Looking To Buy My First AR 15

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RWIG
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Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by RWIG » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:49 pm

Hey Folks,

Now that my kids are grown and I have a nice new gun safe, I have been looking to add an AR 15 to my gun arsenal. I was originally looking to get a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 Sport II in 556/223, but I have also been looking at Palmetto State Armory PSA 16". The gun is for me to shoot at the range, and to tinker with over time. I found PSA a few months ago when I was looking to build an AR, but I think my first foray should be with a good inexpensive platform that I can use to get familiar with, and maybe I will build one after I have had and used one for a while. I figured I would start with a $1,000 budget to get the gun and a few accessories.

I would love to hear from you AR owners about:
  • M&P 15 vs. PSA
  • A good entry optic (most of my shooting will be indoors, this Spring I will start making weekend trips to the state owned outdoor ranges)
  • Has anyone got experience with the Fostech Echo II Trigger? I have been eyeing that trigger for about two months. Been thinking of getting one before some law gets past banning them.
I would love to get some opinions!
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LT USN (Ret.)
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by LT USN (Ret.) » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:08 pm

Opinions are free here.

Build an AR from parts. This will allow you to know how it functions and how to repair it.

Don't go for the Echo trigger. If you pull the trigger and don't want (or need) the second shot, what do you do? Get a nice single or two stage trigger, you might like that better. Just me.

I'm sold on the Holosun line. Cost and function can't be beat. For an AR optic take a look at the 520C-GR or one of the solid shell models.

Final word, AR's are like Harleys. They are very personal and personalized. Build and own it yourself and you won't look at a store bought one again.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by colonel00 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:34 pm

PSA is a great starting point. I would recommend picking up one of their stripped lowers and then build the lower as LT says. A really cheap option is to look at one of their Freedome blemised kits that comes with an assembled upper and a lower parts kit. They can be found for around $300 and then the lower will be $40. You can then get a sight or just a carry handle and shoot iron sights. This is a great way to get in at a low price.

Next I would suggest looking at one of their 10.5" uppers and build a pistol lower so you don't have to get an SBR stamp. This will cost a little more but still not horrible. I bet you could probably end up with 2 guns for not too far over your budget.

Once you have a rifle and a pistol lower, you can get more uppers as you like and then build up lowers to go with them too.

It's a dark, downward spiral but soon enough you'll want an 8.5" 300 Blackout and a suppressor to go with it. It has a giggle factor of 10
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by Janik » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:37 pm

I have 3 PSA's and all have been flawless. Each were purchased for around $400, watching for deals on uppers and lowers. One has key mod, one has m lock, and one has Magpul furniture. Not saying that they would hold up in battlefield conditions, but they have held up really well. But since PSA doesn't build rifles for battle, I guess we'll never know. But I do like the quality for the price. I'm not a gun snob though, so I have never owned a Colt, DD, LMT, etc. But I seriously am very happy with the performance of my affordable PSA rifles.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by Janik » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:38 pm

Correction, I have 4 PSA's. I just saw @colonel00 post above mine, and remembered I have a pistol lower sitting in a box waiting for a 10.5" upper, as soon as PSA has a deal on them.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by colonel00 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:50 pm

I will also add, that if you want to move up to a little "better" quality, I really like stuff from Aero Precision like their M4E1 uppers and lowers.

Below is a set that I am slowly putting together. I currently have the 9mm upper (shown with the FDE suppressor) and 300 BLK upper done. The 5.56 is coming along and I have an itch to put together a 5.7 upper at some point and maybe a 10mm. Anyway, my point is you can run a lot of uppers off the same lower if you set it up right. However, going this route will blow your budget quickly. That's why I'm doing it slowly.

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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by TL1000RSquid » Tue Feb 11, 2020 6:41 pm

I have a few different PSA's from their cheapest stuff to the premium line, no issues with any of them. I would say their cheaper stuff is same quality as other entry levels from S&W and Ruger, with the premium being a bit better atleast barrel wise.Aero being in same boat depending on model being same or better then the name brands.

Your budget you should be able to swing a premium PSA upper, one of the more inexpensive ($100+/-$25) drop in triggers, and a decent optic something like a 3x red dot from someone like Vortex or Primary Arms.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by ncjw » Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:16 pm

Building is the most fun but I only did it after I bought my first (Bushmaster 24" Varminter - still a ragged hole shooter 18 years later).

