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SHTF AR Carbine

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by Hispeedal2, Jul 2, 2010.

  1. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    First off, this is a continuous thread. I will edit this post and add new stuff below as I go. I will reply with "Update" so everyone knows when I add something.

    Well, I said I would do an <acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>endurance test. What does 900 old reloads and a Friday off equal... the answer.... a lot of fun or..... just the beginning.

    First I will introduce the rifle. It's a home build. I think the grand total is in the $600-700 price range. It's a bone stock lightweight barreled carbine with iron sights. It doesn't get much simpler than that. I always search out better weapons parts and there was only one place that I skimped, but more on that later.

    Barrel- Chrome lined Bushmaster Superlight 1-9" with A2 Flash Suppressor
    Bolt Carrier Group- Either Rock River Arms or Bushmaster... I can't remember.
    Upper- CMT with DPMS upper parts kit
    Lower- Superior Arms lower with DPMS lower parts kit***Now wears an Eagle Arms (Armalite) lower with DPMS parts kit
    Stock- Stag Mil-Spec diameter 6 position carbine stock, single heat shield oval handguards
    Sling- Israeli two point

    Ok, the way I was putting together ARs around the time Obama was coming in office was to put together the highest quality at the lowest price. I made my last order about the time the Obama craze started and parts dried up for months. I had upper parts on back order from the only place that seemed they would get them in within a reasonable amount of time. That is how I ended up with a DPMS LPK. I don't prefer DPMS... later on that.

    The barrel is a used barrel that I picked up of the E&E on ARFcom. I have no clue how many rounds have been through it. All I know is that it still has a ton of life left. In the mad drive to get as close to Mil-Spec as possible, a lot of people are ditching 1-9" barrels for 1-7" barrels. I don't know why they figure 1-7" is better. I have seen 1-9" stabilize everything up to 77 grains. I believe about 85-90% will stabilize 75 grains. So, why the rush to 1-7"? I don't know. Who the heck can afford to shoot match OTM rounds every weekend? Most everyone I know shoots either 55 or 62 grain depending on what's available. Anyways... if you look, barrels can be had in the $200 price range.

    The BCG was a special when they went on sale. I can't remember if it's BM or RRA. Regardless, I prefer an MPI tested bolt like those available from BCM. It just gives a little peace of mind. And the cost isn't that much more than non or batch MPIed bolts. It doesn't mean that any non-MPI bolt is going to fail. As this bolt shows, there are a lot of perfectly fine bolts out there. Stay with a better known manufacturer and you should be fine.

    The lower was what I can find available at the time. Most all lowers are made close to spec these days. Go with one that has good reviews on ARFcom.

    I am running a DPMS LPK. Not my preferred. The quality just isn't there compared to a BM, RRA, or Stag kit. When it was time to order the LPKs, I was getting close to leaving and just wanted to get the first available to finish the carbines. They are easy to change. I will change mine out at a later date.

    What's good about this carbine?
    Weight. I believe the weight is about in 5.5lbs range unloaded. It doesn't get much lighter than that. Accuracy is fine for an iron sighted carbine. It will hold it's own against any M4 profiled barrel but at less weight. It is certainly more accurate than a lot of non-<acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>platforms. It does have a bit more recoil becasue of that. Taming that recoil comes with practice. I have it down well enough.

    Point of this thread- there is a lot of talk about what an <acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>can or can't do. A lot of that is from people that have never really used one. Some is from people with single bad experiences (usually with a lower end <acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>or without the experience necessary to run it). I am here to show what it can do. What I have seen it do. I ran a carbine to over 10,000 rounds just after the AWB sunset. That upper was still going strong when I sold it for another. I fired those rounds with little maintenance. We have all heard the horror stories about how an <acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>has to be cleaned every 200 rds for the thing to work. Not true.

