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When it comes to buying rifles, Thunder Ranch’s Clint Smith isn’t one to look for a bargain. “Any money you saved by buying a cheap rifle you might as well shove it up a hog’s ass,” Mr. Smith opines. The gun guru’s also dead set against rolling your own. “You want to put shit together and take it apart? Buy a Rubik’s cube or one of them puzzles that comes in a box that makes everyone insane.”

Speaking of puzzles, why did Mr. Smith move to Oregon? Especially as . . .

he says he misses The Lone Star State’s attitude towards criminals: “they burn their trash.” I digress, albeit in both Mr. Smith’s style and honor . . .

The main man’s main point: this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no fooling around (speaking of Byrne-ing your trash). The antis “are still after all your stuff.” So get good stuff built by someone who knows how to build a rifle. Now. Maybe one of his? I’m not averse to the idea. You?

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        • Anyone who follows someone who wants to spend 3 grand on an AR is a nincompoop. Even Uncle Sam doesn’t get swindled like that. This guy is what he is. A salesman. Which means he’s got to swindle and hustle. Albiet in a poor manner that’s only going to drive more customers away. He could use a class in economics. You can’t insult folks into buying your shit. The goal of a business is to expand your customer base to drive up profit. That means adapting to the market your in.

    • A response to several comments: yeah, he can be a bit of an ass, but he admits as such and makes no apologies. So what?

      He’s one data point on opinions and techniques. Take what you can/want from his experience, combine it with the nuggets you find from whatever in-person training or videos you review elsewhere, and walk away with your own opinion.

      Was that so hard?

      Here’s an old video where he explains the fundamentals of his classroom portion. It puts his later videos in context:

      He’s not flashy, doesn’t generally promote specific brands or models, and focuses on some sound fundamentals.

      • he admits as such and makes no apologies.

        Im pretty sure that is what would move him into pompous category. Or for those in Rio Linda “blowhard”

        • My point stands: so what? Would a humble and kindly nature make his words or advice more credible? Grow some skin and take his rants for what they are–a single viewpoint on the use of firearms. Generally, a damn good viewpoint that’s far more informed than the majority of the firearms owning populace.

  1. Two excellent MSRs for less than $700 (And sometimes less on sale):
    Ruger AR556
    Smith&Wesson M&P15 Sport

    Absolutely no reason to insert either into a hogs ass.

      • lol what you guys over in the states pay under 400 for in the US we in australia pay well over 800 for (if we can even get it). so wish i could move to the US. i f$%^#^g hate nanny though sadly they are trying to get that shit through over there too 🙁

        • asdf,

          That’s called “milspec.”

          Also – that “one” couldn’t go 5000 rounds without replacing. It doesn’t mean they all will perform the same. Also, in this case, only the BCG would likely need replacing, the rest of it was fine.

          I agree in this case, there were definitely some bolt/BCG issues.

          But for $399, 4300 rounds without replacing some parts may be worth it.

    • Are you serious?!?!?! He’s one of the most decorated service members of all time and one of the best trainers you could ever possibly consider training with.

      • He is? I can’t find a real bio on him anywhere on the intertubes to support that. If he’s that famous it seems it would be posted everywhere.

      • Don’t forget that /sarc tag…

        Two whole tours in ‘Nam, and a whopping 7 years mainly being a “cop” (trainer). At least he owns up to being just another average ‘Nam vet in interviews. (False humility for street cred, but it’s worked well for him)

        • As of now there are many veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan with 10 tours, possibly more, having spent the majority of their adult lives overseas. Two tours is pretty run of the mill for most recent vets.

        • Either “conflict” or war include the MOS if you want to indicate anything useful.

          1/2 the “homeless” and “PTSD” types were REMFs.

      • Where did you get “One of the most decorated soldiers of all time”? This guy claims to have been shot in Vietnam. Yet I can’t find Any record of him being shot in Vietnam, in a hospital for gun shot wounds or receiving the purple heart. I have looked on the VA site, Vietnam Marines site, Purple heart sites. I find nothing. He is not the most decorated ANYTHING. I never heard him make that claim but he does claim other things and his advise seems Crazy and full of bragging statements about bullshit.

