Originally Posted by fnfalman
Whatever happened to Cav Arms?
The original owners lost their FFL due to violations of the law. Mostly unrelated to the actual production of their products. The machinery and patents were bought by a new company, price went up ($180 stripped, $270 complete), and are now available again. NO feedback on new company quality, but the lowers are off the same machinery with the same processes. http://www.gwacsarmory.com/cav-15-mkii.html
That said, the polymer lowers made by other companies, I would toss into the No-Go pile. ARs based on those lowers are the only ones I would consider "Dogs." There are certainly some ARs that are less desireable for various functions/needs as one goes up and down the price-line.
The few ARs out there that take aberant mags and or have proprietary components, I would also not consider for a "first" or "must-work" AR. Thankfully, the Piston ARs shine is wearing off and DI systems are back in vogue. While I have seen a few people recomend Spike's, I have seen some of their products that underscore a basic lack of understanding of the AR platform, so they would not be on my list. I'd be wary of newer Bushmaster's and I would not consider an Olympic.
From what I have seen, I would have no issues with DPMS, Double-Star, DD, BCM, LMT, Stag or S&W. Personally, I think LaRue and Colt are WAY over-hyped and, while quality, there are equal or better ARs for less coin. If you want to spend a bit more, Noveske is near the top of the list and an excellent product.
I've owned Colt, Armalite, Bushmaster, Firebird, JP, Noveske and others. Most of those are gone. IMO, you can get a better quality rifle with careful planning and cherry-picking parts that will serve your needs better, educate you on the operation, and cost less money, by building it yourself.
In 3Gun, we are seeing of lot of new shooters who have some sort of M4gery come out to play. As a result, we are seeing a LOT more failures: case head separations, failure to eject, extract, chamber, etc. and most of these are related to operator error in terms of maintenance. Guys takle a new rifle and go shoot 200 rounds and now you have failures. The crap some manufacturers coat their parts with gets almost like tar. But also, when you see "sponsored" shooters running factory guns that have multiple malfunctions over several matches, you start to say...that stuff don't work.
In any basic "must-work" AR, I'd avoid adjustable gas, Chromed BCGs, cheap sights, trigger jobs on mil-spec parts. Other than that, the BCG is probably the most important assembly to NOT skimp on.
Last point for the DPMS bashers...realize that a LOT of the small parts in other brands ARE DPMS parts. Also, the receivers and barrels come from a small number of factories and are branded for several "manufacturers."