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As the subject says, I’m seeking advice on which weapon system to use for my first carbine. I live in a rural area in Tennessee where we don’t have great expanses of open fields; it’s mostly hardwood forests and sub divisions. I do have a few pistols for conceal carry as well as a Mossberg 590 for home defense. 

I’d really prefer a one rifle fits all solution, which I suspect may be asking too much.  My primary concern is a rifle I can deploy along side my community team in the event that we need to work together to defend our families in a SHTF scenario. I’m not LEO/MIL, just a civilian looking to protect his family. I’d think a target outside 300 yards is entirely too far away to consider a threat, especially from a legal perspective. I believe the most recent statistics I’ve seen on here put the average contact distance in a OPFOR context at 150m, so I’d like to stick with that as a range baseline. 

Obviously, being cheap to feed is important so that I have funds available for training classes, which I view as more important than the firearm.  I’m open to adopting any platform, but after reading survival stories from civilians that lived through war zone blockades, I would prefer something that wouldn’t stand out/make me a target if need to carry a long gun on a supply run. Hopefully this doesn’t make me sound too much like a tinfoil hat type. Maybe I’ve just been in quarantine too long. 

Any advice is greatly appreciated. 

Original Post

Welcome.   Lots of knowledge here from some real pros.   

if you aren’t planning to hunt with it, IMO a 556/223 AR is hard to beat.   In a real SHTF world there will be parts and ammo and there are plenty of aftermarket accessories to bling it up in the meantime.   

AR brands come in all manner of quality and price. Some folks will say you can build cheaper and that is true, if you know what you are doing and have the tools.   I would Buy something off the shelf and shoot for mid-scale or above.    avoid the cheaper brands if it is really something you want to trust your life on.   Carbine length With a telescoping stock is pretty handy.  Maybe a mid length gas system, which is still compact but a bit of an enhancement in function and longevity.  LMT, Daniel Defense, bravo Company.  Plenty of great makers in the $800-1000 zip code.   No need to drop $2k on a top shelf gun.   Buy 6-12 pmags and spend the rest on ammo to practice, practice, practice.   Skip an optic for now and get very good at shooting with your irons and your manual of arms, as well as basic maintenance.   

be careful though, ARs have a habit of being money pits, as well as multiplying in your gun safe   

 

Thanks for your input. I’m definitely looking into the 5.56/.223 platform.  I’m looking at Savage MSR-15 and BCM Recce.  I need to double check our game laws to make sure that is an acceptable caliber for deer in TN. If it’s not, I’ll guess I’ll be having to step up to a .30cal/7.62x and that’ll make my choice for me. I’ve also considered ARs and AKs from Palmetto State, as well as the SA M1a Socom. I’m open to suggestions, opinions, etc on any of these options, or if there is anything else I’ve missed. 

I’m thinking I might buy off the shelf the first time around, that way I can confirm my results as to my training/practice and not worry about equipment issues. 

I enjoy iron sight shooting as I grew up doing lots of small game hunts with just a basic lever action .22lr, so not super interested in jumping into optics right out of the gate.

I have a Rem 597 that I’m working on currently. Needs better sights for distance shooting off hand. The current front blade is too wide for my tastes. 

I have a lever action Revelation Gold Trigger .22lr that I can shoot the lights out with. The front sight on it is considerably narrower than on my Rem 597. When shooting 4” steel targets at 75-100 yards, it’s hard to see the target on the Rem, but I can get consecutive hits with the Revelation. I think I prefer using a center hold on a thin front sight rather than a 6oclock hold on a fatter blade. Other than that, no complaints on the Rem 597. 

Pat Rogers told me a number of times that I epitomize what he called the "ordinary earth people" that he was eager to reach and mentor.  And learning occurred.  I came to  Lightfighter in 2007 because the only thing I did know was that I didn't know what I didn't know.  I have learned a little and I know even more of what I still don't know!  Heck, I learned a couple of things on Lightfighter today. 

Every word Desk_Jockey typed is good, sound advice.  The only thing I would add is Colt and FN on the list of worthy brands.  The caveat is to do the market research to get a feel for reasonable price, and I'm sure you're already aware that "reasonable price" regardless of manufacturer may be as scarce as canned unicorn farts until Wuhan virus runs its course a little more and the election is settled favorably.   And shop for quality ammunition in bulk online so you don't pay the rent on the local gun store that wants you to buy a Bushmaster.

Pat, a giant of a man when it came to shooting, tactics, and gear selection, was famous for saying, "The mission drives the gear".  Take some time to sit down and carefully consider what your mission is.  All of us have at some time wanted a rifle that did everything.  Experience and much money spent has taught us, or at least me, that everything is a pipe dream.  The more narrow your specifications, the more likely you can satisfy them without much compromise.  When you broaden that, you may come up with a rifle, sights, etc. that satisfies most of your desires, but you will need to prioritize the features and arrive at a compromise.  An 18" heavy barreled SPR with a good optic will excel at shots over 400 yds, but be a much lower performer at work in the house.  Whereas a pistol braced 11.5" barreled gun will slay at the close range stuff, but rapidly lose capability past 100 yds.  Not that it can't hit, but the ballistics will suck.  A good 16" carbine will cover the middle ground the best and do very well.  Not quite as handy as the 11.5" at house and yard work, but better than the SPR.  Etc., etc.

