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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello rifle gurus

Currently I have a Century Arms Saiga AK and a AR-15 that consists of a Rock River lower and a Model 1 sales upper. I'm not terribly happy with the AK in general and I built the AR when overall cost was of major concern for me. They are both wearing pretty cheap optics as well. Well..... I got a new (better paying) job last year. I saved pretty much every penny I made and paid off all my debt except for my house. I also managed to put a nice little chunk of change in savings. So, for the first time in my adult life I can make a fairly major purchase without cheaping out so I have decided to upgrade my rifle. I am thinking of selling both the AK and AR and turning around and building a nice mil spec, light weight AR-15 carbine with high quality optics. My first question is on uppers. I know that Colt and Daniel Defense are two big names when it comes to mil spec uppers. Are they the end all be all or is some of what I am paying for the name? I'll pay the extra 2-300 bucks if am getting a true return on that investment. I have heard good things about Spikes tactical but the lower cost makes me a bit nervous. Are they on par with Colt and DD or are they cheaper for a reason? First and foremost I am looking for quality.

Secondly I am interested in a quality optic. I am leaning heavily towards an Aimpoint T1 micro (to save on weight instead of a standard Aimpoint) with a 4x magnifier in a flip to side mount. Anyone have any experience with this setup? Does the smaller T1 work well with a magnifier? Over all I am trying to keep the rifle as light as possible. The only other accessory on the gun will be a light.
 

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Take a quick look at my sticky thread on red dot optics. I added pics of an m4s and T1, both with and without a 3x magnifier.

I prefer a T1 for weight and size. Both work perfectly well with the 3x, which is strongly recommended over a 4x. The 2 or 4 MOA dot will matter more than the optic body.

I'll post back on the rifle but for now you can google "oh no, I bought a stag, RRA, Bushmaster before I knew better" on m4carbine by rob_s. also look at "a day in the life of a bushmaster LE distributor" by C4IGrant. Both will really help you in upgrading your rifle.

With Colt and BCM, you are paying for quality, not the name. Anyone saying differently just doesn't know the small details, though many still will anyway. Daniel Defense, LMT, Noveske, Centurion Arms all fall into that category as well.

Even though many parts come from the same forgers, the finishing and quality control is what matters. In some cases, add better materials to that as well.
 

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Disclaimer; You probably know that I'm no more an expert on AR's than you are.

But (for that reason) why not just go with a good ol' Colt 6920 LE? One of our vendors here posted one for just a little over 1k the other day.

IRT optics, I'm still using that cross-hair iron front sight that you suggested. I just love the accuracy and reliability.
 

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Chances are you may have a very good base to work with. What kind of groups are you shooting with the AR from a good supported position.
The standard AIM point M68 type is outstanding. IMO better than an EO tech but the EO should be given a look . Take your time and shop right .
I want to play with a SightMark I had seen it listed at 79.00 all over picked one up this morning for 49.00 not bad for something I may not want.
The market is short on ammo,some weapons, some mags not on other add ons.
 

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In addition......

If someone told me I could have any general purpose, fighting rifle the I wanted, configured how I wanted, here's what I'd do.

I'd get a Colt 6721, which is the 6920 with a 14.5" barrel. I'd add a T1 and 3x magnifier in a LaRue flip mount, a Daniel Defense RIS II, KAC urx 3.1 or Centurion Arms C4 handguard, folding BUIS (I prefer KAC, but Troy works great too), PMAGs or GI style mags from BCM, Okay, NHMTG or D&H, then the stock and grip of my choice.

I'd be perfectly happy swapping the Colt 6921 for a BCM 14.5" midlength with a cold hammer forged barrel, which is what I'm running now.
 

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In addition......

If someone told me I could have any general purpose, fighting rifle the I wanted, configured how I wanted, here's what I'd do.

I'd get a Colt 6721, which is the 6920 with a 14.5" barrel. I'd add a T1 and 3x magnifier in a LaRue flip mount, a Daniel Defense RIS II, KAC urx 3.1 or Centurion Arms C4 handguard, folding BUIS (I prefer KAC, but Troy works great too), PMAGs or GI style mags from BCM, Okay, NHMTG or D&H, then the stock and grip of my choice.

