AR-15 for a new guy

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AR-15 for a new guy

Postby Crabby_Daddy » Sat 02 Jan 2010 9:27 am

So I am really liking the AR platform. That thing just looks so fun, but pricey. I know that their are some AR owners and fans on this forum, so here is my question. How many would recommend buying the whole system at once versus buying the pieces and building something that you want? It might cost a little more this way, but I like the idea of buying what and when I can afford and learning how to build it up right. Please help.
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby apollosmith » Sat 02 Jan 2010 10:04 am

A few thoughts:

- Buying a complete AR from a reputable manufacturer (generally) ensures that it is assembled properly and is safe to use. It also has a complete warranty, instructions, etc. There's always a risk of you messing something up doing it yourself. And if something breaks (or the thing explodes), you're out of luck.

- Assembling your own is certainly a bit cheaper (though not a lot cheaper, and be sure to consider shipping for each part), but does take time, effort, and learning. How valuable is your time?

- Here's a secret - there's no such thing as extra AR components, each piece is actually an entire AR in embryo. All it takes is a few more parts and you have a whole new AR!!! The constant desire (addiction) to complete new ARs is commonly referred to as Black Rifle Disease. It's highly addictive.

- In general, properly assembling a rifle from high quality, complementary components is no different (though a bit cheaper) than buying one from a high quality manufacturer (sans the warranty). Assembling one incorrectly with cheap, low quality components is no different than buying a complete AR from a cut-rate manufacturer.

- Be sure to consider the costs of actually completing the rifle once it's assembled. You'll want a sling, optics, mounts, lights, grips, etc., etc., etc., etc.
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby kalobg » Sun 03 Jan 2010 2:53 am

I'm unsure of Colt's reputation in the AR market but I was at Big 5 in Logan this last week looking for a knife and they had a Colt A4 for $599 ($100 off, I believe.) I thought it was a pretty reasonable price as it had a carry handle with iron sights and a collapsing stock. The tag said it was chambered in .223 so I was unsure if it said 5.56 on the barrel or not, since I didn't wait around for them to help me.

The only downside is I don't believe it had the rail system but there are a number of cheap solutions for that issue.

(I picked up a Kershaw Black Out from Sportsman's Warehouse in Ogden.)
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby MichaelD » Sun 03 Jan 2010 2:06 pm

kalobg, I think you probably saw one of the Colt/Umarex .22LR AR's. Colt's .223/5.56 offerings are priced at $1000 on up.

To the OP:

I'd start with a factory rifle, or at least a complete upper and complete lower. You wouldn't really save anything building your own once you factor the cost of tools into it. Colt is generally regarded as the gold standard, but there are many other manufacturers out there that make quality weapons. BCM, Daniel Defense, and LMT all have reasonably-priced high-quality ARs one can buy.

If you haven't already, get on M4Carbine.net and research away.
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby Paul » Sun 03 Jan 2010 2:24 pm

kalobg wrote:I'm unsure of Colt's reputation in the AR market but I was at Big 5 in Logan this last week looking for a knife and they had a Colt A4 for $599 ($100 off, I believe.) I thought it was a pretty reasonable price as it had a carry handle with iron sights and a collapsing stock. The tag said it was chambered in .223 so I was unsure if it said 5.56 on the barrel or not, since I didn't wait around for them to help me.

The only downside is I don't believe it had the rail system but there are a number of cheap solutions for that issue.

(I picked up a Kershaw Black Out from Sportsman's Warehouse in Ogden.)

No way was this a Colt .223
It would have been a .22LR as MIcheal D said. (If it really is a .223, BUY IT NOW!!!)

To the OP, you can buy a decent entry level AR-15 for about $750. I think the first purchase is best to buy a complete gun. Then get to know the gun. Get to know what you like, dislike, etc., then build your next one. (Sell the first if you want)

Like Apollo said, you can save some money building but not a ton. There are some real good deals to be had on brand new factory complete guns right now. Building will save you a little bit, but not much depending on how you do it.
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby B52U » Sun 03 Jan 2010 5:13 pm

There is certainly a lot to be learned in doing a build. For my first AR, I bought a lower receiver and parts and assembled that myself, then cheated and bought a complete upper. It was a lot of fun and spread the cost over several months since at that time upper receiver's and certain other parts were in very short supply. I did save on tax and other costs that you normally incur with a complete rifle, but the savings is not substantial enough to use cost as the primary purpose of doing a build. My motivation was to learn about the internal workings of the weapon more in depth. I also learned a lot during my research about the quality of various parts manufacturers.