    I have fired this carbine a bit before. I run FC XM193 as a standard SHTF round. I believe the 55 grain 5.56 round offers the longest effective yaw range for the money. I could invest in some TAP or other ammo, but why when we have a round with a proven war record that I can afford to practice with and stockpile?

    Initial test-
    2 JUL test- First off, the number of rounds available to me for the initial test is 900 rounds. These are old reloads that I made up some 10 years ago. They are hot loaded Winchester 55 grain FMJBT bullets that are closely matched to the velocity of XM193. The conditions are a typical Southern Arizona day. Dusty, dry, windy, and bright.
    Preparation- No cleaning required. I simply oiled the BCG with a good coat of oil, loaded up all the mags (thank God for stripper clips) and headed out.
    The test- I started by confirming zero with a mag of FCXM193. After confirming zero was still on, a testament to an iron sighted carbine, I fired a magazine of the reloads to see if the zero was close. Satisfied that the steel silhouettes wouldn't know the difference, I begin shooting up all the reloads. The SV range here has steel set up to 500 yds. Today's test was out to 250 yds. It was rough getting started since I haven't fired a carbine in about 2 months. After awhile I was ringing em' dead no problem. Total time at the range.. about 2 hours. That's 450 rounds/ hour. Taking into account random cease fires and you can understand how smokin' this little carbine was.
    Malfunction- the only malfunction I had during the duration of the test was a stuck case. It stuck after 20 magazines (600 rounds). Upon opening the receivers I saw a bulged primer. Likely a reload problem (a little hot). One light tap with a cleaning rod and I was back in business. I did drop a capful of CLP on the bolt and work it a couple times to ensure I wasn't drying up. There were no more malfunctions for the rest of the test.
    What I didn't like- This DPMS LPK gives me a bit of trigger slap. After 900 rounds my dang finger hurts. Never had that problem in an <acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>before. I think I will go ahead and upgrade to a set 4 lbs combat trigger instead of just changing out the FCG. It would be a good upgrade to have anyways.
    Lessons Learned- Watch your reloads. A bit hotter and I might have been in trouble. No fault of the carbine, though. Even if you factor in the malfunction due to the reload, if you can shoot 2.85 battle loads.... you have the reliability needed in the platform. If you write off the reload, you can shoot at least 4.28 battle loads of ammo without a malfunction and with minimum maintenance.
    Before Pic:

    After Pic:

    Other things I want to do with this thread:
    -Get the actual weight of the carbine, loaded mags
    -Compare the different <acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>mags and explain why I use what I use
    -Keep everyone abreast of any changes I make and why I made them
    -Show how hard an <acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>can be run... I have no plans for a thorough cleaning... it currently sits in it's triumphant filth... next time out, just a capful of CLP
    -I will show what I look for in good <acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>parts, the differences, and the little things you can do to improve reliability
    -I will show the minimum tools needed to assemble an <acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>and how a monkey can do it (I've done it some 20-something times)

