A2 vs. A3

12-02-2008, 01:48 PM
What is the major difference between the two models?

Removable carry handle or some other things?

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12-02-2008, 01:57 PM
That's pretty much it from what I have seen.

12-02-2008, 01:58 PM
Unless it has a different front site ussualy it just means a detachable carrying handle.

I wouldnt buy an A2 anymore, the detachable carrying handle makes gives the rifle a ton of versatility....

12-02-2008, 02:07 PM
Yeah, I have a Bushy A-3 and could not remember for sure.

My boss is hot to buy one....assuming they can be found and so far, no luck!

12-02-2008, 02:10 PM
Good luck.....

I think most places are at a 2-3 month back order just for lowers....

12-02-2008, 02:13 PM
Yep...no one can tell you when they will have them. You call everyday and hope to get lucky.

We did find an A-2 for $1195 about 1 hour away...

I told him to get on this a while back.

12-02-2008, 02:35 PM

Do ya really want to know?

Things have gotten kind of "Hazy" between military and civilian designations.....

The "A3" Was the difference between a Military M16 "Full Auto" and "Semi".

A2 = Permanently attached (forged) carry-handle sights

A4 = "flat top" (aka: picatinny rail....receiver and front gas block) to which the optic of your choice can be attached....including a "detachable carry handle" & front sight)


LOADS of history behind the M16/M15!!!!!

Mostly, because of "licensing rights" between ArmaLite & Colt. (and clones)

"AR" stands for ArmaLite.....NOT "Assault Rifle"!!!!!!!

12-02-2008, 02:42 PM
Being in the civilian market, the non military designations mean more to me.

12-02-2008, 02:42 PM
and some of the A3 with the full auto and burst (not semi) had the flat top removable carrying handle. The A4 has a completely different hand guard and is not offered in full auto, just burst.

12-02-2008, 02:50 PM

"A2"------- Permanently attached carry-handle/sights

"A4"--------"Flat tops"


12-02-2008, 02:55 PM


Military Sweet '16s......

Loads of "options"!


12-02-2008, 02:59 PM
Tons and tons and tons of options, almost too many to count....

12-02-2008, 03:01 PM
The A_3 has all the options so what is the difference with the A-4?

12-02-2008, 03:05 PM
the A4 is a military designation, for the civi use A2 usually means intergrated iron sights, A3 (sometimes A4) means removable carrying handle.

Ussualy the model description will tell you if the front site is a traditional front site or a gas block with no front site.

12-02-2008, 03:05 PM
Ya gotta do some research....

See what that manufacturer is considering an "A3"

Most reliable manufacturers use the A2/A4 "secret code".


12-02-2008, 03:12 PM
From wikipedia:
The US Air Force's rifle, the M16, and the US Army's rifle, the XM16E1, were the first versions of the M16 rifle fielded. Soon, the Army standardized the XM16E1 as the M16A1 rifle, an M16 with a forward assist feature requested by the Army. All of the early versions were chambered to fire the M193/M196 cartridge in the semi-automatic and the automatic firing modes. This occurred in the early 1960s, with the Army issuing it in late 1964.[2] Commercial AR-15s were first issued to Special Forces troops in spring of 1964.[3]
A U.S. soldier on NBC exercise, holding an M16A1 rifle and wearing an M40 Field Protective Mask NOTE: the receiver forward assist and the barrel flash suppressor.

The M16A2 rifle entered service in the 1980s, chambered to fire the standard NATO cartridge, the Belgian-designed M855/M856 cartridge.[2] The M16A2 is a select-fire rifle (semi-automatic fire, three-round-burst fire) incorporating design elements requested by the Marine Corps:[2] an adjustable, windage rear-sight; a stock 5/8-inch longer; heavier barrel; case deflector for left-hand shooters; and cylindrical hand guards.[2] The fire mode selector is on the receiver's left side. the M-16A2 is still the primary rifle in the US Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, and still is in heavy use in the Army and Marine Corps.

The M16A3 rifle is an M16A2 rifle with an M16A1's fire-mode control (semi-automatic fire, automatic fire) used only by the U.S. Navy.

The M16A4 rifle was standard issue for the United States Marine Corps in Operation Iraqi Freedom; it replaced the M16A2 in front line units. In the US Army, the M16A2 rifle is being supplemented with two rifle models, the M16A4 and the M4 Carbine, as the standard issue battle rifle. The M16A4 rifle has a flat-top receiver developed for the M4 Carbine, a handguard with four Picatinny rails for mounting a sight, laser, night vision device, forward handgrip, removable handle, and a flashlight.

The M16 rifle is principally manufactured by the Colt and the Fabrique Nationale de Herstal arms companies, with the variant rifles made elsewhere in the world. Versions for the US military have also been made by H & R Firearms[4] General Motors Hydramatic Division[5] and most recently by Sabre Defence Industries. The semi-automatic versions of the M16 rifle, generally called the "AR-15" (Colt bought the nomenclature from Armalite), are popular, recreational shooting rifles, with versions manufactured by other small and large manufacturers in the US.

