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  #1  
Old 05-20-2013, 09:25 PM
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Default What "Tier" is the M&P AR-15?

Doing my due diligence before making a purchase of an AR-15/M4 platform, I noticed that some in the community of owners use a "Tier" system to group like AR-15 models based on quality, features, durability and cost.
However, I have not seen the M&P AR-15s listed in any of these comparisons.
Does anyone have any thoughts on where the M&P AR-15 might be listed (Tiers I, II, III w/ I being the best)? Just trying to compare the M&P with other brands.
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:33 PM
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In my book, any M&P 15 is a Tier 1 rifle... but that's just me.
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:41 PM
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You have your custom unaffordable builds like Wilson Combat, probably at Tier 1, then you have Colt, as everyone seems to believe they are the pinnacle of off the shelf AR's, and then I would say right below that is the M&P. Just my opinion.
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Old 05-20-2013, 09:51 PM
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Most that use the tier system, or the chart, or want "mil-spec" are going to call a S&W tier 2, a hobby rifle, a commercial rifle, etc.

However, you need to decide what is best for your use. If you want to shoot one ragged hole with an AR style rifle, the 1:7 chrome lined mil-spec barrel is not the best for your application. A unlined barrel in stainless steel, or one of the melonite treated barrels with 5R rifling would be best, but this is not mil-spec so the tier system would say it is second best.

If you are a three gunner, maybe a mid length gas system would be better for you due to less perceived recoil and getting back on target faster. Again, not mil-spec, so falls lower in the tier ranking system.

Decide what you want to do with the rifle and what your budget is and buy a rifle that has the features best suited for your application. Forget all the tier stuff, unless you want a "mil-spec" featured rifle. If that is what you want, then Colt, Daniel Defense, Noveske, or BCM are the brands pushed.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:00 PM
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I've shot Colts in the Army for 10 years, and enjoy my SW as much as any.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:44 PM
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If it was built after 1990, Colt quality isn't a standard for anything.

Just my opinion.

S&W makes a fine MSR. So do a lot of companies. M4s aren't supposed to be "tack-drivers" anyway. If you're looking for .2 MOA groups at 300 meters, you'll want a longer barrel.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:49 PM
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Cyphertext wins.

In the end, a rifle which A: Functions flawlessly, B: Shoots accurately, C:Has compatability with parts, optional equipment and most importantly, with all ammunitions available are what the real criteria for a true tier 1 rifle should be.

There are a LOT of very high end firearms which do not function like a true Tier 1 gun should; from the 1911's that dot the firing ranges, to the 22 rifles that fill the sub-forum directly above this one, to the ar's of all types which choke on certain magazines or certain ammo.

So, look at the material and the make-up of the parts of each of the rifles, and their intended use to decide if they fit the bill.

Nowadays, a true Tier 1 rifle is the rifle with enough filled magazines to go with it to make it impractical to carry unless you get a wheelbarrow!!!
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gm272gs View Post
If it was built after 1990, Colt quality isn't a standard for anything.

Just my opinion.

S&W makes a fine MSR. So do a lot of companies. M4s aren't supposed to be "tack-drivers" anyway. If you're looking for .2 MOA groups at 300 meters, you'll want a longer barrel.
And a bigger bullet!
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Old 05-21-2013, 06:57 AM
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Really who gives a rip? I shot several thousand rounds through both my M&P's, my Bushmaster, and Rock River 6.8 without a bobble. If it works 100% and hits the target if I do my part, it's Tier 1 as far as I'm concerned.

If you wish to spend several thousand dollars for a boutique AR, go ahead. It's only money.
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Old 05-21-2013, 07:45 AM
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Imo tiers are like. Stages on a car they only make something sound cooler to those who are uninformed. If a m&p shoots just as good as a "tier 1" for you why waste money on it. Just like if you don't have 600+ hp why waste money on a stage 3 clutch
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:00 AM
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Yeah, I wouldn't over think the "tiering" of the AR. As all others have said, it's a lot of talk from those that are all about "mil-spec or it's ****". There are a lot of solid ARs in the market today. The M&P got a lot of eye rolls when it first hit the market. Then, through time and customer testimonial, it's received high marks and praise. It takes time to build a reputation and Smith's is high. Not sure what you are comparing it with but it should definitely be at the top of the list.
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Old 05-21-2013, 08:28 AM
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Love my M&P Ar 15 sport #1 solid and reliable
But some times I dream I won the loto and bought A Larue Tactical
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Old 05-21-2013, 09:09 AM
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Is the tier system something mall ninjas use?

