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I'm considering buying a Colt AR in a couple of months. Should I go with the 16" barrel or the 20" barrel, any thoughts?

I looked at the Sig 556. Really nice, but I think too much money for my budget.

Also, how does the Ruger 556 stack up against the Colt?

Lastly, any thoughts on the newer tactical Mini-14 as opposed to the Colt?

I'm still getting educated and reading as much as I can everywhere. Thanks for any info you can provide. Much appreciated!
 

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Good link

Here's some light reading:

So you want to buy an AR-15, huh? - Police Forums & Law Enforcement Forums @ Officer.com

Personally, I'd go with the Colt, but that's just me. I am considering building a piston rifle, but time will tell. I've never been a fan of the AR platform, until recent. After twenty years I've come around to them. What can I say? I'm slow to accept change.

Biker
Good link BikerRn. I too have resisted purchasing one for decades. But lately, will all things going on, it might not be a bad idea to have one around.
 

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another good forum is either ar15.com or m4carbine.com best place to start is realizing what you want the rifle for because that will dictate to some degree which one you buy. the difference in the barrel lengths. The longer the barrel the further not only can you shoot accurately but also to some degree it determines the distance of the lethality of the rifle. Although there are hollow tip and soft tipped ammo the wounding capability was designed around fmj. The fmj in 556 tumbles at terminal ballistics and tends to shred metal however with a shorter barrel this only occurs out to 100 to 150 yards a bit further with a longer barrel. you will also want a higher rifling 1:7 because that will stablize a 77 grain bullet which extends the distance in which the bullet will fragment. The advantage to the m4 style is it is more maneuverable in close quarters. The ar platform does have it's cons since it is a direct impingement type rifle the gas drives the bolt the chamber gets a bit dirty and the rifle has to be cleaned a bit more then others probably pertains more to actual combat rather then something that gets shot occasionaly.
 

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I'll recommend the Colt as I am familiar with it and feel it has given me reasonable service. Nothing has broken or failed on it to date.

I suppose I'd recommend the 20-inch barrel for the increased velocities and better ballistics it can offer with most loads. I'm not too keen on short barreled rifles of any kind though. I like the weight, balance, and sight radius offered by longer barrels.

My AR 15 has the 1 in 12 twist rate which was suitable for the 55 grain bullet as loaded in M193 ball. It will stabilize somewhat heavier bullets, at least for a couple hundred yards. I've only shot bullets to 62 grains in weight and only targeted them out to 200 yards. I don't take the .223/5.56 NATO round that seriously so don't care about shooting really heavy .224 diameter bullets. For the dedicated AR 15 shooter the quicker twist barrels will offer additional flexibility in ammunition choices.

I'm even slower to accept change than BikerRN as I still can't say I'm really a fan of the AR 15, even though I've owned mine for over 20 years. It's an SP-1 with original iron sights and doesn't even have forward assist. For shooting purposes I'll take the AR 15 straight and particularly don't want any sort of accessories hanging off of it.


Thanks Biker for the link which will be a good read.
 

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I'll recommend the Colt as I am familiar with it and feel it has given me reasonable service. Nothing has broken or failed on it to date.

I suppose I'd recommend the 20-inch barrel for the increased velocities and better ballistics it can offer with most loads. I'm not too keen on short barreled rifles of any kind though. I like the weight, balance, and sight radius offered by longer barrels.

My AR 15 has the 1 in 12 twist rate which was suitable for the 55 grain bullet as loaded in M193 ball. It will stabilize somewhat heavier bullets, at least for a couple hundred yards. I've only shot bullets to 62 grains in weight and only targeted them out to 200 yards. I don't take the .223/5.56 NATO round that seriously so don't care about shooting really heavy .224 diameter bullets. For the dedicated AR 15 shooter the quicker twist barrels will offer additional flexibility in ammunition choices.

I'm even slower to accept change than BikerRN as I still can't say I'm really a fan of the AR 15, even though I've owned mine for over 20 years. It's an SP-1 with original iron sights and doesn't even have forward assist. For shooting purposes I'll take the AR 15 straight and particularly don't want any sort of accessories hanging off of it.


Thanks Biker for the link which will be a good read.
What is your take on 5.56 vs .223? I've read some say yes, others say not. Even the Colt web site seems at odds. The caliber of the rifle is .223, but the description test references shooting 5.56. So, can the Colt .223 safely use 5.56 rounds?
 

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Hi ctr;

One can read a lot about the subject and frankly it is confusing. It confuses me if I pay too much attention to it. There is a lot of disagreement out there. I can offer what I've observed.

