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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last week I was made aware by my lovely girlfriend that herself and my mother are going to each spring the cash to get me a new firearm for christmas. She went ahead and told me now so I could be narrowing down what I wanted to get.

I immediately said I wanted a combat rifle. I have multiple handguns, a shotgun, and a .22 plinker rifle that my mother had given me when I was 10. So obviously there's nothing with good range in my household. I live in the suburbs but hey, I could wake to find zombies shuffling down the street.

That being said, my mind instantly clicked to one of my all time favorite guns...the AK47. No, I've never even fired one. In fact the only rifle I've ever fired was the .22LR Marlin I own.

So I sent my step-father an e-mail. He was the a police officer for 22 years and the range instructor and armory supervisor in the town I live in for half of that time. Not to mention he is a certified Sig and S&W armorer.

An excerpt from his e-mail response: "As far as assault rifles, there is only one to own. Springfield SOCOM 16. But it is pricey. The AK is a good gun but a symbol of anarchy and terror. Would not own one. Best bet would be Ruger Mini 14. Used ones are reasonably priced. Ranch rifles are already set up for optics. Standard rifles will need to have the rear sight replaced to be really accurate. This is easily done and cheap. As far as AR15/M4 rifles go, if I had the interest in one, I would build my own. Lots of books out there on how to do it and it is not that hard if you have the tools. That way you build as you get money.... an upper receiver now..... lower receiver when you get more money. You also get your gun with all the features you want made your way."

My question is...what are your opinions? Keep in mind it's my first combat rifle, I'm a big boy (6'2" over 260lbs) and there is somewhat of a money cap for the ladies (I'd say close to $1500).

I'd really appreciate any opinions and/or advice!

Also, what do you think about the Sig 556?
 

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Here's some thoughts off hand. Since you mentioned something with "reach" I'd lean towards a larger caliber (308/7.62N) but thats me.

The SOCOM is sweet but expensive. I had a chance to shoot one once and I liked it but I'm not willing to pay for one (I think that one was listed at or beyond your price range). Don't forget the Standard M1A (semi-auto M14). Longer barrel but might be able to get one cheaper.

While on the topic of other battle rifles there is also the M1 Garand and the FN-FAL as well. Both of these are in production from US companies. Springfield still makes an M1 and DS Arms makes nice FAL's.

The Mini-14 family is reliable but the accuracy isn't the greatest (this has been addressed recently however). But my biggest pet peeve with them is that the Ruger company choses not to sell higher cap magzines to non-LE. Yes, they can be gotten after market but...

Then there is the AR family of rifles. The erector set of long guns. They can be fun, fairly accurate, and a real pain in the butt at times. I've got one so I am biased. But the good ones aren't cheap. Mine was $880 for the base gun, then I got extra mags and ammo....

I wouldn't eliminate the AK family right off. But as there are real good ones and some real bad ones I'd want to do more research to figure out which one I'd want to try and find.

As far as other thoughts, are they willing to spring for extra magazines and possibly a case of ammo for the thing? This would be assuming that the total price stayed within the range they are thinking about.

For more info, here's a site with tons of gun reviews: http://www.gunblast.com/ Don't forget the Archives.

Steelheart
 

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I have 2 Mini-14's, a Mini-30, and have built an AR15A2 and an L1A1 FN FAL, and have a customized Maadi (Egyptian) AKM (AK47).

In My Opinion.........

I consider my L1A1 FAL Sporter to be the crown jewel in my collection, however, it is a Full sized Battle Rifle, and if that is what you want, then I would go for a DS Arms FAL or a full sized M1A. POF also makes a Gas Piston driven version of the AR10 and that would also be sweet! .308/7.62 NATO will cost more to shoot than .223 or 7.62x39mm.

(Took me 4 years of scrounging parts during the DARK time of the '94 AWB to build this!)

AR15's with the conventional direct gas impingement system are OK, but you will have more maintenance issues with them. Just the nature of the beast! I like the POF AR's with the FAL style gas system the best, and one may be on my shopping list! http://www.pof-usa.com/


In the "Urban Carbine" class I prefer the Mini-14 for it's reliability and lighter weight. Good Hi-Cap Magazines are available from aftermarket sources. Newer Mini-14's have a thicker/enhanced barrel for better accuracy than some of the previous versions. Mine are 185 serial number series ( 1 in 10 barrel twist) and are adequate for their intended purposes. My customized "Urban Carbine" Mini-14 has a Chief AJ mounted Long Eye Relief Burris 2.5x Scout Scope, Choate Pistol Gripped Stock, and an A2 style Flash Suppressor.