Does a higher tier rating make a person a better shooter? Or maybe you get a 'Tier 1' patch for you mall-walking jacket.

Stay off those wannabe forums and stick with us here. We keep it real.

.
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Old 05-21-2013, 09:44 AM
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If it's not tier 1 you're just not a real operator and half the time you'll miss your target from 25 yds, especially if your AR doesn't have an FA or dust cover
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Old 05-21-2013, 10:56 AM
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If one will notice, the ones that use the "tier" system are always the ones that own the $2-5000 custom AR styles from various builders that THEY consider top tier.
My S&W M&P MOE feeds anything I put in the mags, including some pretty bad Russian steel case stuff that choked my friends 'top tier' brand.
My BCG is 'mil spec', my barrel is chrome lined (1/9) and it just plain works after several thousnad rounds. Not top tier?
To me, top tier is (like 1911's) is a way to get you to pay more for the same parts that most everybody is using, BUT I (my experience only) have found brand name does not translate into any better reliability and that is what I expect out of my firearms, AR (M&P), pistol (I have couple of Glocks), revolvers (Smiths and Rugers).
To me, they are all top tier.
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by batmann View Post
If one will notice, the ones that use the "tier" system are always the ones that own the $2-5000 custom AR styles from various builders that THEY consider top tier.
My S&W M&P MOE feeds anything I put in the mags, including some pretty bad Russian steel case stuff that choked my friends 'top tier' brand.
My BCG is 'mil spec', my barrel is chrome lined (1/9) and it just plain works after several thousnad rounds. Not top tier?
To me, top tier is (like 1911's) is a way to get you to pay more for the same parts that most everybody is using, BUT I (my experience only) have found brand name does not translate into any better reliability and that is what I expect out of my firearms, AR (M&P), pistol (I have couple of Glocks), revolvers (Smiths and Rugers).
To me, they are all top tier.
Not trying to bust your bubble, but unless you have changed the BCG in that MOE, it is not mil-spec. S&W uses the semi-auto BCG, where mil-spec calls for the full auto type. The S&W BCG is still good quality, as it is HPT, MPI, and all that stuff, but not mil-spec.

I haven't changed mine, works fine in a semiautomatic rifle.
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Old 05-21-2013, 11:51 AM
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If your worried about the "tier" then you don't have the real goal in mind! Plus the chrome lined barrel is 100 year old technology....
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Old 05-21-2013, 04:17 PM
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Default Tier shhmier

The whole "tier" thing is a little ridiculous. And to further the comparison already mentioned to cars, having more expensive parts isn't always what you want. With a fine tuned sports engine, you need 91 octane fuel (premium), lower grades give it knocks and pings and reduce performance. Is it really better to have a car that won't run on regular? Same with AR-15's, you get the expensive parts and you *might* get tighter groups, but that doesn't mean it's going to be more durable and you may very well be limiting what accessories/ammo you can use.

If you want an AR-15/M4 style for a SHTF situation, you want something that's going to be durable and go "bang" everytime you pull the trigger - and that can be found at just about any price - with the advice to stay away from the few that are ONLY chambered for .223, you need something that is 5.56/.223. Possibly the carbine (16" bbl) length has an advantage for portability/CQB.

For varmint/predator hunting, you probably want one of the 20" BBL models as this will give you better range and accuracy over 16" models (the 2 most popular bbl lengths), and a flat top for attaching a scope. but after bbl length other components short of optics aren't going to matter.

Now if you want to win shooting competitions and/or possibly hunt dear (if legal in your area) you will need to be more particular, needing a tighter twist in the bbl to stabalize the heavier grain hunting bullets, among other things.

The thing is, with 20+ models to chose from there are M&P15's that will work for anything you want and you really can't go wrong with buying one (or more ), just pick one that fits best what you want it for and buy knowing you are getting a proven, quality product that's backed by a great warranty and a company with OUTSTANDING customer service. Forget tiers.