  2. I think he came to Oregon because the land was cheap and he has a few friends here that convinced him.

  3. I have a $ 65 Romanian 69 that shoots rings around all my other 22’s. And I have a cheap Savage that groups only .25 larger than my Cooper. Deer are just as dead.

    • I thought it was because his wife passed away and he wanted a fresh start elsewhere. IIRC, he has remarried, and a younger model, too.

  4. My second hand $200 Remington 788 in .223 that shoots 1/4 moa with handloads and has killed pigs, goats, Roos, foxes rabbits etc in the hundreds thinks he’s a ####.

    It was what I could afford 35 years back and it works. It gave me a platform to learn on

  5. Speaking of nice rifles, going to bring home an AI in .308 tomorrow.
    Shoots 1/2 inch groups at 300 yards. Pretty excited about that.

    • Ok, I’m jealous Tom. Been eyeballing the AIXMC in .308 in Dark Earth for a few months now. Saving funds for a thermal scope so the AI will have the wait for now.

    • You’ll love it! Joe Grine and I were utterly astonished by the accuracy and reliability. 600 groups were about 2”.

  6. Clint Smith. I’ll remember that name in the future to be sure to not waste any time listening to any more of his bs.

  7. Gee all I’m going to do with my AR is shoot at paper. I don’t hunt or compete. And for SHTF time. It just has to work when I need it.

    • Right. I liked all the articles about the SHTF scenario in Houston recently. Everyone was too afraid to use or carry their safe queen 3,000$ guns and leather blown holsters, for fear of ruining the finish on them. Instead people wanted to carry run of the mill glocks, ARs and AKs, for their pure utilitarian ability.

  8. Soooo… Spend tons of money on a gun that doesn’t kill anything any deader than a 400 home built AR.
    What a fucking douche… I pray this jackass isn’t the first gun owner some fence sitter meets.

    • The only issues are reliability and accuracy. There is plenty of both available without sticker shock. Paying attention to the materials of your BCG and your barrel are the only really important things when it comes to an AR, and all the fancy coatings in the world or high end furniture will not make the gun any more accurate, reliable or deadly. A $300 optic may not be the best, or the clearest, or the longest lasting, but it will get you on target, which is all that matters.

      • Properly built and properly maintained ARs are reliable the only time I’ve had issues out of any gun is when it’s been defective or really REALLY filthy (after a sandstorm when riding in the turret) other than that it’s always been mag issues (damn black follower GI mags) or rounds with issues.

  9. I am not making any accusations. But has anyone ever confirmed his Marine record? Usually, military members, that were in combat in particular, and especially Marines, will state the unit they were in, almost before anything. When I hear “I did two tours in….. ” and nothing else, I start seeing red flags waving. I actually was involved in some Stolen Valor investigating, the last year or so before I retired. It is pretty easy to spot patterns

    • Your a huge dipshit. Clint is a well respected Vietnam Vet. Clint literally came up with Urban Rifle. Maybe do some research before you open your mouth.

      • When insulting someone’s intelligence, it is best to use the correct form of a word for the situation. In this case, it would be “you’re” not “your”.

        This has been your regularly scheduled public service announcement.

      • So is John Kerry. He is Vietnam vet and is respected by a lot of Democrats. Same with Al Gore, and he invented the internet.

        • That is pretty rude. AlBore’s initial claim to fame was inventing the internet, true. But it’s insulting, now, to not recognize his far more important (and profitable) contributions since, in particular his invention of global warming.

    • JDC I agree. I don’t know where some people claim “he is the decorated service of all time” not true, and “well respected Marine”. I can find nothing about him being shot in Vietnam, as he has claimed and No one in Special Operations, Special Forces, that I talked with remembers him training any group or force, as he has claimed. I’m not stating it’s not true, Just can’t find anything on him, in a valid record. I agree that most of the Special operations, Special forces, combat vet’s that have been in combat don’t brag and make boastful statement like he does. Special Operations Afgh Iraq Africa and around the world.

