Originally Posted by Dan Carey
I think Rock River is at the top of the heap and olympic arms is at the bottom.
What? You have the oly part right, but not the RR part. RR is a tier 2 AR at best.
To answer the OP's question. The higher end(tier 1) AR's will all generally meet or exceed the M16 TDP that both Colt and FN use. Lots of people rip on Colt(some for good reason, others not) but the truth is if FN made an AR15 it would be the same quality as Colt.
Things that a Tier 1 AR will have:
4150 Barrel Steel that is both MP and HP tested with proper(per the TDP) coatings both inside and outside the barrel
Carpenter Steel Bolt with a FA BCG that is MP and HP tested as well as again having the proper coatings and a properly setup extractor(5 coil with black insert)
Properly sized gas port on the barrel and corresponding proper sized gas tube
All applicable parts on the gun staked properly i.e. castle nut and gas key
Proper(per the TDP) coatings on the lower and upper
and more stuff I am missing.
This stuff adds up. Putting the proper coatings on vs. just black anodizing adds cost. Using better quality steel in the barrel and better aluminum in the upper and lower cost more. HP and MP testing certain parts(every part, not just batch testing) adds cost. What these things do also is add longevity to the weapon.
The biggest issue I have is that people will buy a RRA for 1000 bucks when they could have bought a Colt 6920 for 1200 or a DDXV or BCM for around that same 1000, maybe less, and had a much better quality gun.