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Not all AR15s are created equal.

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by phishi, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. phishi

    phishi Psy-Ops Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I know that many refute this. It can be hard to accept when one has made a poor decision, but it does not change the fact that a poor decision has been made. People become defensive, they pout and stomp their feet. They claim it's not fair, that it can't be true. But it is.

    I know this because I was one of you. I owned a Bushmaster AR15 and a Carbon 15 made before that company was purchased by Bushmaster. I felt that I had a tricked out carbine complete with Surefire weapon light and Trijicon Reflex optic strapped to it carry handle. The other would be handed to my wife who without a doubt would appreciate its light weight. I believed these were as accurate and as reliable as any other AR15 on the planet. I was prepared to stake my life and the lives of my family on these two weapons, feeling they where more than adequate for combat conditions. I was also wrong.

    Let me define my goals at this point so we are perfectly clear. What I wanted was a weapon that would survive the unknown. Something that would go boom each and every time I asked it too. Something that was so reliable that I could pass it down to my grand kids and they would be able to ask the same of it.

    It was around that time that I stumbled across The Chart. If you are unaware of this document, it was originally produced by Rob of Tactical Yellow Visor. He has since stopped updating it, but at one point it was the definitive comparison chart of AR15s. He began with the premise that Colt was, and continues today, to be the gold standard of combat ARs. They hold the military contract, as such they have to meet military specs, and therefor they are the benchmark to compare other brands too.

    Think of it as a baseline. To produce a Tier 1 AR, you have to manufacture one that meets or exceeds the military specs as set by the US military and produced by Colt. Not everyone does this. If they do, it is often sighted on their web sight and it is used for marketing their particular AR as better than the others. If they don't sight it, there is a good chance they don't make a Tier 1 weapon.

    In my search for a combat capable AR, I found myself finding problems with my original 2 selections. They both lacked M4 feed ramps, neither bolt carrier group was properly staked, the castle nut on my BM was also lacking in a stake mark, the bolt carrier group for my Carbon 15 was not swappable with my BM, and there was no MPI testing on either bolt or barrel. Did they go bang when I asked, sure. Had I every had a failure to feed, no. Had I ever used them at anyplace other then a range and then cleaned them and put them back in the bag, no. Realizing their faults, did I feel comfortable betting that these would be there for me when I might need them? Would you?

    The conclusion I drew was that they where sporting arms, not a combat arm to bet my life on when the chips are down.

    Some will say that The Chart is only there for justification of a higher priced AR. That their particular brand and model would be fine in combat. That the figures look good on paper but that their AR has never let them down. And maybe their's hasn't. But while their statistically insignificant example of 1 may make it through combat conditions, other from the same manufacture are failing courses of fire at an alarming rate.

    Par Rodgers, noted Marine and NYPD officer, runs a mobile shooting school that travels across the country training military, LEO, and civilians how to shoot. He sees thousands of rounds go down range in the course of a year and does not hold many punches when it comes to gear. Concerning ARs, he reports that Tier 1 weapons, even when minimally maintained, out last other manufactures models on the same weekends. Consistently.

    He is not alone. Other ex military or LEO shooting instructors say the same thing. As do people who put their lives on the line and carry a gun daily. Brands such as Colt, Noveske, BCM, LMT, Daniel Defense, and S&W M&P line consistently perform better on their courses and in gunfights. That was what convinced me.

    Shortly after the birth of my first child, I found myself selling both rifles and turning that money into the two I have today. Both are builds, and while I'm glad I went that route, I don't believe I would do so again. There are Tier 1 models available for roughly what I have spent, using quality parts from known makers, to build these weapons. Currently off the shelf, in my opinion, is the way to go.

    More importantly, I feel that these are the weapons I was looking for in the beginning. They are the ones I would take in hand before stepping out into the unknown. They go boom every time I ask, and hopefully they will be the ones that I am teaching my grand kids to shoot on.

  2. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member


    I'm not sure if is/was the most up to date as 'The Chart' seems to have all but vanished from the 'net.
    I also found this: Beyond "The Chart" « Vuurwapen Blog

    edit: it's old, BCM isn't on the list

    Interesting stuff.
  3. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    This looks like it could be the latest

  4. NotSoSneaky

    NotSoSneaky former supporter

    Ok seems like others found several charts. Edit to prevent clutter.

    Note to self: pull AR from safe and record details of build for posting
    Moatengator likes this.
  5. phishi

    phishi Psy-Ops Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Nice work gentlemen. Keep it coming, we might make scholars of ourselves yet.

  6. PapaGrune

    PapaGrune Inside the firestorm

    Ask a professional mechanic, a person who makes his living from that, about tools. Craftsman are very good tools, Snap-on makes good tools, but Craftsman will not last as long in heavy day to day use. As a person who did that for a large portion of my younger life I hold this statement true.