  10. Where does one draw the line between “cheap” and “not cheap”?There are plenty of inexpensive quality parts for ARs floating around, and it doesn’t exactly take a rocket scientist to build one properly that will operate reliably. Plus the manufacturers, reacting to the market, have been cutting prices left right and sideways. There are plenty of $500 ARs and even scope mounted sub-$500 Savage bolt action rifles that will bring home the bacon, or the venison. How many $500 pistols are flooding the market, one as reliable as the next? Does he mean “battle reliable,” and if so, then he is an idjet, since the feds buy the cheapest “qualified” supplier rifles and equipment made, subject to reliability standards, standards that are not all that hard, nowadays, to replicate. It is not as if Glock or Beretta has a separate manufacturing line for government contract guns and commercial guns…they are all the same. So this guy is just off. Waaay off.

    • Cheap = less expensive than the one I bought.

      Too fancy / blinged = more expensive than the one I bought.

      Re rolling your own – I know of literally no better way to learn how an AR works with itself, and therefore to know where to start looking when it stops working. Just doing the lower assembly puts you ahead of probably 90% of MSR owners in that regard.

  11. Not reloading for very high volume shooting (unless wealthy) or long range precision shooting is dumb. For all other applications, reloading isn’t really necessary, unless you just enjoy it.

    • 100% agreed. But you forgot one thing: time is valuable as well, and you can never earn more of it. I shoot about 5000 rounds per year in 5.56, 7.62×39 and 9mm combined, with some .22lr thrown in there for good measure. Would I save money reloading these calibers, sans .22? Yes, but not enough to justify the time that I would spend loading them vs. the time that I would like to spend with my family. Maybe this will change once I retire and the kids are gone, reloading does sound like an interesting hobby. But right now, I have more important things to do than sit and push bullets to save a few bucks.

      • Most of of us will tell you we don’t reload to save money. (The honest ones will even admit you won’t save money)
        We reload to have a better quality round to shoot. One that’s been tailored to bring out the sweet spot of your gun.

        And for me, I find it relaxing as well as rewarding. I put out a better quality product than the major manufacturers. When you get it all together and running smoothly, you will save money per round, but likely what will happen is you will shoot more.

  12. In general, you do get what you pay for. But of course there are lots of exceptions. On the high side you might be overpaying just for the name. On the low side there are rough gems that are super cheap but perform just as well as better known brands. And even established brands will sometime churn out a lemon. To find (or avoid) these exceptions you need to do your research.

  13. What if I told y’all that no one is going to force you to get an expensive rifle?

    Get as nice or as bad a rifle or shotgun or pistol as you want. #YMMV

  14. And…. what a lot of people don’t want to hear is that he has a series of very valid points… to a point.

    Not to start sucking peoples’ dicks here but something to keep in mind is that your average TTAG reader is leaps and bounds ahead of your average “I’m gonna build an AR” guy.

    Your average “I’m gonna build…” guy is this guy I know: a fucking moron. He’s been trying to figure out how to get his home built rifle to cycle reliably for like six months. He won’t take any advice unless it comes from the interwebz and at this point he’s got a ton of parts he doesn’t need/don’t really work. That $400-$500 home build rifle is now closing in on $900. He could have bought a nice off the shelf rifle for the same/less/a bit more depending on what he wanted. This idiot doesn’t know how to change his own oil but he’s gonna build a super-duper awesome AR that competes with the $1000 jobs? Jerk me off a bit more. These are the same retards that will tell you something like (and I’ve actually heard this IRL pretty recently) “Dude, a silencer? You know that makes .45ACP subsonic at like 40 yards, right?”

    Look, there are a lot of people that are competent to build a gun or roll their own ammo. Lots of them hang out here.

    However, for every one of those people there’s half a dozen morons who have zero clue what they’re doing. The kind of person who could, for lack of a better term, screw up a cup of black coffee. Generally speaking when someone tells me they built a rifle and I don’t really know the person, I assume that their rifle is about as good as a long slow handjob with a piece of coarse sandpaper and 80% of the time I’m right about that. In fact, the handy might actually be better. I dunno how they’re screwing it up and really, I don’t care, I just don’t want their rifle (or them) anywhere near me especially when I find out they roll their own ammo with a “Who needs a reloading manual?” attitude.

