PDA

View Full Version : Precision AR Comparison: Budget vs. Premium



Warg
09-14-12, 16:27
A few months ago I completed another precision build using a Krieger SPR—profile barrel for which I am pleased. After looking at my spend on this (hereafter the “premium” build) and other “SPR” like ARs I’ve built, I wondered how a less expensive alternative might fare.

Thus, the intent of this review and comparison is twofold:


Can a reliable, precision AR can be built for approximately $2K (the “budget” build)?

How much better would a rifle perform at twice that amount?


Goals
My goals for these two rifles were/are the following: sub-0 .75 MOA at 100-300 yards; 18” rifle gas BBL that can shoot 5.56 and .223 loads; typical “SPR” like optic power range; collapsible stocks so they would fit in my small rifle bags (and could easily be lugged in the field for varmint/range work); $2,000 max budget for Rifle 1; and $4,000 budget for Rifle 2.

Parts
I will initially address the components employed in each rifle, their cost, and follow-up the review with accuracy and MV data using a variety of 5.56 and .223 ammunition.

Caveat: this comparison is not an exhaustive attempt to review of all possible parts or combinations of parts one might consider for similar builds.

For brevity, I’m not going to describe my thought processes involved in selecting every component. I will highlight some key choices, however. For the budget rifle, some of the parts were leftovers from other builds & build concepts, so I used what I had in the parts bin. Examples of these are the Noveske BCG, upper receiver, CH, stock, lower receiver, MI rail and pistol grip. I’m extremely pleased with the Geissele SSA triggers as I’ve used in many of my rifles- both hunting and precision, thus I employed that in the budget rifle. I’m new to the more expensive Geissele SDE trigger, but based on what I’ve read, I was eager to try it in a precision build. This went into the premium build.

Additionally, I wanted to try the BAD short throw lever since I use a thumbless grip for precision shooting. I opted out of using this part in the budget rifle for obvious reasons.
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2146_sm.jpg

Barrels
The stainless barrels were selected based on first-hand experience with these brands. I’ve put together a few rifles with WOA barrels and all have been very good performers. The same can be stated with Krieger, though these are more precise as one would expect. I opted for SPR profile barrels as I thought I might add muzzle devices or cans at some point and I didn’t want overly long barrels for these configurations. Both SPR barrels utilize the exact same profile specifications and can be used with the OPS Inc. brakes. These taper to .740 at the muzzle, BTW. Both were coated in Cerakote Graphite Black and baked for 2 hours at 250 degrees.

I’m using VLTOR clamp-on style gas blocks on both. I typically use the set screw versions, but went with the clamp-on versions since I seem to frequently swap among various rifles and rails. This is difficult when using the set screw versions as I usually secure the screws with Rocksett and can be a PITA to remove as it typically requires drilling out the screws and trashes the block. There is a fair amount of clearance between the gas block and the Noveske rail, but very little clearance in the MI rail. I had to grind the GB screws a little bit on the budget rifle to ensure there would be no interference. It is possible that barrel flex during shooting may result in contact with the rail. I would not recommend using the VLTOR clamp-on style blocks with the MI SSGT2 rails.

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2506_sm.jpg
WOA 18” SPR barrel with rifle gas and Wylde chamber

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2263_sm.jpg
Kreiger 18” SPR barrel with rifle gas and Compass Lake Engineering chamber

I could not decide which muzzle device I was going to use on the premium rifle, so I opted to use a thread protector for now. Since I’m going to do an accuracy comparison, I purchased another for the budget rifle to mitigate the effects any muzzle device(s). I sourced these (1/2x24 and .720” OD) from YHM and coated them in H-series Cerakote Graphite Black. These thread protectors are exactly that- thread protectors and are the exact same length as the threaded portion of the barrel. I also wanted to protect the crowns of both barrels, so I simply added some crush washers between the barrel and the TP for now. I will replace these with proper shims if I decide to retain them. Pic of the muzzles are below.

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2569_sm.jpg
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2581_sm.jpg
Yes, I realize the crush washers are backwards. They're not actually serving as crush washers, however.

I also have an image of a Noveske thread protector that I believe is made by AAC. This is longer than the YHM and affords more protection to the crown without having to use a shim or washer. Unfortunately, it’s .760” diameter and looks a bit funky on the SPR profile barrels.
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2245_sm.jpg

As these 18” barreled rifles are both configured with rifle length gas systems, I knew they would be soft shooters. I wanted to see if I could perceive any difference in recoil by using a lightweight (JP) carrier in one vs. a standard carrier in another while using the VLTOR A5 REs, buffers and rifles springs in both. I decided to use the lightest A5 buffers, Mod0, to start with given the expected gas pressure and dwell time. I have H1-H3s on hand to try if necessary.