    Same with your AR-15 view. Not unlike you get what you pay for. Your mileage may very;-)

    sent from inside the fire tornado
  7. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    I, personally, will not deal with Sears. they cut corners, put their name on junk, and duck warranties. they get none of my business:(.
  8. PapaGrune

    PapaGrune Inside the firestorm

    My first deep freeze was from a now defunct company known as monkey ward's was still going strong when I gave it away after it was 30 years old.:'(
    Long live the monkey.

    sent from inside the fire tornado
  9. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    um, would that be Mongomery Wards? They double billed me for more than a thousand bucks. And took more than two years to completely fix the problems they caused. may they Rot in heck. but at least I got 'em back with interest......and the money also.
    Sorry, that was a bit of a wander, feel free to delete it.
  10. PapaGrune

    PapaGrune Inside the firestorm

    Sorry for all your bad luck... I am done.

    sent from inside the fire tornado
  11. phishi

    phishi Psy-Ops Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Please watch the thread drift gentlemen. If you wish to discuss poorly run department stores feel free to take it to another thread or continue off line. Otherwise let's keep to the topic at hand. Thanks.
  12. JABECmfg

    JABECmfg multi-useless Site Supporter

    And now, back to the topic at hand. This is going to be long-winded, but bear with me here...

    As evidenced by the original post of this thread, we're looking for the gun that will go bang every time you pull the trigger, and will continue to do so for a very long time, under unknown adverse conditions. And as evidenced by the title of the thread, we're looking for the best AR. Problem is, what if the AR platform is not the best choice to serve these needs?

    I think we're assuming that the AR platform is the standard - and I agree wholeheartedly that it should be, for good reasons, many of which are addressed here: Monkey configuration AR15 | Survival Monkey Forums

    But if reliability is the primary goal, it's hard to beat an AK. The AR vs AK debate has been going on forever, and I'm sure we're all familiar with it, so to discuss it further would be to beat a dead horse. Why bring it up then, you ask? Because maybe we're overlooking something here, the same way we're overlooking the AK as a weapon of reliable function by discussing only the AR.

    Allow me to stray off topic for a moment - I've been to a lot of gun shows. In addition to the things you expect to see at a gun show, there are always those guys selling tee shirts and stuff like that. One shirt I've seen at probably every gun show I've ever been to, was one that listed Murphy's Laws of Combat - and the one law that always stood out to me was this one - "always remember that your weapon was made by the lowest bidder." Now, I know it was just a joke intended to sell shirts, but maybe it's worth considering...

    Why are we using Colt as the standard? Personally, I've always felt that if it's good enough for the US military, then it's good enough for me - but even with all the advances in firearms technology over the years, the fact remains that the AR platform is 50 years old. Again, I like the AR - and personally, the Colt is what I would choose if I had to pick something and run with it in a SHTF situation. (Even if I am still stuck on A2 hand guards and carry handle. I know, time to get with the program.) But, I think it's worth asking ourselves - is there anything that's NOT on that chart, that should be? If so, it's worth considering here...
  13. phishi

    phishi Psy-Ops Moderator Emeritus Founding Member


    I understand why you are asking, and believe that this is a valuable conversation to be had. Perhaps we could continue it in another thread so that this one does not continue to drift? If you start it, I will meet you there.

    JABECmfg likes this.
  14. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey Site Supporter

    You might also ask why the AK, a much older design, has not been upgraded?
    JABECmfg likes this.
  15. JABECmfg

    JABECmfg multi-useless Site Supporter

    I would say that in a way, it has - from the 47 to the 74 for example. The AR has also been upgraded, think feed ramps - which ARE noted on the chart.

    That said...

    Got it, will do - PM sent, in the interest of keeping threads from overlapping too much.
  16. Harbin

    Harbin Monkey+

    Not looking to get flamed here, just asking if this would apply since it's as some say a "better design"- but what about the Ruger SR556? Being piston driven like the FN FAL peaked my interest, just haven't had the cash to seriously go look at one, which may actually be the safest time for me to go look since I can't afford one now anyway...

    If this is way off topic, I apologize ahead of time.
  17. bfayer

    bfayer Keeper Of The Faith

    90% of the chart has no bearing on the reliable function of an AR, the parts that do can be taken care of with a couple of hand tools in 20 minutes.

    Selling an AR that functions reliably is like selling a Chevy because the engine is painted Ford blue. Have at it, but its not going to increase reliability if your old one was already reliable.

    You may be interested to know that the same folks that push the chart are the same folks that replace parts like the stock and buffer to make their AR function better. If the TDP specs a H buffer why would they replace it with a H3?

    Most of the TDP is about producing a standardized rifle, not about producing a better rifle.

    Sent from my Galaxy Nexus using Tapatalk
  18. Idahoser

    Idahoser Monkey+++ Founding Member

    other than Colt, all AR's ARE created equal, in fact they're all made in the same factory and then stamped with different brand names. Colt sells the only AR that is NOT MilSpec.

    Okay, that's a bit of exaggeration, but not too much. MilSpec receivers meet the definition to be exactly like every other AR, the parts interchange, we're not talking about heat treated forged steel here, most of this thing is aluminum.

    And Colt really does make the only one the does NOT have interchangeable parts with all the others.

    Or maybe I just dreamed it.
  19. natshare

    natshare Monkey+

    While the AK's might have a bit of a real world/SHTF/living in rough conditions advantage over an AR (which, due to the closer tolerances, tends to be the more "prissy" rifle.....meaning, more likely to fail because of a small problem), I would offer another alternative, that I'd say combines the best advantages of both platforms.

