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7,101 Posts
"Typical" ARs aren't precision instruments. :) Even the better 14.5 or 16" guns that are in the $1500-$2K range are, in the end, defensive/duty tools. With that for perspective, it's hard to ask for more than consistent eyebox shots at 100 yards.

That said, good ammo - ammo that works well for your unique rifle - can really make a big difference.

My BCM 16" EWL BHF, for instance, seems to love many 55 gr. cannon fodder, and sends it better than most of the 62 gr. fodder. A 1 in 7, according to lore, shouldn't more than heavier/longer stuff, right? ;).

A lot of it is literally unique gun. Gotta be willing to explore what "your" gun really likes. Not every gun behaves like every other, in the real world.

7,101 Posts
^ My lack of basic marksmanship skills are more to blame 馃槄


I'm the guy in the red/light-gray over blue-jeans, in-line with the spotting scope.....

On the line with other students, I always feel pressure to get my zeroing done so that the rest of the class can get going. I usually end up throwing one out of the five. 馃お

7,101 Posts
I really, really, really want to take the SOTAR classes.

Definitely will before building out another one of these puppies!

707 Posts
First, I'd like to say that there is some fantastic information in this thread, and I'm happy to have found it.

I can only add little tidbits to the conversation as a lot of the good stuff has been touched on. To kind of delve deeper into the OPs question, there are some things higher end guns have that lower end guns don't.

First, among the tiers, as mentioned before, are your base-end budget guns made with cheap parts but still function to most end users' needs (Diamondback, Delton, low-end DPMS etc), mil-spec bottom-end acceptance guns (bottom-end Bushmaster, Windham Weaponry, bottom end S&W, Ruger, etc), mid-range guns that are priced like premium guns but are nothing special (Bushmaster, Colt, DPMS), mid-range guns with some genuine premium parts (higher-end Rugers, S&W PC lines, etc), higher-end duty-oriented guns (LWRC, BCM, SOLGW, Wilson Combat, PWS, etc), and then you've got the high speed/low drag Gucci gamer guns (Cobalt Kinetics, POF, Seekins, Geissele, etc). Among those tiers, you can find solid, good shooting guns at any level, but that quality assurance and quality control in tolerances is where a lot of money goes... at least for the higher end companies.

In addition to the higher QA/QC stuff, the higher end guns might also add in features that are unique or proprietary to their platforms. For example, POFs have proprietary ambi controls on their guns, like mag releases and bolt hold open/release buttons and levers. LWRC also uses lefty mag release mechanisms and right hand bolt release paddles. These design features tend to find themselves on higher end guns. Some people might find that useful, while others will see more parts for potential breakage.

I'm of the mindset that there are parts you can skimp on while you focus money on others. A solid upper and lower are worth good money, but don't have to be expensive billet to be good. A matched forged set can take you a long way. A quality barrel and bolt will lend to better accuracy, but do your research and find a company that has cold hammer forged barrels, or have an effective stress relieving process to ensure consistency. I also think that a quality trigger is important. You can skimp on the rest and have a quality gun, but that will depend on what you want to accomplish.

Why do I bring this up? Well, it's because there are companies in the mid to improved-mid tear that often charge a premium for guns that have cheap parts. Bushmaster, DPMS, and Colt are all very guilty of this. This particular trait tends to fade off as you get higher into the tier structure, as they will eventually supplement pretty much every part for highly precise milled parts, usually made in-house or sourced from other reputable names. One thing that I have noticed that is becoming a real problem this year are barrel extensions that are not timed properly, and the bolt lugs impact one edge of the extension locking lugs just slightly on one side. I've seen this on multiple guns from two separate manufacturers. These were bottom-tier guns, but keep an eye out and look closely at your guns before buying, folks. Albeit, you won't likely see this issue with higher end guns.

Caliber chambering is also something you might see different on higher end guns. I've seen several manufacturers opt for .223 Wylde instead of a 5.56 NATO chambering. Why? Probably because the .223 Wylde chambering allows for use of either 5.56 NATO or .223 Rem ammunition, but utilizes a tighter freebore of .2240", which lends itself to better overall accuracy (it's not uncommon to find 5.56 Chambered guns with a freebore of .2265"+). If you are going for a precision rifle, this might be a consideration.

I think the rest is just furniture, accessory, and aesthetics. Premium accessories like muzzle brakes, free float handguards (which I think are a must nowadays), grips, stocks, sights will usually be nicer on high end guns, but those you can always put on any gun. The premium guts are the important parts.

7,101 Posts
Except for the Knights and Hodge, pretty much everything else is in your domain, with that budget.

