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Sorry for the long post. Don't want to read...summation. "There is a HUGE difference between cheap and expensive"


This question comes up all the time at the range. Simple put there is a big difference between a Anderson/PSA build and a factory Tier One rifle of the same build. The differences in quality are always have two camps. There is the camp that say 'average Joe don't need it' and the camp that says 'well when you really need it, it don't work."

Reality, the average AR owner (or any gun owner for that matter) purchases his/her's firearm and takes it to the range. Dumps 20-60 rounds through it, puts it away and doesn't shoot it again until relatives come over and while looking for something to do, takes it to the range and dumps 20-60 rounds through it. By the second time it comes to the range it has all manner of junk hanging off it. I see this every weekend. The majority of these rifles function. Some do not and it's usually dirt cheap ammo or magazine related.

When I do see issues (not related to ammo/magazines) with these 'economy' builds it's relative to the gas system. Usually something wasn't tightened to spec and the rifle has literally shaken loose something that is causing it not to fire.

And here is the issue with 'economy' builds. They are usually not QC'd to the level that Tier One manufactures check their rifles to.

The QC on parts is usually in two steps.

First it's how many pieces out of how many pieces do you check for tolerances and what is the acceptable reject rate. Example is that you would check the diameter of take down pins to make sure they are in spec for your receiver holes. Do you check ALL or one out of 'X' or something of this nature. The higher the QC the higher the the upper and lower fit. If you've handled enough ARs you know that the slop in the upper and lower varies greatly and has consequences in accuracy.

The second is how many out of how many do you check for the fit tolerances of the parts. This is usually a manual pass/fail. Again, ALL or one out of 'X' with a pass fail. There is also a variances is what is considered in tolerance.

So in theory PSA uses less of a QC standard one all fronts because it keep the cost down. They will also use a variety of suppliers, and while in 'spec' will create variances in fit. On the other hand Tier One does the exact opposite and it makes for a better operating rifle.

AR-15s by in large stick to a Mil Spec and they for the most part all fit together. AR-10s do not and there are HUGE issues and it takes many builds to understand what fits with what from what manufacture.

Back to the first paragraph and 'the range talk'. If you've ever been to a carbine class or been around people who run these regularly you will hear stories of "just as good as guys" coming to class and spending all their time dealing with gas system related issue due to the "just as good as" realities. Their rifles worked well when they dumped 20-60 rounds through them on a bench. They didn't stay running when they started running drills. This is VERY COMMON.


There is a reality in that not everyone can afford $2.5K rifles and $500 mounts and $2K scopes.

So if you're on a budget how can you split the baby so to speak? The most important part of an AR is the BCG, how it's lubed (a whole other argument at the range) and how it fits into the barrel extension. These means that if you're going to spend your money wisely you should spend it on a quality BCG and Barrel.

For a BCG:
High Pressure Tested (HPT)
Magnetic Particle Inspected (MPI)
Heat treated and shot peened
Bolt carrier machined 8620 steel
Carpenter 158 steel bolt
Chrome lined interior bolt carrier key and bolt carrier
Torqued and staked gas key screws
Coated (your choice and easier to clean carbon build up, but not necessary) with a matte black mil-spec finish

For Barrel: (my suggestion is get a 16" 'do all' forged barrel from a Tier One supplier)
As far as "long bois" and sniper fantasies. Unless you can regularly practice at 500+ meters it's for show.
Length
Profile
Material & lining
Rifling method & twist
Chamber dimensions
Gas system

For the upper and lower it's really fine as long as it's in spec. The Poverty Pony (Anderson) makes A LOT of lowers for A LOT of suppliers. The reason their lowers are inexpensive is they PRODUCE A LOT. So is this 'ok'. Yes, if you don't mind the boys at the range knowing you're riding 'the pony'. If it's in spec it fine.

Uppers are the same as lowers. Make sure it's in spec.

Something to watch is coating on upper and lower bare receivers. These differ widely by manufactures and by the same manufacture from run to run. When the coating is heavy it causes parts not to fit without sanding down or smoothing surfaces.

This brings up the last. Lower Parts and Upper Parts. If you have a box of parts with at least 20 of each you will clearly see that "mil spec" is a VERY LOOSELY used term. I can lay out parts and using the eyeball meter see that they are not all they same. What I do is have a compartmented box of at least 50 of each and I hand fit each part to the receiver based on feel and a micrometer.

Other than the quality of the barrel, fit of the BCG to the extension and correct gas system, the NUMBER ONE PART RELATED THING that can effect your accuracy is the trigger. A quality 2.5-3.0 pound, pull weight, drop in trigger will do wonders to your groups. There are ways to lighted up and reduce creep in Mil Spec triggers (google) but it you're not good at tinkering DON'T DO IT. You'll create a NFA issue in no time.