    As for the “buy three” well, it’s his money. I wouldn’t do that but hey, his money. However, his other point about “cheap” AR’s is kinda true… to a point. I’ve picked up off the rack AR’s that rattle like a damn tool box. Junk. There are however a bunch of people that buy them and rave about how great they are. Generally those folks couldn’t shoot to start with so they have no idea what a decent rifle really is and couldn’t use one if they had it though. That said, I’ve also picked up some rifles where I look at the price tag and think to myself “Wow, at this price point this is actually a pretty darn nice gun”. In those situations it’s all about knowing how to look past the price tag itself and see what you’re actually getting for your dollars. Unfortunately the ability to do that is kinda rare so there are a lot of people running around with guns that shoot but really aren’t that great of a rifle.

  15. Clint is just another shill. Have you seen his thunder ranch brand ar’s? If I recall they’re floating over 2 thousand dollars. For an AR? yeah right.

  16. He thinks you need to be a professional or rocket scientist to do the following:
    Buy a Milspec Lower/Upper/Quality BCG/Buffer Tube/LPK/Buffer System/Barrel/Barrel Assembly/Gas Block/Flash Hider, Etc.
    Inspect Barrel and Gas Port for Burrs/Defects
    Install a Barrel Nut Assembly using the appropriate vice/tools/blocks/anti sieze and torque between 30-80 ft lbs
    Headspace Check Barrel and BCG
    Install a Gas Tube/Roll Pin with Appropriate Punch/Starter Punch
    Install LPK/Buffer/Stock Assembly in/on the lower with appropriate tools
    Insert Charging Handle/Quality BCG into upper after using oil on contact points

    Honestly I’d trust my own builds over certain factory options. Even Colt is not immune to poor quality control. If you build it yourself and it functions reliably. Who cares what some old dinosaur thinks?

    • You have to keep in mind the level of stupidity this guy encounters daily in his business.

      We’ve all seen that guy talking out his ass at the LGS. This guy deals with those people all day. Tactitards who built a rifle that doesn’t work because they didn’t know what they were doing.

      What he says here is a general rule for Joe Sixpack. Your average TTAG reader is well above that level.

      I’d be insulted if someone insinuated I don’t know how to drive a sports car but that doesn’t mean I’d hand my keys to a 16 year old, even if he knew more about a 1978 Mustang than anyone else on the planet. He might talk a good game but that doesn’t mean he can drive for shit.

      Work with the public long enough and you tend to get jaded and assume everyone is an ignorant jackass until they prove otherwise.

      • strych9, a ’78 Mustang? Jeebus, that’s about s slow as one can possibly go – and not get run over like a Model A driver…

        Most any 4-cylinder Hondota of the last decade would stomp that 140-ish HP V8 POS like a narc at a biker rally.

  17. I don’t know about him. He makes me smile sometimes, as I’m an old guy too. I do what I want to do. It’s part of being an old guy.

  18. Context is everything; in this case it sounds like he is talking about a fighting rifle that you have to rely on to save your life. In that regard, I agree with him. However, he may be overlooking the fact that assembling an AR from parts can not only overcome a barrier to entry into modern sporting rifles, but also teach you more about the platform than could ever be taught from just shooting and maintaining a store bought gun. Most will use these “hand rolled” rifles for nothing more than Sunday funday, and there is nothing wrong with that. There is validity to both sides of this argument, and it sucks for him that he came on so strong against the cheap rifles because there is nothing wrong with owning both, or even working up to a better rifle once you buy or build a cheap first gun.

    TLDR- He’s right… but arrogantly disregarding those that don’t anticipate taking a rifle into a gunfight, want to build a rifle for hobbyist reasons, or can’t afford a good gun.

  19. This guy is a little bit on point but also a db! I dig his point but why does it matter how anybody chooses to become armed? I’ve never understood the reason why I HAVE to buy at $3000 AR when I can buy a Douglas or Kreiger barrel and build an AR with the parts I LIKE! Also, why suggest an attack (low level EMP) on the USA would be great?!? That just pisses me off!

  20. Rolled my own multiple times, and with superior parts to most anything over the counter. My idea of the SPR manages .75 moa, and my 300 BO pistol disappears into a tennis racquet case and takes pigs with authority. Best part was I didn’t feel like I dropped the $3500 I have in the 2 because both were built over time. I will happily take either (more likely both) to battle and feel perfectly confident in my equipment.

