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Old 12-26-2011, 21:10   #1
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Question Of all the companies that make Ar 15's, which are the good, bad, and the ugly?

I was just looking at Cheaper than dirt's website, and I was amazed at the number of Ar15's for sale there. There are several hundred of them, made by a bunch of different companies that have been around far at least a little while.

They include: DPMS, Bushmaster, Rock River Arms, Stag Arms, Armalite(the original), Colt, DS, Olympic, CMMG, Del ton, Smith & Wesson, Windham, Double Star, Remington, Ruger, Bravo, Anderson Defense, Sabre, Daniel Defense, Adcor Defense, LWRC, Barrett, Knight's Armament and Wilson Combat.

Wow! That's a list.....

So anyway, there are 2 questions:

1. Which of these companies are the best, the mid grade, and lastly the ones with not so good ratings? Now, I'd imagine that the Wilson Combat, Knights Armament, and Barrett are at the top of the list(supposedly), but of the rest of the above companies that make many AR's at more reasonable prices, which are the good, bad and the ugly?

2. Looking at that list, it's sometimes obvious why one AR costs more than another, such as one may be a heavy barrel semi-custom target model vs. a standard sport model, but in most cases, the differences aren't so obvious. There are countless AR's there that seem to be almost identical for the most part, but one will cost $300-$500-$1000 more than the next. Some times there are AR's made by the same company that are almost identical, but one costs $400 more. What dictates the often huge price difference in models that seem so similar?
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Old 12-26-2011, 22:06   #2
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Unless I'm mistaken, Eugene Stoner designed the AR15 while working for Armalite but, they never put it into production. Pretty sure they sold the design to Colt in 1959 and Colt was the original manufacturer. Every one who answers will likely give you a different answer as far as who makes the best but, I would have to say Colt would be the number one. When you get down to it, most of the companies you listed are not manufacturers at all. They are just assemblers. They have parts made for them with their name stamped on it and then they assemble and sell them under their name. Some people talk bad about Bushmaster even though from what I have read, they are the number one seller of AR15 style rifles. I know that Daniel Defense, Bravo Company, Wilson Combat, Barrett, Noveske, etc. make very high quality weapons but, at a pretty good price. I would personally say for the mid range price, the best is probably going to be Colt, followed closely by Bushmaster. I am sure that there will be plenty to follow who will tell you I'm out of my mind but that's ok. You know what they say about opinions.

Last edited by woodstock; 04-23-2012 at 06:18.
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Old 12-26-2011, 23:24   #3
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Some of the price differences is in the name of the manufacturer alone, however there are differences in the quality control and part testing between different manufactures. Some of the companies you named try to manufacture their rifles at least to a minimum military spec. level, if that is important to you, while some deviate from the mil spec requirements.

Some brands will magnetic particle test their bolts, some only do it in batches and others might not do it at all. Certain brands will come standard with heavier full auto bolt carriers, while others will have only lighter semi-auto bolt carriers. Some manufacturers offer chromed lined barrels with 1 in 7 twist rifling standard, and others will have 1 in 9 twist nonchromed barrels as their standard offering. Some companies will have heavier springs and specific types of inserts (usually identified by color) or o-rings on their extractors, while some will use the non-milspec inserts and no o-ring on their extractor. Some brands may not stake the screws on the bolt carrier, or the nut on the buffer tube extension. Some brands will have M4 feed ramps cut in the barrel extensions, some might not have any and some may have them as an afterthought. Some manfacturers may even have slightly different specs on their mag wells which will cause some problems with insertion and removal of certain brands of magazines. To sum it up, while most AR's look alike they are not always alike upon further inspection and research.

