Common "Battle Rifle" Longevity/Dependability?


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Pony Express
November 10, 2009, 05:07 PM
Hello everybody,
A couple of buddies of mine have a debate going on about the longevity and dependability of certain "battle rifles". I am a neutral party in this argument but I am seeking out some advice from you alls. I wont include the AK in the poll because thats not even a part of the debate and we reckon that it will outlast any of the other rifles, but in your opinion, what is the rifle that can fire the most rounds in between mechanical failures (permanent damage, not just jams)?

Thanks, and play nice.

Edit: Folks, this is not a list of the best battle/assault rifles ever devised, just the few that my buddies are arguing about
And yes, I left the AK off because I reckon it would win with a landslide.

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Frankl03
November 10, 2009, 06:24 PM
I would have left off the mini 14 and added a Cetme/G3/Hk 91 type rifle. I just don't consider the mini14 to be a battle rifle.

Just my .02

mljdeckard
November 10, 2009, 06:42 PM
Keep in mind, regardless of longevity, an AR is the easiest to rebuild as needed.

knights_armorer
November 10, 2009, 07:39 PM
i like the ar, but the m1a and the fal are also very good (especially the m1a)

(the mini is not a battle rifle and really doesnt belong in that group.)

Pony Express
November 10, 2009, 07:57 PM
Thanks fellas,
Yeah, I keep trying to tell my buddies that the Mini shouldnt count but they keep insisting that its "good enough". its past the point of me caring enough to try to change their minds on that subject.

kanook
November 10, 2009, 08:01 PM
Just because our military isn't carrying the mini14 doesn't mean that it hasn't been used as a battle rifle.

benEzra
November 10, 2009, 08:24 PM
Just because our military isn't carrying the mini14 doesn't mean that it hasn't been used as a battle rifle.
Where, and by whom?

The mini is very reliable as long as it is kept relatively cool and lubricated. If the lubrication dries out, particularly with the stainless models, you can get galling and seizing very quickly.

The only failures I ever had with my 188-series Ranch Rifle were related to cheap magazines (and a couple of bad reloads a friend accidentally gave me), and it worked flawlessly with good magazines, BUT I was careful to keep it fairly cool and well lubricated, and even then I had some galling on the bolt after a couple of thousand rounds. John Farnam reports that they don't hold up as well as AK's and whatnot in his carbine classes, but I'm sure they are running them quite hot there.

I eventually sold my mini and kept my AK as my primary rifle, but that was primarily due to my mini's accuracy issues (mine was a bit of a lemon in that department).

kanook
November 10, 2009, 08:36 PM
The Mini-14 in its various guises has been adopted by various police and paramilitary forces around the world.

In 1978, the Mini-14 rifle was purchased by the Royal Ulster Constabulary to replace its stock of aging U.S. M1 carbines.

In 1983, The Bermuda Regiment replaced its British made L1A1 SLR's (7.62 mm) with the wooded stocked Mini-14 20GB, a semi-automatic only variant.

Here's two. You can find more

kanook
November 10, 2009, 08:37 PM
you can get galling and seizing very quickly.You have not shot the ac556 have you?

Avenger29
November 10, 2009, 08:42 PM
I'm going to go with the AR-15 because it's the simplest to do maintenance on. Replacing parts is extremely easy, and with a few specialized hand tools, you don't have to rely on specialized skills for replacement of parts.

Every firearm is going to break eventually. What happens when it breaks and how to fix it is the interesting part.

Broken11b
November 10, 2009, 08:46 PM
I have my own opinions as to what belongs on a list of Battle Rifles, And my own opinions as to what would last the longest without failures.
Assuming you werent just lining up and firing thousands of rounds at a time with the intent to destroy the rifle... And these are just my humble opinions
the mini would go first, just a minor part break, but it would go first
tied in second and third the AR15, or the M1a, (my money'd be on the M1a first)
Last survivor, the FAL... still kickin across the globe.

mljdeckard
November 10, 2009, 10:03 PM
This is really pretty difficult to answer, because few of us, if any, have ever run ALL of these guns to the point of scrap metal.

Smith357
November 10, 2009, 10:48 PM
I believe the most durable and rugged battle rifles have been left off the list. But since the Mauser and the 03 Springfield is not a choice I would choose the M1a.

