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View Full Version : A little upper selection insight please


Flat Broke
06-02-2008, 6:12 PM
I know that these types of threads pop up every day, so before anyone mentions the search function, believe me, it was used. I have been doing my reading and trying to assimilate all of the great information on this site and the rest of the web to come to a conclusion on a spec for my 1st AR build. The lower receiver is easy, so that's not a question for me. Where I've been struggling is trying to get the best bang for my buck with regard to an upper that will shoot a broad range of bullet weights, hold decent accuracy out to longer distances(I'll admittedly be the limiting factor in this criteria for a while), have a free float/rail setup, and be a reliable piece that would serve in a variety of circumstances should it ever see a true SHTF situation.

I've narrowed down my choices to the following pre-built uppers in no order of preference:

CMMG M18 Mid Length SPR
http://www.tenpercentfirearms.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=16_19&products_id=15
The only thing I'm not sure about on this setup is the barrel length. With this setup, I'd either get a YHM free float forearm system, buck up a little more for a JP VTAC, or go with CMMG's free float tube and machine it to accept rails myself.

RRA Midlength A4
http://www.rockriverarms.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_id=266
With this setup, I'd spec the SS 1:8 .233 Wylde barrel, and either add their Quad Rail, Buck up for a VTAC, or again machine a free float tube to accept rails. My main concern with this setup is the weight of the barrel. I was thinking I'd spec the 1:8 barrel to support heavier bullets to hold accuracy at longer ranges

Stag Model 2HT
http://www.riflegear.com/p-47-stag-arms-model-2ht.aspx
With this setup, I don't have to buy anything in terms of upgrades, which is kinda cool, but I have concerns about the 1:9 barrel and supporting a wider range of bullet weights, and subsequently, longer range accuracy. I like that the rear flip sight is included, and the asthetics of the Samson rail where it meets flush with the receiver, but if the 1:9 hinders the capability of the upper, none of that matters.

Price wise, they all kind of shake out around the same if they're setup similar. The Stag would be the overall most cost effective considering the upgrade cost of the Samson rails over the YHM or RRA rails I'd add to the other two uppers, but again, that's not a consideration if the capability of the barrel isn't up to that of the other two offerings.

Even though I'll be DROSing multiple lowers, it will be a long time before I'll be able to spec/acquire another upper; so whatever I opt for this time has to cover a lot of bases. Any input, even if it's just links to similar discussions would be great. I tried to do as much research as possible before making this post, but I'm at the point where I'd like some focused input on the last few details.

I also have one other question that could throw the three choices above out of what depending upon I get from feedback. One of the characteristics that is common to the above 3 uppers is the std FSB. If I were to use a 1-4x optic, how annoying does the front sight become at 4x? I know there have to be plenty of guys with real world experience that can answer this quickly. I like the idea of the std FSB always being there, and probably being more rugged than a flip front FSB, so hopefully it's a non issue.

Thanks in advance for any input,
Chris

Flat Broke
06-03-2008, 11:52 AM
After doing more reading, and sleeping on it, I think I've narrowed my choices down to a CMMG16" Mid-length, a CMMG16" MedCon, or a CMMG M18 Mid-Length SPR. Going with any of these removes the stainless barrel upgrade issue with the RRA and gets away from the 1/9 barrel on the Stag.

So now I have a few more direct questions that I hope I can get some feedback on.

Is there a noticable difference between the MedCon and Government profile barrels in terms of weight or performance?

Considering my stated intent and novice shooting experience, are there any measureable performance gains to be had by going with the 18" SPR over the 16" barrels?

My only other question is for recommendations on rail/tube setups where the top rail ends flush with the rail on the receiver, covering the gap found between std handguards and the receiver.

Thanks in advance,
Chris

bubbaskyjacker
06-03-2008, 11:58 AM
im in your boat, most people say that the 18 should be rifle gas, i was thinking about getting the 16 med con my self with 1/7 but the other option is the rra middy with 1/9 about the same price just with different twist. 1/9 is a supposed better general use. it depends on what thread you read. my brain is about to explode when it comes to rifle twist

mike22ca
06-03-2008, 12:12 PM
The first upper I bought was the Stag 2HT with the Samson Rail and the ARMS40L as a package. I dont reload or shoot any match grade or anything, just remington green box and Federal XM193, and its always treated me great with 0 problems.

Flat Broke
06-03-2008, 12:23 PM
Yeah, the opinions/reading on 1/9 1/8 and 1/7 get mind numbing, and for all intents probably wouldn't make a difference in accuracy for the amount of shooting I'll do. The only reason I keep shying away from 1/9 is the "what if" situation where all I could get my hands on would be heavier mil/surp loads. There are so many threads and resources available on the subject, but no definitive outcome. If I knew for sure that 1/9 would be fine for everything I'd ever need to shoot (in normal recreational shooting or a SHTF apocolyptic situation) then the Stag 2HT offers a lot of bang for the buck with the Samson rail and ARMS 40L for well under $700 at a couple of CalGuns friendly retailers.