    3 JUL 2010 Update- Thinking about a Geiselle trigger. They are uber reliable from the reviews and have a great break from my understanding. I'm not sure how I feel about a 2-stage in a standard carbine, but I am willing to give it a try. If I don't like it, I will drop in the original OEM parts and put the Geiselle in a DMR-type carbine I built.
    Geissele AR15 Super Semi-Automatic Trigger
    I have also decided to change the lower receiver out. It wouldn't drop free the P-mags I had. I have another laying around to replace it with, so no biggie. Everything else will remain the same and I will update the specs above. The upper receiver remains uncleaned.
    I added double heat shield handguards.... my hand got a little hot a couple times during that last session.
    ETA: trigger is ordered along with the BCM extractor upgrade... new spec spring with o ring. I will post more about this later when I do the install.
    10 JUL 2010 Update- Completed the install of the Geissele trigger and extractor upgrade. The trigger is awesome. I would say it breaks at a crisp 4 lbs. Maybe a bit less. The quality is obvious in the fit and finish. It's leaps and bounds above a stock trigger. The first stage is short. Not like the M1A two stage triggers. The second stage is light. The lock time feels lightning fast. The best part is simplicity. It keeps the simple original design. No set screws to worry about. No adjustment necessary. I was thinking about getting an adjustable trigger for my "varmint" rifle. Now, I think the Geissele two stage is enough.
    The crane o-ring extractor upgrade is installed. It was a bit of a pain to install the first time. From what I have read, that is normal. I cycled it a few times to ensure it would at least cycle round manual without fail. I need to test fire it at the range to see for sure. I may be able to run a couple hundred round down range this weekend.
    18 JUL Update- I was able to get out and test the BCM extractor upgrade and Geissele trigger. The ammo used was Remington green box .223. Not the most powerful, reliable, or accurate ammo available, but there were zero stoppages. Number of rounds fired- 100 rds. If you are keeping track, that is a total of 1000 rounds fired with zero cleaning. I forgot lube, so I improvised. I keep a quart of oil in the back of my truck. A half a cap full added to the BCG and some manual cycling was the only thing done before shooting. This just goes to show you that as long as you oil it, it doesn't matter what you oil it with. In a SHTF scenario, you could pull out your dip stick and finger off enough oil to coat the BCG. They like to run wet. At 1000 rounds with no problems, the thing that is keeping this little carbine going is the oil.
    The trigger- wonderful. That is all I can say. It takes a little bit to get used to the 2 stage when firing an <acronym title="AR-15">AR </acronym>if your muscles remember a single stage. At the end of the 100 rds, this was no problem. It breaks crisp at what I believe to be a hair less the 4 lbs. I wish I had a trigger scale to be sure. No trigger slap was noticed as with the DPMS FCG. This is the trigger I want in my precision rig.
    The BCM extractor upgrade- There were no malfunctions that warranted the upgrade. It was simply peace of mind. After the installation, there were no issues with extraction. No issues before, no issues after. I guess the peace of mind was achieved. The crane o ring and new USGI extra power spring were all upgrades that originated in SOCOM. The O ring is currently not regular issue. The extra power spring is. These upgrades to the extractor tension are due to the harder extraction that comes from a carbine length gas system. I have used regular extractor springs for years with no issues, but I figured I would give it a try. I guess I am relatively neutral on whether it is needed or not. I say, go with a quality BCG like BCM and you get the "upgrades" as standard. Then you can't go wrong. I have enough kits to equip all my carbines and have a few left over as spares. Total cost was like $30.
    High-tech lube:
    The SV range.... one of the best ranges ever....
    Test range was 100 yds, off the bench, iron sights....

    3 SEP Update- Now that I finally have my reloading presses set back up (3 weeks of fixing broken parts and fighting through resetting everything) I was able to bench test a 55 gn load at 100 yds. At this point, this carbine has sit next to my bed filthy or rode around in the truck bumping over desert roads. No cleaning has been conducted to date. The last time it was fired was 18 JUL. Current round count at the beginning of this small accuracy test was 1000 rds.

    The test load was a 55 gn Win FMJ-BT on top of mostly LC brass behind 27 gns of Win 748. The primers are regular CCI SR primers. The components have been in garage storage since 2004. The purpose of the test load is to validate accuracy for mass loading of the remainder Winchester projectiles. The sights used were standard front and rear M4 sights. The zero was a 25M/300M battlefield zero (which accounts for the high POI at 100 yds). 15 rounds were fired with 15 holes on target. With some optics, I believe the group would have shrank considerably. Still, this group is great for a combat gun with a LW barrel and iron sights. Here are the pics:
    Here is the reloading set up:
    I am now thinking about optics. Given the LW nature of the barrel, I am leaning towards a LW point optic. I am looking at either an Aimpoint Micro or a Trijicon Reflex. The advantage to the Reflex is the Tritium power. The disadvantage I have personal experience with is potential wash out. The Aimpoint Micro has a long battery life, but is dependent on batteries. A little more thought has to go into this purchase.
  2. ghrit

