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Old 10-06-2013, 02:06 AM   #1
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MBR/3 gun rifle (mod the oddball ak, get ar?)

I currently do not have a center-fire, semi-automatic, high capacity magazine fed rifle. (!)

I'd like a "Main Battle Rifle" that can be a go to defensive implement in unfortunate time, but mostly serve for 3 gun matches (which I am trying to get started into).

I have a VEPR AK in .223. It is a really nice AK, but mags are a pain. The factory makes 5rd and 10rd mags, and the guns are not compatible with other 5.56 AK mags (like Polish Beryl, Galil, etc) without modification to either the mag or release. The factory mags are also very hard to find, and at least $35 a piece when you do find them.

So I see that there are 3 options, in no particular order (with some rationale below each option):

1. Keep the VEPR, buy an AR. VEPR would likely be set up with higher power scope for longer range shooting.

(Why sell a good gun if I don't really need to? It will never go down in value anyways unless the ban from the whole country, but that is a much bigger problem.)

2. Sell the VEPR, buy an AR. Does the VEPR do anything the AR doesn't? Why not free up some fiat to fund the AR?

(I got the VEPR in a pre-Sandyhook sale, could probably get $100-200 more than what I paid for. And why have another gun sitting around not getting shot much since I probably be shooting the AR mostly?)

3. Modify the VEPR to accept AR mags and compy with 922r. There mag are adapters for this, but they probably weren't made for the VEPR specifically (slightly different recievers). Also, not sure if a bullet guide would be needed. That and the rest of the 922r stuff would run me between $350 and $400. That price does not include an optic since I would get one for the AR too. (trigger, mag adaptor, stock adapter, stock, grip, forend, maybe bullet guide)

(This would be cool for sure, smaller outlay than buy another rifle, and no hassle of selling a gun. But would probably be a big time consuming, pain-in-the-but dremel fest, and it could still not work right in the end.)

I'm kind of torn right now, but part of me is a bit tired of odd-ball guns with hard to find parts and such. I really only have 1 gun that is "the common choice" with huge support. I picked it partially for that reason and just got it recently. Being able to walk into any gun store in the world and get mags/parts/holsters is pretty nice after hunting around on the net for every little thing and then paying throught he nose for it.

So what would the brain-trust of PMBug do?






*******************************

Now for some AR education, since I don't know all that much about them.

The internet tells me that the Colt LE6920 is basically the standard, no-nonsense, good quality AR that can be made into whatever you want (buy it and enjoy). Most people seem to think it is a pretty good deal for the ~$1100 (+tax at Walmart, so about 1200 for me) they go for.

There also appears to be the opinion that carbine-length gas systems (which the Colt has) are not as good as mid-length gas systems. If memory serves correctly, the mid-lengths are supposed to be more reliable.

Looking around on gun broker, the Daniel Dense V7 (the model I think I like) can be had for about $1300 out the door (no sales tax from out of state sellers), figure $1400 for adding some backup irons.

From what I hear, DD is a top tier manufacturer if there is any, and this rifle seems pretty slick to me.

So here are my questions/concers:

Is a mid-length really more reliable, to the point of being worth a little more cash?

Is a mid-length like the DD going to have similar parts compatibility as the Colt? The DD seems to be mostly "mil-spec", but I'm not sure exactly what that means.

My concern here is keeping the rifle running for years to come, particularly if/when guns get much more expensive and scarce. I figure since the Colt is about as close to "standard issue" as you can get, the parts supply chain should last for decades. I wouldn't want to get a really nice rifle and then have the company stop making parts a few years later, leaving me with a once-broken-forever-broken gun.




As usual, thank you Brain Trust.

Last edited by dontdeBasemebro; 10-06-2013 at 02:09 AM.
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Old 10-06-2013, 08:19 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by dontdeBasemebro View Post:
...
So what would the brain-trust of PMBug do?
Does the VEPR work? If so, I would not sell it if I didn't have to (to raise fund for another purchase).

Originally Posted by dontdeBasemebro View Post:
...
The DD seems to be mostly "mil-spec", but I'm not sure exactly what that means.
mil-spec = military specification. The firearm is made with materials and to specifications that comply with military specifications (ie. to be eligible to be sold to the military). In general, mil-spec means high quality.