Thanks for mentioning the SPR rifle/mid gas subject. I had read about that a couple weeks ago and totally lost that info in the shuffle of concern over twist. I'm guessing that the only benefit that the 18" will offer is slightly higher velocity. I need to re-read those threads to see if the 18" SPR is still pertinent to my list of choices.

I'll be making my purchase in a couple of weeks, so hopefully I'll get some more input and be able to come to a decision I'm confident about before I spend any money.

Chris

huck
06-03-2008, 12:58 PM
I have the RRA SS 1:8 Wylde you mentioned in the OP and I added the basic A2 detachable carry handle. I've only had it for 3 weeks, but so far it's been great. I haven't shot beyond 100 yards, though.

My reasoning for that choice was the flexibility. You can shoot just about any ammo you can buy with this barrel.

Just curious... Why did you eliminate it from your options?

Flat Broke
06-03-2008, 1:13 PM
I have the RRA SS 1:8 Wylde you mentioned in the OP and I added the basic A2 detachable carry handle. I've only had it for 3 weeks, but so far it's been great. I haven't shot beyond 100 yards, though.

My reasoning for that choice was the flexibility. You can shoot just about any ammo you can buy with this barrel.

Just curious... Why did you eliminate it from your options?

The main reason was basically because the CMMG offerings come stock with a 1/7, so there was no need to include an option that had the 1/8 as an upgrade. No other reason for removing it. In fact, I'll probably drop a line to AR15 sales to see if he has one in stock and what his price is just so I have it for reference. Ideally I want to get the most value for my $$, so if one option is 12% or more than another when similarly equiped, and there is no discernable difference in accuracy/performance, I can spend that money elsewhere.

Chris

huck
06-03-2008, 1:30 PM
The main reason was basically because the CMMG offerings come stock with a 1/7, so there was no need to include an option that had the 1/8 as an upgrade. No other reason for removing it. In fact, I'll probably drop a line to AR15 sales to see if he has one in stock and what his price is just so I have it for reference. Ideally I want to get the most value for my $$, so if one option is 12% or more than another when similarly equiped, and there is no discernable difference in accuracy/performance, I can spend that money elsewhere.

Chris

Can't argue there. I spent a little more than I had planned on. Really happy with the results so far. From all I've read, you can't go wrong with any of these choices.

angst18
06-03-2008, 2:18 PM
After doing more reading, and sleeping on it, I think I've narrowed my choices down to a CMMG16" Mid-length

Chris

I'm also a first time builder, but with the advantage of having a couple of cop friends with 14 ARs between them and one fantastic Memorial day at the gun range.

What I've decided on is the CMMG 16" Mid-Length MedCon, stainless steel barrel with a black wash (you have to call to get the wash) which has a 1:7 twist rate that should answer your grain weight issues.
As for handguards, I would go floating barrel also. Plus, I have to add, CMMG's customer service has been wonderful in my estimation.

I chose the carbine because I'm a 5'6" 138lb. girl - if I were a bit larger, I'd have gone for the 18" barrel. Just my 2 cents.

Flat Broke
06-03-2008, 3:07 PM
I should have been working this morning, instead, I've been revisiting the 1/9 1/7 1/8 debate. :) The result... The Stag 2HT is off the list.

I really appreciate the input so far, and I'm pretty much set now between a couple of very similar options.

CMMG 16" mid gas gov't or Medcon chrome 1/7

RRA 16" mid gas chrome 1/7

RRA 16" mid gas SS 1/8 Wylde

Now that I've narrowed things down further I'll try and do additional searching for each respective model, but any first hand input like what's already been posted would be awesome.

Additionally, any recommendations or insight into a free-float/rail setup that bridges or fils the gap between the receiver and barrel would be appreciated.

Thanks,
Chris

bubbaskyjacker
06-03-2008, 3:24 PM
rra is usually only 1/9 or 1/8. 1/7?

Flat Broke
06-03-2008, 3:45 PM
I know it isn't listed on RRA's site, but Wes at 10% has CAR versions in 1/7, and Pete at AR15sales indicated he could do it on a mid length. If they turn out to be special orders that would take forever, it wouln't be the end of the world, as it would just push me towards the CMMG version.

The RRA works out to be a little less expensive, but that's only important if the quality is the same.

Chris

Flat Broke
06-04-2008, 10:33 AM
So I've pretty much decided that it will be a chrome lined 16"er 1/7. Either RRA or CMMG.

I can find all the specs on the CMMG internals, but I'm having a tough time finding them for the RRA. I wanted to verify the feed ramp cut lengths, bolt configuration, etc. before I decide on one over the other. I remeber someone posting a chart that listed mil-spec compliance for various vendors, but after searching for a half an hour I can't find it. Additionally, I know it's equal to a Ford vs. Chevy type quesiton, but are there any clear advantages to going with one over the other (CMMG vs RRA)?

Thanks,
Chris

krushed
06-04-2008, 6:55 PM
So I've pretty much decided that it will be a chrome lined 16"er 1/7. Either RRA or CMMG.

