Choosing a Semiautomatic Centerfire Rifle- Where to Begin?

Choosing a Semiautomatic Centerfire Rifle- Where to Begin?

This is a discussion on Choosing a Semiautomatic Centerfire Rifle- Where to Begin? within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; In light of recent federal developments, I feel the need to make the most of this shrinking window we find ourselves in and buy a ...

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Thread: Choosing a Semiautomatic Centerfire Rifle- Where to Begin?

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    Senior Member Array McPatrickClan's Avatar
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    Choosing a Semiautomatic Centerfire Rifle- Where to Begin?

    In light of recent federal developments, I feel the need to make the most of this shrinking window we find ourselves in and buy a semiautomatic rifle. I already own a number of other guns, but no SA rifles. I know the most popular route is to choose from about a dozen AR-15 makers but I was thinking this through and had some questions.

    1. Should I decide on a caliber first? Or is that a backwards way of shopping for an SA rifle?

    2. How can I find the "best" in my price range without paying a premium for mil-spec standards?

    3. How do you choose a weapon for home/emergency defense?

    4. Is the .223 ammo that most AR-15s use much different than the .22 ammo that you see in small game rifles?

    And yes, I have searched the archives and read old threads. I am trying to not ask the same questions that have been asked before. I have "narrowed it down" a bit on the rifles but I am still left poring over stats I do not understand on about a dozen different makes/models.

    I want to get something that I can afford to buy about 1,500+ rounds of ammo for as well, since the federal government may try to tax us out of ammo for the next two years.


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    Quote Originally Posted by McPatrickClan View Post

    1. Should I decide on a caliber first? Or is that a backwards way of shopping for an SA rifle?

    Yes and no, stick with the norm is my advice. 5.56/.223 or 7.62x39 or .308 are the main choices. Going with something exotic is a huge mistake for a defensive rifle.

    2. How can I find the "best" in my price range without paying a premium for mil-spec standards?

    Whats your price range?

    3. How do you choose a weapon for home/emergency defense?

    Common parts and ammo is a must for me, that pretty much leaves the AR or AK platforms.

    4. Is the .223 ammo that most AR-15s use much different than the .22 ammo that you see in small game rifles?

    There is a huge difference. Just compare a 22lr and 223 shells, and you will begin to understand.
    "Just blame Sixto"

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    Pick Caliber and a platform you like.

    I chose .308 and a FAL, because I wanted one and now I have 2

    My defensive carbines are M1 carbines because I have them already and don't own a AR. As much as I like the M1 Carbine I have to admit that the .30 Carbine round is really a pistol caliber and not that easy to find.
    A real man loves his wife, and places his family as the most important thing in life. Nothing has brought me more peace and content in life than simply being a good husband and father.

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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    I pretty much agree with Sixto. The only "alternative" suggestion I might would be something like the Remington 7600 series or Browning BAR in a hunting caliber of your choice, for the following reasons:

    • Parts. If you have a spare set of essentials (most are available from Brownells) you don't have to worry as much about networking. Obviously, this is also a drawback in a barter-economy.
    • Ammo. Pricing will pretty much even out, and will be more available over the next 6 months, possibly for the indefinite future.
    • Accessories. You won't be as tempted to Gear-Queer your rifle. Spend the money on mags, ammo, XS sights, and a good optic- synthetic furniture, if it doesn't come that way.
    • Power. Not much makes concealment out of cover like the .30-06, 7mm Mag, or similar.

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    VIP Member Array mcp1810's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by McPatrickClan View Post
    1. Should I decide on a caliber first? Or is that a backwards way of shopping for an SA rifle?
    I would decide on a budget first, then see what is available in that range.

    2. How can I find the "best" in my price range without paying a premium for mil-spec standards?
    The internet can be your friend! Lots of forums out there for just about every platform most of them will have some kind of buying guide or threads on where to find the best deals

    3. How do you choose a weapon for home/emergency defense?
    You need to realistically define its mission. If you live in a condo in an urban area and will shelter in place, what is the longest shot you will take? If your greatest range is fifty yards you probably would be wasting money on a Hk PSG-1. If you are out in the sticks a pistol caliber carbine might not cut it.
    Whatever you get it has to be reliable. A Ruger 10/22 that works is better than some monster magnum that wont go "bang".

    4. Is the .223 ammo that most AR-15s use much different than the .22 ammo that you see in small game rifles?
    Yes it is. It is a centerfire bottle neck cartridge that propels usually a jacketed bullet around 3000 fps. A .22 rimfire is usually a small lead bullet at substantially lower velocities.

    I want to get something that I can afford to buy about 1,500+ rounds of ammo for as well, since the federal government may try to tax us out of ammo for the next two years.
    You should probably look for something in a military caliber in that case. One thing to be careful of with AR-15's is the chambering. If you are going to shoot military surplus ammo you want to get a rifle that is chambered for 5.56 nato. Nato chambers can safely fire .223 Remington, with a slight loss in accuracy, but not the other way around. Most manufacturers now use the Nato spec chamber or the "Wylde" chamber that is suitable for both.
    Infowars- Proving David Hannum right on a daily basis

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    1. Should I decide on a caliber first? Or is that a backwards way of shopping for an SA rifle?

    No, the first decision to make is, what will it be used for. What caliber to get is the second decision to you need to make.

    2. How can I find the "best" in my price range without paying a premium for mil-spec standards?

    Use the Internet to shop around. Check out the local gun shows. Check out the local gun shops.

