M4 - Armalite, Bushmaster, Rock River ???

This is a discussion on M4 - Armalite, Bushmaster, Rock River ??? within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; It is time for me to spring for a 223/5.56 NATO and was looking at basic M4's (adjustible stock carbine) at the local gun show ...

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Thread: M4 - Armalite, Bushmaster, Rock River ???

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    Member Array NativH's Avatar
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    M4 - Armalite, Bushmaster, Rock River ???

    It is time for me to spring for a 223/5.56 NATO and was looking at basic M4's (adjustible stock carbine) at the local gun show this weekend. I already have an Armalite AR10A4 that I love.
    I'm partial to Armalite as my AR10 seems bulletproof and rock solid with it's heavy SS/chrome barrel. Lots of buds swear by their Bushmasters and the local HPD officer working for one of the dealers swore by the Rock River and their features such as Wilson Combat barrels, two stage triggers, etc.

    He also started talking the differences between mil-spec guns such as Armalites and what I (mis?)understood as the more accurate machining of the Rock River types (match configuration) of M4's. I didn't realize that there were some made to mil-spec tolerances and match versions with tighter tolerances, two stage triggers, etc that were inherently more accurate. I honestly don't know much about the differences, if there really are any, but I want a weapon that is more idiot proof and capable of working in fairly bad conditions. Sounds like mil-spec is more my speed because this gun will be one of my SHTF guns as I'm never going to shoot Camp Perry.

    So basically, was this guy all wet or are the truly differences in tolerances/accuracy between mil-spec guns and "match" guns? If there is a difference, and I'm guessing that I am more of a "mil-spec" guy, would the Armalite, Bushmaster, or Rock River be the way to go? Their costs differences are negligible for what I'm looking at. Am I incorrect that Armalites seem to be very sturdy, not that Bushmasters and Rock Rivers aren't? Other than my AR10, none of my buds have ever even seen another Armalite but Bushmasters are everywhere. And this was my first exposure to Rock River.

    Sorry for the numerous questions but I'm just wanting to gather some more info on the differences of these three brands in the basic M4 configuration. I'll probably buy at the first early 2010 gun show and want to make the right choice before having the sales guy try to do a job on me. Thanks for any information on these three brands and the mil-spec vs match discussion this officer brought up.
    Last edited by NativH; December 8th, 2009 at 10:18 AM.
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    VIP Member Array jwhite75's Avatar
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    To me I think it would be hard to stray from the Armalite. You already own one and know of their quality and build strength. They are mil-spec, which is just better all around IMO. The other two are decent brands. But I wouldnt wanna guess on a new brand when you have had such luck with your current AR. I have a Colt, and love mine personally.
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    Senior Member Array Exodus's Avatar
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    I've got an Armalite M-15A4. It's a flat top m4 type AR. It, like your AR-10 is rock solid.

    Though I'm biased, I'd say go with the Armalite. Bushmaster and RRA are both good manufacturers, but I ultimately decidied on the Armalite. There are no RRA dealers in my area, so it was not a consideration. I was down to a Bushy, or the Armalite. What decided was two things:

    1. Armalite has a lifetime warranty. Bushmaster has 1 year warranty - Granted, you are unlikely to need it for either company.
    2. I liked the Armalite Finish more.


    As to the Mil-Spec vs. Match Grade difference. A true match grade gun will be built to tighter tolerances and have greater accuracy. It will also be more likely to be ammo sensitve and fuss about shooting dirty. If you're not going for dime sized groups, the match grade AR isn't for you. Depends on what type of shooting you do.
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    VIP Member Array dukalmighty's Avatar
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    Make sure you get a barrel chambered in 5.56 and not .223
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    Member Array NativH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Exodus View Post
    I've got an Armalite M-15A4. It's a flat top m4 type AR. It, like your AR-10 is rock solid.

    Though I'm biased, I'd say go with the Armalite. Bushmaster and RRA are both good manufacturers, but I ultimately decidied on the Armalite. There are no RRA dealers in my area, so it was not a consideration. I was down to a Bushy, or the Armalite. What decided was two things:

    1. Armalite has a lifetime warranty. Bushmaster has 1 year warranty - Granted, you are unlikely to need it for either company.
    2. I liked the Armalite Finish more.


    As to the Mil-Spec vs. Match Grade difference. A true match grade gun will be built to tighter tolerances and have greater accuracy. It will also be more likely to be ammo sensitve and fuss about shooting dirty. If you're not going for dime sized groups, the match grade AR isn't for you. Depends on what type of shooting you do.
    It sounds like your situation and mine are similar. I buy these rifles for SHTF and fun, not for extreme accuracy or hunting, although my AR10 is the perfect feral hog gun with two-20 round mags strapped together. I'm more concerned about operabiility in bad conditions than MOA plus, like you indicate, the ability to digest pretty much any ammunition. I'm more versed in handguns than semi-auto rifles. Armalites just don't get much press in my group of shooting buds and my impression of their build quality isn't based on any particular knowledge of what other brands are out there. I've seen finicky AR's at the range so I know what I don't want to experience. Sounds like an Armalite AR15 is in my future.
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    Member Array NativH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dukalmighty View Post
    Make sure you get a barrel chambered in 5.56 and not .223
    Thanks. I'm definitely going that way. I was surprised to find that NATO vs standard is bassakwards when you go from 308 to 223. I just assumed that NATO was loaded to higher pressures but not so with 308, but so with 223. And while we're at it, what's the deal with the Wylde chamber? Is that something I even need to worry about having?
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    BAC
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    Done correctly, a Wylde chamber works. It's not always done correctly, though. This is less of an issue with precision rigs that might not see higher pressure NATO ammo. Rock River Arms has Wylde chambered barrels, but they're not always consistent with specs. I can't think of any of the larger manufacturers that have rifles with Wylde chambers. I know several of the nicer barrel makers offer it.