Optics
The Nightforce compact is probably the de facto choice for a precision SPR-style 5.56 build. I’ve been using these for a little while now and like the optic very much. I think it is a near-optimal power range for the premium precision AR given my requirements. It’s not a perfect optic, however, as there are a few drawbacks. Namely the eye box is not very forgiving, no parallax adjustment, and one can easily get lost when dialing the turrets as there are no reference indices marked on the scope. I do have the ZS option on this optic for precisely those occasions. I would like to try the USO 1.8-10X FFP one of these days…

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2562_sm.jpg

For the budget build optic, I’m simply “borrowing” a scope from my 6.8 hunting AR. I think this is an ideal hunting optic for the 6.8, but it’s not my precision optic of choice for several reasons: the reticle is a bit thick; I wish it had half-mil hashes, the turrets are too small and are MOA which do not match the reticle. The glass is nice, however, and compares favorably with the NF. Eye relief is a bit longer than the NXS, but the eye box is more forgiving. If I was going to purchase a budget precision optic, my short list would probably include the SWFA 3-9x42 ($599), Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10x44 ($599), and perhaps the newer Burris 3.5-10x42 MTAC with G2B mil reticle and mil turrets ($449) or MidwayUSA’s exclusive 3-10x40 Weaver Tactical with mildot reticle and mil turrets ($299 occasionally).

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2561_sm.jpg

After comparing the Nightforce and the TR20 back-to-back, I was rather surprised that I could perceive little difference between the two scopes at max power. The NF, of course, is rated at 2.5-10x and the Trijicon at 3-9x. Below is an image of a 7-11 sign that is 745y away.

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/7-11naked_sm.jpg
No magnification

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/NSX750y10x_sm.jpg
The sign as seen through the Nightforce at 10 power.


http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/TRG20750y9x_sm.jpg
Same sign through the Trijicon Accupoint at 9 power.


The differences were similarly imperceptible between the NF and the Accupoint at 2.5x and 3x, respectively. Please note that the images captured through my inexpensive point and shoot camera do not reflect the quality of the image when looking through the optics. I did not properly focus the image in the Trijicon photograph as it was difficult to support the rifle and camera while trying to capture the image and focus in the EVF. Again, I was very surprised at the clarity of the Accupoint compared to the Nightforce. In low light, the Accupoint was stellar as well. I'll take some additional images at the range using a better camera and post these at a later date.

A table depicting each component, cost, and the difference between the two for each rifle is included below. One can clearly see that I did not meet my budget targets for rifle I and that I was slightly over for rifle 2:

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/Precisionpartscomparison.jpg

The rilfles

Premium
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2571_sm.jpg

The Magpul STR stock is fitted with a modified MI picatinny rail, “MCTAR05” for mounting a monopod. This was an experiment I posted earlier in THIS (https://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=105633) thread. After using it a bit, I’m not really a big fan of the monopod, but it does work okay on the bench and I will use it on this and the budget rifle to see how it compares to a traditional media filled sock. I purchased a Noveske 5-slot keymod pic rail to mount the Atlas bipod, but didn’t really need all of the slots on the rail. I had modified a MI rail for another build and decided to use that rail instead.


Budget
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2570_sm.jpg

I had some leftover Burnt Bronze Cerakote for a friend’s build and decided to coat the budget rilfle as the lower had several blemishes from years of use. I’ve gone back and forth on which bipod to use. A swivel stud is supplied with the MI rail and can be used to mount a Harris or Harris-style bipod. To save some space in my range bag, I mounted the included picatinny rail on the forearm so I only have to carry my favorite bipod, the Atlas.

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2565_sm.jpg

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2564_sm.jpg

Weights

Both rifles were configured without any real regard for weight savings. However, after looking at their respective weights, they’re somewhat svelte compared to other precision ARs rifles I’ve put together. Without the optics, these are very similar. The heavier VLTOR upper in the premium rifle is offset by the lightweight carrier. Both hand guards are similar in weight, though the MI rail is 1.5” longer. A comparison of weights between the two rifles:

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2557_sm.jpg
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2560_sm.jpg
Premium weights


http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2558_sm.jpg
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2559_sm.jpg
Budget weights

The primary difference in weights lies with the optics. The NF is about 6 ounces heavier compared to the Accupoint. The images above show a slightly larger difference due to the NF’s scope caps and 30mm vs. 1” Bobro mounts


Budgets
I overshot my $2K target for the budget rifle by$389, but I could have very nearly met the goal by swapping the following components:


$133 savings: A5RE; Castle nut, endplate, A5 buffer, spring, B5 stock ($197) for WOA A2 rifle stock assembly (includes buffer, spring and bits for $64).

$29 savings: Bobro mount ($209) for ADM Recon scope mount ($180).

$25 savings: Magpul Enhanced trigger guard and MAID grip ($54) for a basic trigger guard and MOE grip ($19). Could save an additional $19 if using an A2 grip.

