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I'm trying to get up to speed on the HK416 family of variants before I make a purchase. Please pardon my ignorance, I've owned HK pistols for over 20 years but this is my first venture into HK long guns. (I did read the FAQ but I guess my question is too basic for it to cover.)

My first inclination was to just buy an off the shelf MR556A1. Then I started reading about people buying BRN-4 stripped lower receivers and building them out with HK416 parts kits. Is there any advantage to the self-assembled HK416? I'm not necessarily looking for an "authentic" build, I just want a super reliable and super accurate AR-15.
 

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If you’re looking for reliability and accuracy, and aren’t interested in a shorter barrel, the MR556 will do fine. The main advantage of the 416 uppers IMHO is the lighter chrome lined barrel, available in shorter lengths. Also good for the “first through the door at OBL’s room” fantasies.
 

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MR556 is accurate & reliable for “function.” 416 is for which you will pay a significant premium for collectibility - a “real” German 416 upper - a real German 416 lower (for which I include the BRN - sort of - mixed ideas on that) or go all the way for a 416DSF - no one really knows how many are out there - perhaps in the dozens.
If you have a few extra thousand to spend or an extra tens of thousands to spend - it is a personal satisfaction thing.
Long term I think the 416DSF will bring huge money. An “investment” of sorts.
 

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Would have to agree with the above comments. The mr556 is ready to go off the shelf. If you do end up building your own the parts availability can be scarce. Many of the parts sell for much more than the retail price as well.
 

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I also think that if you buy a 416 upper as issued - it has collectibility value - not so much for a “parts” upper especially with a cut down HK barrel or non-HK barrel. So go big or go home.
 

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collectibility is in the eye of a beholder - 1909 Lincoln cent $10, 1909 S Lincoln cent $100, 1909 S Lincoln cent VDB $4000 - excellent condition - so what difference do those three little letters make?
Personally I have about given up on trying to “build” an upper - between crazy high parts prices, shipping & gunsmithing - I think you’re generally better off to either buy the real deal upper or let somebody else put it together and then they sell it. Been there done that.
 

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I have always considered HK to be #1 in anything 5.56 or less (pistol caliber). The 417 has had its issues. Even the Brits opted for the LMT MWS on the basis that it beat the 417 in both accuracy AND reliability. The Mr556 would be my pick.
 

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Now you tell me: just bought a BRN762 - trying to find parts for it - long hunt - But I need something under an assaulter upper. If you want to see the MR556 & 762 criticized go to ar15.com - it’s all in what a guy wants to do. I shoot everything I own and I look at it even more. Kinda like the OTB mania - can’t think of the last time I came up out of a river to shoot a coyote LOL.
 

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The only reason why I opted for a true 416 upper is because in my heart I know I’ll make friends with someone that has a registered full auto lower. This has been my childhood dream. If full auto doesn’t do anything for you than it’s basically the same thing to me other than the awesome 416 barrels. For the price of a hk416 upper you can get a complete mr556.
 

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HK barrels are also swaged. Cutting a 16" barrel to 14.5" or even shorter will have a negative impact on performance.

If you are just looking for the look and a fun range toy, it's probably not a big deal to cut a barrel.

If you want to build something as close to the real thing with a complete upper, you can look for take off 416 barrels.
 

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My preference is to purchase 416 uppers/parts kits and either BRN4 or MR556 lowers that have been marked properly to complete a build. Everyone’s purpose and reasoning will be different. I have a RDIAS, so I wanted full-auto components and a full-auto bolt carrier. To be honest, you can’t really go wrong with any of the mentioned options.
 

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Chrome lined barrel on the 416, relief cut in the receiver/bolt carrier on MR556, markings, standard take down pins on 416, full-auto capability on the 416, OTB capability (some 416 models), barrel type/configuration, trigger, and on some early 416 models they didn’t have the ability to put the weapon on safe even when the hammer is not charged. I’m probably missing a few differences and I’m sure someone will jump in to add those or correct me if I’m wrong.
 

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IMO assembling is perfect if you want to learn about all the parts; where they go, how they function. Should still have an LGS double check everything, but with HK quality and the right preparation/tools/research, why not?

But, if convenience and availability is your thing, go with the MR556 and remark the receivers. Replace the barrel with a Nefarious Arms chrome-lined barrel, and the Magpul grip with an HK.
 

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Building a 416 isn't far off from an AR. I just did my first 416ower and it's essentially the same except the buffer retainer and the selectors (I messed one up bad 😂). The upper should be even easier to do, except for needing the specific barrel nut wrench which apparently are unobtanium.
 

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After doing a couple builds I have learned it is just cheaper to buy a complete rifle. The good news about building it yourself, you can choose exactly what you want and know it was built right. Just your wallet may suffer.

Before the insane price escalation, I was interested in finding a real 416 upper and slap it on a MR556 lower.

All in all, I think a base MR556 would suit you just fine.
 

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difference between HK416 and MR556?
The MR556 is a semi rifle which requires that you squeeze the trigger for each round. The HK416 are select fire weapons, capable of firing on full automatic, which means it will confine to fire, as long as the trigger is depressed.
 
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