Originally Posted by dontdeBasemebro View Post:
...
... the parts supply chain should last for decades. ...
The beauty of mil-spec ARs is that parts should be interchangeable with other mil-spec parts regardless of manufacturer.

Once upon a time, I was looking to build my own AR with receiver (complete lower) + upper + parts from http://palmettostatearmory.com/ If nothing else, you could call those guys and ask them questions. They should be able to guide you.
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Old 10-06-2013, 08:48 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
Does the VEPR work? If so, I would not sell it if I didn't have to (to raise fund for another purchase).
Oh, yes, quite well, and it is built like a tank. I agree with not selling a perfectly good gun in most cases too, since it is always valuable to have a working gun and this one is unlikely to be come worth less than what I paid for it any time soon. That also makes me a hesitant to start hacking it up. I also tend to pick guns that are very close to what I want and make a few minor changes here or there (like upgrading iron sight to tech sights on a surplus rifle, or magazine tube extension on a shotgun, etc); I'm not into tricking things out really.


Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
mil-spec = military specification. The firearm is made with materials and to specifications that comply with military specifications (ie. to be eligible to be sold to the military). In general, mil-spec means high quality.
I had that general understanding, so I should have been a bit more clear. I don't really know where the mil-spec stuff ends and the non-compatible stuff begins. Would a mid-length be mostly compatible or would I be up the creek for spare parts a decade from now? The VEPR is kind of a special case/rare bird, so I would want an AR that is common like a chevy 350 or Honda 4-cyl.



Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
The beauty of mil-spec ARs is that parts should be interchangeable with other mil-spec parts regardless of manufacturer.
That's definately what I want! So how much interchangeability would a mid-length have with a carbine length? (This is really what I meant to ask up front, late night rambling posts...lol)

Originally Posted by PMBug View Post:
Once upon a time, I was looking to build my own AR with receiver (complete lower) + upper + parts from http://palmettostatearmory.com/ If nothing else, you could call those guys and ask them questions. They should be able to guide you.
That thought crossed my mind too, but I figure experimenting with an AR build is probably not what I should do for a gun I want to be able to depend on. It seems to make more sense to get a good AR, get familiar with the gun, and then futz around with building one when I have more time and experience with the platform.


Now that I have slept on it, for at least a few hours anyways, I think the VEPR conversion is off the table. It would just be too much of a hassle for something that may take a fine-running gun and turn it into iffy hack job. VEPRs are top of the line AKs, hack-jobs are what cheap parts kits are for.

I should just admit that I'm AR shopping now, lol.

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Old 10-07-2013, 01:08 PM   #4
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Yeah, likely. I have a few AR's here, like them a lot, but there are interesting things about Colt vs the rest - Colt uses non-standard pin sizes to join uppers and lowers, so nothing else fits. On the other hand, my Colt HBAR is the most accurate of all the ones I have, and the most reliable (despite some fancy gunsmithing by me - got the trigger a bit light and it will go full-auto if "you don't hold it right").

I'd go for just about anyone's generic lower if I liked the stock - and then go to the gun show where uppers of any design imaginable are available and affordable. That way, you can have just the gun you want, when you want it, down the road. From a light short one for tactical use, to a long heavy, fast-twist one for longer ranges. Fun gun either way. Gunshow uppers (at least around here) by small private makers tend to be both outstanding and inexpensive, considering.

Not that fond of my AR-10 in .308...lots of issues there they thought they could solve by just putting a stronger set of springs into each part, so now it folds the brass nearly in half on ejection - unacceptable for a reloader. David Tubb goes into great length in his book on high power shooting on how he fixed all those issues - I'm about 2/3 of the way through all those mods I shouldn't have had to make. It's not inaccurate or unreliable, just really hard on the brass. A heck of a lot more punch than an AK no matter what, though.
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Old 10-07-2013, 11:15 PM   #5
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So once you have a Colt lower you are stuck with a Colt upper. Good info!

I need to visit a gun show or something so I can handle a bunch of different ones at the same time to make sure I like the type of config that I think I like.