Now, for my opinion on your situation. If I had the choice now I would purchase a complete rifle because the demand has gone down substantially. You can get high quality complete rifles for reasonable costs since the supply has caught up. Many gun stores are offering sales to liquidate this inventory.
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby Crusader Smithy » Sun 03 Jan 2010 5:59 pm

I have to agree with everyone else. I would buy a complete rifle first and start learning more about building them. There's just so much to learn about quality parts, where best to get them, and how to set up the rifle the way you want it. I think you would have the eternally unfinished gun. The more you learn the more you'll want to change it. Buy one and take a few training classes. You'll learn how you want it set up this way and will be able to put one together that you'll be the most happy with. You'll get a lot of the help from the forum too.
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby apollosmith » Sun 03 Jan 2010 7:09 pm

Yeah, there's a Big 5 ad in today's paper for the Colt 'M-4 Carbine' (yes, it's in quotes). It's not at all an M-4 or an AR-15. It's a .22 with accessories that make it look like an AR.
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby Crabby_Daddy » Sun 03 Jan 2010 7:22 pm

Thanks for the input. I like this Black Rifle Disease. It is fun and I dont even own one yet! Everyone makes perfect sense. Buy something good and use that as a base to upgrade. I shouldnt mess that up too bad. I have seen several DPMS rifles at stores for a decent price. Are they a reputable brand?
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby Crusader Smithy » Sun 03 Jan 2010 7:39 pm

Yeah, DPMS isn't bad at all. You could do a lot worse, that's for sure.
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby MichaelD » Sun 03 Jan 2010 10:25 pm

Hate to disagree, but DPMS is regarded as the most bottom-feeding of bottom-feeders by the gents over on M4Carbine.net. If you're not wanting to spend $1100 or so on your weapon, Smith & Wesson's M&P15A is thought of as an excellent entry-level AR... the problem is that the warranty on them is only a year compared to the lifetime warranties on BCM, Daniel Defense and LMT. On the other hand, Colt's warranty is also just one year.
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby Gibbles » Sun 03 Jan 2010 10:30 pm

I would suggest an RRA, great quality IMO.

DPMS is not bad, but there are many things I do not like... LPK is rough, triggers suck...

RRA has nice fit and finish, and they come with a nice tuned 2stage trigger. :thumbsup:

And I think MichaelD covered it pretty well also, but I was trying to be nice to DPMS. :oops:
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby bltdonahue » Sun 03 Jan 2010 11:44 pm

Some gun shops will walk you through the building process for an AR-15 platform. I -believe- Get Some used to do a "build your AR and learn to use it" course. Perhaps they still do, and I'd bet a few other places in the area do the same. It's a great way to learn the nitty-gritty of the design, and with someone with experience helping you out, you will not be left with a "problem" gun.

I've owned a Colt SP1 (old school originalish AR-15), Bushmasters, and Armalites. They've all been very good to me. Some friends also have the S&W M&P series, and Rock Rivers, and they're both also good weapons from good companies. DPMS is, from what I've heard, just fine, but from what I've seen personally, I would not buy their el-cheapo models. They just really aren't complete AR designs, and are missing (or go the cheap route) on several updated AR-15 design features (i.e. no forward assist, loose/wobbly telescoping stock, etc...).

You can't really go wrong with the "big name brands" for the AR-15. If price is important, just shop around for the latest Sportsman's Warehouse deals, and then compare to a few local gun shops. Generally speaking, you'll find Bushmasters, DPMS, and occasionally an Armalite as the lowest price special on sale. S&W M&P series are just a tad bit more, and Rock River a tad bit above that. Not that it really means much, but a few friends have found the Bushmasters to be consistently on a "special sale price" and have picked them up without disappointment.

For what it's worth, my old Colt SP1 is my absolute most trust-worthy and beloved AR-15. They were all built in parallel to Colt's M-16 contract rifles back in the day, and they're just solid, disgustingly reliable and lightweight rifles. The new model AR-15s are fine, but they weight 1 1/2 lbs more and have more 'doo-dads' hanging all over them. For open-sights, bare-bones shooting on the original (or close to it) AR-15 design, the Colt SP1s are hard to beat.
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby caverat » Mon 04 Jan 2010 2:09 am

I have to jump on the band wagon buy the complete unit you can do all the Mods. as you learn the gun its freaking addicting as anything WOW :shades:
If your financially challenged to the point that the few bucks you save building your own really matter its probably not the toy for you.
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Only had mine for about 6 months or so and done about $600 in mods and $1,500 in ammo. Oh and the best money ever spent it has become my most used firearm :nilly: It took me over 10 years to commit to buying one but after I jumped Oh ya I'm already looking to get another one :lol2:
I bought the RRA. Great gun and I was very impressed with the accuracy! Not bolt quality but still take out whistle pigs at 300M :shocked:
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Re: AR-15 for a new guy

Postby DaShizzz » Mon 04 Jan 2010 11:13 am

bltdonahue wrote:Some gun shops will walk you through the building process for an AR-15 platform. I -believe- Get Some used to do a "build your AR and learn to use it" course. Perhaps they still do, and I'd bet a few other places in the area do the same. It's a great way to learn the nitty-gritty of the design, and with someone with experience helping you out, you will not be left with a "problem" gun.


I asked Get Some a couple of weeks ago about their AR15 Course (http://getsomeguns.com/Education/tabid/247/Default.aspx). One guy didn't even know what I was talking about, must have been new. But then I was told that they don't do it anymore.

I'd like to know of other places that offer AR15 education and training.
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