If one rifle is worth $300 to $1,000 difference is really up to you and your intended use for it. Is being mil-spec important to you, or can you live without certain mil-spec features or warranties. There are certain brands I would not be willing to pay over $600 for and probably wouldn't, while there are others that I might be glad to pay $1,000 or more for. Do your research before you buy, and you will more than likely be happier with what you wind up with.
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Old 12-27-2011, 00:02   #4
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There is a couple of charts floating around on AR15.com that can help with your research, but they aren't the be all/end all of AR gospel. Colt seems to be the standard that all others are compared to, but I have repeatedly seen good things reported about Daniel Defense and Bravo Company AR's.

Many manufacturers use the same OEM for parts such as upper receivers, lowers, ect., just check the forge marks on different brands, you will be suprised. However, some brands will have a better finish than others, even with parts coming from the same OEM.

I have personal experience with complete Smith & Wesson, Rock River, and DPMS AR's. I have a Bushmaster M4 profile upper with a 16 inch chromed barrel that has proved to be very accurate and reliable. While DPMS rifles can be quite good, the two examples I have had did not have the nut on the receiver extension tube staked and it would work loose while shooting, however this was no problem after tightening and staking, but I shouldn't have had to do that. Additionally, DPMS in my experience tends to have tight mag wells whcih wouldn't work well with certain types of Magpul mags (the older nonwindowed ones would literally get stuck and required a great deal of force to remove if you could even seat them in the first place). While the S&W MP series rifles have more mil-spec parts than Rock Rivers, I have no complaints with either brand and found them to be reliable after several hundred rounds.

Personally, I would consider Olympic, Double Star, DPMS, and Delton to be lower tier rifles, while S&W, Stag, Armalite and Busmaster (maybe even CMMG and Rock River) mid-tier rifles (giving a slight edge to S&W due to more mil-spec parts). Upper tier rifles would definately include Colt, Daniel Defense, Bravo, Noveske and probably some others in no particular order. It is almost like do you want a Chevy, Ford or Dodge in a custom edition or do you want all the extras. Does this make one brand good or bad? That is a question you got to answer for yourself after your research.
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Old 12-28-2011, 11:19   #5
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I have built numerious AR's with most of the named manufactures parts and I can highly recommend RRA, DPMS and Colt. On the low end would be Olympic. It seems that Olympic's parts work but they like to cut corners. One example would be no chrome inside their bolt carrier.

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Old 12-29-2011, 13:05   #6
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I'd add Palmetto State Armory to your list. Good product at a reasonable price and great customer service. Great ammo deals too.
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Old 12-29-2011, 16:10   #7
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You need to decide what purpose the rifle will have.
The upper end will give you combat reliability. The lower range will give you a range rifle.
The in between will serve you as exactly what it is. Parts such as BCG's can be up graded. Same with barrels. That is the heart of an AR.
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Old 12-29-2011, 23:56   #8
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I have Boresnakes for all my guns from .22 to .50 and 12 ga. I usually use them in the field and use more conventional methods when I have more time to clean.

Do you see any fraying or bulges in the 'snake? They can tear and "run" like a fabric run and create a bulge. It might be hard to find though, because they can also get pulled back into a fairly normal. shape. A close inspection might reveal some damage. It's pretty strange that it got that stuck!
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Old 12-30-2011, 22:49   #9
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Originally Posted by NorthernSoutherner View Post

They include:
High end: Daniel Defense, Bravo, Colt, Sabre, Wilson Combat, Barrett, Ruger, Knight's Armament

Mid Range: CMMG, Rock River Arms, Stag Arms, Smith & Wesson, Armalite, Anderson Defense, Adcor Defense, LWRC, DS


Low end: DPMS, Bushmaster, Olympic, Del ton, , Windham, Double Star, Remington
There you go, spelled it out for you!

My opinion of the best options are in bold.
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Old 01-02-2012, 02:37   #10
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good bad ulgy

I agree this is more a personal matter to me .Ive had 2 colts 2 bushmasters 1 dpms 1s&w I'll take either of my Bushmasters anyday then the colts and then whatevers left. I've never had problems with either of my Bushmasters, my colts gave me fits with mags both of them. but I'm ok with the s&w to sofar.my dpms was used so I don't think its fare to compare it to the new ones heads up but its not a bad gun.
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Old 01-02-2012, 12:59   #11
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I think this is an informative thread:
So you want to buy an AR-15, huh?