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
November 10, 2009, 10:51 PM
Saiga .308 or Dragunov, would be my guess. But I dunno. Any of them (except the Mini-14 which as noted is not really in the same class) are designed to go and go and go. And add HK91 types, in addition to these two I mention.

Z-Michigan
November 10, 2009, 11:42 PM
I chose FAL, if you're really talking about how long it will run before a serious part breaks or the thing just plain wears out. I remember reading somewhere that the FAL receiver should last 80,000 rounds. I assume the bolt will wear out or break before that.

An M14 made truly to the US mil-spec for when it was introduced would probably be very close behind, and the US military has a lot of M14s still in service from the original production. Hardly any civilian copies of the M14 are equal in quality (which is not to say they aren't still very, very nice rifles).

Trebor
November 11, 2009, 03:48 AM
The Mini-14 is not a battle rifle. While it has been used by some police and para-military units it really wasn't designed as a front-line infantry weapon.

As far as Mini-14 reliability in that kind of role, talk to trainers who run defensive rifle classes. The consensus is that the Mini's work fine, up until the point where they break, which usually is in the first day of the class. They just weren't designed to stand up to the abuse of multiple strings of rapid fire fired in a short time period.

Regarding the rest, the M-14, M-16, and FN FAL have all proven to be sucessful military weapons. The FN FAL supplied the majority of the NATO armies and served well in combat. The M-14 worked well for the U.S. and the M-16 has proven effective and reliable enough for over 40 years of service with the U.S. military.

I can't say which would actually last the longest, but all are up to the task, which I can't say about the Mini-14.

Dambugg
November 11, 2009, 08:48 AM
Another vote for the Fal. All the rifles mentioned are great but the Fal is suuch a tank and the gas system is so simple that I would choose it over the others.

P.S the Mini 14 was good enough for the A-team. Sorry I had to.

MHBushmaster
November 11, 2009, 10:24 AM
AR's, easy to fix, accurate, light and dependable enough for real world situations. There are pics floating around of Hmong Hill People of Vietnam that are still carrying their 1960's vintage M16A1's with hardly any Park' left on them. They are easy to find upgrade parts for and with the push of 2 pins, your personal defense weapon 16" upper can be switched to a precision rifle capable of getting accurate hits out to 600 meters or more.Mags are cheap, plentiful and available at almost ANY online store and even in most gun stores including box stores like Gander Mtn (yuck-overpriced).

M1A's are nice rifles, especially if modified for the modern battlefield. The main drawback is its initial cost and the cost of quality replacement parts. Lots of newer M1A's have MIM parts which will last a long time, but for serious long term reliability, they are suspect. Also, ammo selection is crucial if keeping the rifle operating properly and not causing damage.
Mags are available but are generally more expensive than FAL or G3 mags which are of comparable rifles.

Mini-14 are plinking rifles, not combat rifles. They heat up super fast, the not brand new ones have very skinny barrels that whip around during firing and are subject to wildly varying POI after a few rounds and they are a PITA to put a scope on much less find affordable and reliable mags. The barrel twist on most Mini14's in circulation are not optimal for lots of bullet selection: most are much slower than 1/8 twist which is a minimum for me for serious consideration. Mags are expensive and are immediately suspect unless they are factory OEM or have been proven reliable from actual usage. Shouldn't be on the list.

FAL: depending upon configuration it can be a potent 16" PARA carbine or a HBAR semi-auto support rifle capable of sustained firepower with its integral bayonette. They are AK reliable and older STG kit guns have Steyr barrels which are really-really nice barrels. Non chrome line bore (more accuracy potential) while still having a chrome lined chamber. Mags are still available if not as cheap as 5+ years ago, but they are cheaper than M1A mags by at least 25% less. FALS are easy to fix and you can find cheap quality parts online that can be kept on hand for peace of mind for long term usage in a teotwawki type event.

I choose FAL with an AR for PDW.

USSR
November 11, 2009, 12:06 PM
FN-FAL. M1A, honorable mention.

Don

SlamFire1
November 11, 2009, 12:17 PM
Military requirement documents typically set a lifetime limit for a weapon system. A common number for aircraft, trucks, tanks, etc is 20 years.