  21. Well for the price of one of his wonder weapons I have two ARs. One a WOA upperred 20″ SR that will shoot .5 MOA at 300m and under .75 MOA at 600m. The other is for closer work, a home rolled MK18 mod1.
    He acts like a hog’s ass.

  22. The older I get, the more I appreciate other old men who are not afraid to shake their fists at the sky and yell at the clouds. Clint is a very entertaining old grouch.

  23. Yeah, this guy can shove his expensive rifle up his own ass. My $430 mid length AR built from PTAC, Palmetto, and Anderson parts ran a good 1000 rounds with lube only and zero malfunctions and now that I’ve added a KMR rail, ACOG, and a CMC trigger its damn accurate too. Screw expensive off the shelf ARs, there’s not a damn bit of point in them.

  24. This guy puts a lot of faith in manufacturers. How many recalls (or “voluntary upgrades”) have there been from traditionally trusted brands this year? On top of the recalls, quality control doesn’t seem to be much of a priority any more.

    Over the past three years, I had to return two pistols (one of them twice), one rifle, and one AR upper to reputable manufacturers for repair, because they slipped past QC with defects. I have bought a lot of guns, but not enough to make that failure rate acceptable. I’m sure John Doe at Manufacturer X can build a great rifle on his good days. I’m also pretty sure he doesn’t only come to work on his good days. I may not build as many rifles as Mr. Doe, but I only build rifles on my good days.

    I’m typing this on my own custom computer, transmitting it on cable that I pulled through my house, and routing it through my home-brewed firewall. I risked life and limb on a “mix-and-match parts” downhill mountain bike every weekend this summer and the bike never failed me. I’d trust my DIY ARs with my life, too.

  25. A guy who can’t master Rubiks cube really shouldn’t be postulating about anything in public;-)

  26. “Any money you saved by buying a cheap rifle you might as well shove it up a hog’s ass.”

    Okay, if you say so… Bend over whenever you’re ready, Clint.

  27. I’m a “buy, don’t build” guy because 1) I’m lazy 2) have a million other things I’d rather be doing than fiddle with a build and 3) I like warranties…

    But, to each his own. Build if you want to.

    I like Clint, he makes me laugh. And, the butt hurt he causes people makes me laugh and like him even more.

    Lighten up, Francis.

    • As was his brother, Bobby. Killed by a cheap ass .22 revolver.

      And Teddy lacked confidence in his ability with a gun, cheap or expensive, so he got his killing done with a car. Lot of knock down power in a V8.

  28. I am a VN vet. I spent 32 straight months there so it’s kind of hard to break that into “tours”. Clint Smith was a Marine Infantry Officer on one tour and a member of a Marine Combined Action Platoon (CAP) on his second tour. Anybody that knows about the CAP program knows that they were right at the spear point in VN.

    He has an opinion based on his experience, education and knowledge. You may not agree with his opinion and he may not agree with yours.
    That’s what makes us all unique.
    Personally I enjoy listening to him and while I sometimes disagree with him, I still respect where he’s coming from.

  29. He’s still the size of a silhouette target. Cheap rifles can hit silhouette targets. I have a real issue with the pomposity of the general gun crowd. Military Jar-heads and wannabe corporals who know just enough to be a hemorrhoid generally turn off people. We are supposed to be reaching out to the ignorant masses however we can to teach and support such a fragile yet vitally important issue. Pompous sphincters such as himself only push those very people away. He is but one spec in the general populous; however, one drop of Habanero oil can ruin a whole recipe.

    IF he is as good as he says he is, then he’s a waste of valuable knowledge. Learn some T.A.C.T sir!

