs (Armalite, Bushmaster, Colt) and skip the rest of the brands. There must only be a zillion choices. I would like to stick to mil spec so that I could put that Beowulf upper on later or whatever. I don't have an immediate use for a 5.56 so would be happy with a 9mm for plinking. I don't have an immediate use for the .50 either but pig or wooly mammoth hunting does come to mind.  I might even go for 7.62x39 as then I could share ammo with my Yugo.

Assume that money is an object to be considered as apposed to the last post. I am open to suggestions.


Kevin said...

I've got two. The first one is a bespoke Fulton Armory buildup on milspec FN lower and upper receivers, Douglas bull barrel, Jewell trigger, Quadrail forend, A2 buttstock, FN internals. Very nice.

The second one is a mix-master: a Bushmaster complete lower with a Vltor adjustable buttstock, and a Stag M4gery upper (right-hand model).

Really, just shop around, buy name brand (Colts are too expensive, IMO). You can even do it like I did on the second - Bushy lower, whatever you want for the upper. (My Stag has been excellent.)

Guffaw in AZ said...

Tradition says A, B, C, D.
Colt or

I owned a DPMS, an Olympia, and a couple of generics. The generics were assembled by a competent smith.
All properly lubed for the desert climate.
Rarely any problems.

Angus McThag said...

You are going to have to decide what feature set you want. Then you are going to have to commit to your ammo before you buy.

The common 1:9 rifling is no good for 75+gr bullets. Despite anecdotes, 1:7 is no good for light bullets, like the ubiquitous 55gr.

What length barrel, and that comes with what length gas system? 20" barrel, rifle gas system. 16" barrel, carbine or mid-length. I prefer mid-length (or middy) in 16". It lets the pressure drop a mite and smoothes the action down. It will also let you mount a bayonet if that's your thing. Carbine is more common but it's got too much dwell time from when the bullet passes the gas port to when it exits the barrel. That works the action very harshly.

Not really a problem. Theoretically parts will break sooner.

What upper? The flat-top is the standard now.
But there are others.

Then do you want a collapsible stock, fixed stock...

Only once you've decided on all that, can you pick a brand!

Colt, Spikes, Bravo Company for complete guns with the most "mil" features like 1:7 barrels in 5.56.

Stag, Smith and Wesson, CMMG, and Del Ton are where I'd look for a 1:9 gun.

Bushmaster lied to me several times when I was trying to order a barrel and get a replacement part for an M17S bullpup so I stopped shopping there. A pity because the barrel I did finally end up with is a good one.

DPMS refused to sell me an 11.5" barrel because I wasn't a cop. I don't do business with companies who have an only-ones attitude.

I've had good luck with Del Ton for kit builds. Building it yourself is entertaining and you learn a lot about how things work. It doesn't really save any money anymore. Just about everyone makes a good lower to use nowadays.

ExurbanKevin said...

I'm not that knowledgable as to which brands are better (never really seen that big a difference between them), so I'm tackling this from a "What do you want to do with your gun?" perspective.

A 16" free-floating barrel, railed gas block, flat-top receiver with flip up sights and a good collapsable stock is a good starting point for just about anything you want to do. I prefer railed handguards for their adaptability, but they are a bit heavier. And the $50 or so you'll spend on a new grip, extended mag release is well worth it, as is a JP or Jard trigger.

I like to start out bland and boring with an AR because I never know what it's going to evolve into it, and that setup is about as generic as it gets.

Want to shoot varmits or DCM? Longer barrel, 2 stage trigger, new sights, new stock, etc.
3 Gun? Durn near set with that get up, maybe a new optic and an extended magwell.
Home Defense? Set. Maybe add a sling and a light.
Plinking? Go for it. No assembly required.
SuperNinja Tacticool? 11.5 in barrel, EoTech, lights, you name it. Sky's the limit here.

I know you mentioned no immediate use for 5.56mm, but with that caliber and a $200 insert from CMMG, you've got a .22LR gun AND and a 5.56mm gun: The lower cost of .22 pays for itself in weeks.

Kevin said...

@Angus: "The common 1:9 rifling is no good for 75+gr bullets."

I beg to differ. Both of my ARs are 1:9, and they shoot the 75 grain Hornady BTHP Match beautifully. I have gotten 6" groups at 500 meters with my target AR. (From the bench on a completely windless day.)

YMMV, of course, but that's been my experience.

Primeval Papa said...

Thanks to all for the comments and suggestions. The idea of 22lr does have some appeal for inexpensive plinking. However, I own three 22 rifles. I was thinking that the 9mm with a 32 round mag would be a pretty good combination of close range defense with very low recoil. I own three 9mm pistols (what's with the number three?) Or step to the 45ACP with a wide variety of maazine choices. Or........

One of the reasons I have held off, aside from money, is that there are almost too many darn choices. Perhaps I should consider the AR10 as it does seem to have rifle calibers that I am more interested in.
308 - good deer round, elk within range (ftlbs), relatively inexpensive in bulk, accurate
243 - whitetail, gopher
338 - good elk round out to about 200 yrds., Good for N. America almost anything
450 - Marlin round for those unexpected grizzly encounters, boar hunting or wooly mammoth attacks! I'm so confused!

dehakal said...

As far as the rifle rounds and an AR10, why? A basic AR-15 lower can be have an upper in a number of suitable calibers, for long range think 6.5 Grendal. For elk or grizzly think .458 Socom or .50 Beowulf. Built out or buy a good lower then start investing in uppers, takes about 30 seconds to change out the upper and swap a mag to the proper cartridge.

Primeval Papa said...

I would consider the AR10 as it outperforms the AR15 in about every caliber. It accepts longer rounds and is supposed to be a sturdier lower. You can easily gain 200 to 300 fps in the big rounds and about 600 fps in .30 cal.

450 Marlin 325gr @ 2200fps (AR-10)
458 Socom 300gr @ 1900fps (AR-15)

.308 150gr @ 2800fps (AR-10)
7.62x39 154gr @ 2100fps (AR-15)

.243 55gr @ 4000fps (AR-10)
22-250 55gr @ 3800fps (AR-10)
.223 55gr @ 3200 fps (AR-15)

This is why it interests me.

Kevin said...

Yeah, but they cost more, magazines cost more, they're heavier, and they don't have as many easily interchangeable parts.

AR-15's are Volkswagens. AR-10's are Porsches.

Primeval Papa said...

I don't like VWs or Porsches but do understand the comparison ;)
The 15 definitely is a better bug out weapon due to weight and ammo quantity issues. I can get a lot more of those smaller shells in my spare tin foil hat!

I probably should not compare the two on a hunting topic as neither one stacks up against my 300 WinMag for long range big game hunting. It would probably not be used for that purpose except for maybe boars.