AR reliability- A discussion


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Dreamcast270mhz
June 7, 2011, 11:31 PM
I just dunno anymore, I personally hold the belief that ARs aren't worth my time but it seems they get more bashing than any other rifle. Coincidence? I think not, I now believe that it is reliable only when free of outside contaminants. Carbon fouling seems not to bother it in tests I have seen, except if it is not lubed. In informal tests my friend dropped his ar in the sand, picked it up, tapped it a few times and cycled the bolt, it refused to go into battery without FA. Tried same thing with an AK-S Polytech. Cycling the bolt became more gritty but it went into battery fine and fired a magazine's worth with no issues.

Then again, few civilians own a milspec AR or AK for direct comparison. Would it be safe to say jams in AR are exacerbated during full auto or burst fire? I think so, there is a hole in the fact that somewhere near a fourth of troops in Afghanistan/Iraq areas report having difficulties keeping their weapons functional,* yet commercial versions seem to no have nearly as many issues.

*Citation need for above statement

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Good&Fruity
June 7, 2011, 11:36 PM
Commercial versions don't have as many issues because they are owned and operated by mall ninja's who only shoot their guns at a dry, warm, sunny range for 20 rds then go home.

I've shot in the rain, the mud, etc. NO problems. Is it as reliable as an AK? No...But I find it reliable enough.

Sam Cade
June 7, 2011, 11:38 PM
somewhere near a fourth of troops in Afghanistan/Iraq areas report having difficulties keeping their weapons functional

Cite your data source?

Good&Fruity
June 7, 2011, 11:38 PM
Also, for every test you see where the AR jams just as the wind blows, there are several that show it burried in sand and functioning fine, sand poured into it and functioning fine. Youtube is your friend.

HammerheadSSN663
June 7, 2011, 11:44 PM
yeh, the reliability sucks on ARs.

(note: no FTFs, short strokes, jams, etc. etc.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kzfm4pYhIyY

Robert
June 7, 2011, 11:48 PM
fact that somewhere near a fourth of troops in Afghanistan/Iraq areas report having difficulties keeping their weapons functional
I am with Sam, cite please.

The AK will fire with a truck in the action because the AK has the tolerances of a wide open field.

I compete at a range where the conditions could be best described as a sand blaster. I don't think I have ever shot out there and not had the wind blow sand and dirt around at 20+ mph. I run my AR very wet and have, in the 500 odd rounds I have shot so far, yet to have an issue. I have not cleaned it either. I apply lube and rock on.

I will give you that when it was first introduced the AR had some major issues. The modern AR is vastly different than the SP1 and the M16. And most of the issues with the early ARs was a powder problem, not a rifle problem. This is a near 50 year old argument that was debunked 15 years ago but just won't die.

Justin
June 8, 2011, 12:17 AM
Look, Dreamcast, I know that whether it's rifles, obsolete gaming platforms, or operating systems you like to try to play the rebel who's going against the grain of traditional wisdom. I get that. You're probably also a fan of Betamax VCRs. But in your attempt to be the outsider with a new point of view, perhaps you ought to put some thought into why many people believe as they do.

However, in reading your posts it seems clear to me that most of your sessions with AR15s don't rise much above weekend trips plinking at the local range, and I simply do not see any evidence that you have enough direct experience with running rifles to be able to offer up an informed opinion.

Nor can I offer up an informed opinion on the use of AR15s by the military, or in places like Iraq. However, we've got a number of people on the forum who've done so and have not reported the problems you claim.

Furthermore, speaking within the confines of my own experiences, I've been volunteering as an assistant match director for a local monthly tactical rifle match for over two years now. Additionally, I was a participant in said match under the previous match director, a man who'd forgotten more about rifle craft than any ten members on this forum will ever know.

He shot an AR10. His wife runs an AR15. Nearly every competitor at this match runs AR15s, including myself. I have two AR15s that I've run multiple thousands of rounds through, often times going hundreds or even a thousand or so rounds between cleanings with none of the claimed reliability issues that you continuously harp on in thread after thread after sourceless thread.

The match I volunteer at is held at a range in a high desert climate with fine blowing sand, and some of the matches have included whipping significant amounts of that sand into the air, including the actions of competitors' rifles.

I've run AR15s so dirty you could scoop goop out of the action with your finger, yet the guns still ran. I've had the opportunity to shoot one of Zak Smith's suppressed AR15 rifles. In case you didn't know, suppressors tend to toss a lot of gunk back into the action. Zak's rifle could easily have been placed in the top three dirtiest rifles I've ever seen.

Yet it still ran.

I've run AR15-pattern rifles at national-level 3 Gun matches for going on five years now, and have yet to encounter a malfunction that wasn't related to ammunition. The vast, vast majority (well over 90%) of 3 Gun competitors are running AR-pattern guns with the direct impingement gas system in them. If ARs did not run, these competitors, especially the best ones on the line, would choose another rifle design.

