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You Cant Take The Sky From Me
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Ok, so at the advice of membership, I decided to sit down and address some of the most frequently posted AR15 questions on here. Unless specifically addressed otherwise, I am referring to FEDERAL regulations. It is important to understand that different states have different laws with regard to magazine capacity, weapon configuration, and possession of NFA items such as machine guns, short barreled rifles and suppressors. I am not a lawyer, I am not providing legal advice, and YOU are responsible for complying with all applicable state and local laws. A wall of text on an internet forum will not stand up well in court. Enjoy your time in state PMITA prison if you disregard this.

1. "I want an AR, which one should I get?"

This is like saying "I want a car, which one should I get?" Without amplifying information, it is nearly impossible to provide a good answer to this question due to the dizzying variety of options out there for an AR. Aside from the basic operating system, just about EVERYTHING on an AR can be customized to fit the desires of the user, and tailored to the application the user seeks. The first thing an AR buyer should identify is what they intend to do with the rifle. To me caliber is the first important decision you need to make, and it's based on what you intend to do with the rifle. If you are just looking for a fun range blaster, consider a rifle in 22LR. Ammo is abundant and dirt cheap, and they're a LOT of fun to shoot. You can shoot 22LR all day for the cost of one mag full of 223. If you want a rifle that is good for home defense get a 223 rifle. Despite what some people may say, 223 is a VERY effective human killer. Aside from 22LR, 223 will be your next most abundant and cheap round to chamber your rifle in. If you intend on hunting, look into a larger caliber such as 6.8SPC. Many states require a round larger than 22 caliber, and 6.8 meets this requirement, while also being a great all around caliber in terms of parts availability. There are a TON of other calibers out there, and if you desire something different, do some research on the specific caliber to figure out if it's right for you.

2. "What's "pre-ban and post ban" mean?"

There is no ban anymore (federally, some states have different laws, so it's VERY important you know what is and is not legal in your state). Most state bans mirror the expired federal ban and address specific cosmetic features of the rifle. The federal ban in a nutshell restricted rifles from having more than three features on any semiautomatic rifle. The features were a collapsible stock, pistol grip, bayonet lug, barrel shroud, threaded barrel and detachable magazine. Most "post ban" AR15s will feature a pistol grip and detachable magazine, but will have a fixed stock, either an A2 buttstock or a collapsible stock that has been pinned in the extended position. Post ban rifles will also have either an unthreaded barrel, or a barrel that has a flash hider that has been permanently attached via a welded pin. The front sight base will have the bayonet lug removed. Unless you are in a ban state, I would strongly suggest avoiding such rifles as they are much harder to work with. Removing the flash hider on these rifles involves cutting the weld and it is very difficult to do so without damaging the barrel. You have to remove the flash hider to get the front sight base off, and you have to get the front sight base off to remove the barrel nut. This means that you can not put on a folding front sight or a free float handguard tube.

3. "I want an M4, not an AR15"


I understand this is a statement not a question, but it's very common. "AR15" is a trademarked Colt brand name that they've had ever since they bought the design rights from Armalite way back in the day, but the general term "AR15" basically addresses all semiautomatic rifles configured to look an function similarly to the military M16. Since Colt owns the brand name, you will see other brands use a different branding that ends in 15, such as the Stag-15 or M&P15. The M16 is a machine gun, whereas the AR15 is a semiautomatic rifle. The same holds true for the M4. The M4 is a machine gun. If you desire an M4 style rifle, you will be purchasing an AR15 configured to look similar to the military M4.

4. "Can I own an M16?"

Yes, but it will have to have been REGISTERED prior to May of 1986. Since the M16 is a machine gun it is regulated under the National Firearms Act. If you want to buy an M16, you will need to submit a tax paid transfer form (ATF Form 4) along with a fingerprint card, a statement of compliance and a check for a $200 transfer tax. This must be APPROVED before you can take possession of the rifle. An M16 will cost anywhere from $10,000 and up, depending on what the seller wants for the specific rifle he is selling.