  30. the 3 rifles i BUILT run better than the one i BOUGHT

    and for what i got the BUILT ones were less expensive than the BOUGHT one

    the ones i BUILT routinely shoot as good as other rifles i see at the range out to 300 yards that were BOUGHT for 2-3x as much

    so are we supposed to stop handloading too…and sharpening our own knives…

    are we going to have to start taking our rifles to the gunsmith for routine cleaning

    if you BUILT IT you know how to FIX IT

    thats way more important if we are indeed trusting our very lives and the lives of our families to these rifles

    in a shtf scenario there isnt time to take it to the gunsmith or send it back to the factory if it stops working

    google ar-15 recalls…daniel defense…ruger…armalite…smith and wesson…

    i can build TWO rifles with optics that shoot as good out to 300 yards for what i can buy ONE daniel defense rifle for

    no thanks

    PS: nothing against clint but part of his businees plan is he BUILDS AND SELLS RIFLES FOR $2000-$3500…consider that fact before you put too much stock in what he says when he says dont build your own…just sayin…

  31. Sounds like a man that makes (and is trying hard to sell) expensive rifles. Does it ever make sense to take the advice of a man with a vested interest?
    Would you take the advice of a used car salesman about how good a buy the car he’s pushing is? Probably not. Most would know enough to check it out themselves, or else take it to a mechanic that THEY pay for an UNBIASED opinion.
    Why is this any different?

  32. Don’t ever trust your life to a gun or ammo that you haven’t thoroughly tested for reliability and (less importantly) accuracy. From my own not-trivial experience, low-cost and assembled AR’s (sub-$500) have been just as reliable as much more expensive ones. They haven’t, however, been as comfortable or as accurate.

    When it comes to optics, I’ve run some really good glass and some fairly low-priced glass. I’ve shot the hell out of a Primary Arms Red-dot and a 1-6 BDC scope, in good weather and foul, and never been let down. I wouldn’t trust my life to a no-name ‘tactical red dot’ from Amazon, but you don’t need to spend Aimpoint prices to get sturdy, usable glass.

    Clint Smith is a hell of an instructor and his character and credentials are above question. I just don’t agree with him on this point.

  33. He could have gone with “know what your money brought you”, sparing whole obnoxious guru exhibit.

    It is just too easy to point at the rack of 2000+$ ARs, 1500+$ bolt-actions, pat WC 1911 in your holster and sagely notice how good this stuff is. Wow, a revelation. Your cheap 4-pot-block compact can’t match pep and cornering of Ferrari. Talk about unbelievable.

    But few people use SKS or Rem 783 (ewww) etc. as their main gun, and don’t know all too well that quality weapons are different. It is just they are not different enough to justify upping the spending. Whatever peddlers say.

  34. WOW. Loud AND obnoxious. I get he wants people to buy his (not cheap) rifles but to antagonize everyone who builds their own? Maybe he figures they will never be customers so screw them. His certainly aren’t cheap – $2000 – $3500.

  35. His point was; “If you can’t afford the high dollar stuff, you can’t afford my class.” Easy enough to understand.

  36. Wow…. how many of y’all have seen this one video and then passed the judgements I just read. I’ve actually seen a lot of his work, and while I might not like the delivery all the time, when someone with those sort of credentials and experience speaks and they’re that old… I’ve the respect to listen.
    Hopefully the joirnalists that operate the TTAG put this in front of you feel like I do about Mr. Smith. And after today, I’ll no longer waste my time reading the comments of the keyboard warriors that spewed their uninformed opinions. To those that know Mr. Smith’s work or served our nation demonstrated restraint or admiration towards Mr. Smith; I hope you out number the mouthy ones hiding behind their keyboards.

  37. Don’tcha just love expert opinion that is pure conjecture? I’ve walked in the same tracks this lad has and find he is very opinionated without limiting that opinion to specified knowledge, Guys like this usually end up getting shot with a cheap gun because of their overconfidence and tunnel vision. So, let him live his dream with expensive toys, weapons are tools and are what they are because of the masters that control them.

  38. The amount of triggered on this post is glorious.

    Apply Bruce Lee’s process. Take what works for you and use it.

  39. Clearly, some of the stuff he says is for entertainment purposes and I do get a few chuckles out of his videos along with some good info. My take home from this…do your homework. Don’t trust your life to a cheaply made weapon. That doesn’t mean you cab find a good deal on a well made one.

  40. The bullet that comes out of the barrel of a 500.00 AR is just as lethal as one coming out of the barrel of a 1500.00 AR.

    Not that complicated, grandpa. Aint no friggin Rubiks cube.

  41. I once watched a Clint Smith youtube video.

    EXPLETIVE DELETED. so who cares what he has to say about anything.

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