A good place to start http://www.ar15.com/forums/forum.html?b=3&f=4
Ok, I am going to admit, I am somewhat "dumb" when it comes to the anatomy of a AR-15. I have read about upper and lower units. What exactly would be considered a kit to build a basis AR-15, without the add-ons? I have heard that Rock River Arms and Bushmaster offer the best parts. Could I buy a 800 dollar bushmaster off the store shelf and get a good rifle? I would really appreciate any information that might give me some insight on the world of the AR.
+1 on AR15.com cruise thru the FAQ sections. Tons of good info in there.
IMHO there is no comparison between the RRA and bushmaster. Spend just a little bit more and get a RRA. That is IF you are wanting to buy the complete rifle. Nothing wrong with the bushmaster, but the RRA is a higher quality firearm for not much more (if any) $$$$$.
I think that if I were in the market for an $800 AR, I'd look very hard at Stag Arms. I have a Stag upper (on a Bushmaster lower that I already owned), and it has been simply excellent in every way.
I had a DPMS that worked fine, though it was a little crude. You can see it in Galco ads for the BATTL Sling . I think I paid $600 NIB a couple of years ago, and I had no complaints. It swallowed thousands of rounds of cheap Wolf ammo without a complaint.
Slapping together a factory-assembled upper and lower usually works fine if you can get a better deal that way (and you often can). Building an AR from a bag of parts, if you're not a trained armorer, often leads to a gun that never works quite right. Yeah, I know the internet "gunsmiths" (aka, parts changers) can supposedly build an AR that runs better than a Colt for $500, but I have never seen a "kit gun" built by an amateur that worked as reliably as a complete gun from a quality manufacturer. Kit guns are absolutely infamous for croaking at training classes where guns get shot a lot and get hot. Not a big deal in a casual range gun, but for defense/duty/competition, buy a gun assembled by a professional.
I'm on the same page as Mike - get a decent complete one first, and that way you can learn and see how an AR is properly put together. Then, if you want, you can get your feet wet with simple bolt-on mods, and then later build another one. And by that point you'll have a better idea what features work for you and whatnot..
I never heard of DPMS before I got mine but so far it has been flawless in operation and is as well built as any I have seen. And accuracy has been excellent to boot
I'll second DPMS also. I had a DPMS heavy bbl upper that was wonderfully accurate. I got stupid once and sold it.
I'm not famiular with Stag Arms, sounds like I need to do a little research....