I have never owned an AR carbine/rifle. My closest experience was substantial M-16 usage and training as a U.S. Marine, but that was almost 20 years ago. Other issues and expenses related to family, housing, etc. always seem to trump my ability to purchase a nice rifle. I have finally grown tired of waiting, however, and my thought is to purchase an AR complete rifle without a lot of bells and whistles. I can't keep putting it off forever like I have been. I would like to stay under $700 - $800 range. I would like the AR to be of a quality that would suffice for someone with my shooting plans: Occasional range shooting, and eventually some tactical carbine classes and more demanding training applications. I would, as time and money permit, like to be able to add additional features to this rifle, such as upgraded handguards, stock, optics, perhaps a vertical grip. I have attempted to research this myself, but it is obvious I am way behind you guys when it comes to AR knowledge. I am not able to purchase a "mistake," and correct it later with a more appropriate purchase. I realize opinions vary, but your opinions would help tremendously. Any guidance you are willing to provide me that would help me avoid costly mistakes at this early stage are greatly appreciated. Without opinions from folks like you all I feel like I would just be rolling the dice or flipping a coin with my purchase. Thank you in advance for all who are willing to share their opinions with me.