However, "consumable" parts are not expected to last for 20 years.

An Army Tanker told me that his 1500 HP diesel engines were rebuilt every 500 hours. An industrial 1500 HP diesel will go 12,000. The difference was size. The tanker diesel was much smaller and the parts were more highly stressed.

My recollection is that 1500 HP helicopter turbine engines are scrapped at less than 500 hours of use. The engines weigh on the order of 300 pounds. Those engines are $250,000 a pop. The airframe may have a design life of 20 years, but materials technology has not made engine life any longer.

I understand that the F14 Tomcat was operationally and logistically expensive, it took 40 hours of service per hour of flight. The Navy retired the system.

Something like a rifle, the military might have set a 20 year life with an expected round count of 5000 rounds.

When a rifle comes back for rebuild, anything can be replaced. If a lot of expensive parts have to be replaced each and every rebuild, that weapon system is logistically expensive and a case is made for a replacement.

The M16 has been developed to a high degree of mechanical reliablity and endurance. A bud of mine rebuilds small arms for the military. Out of each lot a M16 is chosen for a 6000 round endurance test. He is unaware of a M16 failing.

As a class, you would expect all mature military rifles, ones that went through a proper development program, and then fielded for years, these weapons will be roughly equivalent in reliability and durability.

You would expect that a 8 pound rifle firing a 308, which produces about 14 foot pounds of momentum, will be battered out of shape sooner than a 8 pound .223 rifle. The .223 produces about 2 pounds of momentum.

benEzra
November 11, 2009, 12:22 PM
In 1978, the Mini-14 rifle was purchased by the Royal Ulster Constabulary to replace its stock of aging U.S. M1 carbines.
The RUC is a police force. AFAIK, the NYPD also issues mini-14's. They would not typically be subjected to much heat stress. The mini is extremely reliable if it doesn't get too hot.

In 1983, The Bermuda Regiment replaced its British made L1A1 SLR's (7.62 mm) with the wooded stocked Mini-14 20GB, a semi-automatic only variant.
The Bermuda Regiment's primary duties are disaster relief, airport security, events security, and possibly drug interdiction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bermuda_Regiment

mljdeckard
November 11, 2009, 05:53 PM
(Slamfire1, you do know that the helicopter turbine and the tank turbine are the same engine, right?)

And yes. Military specifications are always pessimistic. When you have your car inspected to get it registered, the state assumes it will last at least one year. The army assumes the same inspection is good for 72 hours.

I think it would be very interesting to find a first-generation M-16/AR upper and lower receiver, clean them, refinish them, and build a rifle from scratch and see what happens.

damagedworld
November 11, 2009, 06:48 PM
I assume you left "AK" out because it would dominate the poll?

CoRoMo
November 11, 2009, 06:55 PM
AK47 would get my vote. But of the list, M1A.

Z-Michigan
November 11, 2009, 08:19 PM
I think it would be very interesting to find a first-generation M-16/AR upper and lower receiver, clean them, refinish them, and build a rifle from scratch and see what happens.

The only real wear issues in the receivers themselves are the boltcarrier track in the upper receiver, the trigger and hammer pin holes, and to some extent the takedown pin holes. Of those three the only likely to eventually put the receiver out of action is wear in the upper, and I've never heard of that happening.

There are many other major parts though; it all depends what you count. Bolts will break by 10,000 rounds, most likely, but cost only $50-80 to replace (depending on quality you want). Carriers are not known to break but I'm sure they will at some point - another $80. The barrel will be shot out anywhere from 5000 to 25,000 rounds depending on how you use the gun and what accuracy level you expect. Hammer and trigger will eventually wear out. Really, any part is replaceable, though the lower is among the priciest - but also doesn't wear to any real extent. The barrel is costlier but I think is an expected wear item on any rifle so I don't know if you should count that.

SlamFire1
November 11, 2009, 10:21 PM
Slamfire1, you do know that the helicopter turbine and the tank turbine are the same engine, right?)

Tanks previous to the M1 Abrams used diesel engines. I assume the tanker was referring to an M60 engine as he was too young to have been in T48's.

