I’m the guy that wrote the “Why I Hate the AR” article a couple decades ago. But I’ve come around to them now… after 50 years of continual development, AR’s are pretty much all decent enough now. They all work pretty well. But… I’m really picky when it comes to AR’s now. I’ll dismiss most AR’s in any gunshop. Being jaded as I am… having seen everything on the market with little that actually impresses me… People ask me all the time what I look for. What I look for in an AR first and foremost is Accuracy. It’s all about that Barrel. I want it Cold Hammer Forged. If it’s not – I’m just not going to spend my money on it. Period. So I am going to look for those markings on the barrel to ID where it came from, so I can know how it’s made. CHF barrels are no guarantee of it being super accurate – just consistent. And that’s where accuracy starts. With traditionally made barrels – some can be very accurate. Others, less so. You don’t know what you are getting until after you bought it.
CHF Barrels, takes away that variation.
I’m also going to look for a free-floating barrel. Traditional A1 and A2 and other similar handguards that are connected at the front, are things I am going to always avoid. You can have an accurate rifle with those… But simply gripping them differently will apply different pressures to the barrel and effect the Harmonics. Variations in Barrel Harmonics will effect accuracy.
You know how some rifles prefer loads of different bullet weights and velocities? Reloaders will play with powder loads to find that perfect load for max accuracy – what they are really playing with is Harmonics.
Allow me to explain. When a shot is fired from the barrel, that barrel starts to move. A lot more than you would think. An accurate rifle has a very consistent movement and the bullet exits the muzzle the same place in the barrel’s movement every time. Things that change the way the barrel moves effects this – and thus effects accuracy most often in a negative way.
I want the Upper and Lower receivers to be tight. With as little movement as possible. In some builds, designed for close quarters, or in AR Pistols, this isn’t so big of a deal. A little movement isn’t going to effect anything. But for a rifle configuration for longer range work – I want this to be a bank vault fit. Or if this is a build that is supposedly a super high quality build… or anything north of 900 dollars… I want this to be a bank vault fit.
The other thing I look for in an AR is a good trigger pull. I don’t care about the weight in most AR triggers. But I want that break to be crisp and clean. I want it to break like a hard thought.
These are the main things I look for in an AR. Everything else can be altered and changed out easily. So they don’t matter so much. But what I described – that’s the foundation to build your Configuration on.
7 thoughts on “What I look for when looking at an AR type firearm.”
I gave up on my AR hatred some time ago … ARs are just easier to accurize. An M-14/M-1A can be accurized at great expense, but all that can be undone in an instant by picking it up by the fore-guard and swinging it a bit.
Competitive shooters went to the AR for good reason.
And the AR easily passes the mud test:
I don’t know really….the M16 (AR) were developed to be “short range” ie: 150-200 yard carbine vs .30-06 and .308 heavy rifle and in reality most if not all will be minute of felon accurate at that range. I would use your criteria if looking for a longer range competition gun but for the jungle/urban fighting role just about any AR will fit the bill. Add its easy repair and millions of part sitting around and we have a winner!
Wrong. Reliability should be the first thing for a home defense carbine.
Who said this was a Home Defense Carbine? I said what I look for… Home Defense is SHOTGUNS in my home.
Besides, the “Reliability” thing in an AR… An AR either IS or they are far from. Most decent brands are making outstandingly reliable AR’s now. Pretty much as long as it doesn’t say DEL-TON or Double Star, it’s probably quite reliable.
The biggest problem with AR reliability is a lack of decent lubrication and shooting the things in. BCG’s are often way too stiff in a new AR and after about 500 rounds, and a good lubricant even a Del-Ton can turn into a reliable rifle. Most failures in the AR is when they get dry. Dry, Hot, Dirty… Fails. Wet? They can get as hot and dirty as you can handle. Keep it wet with lube and you will have a good time.
Just like a weekend in Vegas.
I’ve been shopping around and have wondered how Del Tons are. What are your experiences with them? Obviously negative but im still curious. Reliability is my number one concern and I don’t want myself or anyone i know left with an unreliable rifle
I wouldn’t have one.
They can be built up to be reliable, but you’ll have poor fit and poor results. Just avoid them.
See the video I posted above, Mark, and compare it to the AK mud test.
AK uber-reliability is a myth.