$51 savings: RRA lower ($150) for an Aero Precision lower ($99) or similar

$100 savings: Trijicon Accupoint ($699) for SWFA or Vortex Scope ($599)


This sums to $338 savings for a build total of $2,051. If one is really pinching pennies, use the Weaver Tactical scope instead and save another $300. That’s only $1,751 for everything including the Harris bipod!

Findings
The important comparisons will follow. I'll cover shooting characteristics, muzzle velocities and groupings for many types of hunting and precision ammo. Sorry, no Wolf will be shot in these.

C-grunt
09-14-12, 20:01
Awesome thread. Looking forward to the continuing comparison.

lethal dose
09-14-12, 20:20
Can't wait for results. I'll be willing to bet they're close.

BigLarge
09-15-12, 01:09
Outstanding thread. Anxious to see the results.

Atlshaun
09-15-12, 13:17
Awesome info for someone considering building one of these. Thank you.

kgwld1
09-15-12, 22:36
Very nice post! Thanks for the time you put onto it

GRANTFTW
09-15-12, 23:12
Bravo man. Subscribed

CodeRed30
09-16-12, 00:35
Love this. I'm really interested to see your impressions between the barrels. An SPR-type AR will be my next build.

Keith E.
09-17-12, 13:24
Thanks for your time and effort on this project. Looking forward to the results.

Thanks, Keith

Warg
09-17-12, 14:20
Thanks all. I hope the review is somewhat useful for those considering similar builds.

The first range day comparisons will begin tomorrow. I've already sighted-in the premium rifle, but will need to do the same for the budget. I'll use some inexpensive ammo such as 62gr Prvi and post some chronograph data.

For the groups and ammo comparisons, I'm will focus on the more expensive match grade stuff, but will include some plinking ammo too.
Here's is my (no longer short ;)) short list with what I paid per round (without shipping) and manufacturer listed muzzle velocities:

Black Hills VMAX .223 50gr, $.74 per round, 3,150 MV
Black Hills VMAX .223 60gr, $.90 per, 3,150 MV
Black Hills SMK .223 69gr, $1.00 per, 2,850 MV
Black Hills SMK .223 77gr, $1.10 per, 2,750
Black Hills SMK 5.56 MK262 Mod 1 77 gr, $1.10 per, 2,750 MV
Federal XM193 5.56 55gr (have a ton of this), $.30 per, 3,165 MV
Federal Gold SMK .223 69gr, $1.10 per, 3,000 MV Federal Gold SMK .223 77gr, $1.10 per, 2,750 MV
Fiocchi SMK .223 77gr, $.85 per, 2,660 MV
Hornady LE TAP 5.56 75gr, $.80 per, 2,660 MV (16" BBL)
Hornady Match BTHP .223 75 gr, $.85 per, 2,790 MV
Hornady Superperformance VMAX .223 53gr, $.95 per, 3,465 MV
Hornady Varmint Express VMAX .223 55gr, $.87 per, 3,240 MV
HSM Match HPBT .223 77gr, $.74 per, 2,680 MV
HSM Match HPBT 80 gr, $.75 per, 2,650 MV
PRVI FMJBT 0.223 62 gr, $.36 per, 3,005 MV (Mean MV from Widener's data)
PRVI BTHP 0.223 75gr, $.57 per, 2,723 MV
SSA OTM 5.56 77gr, $.94 per, 2,750 MV (16" BBL)


Please let me know if you would like to see others compared. Quality ammo, please.

For many of these I'll shoot five round groups instead of 10 given some are more than $1.00 per round. Additionally, I'll strive to chrono at least 10 rounds per load & rifle.

I'm going to use a Magnetospeed Chronograph for the reviews. I've been using this a lot lately since the Oehler is roughly 700 miles away at a family member's home. I'm getting very similar results compared to the Oehler using this relatively inexpensive product.

FWIW, my cleaning regimen is methodical, but not as rigorous as some suggest. I pretty much clean in a manner similar to a0cake as posted here (https://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=106502). I'll clean a bit more during barrel break-in, but after that will only perform a rigorous cleaning when accuracy begins to suffer. I will probably do a light brushing between ammo types, but will not use copper solvent.

I do not anticipate completing this comparison in one or two range days, but will post results from each session. Please bear with my extensive travel demands. I'll try to get something posted once a week or so, but will be out of the country for three weeks beginning October 2nd.

fallenromeo
09-17-12, 16:15
wow, great build comparison. I can't wait to see results as to how they group compared to each other.

BobinNC
09-17-12, 16:32
Please let me know if you would like to see others compared. Quality ammo, please.


Warg,

If you could please add the following factory Loads:

Fiocchi Ammo Stock #: 223MKD Cal: 223 Rem Load: Sierra Match King HPBT 77 grains

Silver State Armory Ammo Part No: SSA10075-77OTM Cal: 5.56mm 77gr Sierra OTM

HSM Ammo Product #: 223-11 Cal: .223 Rem 77gr HPBT Match

These factory loads are usually quite a bit cheaper then Fed GMM. Be nice to see how they hold up velocity and accuracy wise.

