what type of AR-15 to get

I’m getting an AR-15 and don’t really know much about them. Long story, short. My friends are essentially buying the parts for me as gifts over the next several months, all I have to do is decide what I want in such a rifle.

I know very little about them, other than there are lots of options and they can be essentially customized. But I don’t know really what the options are, much less the pros and cons of various styles.

I know I’d like it to not overlap my current firearms: 22 semi auto with scope, a 270 with a scope, Glock 9mm.

So I think I would like a shorter barrel for light weight and ease of use, since the 270 would act as the longer range hunting rifle. I’m also not convinced of ‘red-dot’ sights, since my hearing protection dissallows me from getting low enough on the stock to see through the optics. But that is all I’ve got for thoughts.

So dopers, give me your tips on AR-15s. What is out there that I should consider? What are some advantages/disadvantages of the parts I should get? What are some good configurations that I should think about, knowing I don’t want to have too much ‘overlap’ in usefulness with my other guns.

Don’t get too wrapped up in “The Chart.”

An assault rifle isn’t particularly useful for much of anything short of combat. You can’t hunt with a 30 round clip, and it isn’t any better for home defense purposes than your 9mm. If you want one, enjoy…but it just isn’t a utility weapon for civilian purposes.

Wel, not for ordinary uses, no. For various “scenarios,” well, if they came to pass, then sure, an AR-15 could be handy.

I’m not holding my breath on any of those “scenarios.” My AR-15 is a weekends-only fun-gun that gets disapproving looks from Fudds (I don’t wear tactical/camo anywhere, so it ain’t me).

To the OP: if you want a weekend shooter/range toy, don’t get too wrapped up in geegaws and add-ons. A basic AR-15 will be plenty of fun without being too hard on the pocket book.

If you envision “scenarios,” or for some reason feel you need a rifle that would stand you in good stead in refighting the Battle of Fallujah, be prepared for you and/or your friends to go nuts with the moneys. Both DPMS and CMMG have lots of add-ons, and that’s not even scratching the surface of all the various companies that make “gear” for the AR-15 platform.

Whatever you do, get it in 5.56 NATO instead of .223. You can fire .223 out of a 5.56 NATO barrel, but due to the differences in chamber pressures it does not work the other way.

I would also recommend the piston version over the direct-impingement version, simply because it’s easier to clean and is less likely to jam since the spent gases are not blowing back into the bolt assembly.

Any way you go, though, they are a lot of fun at the range. Just don’t be a Mall Ninja-type and outfit your quad-rail adjustable-stock carbine with 15 different accessories. Those clowns get the respect they deserve.

Last, it’s an “assault weapon”, and it’s not a clip but a magazine. A genuine “assault rifle” is well out of most people’s price ranges.

For a pure range toy, buy whatever. If you want something of quality, purchase (or have them purchase) a mil-spec upper that is fully assembled from a quality manufacturer. These are known as “barreled upper assembles” or “upper receiver groups” or something like that. Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM) has the best reputation, but you pay for it. Palmetto State Armory (PSA) also makes mil-spec uppers but at better prices. By contrast, the manufacturer of the lower isn’t all that important.

Whatever you get, make sure the barrel twist is 1/7 or 1/8. Don’t get a 1/9.

What’s wrong with 1/9?

It looks as though **Crafter_Man’s **called it a day, so I’ll add my 0.02 on the AR-15 rifle twist rate.

Barrel Twist in the AR-15

What Twist Rate Do I Want For My Rifle?

M16/AR15 Bushmaster 1/9 Twist?

So you’ll need to think a bit about your intended type of shooting, and select accordingly. 1/8 (or 1:8 as some prefer) to 1/10 seems to be a middle-of-the road compromise, with 1/9 being rather popular.

Pick what suits you best.

Spend some time over here: http://www.ar15.com/

They have a reputation for being jerks a lot of times, but you should be able to sift through the crap and find good information. The difference between piston and DI actions is one debate. In a mission-critical weapon where you’re in Iraq shooting every day, maybe the piston is a better idea. I shoot paper mostly, and it doesn’t matter to me.

There are dozens of AR manufacturers, from pricey to affordable. Mine are all Colt (pricey), but Spikes or Palmetto work fine. Also, consider your need. For punching holes in paper, a .223 will work, but if you think you may need to stop an intruder or ambushing hordes someday, or for hunting, a 6.8spc is a better choice.

If you’re like me and like quiet, consider getting an uppper assemby in 300 Blackout. Terminal ballistics are better than .223, and with subsonic rounds and a suppressor, no one needs to know you’re shooting anything!

A collapsible stock is handy, but not necessary. Magpul makes nice ones.
A foregrip is handy, but not necessary. My Itacis 700 lumens and has a laser.
I recommend a light on any weapon you may need to use in self-defense. You never know what or when or how trouble will find you, but it’s almost always dark. Identifying and blinding your target are Good Things according to Martha.
Quad-rail? I have one word for you. Are you listening? Metal.
Plastic sounds nice and light, but won’t hold sights or lasers rock-solid like they need to be.
I don’t hunt with mine, so they have either an Eotech or Aimpoint sight for fast target acquisition.

Magazines? Magpul P-mags are the best. Period.
Trigger? Geisseleor Timney. Period.

You want a list to play with? You got it.