I would be curious to know the over haul life time of an Abrams turbine.

mljdeckard
November 11, 2009, 10:47 PM
They are checked by battalion level maintenence twice a year. It's mostly the fuel control systems and transmission synch that are tweaked. (It takes twelve gallons of fuel to start it, and the transmission is much larger and more complicated than the turbine.) I never heard of one needing to be overhauled or replaced. (Turbine engines are pretty simple, and the stakes are lower for a ground vehicle than an aircraft.)

RP88
November 12, 2009, 05:06 AM
AR-15. If it doesn't last as long as an M14 or FAL, it will make up for it with logistics that make either fixing it or even scrapping it for a new rifle easy and simple.

NavyEngineer
November 12, 2009, 12:22 PM
Navy ships still use M-14s today. Granted, they are mainly used for shooting lines to other ships during replenishment, but I have never seen one go down hard in my 21 years of experience with them.

benEzra
November 12, 2009, 08:37 PM
you can get galling and seizing very quickly.
You have not shot the ac556 have you?
No, but I did shoot a 188-series Ranch Rifle for a decade and a half and got galling on the bolt, and it was NOT neglected. I did switch from Rem Oil to a high quality grease, and that helped, but stainless mini's (at least) were not very tolerant of the lubrication drying out.

I don't know if AC556's used off-the-shelf mini-14 parts or if they were subject to higher quality control than regular mini's. Although it could just be the time frame; any civilian-transferable AC556 is a 1986 or older, and my Ranch Rifle was a 1989 or 1990.

Don357
November 12, 2009, 09:29 PM
As stated before, the Mini shouldn't even be there,and concerning the rest I believe the AR would be the first to go, then the M1A1/M14, then the FAL, and again the CETME/HK variants, and AK's, even though not included in the poll, would be right in there. As for parts replaceability, having never messed with a FAL, I find a CETME to be easier than an AR, or at least comparable, to change everything except the barrel, and there's no gas tube to worry about.

powermad
November 13, 2009, 07:18 AM
FAL

Ol dirty has gone over 14,000 rounds without cleaning it, thrown in the mud etc.
Still chugging along.

Parts availability and what not for a given gun is a moot point if it takes a crap at an inopportune time.

As to Battle Rifle terminology, I follow most in thinking battle rifles are classed in 7.62x51 and up. IE full power rifle cartridges.

.556 and the 7.62x39 are an intermediate rifle round, thus not in the battle rifle group.
They are in the assault rifle group.

Then again any rig you carry into a fight is a battle rifle.
Battle knife, battle pistol, battle stick, battle rock.

Intermediate guns are simply not in the battle rifle class.
If it is not a full power rifle round it is not classed as a battle rifle.

I have had this debate a few times at work with the AR guys.

It's kinda like grouping small block chevy and big block chevy engines in the same group.

They both have 8 cylinders and for the most part the same components but are vastly different.

Example..
AR10 = Battle rifle.
M16 = assault rifle

It's fun to bitch about though aint it?

As to the mini.... I consider it a range gun or not used very often gun.
I would not consider it for serious work.

Candiru
November 13, 2009, 02:12 PM
To those saying that they wouldn't trust a Mini-14 to stand up to battlefield conditions, what are you basing this statement on?

memphisjim
November 13, 2009, 02:17 PM
i dont consider the min114 a battle rifle
but it has a a very similar action to the m1a and less powerful bullet
i think barrel life is the limiting factor on any of those however
so i pick mini14

Art Eatman
November 13, 2009, 02:42 PM
I've had one M1A (match rifle version); four Minis, and I'm on my fifth AR. Never had an FAL, but I've run maybe a thousand rounds through an HK 91.

Relaibility? Never a problem, although the rifles were always clean and used in relatively "sanitary" conditions. No rain, mud, snow or heavy dust storms.

Accuracy? Plenty accurate for minute-of-torso or -head.

Use in battle conditions? My preference would be for something that could still be a useful weapon if I run out of ammo. So, a bayonet on the front end and seriously sturdy on the other. I went through Basic with a Garand, and I guarantee you that a buttstroke is not something you want to have happen to you.

Anyhow, since the OP's key parameter is "breakage", I'd have to figure the M1A or the FAL is least likely for that.

Odds, speculation, hearsay and guesstimation. Sort of a pointless worry, overall.