AK's are OK, especially if you prefer the 7.62x39mm cartridge. AK's have been used the world over by Forces, both Good and Bad, from a moralist perspective. I apologize to no one for owning one! One of the best AK's you can buy are made by Arsenal, Inc. http://www.arsenalinc.com/

A real budget buy can be an SKS with a bunch of stripper clips. I have an older Chinese Milled SKS that turned out to be very accurate! Not fancy or sexy, but effective, nonetheless.

As for the SIG 556, nice, but expensive, and hard to find parts and accessories for!

In the end, it is not what you have, but what you do with it!
 

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If you want something cool, sexy and black.... go for military style weapons (before the democrats ban them again...)

Personally if I was getting my first again... I would go for something in an AR15 style rifle with either a 16" or 20" barrel chambered in 5.56x45 (basically .223, but make sure your AR says it is chambered for 5.56 on the barrel). I regularly shoot my AR rifles at 300-500 yds, so distance isn't a problem with the right bullet and set up. You should be able to build an AR for about $500.00 on up and buy one stock for about $600.00 on up. Don't waste your bucks on some over priced AR that cost over $1000.00, buy the less expensive one and blow the left over cash on toys and extra's.
 

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Hi Drewbacca, I decided to buy an AK-47 five years ago. I researched for one year before I finally purchased the weapon. The best advice I good give is; Don't buy a cheaper stamped model. IMHO the only AK-47 worth buying is the Russian SLR models that have milled receivers. As far as I know, the only dealer in the USA is Arsenal of Las Vegas. I enjoy my AK-47 every time I go to the range. I wanted an assault rifle that was fun to shoot but would provide confidence if I was ever pursued by a herd of grizzly bears! My son, age 38 has a few assault rifles. I especially like his Remington 700 rifle that uses the .308 cal. If you want any more info on the AK-47 rifle --- please PM me and I will be able to respond better.
Thanks, Digger Doug
 

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Yup, I'd give a +1 for the AK47. There are many good things to say about it, and 7.62x39 is cheap and available.

I've fired a M4 before, but never owned one. I wasn't very impressed, I mean it was okay, but it seems that they are pretty pricey for what they are.
 

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Picture is a several years old, but there are some AK's in there somewhere... (far right)

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Alright, I cruised up to Gander Mtn. with my girlfriend today. They didn't have any AK's, but they did have the Springfield M1 Socom, multiple AR's, and the Sig 556.

Socom: Too huge. Too heavy. It seems very solid and would be a great gun for the trunk of a squad car, but there's no way you can maneuver it with a quickness if you needed to. The only time I would probably use it in a life or death situation would be at home, and my pump shotgun is far easier to whip around.

Bushmaster AR-15 and S&W M&P 15: They had about five or six of each of these, and they all felt like toys in my hands. They were so light and little, and seemed really rickety. They had a M&P 15 all tricked out with a RIS handguard, side-by-side speed mag, and some sort of optics for like $1400 I think. Both of them made me feel like I was playing with a little kids rifle. I don't think the AR is for me.

Sig 556: Excellent weight. Perfect fit to my big frame. The two they had seemed very well put together and very solid and stable. The only downside I could find on it was the price tag of $1499.

Conclusion: The Springfield M1 Socom is way too huge and heavy, as well as $2200. Every AR-15 I touched felt like it was about half a second from falling apart in my hands. They all felt super tiny, and I just wasn't getting a good vibe from it. The Sig 556 made me drool...alot. Now I need to get my hands on an AK and a FN-FAL to see how they feel in comparison to everything else. The round really isn't going to make a difference since I'm a big dude, so going bigger than a .223 is perfectly fine. (Very fine if it ends up being a 7.62 AK....mmmmmmmmmm cheap)

On a side note, I'm now the proud new owner of a Springfield XD-45 Tactical. My girlfriend picked it out and I molested it for a little while before I gave the nod and filled out the paperwork. She also wanted to look at the XD Compacts and a Glock or two, but we both weren't too keen on the Glock...and the XD compact wasn't as cool as the Tactical. Not to mention she's just getting into shooting and I wanted a gun for her that would be easier for her to manipulate if she had to use it on an intruder when I wasn't home.

