Carbine reliability


August 25, 2010, 02:24 AM
I was curious to those of you who have taken and or instruct carbine classes, what brands of AR seem to be holding up well in the classes? Are there certain brands that seem to die more frequently than others?

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August 25, 2010, 03:49 PM
Not that you won't find good info here, but you might find more at ARF. I've never taken a carbine class, but from what others are saying LMT, Bravo Company, Noveske, Colt, etc. are those that are holding up the best.

August 25, 2010, 05:29 PM
I haven't taken a class yet either, but from, the following seem to be very highly regarded:

Daniel Defense
Bravo Company

I've also read some good things about recent production Spike's Tactical guns. This is undoubtedly not an exhaustive list.

I suspect the highest failure rate is probably commercial guns that nobody bothered to check the gas key and castle nut staking on, carbines with the wrong buffer/spring combination, or homebuilds/no-name builds made from cheap parts. Also don't use gun-show military surplus metal mags unless you've tested them well first...

August 25, 2010, 05:37 PM
The ones I've seen excell on a constant basis, perfect for defense when your life is on the line:

Rainier Arms

I won't go into the ones I've seen constantly go fubar.

August 25, 2010, 06:18 PM
Zero hit the nail on the head. Although I will add that Daniel Defense carbines seem to be holding up pretty well in classes too. Although they are fairly new so not as many have been put through the ringer.

Deaf Smith
August 25, 2010, 08:07 PM
Just read John Farman's Quips.

He teaches alot of classes, Marines as well as civilians.

Basically as long as you don't put a bunch of do-dads on the AR, they run fine. It's when users show up with all kinds of gizmos on their guns they have no tested well BEFORE coming to his class that they have problems with the gizmos falling off.

But yes a good quality AR runs fine.


August 25, 2010, 11:10 PM
We had 2 rifles go down with broken parts in the last class I did.

The S&W M&P broke its disconnecter.

The Springfield SOCOM broke its extractor and disassembled its bolt.

There were numerous AR stoppages caused by faulty mags. The guys that trashed bad mags weeded theirs out and had fewer failures as time passed. The guys that treated aluminum AR mags like gold still had mags related failures on the last day.


August 26, 2010, 08:39 AM
Just curious, roughly what % at these carbine classes use something other than an AR15 (AUG, AK, Sig 556, etc.)?

August 26, 2010, 09:11 AM
Last class I went to had mainly AKs. However most of us are getting ready for an AK class coming up so that skewed the results a bit.

August 26, 2010, 10:16 AM
Just curious, roughly what % at these carbine classes use something other than an AR15 (AUG, AK, Sig 556, etc.)?

As I recall, out of 20 shooters we had 1 AK, 2 AUGs, 1 M1A SOCOM (until it died), an FAL, and the balance were AR15s.


August 26, 2010, 10:20 AM
The best thing to do is take 2 if you are attending a class, even if you have to borrow one from a buddy.

No brand in the world can guarantee something won't give out. Spending that much to take a class, best insurance is another complete rifle in the car.

2 is 1, 1 is none :)

August 26, 2010, 11:14 AM
Those guys must make a lot more money that I do if they took a 7.62 to a class. Don't you fire quite a few rounds by the time the class is over?

August 26, 2010, 11:29 AM
Just curious, roughly what % at these carbine classes use something other than an AR15 (AUG, AK, Sig 556, etc.)?

25% But most of those guys also have an AR15 anyway.

I see:
FN FS2000
FN Ps90
Robinson XCR

Even a mini or M1 carbine on rare occasion.

August 26, 2010, 11:33 AM
As I've said, I haven't taken any classes, but have spent many afternoons dredging through the mud with my AR and have put a thousand or more rounds through it in a relatively short period of time.

I'm no pro, but can make a few observations because I've suffered my own growing pains with the AR platform in terms of failures. From what I've seen, as long as you get a quality barrel, gas block and upper and lower receivers, the stage is set for a good dependable rifle. Where rifles usually fail is in the small parts. I replace extractors periodically and always have a couple on hand. I also replace extractor springs. Don't ignore the ejector either. Keep ejectors and springs on hand. Trigger parts are also crucial, or more specifically the disconnector and springs.

Although I don't keep my rifles spic and span clean all of the time, I do like to help to decrease the likelihood of failure by using quality small parts. I get everything having to do with the bolt from Bravo Company. I'm not saying they are the only game, but they are who I deal with because they sell quality parts and I've never had a premature problem with any of them.