I poked around on some of the AR message boards and DD seems very highly regarded. I didn't hear a bad word about them, not that Colt was dogged by any means though.

Granted, either of this is a good choice to go with.
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Old 10-08-2013, 12:50 AM   #6
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IIRC, the colt pins are a little smaller, and theoretically, you could drill them out to accept what is now a "standard" upper with the larger holes and pins. Never felt the need, but I've shot a bunch of others, and seen some awfully nice uppers at the shows in just about any flavor/weight/barrel length/twist etc you could ever want. Pretty cheap too, depending on how exotic.

The lower is "the gun" as far as the gun laws go - the part with a serial number. It's about as complex as a retractable pen, and not hard to get it right. That part you have to deal with the paper work on. Haven't run into a truly bad one so far, but I don't like some of the stocks out there, due to comfort/balance issues.

The uppers have no paper/regulations associated with them, which is why so many people are making cool ones cheap. I happen to prefer flat tops (for scope), floating barrels, and a controlled gas valve myself, but you can get just about anything. Heck, I even put a pistol scope on my Carbon-15 pistol since my eyes suck so bad. Now I can see the reticle and the target at the same time, even on a mere 2x, with easy/quick sight acquisition. I don't usually fool with those that have picatinny rails in excess - hard on the hands, and I don't see the point of putting on a flashlight to show the other guy just where to shoot me at.

Lots of good brands. DPMS, Armalite, JP and so on - most all are good, actually. All the accuracy determining things are in the upper.
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Old 10-08-2013, 09:58 AM   #7
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I did kind of what DC suggests, and bought a nice lower. I then proceeded to the Melbourne gun show and bought a small shop upper with a carbine barrel and free floating rails. I outfitted it with a rather expensive Eotech sight and a Larue flip-mount sporting a 4X magnifier without a reticule. I can drive nails at 100 yards and make head shots at 200 when I am patient and it's not too windy. That said, I kind of prefer the Sig 5.56 simply because it's so well made and so deadly accurate. I do not own one [yet] but my good friend does, and he allows me to fire at will while at my range. The best part of belonging to a good gun range [as a full member, not an associate] is that I can bring more than one guest, and for those who cannot afford the dues, it allows them to tag along and bring their toys, which I get to shoot.

I think you should keep the VEPR because two is one and one is none. It is a capable rifle and you are comfortable with it and used to the action. To buy another rifle chambered in the same caliber is a smart move, since simplicity is beauty when talking about prepping your firearms.

Also, Like DC says, you can have a single lower, but multiple uppers. If you have a 9mm pistol in your preps, you could add a pistol caliber 9mm upper to the mix. That way you could not only switch out of .223/5.56 but you could use the 9mm upper at most indoor ranges.

The "generic" AR platform parts are highly interchangeable so you can use a part from one gun in any other gun almost universally, so having AR's tends to mean you are never completely "down" if something breaks.
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Old 10-08-2013, 12:55 PM   #8
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By "small shop" upper do you mean something like a Spikes/Stag/Windham/etc instead of Colt/Bushmaster/etc, or do you mean Jim the gunsmith at Guns&Ammo of Floyd?

I priced out a Spikes midlength complete upper, stripped lower, and all the bits and it came to about 860 (carbine legnth was only 10 less). It seems the same rifle assembled is 100 more, but since most of the work is in the upper that makes sense.

Thinking a bit more, I need to really work out why I would be getting the gun. We all talk about the end of the world, but realistically I'm going to be playing range games.

Maybe build a lower priced AR for the range and get an AK for serious business for the price of the DD?

Maybe just build a lower priced AR for the range and have that be it? I already have the VEPR and SKS...as much as I like guns, I don't want 100 of them nor to be one of those "all bullets, no beans" types.

I'm trying to play like I practice, meaning that the guns I use for games are the ones I would be using for defense. The problem I have is that for defense I'm still kind of stuck on AK platform for durability/reliability and ammo availablility/price (at least as of late 7.62 has been easier to come by).

I'll be using my new carry pistol for IDPA/3gun for that reason, even though it is not a great range gun.