We're taking it to the range tomorrow for some fun. Hopefully it was $550 well spent.
 

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jwc007 said:
I have 2 Mini-14's, a Mini-30, and have built an AR15A2 and an L1A1 FN FAL, and have a customized Maadi (Egyptian) AKM (AK47).

In My Opinion.........

I consider my L1A1 FAL Sporter to be the crown jewel in my collection, however, it is a Full sized Battle Rifle, and if that is what you want, then I would go for a DS Arms FAL or a full sized M1A.  POF also makes a Gas Piston driven version of the AR10 and that would also be sweet!  .308/7.62 NATO will cost more to shoot than .223 or 7.62x39mm.

(Took me 4 years of scrounging parts during the DARK time of the '94 AWB to build this!)

AR15's with the conventional direct gas impingement system are OK, but you will have more maintenance issues with them.  Just the nature of the beast!  I like the POF AR's with the FAL style gas system the best, and one may be on my shopping list!  http://www.pof-usa.com/


In the "Urban Carbine" class I prefer the Mini-14 for it's reliability and lighter weight.  Good Hi-Cap Magazines are available from aftermarket sources.  Newer Mini-14's have a thicker/enhanced barrel for better accuracy than some of the previous versions.  Mine are 185 serial number series ( 1 in 10 barrel twist) and are adequate for their intended purposes.  My customized "Urban Carbine" Mini-14 has a Chief AJ mounted Long Eye Relief Burris 2.5x Scout Scope, Choate Pistol Gripped Stock, and an A2 style Flash Suppressor.


AK's are OK, especially if you prefer the 7.62x39mm cartridge.  AK's have been used the world over by Forces, both Good and Bad, from a moralist perspective.  I apologize to no one for owning one!  One of the best AK's you can buy are made by Arsenal, Inc.  http://www.arsenalinc.com/ 

A real budget buy can be an SKS with a bunch of stripper clips.  I have an older Chinese Milled SKS that turned out to be very accurate!  Not fancy or sexy, but effective, nonetheless.

As for the SIG 556, nice, but expensive, and hard to find parts and accessories for!

In the end, it is not what you have, but what you do with it!
what Mini-14 magazines have you had good luck with? I finally had to suck it up and buy a couple of factory mags ($50 each), aftermarket mags that I tried would not let the bolt close more than halfway
 

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The FAL is as heavy as or more then the Springfield Socom depending on which one your looking at. But either the Socom or the FAL is a blast to shoot, accurate and will take down anything you could ever dream of hunting.

I can assure you that those over priced AR's you looked at will not break (even with the S&W logo on it ;) ). The average AR should cost you more in the range of $600.00 on up and will out shoot an AK for accuracy. Stay away from the bloated big name AR makers unless you just like to spend money and brag about it. One big plus for an AR, is that once you own one you can buy different uppers and in different calibers and quickly shoot it. With the right setup an AR will shoot 1000 yds.

Your average AK (milled or stamped) does not have the accuracy of the AR and to be honest your AR is just as reliable as your AK. Now that I have bad mouthed the AK, let me say that I really love all of my AK's. They are fun to shoot and easy to mod with accessories or work on too. I have yet to find any difference in function or reliability between a Milled or Stamped receiver. Average AK cost for a stamped receiver starts about $350.00

The Sig 556 is a very nice weapon, one worth owning and is well worth the bragging points for the "REALLY COOL" factor. This is the only thing on your list that I do not own and have yet to shoot... you could buy it just to make me jealous LOL! :)


I am guessing the real questions you should be asking yourself is what your wanting or expecting out of your rifle? What do you want to do with it? Shooting at the range? Hunting? Home Defense? Then of course there is the question of what caliber you want? Lot more recoil in a 7.62x51 compared to the 7.62x39 or even the 5.56. I bring up these questions because I would hate for you to buy the wrong rifle for the right reason... :-[
 

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rpddsmith said:
what Mini-14 magazines have you had good luck with? I finally had to suck it up and buy a couple of factory mags ($50 each), aftermarket mags that I tried would not let the bolt close more than halfway
The Metal Hi-Cap Mini-14 magazines I have do not have any names stamped on them. They came from CDNN Investments.
http://www.cdnninvestments.com/ruger2.html

The Plastic Hi-Caps (30 rounders) I'm using are made by Pro-Mag and their design was adapted from the M16/AR15 Thermold magazines. While Pro-Mag has a spotty reputation at best, these Pro-Mags work very well so far and mine are 3 years old. I have 7 of them. Sportsmansguide has them in 3 packs.
http://www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=207015

When buying aftermarket magazines, buy only one, test it for function before buying more. I try to find my samples at Gun Shows or Gun Shops.
 