With regard to the fire control groups, don't ignore the pins. Some guys buy the cheapest lower parts kit they can find and then are surprised when springs and pins break. If you want to go stock, again just stick with what's good. BCM, Spikes, DD, etc. I run Geiselle triggers and they've seen many thousands of rounds without issue. I'd also stay away from any sort of pins that require a tool to remove them. Having them can be the difference between being up and running again in a couple of minutes and having to head home.

It's also good to have a back up bolt. Swapping is faster than fixing. BTW, don't ignore the gas rings. Get good ones. I've been using that once piece ring that replaces all three and, although they don't work any better than stock, they do last a long time.

Given enough time, any part can break. All you can do is try to minimize the chances of it happening. Again, I can't express enough the importance of good springs. I've seen many guys, myself included, tearing their hair out because of a bad/weak spring.

Even if you go out and buy the best of the best and it runs like a champ out of the box, the time will come when you have to replace parts. All that I said above applies. You don't want to take something that works and turn it into something that doesn't.

August 26, 2010, 12:26 PM
In the four-day patrol carbine certification class I attended, everything did fine except an Armalite, which failed to feed repeatedly. These were all AR15-spec carbines. I used a Colt AR15A2 Govt Carbine, bought new just before the class in 2002. (Yes, it was an LE-only item at the time, during the AWB. My agency had decided to relent after 9-11-2001, allowing carbines for the first time since prohibiting them in 1983.) My Colt never malfunctioned, in any way, during the three years I had it.

August 26, 2010, 12:36 PM
I wouldn't hesitate to take make Daniel Defense AR into a carbine class and run it through it's paces. Daniel Defense makes one hell of a good AR and their CS is excellent!

I would also have no problem bringing either a Colt or LMT, I don't think you can really go wrong with either one of those.

August 26, 2010, 12:55 PM
I have been to a few carbine courses. as well i have heard things from friends in the industry that teach, but i will keep with what i know first hand, and share only that, because this is one of those threads that can quickly get out of context quickly with alot of he said, she said etc. if they are not listed below it is because i have not been in a class with the particular brand was used.

Ones that i have never seen have a major issue
1) BCM
2) Colt
3) RRA
4) Bushmaster (though one did ka boom because of ammo, and not gun related)
5) Stag factory

Factors that cause shooters the most problems in a course:
1) wolf ammo in a AR (rounds stuck in chambers more times than not FTextract etc)
2) Self builds (stag build, fell apart, and others with random companies together)
3) magazine issues (constant double feeds, not neccesarially a weapon issue)
4) under lubrication
5) gear/ equipment issues
6) optics, BUIS, lights, mounts etc falling off. (use lock tite)

AR's that i have seen that had major issues that were not, magazine, ammo, or operator related issues.
1) Olympic arms

Bartholomew Roberts
August 26, 2010, 01:31 PM
Well, I've had a total of four formal classes using the rifle since I got out of the military.

I think I've written up reviews for two of those classes, including a rifle by rifle breakdown of stoppages and problems, that are in the THR archive.

My experience has been that the more experienced the user is, the less problems with reliability they have. For example, one of my classes had a guy with a brand new POF - good rifle; but not the most experienced shooter. Rifle had several problems until the third day of class where it magically started to run with no issues. Not sure if that was a break-in period or if many of the stoppages were operator induced and he finally started to catch on.

Having said that, the two most memorable failures I've seen in classes were both Bushmasters and in both cases the problem was very similar - the rifle stopped running well when it got hot. In one case, it wouldn't run with any ammo. We replaced the ejector and extractor springs and still no success. Never did get to find out the solution to that one. In the other, the rifle ran fine except with the polymer Wolf the shooter brought for it.

August 26, 2010, 02:37 PM
BCM is my favorite, but you should be fine with LMT, Colt, Sabre, S&W, among others.

Ike R
August 26, 2010, 02:46 PM
Most failures I have seen in classes have come from poor maintenance or ammo issues, not any particular brand of AR.

I bring 2 carbines for class, both setup near identical "Justin Case" RRA 16 inch mid length carbines, i have never had to get the spare out of the truck.

Bring your rifle to a quality armorer before takeing it to the class and have it checked out well, once there I keep mine well lubricated any chance I get, even a few drops of lube on a closed bolt has to be better than nothing after fireing a few hundred rounds IMHO. I keep a bottle of hoppes in a pistol mag pouch on my belt for just that reason. A little lube goes a long way to getting your moneys worth.

August 26, 2010, 02:47 PM
I agree, Ike, maintain your rifle!

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