I'd be perfectly happy swapping the Colt 6921 for a BCM 14.5" midlength with a cold hammer forged barrel, which is what I'm running now.
This should be made a 'sticky'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Can you explain a bit why you prefer the 3x to the 4x? I def plan on going with a 2moa dot.

Edit - I noticed you didn't mention Spikes. Not a fan?

Take a quick look at my sticky thread on red dot optics. I added pics of an m4s and T1, both with and without a 3x magnifier.

I prefer a T1 for weight and size. Both work perfectly well with the 3x, which is strongly recommended over a 4x. The 2 or 4 MOA dot will matter more than the optic body.

I'll post back on the rifle but for now you can google "oh no, I bought a stag, RRA, Bushmaster before I knew better" on m4carbine by rob_s. also look at "a day in the life of a bushmaster LE distributor" by C4IGrant. Both will really help you in upgrading your rifle.

With Colt and BCM, you are paying for quality, not the name. Anyone saying differently just doesn't know the small details, though many still will anyway. Daniel Defense, LMT, Noveske, Centurion Arms all fall into that category as well.

Even though many parts come from the same forgers, the finishing and quality control is what matters. In some cases, add better materials to that as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That front sight post works really well for me on a full length rife, but I have found that the cross hairs tend to blur on carbine length rifles. I have the same issue with all front sight posts on carbine length guns. It's just more pronounced with the cross hair sight because it's thinner.

Disclaimer; You probably know that I'm no more an expert on AR's than you are.

But (for that reason) why not just go with a good ol' Colt 6920 LE? One of our vendors here posted one for just a little over 1k the other day.

IRT optics, I'm still using that cross-hair iron front sight that you suggested. I just love the accuracy and reliability.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
My current MOdel 1 sales upper shoots more than acceptable groups. 2-3 inches support with a 3x scope at 100 yards. That's with a stock trigger and I am not exactly the worlds great marksman by any stretch. The two primary reasons I am looking to upgrade is at about 1000 rounds I had a piece in the BCG break. I'm not sure the name of the piece (I am not that versed in AR terminology) but I think it might have been the extractor. The piece it self pivots on a pit and the little nub broke off. Secondly, I noticed small bits of surface rust on the outside of the barrel. They wiped off eaisly enough but it makes me nervous. Model 1 sales makes pretty decent uppers but at the end of the day they are budget uppers. I figure I would rather have 1 really good rifle as opposed to two decent ones.

Chances are you may have a very good base to work with. What kind of groups are you shooting with the AR from a good supported position.
The standard AIM point M68 type is outstanding. IMO better than an EO tech but the EO should be given a look . Take your time and shop right .
I want to play with a SightMark I had seen it listed at 79.00 all over picked one up this morning for 49.00 not bad for something I may not want.
The market is short on ammo,some weapons, some mags not on other add ons.
 

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Thing with AR's is if you have reasonable quality much of the difference after that is bagging rights. I have carried the plat form for over 27 years.
Example a free float forward is really of little use on a AR. Magnifying scopes on an AR for under a 100 yards worthless for the most part and on short shots can be a problem.
If the AR you have assembled Has a good quality barrel and a good lower your set.
If you plan to drive tacks with it you may want to move to a higher end trigger group, I for one find them worthless again for defense uses.
If you plan to use your weapon for personal defense and some sport shooting a site that will allow you to co-witness with your iron is a great setup.
If you are unhappy with your upper simple sell it and buy an upper you really like.
The difference in most of them today is little. Our vault has many different setups in it. The Adams Arms Huldra's shoot the best groups they are 1 to sub MOA with high end ammo. But for the intended use of an AR 16 inch 2-3 Moa is not going to make a bit of difference in the real world only on paper at the range.
An AR can and does make 600 meter shots in the right hands but that is not an everyday use of it.
AR's are meant for fast reliable acquisition of targets from right in front of you to 450 meters. It is not a sniper rifle.
A really good reflex sight is a prefect tool for them and one that allows you to co-witness even better.
Welcome to the world of AR's they are like Harley barbie dolls for men you dress them up and play with them then dress them up again.
If you would like some good reading on the AR sights at close range I high suggest reading what this man has written. Take it from someone that has been there done that he is spot on. Number one biggest mistakes most make with an Ar is not fully understanding how to zero it right and how to acquire the correct sight picture.
http://www.shootingillustrated.com/index.php/23123/zero-distance-for-a-home-defense-ar-15/
If you want to get nuts a sight can end up costing more than the weapon.
ColtM4 (2).JPG
 
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I'd agree with much of that, but a free float is a benefit to me. I've seen the difference and I prefer it. Mainly for added length, but I've pushed shots 2 MOA off by using that non free floated handguard as support.