Thanks,

Bob

bobsolla
09-17-12, 23:25
awesome work and a great comparison!ordering parts for a precision upper.i will keep an eye on this thread for your results!thanks!

Littlehendrick
09-17-12, 23:55
Looks great! It will be interesting to see how much of a difference there is. For those of us on a cheap/non-existent budget, it will be a nice comparison.

Warg
09-18-12, 00:59
Warg,

If you could please add the following factory Loads:

Fiocchi Ammo Stock #: 223MKD Cal: 223 Rem Load: Sierra Match King HPBT 77 grains

Silver State Armory Ammo Part No: SSA10075-77OTM Cal: 5.56mm 77gr Sierra OTM

HSM Ammo Product #: 223-11 Cal: .223 Rem 77gr HPBT Match

These factory load are usually quite a bit cheaper then Fed GMM. Be nice to see how they hold up velocity and accuracy wise.

Thanks,

Bob

No problem.

I'm very satisfied with HSM's .308 match ammo, and was thinking about trying their 77gr .223

SSA (actually listed as 5.56 rather than .223) and Fiocchi also are easy to source online.

I'll add these and HSM 80gr HPBT to my list above.

jstone
09-18-12, 01:21
Great thread i can not wait to see some results. Your doing a great job very in depth and thorough.

It would be nice to see some black hills mk262 mod1 for the test. It is very popular. You already have a long list of ammo that is not cheap. I would be willing to send you the ammo needed just to see the results. Im not sure if i can get it to you in time for testing, but with the amount of testing planned i should be able to. If interested pm me. I might have some other loads just not sure if i have enough foe you to test. I have some performance 75 grain bthp. I had a case i sold it because of how rough it was on the carbines(no rifle length gas systems). Some how i still have a box, but that is probably not enough for testing.

Warg
09-18-12, 01:27
Great thread i can not wait to see some results. Your doing a great job very in depth and thorough.

It would be nice to see some black hills mk262 mod1 for the test. It is very popular. You already have a long list of ammo that is not cheap. I would be willing to send you the ammo needed just to see the results. Im not sure if i can get it to you in time for testing, but with the amount of testing planned i should be able to. If interested pm me. I might have some other loads just not sure if i have enough foe you to test. I have some performance 75 grain bthp. I had a case i sold it because of how rough it was on the carbines(no rifle length gas systems). Some how i still have a box, but that is probably not enough for testing.

You read my mind. I've burned through all my BHs MK262, but was going to place another order this week. No need to send, but I really appreciate the offer.

If you want me to test the other loads, take a look at what you have and I'll be happy to oblige.

You can PM me to coordinate.

Thanks.

a0cake
09-18-12, 02:03
EDIT: Disregard below where I talk about adjusting for parallax w/ the NF. Had a brain fart as Trident pointed out - the 2.5-10x's don't have parallax adjustment.

Looks like fun Warg.

The only thing I'll caution / remind you about, if you don't mind, is that the Trijicon doesn't have a parallax adjustment and is fixed at 100 yards, as you know. If you only plan to put the guns head to head at 100 yards, then it obviously doesn't matter and you should ignore this.

Otherwise, the difference in mechanical-precision between these two builds (if any is observable at all) will very possibly fall within range of parallax error depending on your abilities and the range at which you're shooting.

I understand that the optics are part of the equation, but to be fair, there are adjustable parallax options that cost the same or less than the TR20, so this seems to be an unjust disadvantage for the budget rifle.

It may be a good idea to test the budget gun with both the Trijicon and the NF, properly adjusted for parallax, if you're shooting at distances past 100 yards.

Warg
09-18-12, 02:17
Don't mind at all. This is not as scientific as I would like given the difference in optics and, perhaps less significant, different triggers. We're also limited by the slightly better than mediocre shooter, but at least I'll be behind both rifles. I might have to send you and/or Orkan both rifles to test!

I may decide to use the NF for both rifles beyond 100 yards, but I think the group comparisons will primarily be at 100y since my short list has now grown to $432 worth of ammo not including the XM193 and PRVI.:eek:

ALCOAR
09-18-12, 02:45
NXS compacts don't have parallax adjustment, nor do they need it imo being topped out at 10x. Based on my own personal experience both NXSc models are gtg to 1k by simply repeating head positioning.

I don't really see an unfair advantage in the parallax adjustment based on the above. Perhaps one could make the argument that 10x is better or worse than 9x...or one reticle is better than the other.

a0cake
09-18-12, 03:02
NXS compacts don't have parallax adjustment, nor do they need it imo being topped out at 10x. Based on my own personal experience both NXSc models are gtg to 1k by simply repeating head positioning.

I don't really see an unfair advantage in the parallax adjustment based on the above. Perhaps one could make the argument that 10x is better or worse than 9x...or one reticle is better than the other.

