Top 5 Best AR-15 Manufactures.

Question came in:

“Mad Ogre, can you make a list of the best AR 15 rifles according to your expertise? I’ve read you articles and it seems to me you’ve done your homework! Would really like to know which AR 15 manufacturer rifle would catch your eye!”

That’s a good question, but also technically complicated.  Saying “AR-15” is like saying “Pickup Truck”.   Asking for the best Pickup Truck would require me to respond with “What are you going to do with it?” It’s far easier if I know the specific applications you are going to use it for, because of all the options and configurations out there.   And with AR-15’s there are far more nuances that go with them.   So instead of specific models, I’m going to simplify this.   I’m going to list in order specific manufactures.  Companies that are making production gun sold through dealers… not custom guns.

My TOP 5, Starting at the top and working down:

3.  LMT
I’ve been dealing a lot more with LWRC since I wrote this list.  And I have to give credit where credit is due.  LWRC is now a solid #5.  I really like what they are doing with their new M6IC carbines, and others… So I’m bumping Bravo to Runner Up Status and making LWRC number five:
5.  LWRC

Runners Up:

These are the only production AR-15 Rifle Makers that I would personally spend my own money on.    Reason I picked these are due to the overall quality and consistency that I have seen.   These guys are consistently putting out the best products.    Each one of these Brands are worth exploring.  Which specific rifle – depends on your application or the configuration that you are looking for.   These are also companies that I have personally talked with and know there commitment to putting out top quality rifles.   There are a couple other companies out there that could have made this list as a Runner Up – but I just don’t like their finished products…  I’ll give you one example.  Black Rain.  They are making some good products.  BUT.  Their finishes are ghastly and they insist on using a muzzle device that you could seriously use to drill through layers of sedimentary rock and discover oil with.  They have to ship them with a rubber cap over it because the muzzle device will chew through the packaging during shipping.  They WILL tear the crap out of any case you put them in as well.   For what purpose do you need that for?  It’s just tacky.  If they would tone it down – I could take them more seriously.

Now, let’s talk configurations.  For a Jack of all Trades configuration, I like a carbine length barrel, with full rifle length  handguards, and I like a free floating barrel.  I don’t like quad-rails, but I do like the option of putting on an accessory where I want it.  My favorite new rifle on the market that meets this criteria:

The Daniel Defense DDM4V11.

So if I had to pick just one rifle, that would be it.


To Refinish or Not to Refinish, that is the Question.

On my page about Firearms Finishes, a question popped in from one of The Horde.

For those new here, The Horde are like minded Readers of – and by extension as some have said, members of  I’ll leave that up to you to self-identify as you wish.   

Question:  “Enjoyed the article on the different firearm finishes. I do have a question to ask….
I have come across an old Colt 1911 made in 1913. The seller states it has been refinished with the NP3 finish. Even though it appears to be a professional job, I’m concern that it defaces the value of the gun. Does anyone know if this devaluated the firearm any? I appreciate your responses.”

That’s a great question and an interesting topic.   Here’s the Short Answer:  Yes. Unfortunately any time you refinish a gun, you basically ruin it. Investment wise. Pure collector value issue. However for a working gun, it’s just the opposite. It restores and protects, and in the case of a finish like NP3 – enhances it.  So it really comes down to what you want the gun for.

The long answer:  We also have to take into account the value and condition of the firearm, as well as it’s individual history.  Let me explain.  Let’s say you have a Winchester 94 that your Pops got you when you were a Wee Lad.  It’s your working gun, your truck gun, your ever year deer getting gun…   It’s worn and getting corroded and could use some help.  This gun might be a “Pre-64” example…. So off the cuff one would say, “No, don’t refinish it!”  However you have a lot of personal history with this gun and you want your kid to enjoy it too… and his kid.   Well, just the old Rub Down With Oil treatment isn’t going to cut it and that gun would get retired quick…. So maybe this example would be a good candidate to get a good refinish done.  Black-T or a good semi-gloss black Cerakote would be good choice for this.  Or, have a good gunsmith do a refinish with a Hot Blueing after some polishing up… So you can keep using it as you have been.

Okay, now say that same gun was your great grandfathers, well cared for, and is in really good condition…  It’s vintage was a lot older.  Well, in that case, it’s value could be quite high and such a vintage gun should be left as it is, or if you want to use it… Here, the decision is yours.

Now let’s say your great grandfather rode with Butch Cassidy and this rifle was own by one of Butch’s boys… or rode with Sheriff John Pope and ended would of Butch’s boys with that rifle.  Well, that gives that gun a much higher value than Book Value.  Of course – such value requires documentation to substantiate the history.  But let’s say you have that.   That changes things…. Refinishing that gun?  HELL NO.  That’s American History and should be preserved.   There will be Collectors looking for that gun.

Now there is another collector type out there… Blood Guns.  Weapons used by murderers.  I’m not going to go into that stuff… but those collectors?  They don’t even want you to clean it, so no refinishing for those guns.

Most modern guns though, mass produced, common types that are still in production… Refinish it however you like.  Really the skirmish line comes down to if it’s in production or not.   If it’s no longer in production – take a moment to think about getting it refinished or not.