In my next life I'd build one high quality lower and just add or build uppers. Even a big safe can get pretty full with complete AR's.

I have been a Giessele trigger snob but they are ridiculously expensive. I have heard a lot about LaRue and may try them next. A good trigger makes all of the difference. (I will never use a Rise trigger again, it has a habit of double tapping). I've shot the Echo trigger, it's a gimmick.

I have a 10.5" "pistol" and frankly haven't used it much. It isn't that much lighter or handier than a 16" carbine.

A friend had a HoneyBadger suppressed blackout and yes, it was great to shoot. But maintaining new ammo, mags and uppers will be a pain. I like my Grendels but I wouldn't do that again due to the same problem. Let a friend buy the AR variants like the Blackout, Grendel and Valkarye and trade him some ammo for trigger time. There isn't much a 223 from 40gr to 77gr and a 6.5 Creedmoor from 120gr to 140gr can't do.

As above, for now a decent red dot or 1x6 is all you need (I'd go 1x6). Your future uppers built for long range will need the expensive glass later.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by RWIG » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:05 pm

So far, these have been great comments. My brother said the same thing about the Fostech trigger, but I thought it would be fun to play with. I think I will hold off on that until I am reloading regularly.

I was originally going to build an AR, but as you can see by reading this thread, the two camps are buy one first and learn about it and get comfortable with them first, while the other side says build it so you learn everything about it from the ground up. If I get my new work area set up before I buy an AR, then I will probably go the build rout, but if I get ready to pull the trigger and get an AR before my workbench, then I will buy one already assembled. I do think I am going to go the PSA rout either way. I have been very happy to see the direction the company is going bringing more of the part manufacturing and fabrication in-house, and improving their customer service.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by Zardos » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:30 pm

I have heard nothing but praise for the M&P sport 2. Same about PSA. AT3 makes some good budget red dots.
Last edited by Zardos on Thu Feb 13, 2020 6:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by TL1000RSquid » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:51 pm

RWIG wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:05 pm
So far, these have been great comments. My brother said the same thing about the Fostech trigger, but I thought it would be fun to play with. I think I will hold off on that until I am reloading regularly.

I was originally going to build an AR, but as you can see by reading this thread, the two camps are buy one first and learn about it and get comfortable with them first, while the other side says build it so you learn everything about it from the ground up. If I get my new work area set up before I buy an AR, then I will probably go the build rout, but if I get ready to pull the trigger and get an AR before my workbench, then I will buy one already assembled. I do think I am going to go the PSA rout either way. I have been very happy to see the direction the company is going bringing more of the part manufacturing and fabrication in-house, and improving their customer service.
Building is rewarding but if you dont have the tools yet nothing wrong with a nice entry level and upgrading stuff later. My first AR was an A2 Bushmaster, sold the upper years ago but the lower is still my most used lower though only OEM parts in it are mag and bolt releases. Make sure you get a decent armorers wrench and vice block for uppers.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by RWIG » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:56 pm

TL1000RSquid wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:51 pm
Building is rewarding but if you dont have the tools yet nothing wrong with a nice entry level and upgrading stuff later. My first AR was an A2 Bushmaster, sold the upper years ago but the lower is still my most used lower though only OEM parts in it are mag and bolt releases. Make sure you get a decent armorers wrench and vice block for uppers.
I will purchase the proper tools whether I build or buy an assembled weapon. Wouldn't make sense to operate an AR without the tools to keep it serviced.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by gunn » Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:46 pm

AR's are like Lays potato chips. But one caliber you should look at is the 6.5 Grendel. I shoot mine out past 800 yards. They can be had for less than $800.00 with a stainless bull 20" barrel. If I could post a picture I would post mine.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by colonel00 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 11:42 pm

RWIG wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:05 pm
So far, these have been great comments. My brother said the same thing about the Fostech trigger, but I thought it would be fun to play with. I think I will hold off on that until I am reloading regularly.