Ski- on the bushmaster website they use the A3 designation for the uppers that have a removable carrying handle.

12-02-2008, 03:18 PM
And since I have had a Bushy for a few years now, that is what I know.

How the other brands compare, I don't know.

12-02-2008, 03:23 PM


I'm not a "Bushy" fan...... I didn't know.


12-02-2008, 03:24 PM
No problem.

Trying to learn about some of the other brands out there.

12-02-2008, 03:27 PM
The issue is the AR is a military spec product, but each company does and names things a little different, some to be different, and some becuase different companies have patents on different things (Colt took bushmaster to court a while ago about this but Bushmaster won)
Either way there is a lot of confusion. We can just try to help you sort it all out, or you can talk to the Customer service, who in most instances doesnt know either :D

12-02-2008, 03:28 PM
Kinda miss the old ABC buying days...

12-02-2008, 03:31 PM
Saunders, Ohio Valley Trading in Lancaster, Nelsonville, Logan, Athens and Rockbridge, Ohio all have a good deal of S&W A3/4's. $1015 after tax, 16" barrels and 6 position stock. It would be a 3-4 hour drive for you though. Just throwing that out for you.

12-02-2008, 03:36 PM
It is my boss in the market.

Might be worth having them ship it to our local FFL though.

Thanks for the tip!

12-02-2008, 03:36 PM
Kinda miss the old ABC buying days...

No kidding.....

12-02-2008, 08:02 PM
Thanks for the education all! I've always wondered the A2/3/4 difference, and now I know.

12-02-2008, 10:46 PM
"The Issue is".....

Good point.

Do a search for AR15s........ArmaLite won't be there.

EVEN THO!!!.......Eugene Stoner an employee of the ArmaLite Div. of Fairchild Industries. Invented the dang thing!!

ArmaLite has to call their rifles "M15s"


12-03-2008, 12:00 AM
I'd say the Bushmaster is about as good as any stock AR on the market. Some companies spend a little extra time on the details, and they charge accordingly. From a milspec standpoint, most of the major manufacturers are all in the same ballpark.

12-03-2008, 07:11 AM
Our store sells ARs from $890 (Olympic Plinker) to several $$$$ for some of the designer name/semi-customs. Nothing wrong with any of the brands we sell: Armalite, Bushmaster, Colt, DPMS, Stag, S&W, Rock River, Baer, Wilson, CMMG, or Olympic.

Picking one brand over the other is like telling people which automobile is best. People often ask about the price differences between the brands and I compare that to my Toyota Camry. It is the deluxe model with all the nice options. I could have bought a Lexus that is almost identical and paid up to twice as much. Some folks like Lexus, others Toyota, and some think a Yugo is fine.

The A3 with a fixed front sight and a removable carry handle and collapsible stock is usually the best "first" AR. Gives you several options for adding optics and accessories. The A4 usually means no iron sights at all, just the rails for optics. I bought the Stag as it seemed to be the best combo of quality, features, and price. S&W, DPMS, and Rock River would be my next three choices.

12-03-2008, 11:58 AM

That must be a "rush", being in the middle of all those beautifull rifles!!

It reminds me of my favorite "CSI:Miami" episode.......

The character, the resident firearms/ballistics expert, played by Emily Proctor, walks into the firearms room, looks around, and says "Be still, my heart."



12-03-2008, 04:38 PM
We have sold nearly 300 ARs in the last six weeks. We are about the only store in the area that still has them. All of the .308s and 6.8s are gone, down to just 5.56 now.

12-04-2008, 12:45 AM
:up: If we can get these into everyones hands they will have a very hard time in banning them..... (i hoppe)

Doug Bowser
12-04-2008, 03:38 AM
I have a Rock River AR-15 A2. I bought it instead of the AR3, I guess I am a traditionalist. I have mounted a Tasco 2.5x10x42mm Tactical-Varmint telescope on a DPMS scope base. I found a set of really low rings for it. The combination works well. If you have an A2, you still have to use a 3/4" riser to mount a large objective telescope.

I will be going to Kansas this Summer to teach pistol sooting to a group of 4H shooters and I will take the Ar-15 for a prairie dog hunt. I will not be under gunned with the AR.

Doug Bowser

12-04-2008, 12:58 PM
January issue of "Shooting Times"....

Kinda "dedicated" to the EBR, this month. (Be still my heart!)

Editor's article: "An industry friend recently told me that his AR company was backordered to the tune of 30,000 rifles. Yes, that's four zeros after the three."


THAT is awesome!!!! That's only ONE company!! (The article didn't say which-----no matter.)


12-04-2008, 01:31 PM
I am dizzy!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

Just ask them if it has a removable handle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :tigger:

12-05-2008, 12:27 AM
Classic Arms is advertising the Centurian AR-15 for $720 (up from $680 early last week). From the picture and short description it looks to be a very basic A2: fixed stock, adjustable rear sight, ramp front sight, heavy barrel w/ bayonet lug and bird-cage comp. They claim to use "primarily surplus Colt parts". Does anybody know something about these ?

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