When you do your planning, include optics.  I grew up shooting iron sights and I'm still fond of them.  But iron sights are not as fast as a red dot at close range, or a magnified optic at longer distances.

Unless you are planning on a complete breakdown of law and order, you are responsible for your shooting and your choices, even during a short term civil unrest.  Spec'g a rifle for 100-200 yd shots in an urban environment against people presents an issue.  You need to be able to articulate why that guy at 150 yds was an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm before you shot him.  Consequently, when it comes to self defense, home defense, etc., I counsel that you shouldn't think of your rifle as a long range lightning bolt of death.  Think of it as a substitute for your handgun, with the same range, just more power and accuracy.  That doesn't mean you neglect long range skills, they'll help you up close as well.  But now you're seeing a difference between defending against humans at 25 yds and trying to bag a deer at 150.  With regards to the latter, there is a difference between hunting season and game laws, and survival hunting.  What is effective isn't always legal, but the latter is really only important if there are game wardens involved.  But I'm now pointing out a conflict in mission requiring a compromise that favors hunting or defense against a home invader.

One final thought on your iron sight and sight picture comments.  6 o'clock hold vs. center of mass.  COM is more geared to speed than to accuracy.  The movie quote, "aim small, miss small" has merit.  If you have magnification for example, it might be aim for the center shirt button, not the middle of the torso.  Which is why the 6 o'clock hold can yield accuracy benefits.  A target shooter will often use the 6 o'clock hold because it is more consistent to use the center bottom of a black circle as the aiming point, than to use the nebulous center of the circle.  Holding center also tends to obscure much of the target if you're using iron sights.  I'm not telling you to change how you shoot, but think about why you shoot the way you do, and is it effective for your purposes.  Think about whether you need to change the hold depending on the target and the range.  And then practice to keep it prominent in your mind.

NS, 

Don't know if you intend hunt in "normal" years or only during time of crisis.  Don't know your state game laws, but some slugs in your 590 should be able to do the job, at reasonable ranges.   If only during a crisis and you are hunting to feed the family, I might "forget" about the 5.56X45 maybe not being approved. 

I sold some guns when the M1A SOCOM came out and bought one.  It was cool, looked deadly, but has limitations:

-No where close to options for almost all after market accessories, Sights, slings, etc (the forward rail is a heat sink, tough on some RDS).

-There were reasonable reports (Pat Rogers) of the front sight/gas block going down range. 

-You will make NO friends at an indoor or outdoor range with other shooters with a short barrel 7.62.   Over penetration in you home or neighborhood is also a consideration. 

Your choice, if you want an M1A type, go for it, but consider a longer barrel. 

There is a reason the M4'ish 5.56 carbines are the most commonly used modern sporting rifle. 

YMMV

I'm not an expert on carbines/rifles. What I have learned, I picked up mostly here over the last 15 years with some info picked up along the way on some other places from some very experienced people.

First of all I looked up Tennessee Hunting laws regarding caliber. Here is the link:

https://www.tn(dot)gov/twra/hunting/equipment-methods.html

Looks like you are good to use any centerfire cartridges (except full metal jacket rounds).

Regarding what rifle/carbine to use, my recommendations will probably echo those above, and probably a great many that may reply. A midlength gas system AR-15 would be optimal. Parts availability, aftermarket upgrades like stocks, pistol grips, etc will allow the firearm to be customized to your desires.

Magazines are plentiful, but get the right ones (Magpul, Okay Industries, Lancer, D&H Industries, Troy).

Brands: Bravo Company, Colt (if you can find one), Sons Of Liberty Gun Works, Sionics are all good brands closer to $800-1400. If you want to spend more there is LMT, Noveske, Knights Armament and Daniel Defense. 

Build vs buying stock. Buy your first gun off the shelf. If you ever want to build an AR-15, I would wait until you have mastered your gun. While the cost of parts MAY be cheaper than buying a complete gun, there are a lot of pitfalls that you may run into putting an AR-15 together. Also, you have to buy the tools, and decent tools aren't cheap. You can always buy a complete upper receiver and a complete lower receiver separate, and this can save you some money as the firearm manufacture is required to pay tax to the government on every firearm that they sell based off the value of the firearm. All of my BCM rifles were bought as a separate upper and lower and I actually saved money this way compared to the complete rifle. 

My thoughts on rifles/carbines other than AR-15s. I wouldn't say not to get an AK, but I would shy away from a M1A. My understanding is that the M1A can be a money pit  that may not give the returns desired. I have heard stories of accuracy issues. Also magazines are pricey and mounting an optic isn't as straightforward as an AR-15. AKs are good guns (don't own one), but your going to spend just as money as you would on an AR-15 for a comparable quality firearm. Also optic mounting requires a side mount, or mounting off of the handguard. Another thing to consider with an AK is IF SHTF, battlefield pickup of ammo isn't going to be as prolific as .223/5.56.