CMMG is the author's pick of the pack but, more importantly, the author evaluates many features in detail.

It's my go-to online resource when someone asks me which AR to buy.

-Cal
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Old 01-02-2012, 14:15   #12
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It is a good article, I have read it before. It is a little outdated when it comes to some specific models since it is 4 years old but it is still correct in general.
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Old 01-02-2012, 19:45   #13
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Originally Posted by woodstock View Post
.
I agree. Bushmaster is not only the number one selling AR. It is as good or better than any of those I used while in the military. Anyone who believes they are at the bottom of the list hasn't done their research or has never owned one.
Just because something is a number one seller doesn't necessarily mean there is not room for improvement, marketing comes in to play as well. But with that said, I listed Bushmaster in the mid teir soley because they have some parts that are not mil-spec (commercial size receiver extension tube, and barrel may or may not be parkerized under the front sight post) and most of the quality and quality control discussions about AR's tend to stress this minimum standard, whether correct or not. The mil-spec issue may or may not be a big deal to some, to others it is the primary denominator of an AR. I have a Bushmaster 16 inch M4 upper and it holds just as tight or tighter groups than my S&W, Rock River or DPMS rifles.

Whether a rifle has a commerical sized reciever extension tube or mil-spec size may not be a big deal to some, but the mil spec extension tubes do allow you a somewhat greater choice in buttstocks. In fairness the Rock Rivers also have commercial extension tubes as well.

As for comparing AR's to service rifles, how many times had the miltary rifles already been issued, and how many rounds through them, before you got your hands on them? Probably quite a few, unless you were fortunate enough to have gotten new weapon assigned to you. I'm sure the military is like most other organizations, there were probably some unit armorers that were commited to maintian the weapons in an exceptional manner, while others may not have been as liberal with replacing worn parts, for whatever reason.

I would not hesitate to defend myself with a S&W, Bushmaster or Rock River rifle right out of the box if I had to. These three should all be equally good to go out of the box. I would have some hesitation to do the same with a DPMS, but they can be turned into a good rifle. I do think that DPMS has a little better quality control on their.308/7.62 rifles than they do on their .223/5.56 rifles. Most of the brands mentioned in the original post put out good products, some may just take a short cut here or there to get it to market a little cheaper, it is all up to the end user to determine if that is good or bad thing. Just for example: It may or may not be important to people if the rifle manufacturer magnetic particle tested every bolt they produced, only batch tested them, or did no such test at all.

Last edited by TJohn; 01-02-2012 at 20:16.
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Old 01-03-2012, 14:32   #14
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Best: Colt, Daniel Defense, LMT, Noveske, BCM, Barrett, Ruger

Mid Range: Smith & Wesson, RRA, Spike's Tactical,

Lower end: DPMS, Bushmaster, Armalite,

There are TONS of manufactures out there. These are just some I could think of off the top of my head.

Right now you can get a Colt 6920 for around $950 right now. I just ordered a Daniel Defense M4 V1 from my local dealer for $1150. With prices like that for real GOOD AR's why would anyone buy a Bushmaster for $850 for the ORC? Or even $750 for a DPMS ORC with a pencil barrel?
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Old 01-03-2012, 14:58   #15
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Going by the article linked to above and this: https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?...=5&output=html (which is even more informative) the Bushmaster meets all the criteria with the exception of parkerizing under the sight base and it does have the commercial receiver extension and not the Milspec. Also the reciever extension castle nut is loctited and not staked. It has a 4150 chrome lined barrel in M4 Government profile, 5.56 Nato chambered, Magnetic particle tested, M-4 feed ramps, shrouded firing pin, properly staked gas key and tapered pin front sight base. To say the Bushmaster is bottom tier is ridiculous. It may have been at one time back when it was just them and Colt in the running. They have been making AR style weapons for nearly 40 years, I don't think they would have lasted that long if they were the bottom of the barrel. The only company that I know of that has made them longer is Colt.