    I've owned a stainless steel Ruger Mini-14 for about 15 years now, and fired hundreds of rounds through it, without ever doing much more than a barrel brushing and swabbing afterward. I finally tore it down this year, and gave it a thorough cleaning! Not because it needed it (due to a malfunction, etc), but rather, because I finally felt guilty enough to do it! While there was some carbon build up that took some extra effort to brush & pick off, it in no way caused a malfunction, and I have no doubt that I could have continued firing hundreds more rounds of .223/5.56mm ammo through it (and for those wondering, it's only the earliest Mini-14's that had a problem digesting 5.56mm ammo).

    To make this even more amazing, the vast majority of the ammo that I've shot through it was steel cased Tula ammo, which, as you know, tends to be a bit more......dirty, shall we say? It also tends to put some pretty serious amounts of gunk into the chamber area, that requires a good cleaning afterward.

    I've considered selling the old girl, as I now own a pair of AR's......but I believe that I'll hold onto her a while longer. She's older, and currently only has iron sights on her (versus the optics on my AR's), but she's so damn reliable that I don't want to give her up!
    kellory and BTPost like this.
  20. gunbunny

    gunbunny Never Trust A Bunny

    I guess I'll wade into this argument. I've been shooting AR-15s for 25+ years, building them for over 15, and shooting them in competition for over 5 years (until it was too costly to load 150+ rounds a month for practice and comp). I've never experienced a catastrophic failure with an AR, even in competition (although my SMLE NoIII MkI did eject the upper handguard and fornt sight guard one time in competition- a bolt action rifle no less!), although I probably should have. At least deserved to.

    I'm not saying it's not possible, anything made by the hands of man are prone to failure, but for shooting a volume of ammunition the AR platform has done exceedingly well for me. Not to say that I haven't had small problems. Most, if not all, can be attributed to myself.

    -I learned that you cannot put a carbine buffer spring in a standard tube if you want it to NOT feed the next round.

    -Watch the reloads. I had a combination of bullet and powder that required magnum primers (for 5.56?). I learned why you needed magnum primers with Winchester ball powder and 55gr bullets- the gas jet would make it past the primer and put a little divot on the bolt face.

    There were no high pressure signs, just a little dark hole somewhere on the circumference of the primer wall. The divots in the bolt face didn't keep it from shooting, it just looked ugly after a whole season of shooting. I replaced the bolt and it was good to go.

    -High pressure reloads put a nice little ring on the bolt face of another bolt. It looked like a brass primer was drawn onto the bolt. Again, it didn't stop the functioning of the rifle, but I did replace the bolt and adjust the load. Is that extra 50-75 fps worth it?

    -My first build, I somehow managed to loose the spring from underneath the sear. It would double fire and jam. After taking it apart again, I found the spring rolling around inside the receiver and replaced it. It functioned fine ever since.

    -ARs get HOT. An aluminum free float hand guard (carbine) can only be held with the bare hand after about 80 rounds of rapid fire. I had a set of Norinco 120rd drums back then, when a case of PMC 5.56 was only $75, and it wasn't a stretch to go through it all in a day when I had the time.

    I've had the gas tube glowing bright orange, after emptying one of these drums, yet didn't fail. I may not have been able to hold it any longer, but it would still shoot.

    -The first malfunction I ever had with an AR was when I was an impressionable 16 year old shooting my friend's Colt Delta H-Bar. The bolt would lock tight after shooting a round, leaving the casing in the chamber. The only way we could clear it was to hold the charging handle as if you were to pull it back, and slap the rifle's butt straight onto the ground- a forced ejection.

    It turned out to be the cheap reloaded ammunition we bought at the gun shop, it's OAL was too long and would pinch the neck of the cartridge and lock it there. I've experienced that problem a few times since, always attributed to me not trimming overly long or stretched casings before reloading.

    -Another friend of mine once neglected to tell me he lost the firing pin retaining pin when he cleaned the rifle. He re-assembled it anyways and gave it back, like nothing happened. When the rifle was tilted upwards, when it was propped up on the wall, it fell back into the action. I pulled the charging handle back to see what the noise was from the chamber, and it jammed tight between the back of the bolt and the fire control group.

    It bent the firing pin (which I had abundant spares for), but most of all it put the rifle out of action. I had to remove the buffer tube (or receiver extension if you were in the military) and pry it out before I could continue to tear the rifle fully down.

    It seems that I'm my own worse enemy when it comes to malfunctions!

    My point is, just have some spare parts for the rifles you own. A few firing pins, firing pin keepers, gas rings, and bolts (or just the whole bolt carrier assembly if you can) will go a long way. You may even want to get another barrel if you can, just in case parts get hard to find again.

    Then after getting spares, you should also have the specialty tools needed to swap out barrels and such. Snap ring pliers are needed for the snap ring in the delta ring assembly. Uber expensive parts may not be needed for spares, just as long as you have them.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
    oldawg, HK_User and kellory like this.
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