Now, we're just not going to get into the politics between the AR fanboys and the "poodleshooter" crowd, so please just stop right now.
First impression was surprise at how much it weighed. It's plastic (compo) after all. This one had a solid (read: heavy) stock, and you can make it into kinda what you like since it's more or less infinitely customizable.
Second impression: No recoil to speak of, so very easy to stay on target for follow up shots. Not a surprise at all, since that was one of its design goals. Have to admit, that this makes it really easy to shoot - no shoulder bruise for me here. Wikipedia has a good discussion on the .30-.30, which a picture comparing the AR .223 with the .30-.30 Winchester.
Third impression: Decent trigger, meaning it didn't distract me while I was shooting. Not sure if this was standard or aftermarket, but it doesn't really matter - no news here is good news.
Fourth impression: Hokey smokes, is this accurate or what? I'm not by any means the world's best shot (trying to make up for lack of skill with extreme enthusiasm), but La-La twitched every time I squeezed the trigger. Every. Time. With this, I'm maybe almost as good a shot as Lissa! Whoo hoo!
Fifth impression: Sarah Brady cries every time you squeeze the trigger. And like Lissa says, "Every time Sarah Brady cries, and Angel gets it's wings."
I'm not turning into an AR fanboy, but I can sure see the attraction - this rifle makes even a guy like me look like a dead shot. If they had a nice wood stock (i.e. make it look like a Garand), I might think hard on this ...
Now, I said we weren't going to get into the politics of fanboys vs. poodleshooters, but one discussion point is interesting. From my short introduction, it seems like about the only real downside to this rifle is the small caliber cartridge, and that's a downside probably only for battle. Of course, the dang thing was designed as a battle rifle, so that's kind of the heart of the matter.
The cartridge issue has been addressed better elsewhere, and there seems to be a fair amount of confirmation from the guys in the Sandbox. So the question I've never seen addressed is: If you increase the cartridge size so you put the Bad Guy down with one shot, do you destroy the light-recoil-quick-back-on-target-insane-accuracy part? IOW, is the cartridge a key part of the rifle design, and changing that changes everything else?
I simply have no idea. Both my regular readers are invited to help edumacate me in the comments.
UPDATE 28 July 2008 0:49: Boy, howdy - it's an Uncle-lanche! Thanks! Folks visiting feel free to look around.
UPDATE 27 September 2008 21:13: A month after I posted the question on whether the ammo and rifle were closely matched, John Farnam offered a short discussion on the 6.5 Grendel round, that seemingly destroys the AR guts:
"In testing the 6.5 Grendel round though the existing AR-15 platform, we've discovered that the two don't mix! I wrecked our test copy within just a few hundred rounds, disintegrating the two locking-lugs on either side of the extractor, and this was all with the manufacturer's recommended ammunition. The 6.5 Grendel is just too much for the AR"If you're interested in this topic, RTHT.