On the topic of caliber, if you are looking to get an AR-15, I would go with a 5.56.45mm chamber over a .223 caliber chamber. 5.56x45mm chambered AR-15's can handle both 5.56x45mm NATO as well as .223 Rem., where a .223 chamber cannot handle the higher pressure of 5.56.45mm NATO

As far as upgrades, everything I have heard and read (that I would quantify as credible) states that there are 3 primary things to add to a fighting gun. Optic, sling and weapon light. If I had to put things in order the optic or sling would be first. Sling is important to allow your hands to do other things while the firearm is slung. Optic options are red dots,  Low Power Variable Optics (LPVO), Fixed power (like an ACOG), or holographic sights. My thoughts are red dots (like Aimpoint) which allow rapid target acquisition, or a LPVO which allows target identification at distance are the two best options. I think (my opinion) that the ACOG is kind of outdated at this point with LPVO, except for the fact that ACOGs are lighter. Also, I'm not a fan of EoTech Holographic sights. I like the large window and the reticle is tolerable (very pixilated), but the battery life is crap, and you cannot leave them on all of the time like you can with an Aimpoint. A weapon light is almost a must for target identification (you don't want to put lead into the wrong target in a low light situation). You can pick up a half decent light with enough lumens/candela without breaking the bank. I like Surefire lights, but there are other brands out there that are going to get the job done for less money (Streamlight, Inforce).

Big thing as others have said is get the ammo and practice, practice, practice. Invest in the gun, mags and get good at shooting with the irons. Once you got that down, I would look into the optic, sling and light. Also, get quality ammo. Cheap steel cased ammo, while it may save you money, is going to cause more issues with your firearm, and there are a lot of ranges that prohibit its use. 

Last thing I will say is that AR-15's are like rabbits. If you leave them alone in the gun safe, they tend to multiply.

Good luck, and I'm sure you're going to get a lot more information. Read, absorb it, and learn as much as you can.

Jeff

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I know most people above have already said buy quality, but buy quality. I don't think anybody regrets buying Colt, BCM, or any of the other solid brands mentioned above.  But plenty of people regret not having bought quality up front. If you can't find or can't afford a professional grade rifle right now, wait and keep looking. A 590 and a couple pistols, quality ammo and practice will serve your stated purposes well until augmented by the right rifle. 

I was a red-dot holdout until the mid 2000s. My reasoning was, I learned on and shot well with iron sights. I'm glad my partners changed my mind. You will acquire a sight picture much faster with a good red-dot. Consider an Aimpoint PRO, new for around $400 or less. 

A weapon mounted light is, in my opinion, a must for personal protection. You can get a Streamlight ProTac HLX ready to mount for just over $100.

PMAGs have not let me down so I use them exclusively. PSA has them on sale periodically for $8 each with free shipping on 10 or more. That's the only time I buy them and I buy 10 just about every other time they go on sale. 

I also recommend an adjustable two point tactical sling. I like the Vickers sling. 

Add a case of ammo. 

Print this thread.  Read it twice and highlight the important parts.  Don't be like my buddy and ask what to get, got told a simplified version what is above and then went to the store and came back with an off caliber rifle from a less than reputable maker a 1/2 hour ago.   DON"T let some gun counter critter "SWAT" you (Sell You Whats Available Today), it's a retail strategy, stick to what your research (assuming credible sources) tells you. 

Normally, I would tell you to go to a carbine course first before you buy a rifle.  During training you tend to discover what works for you.    Pat Rogers, our tribal elder emeritus, used to have a stable of loaner guns for his students, and helped more then a couple folks find the right path. This is especially true of optics, vertical hand grips and other accessories.   

You'll notice certain brands (Colt, Bravo Company Manufacturer (BCM), Daniels Defense (DD) being repeated around here, Pat would call that I clue, I'd recommend heeding said clue.  You'll also notice Aimpoint being a heavily mentioned optics maker, thats also a clue.

I'll rehit an important point then get off my soapbox.  It's better to have $1,000 worth of skill and a $500 rifle then $50 worth of skill and a $1450 rifle. The caveat to that is that your skill's effectiveness is degraded if your cheap CHICOM "just as good" rifle fails when you need it.   

Make sure to bring up any additional questions you have.  Folks here will break it down for you if ask, just don't buy crap and expect us to say nice things about it.

Nothing Special posted:

I’d really prefer a one rifle fits all solution, which I suspect may be asking too much.  My primary concern is a rifle I can deploy along side my community team in the event that we need to work together to defend our families in a SHTF scenario. I’m not LEO/MIL, just a civilian looking to protect his family.

 I’m open to adopting any platform, but after reading survival stories from civilians that lived through war zone blockades, I would prefer something that wouldn’t stand out/make me a target if need to carry a long gun on a supply run. 

Any advice is greatly appreciated. 

