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Posted: 11/19/2008 3:56:50 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/19/2008 5:29:09 AM EDT by Grigsby]
Hey guys,

Great forum, I appreciate being able to be a member here.

I am looking to build my first AR, and have created a list of goals that I want out of this rifle and am wondering if it is feasible.

I want to be able to shoot accurately at 200 yards, and if I could achieve 300-400, that would be great.

I don't want a strict bench rifle, but something I could comfortably stand and shoot.

I have been looking at the mid-length 16" heavy barrel uppers. I am drawn to their compactness and think it looks like a reasonable platform to shoot from almost any position, whether seated at a bench, standing, or crouched.

I am concerned about being able to get the distance out of the rifle that I am looking for. I have read some about using a 1x7 twist with a higher grain round, but will I be affective at the range I'm looking for? How far can I accurately shoot with a 16" barrel? Would it be better to go with a 20"?

I really want the best of both worlds, range and compactness. Sorry if this seems a little noob-ish. Your thoughts or/and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 6:03:46 AM EDT
i resently purchased my first ar (bushmaster carbine 16" barrel) only thing i wish had done differant would have been to make it a 20" barrel
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 6:16:20 AM EDT
I would get the 20" It can reach up to 500yds easily. My 20" feels perfect in my hands, but it really depends on how you like it, what will you be using it for?
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 8:42:19 AM EDT
Mostly range shooting. Probably shooting targets at 100+ yards mostly. But it would be nice to be able to shoot in a more tactical style, at closer targets. I am by no means going to be busting in doors any day soon, but if I had to grab it for personal protection in my home, it might be my only option at the moment.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 8:44:21 AM EDT
At 400 yards, the 16" is fine.  It will be a lot more handy as well.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 8:49:41 AM EDT
I know an AR-15 is probably not the best choice for home protection like that, and I should get a handgun, or shotgun. Something with less penetration. But at the moment it would be the ONLY firearm that I would own personally. My first priority is just getting out to shoot, second would be personal protection in the home.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 8:54:49 AM EDT
If the home protection deal were more important, I'd swing towards the carbine. And if punching paper at 400 was more important, I'd go for the 20" with a 1/7 twist for 70+ grain bullets.

I started with a 20" A2, and then spent the next five years wishing I'd gotten a carbine. Because SHTF/home defense was most important to me. So I finally got the M4A3 (a few weeks ago). But make sure you choose wisely, so you don't have regrets and then "have" to get another AR. Oh wait... I guess around here getting another is always a GOOD thing.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 8:54:58 AM EDT
Get the 16" middy.  My first was a 16" middy and my second was a 20".  I am now building two 16" middies.  I like the 20", but the 16" is much more versatile.  With my 1:9 RRA middy, I can hit a man sized target at 300 yards with an EOtech (no magnification, using M193 ammo).
The extra 4" makes moving in houses, cars, and wooded areas much more difficult.
As far as 1:9 vs. 1:7, all mine are 1:7 except my first middy.  This is only because the barrels I wanted happened to be 1:7.  All things being equal, I guess I would pick 1:7, but this would not make or break any deal.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 8:56:26 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Grigsby:
I know an AR-15 is probably not the best choice for home protection like that, and I should get a handgun, or shotgun. Something with less penetration. But at the moment it would be the ONLY firearm that I would own personally. My first priority is just getting out to shoot, second would be personal protection in the home.



Based on this post it seems to me like you'd be best off with an M4A3. And then get a handgun –– as there are times when you can't always carry an AR with you for protection.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 9:01:18 AM EDT
I went the 20" route for basically your same criterion for building my first AR-type rifle. Wanted all around rifle with long-range capabilities I simply didn't feel I'd adequately get with a 16" or even 18." I don't anticipate doing a lot of building clearing or close-quarters combat, though I do like the telescoping stock configuration I've chosen as it does allow me a decent cheek weld for (fingers crossed) bench-rest consistency while still permitting short configure for ready-carry (not that it's likely I'll need much of that).

I went with a heavy barrel and a free-floating handguard. By using removable/swappable risers for mounting my holographic sight AND a scope, along with folding BUIS, I find I really do have a nice variety of alternate configurations to adapt into. (Yes, Jack-of-all-trades, master of none may characterize my rifle, but...nothing to do with my rifle is "mission critical" in my life. I'd probably choose something else for a SHTF rifle, so, mine is purely for fun and 'cause I wanted one.)

And...yes, I'd likely remove the light & laser for less barrel interference when attempting optimal accuracy.

Good luck with your project.

Here's mine...I'm almost finished:


Link Posted: 11/19/2008 9:01:56 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Grigsby:
I know an AR-15 is probably not the best choice for home protection like that, and I should get a handgun, or shotgun. Something with less penetration. But at the moment it would be the ONLY firearm that I would own personally. My first priority is just getting out to shoot, second would be personal protection in the home.


Guess again.  Plenty here use an AR for home defense, myself included.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 9:08:35 AM EDT
Accuracy is not related to barrel length. A longer barrel will give you more velocity. More velocity gives you more terminal energy and a flatter trajectory.  But inherent accuracy is more related to consistency of cartridge loads, muzzle crown, barrel vibration, etc.

In fact a shorter, stiffer barrel may have better inherent accuracy than a longer barrel with more vibration amplitude.  If you are using only iron sights, then a shorter barrel may reduce sight radius, but a middie would be the same as a 20" anyway.  If you are using optics then sight radius is irrelevant.