As an example, the wind and blowing sand at this year's Texas Multigun Nationals was easily some of the worst I've ever seen, yet there were not widespread reports from the over four hundred competitors that this sand was causing their guns to fail.

Furthermore, AR-pattern guns are the overwhelming choice of competitors in nearly every sport where the rifles are allowed, including Service Rifle, National Match, ODCMP, 3 Gun, Tactical Rifle, and other sports. AR-pattern guns are overwhelmingly used by law enforcement and military folks, and have passed muster in failure tests that are far more exacting and detailed than any someone like you or me will ever be able to undertake.

If these guns were not adequately reliable, none of the above people would choose them, especially competition shooters, who could opt to run nearly any platform they wish.

Justin
June 8, 2011, 12:24 AM
In informal tests my friend dropped his ar in the sand, picked it up, tapped it a few times and cycled the bolt, it refused to go into battery without FA. Tried same thing with an AK-S Polytech.

And this test comes to a different conclusion:

http://youtu.be/CqRwx4wtmms

That said, I suppose it could be argued that on the extreme margins the AK is, perhaps, a more reliable gun, and if that's the only thing that concerns you, I suppose an AK would be a reasonable choice.

However, the AR is a much better system in every possible aspect from modularity, to ergonomics, to the inherent accuracy of the platform.

I've hit steel targets out to 550 yards with a bone-stock (except for the trigger) 16 inch Rock River entry carbine on the clock and from field positions. Systems like the ones made by LaRue Tactical, JP Rifles, or POF are capable of making accurate hits to the physical limits of the cartridge they fire with clockwork regularity that borders on downright boring.

I have yet to see the AK capable of that sort of accuracy, and if the tradeoff is that I have to clean the rifle every couple of thousand rounds, or keep it lubed more regularly, it's one that I happily take, because at the end of the day there's really only one purpose for the existence of a rifle, and that's to hit targets.

Ramone
June 8, 2011, 12:35 AM
It's a sad thing when people are falling for Soviet Propaganda, despite the obvious evidence.

I assume you have little experience with the AR pattern weapons, so I am going to enlighten you.

THE M16 IS THE GREATEST BATTLE INSTRUMENT EVER DEVISED.*

Did you hear me, son? Need I repeat myself?

When an AK pattern weapon Malfunctions, it gets thrown in the same mass grave as the peasant that was carrying it. end of story.

When an AR pattern weapon malfunctions, there is a congressional investigation, and headlines in the WSJ. And it's blown all over the intrawebz by commie plants.

In the Battle of Mogadishu ('93) ( the Day of the Rangers) 18 US servicemen were killed. Estimates of enemy dead range from 350 to 2000. Our troops were armed with AR pattern weapons (amoung others). The Locals were armed with AK pattern weapons (amoung others).

I have personally carried the M16A1 and M16A1E2 (yes, I am that old) in jungles, deserts and artic conditions. I have semerged them in water, dragged them in mud rolled them in dirt and dust. The only malfunctions I experienced were cleared by droppint the mag, clearing the weapon, and inserting a new magazine, and IMO were due to bad Magazines (we were still using the 20 rounders). I had two failures to chamber and one squib (which was a copper jacketed Mutha to clear, and might have gotten me killed in a firefight- fortunately, it was on the range).

The first M16A1 my uncle lent me at Parris Island was first issued in 1974 according to the armorers card, and had been rebarreled. I qualified Expert with a 296 on Echo Range at MCRD Parris Island, setting a range record for the KD course (old style).

I can still (as of last summer) do a hasty field strip/cleaning blindfolded in less than 2 minutes (1:49 best time).

For 48 years the M16 has ruled the battlefields of the world.

* that guy that said that about the M1? Didja notice he wasn't carrying one?

mr.trooper
June 8, 2011, 12:45 AM
Dreamcast:

Please talk less, and read more. Your career here is going to be short unless you learn to be a bit more respectful.

You know darn well that every forum on the entire internet already has 27 "AR reliability" threads archived. There is no legitimate reason to post yet ANOTHER AR bashing thread other than to be inflammatory. We frown on that here.

TonyAngel
June 8, 2011, 12:58 AM
Whoa, Dreamcast. You opened a can of worms here bud. BTW, if your friend's AR won't function because it got some sand in it, I'll go out on a limb and say that there's something wrong with your friend's AR or the ammo he's putting through it.

HammerheadSSN663
June 8, 2011, 01:13 AM
Sorry guys, IMO I don't think DreamCast was being belligerent. Maybe guilty of falling for, or starting to, the popular internet myth re: ARs but that's about it.

Sounds like a young man.

Give the dude a break.