For the above requirements, you may want to consider an AR pistol.  Something like a BCM pistol lower and an  11.5"-12.5" upper.  Mil-spec M4's have 14.5" barrels so you wouldn't be losing that much as far as barrel length but it would give you a few advantages such as being able to stuff it in to a back pack or duffel bag (especially if you a LAW folder) and keeping it loaded since it would fall under your concealed carry license. 

Add a  weapon mounted light, sling and optic with magnification and you'll have a one size fits most solution.  If you ever go down the suppressor route, it'll be less clumsy than hanging it off a 16" barrel.

If going with a 16" long gun, I'd stick with a carbine gas system because in my experience mid-length guns can be finicky with ammo and buffer weights.

Thanks to all for so much important advice. I’ve been mulling all of this over for a long time and it’s good to hear many of my own thoughts echoed back to me by those with much more real world experience than I have. 

Treehopr, Your words will not go unheeded. I’ve been considering a 12.5in AR pistol for a while for all of the reasons mentioned. 

cd228, I definitely agree that the training is more important than the tool, but as you said, the training does you no good if the tool stays broke because you cheaped out. As far as training goes, I’ve looked into Royal Range in Nashville, with Bob Allen, retired metro SWAT commander, as I appreciate how his class  courses are broken up into affordable four hour blocks. I’ve also considered Reid Henrichs classes at Valor Ridge. If anyone has insight as to those instructors or any others in the middle Tennessee area I may have overlooked, please let me know. 

Got it; stick with a well known brand mentioned here. Ambivalence as to the AK and the M1a sucks. 

As far as the 6 hold vs COM, I guess it would depend on my use as you said. A small game “skillet meat” gun in 22lr may need a 6 hold for more accuracy on a small target. And a self defense gun in 5.56 would likely need a COM hold to pick up a dangerous moving target in a hurry. And apparently a RDS jumps the speed up even more. Thoughts on a Trijicon MRO or Sig Bravo 3? I’ve definitely looked at the Aimpoint PRO as well.  Also, 100% as to sling and light. I’ve been reading about the Vickers sling and I think I’m going to get one for my 590. Gotta have some way to keep my long gun under control while carrying a child if need be. No way I’m just pitching it to the deck. Also looking at inforce, streamlight and surefire for weapon lights on a long gun.  I can’t see a civilian need for a weaponlight on a CCW unless it’s supplemented by a separate “recon” light.  You easily end up with an agg. assault charge if the “mugger” you thought you saw in an alley turns out to be a couple of kids going at in the dark. 

Absolutely agree on the legal issue of long distance target engagement on hostile humans from a civilian standpoint.  It would have to be some crazy scenario before I could imagine having to act.  Better to let those with qualified immunity handle that. 

Thanks again to all. More research for sure. This thread and forum has proven invaluable already. 

When I came to LIghtfighter I sept seeing references to a "chart" of acceptable Ar rifles, carbines.  I could never get a link to open.  My ownership of carbiness has been spotty at best a Rock River at first trade for an S&W MP15, you seldom see either of those two mentioned as acceptable.  It shoots reasonably well with a very old Aimpoint.  Then i picked up a Colt (labeled M4) I have an Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic on.    I would like to add a Springfield Edge to the armory, but I find the price mark a little prohibitive right now. Why an Edge? No idea. My brother in Law in Hoover, Alabama has bought a BCM Recce-I asked him to leave it to me in his will. I have blue force slings on both with QD mounts from Magpul. One has an old Streamlight and the other an Inforce.

Yes the fuckers multiply like rabbits.

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Threads like this pop up every now and again, and I think it's good that they do. Sage advice has been offered. And even sage advice evolves over time too. So it's good to see it fresh based on lessons learned the last few years.

110% correct advice above about, sling, red dot, light. Your carbine is not ready for work without those things. Personally, I think training on a red dot (your primary) takes priority over training with your backups, which are rarely used. Don't *neglect* backup sight use (I have to qualify with both twice a year), particularly the drill of switching to them in the middle of a fight.

There are reasons police departments and the Army use the M4-style carbine as their go-to for their "everybody" solutions to issue to the great unwashed masses, and I think you are sound getting something within that range of things. If this is a home defense gun and not for some kind of sport or specialized competition, think police mission. You are filling that role in their absence for yourself. Get a solid gun in that realm, don't overthink it.

The only thing I'd add on about what to look for in a gun is *considering* a longer front rail system than the standard carbine length, particularly if you are a larger guy. I'm smaller and I still hate that standard carbine length hand placement on my issued work gun. I think it just gives you more real estate in case you find some do-dad is interfering with your grip or whatever. Plus, you could take advantage of a mid-length gas system, which many people like. But this option is way down the list of things people have already said.

+++++++ to the post above.  A midlength gas system on a 16" or 14.5" with pinned (extended) muzzle device will shoot softer than the carbine length gas system.  A good, longer handguard, almost always a freefloat, is an excellent choice because of the extra real-estate and options for where you mount a sling, light, VFG, etc.  I would get M-Lok over M1913 Picatinny, or Key-mod, even though I like Keymod.  M-Lok has mostly won the VHS-Betamax battle.  The handguard is an extra expense, but ultimately, I think it is well worth the cost.