I can find all the specs on the CMMG internals, but I'm having a tough time finding them for the RRA. I wanted to verify the feed ramp cut lengths, bolt configuration, etc. before I decide on one over the other. I remeber someone posting a chart that listed mil-spec compliance for various vendors, but after searching for a half an hour I can't find it. Additionally, I know it's equal to a Ford vs. Chevy type quesiton, but are there any clear advantages to going with one over the other (CMMG vs RRA)?

Thanks,
Chris

Here's a link that has a chart that I think you are describing (25% down the page) also some good info on selecting an upper.

http://forums.officer.com/showthread.php?t=81462

scfast
06-04-2008, 7:42 PM
I had a cmmg spr and liked it for the most part no mechanical issues but i did question overall quality....that said i no longer have that upper and have moved on to the top shelf uppers...if i was to do it over again or if i buy a midrange upper again i will probably go rra with a 1/8 stainless good thing you got the 1/9 out of the way even though i am impressed with stags overall build i feel that 1/8-1/7 has the best usability and longevity for all weights...stick with midlength 1/7 or 1/8 and you'll be happy.

bubbaskyjacker
06-04-2008, 8:44 PM
Here's a link that has a chart that I think you are describing (25% down the page) also some good info on selecting an upper.

http://forums.officer.com/showthread.php?t=81462

great info!

Flat Broke
06-05-2008, 12:38 AM
Here's a link that has a chart that I think you are describing (25% down the page) also some good info on selecting an upper.

http://forums.officer.com/showthread.php?t=81462

Thanks a bunch, That was the exact matrix I was looking for, and the up close shots of the different uppers was an very nice added bonus.

I had been leaning CMMG because of the feed ramps and little stuff like pinned FSB, etc. But having seen Scfast's comment, and a couple others, I'm still not 100% sure. It may just come down to who has what in stock etc. in a couple of weeks. It's hard to gauge the quality of a company's product based upon e-speculation as you're bound to hear more of the bad than good. I've read a little about both RRA and CMMG, and in both instances, the owners got taken care of, so I guess that's a positive no matter which way I go.

Chris

tenpercentfirearms
06-05-2008, 6:37 AM
I have come to the conclusion that debating your upper choices like this is counter-productive. Either one you choose is going to probably shoot better than you, especially if you are shooting iron sights, and so all of this time wasted wondering if you are getting "the perfect upper" could be spent out shooting any upper.

However, you are not the first guy to do this and won't be the last. If you enjoy tearing yourself up over the minutia of FSBs, M4 feedcuts, and other factors that you will probably never see a difference on, this really is a hobby and not a necessity, so to each their own.

I am just sharing my opinion that most customers I deal with will never ever notice any difference in either RRA or CMMG and lots of time spent trying to decide between the two is wasted time that could be spent shooting. Or in this case, time your upper could have been on order because you are going to have to wait weeks anyway.

If you want 1:7, go CMMG. It doesn't sound like this is going to be a varmint gun so why would you ever need to shoot anything less than 55 grains so why do you need a 1:8? Plus CMMG typically doesn't have such a long wait time as RRA.

Carbine Length, Mid-length, Rifle length. Just pick one and go! Mid-length seems to be all the rage so go with that. Odds are at 600 yards your light weight bullets are going to be floating around so much that this long range accuracy is going to matter a whole lot anyway. Unless you want to handload or get the much heavier bullets.

Good luck with your decision. ;)

Flat Broke
06-05-2008, 10:13 AM
Wes,

I appreciate your input, and understand exactly where you're comming from. I even stated in a previous post that I'd be the limitations of the rifle's accuracy. It's just who I am that makes me analyze the piss out of things like this when I have the time to do so. A couple things poped up at home, so my initial "a few weeks out" when I started shopping AR parts a while back, has stayed at "a few weeks out". :) I can now say I'm 2 weeks from laying down any $$, and as such, I might as well use the time to educate myself on the particulars of these rifles.

I'm actually down to two very similar uppers, with only a difference of barrel contour. I'm sold on a CMMG 16" 1/7 mid-gas in either government or medcon barrel contour. Just as your post indicated, I'd probably never discern the difference between the to in terms of accuracy with a semi-auto weapon, shooting over the counter ammo. None the less, I'll still solicit opinions on each ;) I'm assuming the medcon is the same diameter as the government profile where the FSB attaches, but that's something I'd want to be sure of if I ever decided to change the gas block setup. My guess is that when it's all said and done, the medcon just makes the rifle a little more useful as a club if it comes to it.

If nothing else, some other newb like myself might stumble on this thread when asking the same question, and subsequently not have to ask it again.

Chris

Donut
06-05-2008, 11:46 AM
I say go with the MedCon. the extra weight was worth the greater accuracy potential (whether real or perceived) of the stiffer barrel to me.

http://riflegear.com/p-327-cmmg-16-m10-mid-length-medcon-upper.aspx

I can tell you from recent personal experience - move fast! CMMG is backed up with orders, and I had to wait a bit for CMMG to ship the upper. I know that riflegear.com just got a shipment of the CMMG 16-inch MedCon middy uppers in. They have the same in Gov't profile on the website, too.