Not that I think of the Mini as a "battle rifle", but if it had as much R&D put into it as has the AR, it probably would work just fine. Kinda like car racing: "The only substitute for cubic inches is cubic money." Cubic money has gone into the AR, not the Mini. :)

GRIZ22
November 13, 2009, 02:54 PM
I voted the Mini 14 whether or not you want to consider it a battle rifle. The agency I worked for had stainless Mini 14s in the 80s. We had some dedicated to qualification use at the range. These were shot a lot, no well maintained but they always worked. After several years we noticed rounds were starting to keyhole from some of them. We sent them off to Ruger and they asked if we knew how many rounds went through these rifles. Number of people qualifying x 60 rounds x 4 times a year x whatever number of years they were in service. We estimated 80-100 K rounds through these rifles. Ruger rebuild and rebarreled them for free and asked us to send them back periodically so they could take measurements.

InkEd
November 13, 2009, 03:15 PM
Everyone keeps saying AR15 becAuse it is easy to repair. I don't think the original post wanted to know about fixing them. The question was which would last the longest without the need for repair. The ak was left off because it would be the land slide winner. Other than some national police groups the mini14 has no real service record. If the m14 was included it would be a different story. Out of the choices given the FAL would be the definitive winner. The m1a would be second. The ar15/m16 platform has become a good gun in recent years but it's no secret they require a good bit of cleaning to stay functional.
Furthermore, many ar fans will admit that even though they love their ar for sport they would pick something else for war. Although alot of that could be do to the ammo issue.

KBintheSLC
November 13, 2009, 03:35 PM
I assume you left "AK" out because it would dominate the poll?

I too was wondering how the little AR got on this list, but the AK was left out. If you want to talk about longevity... you may as well include the endurance king.

Anyway, I suppose that technically anything smaller than a .308 is not really considered a battle rifle. But that seems to be splitting hairs over what is considered an "assault" and what is considered a "battle".

damagedworld
November 13, 2009, 03:38 PM
I am not sure what a "battle rifle" even is.. but i always just considered it a medium range combat type firearm... shy of something "long range" lacking the ability to make the kind of long range shots that a rifle chambered in something like the 308 is capable of..

iyaoyas98
November 13, 2009, 03:43 PM
I'm new here.
Is it really necessary to use quotes everytime someone types "Battle Rifle"?
I thought "Battle Rifle" could stand on it's own.
Kinda like, Battle Rifle........."". <-------- JIC

Fatelvis
November 13, 2009, 07:36 PM
The crown on the M14 and Mini-14 is more likely to get damaged from muzzle cleaning, but I would think they all should last about the same mechanically.

benEzra
November 13, 2009, 07:54 PM
To those saying that they wouldn't trust a Mini-14 to stand up to battlefield conditions, what are you basing this statement on?
I used to own one, and can vouch for the fact that while they are reliable, they are not very tolerant of lack of lubrication, and the skinny barrel on the older models gets hot way too quickly. The forend also gets hot very quickly because the gas system blows 500-1000 degree gas straight into the forestock with every shot.

From John Farnam, who is a rather well respected firearms trainer:

21 Sept 01

>From an LEO friend in Texas on Mini-14s:

"We recently received several Ruger Mini-14 rifles that were donated by a group of local businessmen. While shooting these rifles in training, a couple of things were discovered that may benefit others.

First, lubricating the rifle according to the Ruger instruction manual is not sufficient. Sustained firing heats the metal to the point that oil evaporates, causing the action to bind shortly thereafter. However, by lubricating the friction points with grease, as one would a Garand, function problems were all but eliminated. The manual warns of accumulations of dust and dirt if grease is used, but, with regular maintenance, that can be easily controlled. Temperatures are moderate here, so frigid weather is not a concern.

Secondly: the rear sight that came on these rifles has such a small aperture that shooting with the sun in your face is almost impossible. Low-light shooting is also difficult. We will be acquiring rear sights with larger apertures when the new fiscal year begins."

I still recommend the Mini-14. It does not head the recommend list, but it is perfectly factional, and it is relatively inexpensive when compared with other military rifles. Military rifles are designed for high-volume fire and heavy, strenuous use. Unlike commercial rifles, military rifles are designed to get hot and still remain functional. The Mini-14 is not quite as good as the others in this category, but still acceptable. Grease, instead of oil, is helpful, as we see.

