I've just got a couple questions; hopefully grouping them won't cause problems.
What is a 'midlength', and how does it differ from a carbine? Are there set barrel lengths for each (16" and 14.5", respectively), or is there something else that helps these classifications get earned? My understanding is that it's a 16" AR.
Is there any function to the handguard for the gun's sake (as opposed to my own)?
What is ".223 Wylde Chamber"? I see the Standard A4 that RRA offers has it. If a rifle is chambered for .223, can it also shoot 5.56? I know that the inverse is true, so I suspect this is false. Also, how might the .223 Wylde compare?
This is what I want:
-flattop upper (I'm looking at getting one from Model 1 Sales, RRA (I've heard they have a long wait line), or Bravo Company USA, in that order. Any suggestions? Will I have a problem getting my stuff from any of these guys in a timely fashion? Anyone else that has a better price/quality product ratio with decent service I might want to look into instead?)
- chromed/chrome moly HBAR barrel (16" or 20", if available/reasonable/recommended) - Will it make much of a difference in barrel longevity if I get an HBAR, vs. a military profile, or should they be able to accurately shoot roughly the same number of rounds before needing replacement? Would I have imbalance issues with the gun being front-heavy were I to get a light-weight stock?
- short handguard (unless there's a reason to have a longer one - I think this is called 'midlength'?)
- I'm thinking of either getting a Stag or DPMS lower; I'd be getting it through an FFL, likely completed. Are the trigger kits that come with these of decent enough quality? I don't want something with a lot of play, etc. but I don't think I necessarily need an uber-special match trigger. :P
I'd like to be able to get it or build it for under $550 or so, but I'd be willing to go up to around $700 if it's necessary to get quality. I don't yet have an AR (actually, I don't have a rifle at all right now), and would like to
get a general-purpose AR: something which would be good for 200-300 yards at the range, as well as relatively light and small for carrying around for a day.
I'm kind of innundated by all the choices, and am not really able to discern too many of the differences between manufacturers. I kind of figure it's not a good idea to purchase "off-brand" stuff from (say) Shotgun News; is this a correct assumption, or shouldn't it make a difference these days? I want a gun that's reliable and accurate, first of all, and I'm willing to pay a bit extra for that; if I don't have to, though, I'd prefer not to, as cost is a big issue.
- Is it a bad idea to get a stripped lower and put in a seperate trigger group, etc.? I'm not intimidated by a technical challenge, but if it would require "gunsmithing" to get it tuned -properly-, that might be more than I'd want. (Though, I -would- like to put it together, so that I can say, "I built this.") Can anyone recommend a trigger which is both economical and of good quality, if in case I do go with an unassembled lower?
- Are there any recommendations on inexpensive, "good for the money" magnified optics? I'm thinking 4-8x, with whatever focal length would work/be cheap. I've got poor vision and have a hard time clearly seeing a human-sized profile at 200 yards (ie, I could probably hit it, but it wouldn't be COM with irons).
- Is there going to be a significant accuracy loss at range with a 16" barrel (vs. a 20") for me to worry much about it, or should I (with a decent optic, as a better-than-average rifleman) still be able to hit smaller targets with impunity at 200-250 yards? Which barrel would you guys recommend (length, type, coat) for someone getting not only their first AR, but their first rifle (well, not first rifle, but the only rifle I will have in the house due to having had to sell all my firearms several years ago).
Finally, if you list something, use as few acronyms as possible. I'm not up on what every acronym stands for yet.
Here are a few answers IMHO.
Look around here for a while. You will learn enough to pay for an AR by not buying bad items then needing to replace them. Look on the Equipment Exchange.
Take a look at carbines on either Armalite or RRA websites and compare them to carbines on Bushmaster’s site – the difference between carbine and midlength barrels will be obvious. Note that the barrel lengths can be the same – the obvious difference is the handguard length.
IMHO the midlength is a bit better setup due to the longer handguard and longer sight radius (which isn’t an issue if you don’t use the iron sights). Its lower port pressure is also nice though not, in my experience, that big a deal.
Basically, the handguard protects your hand from the barrel, which can get really hot. However, some folks also use it as an attachment point for everything but the kitchen sink.
Buying individual parts can get expensive fast. It’s much more economical to get a complete kit.
There are plenty of junk AR parts out there that will cause you endless grief. Stay with reputable dealers. I’ve had good luck with J-T Distributors, who are a site sponsor. I’ve never dealt with them, but Del-Ton, also a site sponsor, has a good reputation.
You can get a completed lower assembly if you want, but I don’t know why you’d do that - the lowers are easy to put together (assuming you get decent parts to begin with). Many folks here get stripped lowers and then buy complete kits with all the other parts, to include the hammer, trigger and such.
It’s assembling the uppers that can be a bit of a challenge – and require some specialized tools. However, in some instances dealers like J-T Distributors will send you a completed upper (and even test fire it if you ask them to).
I dislike H-Bars intensely except for shooting from a bench. They’re just too heavy and poorly balanced for me. If you’re considering one, make sure you’ve handled one first so you know what you’re getting into!!
In theory if you often get the barrel really hot from a lot of shooting, a thicker barrel will probably last a bit longer since it can handle the heat better. In reality I doubt there’s any difference. Suggest you get the barrel weight you want and not worry about barrel life. Do get chrome plated though.
Barrel length has nothing to do with accuracy (except re: sight radius with iron sights, which apparently is a non-issue with you). However, length does affect bullet velocity.
If you’re looking for inexpensive, quality optics, I’d suggest you forget the zoom and just go with something like a 4X. Any of the lower priced scopes by Leupold, Redfield or Nikon should be good. Weaver used to make good medium priced scopes, but they’ve changed hands so I don’t know how they are nowadays. You might want to post this part of your question in our optics forum.
Um, are there some laws prohibiting the attachment of kitchen sinks to front hand guards of ARs?
What about if I remove the bayonet lug and/or folding stock?
It is my humble understanding that the kitchen sink is ok. Now if you put one on but the water is not hooked up, that might be posing. If you hook up water, then you have pluming issues and function issues.
DSG Arms has the high quality cav arms mid lenght uppers in stock. It'll cost you a bit more than a kit though. I used the 20" rifle kit with ameetec lower and got a perfect color match and fit up. The cav arms hand guards don't hold up to rapid fire heat but high quality barrel and upper make it worth it. I plan on getting the mid lenght as soon as my fainances recover from my last build.