Last edited by Vinney47; 05-21-2013 at 09:08 PM. Reason: grammar, clarity
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Old 05-21-2013, 05:19 PM
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vinney47..hit it real good....I use my Sport as a varmint/predator hunter and it is outstanding at that. But if I had my drothers, I would love a 1:8 5R Melonite treated 20" barrel!!
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Old 05-22-2013, 12:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JaPes View Post
In my book, any M&P 15 is a Tier 1 rifle... but that's just me.
I thought those were the things you get when you realise how much $$$ you are stuffing in your hobby.
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Old 05-22-2013, 01:29 PM
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MY M&P 15 is top shelf as far as Im concerned. 100% reliable and accurate. What else is there?
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Old 05-22-2013, 10:56 PM
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MY M&P 15 is top shelf as far as Im concerned. 100% reliable and accurate. What else is there?
Shiny, and a $2400 price tag.
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Old 06-05-2013, 05:59 AM
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After U have fired UR rifle a whole bunch and are perty aware of its limitations and hard points, pay most attention to ammo. Here is where U get picky/choosy/if U know what I mean. Absolute accuracy and reliability will probably come with a barrel for "long" cartridge only not "long rifle."

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Old 06-05-2013, 09:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichiganScott View Post
Really who gives a rip? If it works 100% and hits the target if I do my part, it's Tier 1 as far as I'm concerned.
Same goes for gasoline....I just put the cheap stuff in my car and truck. Went over 200k in my '97 Silverado and the non-Tier 1 gas worked just fine.

Love my M&P 15...and it's even a Piston model. Never a hic-up in over 3 years over ownership. To me it's more than "Tier 1" because it always works.
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Old 07-02-2013, 02:25 AM
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The 'tier' thing (the 'chart', etc.) rates different AR's against Colts TDP (technical data package) which provides complete specifications for the M4 carbine (this TDP is part of Military Specification MIL-C-70559). A civilian M4 pattern carbine cannot meet the TDP in its entirety as we've no access to current production select fire weapons and 14.5" barrels (with or without a standard threaded muzzle device) require a NFA tax stamp. They may, however, follow all other specifications in the TDP. It is on this majority of the TDP specs that 'the chart' categorizes weapons and by this specification that a weapons 'tier' is determined. Some view this categorization as elitism or snobbery and I suspect this is the case with some folks who frequent AR related forums (wearing their weapons adherence to the TDP as a status symbol). Snobbery/elitism isn't the reason that 'the chart' exists or for weapons to be classified as 'tier 1', 'tier 2', etc. They exist so that those who deem adherence to the TDP an important factor in choosing an AR have relevant data to work with - nothing more. Keep in mind that the M4/M16 platform is the standard issue carbine for our armed forces. For these folks durability and reliability are crucial - truly a matter of life and death. The TDP a set of standards and specifications designed to produce and ensure the most consistently durable and reliable weapon possible for this weapon platform.

Should this matter to you and I? I'd say that depends on one's intended use for their AR(s). If I were a law enforcement officer and I were purchasing an AR to be used as a duty carbine I would definitely find 'the chart' (or, more specifically, its data points) useful in selecting a carbine. In this case a 'tier 1' AR (as determined by its adherence to the TDP) would be a wise choice as my life may well depend on that carbines ability to perform reliably. This is true for those who run their AR's hard (those who attend carbine courses and train in the same manner - thousands of rounds per month) as this is where an AR is more likely to fail. Those AR's built to the TDP's standards are, generally speaking, less likely to fail when being run hard.

Short version - these qualifiers do not exist for bragging rights. They serve a purpose. It's up to the individual AR owner to decide for him or herself whether adherence to the TDP is an important factor or not. A great many AR's are manufactured with deviations from the TDP and function flawlessly for their owners in their intended application. It's not a competition or a popularity contest - it's simply a set of specifications (and a means by which to measure a given manufacturers AR against that specification).
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Old 07-02-2013, 10:01 AM
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From the American Rifleman:

The MilSpec Definition
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Old 07-02-2013, 03:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deaj View Post
The 'tier' thing (the 'chart', etc.) rates different AR's against Colts TDP (technical data package) which provides complete specifications for the M4 carbine (this TDP is part of Military Specification MIL-C-70559). A civilian M4 pattern carbine cannot meet the TDP in its entirety as we've no access to current production select fire weapons and 14.5" barrels (with or without a standard threaded muzzle device) require a NFA tax stamp. They may, however, follow all other specifications in the TDP. It is on this majority of the TDP specs that 'the chart' categorizes weapons and by this specification that a weapons 'tier' is determined. Some view this categorization as elitism or snobbery and I suspect this is the case with some folks who frequent AR related forums (wearing their weapons adherence to the TDP as a status symbol). Snobbery/elitism isn't the reason that 'the chart' exists or for weapons to be classified as 'tier 1', 'tier 2', etc. They exist so that those who deem adherence to the TDP an important factor in choosing an AR have relevant data to work with - nothing more. Keep in mind that the M4/M16 platform is the standard issue carbine for our armed forces. For these folks durability and reliability are crucial - truly a matter of life and death. The TDP a set of standards and specifications designed to produce and ensure the most consistently durable and reliable weapon possible for this weapon platform.

Should this matter to you and I? I'd say that depends on one's intended use for their AR(s). If I were a law enforcement officer and I were purchasing an AR to be used as a duty carbine I would definitely find 'the chart' (or, more specifically, its data points) useful in selecting a carbine. In this case a 'tier 1' AR (as determined by its adherence to the TDP) would be a wise choice as my life may well depend on that carbines ability to perform reliably. This is true for those who run their AR's hard (those who attend carbine courses and train in the same manner - thousands of rounds per month) as this is where an AR is more likely to fail. Those AR's built to the TDP's standards are, generally speaking, less likely to fail when being run hard.

Short version - these qualifiers do not exist for bragging rights. They serve a purpose. It's up to the individual AR owner to decide for him or herself whether adherence to the TDP is an important factor or not. A great many AR's are manufactured with deviations from the TDP and function flawlessly for their owners in their intended application. It's not a competition or a popularity contest - it's simply a set of specifications (and a means by which to measure a given manufacturers AR against that specification).
I own both a M&P15, a DDM4v7lw and a Colt M4 with a lw barrel. I consider them all quality firearms.

When was Colt's TDP finalized or updated? Is it not possible that some other manufacturer may build a clone that in fact deviates from the TDP in some way that is superior/better because of current technology? I am thinking of Daniel Defense's MFR or S&W's 5R barrel with melonite treatment, etc. Is a lw barrel a detrement when one does not have full auto capability?

I do not think the Military always has the latest and greatest. I read something written by a retired Army officer that it took 40 years to come up with a reliable magazine for the M16. In my opinion the TDP or Mil Spec should be a starting point, not an ending point in the evolution of the wonderful AR-15 platform.
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Old 07-02-2013, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Creek View Post
I own both a M&P15, a DDM4v7lw and a Colt M4 with a lw barrel. I consider them all quality firearms.

When was Colt's TDP finalized or updated? Is it not possible that some other manufacturer may build a clone that in fact deviates from the TDP in some way that is superior/better because of current technology? I am thinking of Daniel Defense's MFR or S&W's 5R barrel with melonite treatment, etc. Is a lw barrel a detrement when one does not have full auto capability?

I do not think the Military always has the latest and greatest. I read something written by a retired Army officer that it took 40 years to come up with a reliable magazine for the M16. In my opinion the TDP or Mil Spec should be a starting point, not an ending point in the evolution of the wonderful AR-15 platform.
It possible that some new technology is better. But to make sure it really is better they would have to issue the new rifles to X amount of soldiers and have them run it hard in all conditions. Maybe sand storms reek havoc on melonite barrels (just saying).

Just cause a bunch of guys get good results shooting prerie dogs with hand loads or the guy screaming "i shot 500 rounds in one year and everything was flawless" doesnt mean anything.

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Old 07-02-2013, 06:16 PM
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Remember most, if not all, hardware the military buys is awarded to the lowest bidder. The lowest bid may not be the best design. Applies to everything from planes to toilet paper...which was pretty crappy!
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Old 07-03-2013, 01:59 AM
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Shoot when I was in many of the M16s I went on duty with were A1 Lowers with A2 uppers (in the case of the A3) up until they switched the A2 upper for the A4 upper.

Although the M4 I had was nice, I always remember talking AR's with local cops that had nice eotechs and surefire mine was KISS but at least mine was FA.
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Old 07-03-2013, 10:23 PM
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cyphertext: Thanks for the good advice.
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Old 07-05-2013, 03:59 PM
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I've been spending a larger portion of my time lately researching AR15s because I decided I want one again. Back before Sandy Hook and the "ban" talk I was thinking about one but hadn't quite convinced myself I "needed" one. I kept telling myself that all I wanted it for was to go to the range and plink and that just didn't seem to justify the expense. I mean, the money could be spent in many better or fulfilling ways and on needs rather than wants. So I put it out of mind..........................until recently. I have the itch reaaaaaaaaaal bad.

