Im not a fan of either rifle but i would get the bushy over the m&p just make sure the rifle has m4 feed ramps cut into it, thats when the feed ramps are cut into the locking lugs and into the upper reciever. reg feed ramps are just cut into the locking lugs. This makes the rifle more reliable in feeding ammo.
Between those 2 I'd go woth the M$P if you can find it for that price. Also go on line and take a look if S&W are still running the rebates. They used to give you back $100 and a couple of mags. Not sure what if anything is being offered anymore though. I have owned 2 Bushmasters and had no serious issues with either, but I have seen and heard a lot of Busshy QC issues like canted sights, non staked gas keys... I have not run into them opersonally, but I have seen friends with Bushys that have run out of windage while zero'ing. About the only negative that UI have heard of the M&P is that some of the eralier ones did not accept Magpul PMags Not sure if that issue has been resolved yet or not.
I would get the M&P at that price.The only other ARs that in that price range would be DPMS and Century arms.I have a DPMS and it has run flawlessly.I owned a Bushmaster M4 but had issues with it jamming constantly.Heres a pic of my Dpms with some of my other favorites.
The simplest way I can answer this is by using the patented: ChicagoTex "The-Way-I-Feel-About-It-O-Meter" grading system:
Colt - A
LMT - A+
Noveske - A+
CMMG - A (A+ if LMT Enhanced bolt used)
Les Baer - A+
Wilson Combat - A
Bushmaster - B
S&W - B+
Stag - B+
Rock River Arms - B+
Sabre Defence - B+
Armalite - B
Del-Ton - C
Doublestar - C+
DPMS - D
Charles Daly - D
Olympic Arms - F
All my "As" will run you a bare minimum of $1100 or so for a complete rifle (and some quite a bit more, quality ain't cheap). For the price sensitive, there's no shame in stepping down to a "B-class" as these rifles serve countless folks very well (including many a police department and federal agency). For my money, I feel S&W probably makes the finest B-class rifle out there, there's something about them that is very tight and precise, especially when compared with something like a Bushmaster (which is, by all means, a good rifle, it's just somehow not quite as nice). If you're particularly price sensitive you can step into the C realm and get a rifle that works well and is decently accurate, but is difficult to have a large amount of pride-in-ownership for.
With all due respect to the many satisfied DPMS owners out there - their sloppy feed ramps and out-of-spec chambers don't pass the litmus test of what I can recommend with a clear conscience. Maybe my standards are unreasonably high - maybe DPMS owners' standards are unreasonably low.
Olympic's just garbage - do I even really have to explain why they're in the "F class"?
I am very far from an expert, buy everyon has opionion so here is mine. Personally, I'd opt for the Bushmaster, but it's a toss up. The Bushy does have what looks to be a YHM front sight which is an $80 value, and gives you a front sling ring and makes adding a free float tube or quad rail pretty easy. On the other hand the SW has a weaver gas block which is versital and also makes it easy to add a tube. I don't particularly like the permenantly installed flash deflector on the Bushy. You're stuck with that unless you want to change barrells. Were as it appears the SW has a cheap-o A2 flash deflector (nothing wrong with that, I have that on my AR, and it's okay for now) Either one is a good value at the listed prices.
Like the OP i've been bitten by the AR bug myself and would like to add a question for you guy's in his thread. I plan to use this gun PRIMARILY as a HD weapon but will take it out to the range on occasion and shoot the 100 yd range. Sooooooooooooo....
1. Do I want to buy a flat top and just put iron sights on it for now?
2. Will the 16" barrell suit my criteria or do should I get the 21"?
Apologies for the threadjack, and thanks in advance!