While I am on the subject, just because Remingtion, DPMS Panther, and Bushmaster are all owned by the same holding company does not in any way suggest that they all make the same product. They are still individual companies after all. That would be like comparing Fox news to the Wall St. Journal.

I would personally say for the mid range price, the best is probably going to be Colt, followed closely by Bushmaster.
TJohn, if you noticed, I said Bushmaster was mid tier as well. I just said later that it was as good as any I had used in the military and you were correct, all the ones I used in the military were not new, and they were not all Colts either. I never said it was a top tier weapon but it certainly isn't bottom tier as some like to suggest and it is every bit as good if not better than the S&W M&P 15.

Last edited by woodstock; 01-03-2012 at 20:49.
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Old 01-05-2012, 09:53   #16
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My bad anyway Woodstock, I wasn't really meaning to disagree any, BM is good stuff. I had reread my earlier post and Cole125's fixing of Northern Southerner's post had a little different listing than I had listed in my post and I got confused, lol. I would be equally happy and am, with my S&W, Bushmaster upper/S&W lower, and complete Rock River. I would give a slight edge to the S&W and Bushmaster as both come standard with chrome barrel on certain models. The one downside to RR in my view is the chrome lined barrel is not standard, maybe not such a big deal but I line the chromed barrels and chambers.

Last edited by TJohn; 01-05-2012 at 12:19.
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Old 01-05-2012, 11:26   #17
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No problem TJohn, I wasn't really disagreeing with you either. I just keep hearing different people saying that the Bushmaster is inferior quality and I just don't understand where they get their information from or how they formed such an opinion. It is really annoying to see someone on a forum putting down a certain brand that they obviously don't know anything about and talk a potential buyer out of what may have been exactly the gun they were looking for but, these internet myths get started, people believe them and then spread the mis-information as if it were the truth.
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Old 01-05-2012, 12:15   #18
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Originally Posted by woodstock View Post
... It is really annoying to see someone on a forum putting down a certain brand that they obviously don't know anything about and talk a potential buyer out of what may have been exactly the gun they were looking for but, these internet myths get started, people believe them and then spread the mis-information as if it were the truth.
So true, if I had believed everything I read on the "error net" I would have never bought a "crap where it eats/jamming AR15" or "can't hit the side of a barn standing in the barn Mini 14". My experience with both have been good.

The Mini 14 (mine is a heavier barrel one) has proved to be decently accurate and not bad about stringing even when heated up. I haven't experienced a single jam in any of my AR's due to dirt. I have had a blown primer with some Fiocchi ammo in my DPMS .308 AR, where the blown primer wound up on the gas tube and locked up the action, but I think that was more of an ammo problem, which will eventially happen anyways if you shoot enough. Contrary to popular belief, a good AR will run if it is lubed, despite being dirty. Sure an AR might be more somewhat more susceptable to stoppages if dirty enough due to tighter tolerances, but if that friction is reduced it will continue to work, just like an oiled saw blade will cut better than a dry one. Even an oiled AK or Mini will work smoother than trying to run them dry.
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Old 04-22-2012, 22:34   #19
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I want to buy ar 15 lower receiver for my new model. What’s good ar 15 stripped upper and lower receiver under 750$. I want upper and lower from the same manufacture as I don’t want to bear on liability issues.

ar 15 manufacturers
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:23   #20
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Originally Posted by dereklander19982 View Post
I want to buy ar 15 lower receiver for my new model. What’s good ar 15 stripped upper and lower receiver under 750$. I want upper and lower from the same manufacture as I don’t want to bear on liability issues.

ar 15 manufacturers
I would go with Palmetto State Armory. I used them for my last build and had no problems. Stripped upper and lower is more like $180 for both. $750 will buy many completed rifles.
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index...r15-lower.html
http://palmettostatearmory.com/index...-receiver.html
Or go with Aero Precision from Surplus Ammo: http://www.surplusammo.com/surplus-a...-receiver-set/
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:01   #21
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I also would give Areo Precision a thumbs up!

