Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt
A nice trigger, float tube (naked, in CMP design beneath A2 plastic, or quad-rail form. FWIW as of 2011 CMP allows 12" quad rails under 6.2.3 (14)), and perhaps decent barrel make a _huge_ difference.
Minute-of-man accuracy doesn't cut it on soda cans.
That said you're better off with a few better parts on a no-name AR than something "mil spec" with premium branding.
I was rather disappointed shooting a friend's Colt which was far less accurate than I was. I really liked my Armalite Action Master with NM trigger and float tube especially running NM iron sights. I'm going to be even happier when I finish my generic machine shop project that has a Geissele trigger I'll drop in once done.
The relevant difference was closer to "as issued" and "space gun" respectively not the name stamped on the side.
As a Californian, a more recognizable name means you're more likely to end up on the assault weapon list. That could be good (once you have a registered assault weapon you don't need a stupid bullet button or grip abomination) or bad (you need to register the lower if you keep it in state). Banned by name guns are also a problem when you move between states (I left my M15 marked Armalite in a Washington state storage facility from whence it was stolen) and California isn't the only place with silly rules.
If your can't hit soda cabs with your friend's colt either you need to work on your trigger pull or the gun needs to be repaired.