Sling (and hardware, if-any) won't cost much for that initial build. And a good light is a great initial investment, too.

The BUIS can eat up a chunk of that ancillary budget, but that depends as much on your aesthetic desires as it does features. This can wait, especially if you're willing to simply use something serviceable - like a set of authentic Magpul MBUS - for the time being. Perhaps a take-off from one of your other guns?

Depending on your final goals, optics - and a good mount - may exceed that $1K budget.

3,212 Posts
I can speak best with my limited funds. I鈥檓 a combat vet with a lot of M-16/AR-15 rounds at targets and downrange.

My choice for a build for a 6mm ARC are:

Aero Precision Enhanced Lower
Aero Precision Upper
Aero Precision lower components
Magpul Grip
Magpul Carbine Stock
After Market Quality Trigger

items to be acquired:

6mm ARC 18鈥 416R Stainless DMR type barrel with rifle length gas tube and block
Fitted 6mm ARC BCG with the barrel
Magpul or similar quality hand guard for rifle length gas system
Quality scope mounts
Brass catcher (since I reload and don鈥檛 want to lose expensive brass)
Vortex or Leupold 2-10X or 3-12X or similar scope
Still debating backup folding sights
Little Bastard Muzzle Brake

My goal is:
1. Reliable rifle
2. Accurate rifle for 50-600 yards
3. Ability to use heavier bullets than my Remington Model Seven .243 Win at distance
4. Reliable rifle for whitetails and varmints
5. Lower recoil and variable stock length so that my Filipino wife and kids can use it comfortably
6. Long range home defense since a locked ranch gate is a 1/4 mile from the house facing a state highway

There may be other items but I seriously doubt that these options are available in a bargain AR-15. Often it is a case of you get what you pay for with most weapons.


7,101 Posts
^ I don't have the knowledge on the 6mm ARC cartridge to be able to help, I'm afraid. 馃槉

But overall, I'd say that you should just drop the BUIS, given this rifle's role. Pop an offset or even bore-over RDS on the scope, and call it a day. Skip the CMC Buffer kit and go with the VLTOR A5, which is currently very, very highly regarded and has a lot of good tuning/troubleshooting information in online communities (although your specific application is a bit outside normal).

If you have any way at all to check out that lower beforehand, I'd recommend that you do so. Aero's parts aren't bad, but there are sources I trust (from real-life first-hand interactions) who have come upon the occasional one that's really on one end or the other of critical tolerances or are actually out-of-spec. Even if you can't gauge (I can't - or at least I haven't yet bought gauges ;) ), if you can simply grab a few mags and drop in a known-good/in-spec trigger to try it out, that's over half the battle.

And like @Pandaz3 noted, lap that upper. Get that interface true, and you've pretty much got the other half of the battle accomplished, too.


@Cips / and the general thread -

I wanted to comment on something, since @thisguy41487's post really hit on a very important distinction.

That .223, .223 Wylde, and 5.56 that's marked on the barrel is yet another area where "The Myth of Mil-Spec" really can confound.

What thisguy41487 mentioned is absolutely correct, and/yet at the same time, we also need to realize that a part of that Mil-Spec mojo has to do with reliability - under extreme conditions, at that.

This is why we see that particularly for duty/defensive use, armorers/gunsmiths often need to ream the neck/throat area of some "lesser" guns/barrels that are labeled "5.56" to true 5.56 chambering.

So in this case, is that Mil-Spec 5.56 "better?"

I submit that judgement will depend on the intent of the shooter and use to which the weapon is subject. :)

427 Posts
In my opinion, even the basic guns will run for along time if they are properly assembled by someone that knows what they are looking at.

The cheaper guns do seem to run larger gas ports so that they will cycle cheap Russian ammo and cheap blaster ammo that budget shooters are likely to use. Too big a gas port and it could cause extra wear and tear and eventually extraction problems.

7,101 Posts
In my opinion, even the basic guns will run for along time if they are properly assembled by someone that knows what they are looking at.
Exactly - and this is where the mojo is: if that person can address any problem issues either before they arise (maybe they have a friend working the gun-store counter and can spend a few minutes to pick a lower that doesn't drag on any magazines and seems to take well to a drop-in trigger, maybe they can borrow a gas tube gauge from another friend who has one and can bring it to the store, etc.) or as they present (maybe the gas-key staking isn't what it should be and needs a little love or even switching of hardware, maybe the gas-block is slightly misaligned, maybe the castle-nut needs staking, etc.), that can well result in a very solid-running gun that I wouldn't shy away from, if it was called upon for serious use.
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