    Do you have a budget and use for the rifle in mind, out of curiosity?


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    Member Array NativH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BAC View Post
    Done correctly, a Wylde chamber works. It's not always done correctly, though. This is less of an issue with precision rigs that might not see higher pressure NATO ammo. Rock River Arms has Wylde chambered barrels, but they're not always consistent with specs. I can't think of any of the larger manufacturers that have rifles with Wylde chambers. I know several of the nicer barrel makers offer it.

    Do you have a budget and use for the rifle in mind, out of curiosity?


    -B
    My budget is fairly flexible and I don't see where Armalite offers this, even as an option, but I haven't asked them. I did find out today that they don't offer the heavy SS barrel like my AR10 has anymore, in 308 or 5.56. My use is basically for fun, personal protection, and SHTF (which I hope never occurs but I'll be as ready as possible). I've only seen a few folks even mention the Wylde chambering.

    I was assuming that even if the AR manufacturer didn't offer it, I could get a gunsmith to do the work. But only if it is something that is really necessary. I try not to throw bells and whistles on a gun just to do it. But if it is a good mod for a reasonable price, say an additional $250 for the machining, that wouldn't be overkill if I had a use for it. If it is a $1,000 mod to a $1,300 gun (sans optics) I wouldn't go for it unless it was the cats meow. I have Briley within a mile of my house and they've done plenty of custom work on my over/unders. I would think it is within their capability, just don't know if it is worth the effort for a basic (IMHO) rifle. Or it sounds like, I could just get an aftermarket barrel for an Armalite?
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    Armalite - LEC15A4CBK

    I pretty much assemble my own AR's TO fit what I want, this one is built on an Eagle Arms (Armalite budget brand) receiver. Out of your choices listed I'd go with the Armalite.

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    BAC
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    NativH,

    Wylde chambers aren't especially common outside of RRA and competition guns. I'm not really sure why, but most companies just chamber the rifles in .223 and list 5.56 on the barrel (the bunch of new companies like BCM, CD Defense, Daniel Defense, Noveske, and others making true 5.56 chambered weapons is starting to change that). Having someone ream your barrel to a Wylde or 5.56 NATO chamber wouldn't be that hard, and should be quite a bit cheaper than $250. Of course, for $250-$500 you can replace your barrel altogether with a very nice stainless one from Krieger, Lilja, Noveske, or a similar high-end barrel maker (that is, if you're looking for slightly thicker stainless barrels). If you look outside of the stainless barrels to chrome-lined ones, Bravo Co., Centurion Arms, Daniel Defense, and Noveske make some of the finest barrels you can buy for the AR-15; the catch is some companies will only sell their barrels as part of assembled uppers, not alone (you'd probably have to do a little homework to be sure). These would be more "work horse" barrels; they'll last a good deal longer than SS barrels (this may or may not matter to you) and while not inaccurate will very likely less accurate than the SS barrels I mentioned earlier.

    If you go Armalite and want a new barrel, make sure to verify that their barrels aren't proprietary in a way that precludes you from using any other barrel. I think this was more a problem with piston-upper and .308 AR barrels, but better safe than sorry. I feel like I'm forgetting details...


    -B
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    VIP Member Array varob's Avatar
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    I've always heard that Mil Spec ARs are made to handle 3 round burst or full auto? But, I've only heard that.

    Take a look here AR15.Com. You may find some additional answers
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    BAC
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    Eh, "mil spec" just means "follows the specs listed on the technical data package (TDP)". They're minimum standards to achieve a given performance described by the US gov't/US military/whoever writes the TDP. For the AR-15, find a Colt M4 or M16, or an FNH M16, list out the features, and there's your "mil spec". You can do better or worse; for example, the hammer forged barrels Colt makes for our Canadian neighbors' ARs are better than the ones they make for the M16 and M4, but that's the fault of the TDP, not Colt.

    Yes, technically any rifle not made exactly to the specs outlined in the TDP is not "mil spec". If it's the same rifle minus the auto or burst fire control group, though, I'm willing to call 'em the same.


    -B
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    After careful thought and consideration (yeah BS), I ended up purchasing a Lewis Machine Tool (LMT) 16" carbine upper and a LMT Defender lower with collapsible M4 stock and standard trigger. One of my local haunts, Collectors Firearms, had three of the uppers and will have the lower in right after Christmas. My research indicated that LMT has a pretty good record and good QA, or so it seems. I hadn't really heard of LMT before seeing their upper so I didn't do years of research on them. Any thoughts on LMT and their AR's?
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    BAC
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    LMT is a good-to-go outfit in the upper echelon of AR manufacturers. On the very off-hand chance that anything's wrong they will take care of you. Make sure that you've got a charging handle, bolt carrier group, and handguards, too, as LMT uppers usually don't come with them...


    -B
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    BAC,

    I took the upper out of the box and all of those items were included/installed so I think Collectors Firearms bought the uppers as a complete "built" upper. It looks like I got the complete setup, minus sights. I may just take my Aimpoint off my AR10 for now and put an 5.5 power 308 drop compensated ACOG on the AR10. Or put an ACOG on the LMT AR15. Choices, choices. I'm glad to hear that LMT is a quality shop as that is what my quick analysis picked up on.
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