Heading the list of recommended 223 rifles is the Robinson Arms R96. It has been excellent. Heading the list of 308 rifles is the DSA/FAL. None better!

/John




20 Jan 09

"Statistical" arguments about weapons capability:

I recently got into an animated discussion about the Mini-14, and its suitability for serious purposes.

We see a lot of them in our Urban Rifle Courses, because they are relatively inexpensive, and, in all fairness, run fine. We have had few difficulties with them, except for that fact that, when they get hot from a heavy volume of shooting, they still run, but become difficult to handle, particularly owing to the hot forend.

Military-grade rifles are differentiated from commercial-grade rifles in two, major categories. (1) They have a military-specification manual safety that, when "on," renders the rifle mechanically drop-safe, and (2) when hot from heavy shooting, still run, and can continue to be used normally, despite the heat.




31 Mar 00

On the Ruger Mini-14 and other rifles from a range officer in a large, Midwest PD:

"Most commercial Mini-14s come with light barrels which, of course, are definitely not designed for high-volume fire. They heat up rapidly and promptly start stringing shots vertically. Cook-offs are not uncommon. The LE version has a heaver barrel, and that is the one I recommend for defensive purposes.

The configuration of the [government model] Mini-14's front sight is such that it's easy to mistake one of the protective ears on the side for the front blade. When that happens, the student, of course, shoots way off to one side. We see this many times when students are shooting fast and/or in low light. The same thing can happen with the AR-15, but, because of the way the front sight is designed, it is much less likely.

The [AC556-style] folding stock that comes on the Mini-14 sucks! It's too long for my short-statured students, and the metal buttstock is slick and routinely slips off the shoulder. In addition, because of its insubstantial design, a comfortable and repeatable cheek weld is nearly impossible. Folding stocks found on the Galil and the DSA/FN are vastly superior.

The bolt catch wears out quickly. The Mini-14s used by the ______ PD started failing to go to bolt lock on the last round after only 1,500 rounds, and now it is difficult to even lock the bolt to the rear manually.



26 Apr 02

Rifle endurance tests from friends in South Africa:

"We did high-volume testing of 223 and 7.62X39 rifles here last week. We fired one thousand rounds through each as fast as we could insert magazines. We used various brands of ammunition, including Norinco, Russian surplus, and local reloads. Here are the results:

Norinco 56S (Chinese Kalashnikov with a folding stock). Fired one thousand rounds with no stoppages. Forend was warm, but could still be grasped comfortably.

H&K93 (223) went down at seven hundred rounds. No parts breakage. It just stopped working.

Ruger Mini-14 went down at five hundred rounds with a broken recoil spring.

Colt AR-15. Fired one thousand rounds with no stoppages. However, the forend became too hot to grasp.

I wish we had other rifles to test, but these are the ones that are common over here."

Anecdotal, yes, but they seem to back up the idea that mini's run OK as long as they don't get too hot, and that it is a good idea to lubricate them like you would a Garand (grease on the high-load parts, not oil) to keep them running when hot.

General Geoff
November 13, 2009, 08:17 PM
Military-grade rifles are differentiated from commercial-grade rifles in two, major categories. (1) They have a military-specification manual safety that, when "on," renders the rifle mechanically drop-safe, and (2) when hot from heavy shooting, still run, and can continue to be used normally, despite the heat.

Neither the M14 nor M16 have safeties which render the weapon mechanically drop safe, as both still have floating firing pins.

spence
November 13, 2009, 09:59 PM
mh bushmaster. why are mini 14s a pita to scope? I would like to know because I scoped mine and I,m having trouble sighting it in.

benEzra
November 13, 2009, 10:12 PM
Neither the M14 nor M16 have safeties which render the weapon mechanically drop safe, as both still have floating firing pins.
I think he was talking about making the fire-control parts drop-safe; after all, the action cycling imposes some fairly severe decelerations on the pin without slamfire, and unlike some handguns and rifles, it is impossible to drop an AR/AK/FAL/mini on the hammer. I would think that using hard military-style primers, you'd have to drop the rifle off a substantial building to get enough momentum in the pin to set off a round.

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