Here are some starting questions for my semi-auto prairie dog gun quest:
Are these good guns for starters?
Bushmaster V Match 24” (.223)
DPMS Panther Bull 24 Special (.223)
Accuracy is my main objective, and for the gun I would like to keep it around $1200.00 – what other off the shelf semi-autos are in this class?
Would a 24” barrel be better as far as accuracy is concerned vs. a 20” barrel? I’m not really concerned about weight.
Could I buy separate upper/lower/barrel combinations and come up with something better than the above for around $1200?
I am not in a big rush to buy, so I could take some time build one, or have someone build one if the quality is better.
John - Montana
Check out 6mm AR Home Page He makes a 20 practical upper for around $1200. If this is going to be used on PD's the 20 cals are a hoot to shoot and less recoil which allows you to see your hits which is what makes it so much fun. I know a few company's also make a .204R which would be my first choice. Barrel length has nothing to do with accuracy and everything to do with velocity. You need to make sure that all the powder gets burned before the bullet leaves the barrel. A 22" to 24" would be best in the .223 family for max velocity. Good luck on your quest. A good bolt gun will get you further out into the PD fields but lack on the follow up shots.
Jon's right on on all counts. I have a couple of heavy barrelled .204 uppers. They can really get your hunting partners complaining when you start cleaning off the pd mounds! Modern Ar's are very accurate. You shouldn't have any trouble getting a good heavy barrel AR to shoot close to a half inch with good handloads. One of my HB AR's is a DPMS barrel and the other is a White Oak Armament. The WOA is unfluted and very heavy but it's a really nice fit and finish upper. The Dpms upper has shot in the threes often enough to know its not a fluke. Pretty amazing from a semiauto. You could put either together for around your target price if you can get by with a factory trigger for a while.
If you wanted to have the gun that you wanted....you could build it from scratch. It's quite easy to do. That way, you could purchase whatever you want and stay within your budget. RRA 2 stage match triggers can be had for around $100. PSA has lowers for $50. Bravo Company has stripped uppers with parts for around $70. You can pick up a BCG for around $100. High quality barrels can be had for around $300 or less. Free float handguards can easily be had for under $200.
Basically, you could purchase a complete weapon for $1200, or you could build a tack driver exactly how you want it for $1200.
I purchased my first one (Bushy Varminter) about 6 years ago. I have since built the rest of them (except for my .308 AP4). Building is the only way to go!
I have a Stag Arms Model 6 that you can get for @ $1k. It will shoot right around 1/2 MOA if I do my part with Hornady 75gr bullets. I was hitting prairie dogs between 300-400 yards in the wide open WY country 2 summers ago. I was with my dad and Uncle who were shooting their bolt action 22-250, 220 Swift, and 243....they didn't believe that a semi-auto would keep up with them. They were pleasantly surprised when I proved them wrong I highly recommend them for their accuracy, and they are also one of the cheapest ones with very high quality.
Win Model 70
Work done by Jim See (Center Shot Rifles)
For the price a Rock River Arms is hard to beat. I really like their 2-stage trigger. They have a "coyote" model with a med-heavy barrel in 20". Also have true bull barrels in 20 and 24". Just don't go with a telescopic stock for best accuracy.
My frien has the 24" bull barrel, and it shoots under 1/2". The 20" coyote is on my want list, great backup to my 204 bolt gun. Those prairie dog towns that really heat up one rifle are a blast.