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Drewbacca,

Before you put money into any Rifle/Carbine system see if you can't find someone who owns several and can let you try different rifles. My personal "pet" rifle is a 10.5" AR. Lots of people pick it to death...it works for me and meets my needs. (I am about your size..of I admit it looks like a toy in my hands...but I can get lead on target with it FAST) I would have never considered one if I hadn't fired someone else's first. You might find that at the range that SOCCOM might be just what you need or that maybe the light weight but scary accurate AR-15 is your best bet or you might fall in love with the AK.

My point is you need to do more than compare the "looks" and "feel"...you need to see how they perform for you. One of my faves is my beat up Handi-Rifle in .243. Nothing to look at at all and the fit and finish is as plain as it gets, but that rifle will shoot rings around my ex father in laws expensive bolt gun.

When it comes to rifles beauty is more than skin deep.

techmike

p.s....enjoy that XD it is a nice pistol.
 

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techmike said:
My point is you need to do more than compare the "looks" and "feel"...you need to see how they perform for you. One of my faves is my beat up Handi-Rifle in .243. Nothing to look at at all and the fit and finish is as plain as it gets, but that rifle will shoot rings around my ex father in laws expensive bolt gun.

When it comes to rifles beauty is more than skin deep.

techmike

p.s....enjoy that XD it is a nice pistol.
You've certainly got that right! I have a Handi-Rifle in .223, topped with a 6-24x Target Scope that shoots into 1 inch or less at 100 yards!

Drewbacca,
It may also be possible to find a Rifle Range in your area that rents rifles. But finding a shooting buddy with a collection of "toys" may be more likely.
 

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Ruger Mini-14 or a Armalite 180B make sense if you don't want to pay $1000+ for a rifle. While not carbines per se they are shorter than the AR15 regular rifles, yet loose no ballistic efficiency from the shorter 16'' barrels the carbines have. The .223 has lost much velocity and efficiency from the 14" barrels used by the military. While the .223 carbine hits harder than a pistol round, one still gives up a lot with the shorty barrels.
Why handicap yourself and have heavier muzzle blast?

One other off the top of the head idea. Marlin makes the 1894 rifle in a carbine 18" barrel in .357 magnum. Decent power level and the carbine does give the revolver round a velocity boost that would give a decent level of protection. Can be used for hunting, too.

Doesn't look like an "assault rifle" if that matters.

Try out as many of the brands listed as possible.
Gun Tests magazine has new issue with most of the brand shorty carbines of the AR family and it's clones.
 

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Drewbacca, the rest are right, you need to shoot the rifles before you go off and buy one. Especially if you are going to spend $1400 on a rifle. I built three AR-15s and I love them to death, but I can fix them if things ever go wrong, they are easy to work on for me. Building one for $500 now though is a little tougher to do, just don't expect a wonder gun. I have never heard of AK's breaking , however I once had a friend who was going to buy a mak 90 and that thing failed to feed, seems that the feed ramp wasn't machined right, not an easy fix. I am not a fan of Chinese guns anyway. The FALs and The G3's I have only handled never shot but I do like the FAL system, looks easy to repair. The M1 family, and I group the mini-14 and 30 in with these are the best. Tough as nails, and they shoot good, but they are tough to put optics on. I never had a malfunction with any of them. Usually people get min-14s as their first step into an assault rifle, because they don't break and you don't have to worry about cleaning it like an AR. I don't disagree.
 

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i have a mak-90, i cetainly wouldn't call it high end but i have found it reliable, another low end option are the saiga's, do the pistol grip conversion and they are pretty decent fo the money.

that said, the AR's are an awful nice reliable platform, i have never got one together for less than $600, unless nostalga is your thing buy a flat top upper, they are allot more diverse for sight options.

another gun i have grown fond of is the remington 7400/742/740 series, they have proven themselves to me, but there are some bad apple ones out there i have been told. i just about have all the different chamberings they make, the .280, although a little tough to get ammo, is a super shooter, i can consistanty lace the holes at 100yds.
 
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