I have only been researching this for a week or so, looking at many different rifles and vendors. My initial budget for the gun purchase will be about $900, unless I choose to wait and get optics and a bipod at the same time. Considering my budget, I looked mainly at DPMS Panthers with 20- and 24-inch barrels, with an optional chrome lining of the barrel. However, I was discussing my interest in ARs with a friend and he suggested getting the cheapest possible lower that had a National Match trigger, and getting a Wilson upper with either 22- or 24-inch barrel.
I looked at uppers and lowers from RRA, Bushmaster, Wilson, and others, and found that if I get a National Match triggered lower and a long bull barrel upper, I will be crossing well into the $1,000 range.
Being that I am the kind of guy that takes an idea and goes crazy will all of the add-ons and wants everything perfect, I am starting to confuse myself with all of the options.
This rifle is supposed to be something fun for shooting paper targets and occasional varmints in the desert. It doesn't have to be incredibly accurate or superbly reliable, as my life is not dependent on its operation. This rifle just has to be affordable and something fun to tinker with. I am an automotive technician by trade, so I am mechanically inclined.
If I buy any rifle, it will most likely be through Impact Guns here in Ogden, Utah, which is about ten minutes away.
I guess my question is should I buy a complete rifle (DPMS Panter Twenty-Four or RRA 24" Varmint A4) or piece one together over time?
Thank you for reading and thank you for whatever input you can provide! Have a great day!
If you’re going for a rig that you will heat up prairie dog shooting on the bipod/blanket, then a full bull barrel rig may be the ticket. On the other hand, if this rig is going to be used for light shooting of larger type varmint, then the OLY SUM barrel may be the better ticket for a production barrel. Either way, chances are you will be either shooting hand loads or Match type ammo; so go with a 223 chamber over a 5.56 NATO.
To bring you up to my thinking on why,
I once ran a full bull 20" barrel, and on the bipod/blanket, it was a way too much fun to lay waste to prairie dog towns (read barrel would be smoking when done). The problem came when I took this rig out to WY, and got into some coyote shooting (read drive around on BLM land until you spot one, get out and blaze). First shot was off the hood, then if you missed (read like 400 meters out), the little bugger was on a dead run into the next county. Since you don't have time to screw with the scope settings before he make the horizon, you come off the hood and walk the rounds in until you rub a little fire on his ass with the old scope settings (read not uncommon to take then out past the 800 meter mark). With the bull barrel, you are fighting too much forward weight while compensating for the bullet drop and distance lead free hand. With the lighter match type barrel over a bull barrel, the weight is not an issue, and on the short fierce shooting, neither is the barrel over heating.
P.S. And if I haven't horrified anyone yet, it goes back to the old joke, how can you shoot women and children? You just give them less of a lead.
(Note to self, I'm going to catch hell from the mods for this post)
As for the build or buy, build one up. Pick you choice of stripped lowers, order a flat top kit from J&T, but have him pull the price of the Stripped barrel (make sure to spec a standard barrel size gas block) and Upgrade the FCG to a two stage. From there you just need to order a stripped Sum barrel from Oly. With a Super Sniper scope, that should put you around the $900 mark.
Note: you will need to build the upper, so check in your home town forum to find a friend that has tools and can give you a hand.
If your going for the bull barrel, then run with the J&T kit (bull barrel) and just upgrade to the two stage FCG. (upper will be built and you just need to put the lower together).
Note on scope, 10x works great for the AR plateform since this is the setting that I often leave my current one set on for WY. If you going after dog towns, then the 16 works a little better to watch the impact and mist cloud.
So you are saying...
Get one of these (top one on list)
And then one of these or one of these
Or one of these and one of these?
All the info is much appreciated! I am getting somewhat more confused, however I know someone who has all of the tooling and knowledge to help me put it together. I realized that with one of those combos I have been missing a trigger group.
BTW, what is an FCG? Fire control group? I'm just starting to learn all of the acronyms around here.
Yes, that is it.
Build is the way to go. Here is one I built up:
Its a 24" kit from J&T on an Ameetec lower. So far, I have less that $900 invested in it including the scope and a Armalite mount that was added after this picture. I have not changed the trigger yet, just placed some reduced power spings for a crisper pull.
Absolutely awesome! What inspiration!
Was anything bought used?
What type of optics?
Did you start with a stripped lower?
After the J&T barreled upper and stripped lower, I will then need a lower half parts kit, correct?
My friend kept throwing so many ideas at me that I think I'll have him do the parts gathering for me. I figure that I'll get the gun operational and useful for the range, and then work on fine tuning things as I figure out what works for me.