Whoops, that was a brain fart on the NF. I was probably thinking about the F1 in my head (I associate NF with the F1 more than anything else).

Only reason I brought it up is that I have noticed parallax issues with fixed parallax 9X/10X optics like the SS 3-9. Conventional wisdom says it's not an issue at that magnification level, and for any practical purpose that's probably true, but I figured for a head to head comparison where the accuracy differences will likely be very small it might be something to account for as far as mitigating every variable as much as possible.

But like you pointed out I was being a dumbass as the optic he has doesn't even have a parallax adjustment.

Warg
09-18-12, 03:11
Neither scopes have adjustable parallax, but I think they differ in that the Trijicon's parallax is set at 100 yards and the Nightforce at 125 or 150.

I do favor the NF's .09 MOA thick reticle for precision shooting compared to the Accupoint's thicker mildot reticle.

caelumatra
09-18-12, 11:16
What an outstanding idea for a thread Warg. I look forward to the results

Warg
09-18-12, 20:10
Today was the first day in what looks to be a long series of ammo and rifle comparisons.

The rifle range I use nearest my residence is a 100 yard public and 100-300 yard member only facility. The public range has some decent concrete benches that I use quite a bit.

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2585_sm_zps4da09bb7.jpg

As I reported earlier, the chronograph I'm using for this series of comparisons is a product from Magnetospeed. It examines changes in a magnetic field sensor to trigger the chronograph rather than the typical optical/IR sensors. I'm not paid to endorse it, but so far I really like the unit for the price. Portability is a plus as well. It mounts to the barrel whereby a passing bullets disrupts the magnetic sensor- the bayonet in the image below.

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/DSCN2593_sm_zpsbb7c37e9.jpg
One disadvantage that should be apparent from the photo is that one needs at least three, preferably four inches of clearance between the barrel and stock or handguard. I had to rotate the sensor on the budget rifle as the bipod mount was interfering. The bayonet does not have to be clocked in any particular position, just be careful to make sure it is parallel to the bore or you will strike the sensor. I shot some groups with and without the sensor. I did not notice a difference in accuracy, however I did notice a small but consistent shift in POI when using the sensor. This has been reported by almost everyone using this chronograph. The shift is consistently away from the surface of the platform. I do not notice an change in POI when shooting subsonic 22LR, BTW.

Today I shot some of the least expensive ammo I have- Prvi Partisan FMJBT 62 gr. I initially thought this was M855, but Molon reviewed this ammo a while ago and discovered this is not the case. In fact, these bullets are shorter and have a higher Cd than M855. Not good for precision shooting, but good enough for barrel break-in and an initial comparison.

This ammo is listed at 3,100 FPS I believe from a 20" barrel.

Weather conditions were nice: Sunny; 75 degrees; 42% RH; wind from the SW at 3.5 MPH.

The chrono results:

Series Premium Shots: 19
Min 2999 Max 3101
Avg 3057 S-D 28
ES 102

Shot Speed
1 3037 ft/sec
2 3045 ft/sec
3 3094 ft/sec
4 3004 ft/sec
5 2999 ft/sec
6 3084 ft/sec
7 3043 ft/sec
8 3069 ft/sec
9 3039 ft/sec
10 3076 ft/sec
11 3073 ft/sec
12 3094 ft/sec
13 3080 ft/sec
14 3056 ft/sec
15 3048 ft/sec
16 3101 ft/sec
17 3048 ft/sec
18 3033 ft/sec
19 3071 ft/sec
---- ---- ----
Series Budget Shots: 15
Min 3004 Max 3103
Avg 3045 S-D 27
ES 99

Shot Speed
1 3033 ft/sec
2 3063 ft/sec
3 3046 ft/sec
4 3056 ft/sec
5 3056 ft/sec
6 3103 ft/sec
7 3067 ft/sec
8 3019 ft/sec
9 3004 ft/sec
10 3069 ft/sec
11 3017 ft/sec
12 3052 ft/sec
13 3063 ft/sec
14 3030 ft/sec
15 3008 ft/sec
---- ---- ----

Very similar velocities, SD and ES. I didn't perform any statistical comparisons of these velocities, but may do so in the future.

The groups:

Premium Rifle:
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/TgtGfx%20Premium%20Prvi%2062%20gr_1_zps5792fbb7.jpg
This group was using the monopod on the STR stock. Note the horizontal stringing. I always experience this with the monopod on collapsible AR stocks as there is too much side-to-side movement. I will not be using this for subsequent comparisons.

http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/TgtGfx%20Premium%20Prvi%2062%20gr_2_zps03dbcc48.jpg
Not great, but probably okay for this ammo.