DenaliPark
June 8, 2011, 01:30 AM
Dreamcast:

Please talk less, and read more. Your career here is going to be short unless you learn to be a bit more respectful.

You know darn well that every forum on the entire internet already has 27 "AR reliability" threads archived. There is no legitimate reason to post yet ANOTHER AR bashing thread other than to be inflammatory. We frown on that here.
Not that I'm defending the OP, but just who the hell is "we?" That's far more offensive & insulting in my book(insinuating that you speak for "we")then the OP's silly point of view regarding the AR-15....

Lakedaemonian
June 8, 2011, 01:33 AM
Have also seen AK's fall apart violently during firing. I say any weapon is only as reliable or un-reliable as the monkey using it. Can't fire an AR coming out of water? Put a condom on the barrel. I personally like both weapon systems. I own both weapon systems. I also own an FN SCAR. That weapon impresses me every time I pull the trigger. Maintanence and attention to detail will back you up more than fancy gear.

mr.trooper
June 8, 2011, 02:22 AM
who the hell is "we?"

There are codes of conduct here on THR. Being intentionally inflammatory is blatantly against them.

I pride myself on being a member of this community, and "we" collectively (in print) don't approve of said behavior. I can't help if if you choose to go out on a limb and be offended by that. I'm just pointing out the communal rules that we ALL agreed to when we registered.

VeeArDoubleyouSee
June 8, 2011, 02:41 AM
I've only fired M16s/M4s, but the only ones I ever had any trouble with were the abused and over-the-hill ones in early (Boot/SOI) training. The rest, as long as you're just marginally polite to them, will function beautifully as well as put holes where you point them.

madcratebuilder
June 8, 2011, 07:16 AM
The main issue rifle for the US military for 45 years, yup, it's unreliable.




http://i32.photobucket.com/albums/d37/madcratebuilder/toll.gif

45_auto
June 8, 2011, 07:52 AM
You guys do realize that you're arguing with a high school kid, right? Practical experience and logic are not his strong points.

Can't remember whether he said he was in 9th or 10th grade in his other thread on the gun he's designing to replace the M16, but he didn't pay any attention to any inputs there either. :rolleyes:

hso
June 8, 2011, 09:36 AM
This is pretty much a waste of everyone's time considering that scores of better reliability discussions can be found by a simple search.

Dreamcast,

Do you own an AR? Do you have any time in training with an AR? Do you own an AK? Do you have any time in training with it?

Other than internet gun myths, what citable research have you done on AR reliability?

Many countries that didn't have to use the AR platform are currently fielding them with their militaries. This in contrast to being freely able to select any weapon platform they wished and with plenty of incentives being provided by the AR's competition. While some may want to believe that the U.S. has a vested interest in keeping the AR platform in service, the same can not be said about other countries that have a choice between the AR and other platforms. The fact that all of them don't select a different platform speaks volumes on the AR's performance.

kwelz
June 8, 2011, 10:12 AM
As others have said, you need to provide some citation for your claims. Considering that in the armies own trials the failure rate was nowhere near that high.

Here is a torture test of a Civilian AR.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfojMy1MWok&feature=player_embedded

Here is a test to destruction of an M4.
http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/01/12/world/asia/1247466496255/m-4-firing-test.html

And another one with the M4A1 Barrel
http://video.nytimes.com/video/2010/01/12/world/asia/1247466496261/m-4a1-firing-test.html

Notice what none of those guns did? FTE or FTF. At least not till the Gas tube had melted on the one in the 3rd Video!

There are two reasons people propagate the myth that the M16/M4/AR15 platform is unreliable. Very early problem with the platform when it was released, and the plethora of sub par AR15s available on the civilian market.

But the fact is that Of my current 5 ARs, I have not had a single malfunction that was not intentionally induced during training. That is not to say I won't have it happen but consider this. One of my ARs has been used in every class I have attended since last June. Minimum 500 rounds per class and one class per month plus private range time.

Conditions have ranged from single digit temps with ice and snow ont he ground to near 100 degree weather to a couple of inches on water on the entire range. Obviously I am not crawling around in the mud in these classes but stuff happens and the guns get dirty. They still work. It is rare for a gun to go down in class. It is even more rare for it to be a weapon problem as opposed to an operator problem. And when it does happen it has always been a sub par manufacturer.

Tirod
June 8, 2011, 11:10 AM
I now believe that it is reliable only when free of outside contaminants.

As an experienced shooter who's trained for weeks in the field, or as an internet poster?

Outside contaminants are the bane of EVERY weapons design ever fielded, and can bring any of them to shame. Fortunately, they rank behind magazines and ammo in creating stoppages. In fact, the next item on the list is operator error - as when a panicked and untrained user inserts the mag in backwards, or forgets to chamber a round.