5. Can I make my rifle into a machine gun?

Not if you value the sanctity of your butthole. As I stated before, the ONLY way to obtain a legal machine gun is to get one that was registered prior to May 1986. This includes devices that convert a semiautomatic rifle to function fully automatically such as a Lightning Link or Drop In Auto Sear. Modifying your semiautomatic rifle to function automatically is a federal crime. There are cases where even malfunctioning rifles have been treated as machine guns (and the owners prosecuted for possession of them) so cleverly modifying your rifle to fire in bursts will not protect you in court when you try to say it was just broken. Generally speaking, it is not that simple to modify an AR15 to safely fire automatically either. Gun show bullshit such as "just file the XXX" will at best produce a rifle that slam fires unpredictably, and at worst renders a safe and reliable weapon into being a dangerous explosion waiting to happen.

6. Is an AR15 easy to build?

The AR15 is probably the simplest rifle to build on the planet. Parts are abundant and relatively cheap, and anyone with a bit of mechanical understanding can assemble one from a kit in under an hour. Kits are available from many places such as J&T distributing, Model1Sales, Del-Ton and others. A kit will contain everything you need to assemble the rifle with the exception of the stripped lower receiver. The lower receiver is what the ATF considers to be the firearm, and that must be shipped to a gun shop. The process for this is the same as any other gun purchase-- give money, do paperwork, get NICS checked, leave with gun. All other parts can be shipped directly to you.

7. "What tools do I need to build an AR15"

To assemble the stripped lower you won't need much. I would recommend a set of punches, a set of needle nose pliers, and a flat head screwdriver. You may need a different screwdriver or allen wrench depending on what kind of screw is used to attach the pistol grip, but that's about it. One other thing you will need is a castle nut wrench if you're going to be using a carbine stock. An upper is a bit more challenging, and will require a receiver block and a barrel nut wrench in addition to the punches you need for the lower. You may also need a strap wrench if you're installing a free float handguard tube. All tools can be purchased from Brownells or MidwayUSA.

8. "What optic should I get?"

This is another big "what do you intend to do with it?" type question. For short range shooting or home defense I would recommend an EOtech or Aimpoint. For long range shooting I would recommend a conventional rifle scope. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR, ESPECIALLY WITH THE ELECTRONIC SIGHTS! Aside from the rifle itself, the optic is the most important part of the build, and this is NOT the place to cheap out. Expect to pay ~$400 for a quality optic. You WILL be disappointed with the $50-200 Chinese junk. If you can not afford a quality optic, I would strongly recommend that you stick to iron sights while you grow your budget. You will be a better shooter anyway. You can't buy marksmanship skill.

9. "What should I pay?"

You can build a base model AR15 for under $700. Expect to pay $100 for the stripped receiver, $450 for the assembled upper with bolt and carrier, and another $75 or so for a lower parts kit and stock. Additional upgrades will raise the price of the rifle in accordance to the cost for the upgrade. Don't pay more than $20 for a mag.

10. "What is a good rifle?"

Despite what many people will tell you, most AR15s are very comparable in terms of quality. Despite the literally HUNDREDS of companies selling their brand AR15 receiver, there are only a handful of companies that actually manufacture them. LMT, CMT, LAR and Aero account for probably 90% of all receivers out there, to include big names such as Colt, Armalite, DPMS, Stag and others. All receivers from these companies can be considered to be of equivalent quality and are all made to the same spec. If you're serious about finding out who really made your AR, do a bit of googling and figure it out, but it's safe to say you won't go wrong buying from just about any major manufacturer. It will come down to what brand name you want on the side, and what features you want to buy.

11. "Where can I buy parts?"

The two best places I've found for parts are Brownells and MidwayUSA. Their prices are comparable, and their service is top notch. You can't go wrong with either of them, and I would check them first before going elsewhere.


Ok, I'm spent for now. Ask more questions and I'll post up my biased opinions on them, but I think I covered most of the questions that are asked on here ad-nauseum.
 

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This is an official sticky, keep all replies to information only or they'll disappear. Thanks Napoleon
 

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.223 or 5.56 chamber?

When building or buying your AR, you often get to choose a chamber. .223 Remington is the SAAMI spec-d commercial equivalent to the 5.56x45mm NATO round. These two chamber specs are essentially identical except for leade or throat chambering. This is the unrifled part of the rifle bore at the front of the chamber where the bullet itself resides prior to firing. 5.56 chamber is slightly more generous than .223, allowing a slightly fatter bullet to reside there without contacting the rifling.