Budget:
http://i304.photobucket.com/albums/nn176/Dr_Wolfenstein/ARs/TgtGfx%20PRVI%2062gr%20Budget_zpsdfdb5c53.jpg

The groups, though poor as one would expect from this ammo, are quite similar to one another. The bottom group in the budget image is the very first group out of this barrel (no chronograph). The group above it is the second and one can see that it's starting to settle in a bit. Note that the Magnetospeed sensor was mounted about 1 o'clock resulting in a shift toward 6 or 7 o'clock. The Krieger barrel has already been used for a bit and is "seasoned".

Let's call this one a draw. For the money, the clear advantage when shooting inexpensive bulk ammo goes to the Budget rifle.:)

Warg
09-18-12, 20:29
I neglected to mention recoil characteristics between the two rifles. Both are very soft shooting ARs. In fact, other than a 12 lb 24" barrel monster I built for a family member, these are without a doubt the softest shooting ARs I have had the pleasure to shoot.

I did not notice any appreciable difference using the lightweight JP bolt carrier in the Premium rifle compared to the standard carrier in the Budget rifle. Some of this may be due to a difference in gas port diameter. Carriers will be swapped next time to see if I notice any difference. I will also need to shoot these in other positions before I draw any conclusions.

Both rifles exhibited consistent ejection and feeding. I've noticed some odd ejection (as in 1 o'clock downrange) using the lightweight carrier in a 16" middy I built, but this was not the case here.

fallenromeo
09-19-12, 12:03
Wow, so the budget rifle really seems to be holding it's own against the premium rifle with the cheap ammo. Should be interesting to see if they are this close in comparison with high quality match ammo.

Are you leaving the chrony on when doing those groups? You mentioned you see a POI shift when you leave it on. Are you using it just to measure the velocity and then taking it off to do groups or is it on the whole time?

CodeRed30
09-19-12, 12:12
I think the quality ammo will separate the two rifles a bit more. Anxious to see more results. Again, great writeup and thank you for sharing.

Warg
09-19-12, 15:18
Wow, so the budget rifle really seems to be holding it's own against the premium rifle with the cheap ammo. Should be interesting to see if they are this close in comparison with high quality match ammo.

Are you leaving the chrony on when doing those groups? You mentioned you see a POI shift when you leave it on. Are you using it just to measure the velocity and then taking it off to do groups or is it on the whole time?

Holding its own indeed, but it's a small sample size and only one type of ammo.

I shot groups with and without the chronograph. I actually got slightly better groups with it on, but that was likely due to barrel break-in. I've used this on several other rifles and have no noticed any degradation in performance, but again, a noticeable shift in POI.

Will continue with the trial. If I notice a detrimental effect, I'll remove it for best groupings.

Doc. Holiday
09-19-12, 16:41
This is really interesting to see. Are you also going to be keeping track as far as malfunctions are concerned as well?

El Cid
09-19-12, 21:31
Fantastic thread and testing! Slick chrono as well! Never heard of it but am digging it.

Other thoughts for ammo: Corbon 77gr and Asym 77gr. I'd be happy to send you a box of each since the costs add up quickly. I'd offer to send some of my Southwest Ammo 77's but I had to wait a very long time to get them. :)

P2000
09-19-12, 22:05
Awesome thread!

Would you be willing to shoot 10 shot groups?

Warg
09-20-12, 02:54
This is really interesting to see. Are you also going to be keeping track as far as malfunctions are concerned as well?

Absolutely! I don't anticipate any with these configurations and ammo, but we'll see.

Warg
09-20-12, 02:58
Fantastic thread and testing! Slick chrono as well! Never heard of it but am digging it.

Other thoughts for ammo: Corbon 77gr and Asym 77gr. I'd be happy to send you a box of each since the costs add up quickly. I'd offer to send some of my Southwest Ammo 77's but I had to wait a very long time to get them. :)


Awesome thread!

Would you be willing to shoot 10 shot groups?

If you pay the difference or supply the other five rounds per group :)

Seriously, I would like to propose that I initially do 5 round group comparisons given the costs and we can discuss shooting some 10 round groups for a subset. Cool?

Warg
09-20-12, 03:01
Fantastic thread and testing! Slick chrono as well! Never heard of it but am digging it.

Other thoughts for ammo: Corbon 77gr and Asym 77gr. I'd be happy to send you a box of each since the costs add up quickly. I'd offer to send some of my Southwest Ammo 77's but I had to wait a very long time to get them. :)

Corbon has been hit or miss for me and I've no experience with Asym, but if you want to do that, I'd be more than happy to look at those as well.

P2000
09-21-12, 00:00
If you pay the difference or supply the other five rounds per group :)

Seriously, I would like to propose that I initially do 5 round group comparisons given the costs and we can discuss shooting some 10 round groups for a subset. Cool?


Yes that would work (to use the 5 round groups to weed out the weak performers)

g5m
09-21-12, 08:17
Very good thread! Thanks.

Doc. Holiday
09-21-12, 09:55
So when do you think you will start testing?

Littlelebowski
09-21-12, 10:06
Great thread. Keep it up!