With lower velocity of the 16" barrel the inherent accuracy may be equal or even better, but you will have to make larger adjustments for windage and bullet drop at longer ranges.  Within 200 yds this is insignificant compared to human,but would become noticeable at 400 yds and beyond.

Just as a historical note, the old black powder rifles could be very accurate even to 1000 yds or more even though their heavy bullets only travelled at 1500fps or less.  You just had to elevate the barrel (adjust for bullet drop) a huge amount.

A short, heavy profile barrel should have more probability of better accuracy than a longer barrel of equal profile.

Personally I don't think you can go wrong either way for anything within 400yds. The main benefit of the 20" barrel is to keep velocities up for maximum terminal wounding effect past 200 yds, and to reduce your optics adjustments a few clicks for the longer ranges.  From the other angle, a 20" barrel is not that much longer and could just as well serve for close quarters defense.  In fact, (correct me if I am wrong) I believe the Army chooses the 14.5" carbine as its standard in Iraq for CQB, and the Marines standard is the 20" for the velocity, yet they both use thier rifles for the same situations.  Either one can work for you, just choose your preference.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 9:41:00 AM EDT
Well at the moment I live in an apartment complex, so I need to be aware of that.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 11:36:01 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Grigsby:
I know an AR-15 is probably not the best choice for home protection like that, and I should get a handgun, or shotgun. Something with less penetration. But at the moment it would be the ONLY firearm that I would own personally. My first priority is just getting out to shoot, second would be personal protection in the home.


I use my 20" A2 for home defense, hunting, plinking, and every thing else i need it for. But thats just me. I'm getting a 16" upper next.  
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 12:41:29 PM EDT
Go for the 16" but skip the heavy barrel.  Denny's Operator or the Noveske N4 would be good choices.

The 16" can do everything the 20" can while losing only minimal velocity and it'll be a lot handier than the 20".  In fact, I personally believe the 16" middy to be the ideal all purpose rifle, of course opinions vary wildly.

Link Posted: 11/19/2008 12:42:27 PM EDT
My vote is for the MIDDY!
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 12:50:41 PM EDT
I compromised and got an 18" that started as a 20" HBAR and was cut down to 18" and turned under the handguards to a lighter profile.   Rifle length gas system and it handles very nicely!
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 12:50:51 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/19/2008 12:53:13 PM EDT by MillerSHO]
16" is the new 20" son.
14.5" is the new 16".
SBR's are the new 14.5"


Where you been?

Link Posted: 11/19/2008 12:51:23 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/19/2008 12:53:41 PM EDT by MillerSHO]
Originally Posted By phil3333:
i resently purchased my first ar (bushmaster carbine 16" barrel) only thing i wish had done differant would have been to make it a 20" barrel




HUH?

I'm sure there's ton's of people on the EE that will trade you straight across if that's how you really feel.

Barrel length has nothing to do with accuracy.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 1:28:13 PM EDT
I got a 16 and then thought about a 20. I split the different and i now have 2 18s and 2 16s. Now I just need a National Match 20" from RRA.
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 1:43:20 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 11/19/2008 1:44:29 PM EDT by jcrowl]
This is my favorite midlength, a Noveske 16.1" recon. It's a lot more accurate than me! Ideal for 300-400 yds

Link Posted: 11/19/2008 1:52:30 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Grigsby:
Well at the moment I live in an apartment complex, so I need to be aware of that.


Your absolute first concern (or at least mine would be in that living environment) is overpenetration...your neighbors or their kids shouldn't catch a round intended for an intruder. I don't want to commit a crime while preventing one on myself or those I protect.

I'd research appropriate bullets to minimize risk of punching THROUGH walls. Dry wall ain't much more than toilet paper. Keep in mind at all times the 1st rule of gun safety: always be aware of your target and what lies beyond...in an apartment complex more important than just about anywhere else. (In situations like this, short-barrel shotgun with bird shot is a pretty sound suggestion.

(Note: The Taurus "Judge" revolver which shoots .45LC and .410 seems to be a cool choice for home protection. Only 5 revolver cylinders, but most gun encounters are less than that many shots and the ability to choose bullet or shot is kinda nice. Unfortunately, Taurus doesn't bring those into CA. One more thing withheld from us poor CA. shooters...sigh.)

Link Posted: 11/19/2008 2:22:16 PM EDT
Accuracy is not a function of barrel length, but of barrel quality. The velocity loss is minimal. It is hard to say exactly how much you loose, but it won't be more than 250 fps. with that being the high end. More likely only 100 to 200 fps difference.

My favorite AR is a RRA Middy with Free floated Stainless H bar. I have put 20 rounds into a group the size of a grapefruit at 450 yds. on my steel target. It may even be more accurate than my Predator Pursuit!
Link Posted: 11/19/2008 5:06:18 PM EDT
If you don't use an optic, the longer sight radius of the 20" is an advantage. That's the
way I learned the M-16 so I'm comfortable with it.  For general use, the 16" with an optic is a good choice. Frangible ammo can be used for home defense if you're concerned about over penetration.
Link Posted: 11/22/2008 8:15:44 AM EDT
I appreciate the input guys. I went with the mid-length 16". I think I will be happy with that as my first AR. We'll see how it goes, I might end up building a second depending on how much fun I have with this. Now I just have to quell the anticipation, cuz she wont be in for a possible 8 weeks.
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