Start off simple, but don’t skimp on anything. And don’t forget the most important accessory. Say hello!

For others, here’s “The Chart.”

You should get a pink one with pretty ponies all over it. Think of what an amazing conversation piece it would be!

Good for you man, have fun tailoring your gun. I’ve got a Remington R-15 w/ collapsible stock, I love it. I’ve got it rigged nicely for both predator hunting and home defense.

I respectfully disagree with Oakminster, while an AR is not my hunting weapon of choice, it’s a perfectly valid sporting platform. Obviously the higher capacity magazines are right out for hunting but that’s what the 5 & 10 round mags are for.

My R-15 is basically just a dressed-up Bushmaster and I can nail the 500yd gong with it over and over - it’s fantastically accurate and my dad’s stock Armalite is almost as accurate as mine. AR’s are great for predator hunting and really, with all the caliber options, there aren’t many game animals which can’t be taken with an AR platform.

Given time to choose, I’ll reach for my .870 or my AR-15 over my .45’s in a home defense situation because they’re shoulder-fired and I’m one hell of a lot more accurate with a shoulder-fired weapon, maybe that’s just me.

I would definitely go piston-driven if you can afford it. Caliber-wise, that .30 AR looks badass - .30 cal power on a .223-sized platform, looks like a honey to me.

I’m going to disagree on the piston-driven is better point. When you go with a piston, you are exchanging one set of potential problems for another in the end.
Let’s consider a couple of the problems the internet tells you that you’ll have with a DI gun. First, direct impingement guns that are properly put together are reliable. They are still the first choice among people who compete in shooting sports where the AR is the preferred platform. No AR of any kind that is improperly put together should be expected to run right. Secondly, since you aren’t going to be shooting full-auto or, apparently, doing anything where the gun is run hard, the whole keeping the bolt group cooler is a non-issue. Lastly, the DI guns are not dirtier than the piston guns. All you are changing is where the dirt is deposited. The effect of the dirt itself is dramatically exaggerated and is often where blame is placed when the problem lies elsewhere_usually improper or inadequate lube. Wander on over to The High Road and read some of the posts by Justin (one of the moderators) about one of his AR competition guns and the number of rounds he’s put through it trying to see if it could get too dirty to run.
While you are over there, check out “carrier tilt” WRT piston guns. It ain’t pretty. Also read up on what a pain in the rear proprietary parts can be when your sole supplier goes tits up or just decides to cease production on that model. That matters if you consider that “parts isn’t parts” when everybody making a piston gun is doing it to their own design.
If you want a piston-driven gun, there is not shortage of 5.56mm military-style guns that were designed from the ground up as piston guns. Opt for one of those instead. If you want an AR, get one that gives you the benefit of the extensive wringing out that the military and competitive shooters have given the original DI design.

No, if you are going to get a pink one you should get an AK-45. My local high school just auctioned one off at the annual scholarship foundation dinner.

No, it isn’t a joke. And yes, we do auction off weapons in our school gymnasium, doesn’t everyone?

I completely agree with this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. And the piston version is not standard.

A few more things:

  • If you can swing it, go with a mil-spec rifle. See my post above.
  • Get an upper with a removable carry handle (A4).
  • Most people seem to like a 16 inch barrel in lieu of the standard 20 inch barrel. (Everyone calls the 16-inch barreled AR an M4, even though it’s not truly an M4.)

I have a 16 inch carbine with a float tube and fluted barrel that is the first one people reach for due to its sexy looks. After we’ve shot for a while, though, everybody falls in love with the one I have set up with a 24 inch heavy barrel, muzzle brake, and 3-9x scope. It moves so little when fired that you can watch your bullets strike downrange through the scope. Great fun when busting blocks of ice or other reactive targets.

Heavy/long-barreled ARs make *great *varmint guns. But it seems like a lot of people are into “tactical guns” nowadays, i.e. a light semi-auto rifle for shooting-n-moving in a firefight.

So I guess it all depends on what the OP wants. If he wants a medium to long-range tacdriver, go with a long/heavy barrel A4 and 9X scope. If he’s looking for a tacticool weapon, go with an M4/A4 with Eotech sight. Or he can just do what I’ve done… buy a no-frills Bushy M4/A4 with iron sights. :slight_smile:

I guess I should also mention that, even though I own an AR, I rarely shoot it. I just don’t like it. My FAL is my MBR. Love shooting it. Once you shoot 7.62 Nato, you’ll never look back. :slight_smile:

Why have some of you stated that you cannot hunt with a 30 round magazine? Is it illegal to do so or is there some other problem doing that (it’s “cheating”?)?

Most states have hunting laws restricting magazine size and the number of “ready” rounds. Some don’t.

Some consider it unsporting to have too many rounds available for “follow up” shots; I was brought up in the “sniper hunter” school of shooting (“One shot, one kill”) probably because all of the older male relatives “Shot for the pot” during the Depression and even before that, and would get whupped for wasting ammo.

The idea is to kill the game animal quickly, not shoot it full of holes and chase it all over Criminey County waiting for it to bleed out.


Lightweight range gun. Not a real long distance shooter that competes with the scoped 270. But what I think is an easy to handle, robust paper puncher and varmint killer.

Anything about this set up that I should be concerned about, or I should consider?