I saw a listing on this forum's for sale section for a S&W AR15 Sport, I mulled it over, looked at the ad many times, slept on it, asked a couple friends what they thought of the deal, and when I was finally ready to pull the perverbial trigger.......it was gone. While kicking myself I saw another listing pop up for a S&W AR15, again I mulled it over, researched it, PM'd the owner, asked one buddy what he thought, and then it was gone by the time I decided to say, "I'll take it".

I did a Google search on reviews and rankings for AR15s. Here is a link to one I found very interesting: AR Manufacturer Tier/Quality Ranking - AR15.COM.

How does this apply to the thread??? Being a newbie to ARs I don't know much of anything about them from a use or manufacturer standpoint. So I used my trusty computer to try to educate myself since I can't just go out and shoot several different brands or makes like so many of you seem to think we all have available to do. I'm interested in "Tiers" because it provides me a reference point as to people's opinions based on their biases. I saw local for sale ads for several manufacturers and then saw that those guns were ranked very low by many users.

Based on the fact that I will use it for primarily plinking I don't want to spend $2k, but I want something dependable in case TSHTF and there is fighting in the streets. And when I get the inevitable "why do you need it" question from the liberal gun grabbers my answer is "because I want it and it's cool looking", so there! [tongue sticking out and making the fart noise]

P.S. one of my friends said something that made me laugh, he's Asian and has the stereotypical accent so bear that in mind as you read this. "if you have the itch, yous have to scratch it"
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Old 07-05-2013, 10:28 PM
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It possible that some new technology is better. But to make sure it really is better they would have to issue the new rifles to X amount of soldiers and have them run it hard in all conditions. Maybe sand storms reek havoc on melonite barrels (just saying).

Just cause a bunch of guys get good results shooting prerie dogs with hand loads or the guy screaming "i shot 500 rounds in one year and everything was flawless" doesnt mean anything.

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Since I ran 9500+ of Wolf/WPA thru mine in a year, and it was flawless.......... does THAT mean anything?

Other than I made better ammo deals than most folk last year??!!!

SW shooter; you will find that basically ALL of the factory built rifles are GTG, out of the box. A few might be a little rough on fit& finish, a few will always have an issue or 2. But a factory rifle comes with a WARRANTY. And they usually stand by their warranty very well.
Stay away from plastic lowers and uppers. If you are tight on money, save some more up and get a decent rifle. No need to play with plastic stuff that might/ might not hold up to extended use.

Last edited by rojodiablo; 07-05-2013 at 10:32 PM.
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Old 07-05-2013, 11:34 PM
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Thanks reddevil.

Don't tell my misses but I'm leaning towards saving a lot extra so I can get a S&W M&P15-22 and a Colt AR15 LE6920. I had a budget in mind of $800 and then it went to $1100 and now its north of that for both units. I missed a Colt for $995 that has me kicking myself. Hopefully I'll find another.
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Old 07-06-2013, 01:24 AM
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Originally Posted by SW_shooter View Post
Thanks reddevil.

Don't tell my misses but I'm leaning towards saving a lot extra so I can get a S&W M&P15-22 and a Colt AR15 LE6920. I had a budget in mind of $800 and then it went to $1100 and now its north of that for both units. I missed a Colt for $995 that has me kicking myself. Hopefully I'll find another.
A good AR should not have to cost you more than $750-800. Seriously. I have seen rifles come in near that even after this mayhem and nonsense. If your heart is set on the Colt, then $900 is not too bad a price. For a 22, unless I was getting a rifle to train with in place of the AR, I would never look past a Ruger 10/22 or Marlin model 60. Simply put, they are a whole tier above any and every other 22 semi on the market. (Since we are talking tiers here......)
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Old 07-06-2013, 04:39 AM
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The gun shelves are stocked locally here in FL. It's the ammo shelves that are bare naked. Find a 6920 and it will be around $1K and may be negotiable.
Geoff
Who is to worried about his finances to buy what he wants anytime soon.
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