So what, you say? .223 is better for optimal accuracy as the fired bullet doesn't have to "jump" so far to the rifling, however a 5.56 round may contact the rifling in a .223 chamber, which could lead to a pulled bullet, powdery mess, & potential danger if you attempt to eject an unfired round. A 5.56 chamber should shoot any .223 or 5.56 ammo you feed it without drama, & the loss of accuracy from the bullet "jump" to the rifling is probably theoretical for 99.8% of us.

There are chamberings such as Wylde chamber that split the difference & are supposed to be good for both types. Sounds good, however I have no experience with these chambers.

My recommendation? Get the 5.56 chamber which will allow you to use both WalMart ammo & battlefield pickup ammo to kill those pesky zombies after the SHTF. You know that's what you really got the AR for in the first place, right?

:) :bomb:
 

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barrel twist

In the beginning, M16s were designed with a 1/12 barrel twist. That means the barrel rifling made one complete revolution in 12". This barely stabilized lightweight bullets, & it took very little to get them tumbling, which seemed to be a good thing from a carnage perspective when you're working with a 22 caliber FMJ bullet.

1/12 wasn't guite good enough from an accuracy perspective to stabilize 52-55 grain bullets, so the military increased the twist rate to 1/9. This twist rate is great for 55 grain bullets, & still decent for heavier 62 grain bullets. If you wanna accurately push 68 & 75 grain bullets however, faster twist like 1/8 or even 1/7 is helpful. As for the downside, I haven't seen any. My 1/7 twist M4gery shoots very respectable 200 yd groups (longest range available to me) with 55 grain ammo.

My recommendation: given the choice, go for faster twist (1/8 or even 1/7) barrels. This applies to .223 or 5.56 caliber ammo ONLY; different calibers have their own sweet spots & you should do your own research.

NOTE: If I misstate anything here or anywhere else, please let me know & I'll fix it. I know some of you guys know much more about these things than I do.
 

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trigger upgrade

A plain jane AR15 comes with a single stage trigger. Usually a creepy, heavy single stage trigger, but very functional & reliable.

Not taking the operator into consideration, the two best accuracy enhancers you can apply to almost any rifle are (1) improve the trigger, & (2) bed the stock. Bedding the stock doesn't apply to an AR15, though a free floating front handgrip is kindasorta the same thing (only different :dunno:). Anyway, a better trigger will enable you to shoot smaller groups as you'll be able to focus more on the target & less on pulling the trigger. A "good" trigger has a reasonably light pull weight with lttle to no creep. You don't want too light of a trigger however; it's gotta have enough resistance to be safe. Unintended discharge is a bad thing.

There are lots of choices for better AR15 triggers. You can have a gunsmith do a trigger job on the standard trigger to lighten it up some & clean up the trigger break. You can get all kinds of single stage or two stage aftermarket triggers. Some ARs or assembled lowers (like many RRAs) quite often come with a two stage trigger.

I've dropped RRA two stage triggers in all of my ARs. I'm sure there are even better triggers available; & I know there are more expensive triggers available. The RRA two stage works good for me.

:)
 

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You Cant Take The Sky From Me
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Discussion Starter #7
barrel twist
The trade off with barrel twist is velocity and accuracy. A greater twist will increase your chamber pressure of a given round due to the necessity of the bullet to turn more revolutions per given barrel length. Since the powder charge remains the same, chamber pressure is increased since the distance between the bullet and case increases more slowly than on a slower twist barrel. This is not as big of a deal on 223/5.56 chambers, but is HUGE in the 6.8 world. Older 6.8 rifles had a 1:10 twist, whiler newer ones with the SPCII chamber have a 1:11+ twist. The faster twist is not necessary to stabilize the .277" bullet, therefore the slower twist allows for higher powder charges while remaining within the chamber pressure limitations.
 

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Ridin' Dirteh....
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voted, 'a dick.'
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off the wall AR15 question:

keeping .223/5.56 stored in one of your magazines... i have some magpul pmags (30rd) and i have one halfway loaded in case i need to chamber one lickity split. i know it's going to degrade the spring over time, but generally - is it ok to keep the mags loaded up?
 