I also need to check with the local 3gun matches to see if they have any local rules about what types of guns/ammo you can use. Some ranges have a no steel case rule, my range's 3gun matches are .223/5.56 only, etc.
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Old 10-08-2013, 02:42 PM   #9
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DDMB Said:

-By "small shop" upper do you mean something like a Spikes/Stag/Windham/etc instead of Colt/Bushmaster/etc, or do you mean Jim the gunsmith at Guns&Ammo of Floyd?-


Yes. I like Spikes and I also like Del-ton for parts and pieces. I find them to be fairly tight on tolerances, so other parts from different shops will fit them nicely.

Since I do not shoot IDPA I am not able to comment intelligently on that issue, but our range hosts quite a few events so I can call the Range Master and get a set of printed rules and post them if you like.

As far as a reason to buy a new gun, I 'm one of those guys who will buy a gun because doing so takes a half ounce of weight out of my wallet, meaning that I will be able to tread water for an extra 15 seconds before drowning should I fall in to a lake. In other words, I don't need much convincing to buy another gun. I do however keep my guns the same caliber. I am completely with you on having too many different calibers since it becomes more of a burden than a pleasure. We have .22, 5.56/.223, 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Makarov, and .45 calibers in handgun. In rifle, we have 5.56/.223, .22, 7.62 X 39 and 7.62 X 54 for the Mosin Nagant. Shotgun is 12ga., 20ga. and 410.

That's enough variety for me!
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Old 10-08-2013, 03:30 PM   #10
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Well, it's DCFusor the gunsmith around here, but I see some fine work done by the guys who travel with the gunshows - I look/ask who they bought their barrels from, know what's good and so on. So for me that route is easy - and often cheaper - than just buying the parts and screwing them together. Of course, some of them get "artsy" and make these beautiful weird things that are more to look at than shoot (IMO) - but that's usually obvious when you look at them.

If you have an AK (really, an SKS, AK's are full-auto) - that is reliable, that's really something. Only one from eastern yurp has been trouble free on my range, all the others jam frequently - of have issues during mag changes. Keep it - but it's a rare SKS that's really any good. I've seen zero that are better than minute of milk jug on the range. OK, if the zombies are coming up the driveway, but I prefer to get them a bit further back...

For the AR's (and most others) skinny barrels are light and fast, but not as accurate. Short stubbys are accurate, but not fun to carry. Longer ones *may* be more accurate a real long ranges, but it's a tossup (more velocity, but more vibration error).

Go to the range and see what the other guys have, or do youtube for some of the national winners and see what they are using. It's usually a good place to begin. Of course, the champs get custom gunsmithing, get to select the best of many off the production run, etc...but no champ uses crap.

These guys: http://www.jprifles.com/ make some real nice accessories you might think about for range use later...Their recoil eliminator actually does eliminate recoil, almost totally. At the expense of blowing the glasses off people 20 feet to the side, it's wicked. Good triggers and other parts too - a friend really likes their adjustable gas block (if you get a gas operated upper).

Note, you shouldn't change bolts between uppers without checking the headspace. If you don't know what that means, ask someone who does. Might save you from a jam - or injury. It's one of those things you *usually* can get away with, but not always.

When I was running a software dev company, and sharing the office with my reloading setup, I had a guy threaten to quit if I got yet another caliber as space was getting cramped (he was joking). But that's not bad advice. Less is more in a lot of situations.
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Old 10-09-2013, 07:10 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by ancona View Post:
DDMB Said:

-By "small shop" upper do you mean something like a Spikes/Stag/Windham/etc instead of Colt/Bushmaster/etc, or do you mean Jim the gunsmith at Guns&Ammo of Floyd?-


Yes. I like Spikes and I also like Del-ton for parts and pieces. I find them to be fairly tight on tolerances, so other parts from different shops will fit them nicely.
I've been looking into it a bit more, and building from a stripped lower and complete upper really doesn't look that hard. Seems you just need punches and patience. It kind of looks fun actually...next thing you know I'm buying half a dozen lowers and...