I have built two rifles for myself using their lowers and have built several rifles for others using them since Obummer was elected. Great product/quality at a very reasonable price!

I like to use RRA 2 stage NM triggers in all my competition builds with Wolfe extra power hammer springs for a super quick lock time! These triggers are reasonably priced, break clean and crisp, safe and very reliable, life time warranty and for all of those reasons....well, makes them a little tough to get one today.

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Old 06-12-2012, 16:07   #22
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Originally Posted by sarge1967 View Post
Best: Colt, Daniel Defense, LMT, Noveske, BCM, Barrett, Ruger

Mid Range: Smith & Wesson, RRA, Spike's Tactical,

Lower end: DPMS, Bushmaster, Armalite,

There are TONS of manufactures out there. These are just some I could think of off the top of my head.

Right now you can get a Colt 6920 for around $950 right now. I just ordered a Daniel Defense M4 V1 from my local dealer for $1150. With prices like that for real GOOD AR's why would anyone buy a Bushmaster for $850 for the ORC? Or even $750 for a DPMS ORC with a pencil barrel?
Hey Gunny,

No disrespect meant, but the Armalite is not a lower end firearm by any stretch! You got to be kidding!
You may want to go back and compare specs again against Colt, RRA, and Smith! Just sayin...........
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Old 06-12-2012, 16:19   #23
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I am on my 2nd. Bushmaster and have no complaints...
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Old 06-12-2012, 19:09   #24
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All are pretty weak, but some guy was trying to convince me of a danells or some crap..???
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Old 06-12-2012, 19:21   #25
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Originally Posted by TJohn View Post
Just because something is a number one seller doesn't necessarily mean there is not room for improvement, marketing comes in to play as well. But with that said, I listed Bushmaster in the mid teir soley because they have some parts that are not mil-spec (commercial size receiver extension tube, and barrel may or may not be parkerized under the front sight post) and most of the quality and quality control discussions about AR's tend to stress this minimum standard, whether correct or not. The mil-spec issue may or may not be a big deal to some, to others it is the primary denominator of an AR. I have a Bushmaster 16 inch M4 upper and it holds just as tight or tighter groups than my S&W, Rock River or DPMS rifles.

Whether a rifle has a commerical sized reciever extension tube or mil-spec size may not be a big deal to some, but the mil spec extension tubes do allow you a somewhat greater choice in buttstocks. In fairness the Rock Rivers also have commercial extension tubes as well.

As for comparing AR's to service rifles, how many times had the miltary rifles already been issued, and how many rounds through them, before you got your hands on them? Probably quite a few, unless you were fortunate enough to have gotten new weapon assigned to you. I'm sure the military is like most other organizations, there were probably some unit armorers that were commited to maintian the weapons in an exceptional manner, while others may not have been as liberal with replacing worn parts, for whatever reason.

I would not hesitate to defend myself with a S&W, Bushmaster or Rock River rifle right out of the box if I had to. These three should all be equally good to go out of the box. I would have some hesitation to do the same with a DPMS, but they can be turned into a good rifle. I do think that DPMS has a little better quality control on their.308/7.62 rifles than they do on their .223/5.56 rifles. Most of the brands mentioned in the original post put out good products, some may just take a short cut here or there to get it to market a little cheaper, it is all up to the end user to determine if that is good or bad thing. Just for example: It may or may not be important to people if the rifle manufacturer magnetic particle tested every bolt they produced, only batch tested them, or did no such test at all.
I wouldn't hesitate to defend myself with a butter knife... but hey why use junk ?
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