    3. How do you choose a weapon for home/emergency defense?

    Is this going to be a home defense weapon or just something in anticipation of a future gun ban?

    If it will be a home/self defense weapon, what is your environment (House in an urban neighborhood? Condo/apartment? Rural? How far to your nearest neighbor?)? Is a rifle what you really want for your purpose (Rifle or shotgun?)? Spend some time at the local ranges and visit some of the local competition meets. Talk to people. Get as many opinions as you can and then consider which opinions come from people you would or would not trust. Then talk to more people, call some of the better training facilities and see if they will discuss your needs with you.

    See if you can borrow or rent some of the weapons you are considering to “try them out”.

    After all this then you will, hopefully, have enough information to make up your mind for yourself.

    4. Is the .223 ammo that most AR-15s use much different than the .22 ammo that you see in small game rifles?
    Yes, there is a tremendous amount of difference between the two. The .22LR (which is what you see in the “small game’ rifles) is appropriate for small animals such as squirrel and rabbit while the.223 is a much more powerful round and has much more power and range.

    Assuming that you are, indeed, looking for a home/self defense weapon I would recommend a pistol or shotgun and not a rifle. Rifles are designed to “reach out and touch” which is not generally needed in a self defense situation.

    However, if you are looking for something in anticipation of a gun ban, I would recommend either one of the many flavors of AR 15, or AK rifles that are on the market. These are both items that will most likely be addressed in any future gun ban. They are also both tremendously fun to shoot as well as having reasonably inexpensive ammo, as long as you stick with the standard .223 or 7.62 x 39. If you decide to go larger, I agree with staying .308 and staying away from the more exotic calibers. You might look at the M1A/M14 or something like a G3. These are more expensive to shoot but have their advantages.

    If you are looking for something that will “reach out and touch” with some level of accuracy. Something that you might use for hunting as well as fun at the range, I would stick with either something in the .223 (AR 15 style) or .308 range (personally I prefer the M1A/M14), the AK has the ”punch” out to about 400 yards but it is just not accurate enough beyond short range.

    All of this is, of course, just my opinion and I am sure that some will agree with me while others will disagree with me. Bottom line, do your homework and then make you your own mind.

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    VIP Member Array Yoda's Avatar
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    I am putting together an AR 15 for hunting hogs and it will back up as a self defense if the SHTF rifle. I have handgun and shotguns.

    If you are hunting deer there really is no need for a semi-auto, hunting Elephant and Dangerous game you need a bigger bullet.
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    Member Array mr. orange's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
    Usages:
    Hunting
    Self Defense
    Snipering (is that a word?)
    Target Shooting/Competition

    I am putting together an AR 15 for hunting hogs and it will back up as a self defense if the SHTF rifle. I have handgun and shotguns.

    If you are hunting deer there really is no need for a semi-auto, hunting Elephant and Dangerous game you need a bigger bullet.
    Sniping is the word you are looking for
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    News Flash. (heard it on gun TV)
    Ruger has recently revamped all of their older tooling for the Mini 14 and tightened up all of the factory specs. - so folks looking for something in a semi-auto rifle might want to check out the newest runs of Mini 14.

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    I'll be excited about Ruger once they get better than "minute of barn" accuracy, drop the prices of their mags, and actually start letting spare factory parts hit the market.


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    VIP Member Array Rob72's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QKShooter View Post
    News Flash. (heard it on gun TV)
    Ruger has recently revamped all of their older tooling for the Mini 14 and tightened up all of the factory specs. - so folks looking for something in a semi-auto rifle might want to check out the newest runs of Mini 14.
    Hmmmm...at $900 for a rifle with limited parts availibility, limited hi-cap mag availibility and still fairly "finniky"...? Having handled several since they were re-released, the only difference I can "observe" is new rifiling technique, that doesn't sqelch in the last 4" of the blank. For the $$, I would want something that I could reach out with authority (Browning or Rem SA in .30-06, 7mm, etc.,) or an AK.

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    Agree on the caliber first principle. Consider exactly what you want the bullets to do, and find the best bullets to do that job; then consider things like ballistics, cost, and availability. Then pick a rifle that will shoot those bullets.
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    Member Array chuck brick's Avatar
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    Something else to consider...

    Have you considered or looked at the SKS? Simple to operate and maintain, reasonably accurate, tough as a rock, affordable, uses fairly cheap ammo that is suitable for hunting deer-sized animals and proven effective against humans (.30 caliber - same round as the AK). Uses an attatched 10-rnd box that loads from stripper-clips, so it's not only "PC," but it's still about as fast as a magazine-fed gun to reload. Everyone (that I know) that has one, loves it - as do I.

    Stay safe,

    Chuck Brick.
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    B52
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    SKS is a good alternative, but in my area the used Yugo's 59/66's are selling for almost $300...crazy.

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    I recently purchased a CX4 Storm 45. My reasons were:

    I live in an urban area and don't anticipate having to reach out more then 50 ~ 100 yards to ever "touch" somebody.

    My decision on caliber was based on own a Glock 36, not wanting to stock another caliber of ammo and it packs a decent punch.

    The Storm is compact enough to fill in as a in-home self-defense weapon.

    The closest range is an indoor range with only one station for shooting rifle caliber ammo while pistol caliber is allowed on all points so there are more opportunities for practice using a pistol caliber carbine.

    Berretta is a company committed to quality.

    The CX4 looks intimidating :).

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