I like my PSA rifle. There was an issue at the beginning, but they made good and I've got a rifle I'd trust with my life. It is my first, and was done on a pretty tight budget. I'll probably go TOTL in a year or so once I get a teaching job or score a military band gig.
If your budget is $1500 all said and done, the PSA listed earlier is your best bet. The Aimpoint PRO is a top line RDS, and at $400, that is the bottom end of the spending for a top tier RDS. That leaves you with $300 for mags, sling, and ammo. Save up another $500 and take a two day training class (avoid high round count classes - 1k over 2 days is the max I would recommend).
Look at the "So you want to buy an AR-15 thread" It's kind of the one stop shop for AR beginners info. My choices would be Colt LE6920 or Spikes Tactical ST-15LE
I just picked up this PSA for $699 and am very happy with it. NO ISSUES and VERY ACCURATE:
Palmetto State Armory M4 Optic Ready AR-15 Rifle - Reg. Price $749.99 - Long Guns
This will allow for:
1000rds ammo= $325
Eotech 512= $365
MagPul Gen 2 BUIS=$50
I am really happy with my DPMS base model rifle. I paid about $600 for it. I added a Sightmark Red Dot Sight for $92 off of Amazon.
A week ago today, I purchased the Colt LE 6920 MP. I took it to the range last Sat. WOW! Great gun and well worth the price. Here is a really nice video that explains the 6920 and why it is worth the money.
Very Nice! I like the video explanation.
all of these suggestions are great guns you'd be happy with. However, for the money, the $625 spent on my M&P15 Sport offers everything I need in range/farm plinker. Relative cheap price, simple and reliable construction, modification options, an appetite for any kind of ammo I've found so far, and ease of use.
look at it this way. $600-700 for the rifle gives you lots left over for mods, accessories and ammo VS. $1200-1500 for just a rifle. For me, the choice was simple.