Below is what I posted in another discussion thread, of which might help you in making an educated decision.  Discussion thread here:
https://www.lightfighter.net/t...ele-for-patrol-rifle

When teaching Armorer courses, we get asked about what rifles to look at for purchasing.  My advice is always make an educated decision as to all the rifles specs and features, then look at the customer service and reputation.  

What I see at classes is that Agencies and Officers purchase rifles based on several different things.  Many rifles are purchased based on the cheapest price or bid price, this is often times required by a town council that are only looking at budget dollars, or some State laws require that purchases over a certain $$$ amount be put out for bid.  Some rifles are purchased based on what the local gunshop has in stock or they recommend.  Many are what their local Law Enforcement Distributor carries.  Lots are purchased based on looks or the Chief/Sheriffs buddy has one so this is what we need to get. 

Officers and Agencies need to look at the purchase of that rifle as an investment, and to invest wisely.  Administrators and Town Councils usually have people that understand that they will purchase things like this office chair vs the other as it will last 2 more years, or to purchase a police package vehicle vs one that isn't as it will hold up or perform better, or they purchase this photo copy machine vs the other as it does more and will last 5 more years and they can get it serviced locally, etc.

Firearms also need to be looked at as an investment.  Lives depend upon that firearm performing 100% in all field conditions when needed.  In my over 3 decades of Law Enforcement, I have seen many changes in equipment, training, and firearms (And yes I did start my career when we went to battle streets carrying revolvers, shotguns, flat saps, sap gloves, straight wood sticks, and Kel lights, etc).  I like where we are at today for equipment, training options are incredible today, and tactics have changed (Some for the better and some not).

In armorer courses I ask Officers how long do agencies keep a handgun, and the usual answer is "7-10" for most agencies.  I also ask how long do agencies keep a shoulder weapon, the normal answer is "Forever", which translates to 25-45 years.  If you look what shoulder weapons agencies have in their armory, you will see lots of shotguns from the 70-80's, MP5's from the 80-90's, DRMO M16A1's from the 60-70's time range, etc.

So now take into consideration you as an Officer, or your agency is going to have that rifle in service for the the next 25-45 years, and consider that you may need parts or warranty on it.  If you get a rifle that is running standardized parts under the hood, standardized meaning they are common AR15/M16 type parts that you can get from about any parts supplier or rifle maker, then you should be good to go if you need replacements as things wear out or break, as the AR15/M16 rifle systems has been in service for many decades now where parts are common.

Now if you obtain a firearm that has unique parts under the hood, that are not common, or are manufacturer specific, then this needs to be heavily considered on obtaining replacement parts for things that wear out or break, as you may need parts 5, 10, 15, 20 years down the road.  Some of those non standardized things to consider are extractors, bolts, caliber, unique gas tube lengths, recoil springs, cam pins, firing pins, gas keys, barrels, etc.  An example would be the HK MP5 40's that many of us used, HK stopped producing and supplying parts for them, so good luck servicing them today unless you are getting used parts or aftermarket.

Occasionally we have seen some new bolt designs come up that are not standardized, and some of have their own extraction or ejection system (Double extractor spring or double ejectors come to mind).  These unique systems may work just fine, but let's say a few years down the road that they don't make them anymore, that may be a problem if you need a replacement.  We have seen this in handguns as well, take a look at 1911's where the internal extraction system in either 70 or 80 series is standardized where you can find them from sources all over.  But if you get a 1911 with an external extractor, S&W and Sig Sauer are a few common ones we come across that are unique to that specific brand, so if you need a replacement then where are you going to go get one down the road should they stop making them.

Caliber is one that comes to mind.  Several agencies jumped on the .357Sig, .45GAP in pistols, and how common are those parts or being able to obtain ammunition today for them.  A local agency several years ago bought 6.8SPC AR15's for their patrol rifle.  Within a few years the 6.8SPC thing started dying off, it is a nice caliber IMHO, but as it started dying in the Law Enforcement / Military type circles, that agency found that now they cannot get replacement parts for bolts, barrels, etc, as easy anymore.

When it comes to direct gas impingement systems and piston systems, my advice is the same, consider what you are getting, and how you will support it down the road.  Both the gas and piston systems have been around and for many decades, and both work.  What are you gaining and what you are losing needs to be taken into account.  I am a fan of the direct gas impingement system as gas tubes are a simple part to replace and not too expensive, and if running one my suggestion is to heavily consider getting a gas tube length that is common and standardized where you can support it 5-20 years down the road, as if you get something that unique to a specific manufacturer or model of rifle then this could be a problem if you ever need a replacement, and if you are going to be running a unique gas system length then have a few extra gas tubes on hand for the just in case down the road.  The same thing goes for piston systems, as they are not standardized between manufacturers, and you will also find what some piston rifle manufacturers used on their rifles 15, 10, 7, 5, or ever 2 years ago isn't what they are using today for a piston system, or they no longer offer that piston system, so how do you support it down the road if you are going to have it in service for the next 25-45 years.     