Big deal? Nope. But it makes a small difference. The barrel and bolt carrier group are the heart of the rifle. These are most important. An in spec lower is all you need, but with some companies it's pretty much a guarantee and with others it's a gamble. Lower parts kits matter quite a bit. You can have an in spec model 1 lower but their lower parts kit will still be hobby grade. I'd update that with a BCM or Colt kit. Also I'd replace the redid dr extension with a quality one from a good company as it is surely commercial spec with lower quality materials.

My 14.5" BCM is capable of 1.5 MOA with MK262. My LMT 10.5" shot 1 MOA with MK262. These are cold hammer forged, chrome lined barrels. A Centurion or Noveske chrome lined barrel should give you 1 MOA ten shot groups as well with mk262 and the right optic. My Colt 6920's, 6720, 6921 and 6933 all shot about 1.5 to 2 MOA with Mk262 and a little larger, maybe twice that, with m855, on average.

I use a red dot for just about everything. I can make hits all day long on 12" steel at 400 yards with just my T1. I use the magnifier for target discrimination, not so much for precision. A red dot will allow you to keep focus down range and get faster hits. There's pretty much no disputing that. Again, read that red dot thread.

Back to upper and lower receivers. They will typically come from one of three or four forgers. Many companies will order them to a certain set of specifications and some will finish them themselves. Some will have strict tolerances and if the rifle doesn't fit within that range, they won't sell it. Others have a much larger range for tolerances. Noveske keeps them all very close, RRA keeps them very tight, some hobby level companies just make sure they fit, tight or loose. Lower parts kits and receiver extensions will be very different quality. I like to use Colt and stick to their GI trigger, but I'd use Geissele as the only other trigger. Nothing else. Lower parts kits like those from DPMS will have larger tolerance of size, often are weaker and the commercial receiver extensions are lower grade material (6061 opposed to 7075) and the threads are cut instead of rolled. So, material is removed instead of being moved and formed like a mil spec RE.

I'll take a 2.5 MOA rifle that's very reliable over a 1 MOA rifle that might have some lower quality parts or is too tight. I'd love a combination of both but only a few offer this without going to a stainless barrel. Centurion and Noveske come to mind.

Spikes. They are ok but I just don't like their gimmicky marketing of the deal they pulled during the elections.l where they raised their prices then blamed it on their distributors online when they got called on it. Their distributors posted in the same thread and Spikes got caught in a lie, taking advantage of customers. They'll never see a dime from me. Overall, quality is decent though.

Having said that, a 1-4 is a huge advantage on a recce type rifle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
My lower is actually Rock River, my upper is Model 1. I have toyed with the idea of basically trying to upgrade the parts on my upper and lower to put them more in line with what most would consider "high end" but I didn't know if it would be more effective you replace the entire gun. I'm figuing 100 bucks for a new lower parts kit, 200-300 for a good BCG. Another 200 for a barrel. I'm already at 600 bucks there and I effectively have a "franken gun". What is a "the redid dr extension"?

I'd agree with much of that, but a free float is a benefit to me. I've seen the difference and I prefer it. Mainly for added length, but I've pushed shots 2 MOA off by using that non free floated handguard as support.

Big deal? Nope. But it makes a small difference. The barrel and bolt carrier group are the heart of the rifle. These are most important. An in spec lower is all you need, but with some companies it's pretty much a guarantee and with others it's a gamble. Lower parts kits matter quite a bit. You can have an in spec model 1 lower but their lower parts kit will still be hobby grade. I'd update that with a BCM or Colt kit. Also I'd replace the redid dr extension with a quality one from a good company as it is surely commercial spec with lower quality materials.

My 14.5" BCM is capable of 1.5 MOA with MK262. My LMT 10.5" shot 1 MOA with MK262. These are cold hammer forged, chrome lined barrels. A Centurion or Noveske chrome lined barrel should give you 1 MOA ten shot groups as well with mk262 and the right optic. My Colt 6920's, 6720, 6921 and 6933 all shot about 1.5 to 2 MOA with Mk262 and a little larger, maybe twice that, with m855, on average.