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You Cant Take The Sky From Me
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Discussion Starter #10
off the wall AR15 question:

keeping .223/5.56 stored in one of your magazines... i have some magpul pmags (30rd) and i have one halfway loaded in case i need to chamber one lickity split. i know it's going to degrade the spring over time, but generally - is it ok to keep the mags loaded up?
Most magazines (including Pmags) are made with chrome silicone springs. The way those work is they will take an initial set when they are loaded the first few times, and after that additional reduction in power is minimal. Furthermore, with CS springs it's not compression that weakens them, it's cycling. What that means is that you can keep mags loaded for decades and not see a notable reduction in spring power; however, you can wear them out through excessive use, though I'm talking thousands of cycles here. Even with the old stainless springs they could be loaded for a LONG time. There are anecdotal stories of mags that were loaded for Vietnam being used decades later with no ill effects. Bottom line: you're good to go.
 

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Blue. What? Ble...Bluuuuuuue.
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When I was researching sub $1000 AR-15's on AR15.com 90% of the guys on there recommended Spikes Tactical over EVERYTHING. $800 for a highly praised rifle doesn't seem too bad.

I've since lost interest but I figured I'd thrown the company out there and maybe some of the more knowledgeable folks can chime in regarding them.

http://www.spikestactical.com/new/z/complete-rifles-c-113.html
 

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This is an official sticky, keep all replies to information only or they'll disappear. Thanks Napoleon
Please remember.
 

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So what are the "must have" upgrades on a basic AR?

I know that the trigger is a biggie along with a good stock/grip, but what other things would you suggest? If you could recommend specific brands to check out that would be of great help as well.

Also, would an ACOG 4x32 be a waste on a entry level AR?

Thanks!
 

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You Cant Take The Sky From Me
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Discussion Starter #14
So what are the "must have" upgrades on a basic AR?

I know that the trigger is a biggie along with a good stock/grip, but what other things would you suggest? If you could recommend specific brands to check out that would be of great help as well.

Also, would an ACOG 4x32 be a waste on a entry level AR?

Thanks!
What are you looking to do with the rifle? If it's just a range blaster spend your money on mags and ammo. Just about every ARs come off the shelf more than capable of reliable, fun and safe use no matter what manufacturer it's from.

If you shoot it enough the rifle will tell you what it needs. If the stock could be more comfortable for you, upgrade the stock. If you find yourself losing grip on it, get a new grip. I see a lot of guys buy an AR, then immediately buy a quad rail handguard for it, and put nothing on the handguard, or nothing useful for that matter.

My point is, don't be in such a hurry to spend more money on the gun you already spent decent money on. Get out there and shoot it.

With regard to the ACOG (I'm talking REAL ones, not the chinese fakes) are quite possibly the best tactical scope on the market. It's not something you need to get for the kind of rifle you described. Again, spend your money to get used to the rifle and have some fun.
 

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Yeah, no quad rail going on either. I am just looking for functional items that will make the rifles better to shoot on the range, and once in a while (small) hog hunting.
 

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Too good to be true?????

You can build and all new AR-15 for 550 bucks now?

Every few years I go through these bouts of wanting to build an AR plinker.

Del-Ton 16 inch kit for 470. Stripped lower for 70-80 bucks.

What am I missing.

I know it wouldn't be the fanciest thing out there.
 

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Does the kit include the lower parts kit?
 

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Copied from............

16" rifle kit comes with everything needed to complete a stripped lower receiver.
Includes fully assembled, headspaced and test fired upper receiver, lower parts kit and buttstock.
Rifle kit does not include stripped lower receiver or magazines.
 

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A couple vids for the DIY guys out there. Probably posted before somewhere.


 

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So just a general question from what I read. An M16 is a machine gun? Why is that? Coming from the Military we always referred to the M16/M4 as a semi-automatic rifle with the ability to do a 3 round burst. Even the M4A1 is called a semi-automatic rifle with a full auto feature, which I used for 5 years. I guess the ATF/Government just wants that feature illegal so they consider it a machine gun. But I always considered a machine something like a 249/240 or M2....something that keeps firing until you let off the trigger.

Anyways, I just find that kinda interesting might need to do my own research instead of wasting space on here.
 
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