Now about those firearms that are purchased on the lowest bid or price, you may or may not get a good firearm that will service you well.  The question that always stands out in my mind is how would one manufacturer be able to produce a firearm way less expensive as compared to another manufacturer, think of the Glock vs S&W Sigma from a few years back.  Generally what we see in Armorer courses is that when rifle is cheaper by lots of $$$ as compared to another, is that it is the features and bells and whistles on the outside, or they cut corners under the hood.  What is on the outside of the rifle is cosmetic, meaning as to what grip or stock system to use, what free float tube or handguards, which iron sights or no iron sights (Not adding iron or back up iron sights can shave $150-ish off the price tag), etc.  Stocks, grips and handguards are personal preference, and they range in a varying price difference.  The difference between a traditional Military A2 vs aftermarket grip (Ergo, Magpul, etc) can add $20-30 to the cost.  Sights are one that we have always used same plane apertures for the Law Enforcement rifles that we build, they cost more as compared to traditional A2 apertures, but for the LE use it only makes sense in my mind, and a same plane aperture can and additional $30, but today there are backup irons that this has become the standard.  Oversized trigger guards is something we have always put on LE rifles, the traditional trigger guard is the most common, but several manufacturers have jumped on the oversized trigger guards that we have done long before others. at matters more is what is under the hood. 

When teaching Armorer courses, we teach that there are 3 main components under the hood where corners shouldn't be cut (IMHO), that is the bolt, barrel, and trigger system, and when we build rifles this is a place that we don't cut corners.  As for the original discussion, both FN an Geissele use quality bolts, barrels, and triggers in their rifles.  As for other stuff we come across in Armorer courses, from lots of different makers or what Officers built from parts kits, we see lots of good stuff, and lots of not so good, but you get what you pay for.          

Here is a previous discussion about features and quality that is also relevant to purchasing wisely  https://www.lightfighter.net/t...38#33677044016890938

 

CY6
Greg Sullivan "Sully"
SLR15 Rifles
TheDefensiveEdge.com
(763) 712-0123

Great posts!

Another vote for midlength gas system is going to be less wear and tear on the bolt due to more dwell time for the gas, thus less wear and tear on the bolt lugs during unlocking. I'll also echo the longer handguards recommendation. Nothing is more cramped than a carbine length handguard with stuff attached to it. I'm also a proponent of the 16" or 14.5 w/pinned muzzle device. The velocity is much higher coming out of a longer length barrel that you're going to have better terminal performance at distance than with a shorter barrel. My understanding is that SBRs and pistol length AR's suffer on the terminal performance. I've heard some "been there, done that" people say that the SBRs place is primarily for working out of a car due to confined space. I have an AR pistol, which I like, but its definitely not as soft shooting as my longer barrel AR-15s.

I'll also echo other previous posts recommending Aimpoint for a red dot, and Blue Force Gear Vicker's slings. The Vicker's slings (for me) are really easy to use, as well as being made out of a very durable material. The slider is easy to work/find, with the support hand, and there isn't any loose material hanging. I also like the color/hardware selection that they carry, allowing different mounting solutions, and customization if desired. Aimpoint red dot sights are very lightweight, can be found in varying price-points. and are durable and super long battery life. Aimpoint PRO is an awesome value for someone looking to not break the bank. I've never used the Trijicon MRO, but I have heard good things about them, and the price point is comparable to an Aimpoint PRO.

steveg2, I remember that AR-15 chart that you are referencing. I just did a quick google search for it under images and found it over on AR15dotcom. Its very dated (2007). I think it would be a lot harder to compile a complete chart today due to the sheer number of gun companies out there making AR-15s, but I can say, from what I have seen and heard, there are not too many out there that make what would be considered a "work gun".

The Colt 6920 was considered the "Gold Standard" that all others were measured against. If you can find one now, they are usually overpriced due to the fact that Colt stopped selling to the general public recently, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic sales. At one point you could get a Colt 6920 for somewhere in the neighborhood of $800-$900. Now I don't even know what would be considered a fair price for one. There are, IMHO, AR-15s available that meet the Mil standard that the Colt rifles were made to, and in some cases exceeding what Colt was putting out. Colt was very slow to make guns that people wanted (the midlength CCU rifle was an exception, along with some of their later releases), rather sticking with the standard models that they had made their name off of.

I am a huge BCM fan. Paul Buffoni's company is not stagnating, but rather innovating, while at the same time remaining focused on quality, and reliability. Their rifles are less expensive than most of the other companies out there that may be considered go-to (Daniel Defense, Noveske, LMT, Knights Armament), but still providing outstanding options between barrel, handguard and upper receiver selections. Not knocking any of those other companies in anyway, because they all put out excellent quality guns, but you are going to pay more, and sometimes the juice isn't worth the additional squeeze in my opinion. That extra money saved can go towards a quality optic, sling and weapon light. 

