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0022-23 Smythbuster - Cheap ARs Are Just As Good_Thumb

Smyth Busters: Are Cheap AR-15s as Good as Expensive Ones?

Author Caleb Savant
11 months ago
If you've spent even a little time kicking around AR-15 World, you know there is a huge variation in AR-15 prices. A bare-bones budget model may cost as little as $350, while the sky's the limit for a high-end rifle. Is there a genuine difference to justify the price differential? There are folks who insist a cheap AR-15 is just as good as an expensive one. Are they right? Brownells Gun Techs™ Steve and Caleb are here to prove or debunk that myth. This requires a long, carefully though-out, nuanced answer: NO. At first, a cheap AR-15 CAN be as accurate as an expensive one at 50 or 100 yards. But as it wears, it won't retain that parity for long.
A rifle is basically a tool. If you plan to use that tool a lot, or use it for very important tasks, are you going to buy it from the Strip Mall Discount Tool Emporium? Or from Snap-On®? Or even Brownells? If you're getting an AR-15 for casual range fun a few times a year, the cheap one will probably do just fine. But if it is going to be your primary home defense gun, do you want to buy this life-saving tool from the Discount Emporium?
The maker of a cheap AR-15 has to cut costs somewhere in order to make a profit. That means crudely molded low- quality plastic components (definitely not Magpul or B5 Systems quality!), softer non-"mil-spec" aluminum alloys, chalky low-grade anodizing, "Picatinny" rails that are not true MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny spec, and more cost-cutting. Sure, this rifle will work for a while, but that doesn't mean it's going to work as long or as well as the quality-built AR-15. Quality, by necessity, costs more.
So the myth is BUSTED.... Wait, the guys did that right out of the gate, didn't they? A high-quality AR-15 will out-perform and outlast a built-to a-price budget model. You get what you pay for. Of course, you also have to be wary of a cheap AR-15 with a big price tag on it. That's a topic for a future video!