    ghrit Ambulatory anachronism Administrator Founding Member

    This will be fun to watch and read. [applaud]
  3. RouteClearance

    RouteClearance Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    Hispeed, I know how you fell about the DPMS LPK's, but there is a big plus with the trigger parts in that they are equally hardened through the entire thickness of the metal, which means you can remove all of the excessive creep and stone to a mirror finish if you are willing to buy the jig fixtures from Brownell's or have a reputable smith do it for you. My LR308 AP4 has a pull pf 4.5lbs for Service Rife Class. If I dog leg one of the hammer spring legs, the pull goes down to 2.8 lbs
  4. CraftyMofo

    CraftyMofo Monkey+++

    I'm looking forward to your posts! It's going to be interesting.
  5. NVBeav

    NVBeav Monkey+++

    HiSpeed -- where did you get the sling? I'd like to get something similar if they're not too expensive.
  6. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    Here is the link for the sling:
    IDF Improved Rifle Sling

    There are only two slings that I will run anymore. Both are 2 point slings. I like the Viking Tactics padded and the Israeli slings. I like both side mounted. The VTAC is a bit better for body armor- a little more wiggle room. I won't use single points because if you are climbing a fence or other obstacle, you end up with your muzzle in the dirt. You also end up getting your balls busted when you transition to a pistol and the carbine is dangling. Three point slings are too much IMHO. They tend to have webbing that covers the controls.

    Routeclearance- thanks for the tip. I may keep the FCG. Not sure right now. I have been dying to play with one of the Chip McCormick or Geisselle triggers. This test would also be a good test of such a FCG. They make some that have a fixed poundage, non-adjustable, and are single stage... perfect for a combat rifle.
  7. pcc

    pcc Monkey+

    Great review. If you're looking for a good trigger group on a budget the rock river match is the best I've found for the money.
  8. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    3 JUL Update above.

    I'll throw this in for some S&G reading:
    The Big M4 Myth: “Fouling caused by the direct impingement gas system makes the M4/M4A1 Carbine unreliable.”

    I figured I would add this story from the range the other day. This gentlemanly old range safety was being polite and asked me if I wanted to use the range's plastic rifle rest. I was planning on shooting off hand and from different positions, but I decided I would start off the bench with the rest to get used to the feel again. I placed the rifle down during a cease fire and looked back right before we commenced firing again to see my barrel melting a hole right through the rest...oops :p. So for the last hour, I've been figuring out how to get off this plastic hardened to the barrel. It must have really fire hardened because a bronze brush wouldn't scratch it off and I couldn't remelt it with a lighter. If anyone ever needs to do this, I used the mouth of a brass case and some fingernail polish remover. Full strength acetone probably would have worked a bit better.
    Man, that's [reddevil][gun]
  9. RouteClearance

    RouteClearance Monkey+++ Site Supporter

    I have to agree with HiSpeed's last post, the number one cause of the AR/M16/M4 rifle becoming unreliable is excessive heat. For M16/M4 rifles what causes that extreme heat? A high volume of full auto fire, and lets not forget about the talcum powder dust of the "sand box" that is also ever present no mater how diligent you are with weapons maintenance.

    The newer gas piston HK416's that the U.S. Army's Delta Force has been using for the last three to four years proves this out. My main objection to the factory gas piston AR15/AR10 type weapons have been the price that the manufacturers want for them. The same goes for the retro fit kits that also are available for your own rifles, which goes for up to $500.00.

    If you need a weapon that can handle the extreme heat of rapid fire, then I would suggest a basic Kalashnikov. If you want to be able to accurately engage your targets at a greater distance with a sustained controlled rate of fire, then by all means go with the "Armalite Rifle".
  10. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    Interesting enough, the Army has pulled all the HK416s from the D-boys. Here recently, they also canceled the SCAR-16 portion of the SOCOM weapons program. There are two theories about this. 1) That the SCAR lower will be adapted to work with SCAR-H and SCAR-L. Since Afghan is the fight, the SCAR-H should be the priority. 2) Retrofit of existing carbines will be the future. Obviously more cost effective.