Jeff

 

Thanks again to all for keeping this thread alive and full of up-to-date info. I have been pricing options for the last few months and updating my “options pool” based upon the crowd sourced experiences and info I’ve found here.

Basically, I’m looking at BCM Recce 14 here:   https://www.rainierarms.com/bc...-mcmr-carbine-rifle/

And the hd patrol setup here: https://www.hdfirearms.com/pro...l-Package-145-NONNFA

and finally the SLR15 commander here:
https://www.slr15rifles.com/Pr...ductCode=Commander16

my gut is telling me the HD firearms setup is likely the best budget option as it comes complete with RDS, BUIS, light, and sling, which gives me a kit I can’t begin training with sooner that taking time to source and build everything else. With HD Patrol, just add a few more mags and a case of ammo.  Anybody wanna try to split a bulk barrel?😁

Tons of good info relayed to me.  If there are any other options I’m overlooking, please let me know. 

 

 

Nothing Special posted:

Thanks again to all for keeping this thread alive and full of up-to-date info. I have been pricing options for the last few months and updating my “options pool” based upon the crowd sourced experiences and info I’ve found here.

Basically, I’m looking at BCM Recce 14 here:   https://www.rainierarms.com/bc...-mcmr-carbine-rifle/

And the hd patrol setup here: https://www.hdfirearms.com/pro...l-Package-145-NONNFA

and finally the SLR15 commander here:
https://www.slr15rifles.com/Pr...ductCode=Commander16

my gut is telling me the HD firearms setup is likely the best budget option as it comes complete with RDS, BUIS, light, and sling, which gives me a kit I can’t begin training with sooner that taking time to source and build everything else. With HD Patrol, just add a few more mags and a case of ammo.  Anybody wanna try to split a bulk barrel?😁

Tons of good info relayed to me.  If there are any other options I’m overlooking, please let me know. 

 

Not to rain on your parade, but has anyone here mentioned HD firearms?  Have you seen any credible data from reliable sources not affiliated with said company?  I had never heard of them until you posted that link.  The gentleman who's name appears on the page seems like a good dude I'd love to meet, but that doesn't create a good track record for the company.  Outfits like Colt, BCM, DD, LMT, have decades of experience with thousands of examples in circulations.  HD could be the next BCM or they could be the next fly by night outfit.   Don't rush to failure because you think you are getting a decent deal, get a good rifle from a known  company and accessorize it intelligently. 

Another retail strategy is to bundle desired items with cheaper ones.  For example a good fishing reel on a cheap pole.  Folks think that they are getting a good deal, but really they wind up buy a better pole for more money later.  In firearms it would be like putting a cheap scope on a well known rifle, the customer is going to wind up buying a better optic down the road and the store will make money.   Not saying that going on here, but Vortex SPARC is not necessarily as proven as the Aimpoint PRO.

I'm not going to comment on the defensive edge rifle or BCM rifle as I'm biased (positively) towards them.  I've dealt with both companies in the past and have been impressed.  I used the defensive edge stock extensively when I was stationed in NY, and I wouldn't be surprised to find that you could butt stroke a bowling ball in half with it.  Though I recommend a collapsible stock for most locations.  I will also say read the specs page on the Defensive edge site.  link  It's a good example of the level of detail you want to know about the rifle you'll be buying.  It's also a good list of desireables.

Do yourself a favor and go read Sully's AARs from his armorers class, he gives away alot of good info and insight  for free (Read his post above at least twice).  He even discusses specific brands and key parts  inspect.  That will help you know what you are looking out and for.      

Another data source you should avail yourself of is the AAR section of this board.  You can read about what equipment has done well in classes and what has come up short.  

I'm not flexing on you, just trying to help you stay on course.  

Last edited by Community Member
Dorsai posted:

 Take some time to sit down and carefully consider what your mission is.  All of us have at some time wanted a rifle that did everything.  Experience and much money spent has taught us, or at least me, that everything is a pipe dream.  The more narrow your specifications, the more likely you can satisfy them without much compromise. 

I hope Dorsai doesn't mind me being backup on his post.

Two truths in life.

"It is easier to specialize than generalize," Jeff Cooper

"Complexity is easier than simplification," Frank Lloyd Wright

As a person who spent too much money and time on firearms, it eventually dawned on me that middle of the roads is best if there is any doubt.  Yes, it will always be a compromise but it will usually do everything "good enough"  when skill is added.  If the skill is lacking the benefit of specialization is going to be superfluous.

As Dorsai said, if your use is narrow it is easy to get something just for that niche but it is going to be a fish out of water anywhere else.  In my opinion, specialization should only come after you find deficits in your equipment after use.  Also, many times after "fixing" something you find out that, hey, this really doesn't work after all and go back to the beginning.  That time/money thing again.

That is the great thing, or the problem with the AR, there are so many parts and tweeks that can be done to fit most any purpose. The problem is that you windup buying guns or ordering parts.  

To go with that, I think at this point and AK or M1a are an affectation or niche weapon.   You can buy a good AR for less than either, not to mention ammo cost more variety of ammo, parts availability, knowledge of the platform, etc..