I use a red dot for just about everything. I can make hits all day long on 12" steel at 400 yards with just my T1. I use the magnifier for target discrimination, not so much for precision. A red dot will allow you to keep focus down range and get faster hits. There's pretty much no disputing that. Again, read that red dot thread.

Back to upper and lower receivers. They will typically come from one of three or four forgers. Many companies will order them to a certain set of specifications and some will finish them themselves. Some will have strict tolerances and if the rifle doesn't fit within that range, they won't sell it. Others have a much larger range for tolerances. Noveske keeps them all very close, RRA keeps them very tight, some hobby level companies just make sure they fit, tight or loose. Lower parts kits and receiver extensions will be very different quality. I like to use Colt and stick to their GI trigger, but I'd use Geissele as the only other trigger. Nothing else. Lower parts kits like those from DPMS will have larger tolerance of size, often are weaker and the commercial receiver extensions are lower grade material (6061 opposed to 7075) and the threads are cut instead of rolled. So, material is removed instead of being moved and formed like a mil spec RE.

I'll take a 2.5 MOA rifle that's very reliable over a 1 MOA rifle that might have some lower quality parts or is too tight. I'd love a combination of both but only a few offer this without going to a stainless barrel. Centurion and Noveske come to mind.

Spikes. They are ok but I just don't like their gimmicky marketing of the deal they pulled during the elections.l where they raised their prices then blamed it on their distributors online when they got called on it. Their distributors posted in the same thread and Spikes got caught in a lie, taking advantage of customers. They'll never see a dime from me. Overall, quality is decent though.

Having said that, a 1-4 is a huge advantage on a recce type rifle.
 

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My lower is actually Rock River, my upper is Model 1. I have toyed with the idea of basically trying to upgrade the parts on my upper and lower to put them more in line with what most would consider "high end" but I didn't know if it would be more effective you replace the entire gun. I'm figuing 100 bucks for a new lower parts kit, 200-300 for a good BCG. Another 200 for a barrel. I'm already at 600 bucks there and I effectively have a "franken gun". What is a "the redid dr extension"?
Sorry, that's supposed to be receiver extension but the iPad figured differently.

Well, if your lower is good, just order a complete upper. BCM, while hard to get right now, has numerous different option with different hand guard choices. My first choice is a 14.5" mid length, which I have now, but a 16" mid length or 14.5" carbine is good too.

Replacing all the parts won't be cheap. A barrel will be about $300 and BCG around $175 to $200. Then you need to install it or have it done. So, tools or labor. If the RRA lower works, I'd only replace it if I wanted a complete rifle. A complete rifle offers nothing over a complete upper and a complete lower that's already owned, as long as its quality.

I would replace the trigger and bolt catch with Colt or BCM parts. specialized Armament sales those parts separately, but at a price... I do not like RRA triggers, and if you search, you'll see a high number of broken ones.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
My lower is actually Rock River, my upper is Model 1. I have toyed with the idea of basically trying to upgrade the parts on my upper and lower to put them more in line with what most would consider "high end" but I didn't know if it would be more effective you replace the entire gun. I'm figuing 100 bucks for a new lower parts kit, 200-300 for a good BCG. Another 200 for a barrel. I'm already at 600 bucks there and I effectively have a "franken gun". What is a "the redid dr extension"?
Ok, thanks for the info! I think what I will probably do is replace my lower parts kit with a BCG or Colt and then look at buying a new upper. That's more or less what I had planned on doing anyway. I just had not planned on replacing the lower parts kit.
 

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I can't add much to the discussion, except that the Micro T-1 is a great optic. Mine is a 4 MOA dot but having lived with it a while, I prefer 2 MOA.
 

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...Are they the end all be all or is some of what I am paying for the name?
Just buy a Colt AR and then customize it with your optics and light.

Quality and resale are there:
LE6940; and
LE901-16s (only .308 at present, but additional uppers will be available).

These are hard to beat for price and quality. IMO.
saa.
 

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That 901 is nice. As long as you have the receiver block, any 5.56 upper will work. My buddy has one and it's a solid shooter.
 
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I'd jump on that.
 
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