I'll shoot both military ball and commercial loads in my rifle.

My initial understanding of the subject is based on a late 1970s reloading manual's given explanation that some specialized custom bench rest .223 bolt guns may have tighter chambers and shorter throats than the military chambers. Military ammunition fired in such rifles was said to possibly give trouble with excessive pressure.

That's all there was to it.

My 1972 vintage SP-1 has consumed a considerable quantity of M193 ball ammunition with no ill effects and normal function. When our two sons were young, the club provided military contract M193 from the DCM/CMP for free when junior shooters attended the high-power matches. They occasionally took their friends so the AR 15 got a workout. If my wife or I shot the AR 15 in a match we used handloads.

I'm of the opinion that most of the internet forum hue and cry over the supposed vast differences in commercial .223 and military 5.56 ammunition is a "tempest in a teapot" and a bunch of folks running around crying "the sky is falling" without truly understanding the issue. Don't take what I say to the bank because I may have an imperfect understanding as well but I don't consider the .223 and the military 5.56 to be separate cartridges as some state. I'm not convinced that the conventional ball ammunition as used by the military has significantly higher operating pressures as some claim. It certainly offers no better performance over a chronograph though that can't be taken as a reliable indicator of operating pressure.

I can't say what the operating pressures are for more specialized rounds such as tracer, armor piercing, grenade launching, or the especially designed match cartridges such as the Mark 262. One can bet that the military doesn't stray too far from standard performance as they don't want to batter their equipment and diminish its service life.

I'm not the last word on the subject but feel it has more to do with the relative case volume of commercial cases and military cases and handloading. The military case is typically thicker with resulting diminished internal volume. A near maximum powder charge that gives acceptable performance and pressure in a commercial case with its larger internal volume is quite likely to exhibit excessive pressure if loaded into a military case without adjusting for the decreased volume.

I mostly handload military cases for use in my AR 15. I use plain ol' RCBS .223 dies. I don't use specialized small base dies or match die sets. I just full length resize the case each time and utilize loads worked up with due caution, watching case and cartridge dimensions.

I've also fired a bunch of my handloads which use commercial .223 cases and follow the same loading techniques. I've experimented with purposely loading ammunition as mild as possible in order to see "how low I could go" and still maintain reliable function. The .223 round is one of only a few cartridges I've never purposely pushed with experimental "hot" handloads.

I've handloaded bullets up to 62 grains in weight and maintained accuracy out to 200 yards. That's as far as I've bench tested it. This is the same bullet weight as the M885 round. Don't know how much farther the bullets would remain stable with the 1/12 twist rate of my AR 15's barrel. Don't really care as I'm happy to use my rifle with lighter weight bullets for which its twist rate is suitable.



Off the topic at hand but gotta show a photo of my youngest son last November 20th in San Diego at his Marine Corps basic training graduation ceremony. A photo which also shows the results of the early training, shooting, and competition he experienced while growing up. That's an "Expert" rifleman badge that he's wearing in the photo with his mother and me, earned with an M16A2. He was only 6 points off from being high shooter for his platoon.



He proceeded to come home on leave during Christmas and administer a whupping to his ol' dad with his ol' dad's AR 15 on an informal shoot we held at the local range. It's a bummer to be getting old but I sure am proud of him. Marine Corps training along with the care that the Corps takes with their Marines is awesome!
 

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Howdy Mr. bmc,

I'll bet you're one proud Daddy. It's obvious you and your beloved Mrs. raised your son well.

I will keep your son in my thoughts, as well as you and the Mrs.. Take care and stay safe.

Biker
 

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bmcgilvray, congratulations to both you and your wife, looks like you two raised a fine young Marine!
 

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Off the topic at hand but gotta show a photo of my youngest son last November 20th in San Diego at his Marine Corps basic training graduation ceremony. A photo which also shows the results of the early training, shooting, and competition he experienced while growing up. That's an "Expert" rifleman badge that he's wearing in the photo with his mother and me, earned with an M16A2. He was only 6 points off from being high shooter for his platoon.



He proceeded to come home on leave during Christmas and administer a whupping to his ol' dad with his ol' dad's AR 15 on an informal shoot we held at the local range. It's a bummer to be getting old but I sure am proud of him. Marine Corps training along with the care that the Corps takes with their Marines is awesome!
Looks like a picture of a fine young Marine and a justly proud mom and dad. Who wouldn't be proud of that kid?
 

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That is one fine marine you and your wife have raised bmcgilvray. Simply outstanding.

And thanks for the cartridge and load information!
 
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