I looked at the HD offering in addition to the others mentioned based upon this thread, linked to by Sully, as another data point to consider in my research:  https://www.lightfighter.net/t...ele-for-patrol-rifle

Seems that a few other LFers attest to them being a good product. Ultimately, I’d like to get my grubby fingers on anything I’m getting ready to drop a $1.5k on and they are local to me. It is worth studying to see how they are able to offer a complete package for roughly the same price as other brands’ base rifle.  

You are spot on with Sully’s free advice and plan to study it in depth and compare products to see what’s not marketing fluff.  Probably best to build a Spreadsheet with data points and price links to be able to make sense of everything. I’d be happy to add my research to the thread as it may help others in the same boat as me. 

The links I posted are to rifles I can actually find in stock and not because I’m no longer considering them as options. I’m obviously going to need to keep researching to be able to make a sound decision. 

Also thanks for the tip on the AAR reports. Good for reviews on equipment as well as trainers. Been looking into those as well. 

I watched the video with Mr. Bill Toy, he mentions that to purchase you need to contact HD Firearms on agency letterhead so that package may not be available to non-LE.  

The Vickers sling, Streamlight Protac, Magpul BUIS and Vortex optic come out to a little over $500 if you bought them off of Amazon.

If you're trying to stick to the $1500 price point you'll have to lower your expectations on the base gun or post pone on some of the accessories.

FWIW, you could get in to something like a S&W M&P15 Magpul MOE rifle for less than $1k- you'd lose some of the features such as the free float rail but given the parameters you stated in the OP, I don't think it'd matter that much.    

yakc130 posted:

Not to thread-jack, but how do you know how to rate spare part sets?

I see a lot of stuff like parts kits posted on PSA, CDNN, and other places.

How can I tell that I'm getting quality parts that are in spec to fit my rifle?

I buy my spares from Specialized Armaments warehouse (COLT $$$) or BCM.  A spare BCM LPK, complete BCG, Firing Pin, bolt rings, recoil spring, receiver extension nut,etc. should do you and would be of known quality.  I haven't been able to figure out how to determine  source or quality and I've heard reports of Chinese and Indian AR parts circulating, so I stick to known good sellers. 

Last edited by Community Member
Nothing Special posted:

Any issue with buying completed uppers and lowers from different brands? Ie: BCM complete lower and LMT complete upper?

I've had BCM go together with S&W, STAG, Rock River, Aero, Anderson and Ruger.  I don't own an LMT so I can't say, but I'd bet they would probably match up.  The only issues I've ever had was a Rock River lower and upper not matching and that was in 2009.

As expected, you have some top shelf advice from some deeply experience pros here.  

commenting on something you mention above, I wouldn’t recommend trying to get an HD carbine that you can also hunt deer with.  Too many compromises.  223/556 is considered marginal for deer even where it is legal.   Stepping up to a 308 or similar caliber carbine adds a lot of cost and weight.   Mainly ammo costs.   Even cheap 308 is going to be 1.5-2x as expensive as 556.  You will shoot it less.  

Consider another direction if you want a jack of all trades.  a 30/30 lever gun is a heck of an HD weapon in the right hands and with a few mods.   A decent 12 gauge with a slug barrel and scope is good to 110-150 yards these days.   

alternatively split your budget.   There are some value price 308 bolt gun packages from savage and ruger and others that will lay down a lot of deer.   You could still buy a reasonable carbine without betting the farm and then have two guns far better suited to your uses.   

FWIW I have one of those BCM recces you mention above.  One of my favorite ARs and probably the one I would grab if the world ends.    Add a sling and light.   Optic if you can afford it and you should be good to go.

Last edited by Community Member

I'm just a "regular guy" so take my advice with a grain of salt. I'm a big fan of BCM for reliability / cost. A BCM upper on a FightLite  lower is fairly low profile. In fact is usable in most states with AW bans. This is my truck gun in CA.If you want to go the AR pistol route, BCM .300 blackout. In addition to the BCM reliability, they make suggestions for what weight buffer should be used with them.  This saves some frustration getting it to run properly. I have built  a few BCM pistols and their buffer recommendations have been spot on. While I'll echo the get a complete rifle/carbine vs a parts gun. It can save you considerable funds purchasing the upper an lower separately. FET is only on the lower. If you're looking for basic LPKs, ALG is hard to beat.

CAE5 posted:

I'm just a "regular guy" so take my advice with a grain of salt. I'm a big fan of BCM for reliability / cost. A BCM upper on a FightLite  lower is fairly low profile. In fact is usable in most states with AW bans. This is my truck gun in CA.If you want to go the AR pistol route, BCM .300 blackout. In addition to the BCM reliability, they make suggestions for what weight buffer should be used with them.  This saves some frustration getting it to run properly. I have built  a few BCM pistols and their buffer recommendations have been spot on. While I'll echo the get a complete rifle/carbine vs a parts gun. It can save you considerable funds purchasing the upper an lower separately. FET is only on the lower. If you're looking for basic LPKs, ALG is hard to beat.

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