My first AR is this Carbon 15:
So far, I've got a couple thousand through it without a hitch. Yes, you could build for less $$ but it would weigh more. The upper I just put together (Troy ff rail, 16" m4 raa barrel, CMT upper and bolt) feels like it weighs the same or maybe even more than the whole Carbon 15. It is reliable, handles well and I do not regret buying it for an instant.
The only thing I don't like is the colored in F and S. I think only a lawyer would like that.