If I could build a gun even remotely similar to yours for that price I will be thoroughly satisfied.
Unless you're driving right up to where you're gonna shoot from, and then put 1000 rounds in an hour through your barrel, the extra weight of a 24" bull barrel isn't worth the trade off, to me.
A standard 20" HBAR will be just as accurate, and not weigh a ton in a finished rifle. You lose a hair of muzzle velocity at 400 yards...but how much of your shooting will be at 400 yards, and how much is that 75/100 fps gonna matter? A bull barrel heats up a little slower...but depending on how much shooting you do, the difference isn't that great.
There are so many options, really...just don't think you HAVE to have a 24" or bull barrel to have an accurate critter gun.
I wouldn't pay $160 for a stripped lower...I paid about $80/85 a pop for all my lowers. Granted, I got lucky, since Quantico Arms used to sell Eagle lowers dirt cheap, and I could pick them up in person...but $160 is just too much.
Optics are more important for the kind of gun you want to build...you're much better off building a relatively standard rifle with a really good higher X scope, imho.
I've got an ER shaw barrel from Model 1 that outshoots either of the OLY SUM barrels I have...and they were twice the price.
What I'd recommend:
Ameetec or Mega Lower (stripped) Ameetec has some other brands, that are cheaper...you might check those out, as long as they're forged.
RRA or CMT A4 upper (complete) Don't get a raised platform, they're not really necessary...a set of high rings will give you all the scope clearance you need.
20" ER Shaw barrel OR 24" fluted ER Shaw Barrel
Yankee Hill Lightweight rifle lengh float tube (that's the four railed one)
RRA Bolt/Carrier assembly and charging handle.
RRA lower parts kit
YHM low profile/specter or railed gas block
Buttstock of choice...I like the fixed A1 length VLTOR, buy ymmv. Using the stock buttstock for a while save you around $100 that you can put into the scope.
Harris bipod...either of the 2 short ones, but you need to weight bench rest length vs. something a little taller.
The infamous "15 minute trigger job" would *probably* get the trigger fairly nice, just be careful during the polishing stage. If not, add another $120 or so for a good two stage trigger.
Weaver Grand Slam 6x20x40.
If that breaks the bank, then go for a Meuller or Swift...they'll be $100 or more cheaper for the same kind of magnification.
You should be able to do all that for around $900, minus the trigger and an exotic buttstock...you can always add those later after you see how it shoot. I'm sure the rifle would do anything you needed it too, AND not need its own set of wheels
Given that you like to tinker with stuff, you'll probably be changing stuff before too long...but the basic rifle will be solid, and get the job done 'til you start swapping stuff around every week like I do.
Get yourself an action block and an armorer's wrench, and you're off to the races.
This pic is less than 2 months old, and the only one that's unchanged is the tan one...that A2 upper just stops me cold in my tracks hehe.
Thanks for the information!
Heavy rifles really don't bother me, but I suppose a lighter one would be better for hiking and hunting.
I don't understand the ER Shaw site. I might be looking at the wrong stuff, but all I could find was bolt-action barrels. hinking.gif
Now I'm confused again, LOL. hisupper comes with bolt/carrier and charging handle...
What about this float tube? Wouldn't it be cheaper to get a non-barreled upper if I'm just going to be replacing the handgaurd with a free float tube and replacing the barrel?
i went with the jt distributing 20" varmint
Model 1 sells the E.R. Shaw Barrels.
In my post above, I'm counting on building from scratch...so yes, you save money buy getting the float tube you want .vs a barreled upper, and having to take it off and replace it.
As far as the tube goes, RRA list several options there...but I still think the YHM tubes are ideal for your build. If you don't want the railed tube, you can get the standard round one, with one small piece of rail to mount on the bottom for your bipod.
Thank you for clarifying!
I found the YHM site, with the tube and rail kit. Rifle length tube with a 4" rail section?
I am somewhat concerned about the barrel. Selecting the gas block front sight base will eliminate the sight from the barrel, correct? Also, I was reading here that many people had reservations about purchasing from Model 1, saying that the quality may be lower than buying from the manufacturer. Anything to watch out for?
With a stripped AMEETEC forged lower, RRA lower parts kit with standard trigger, RRA forged stripped A4 upper, RRA charging handle, RRA bolt carrier group, YHM specter gas block, and RRA A2 buttstock kit, I'm setting at ~$812. That does not include optics, rings, or a bipod.
Is that everything needed to make an operational rifle?