Scoby
09-21-12, 10:29
Great post Warg. I like the way you think.




Yes that would work (to use the 5 round groups to weed out the weak performers)


This is exactly what I do.

taliv
09-21-12, 12:31
this is an excellent project, thanks for sharing!


my feedback:

all of your tests are only testing a single component: the barrel.
i got my distinguished badge shooting a WOA "house barrel" (wilson or douglas blank, i can't remember) on my service rifle, and can assure you that they are plenty accurate to 600 yards. in fact, after years of competing with it, i sold it to a friend who is now working on his distinguished badge and though new to the game, is already posting 196-8x type scores at 600 yards. (6" x ring, prone with sling, no bi-pod).

my guess is that while krieger barrels rock, you won't see much difference in this application, and in any event, sample sizes of 1 aren't statistically meaningful.

that isn't meant to deter you in any way from reporting on the project! i look forward to reading the rest of your results.

nevertheless, if you swapped barrels in those two guns and repeated the tests, you'd still see the same results in your velocity and accuracy. so you can't reasonably make the claim that a $2000 gun is as good as a $4000 gun based on that test. You can only say a $300 AR barrel is about as good as a $500 AR barrel.

If you want to compare a $4000 gun to a $2000 gun i think you have no choice but to evaluate each of the components individually. e.g. is the atlas bipod better than the harris? what functionality do you gain for the extra $$$?

and you'd be better off with a structured approach that is requirements driven. i.e. "i need to do x, y, z". only then can you objectively measure how much better one gun can accomplish a task compared to the other. if your only goal is accuracy off a bench at 100 yards or consistency in velocity, start with a $600 DPMS gun...

taliv
09-21-12, 12:48
.... and looking at your BoM, (which is well done) i'd say the tests you should construct should focus on the areas where the price delta is the most.

for example, consider a test like this for the receiver https://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=57

jesuvuah
09-21-12, 16:40
subscribing for later, too much info to absorb at once. Good thread though

Warg
09-23-12, 18:37
this is an excellent project, thanks for sharing!


Thank you.



my feedback:

all of your tests are only testing a single component: the barrel.
i got my distinguished badge shooting a WOA "house barrel" (wilson or douglas blank, i can't remember) on my service rifle, and can assure you that they are plenty accurate to 600 yards. in fact, after years of competing with it, i sold it to a friend who is now working on his distinguished badge and though new to the game, is already posting 196-8x type scores at 600 yards. (6" x ring, prone with sling, no bi-pod).


Not exactly. The data I'm reporting are likely attributable to the barrel primarily, but as you state in your reply there are other contributing, albeit more minor, variables as well. These are the different triggers, upper receivers, stocks, and optics.



my guess is that while krieger barrels rock, you won't see much difference in this application, and in any event, sample sizes of 1 aren't statistically meaningful.


I'm not exactly sure what you mean by the above re: statistically meaningful, but I assume you meant that a sample of one from each manufacturer might not be statistically representative of their products. If that's the case I concur, however I'm not making any statistical inferences based on those assumptions. I may conduct some simple two-sided t-tests to compare groups which are statistically valid comparisons from an internal validity (with little external validity per the above) standpoint. For example, the null hypothesis would be that the group(s) from the Krieger barrel are equal to that of the WOA barrel for a particular loading with an alpha of 0.05 and beta of .80. Small n's of five shots per group will be robust enough from a sample size standpoint to yield statistical significance if my deltas (e.g., a 10% difference in MOA) and standard deviations are reasonable. We can increase the power appreciably by using repeated measures analyses as well since the within-subject variance will be smaller.



that isn't meant to deter you in any way from reporting on the project! i look forward to reading the rest of your results.


No, not at all. I appreciate the feedback . Perhaps my original intent wasn't clear. I'm not adhering to a DOE approach to make scientific comparisons of these platforms not do I intend to conduct principal component analyses thereof. Rather, this is simple review based on a collection of components: many are the same and some differ.



nevertheless, if you swapped barrels in those two guns and repeated the tests, you'd still see the same results in your velocity and accuracy. so you can't reasonably make the claim that a $2000 gun is as good as a $4000 gun based on that test. You can only say a $300 AR barrel is about as good as a $500 AR barrel.


If I did this then yes, you are correct. That may or may not be the case with what I'm doing in this comparison. I agree that the barrel is going to be the principal factor in these comparisons, but again the upper receiver, trigger and optics will be factors as well.



If you want to compare a $4000 gun to a $2000 gun i think you have no choice but to evaluate each of the components individually. e.g. is the atlas bipod better than the harris? what functionality do you gain for the extra $$$?

and you'd be better off with a structured approach that is requirements driven. i.e. "i need to do x, y, z". only then can you objectively measure how much better one gun can accomplish a task compared to the other. if your only goal is accuracy off a bench at 100 yards or consistency in velocity, start with a $600 DPMS gun...

