Opinions on AR build
So I'm finally building my first AR!! I got my lower the other day from a great local manufacturer here in town. I am taking the approach that I'd rather spend a little extra to get just what I want so I added some Magpul furniture right off the bat. I couldn't be happier with the lower!!
I'm beyond lost on what to do with the upper.... I will be using it for a little of everything. Range gun, camping, coyotes and want to get into three gun as well. I have been doing quite a bit of research and have it narrowed down to what I want in an upper. I want a mid-length, 1/7 twist, 16 inch among numerous other things. I was originally going to go with a CMMG direct impingement as a starter and go from there. Now that I have decided to spend a little more and get what I want off the bat I need some help deciding between two.
I am leaning towards a LMT direct impingement but also have the option of a gas piston CMMG. They both have all the specs I am looking for and are literally within a few dollars of each other. Never shot a gas piston so I don't know what to think. Like I said I'm leaning towards the LMT as they are one of the top manufacturers around but have heard nothing but good about CMMG.
What do y'all think?
You'll get opinions from all over, but for my money there is precious little to be gained in an AR with a piston upper. Longevity and durabiity? Quality DI uppers will go 30,000 rounds or more before major parts will need to be retired. Everybody and his brother-in-law has spare AR parts if you need 'em, whereas nearly every piston gun has proprietary parts - give that some consideration.
My ARs are an 'original' (2004) American Spirit Arms which has about 10K rounds through it without a burp, and an almost-new CMMG. Both are mid-length gas systems with 16" barrels for greatest flexibility. If I bought today, I'd probably look closely at a Bravo Company, LMT or Colt, and go with direct impingement and not look back. I don't think you can get just uppers from Colt, though.
When you get your gun together and sorted out and have a couple thousand carefree rounds thru the gun, check out Pat Rogers' EAG Tactical for some serious training. He runs courses in Casa Grande typically twice a year. You'll learn more than you can possibly retain and gain a huge amount of confidence in your ability to fight with the carbine - if that's important to you.
So all things being equal would you go with a LMT or the Bravo Company? I am new to it all but have been reading alot of good about both.
Great taste in baseball teams, Yankeeman. :biggrin2:
Let me start with the 3-gun part, as I just ordered a dedicated 3-gun upper after messing around for a year or so using a 16" carbine for the sport. I think you can start with a 3-gun build and get a good camping/coyote gun out of it, too. For 3-gun you are going to have minimal accessories, and you are going to need strong accuracy out to at least 300 yards---more like 600 yards if you move up to some of the really big 3-gun events.
Stick with a rifle length gas system. You'll get the best accuracy out of a 20" HBAR from a good manufacturer. (Mine will be built on a Krieger stainless fluted HBAR, but there are other good manufacturers, too.) With a low-profile gas block, you can go 18" on the barrel and still have a full length handguard. You don't need to hang the kitchen sink off the gun, so rail space will be minimal. I plan to have a sling ring and maybe a short 6-o' clock rail for a Magpul AFG. My forearm is carbon fiber (several people, including DPMS, make them). Another good choice is the JP VTac forearm. You want to go light here, and the round profiles that let you add accessory rails only and exactly where you need them (as opposed to full length fixed rails all over the thing) are the best choice.
For 3-gun, your sights depend on your division. If you want to stay in Tactical/Scope, you get to use either a scope or a red dot. For the long range shots, you will want some magnification, so there are basically two layouts---variable scope or red dot with flip-up magnifier. That's a personal choice. For right now I run an EOtech with a 5x magnifier from Primary Arms. PA also does some decent cheaper red dots, by the way. If I went scope and I didn't want to shell out Leupold money, I think the best value for 3-gun right now is the 1-4x variable GRSC Combat Rifle Scope. That'll be about $350, pushing $500 once you add a good mount, but that will cover you for the near, fast stuff and on out to 400+ yards.
Now, that gives you a really good 3-gun rifle. Make the barrel a 1:8 or 1:7 twist and you can easily shoot the heavier hunting rounds (70+ grain Barnes bullets, for example) at your coyotes. Chambered in 5.56, it will also handle mil surp 55gr M193 (or equivalent) very nicely.
Here's the one tradeoff between a 3-gun build and a camp gun---muzzle brake. For competition, you can start with a basic A2 birdcage flash hider, and you'll be okay, but at some point you will want to swap that to a muzzle brake/compensator for better follow up shots. That really raises the noise level, though. You can get a decent compensator in the Jerry Miculek model for $40, the excellent Benny Cooley model from JP for about $80, and then the SJC Titan or Rolling Thunder (which seem to be the best) for about double that. But any of that gives you a REALLY LOUD camp gun. If you think you might ever go suppressed on this AR, you can get a muzzle brake like the Surefile that doubles as an attachment point for the Surefire suppressors; then you can go suppressed or not for competition, and definitely attach the suppressor for camping trips.
An upper like this can be had from several places. At the cheaper end, start looking at DPMS. They are big 3-gun supporters and do the carbon fiber handguard. You can get higher end builds on the upper from some place like JP Rifles or Clark Custom. The JP or Clark upper, with a 20" match HBAR and compensator, will run about $1100 or so. DPMS and some other places will probably be a couple hundred cheaper.
Now, realistically, any decent upper with a good quality ammo that can hold about 2 MOA for you will get you by in competition for a while, so the above is not absolutely necessary. On the other hand, it seems to me that what makes a good competition gun is basically accuracy and quick handling, which are pretty good features in a rifle in general.