It's all up to the user, and letting crud build up day after day to eventually stop up a gun is potentially lethal for soldiers. Getting them to do the right thing when running on the edge of exhaustion 24/7 is tough, too. When you've actually been in the box - training is actually tougher than a deployment - you learn where you fail yourself in maintaining your own equipment.

Most soldiers don't want to talk about that - but the reality is that when it won't shoot, it's their fault. Some hide that and blame the gun. It's called Not Taking Responsibility. Motorists in traffic accidents try to do it to, circumstances usually bear out they flat screwed up.

There is no perfect gun, and never will be. Train and practice so that YOU can't do it wrong, and have a method to handle the most likely problems as they come, as they surely will. Without a training in mechanical engineering and ballitistics, none of us can say we really understand what it does, anymore than the guy sitting on the hood of his Chevy can say he "built" the best car on the street.

Until he puts it up against others on the drag strip against the clock, not even he knows whether he'll miss a shift or even red light. Until then, it's just the typical trashmouth.

So is most of the AR bashing. Further, if other designs were that superior, they would be the #1 choice on three gun competitions and range matches. It's significant that others are brought to show they could be as good - and then can't, after months of trying. The users don't interface with DI or piston - heck, DI USES a piston - they work with controls and sights. The AR has the best combination, that's why it's also the most copied when it comes down to control layout. Other guns don't help the user, they hamper him.

What you see are people choosing the best OVERALL design, not myopically focusing on one detail (and misunderstanding it, to boot.) When you do that, even a specially commissioned design meant to supercede the AR can come up short and get mothballed because it simply doesn't do anything better - aka the SCAR 16, soon to be completely decommissioned. SOCOM - experts in combat if there ever were any, is dumping the SCAR, because it's not any better than the M4.

AR bashers just need to get over the DI issue, and deal with what really DOES mess it up, that old fashioned 20 shot straight mag well and flimsy throwaway design. Pmag/EMags would not be getting ordered in the millions if it was really an optimal situation, not the bendable feed lip and obtusely limited compromise we've downloaded for over 35 years. After all, what's the No. 1 stoppage maker? Mags, not DI, powder residue, or all the other stuff dragged out of the closet every time it comes up.

As far as understanding the Stoner system, that's the line in the sand as I see it - complaints about anything but mag design are just a sideshow and a major indicator someone has no clue what they are talking about.

kwelz
June 8, 2011, 11:19 AM
After all, what's the No. 1 stoppage maker? Mags, not DI, powder residue, or all the other stuff dragged out of the closet every time it comes up.

I can not +1 this enough.

Almost every class I have attended has emphasized this point.
#1 reason a gun doesn't go bang? It is out of ammo.
#1 reason a gun actually malfunctions? The magazine.


And honestly this is the secret to the vaunted AK reliability. Their Mags are near bulletproof. USGI mags are ok. But they wear oout fast and need to be replaced. Like Tirod said. This is the reason for the PMAG, Lancer, Troy mags, etc.

68wj
June 8, 2011, 11:29 AM
Tirod-Once again, a thorough, encyclopedic response. Very nice.

grampster
June 8, 2011, 11:52 AM
THR, as always, is a great school for those who wish to know about firearms.

C-grunt
June 8, 2011, 12:19 PM
DreamCast, have you ever been to Afghanistan or Iraq?

Im gonna say no because you have no idea what you are talking about.

I did two tours in Iraq, the invasion and then 2005, and the rifles performed very well. The only weapons we had problems with were the M249 SAW and that was mostly due to them being worn out and needing to be overhauled/replaced.

Please stop spreading rumors and lies about a weapon system that you have never used. There are very dangerous men out there defending you every day with that so called "unreliable" rifle.

Searcher4851
June 8, 2011, 01:57 PM
I think that if the finest fighting force on the face of the earth thinks it's good enough, that's a good enough reference for me. YMMV

mr16ga
June 8, 2011, 02:13 PM
I have owned the following:
HK91
M1 Garand
M1 Carbine
AR15
M1917
and several other battle rifles.
Never had a failure to fire in any of them.
You got to keep all of them clean if you expect them to keep shooting. Each can break. Each has it's own high points.
If it was a war I would pick an AR15/M16 because of parts and you can carry a butt load of ammo.
If it was a beauty contest I would grab one of my Swedish Mausers.

NG VI
June 8, 2011, 03:46 PM
Even the one I carried in Basic, which was beat to hell, never once malfunctioned with real ammunition. And I definitely added to the abuse of that rifle. Drop to front leaning rest in a soaked, flooded field? Sure, but I'm pushing on the rifle that can't tell you what I did to it.

taliv
June 8, 2011, 04:36 PM
we can do better than this, i think.

if not, do a search. there is a lengthy thread with anecdotes from many members with recent military experience with the ar15 platform

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