Upper End Uppers
Dr. John Woods 04.25.17
What would you expect to have to pay for a good quality AR-15 rifle? When working gun shows or answering other inquiries from preppers, this is a very frequent question.
Preppers and survivalists as well just everyday “deplorable” citizens desiring to protect themselves and their property want a good AR, but don’t understand the value of some of the sky high ARs on the market. What is a reasonable sum to pay for one of these very popular rifles?
As of the last count from a variety of firearms information sources, there are over 400 manufacturers of AR rifles. Likely the number now is very close to 500. Then there are the multiple models that some makers offer at various levels from a base model. This is kind of like shopping for a new pickup truck. There are at least 3-4 option levels of the same base model with prices reflecting all the options available.
Even so, there is some considerable variability in pricing from one maker to another just for a base model. This is what confuses the average gun consumer. Many AR rifles are like this, so you have to dig in and do some tough shopping to find the real values.
Based on what is seen in the marketplace right now, if you can find a new in the box AR rifle for under $600, then buy it. Research the brand to see how long they have been in business and the story of their quality, assembly, and specifications. All else being equal, any advertised “mil-spec” AR rifle ought to be a good, basic rifle.
Recently I saw big box ads running for ARs. One had a base DPMS A-15 Oracle for $549.99. Another was offering the Ruger AR-556 for $649.99. These are both basic models and will serve any shooter well.
On the other end of the spectrum you have rifles like the FN15 for $2249, the Wilson Super Sniper (308) for $3145 and a Seekins Precision for $2650. Are these rifles really that much better? In terms of everyday shooting function, I doubt it. While I would expect a higher level of machining, fit, and finish, that is often in the eyes of the end user.
For a starter AR, there are many models on the market that will serve you well. If you use the gauge of $600-$700, I think you’ll find a quality base model that you can accessorize on your own.