    If we ever get a piston driven weapon, it will likely be years from now. In the meantime, we need to teach these young soldiers what makes these weapons run.
  11. Rourke

    Rourke Monkey++

    Great post and information.

    The issues that many <ACRONYM title=AK-47>AK </ACRONYM>owners that are anti-<ACRONYM title=AR-15>AR </ACRONYM>bring up may have been accurate years ago - but modern manufacturing techiniques have rendered us many accurate and reliable AR's.

    Thanks - Rourke
  12. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    Like this?

    <object width="480" height="385"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/eNAohtjG14c&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/eNAohtjG14c&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="480" height="385"></embed></object>
  13. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    If you need to do that... you may have made a poor decision at some point. ;)

    Very cool. I would definitely wear gloves with that one. [rofllmao]
  14. Byte

    Byte Monkey+++

    I NEED that many drums! Sadly I don't even have one yet...

    I can't hold the fore end of my AK after 13 30rnd mags fired fairly quickly on semi. The fore even has the Tapco plastic w/ aluminum heat shield. (thinking of actually replacing with an aluminum quad rail fore soon) When I had the original wood on the varnish boiled out of the wood at mag 7! I'd like to slap the idiot that thought varnishing the wood would look nice. That was an unwelcome surprise since I hadn't put any gloves on yet. Hence the change to the plastic w/ heat shield. Luckily it seems to have a fairly high melting point! [gun]

  15. Seacowboys

    Seacowboys Senior Member Founding Member

    yea, Remind me to tell you about the M16 with a Beta-mag and a Gemtec Suppressor.
  16. pcc

    pcc Monkey+

    that's wild, stock on fire and it never missed a lick.
  17. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    10 JUL Update-

    Giessele trigger and crane o-ring install.

    Read above for initial impressions.
  18. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

    18 JUL Update Above^^

    SEE POST #1
  19. Hispeedal2

    Hispeedal2 Nay Sayer

  20. PapaSasquatch

    PapaSasquatch Monkey++

    Thanks for the round count and build review. I feel that your test is in vain only because the AK fanbois (or rather the anti-AR AK fanbois) will still believe theirs is more reliable as the debate rages on. But just the same, I like what you're doing.

    Further, I'd point out to those still believing ARs are unreliable... that your build is kind of a hodge podge of parts rather than a complete factory build from the more reputable manufacturers (LMT, Noveske, COLT, BCM, etc.) who as Pat Rogers would say are not "hobby guns" like yours would be accused of being, respectfully. And having your build be from several different makers AND THEN putting out hundreds of rounds without issue is not only a testament to the "middle of the road" ARs like yours but to the modular design quality of the weapon platform itself...something the AK lacks. Again, I'm not dissing on your AR..I'm sure you've seen the arfcom threads discussing the battle quality ARs vs. the hobby guns so you probably know. I'm just saying that given your particular AR..which (on average) would be more inclined to malfunction compared to an off the shelf LMT MRP or Colt 6920, you're representing the high quality of the AR platform well and shutting down the AR haters out there.

    Carry on! I look forward to the updates. Until then, let's throw this image out there..not sure where I stole it (M4Cnet or ARFcom) but it's a bolt after 15k rounds of WOLF! A lug sheered off and it was so gunked up that it finally seized I think. No cleaning for 15k rounds. Sure, nobody EVER would run a gun without some remedial cleaning for 15k or even 10k, and probably not even 5k...but still this 15k count is pretty impressive especially since it's well over the rated expectancy of that bolt. Also, NO gun..not even the AK is made to do 15k rounds without cleaning. Sure it's rumored that AKs can go thousands of rounds and I have no doubt they can. But as for a reliability comparison...ten good Knight Armament M4s vs. ten good Izhevsk built AK101s would easily go an equal distance.

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