There is no reason to not look at a Bravo Company over DPMS, Bushmaster, Oly Arms, etc. Bravo is very high quality. Stick with a 16" and a mid length gas system. I have a couple lightweight 16" barrels with mid length gas systems and even though they're considered "fighting rifles", I'm still getting just over 1 MOA out of them and I can ring steel all day at 500 yards. A longer barrel won't give you better accuracy, it'll shoot a little flatter though, but with a good ballistic calculator (or brain power), this won't add much but weight unless you are shooting very long range competition. Stick with 1/7 twist for heavier ammo, though shooting coyotes can be done fine with the lightweight varmint rounds.
Also, I cannot stress enough what a waste piston is in almost every case, FOR MY NEEDS, and I put many thousands of rounds downrange and am pretty hard on my guns. So it's a little cleaner and the bolt is cooler…. it's also heavier with a less enjoyable recoil impulse (not bad, just different in a not-so-good kind of way). I usually don't fondle bolts after shooting and I never mind my 500+ round cleanings. The additional weight out front is a real problem for me, but I don't use my AR's that often for bench shooting.
Bravo Company, LMT, Colt, Daniel Defense, Noveske and Knight's Armament are my top six. I will never buy another DPMS or Bushmaster and will never buy an Olympic Arms, Model 1, Stag (better than the first two), etc. You can easily go to Bravo Co or GandR and order a rifle or upper exactly as you'd like, and I mean exactly. If cost is a consideration, you can always go with a Magpul MOE hand guard until you can get a Daniel Defense, KAC, etc.
DO NOT SKIMP. Certain things that are a must when looking at uppers (including bolt carriers and bolts). High Pressure testing (HPT), Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI), PROPER STAKING of gas keys, black extractor spring insert, chromed lined bore and Cold Hammer Forged are a plus, PROPER 5.56 chamber - not a DPMS 5.56 chamber which may be a 223 wylde or just off all together. I prefer to stick with mil-spec receiver extensions (buffer tubes) since I have a number of Magpul and Sopmod stocks, all mil-spec. You won't pay much of a premium for these features through Bravo Co or even Colt. It's well worth the cost, especially if you have the rifle for a while and put a good bit of rounds downrange.
Thanks all, exactly the kind of help im looking for. So far I have the lower with magpul MOE grip and buttstock. I had been planning on the LMT but after some comments and research I think I am going to go with BCM. I really want a Noeveske but I'm not ready to drop that kind of cash right now. Jon, sounds like you've been happy with your BCM's. Glad to hear it. Alot of the specs that you mentioned are exact things I have been looking for in a gun. Pretty much the only thing that I wont be getting is a cold forged barrel. I guess I could always buy one down the road if I want. I want to get a quad rail in the next little bit. Will probably go with Yankee Hill just from a value aspect. Does anyone have the Troy BUIS? For the time being I will just have a magpul handgaurd and will keep the FSB until I get a quad rail. Will the rear Troy sight line up correctly with "F" marked FSB?
I've run the Troy before, but now I use Knight's Armament. When it comes to quad rails, I'd strongly suggest Daniel Defense or Knight's Armament. Stay away from YHM, Troy and the likes. They work, but just don't have the quality of the others. If you plan on running a fixed front sight, I'd start with the Magpul MOE hand guard, then upgrade later if you feel the need to a Daniel Defense LITE rail, not the Omega. One of these with a fixed front sight is one rock solid, beautiful fighting rifle. The Troy rear will work with the front F marked sight. Depending on optics, I'd suggest looking at the Knight's Armament rear 200-600 meter sight, or a fixed rear LMT or Daniel Defense if you won't be running an optic at first.
Also, be sure to go with a mid length gas system. There's no need for a carbine gas system unless you're going below 14.5". With a fixed front sight, it also gives you longer sight radius. My next non-KAC gun will be a Bravo Co, mid length 14.5" (on registered lower) with the lightweight CHF barrel and a fixed front sight. I'll probably go with the KAC Triple Tap brake and a Flat Dark Earth Daniel Defense LITE rail. I've really started to appreciate the Knight's Armament ambi lowers or I'd go with a FDE Bravo Co lower for that build.
Do yourself a favor and stay away from anything that's not Daniel Defense, KAC, LMT, Noveske, Colt, Bravo Co, Magpul, Aimpoint (EoTech if you have too), Troy (for BUIS ONLY), LaRue or Gear Sector for mounts, Surefire, BattleComp, etc. and that goes for all components like rails, BUIS, mags, grips and anything else you can think of. Another think you should seriously look at is the Vltor A5 receiver extension (buffer tube). It uses a rifle spring and similar weight buffer in a tube that's only 3/4" longer than a standard 5 or 6 position tube. A Magpul CTR and SOPMOD will collapse to one stop away from completely closed. The benefit is smoother operation. In a carbine buffer tube the buffer makes contact with the end of the tube, with the A5 it does not, so it's quite a bit smoother. I just ordered another today to go with the Triple Tap I put on one of my KAC SR15's. Have a BattleComp on the way for the other which also has the A5. These things together give you about a 40% reduction in recoil (well, not really recoil, but more like muzzle flip).
i could ramble on forever about this stuff. Just don't try to save by buying a Yankee Hill rail or anything like that. Don't forget a review and some pics when it's all done!