Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default New to the M4 Carbine Game

    I am in the market for a reliable budget M4 carbine. In doing my online research, even though there are occasional hiccups, PSA gets mostly pretty good reviews for this kind on rifle.

    I don't know a whole lot about M4s, but there is something that mystifies me. On the PSA website, a basic complete M4 can be had for about $500. I also note that you can buy a PSA complete lower for about $130, and the same complete upper that they provide on their basic rifle for about $300.

    Please excuse my lack of knowledge on M4 builds, but if all you need to do to build a complete M4 carbine is attach the 2 pins that hold the upper and lower together why wouldn't you go this route? I don't know if there are other hidden pitfalls, but if that is all there is to it, why wouldn't everyone buy the separate upper and lower, attach them and save themselves $60 to $80? Is there any advantage in buying the complete rifle?

    Thanks for any feedback

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
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    Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
    (Allegheny County)
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    Default Re: New to the M4 Carbine Game

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy T View Post
    I am in the market for a reliable budget M4 carbine. In doing my online research, even though there are occasional hiccups, PSA gets mostly pretty good reviews for this kind on rifle.

    I don't know a whole lot about M4s, but there is something that mystifies me. On the PSA website, a basic complete M4 can be had for about $500. I also note that you can buy a PSA complete lower for about $130, and the same complete upper that they provide on their basic rifle for about $300.

    Please excuse my lack of knowledge on M4 builds, but if all you need to do to build a complete M4 carbine is attach the 2 pins that hold the upper and lower together why wouldn't you go this route? I don't know if there are other hidden pitfalls, but if that is all there is to it, why wouldn't everyone buy the separate upper and lower, attach them and save themselves $60 to $80? Is there any advantage in buying the complete rifle?

    Thanks for any feedback
    I believe there's a federal tax of $50 that gets added to the cost of complete rifles - selling the upper and lower individually eliminates that.

    There's only an advantage to buying a complete rifle if you are of the belief that it somehow makes it "better" because it was sold as a whole rifle.
    I guess if there's a problem, you return the whole rifle for warranty work.
    That said, I'm sure uppers and lowers sold new also are covered by warranties, so not really sure how buying "whole" is better.

    Personally, once I BUILT a complete lower from scratch, and later learned to build an upper from scratch, I don't understand why anyone would buy complete "anything" - upper, lower, or whole rifle - I can build it exactly the way I want, rather than accepting what they are offering.
    I called to check my ZIP CODE!....DY-NO-MITE!!!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: New to the M4 Carbine Game

    Not a bad upper. Mid-length gas system and nicer handguard - unless you prefer the look of the round handguards.
    https://palmettostatearmory.com/psa-...ut-bcg-ch.html

    Note that when PSA offers "free shipping", the price is higher.
    A week or two later, the same upper will cost less, but you'll be paying for shipping.
    I called to check my ZIP CODE!....DY-NO-MITE!!!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: New to the M4 Carbine Game

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy T View Post
    I am in the market for a reliable budget M4 carbine. In doing my online research, even though there are occasional hiccups, PSA gets mostly pretty good reviews for this kind on rifle.

    I don't know a whole lot about M4s, but there is something that mystifies me. On the PSA website, a basic complete M4 can be had for about $500. I also note that you can buy a PSA complete lower for about $130, and the same complete upper that they provide on their basic rifle for about $300.

    Please excuse my lack of knowledge on M4 builds, but if all you need to do to build a complete M4 carbine is attach the 2 pins that hold the upper and lower together why wouldn't you go this route? I don't know if there are other hidden pitfalls, but if that is all there is to it, why wouldn't everyone buy the separate upper and lower, attach them and save themselves $60 to $80? Is there any advantage in buying the complete rifle?

    Thanks for any feedback
    Budget is a relative term. For some, a $400 rail is budget. A $100 charging handle is budget. A $90 Forward Observations trigger guard might be budget…. It’s hard to say.

    It depends on what you want to do with it. For a plinker, the PSA budget rifles are fine. I would not call them reliable though by any means. I’ve seen them in action many times……

    If this is a weapon meant for self-defense/offense, I’d suggest you need to spend an order of magnitude more. Don’t forget sling, light, optic, mags, lots and lots of ammo and TRAINING.

    Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qj9QqCVn6Fc

  5. #5
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    Default Re: New to the M4 Carbine Game

    Skip the PSA / M&P cheapo phase and buy at least a BCM or this: https://geissele.com/firearms/super-duty-5-56.html


    You’ll be happier.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: New to the M4 Carbine Game

    Quote Originally Posted by ScaredOnce View Post
    Skip the PSA / M&P cheapo phase and buy at least a BCM or this: https://geissele.com/firearms/super-duty-5-56.html


    You*ll be happier.
    And, make sure you buy a Genesis Super Luxo sedan for your daily driver, you'll be happier.

    I drive a Jeep and/or Ram daily and have very few, if any problems, but there are those on this forum that decry both vehicles. I own a PSA and an M&P15 Sport and I have had zero problems with either rifle. Since I'm not a Teir One Operator, I expect both to function fine for years to come. Your money, your rifle, your life, my experiences, YMMV.

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    Default Re: New to the M4 Carbine Game

    Quote Originally Posted by eatmydust View Post
    And, make sure you buy a Genesis Super Luxo sedan for your daily driver, you'll be happier.

    I drive a Jeep and/or Ram daily and have very few, if any problems, but there are those on this forum that decry both vehicles. I own a PSA and an M&P15 Sport and I have had zero problems with either rifle. Since I'm not a Teir One Operator, I expect both to function fine for years to come. Your money, your rifle, your life, my experiences, YMMV.
    Exactly, thank you.. Horses for courses…



    (What’s a genesis?)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    Default Re: New to the M4 Carbine Game

    Quote Originally Posted by Tommy T View Post
    I am in the market for a reliable budget M4 carbine. In doing my online research, even though there are occasional hiccups, PSA gets mostly pretty good reviews for this kind on rifle.

    I don't know a whole lot about M4s, but there is something that mystifies me. On the PSA website, a basic complete M4 can be had for about $500. I also note that you can buy a PSA complete lower for about $130, and the same complete upper that they provide on their basic rifle for about $300.

    Please excuse my lack of knowledge on M4 builds, but if all you need to do to build a complete M4 carbine is attach the 2 pins that hold the upper and lower together why wouldn't you go this route? I don't know if there are other hidden pitfalls, but if that is all there is to it, why wouldn't everyone buy the separate upper and lower, attach them and save themselves $60 to $80? Is there any advantage in buying the complete rifle?

    Thanks for any feedback
    Make sure there is a BCG included with the upper.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
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    Default Re: New to the M4 Carbine Game

    Quote Originally Posted by Emptymag View Post

    Personally, once I BUILT a complete lower from scratch, and later learned to build an upper from scratch, I don't understand why anyone would buy complete "anything" - upper, lower, or whole rifle - I can build it exactly the way I want, rather than accepting what they are offering.
    I'm too busy reloading to build rifles.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
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    Default Re: New to the M4 Carbine Game

    OP,
    You can definitely start with a cheap economy rifle like an M&P15 or an PSA and upgrade bits step by step to your liking. See what safeties, charging handles, gas blocks, springs etc.

    In fact, that can be a fun learning experience as you see what works, what doesn’t, why cheap stuff is cheap, why cheap stuff is usually fuddy..

    You’ll spend way more £$€ holistically, but you’ll be buying the learning experience. Which I feel is worth it. That’s how I look at it. I actually bought a pair of SA Saint Victors a few years ago just to experiment with different shorty parts and how to setup a decent everday backpack rifle. Did the same recently setting up a 12.5” BCM Mk2…. Ended up with a bunch of extra quality parts and even swapped out the rail for a Geissele Mk16. Changed the barrel (I shoot about 1k rounds a month through it this year, so another barrel inbound again), changed the suppression system from SureFire SOCOM Muzzle Brake & RC2 to a HuxWrx flask hider mount for a Flow556k, ditched the Travis Haley thiccc slings for something else, etc. try stuff.

    The rifle has to meet the purpose, right? There are tons of dudes in the “Just As Good Fudd Club”, but they probably don’t train very hard and then try to talk down on those that do. Invite them to a serious training course or night tactical event. Their groundhog ARs and Amazon optics might not make it through the weekend.. lol. But, they key will be sharing knowledge and they’ll be learning. That what it’s all. We should be here to help each other… not flex.

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