Originally Posted by ancona View Post:
Since I do not shoot IDPA I am not able to comment intelligently on that issue, but our range hosts quite a few events so I can call the Range Master and get a set of printed rules and post them if you like.
Part of the reason I got the VEPR in .223 instead of some other caliber was because I thought of using it for 3gun at my range. Even though other calibers are legal in 3gun (there is even a Heavy class for .308/.45/12ga), my range says only 5.56. This is probably due to ricochet hazards in the small bays where they run competitions. I'll need to email the match directors for the other local ranges and see.

Originally Posted by ancona View Post:
As far as a reason to buy a new gun, I 'm one of those guys who will buy a gun because doing so takes a half ounce of weight out of my wallet, meaning that I will be able to tread water for an extra 15 seconds before drowning should I fall in to a lake. In other words, I don't need much convincing to buy another gun. I do however keep my guns the same caliber. I am completely with you on having too many different calibers since it becomes more of a burden than a pleasure. We have .22, 5.56/.223, 9mm Parabellum, 9mm Makarov, and .45 calibers in handgun. In rifle, we have 5.56/.223, .22, 7.62 X 39 and 7.62 X 54 for the Mosin Nagant. Shotgun is 12ga., 20ga. and 410.

That's enough variety for me!
Agreed, I already have .22, 9x18, 9x19, .38sp, 5.56/.223, 7.62x39, 7.62x54r, 12ga, and 20ga. I actually wouldn't mind dropping the number down, but they are reasonably useful and common. I wouldn't bother with stuff like 6.8, 5.7, .22 mag etc. In the same line of thought, I'd like to keep the number of platforms under control as well in order to reduce the need for a billion different magazine and other hardware. I agree though that it doesn't take much convincing to buy a gun since they will always have a function and are not likely to lose value either, but there must be a limit at some point (let's find it!).

Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
If you have an AK (really, an SKS, AK's are full-auto) - that is reliable, that's really something. Only one from eastern yurp has been trouble free on my range, all the others jam frequently - of have issues during mag changes. Keep it - but it's a rare SKS that's really any good. I've seen zero that are better than minute of milk jug on the range. OK, if the zombies are coming up the driveway, but I prefer to get them a bit further back...
Mine is an actual SKS. I would bet that most of the malfuntioning AKs were sporter imports that were converted. Some models had issues because they were imported under 922r to only accept 10rd single stack mags and when the importers opened up the mag well for double stacks some didn't do such a good job. Century is known for putting together some rather sloppy WASR AKs and others that have issues. SKSs are known to get unreliable when people start hacking them up with hi-cap mags. A decent SKS left stock should be very reliable, but as you said never that accurate. 2-3MOA with stock sights, and maybe you can tighten it up with better sights or a scope. For $200 rifle it is what it is, something that goes bang with the crappiest of ammo and is minute of badguy; luckily I got one that seems to have not seen much use back east. I have a tech-sight rear and plan to upgrade the thick front post to a crosshair soon. The stock sights on com-block surplus truly are crap.

Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
For the AR's (and most others) skinny barrels are light and fast, but not as accurate. Short stubbys are accurate, but not fun to carry. Longer ones *may* be more accurate a real long ranges, but it's a tossup (more velocity, but more vibration error).
I would plan on the 16" most likely, it should do everything I would ask (up to 300yd).

Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
These guys: http://www.jprifles.com/ make some real nice accessories you might think about for range use later...Their recoil eliminator actually does eliminate recoil, almost totally. At the expense of blowing the glasses off people 20 feet to the side, it's wicked. Good triggers and other parts too - a friend really likes their adjustable gas block (if you get a gas operated upper).
I bet that recoil eliminator makes quite a sound, too! I'll keep these guys in mind if I do go with an AR.

Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
Note, you shouldn't change bolts between uppers without checking the headspace. If you don't know what that means, ask someone who does. Might save you from a jam - or injury. It's one of those things you *usually* can get away with, but not always.
That's a big part of why I would go with a complete upper. I know what headspace is, but getting it right is a bit more gunsmithing than I'm up for at this point.

Originally Posted by DCFusor View Post:
When I was running a software dev company, and sharing the office with my reloading setup, I had a guy threaten to quit if I got yet another caliber as space was getting cramped (he was joking). But that's not bad advice. Less is more in a lot of situations.
Very true, I'd rather spend more time/money on training and practice than on a new caliber to mess with.
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