I was originally going to build an AR, but as you can see by reading this thread, the two camps are buy one first and learn about it and get comfortable with them first, while the other side says build it so you learn everything about it from the ground up. If I get my new work area set up before I buy an AR, then I will probably go the build rout, but if I get ready to pull the trigger and get an AR before my workbench, then I will buy one already assembled. I do think I am going to go the PSA rout either way. I have been very happy to see the direction the company is going bringing more of the part manufacturing and fabrication in-house, and improving their customer service.
Building a lower is easy. All you'll need is some roll pin punches, roll pin holders/starters and an armorer's wrench (more or less). I put my first lower together on the couch. The hardest part is getting the spring and detent in for the pivot pin and getting the roll pin in for the bolt catch. Armorer's wrench is needed to tighten the castle nut.

Building an upper is where you start to really need some special tools like an upper receiver vice or a "reaction rod" is a better option. I have a rod from Real Avid which is a bit cheaper than the Geissele version. Get a Magpul BevBlok or something similar. You'll also need a torque wrench and other tools. It isn't rocket science but I would recommend sticking with assempled uppers until you are ready to really dive in.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by RWIG » Wed Feb 12, 2020 7:45 am

gunn wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:46 pm
AR's are like Lays potato chips. But one caliber you should look at is the 6.5 Grendel. I shoot mine out past 800 yards. They can be had for less than $800.00 with a stainless bull 20" barrel. If I could post a picture I would post mine.
That sound like fun, but for now that is probably a bit overkill for me. I currently do 100% of my shooting in an indoor 25 yard range. Hopefully this spring, I will start visiting the State owned outdoor ranges around me to do more outside shooting at longer distances. I would love to say I can hit targets a 1/2 mile away, but for starters I would be happy just being able to his targets 100 yards away :-D
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by ncjw » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:00 pm

gunn wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:46 pm
AR's are like Lays potato chips. But one caliber you should look at is the 6.5 Grendel. I shoot mine out past 800 yards. They can be had for less than $800.00 with a stainless bull 20" barrel. If I could post a picture I would post mine.
Keep in mind that I have two Grendels and the 24" one is arguably the most accurate gun that I own. That being said, factory ammo is expensive (I don't shoot steel case ammo) and you need special mags that can be finicky. I guess at this point I am trying to simplify things and if I was to start over I'd go with just a 223 and 6.5 Creedmoor.

OTOH, if all you want is one, Wolf ammo is as cheap as 223 for plinking and you hunt anything in the lower 48 with (expensive) hunting ammo and it will be at least as accurate per dollar as any 223 or Creedmoor, so it is a theoretically all around winner.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by ncjw » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:05 pm

Another quandary is the flash hider vs muzzle break. Muzzle breaks work great, they can eliminate pretty much all recoil and get you back on target quickly but if you are shooting indoor or close to anyone else, they are loud as hell to your neighbors.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by LT USN (Ret.) » Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:44 pm

Check YouTube for videos of using, or not using, a flash hider. It a dramatic difference. Enough of a difference that I removed my muzzle brake and put the flash under back on.
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by ncjw » Wed Feb 12, 2020 1:13 pm

Edit to the above: If you are mostly indoor, almost all of them prohibit steel cases, so the economics of the Grendel are out the window.

(Turns out that the ranges cover a great deal of their costs by selling used brass off of the floor and lead from the backstop.)
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Re: Looking To Buy My First AR 15

Post by gunn » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:40 pm

ncjw wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 12:00 pm
gunn wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 10:46 pm
AR's are like Lays potato chips. But one caliber you should look at is the 6.5 Grendel. I shoot mine out past 800 yards. They can be had for less than $800.00 with a stainless bull 20" barrel. If I could post a picture I would post mine.
Keep in mind that I have two Grendels and the 24" one is arguably the most accurate gun that I own. That being said, factory ammo is expensive (I don't shoot steel case ammo) and you need special mags that can be finicky. I guess at this point I am trying to simplify things and if I was to start over I'd go with just a 223 and 6.5 Creedmoor.

OTOH, if all you want is one, Wolf ammo is as cheap as 223 for plinking and you hunt anything in the lower 48 with (expensive) hunting ammo and it will be at least as accurate per dollar as any 223 or Creedmoor, so it is a theoretically all around winner.
I handload for all my firearms. Especially my Grendel. When shooting at great distances hand loading is almost a must. As for the Creedmoor I own one and wish I did not. IMHO
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