Is “New” really better?

20130522-102030.jpgI met my first plastic AR this week! ok, polymer, whatever! …No, It wasn’t Solo cup plastic, but it was so very plastic! It wasn’t one of those wikiguns, to my amazement, it was actually a Bushmaster. My first reaction was to ask if it was real. Fortunately the person holding it was not the owner. He explained to me that his friend had bought this thing, against his recommendation, claiming that after extensive research, it appeared to be a quality product. We both rolled our eyes.

As I walked away I thought to my self, who the heck am I to judge that gun? That guy did his research and came to the conclusion that based on his cost/benefit analysis, plastic upper and lower receivers, were the way to gonna go. He didn’t expect to be the laughing stock of the range, he may have even expected to be hailed as a trailblazer! How different am I?

I’ve spent the past few months, reading message boards and trolling web gun stores and picking out every part of my AR. Yes, I’m selecting based on 30% quality, 30% appearance, 30% features and 10% price, but my research method is very similar. I’ve found some seemingly great, yet relatively unknown items and am betting on them being as too-good-to-be-true as they sound. Partly, I’m being forced to do this because there is a limited amount of good-looking (at least to my eye) AR parts available at the moment, but I must accept responsibility for choosing untested innovations over tried-and-true.

The one place from which I seem to be getting the least amount of input is word-of-mouth. Yes, I’ve talked, extensively, with fellow gun nerds about my build, but most of their suggestions seem to focus on a completely different set of needs. For example, when it came to gas block selection, most recommended the standard A-frame which includes a front sight. My response, what if I want to change out the front sight or am writing a review of a set of sights? The runner up was a super low profile block, hidden under the hand guard. My question became: that leaves 5″ of sight radius length wasted, shouldn’t I try and put my front sight as far out as possible? Interestingly, the input seemed to drop off after that.

So as I sit in judgement and snicker at the dude with the plastic gun, I quickly realize, I may be next. When I walk into the range with tactical turq (as I have come to calling her until she is officially named) will those in the know shake their heads because my choices seem uneducated and misinformed? Will my AR look good AND withstand long term use? Will I regret some of my selections? Will I be embarrassed?

I realize some gun folks may not recognize all of the parts going into my build. I’m ok with that. Maybe a little-known product will be given a chance and be proven worthy. Then again, I may end up with a very expensive door stop…or worse. My goal has always been, to bring a feminine side to the gun-world, while allowing women to still be taken seriously at the range. I hope I don’t screw this up!

What about you? Do you prefer to stick with good ol’reliable, or allow the latest and greatest to turn your head?


  1. The track record of polymer receivers in AR’s hasn’t been very good. I’ve seen Carbon 15’s with cracked uppers, Plum Crazy lowers that were completely destroyed through a heavy firing schedule at a training facility. In a hard use rifle (or pistol, for that matter) “as good as” doesn’t exist. Either buy the “as” or spend the money on “as good” twice is the rule, not the exception. I’m always looking for somebody to do a high quality part with exceptional value, but that’s just hard to do. Things that last just have to cost what they cost, and the market will have to keep the price in check until somebody figures out a way to break the mold.

    1. What’s the track record on first time builders creating something impressive when left to their own devices?

  2. Well, my first one ran and did what I wanted until I wanted it to do something else – does that mean it wasn’t awesome? You made it the way you wanted, to heck with anyone who doesn’t like it. As you shoot it, and do more things with it, you’ll find things you want to change. My latest, and most used, emphasizes simplicity. It doesn’t look “awesome” because it doesn’t have a ton of crap hanging off of it. To me, it is awesome because it does what I want.

    1. I really do appreciate that, but I’ve been a bit spoiled by two years of accolades for choosing a CZ as my first pistol. I’m on a roll!

  3. Honestly go with what you think you want then change most of it. That is usually what happens. You get the things that on paper should meet your needs but when you get out and use those things you decide to change them or get something better or newer. Same goes for mag pouches and holsters. Just count on changing a lot of things after you have spent tons of time and money getting it right. Inevitably you won’t.

  4. I’m in the same boat. I started researching my own AR at the end of November, and ran into the Scare of 2013. Shrug.

    For what it’s worth, I’m going with a 14.5″ barrel with a 1.5″ A2 welded on it, mid-length gas system with a low-profile block and a 15″ Troy Alpha rail and Magpul BUIS. This one will have a EOTech on it, but I’ve enjoyed an Aimpoint Micro T1 as well. I want a short carbine without NFA status, and as long a hand guard as feasible.

  5. An AR lower or upper made out of plastic is certainly not a complete waste of time. What does Aluminum have going for it that plastic doesn’t? Heat resistance. Go to a piston instead of DI to keep heat out of the receiver and keep your rate of fire reasonable, a plastic receiver will last a really long time, especially if your bolt is in some metal tube or on rails ala Glock.

    One of my guns was a Keltec SU-16, plastic receiver, metal bolt, metal barrel. I’ve done a 1000 round weekend with it, no problems. Would I want to butt stroke somebody with it? No, I could break it without even trying, or course it’s 1/3 the weight of my AR as well.

    Bottom line, if you use the gun as it’s intended, it’s not a problem, if you plan on jumping out of planes, getting thrown to the ground with it, or run it full auto, you’re going to break it.

  6. The only way to screw up, Gabby, is to not learn during the process. We learn from experience, personal experience or other’s experience. Anyone chiding you over making a choice that doesn’t work out is only trying to make themselves feel better. You can say, “Now I know from first hand experience.”

Comments are closed.