I’ve got no issues with them. [...] I have a problem with all the crap that people hang off of them.
This is smart stuff, kids. RTWT.
I'll admit to not being a fan of the AR as an early shooter. Didn't quite "get it". Of course, my own abilities weren't up to par with the rifle, either. (Truth be told, they probably still aren't.) I saw them as an expensive way to turn money into noise, with magazines I couldn't own and plenty of features I couldn't have.
Now that I'm a bit better shooter, and have a better clue about what they are, I like AR-pattern rifles. I don't think they're the be-all end-all of rifles, but for all-out versatility they're tough to beat. Pop two pins and change from .17HMR to .50Beowulf? 5.56NATO to 6.8SPC to .300BLK? Varmint guns to anti-materiel? There's a certain sexiness in that. It's like the girl you met in Carhartts and Muck boots putting on a Little Black Dress and a string of pearls: same woman underneath, but a totally different look.
I picked up a stripped lower at a gun show about five years ago, then a parts kit and stock, then tried to buy an upper in early 2009. That didn't work so well, and I scoured classifieds for a while until I found something close to what I wanted, and the 20" A2 arrived.
A bit later on, Oleg posted up some work from an acquaintance of his, and MrsZ and I ordered two of the limted-run Second Amendment lowers from Territorial Gunsmith. Those arrived and occupied a corner of the safe. One got completed with a pinned carbine stock and standard parts kit (but no upper), and the other just stayed in a bag.
I play in the forums over at AR15.com regularly, mostly for the entertainment value - but there are definitely some folks over there who Know Their Stuff. If you care to read the tech forums with an open mind and a good noise filter, you can pick up an amazing amount of information. I've learned things about MPI, and semi- as compared to full-auto carriers, twist rates, "tier 1" (I'm not), and SIIHPAPP. But I also spent a lot of time looking at setups, and what I think makes sense and what doesn't.
Living under the thumb of NY makes some things annoying, but not impossible. I can't have an un-pinned carbine stock, which is annoying but not a huge deal. I can't have a bayonet lug, which is unfathomable to Jay but still not a big deal. My pet peeve? Flash hiders. I can't have one. A muzzle brake is fine, but a flash hider is a dangerous evil feature.
Regardless, I looked at the market and what things are doing right now, and decided that if I was going to finish up the lowers I had, sooner was better than later. I spent some time discussing with MrsZ, negotiating (read: begging/wheedling), and ended up with a sizable chunk of money budgeted for ARs. I had just ordered a York Arms lower for her, so spent some time picking out what I thought would be a good setup for her as well.
I looked at - and still want - a Rock River ATH. It's a beauty of an 18" heavy-barrel upper... but RRA is currently giving a 60-90 day lead time. I wasn't real keen on waiting that long. MrsZ wanted lightweight, and I wanted a carbine setup anyways... so we ended up ordering a pair of Stag Arms 3H uppers.
I toyed with numbers a bit more, and decided that if my option was to finish out those two rifles completely - sights and everything - I'd be within budget and be done. I made a different choice, and picked up the S&W M&P15-22. I don't regret that choice at all. It means I've got two ARs sitting in the safe that are not-quite-done but could be put into service simply by taking the scope off another rifle, and a .22 plinker/trainer.
Do I think the AR-pattern is the epitome of rifles? Nope - but I think it's a hell of a platform just the same. It's light, accurate, reliable, and just plain fun to shoot. I went from being relatively indifferent to having four of them in almost no time... And there's still a stripped lower tucked in the back of the safe, for a rainy day.
So, what's YOUR thoughts on the matter?