A structured or component approach and evaluation would be fantastic, but is not realistic given the time and materials required. To do so, I would have to compare the effect of changing a single component for each type and weight of ammo and measure the results. If you recall my initial post there are several objectives:

1. Can a reliable, precision AR can be built for approximately $2K?
2. How much better would a rifle perform at twice that amount?

Further, I define precision on my terms: 0.75 MOA. I also desire the ability to shoot 5.56 and .223 in these rifles, shoot some varmint loads, deploy collapsible stocks, etc. I'll also report on the shooting and handling characteristics of one versus the other. For example, the lightweight carrier in the Premium rifle might have less felt recoil than the Budget rifle, however the carrier may move at an excessive speed that could effect extraction and ejection.

Recall the caveat I stated as well: this comparison is not an exhaustive attempt to review of all possible parts or combinations of parts...

This thread should be treated as analogous to an automobile comparison you might read in a magazine like Road & Track- minus the subjective observations they always throw in there, e.g. wow factor, desirability, etc. You won't see these mags conduct, say, 0-100 MPH tests and attempt to scientifically determine which principal variables (or secondary, tertiary...) are associated with those times such as tire compound, drive train loss & parasitic drag, HP, torque band, effective gear ratios, Cd, etc. for obvious reasons.

Warg
09-23-12, 18:59
So when do you think you will start testing?

Most likely next week, then I'm out of the country for a few weeks. These comparisons will take a while, so please be patient. I hesitated posting the initial thread, but wanted to do in order to acquire some feedback that I could employ in my testing/comparisons.

taliv
09-23-12, 21:34
A structured or component approach and evaluation would be fantastic, but is not realistic given the time and materials required. To do so, I would have to compare the effect of changing a single component for each type and weight of ammo and measure the results.

np, i was hoping that was where you were going though :)



If you recall my initial post there are several objectives:

1. Can a reliable, precision AR can be built for approximately $2K?
2. How much better would a rifle perform at twice that amount?

Further, I define precision on my terms: 0.75 MOA. I also desire the ability to shoot 5.56 and .223 in these rifles, shoot some varmint loads, deploy collapsible stocks, etc. I'll also report on the shooting and handling characteristics of one versus the other. For example, the lightweight carrier in the Premium rifle might have less felt recoil than the Budget rifle, however the carrier may move at an excessive speed that could effect extraction and ejection.

Recall the caveat I stated as well: this comparison is not an exhaustive attempt to review of all possible parts or combinations of parts...


cool. i look forward to follow up posts. always interesting to see what other people experience. in my experience, the answers to those two questions would be "yep" and "none" :)

fwiw, i have a couple of rifles that are very similar to your builds. the one below was used as a 'secondary' rifle in the Mammoth Sniper Challenge last summer. nearly identical specs on the barrel (compass lake custom barrel w/rifle gas, 7 twist, 18", wylde chamber). i don't remember how much i have in it, but $2k would be a good guess. BCM BCG, geissele SD3G trigger, WOA LPK. the other differences are just personal preference like stock and forearm. honestly, if there's something i could do to make it more accurate or more reliable, i have no idea what it would be, without getting into stuff like pinning the gas block or chrome lining it.

http://precisionmultigun.com/pics/greenar1.JPG

rdmega
11-05-12, 10:37
subcribing, I am getting ready to do a precision build as well.

Inuvik
12-04-12, 15:03
I have really enjoyed this thread, and am looking forward to more! I know this stuff takes a ton of time and work, and appreciate the OP's efforts.

Any ETA on more testing and write up?

SteveS
12-04-12, 18:35
I can afford to the fanciest precision there is! But years ago I realized a $5,000.00 AR will not make me a $5000.00 shooter!!! I am that bad! Though it is lots of fun to build the rifle.

Doc. Holiday
12-05-12, 09:52
Well Steve, let me know if you have an opening at your company so I can have that kind of cash on me.

Warg
01-24-13, 02:43
For those who have PM'd me-


Yes I'm still around
No, these tests have not been completed.
No, these rifles are not for sale!


I got back from a long trip out of the country, then came the holidays and now obviously all hell has broken loose with respect to ammo availability. I've lots of cheap ammo, but not enough quality stuff to be able to test and replenish right now.

Let's hope things calm down a bit and I'll resume.

kgwld1
01-24-13, 07:53
Amen to that brother!!! Since your original post I put together a 18" spr of my own. Just couldn't let you have all the fun. And before all this crazy stuff I just finished a m4 who knows. Keep us abreast.

CodeRed30
01-24-13, 15:57
For those who have PM'd me-


Yes I'm still around
No, these tests have not been completed.
No, these rifles are not for sale!


I got back from a long trip out of the country, then came the holidays and now obviously all hell has broken loose with respect to ammo availability. I've lots of cheap ammo, but not enough quality stuff to be able to test and replenish right now.

Let's hope things calm down a bit and I'll resume.

Looking forward to it. Thanks for the update.