Jun 11, 2012


Clicking from MattG's post on Martinis (the drink) over to Spear's piece of tube, I found his two-months-old post on the AR-pattern rifle.

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?


Old NFO said...

I'm kinda like Spear... But I have two, one carbine, 1 HBAR. And yeah, most people hang WAY too much shit off them... And unless your shot placement is dead on (in a real environment, not on paper), you're NOT going to put down what ever you're shooting

ZerCool said...

I don't foresee much more happening with ARs in my safe. I'd like to swap the A2 upper for a flattop (but keep the barrel and free-float) so I can scope it, and I'd like to put together a mid-to-large-bore setup (.300BLK, .450Bushy, or .50Beo). But that's low priority.

Jay G said...

Well, I currently own one carbine and two stripped lowers. As soon as Wally cranks out the .308 lowers I'll have one of those as well.

The ability to swap uppers is nice; but with lowers as cheap as they are I'd just as soon have complete rifles.

But that's just me...

ZerCool said...

I agree with you in principle, Jay - I'd rather have complete rifles than do the old switch-a-roo. That said, lowers really aren't that cheap when you get down to it. $130 for a lower. $60 for a LPK, hopefully with a grip included. $75-100 for a stock/buffer/spring... You're bang-on $300 for a finished lower with shipping and transfer fees. Not expensive, but not pocket change either.

elmo iscariot said...

So, what's YOUR thoughts on the matter?

ARs bore the hell out of me. I love old guns and old-fashioned guns made of wood and blued steel. I love working a bolt or lever between shots. I love loading rounds one at a time through a loading gate or into the back of a cylinder or into a break action. Falling-block rifles are very near perfection. When I look at the cost of an AR--and on my strictly limited budget it's a hell of a cost--I see how many well-worn old C&Rs it could buy. All that for something boring and soulless, made from plastic and aluminum.

And I'm saving up for an AR.

(I feel the same way about the flash hider, BTW. Even the mag limit doesn't seem like too big a deal in the big picture, but the flash hider ban annoys the hell out of me.)