So...I have Tier One rifles and they operate as advertised. I have $415.00 builds that also shoot as advertised. Neither has had issues once broke in. The Tier One's are far more accurate, with the exception of one A2 HBAR economy upper that shoots lights out.

This being said, I would not choose my $415 to defend my life over time. I know what's eventually going to happen. I just won't know when. I have more confidence that the 'what' part will happen farther out on the Tier One.


Since the Boogaloo is more fantasy than reality the average Joe can easily get away with a PSA/Anderson build and enjoy his/her rifle. Think of it this way the average AR has a duty cycle of 20,000ish rounds. Average Joe sees this in 16 years. No wonder "just as good guys" say you're stupid for buying Tier One. At the same time a competitive shooter will put 20,000-30,000 rounds per year through his/her rifle. Now you see why the argument exists.

If you have the money....buy once....cry one.....

Also there is a HUGE difference (and I mean H U G E) in a $299 Primary scope ,$499 Viper, $1300 Leupold and a $2500 Nightforce (or any other Tier One optic). At a certain point you hit peak glass, then it comes down to build quality, reticle and adjustments. Don't kid yourself. If you've never looked down range at 600m, on a hazy day with mirage at a 6" steel target with a $400 dollar scope and then a $2500 scope you won't understand the differences. Most don't need these differences. If you are going to shoot competitively you'll eventually spend the big bucks. Get it over before you loose hundreds selling used and buying up.

Mission drives the gear.

-jm2c
 

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I have built many rifles on Anderson lowers, they work fine. My competition rifle is a rra upper on an Anderson lower. With that being said if I was going to war I'd take my Colt 6920 or LMT MRP. But all my "cheap" builds work
 

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MortarMaggot
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I have built many rifles on Anderson lowers, they work fine. My competition rifle is a rra upper on an Anderson lower. With that being said if I was going to war I'd take my Colt 6920 or LMT MRP. But all my "cheap" builds work
Most of my AR's that I currently own are on Anderson lowers or 80% lowers I finished. Unless there is some major defect in the forging or metal used most lowers made are going to hold up as good as the next & it's main function is to hold the FCG. As long as the holes are in the right spots, they'll also do just as good of a job as the more expensive lowers. The most important places to spend the bucks are on your barrel, trigger & BCG. If buying a $50 Anderson or PSA lower means you can use that extra $100-$200+ you saved vs buying a more expensive lower to get a better barrel or trigger, I'd definitely recommend it. Same with handguards, stocks, etc. If you can save money by only getting a $100 rail or handguards vs. a $200+ one you can use that money for a better BCG or even better sights/optic. For those that money isn't an issue, then sure, buy the most expensive KA, DD, Colt, etc. firearm out there & enjoy. For those of us on a budget & building enough to equip the family & have a spare or two that don't have unlimited funds, will have to stick with my Anderson lowers frankenguns. :thumb: Although mine will have pretty good barrels, triggers & BCG's. :D:
 

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Discussion Starter #67
Last week I went to a gun show.....you could buy and AR-15 out the door for $549

I really toyed with the idea of building one myself.....buy after the jig cost to drill/mill a lower and the fact that it's about $80 different in price (by today's market) I reversed thinking on the build.

HK
 

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Learning
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Most of my AR's that I currently own are on Anderson lowers or 80% lowers I finished. Unless there is some major defect in the forging or metal used most lowers made are going to hold up as good as the next & it's main function is to hold the FCG. As long as the holes are in the right spots, they'll also do just as good of a job as the more expensive lowers. The most important places to spend the bucks are on your barrel, trigger & BCG. If buying a $50 Anderson or PSA lower means you can use that extra $100-$200+ you saved vs buying a more expensive lower to get a better barrel or trigger, I'd definitely recommend it. Same with handguards, stocks, etc. If you can save money by only getting a $100 rail or handguards vs. a $200+ one you can use that money for a better BCG or even better sights/optic. For those that money isn't an issue, then sure, buy the most expensive KA, DD, Colt, etc. firearm out there & enjoy. For those of us on a budget & building enough to equip the family & have a spare or two that don't have unlimited funds, will have to stick with my Anderson lowers frankenguns. :thumb: Although mine will have pretty good barrels, triggers & BCG's. :D:
I don't have an unlimited budget which I why I almost exclusively use Anderson or PSA lowers. Having built 30+ rifles I can definitely vouch for them. I happen to only have 2 factory rifles, a colt which was purchased cheap and a lmt which I traded for. I just think I'd take 1 of my factory rifles in to battle. Of course someone else I know and love would be standing next to me with one of my builds.

I like Anderson so much I just ordered 5 more lowers.
 
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