"TOP Tier" AR15


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Archangel14
August 3, 2012, 10:20 PM
I'm looking into buying an AR. I have reviewed a lot of info on the web and spoke to people who have much practical experience with the platform. I've boiled it down to a Stag Arms or S&W AR15.

Now, when I tell people that I will purchase one or the other, I typically will get some jive about how both are "good" rifles, but not "top tier". Many posters will go off about how a Daniels Defense or Noveske is the cream of the crop.

But here's my dilemma: I have a buddy who own a $1,200 Colt M4 who has frequesnt trouble with it. I have another buddy who owns a Stag in a basic configuration. He puts it through hard use and it NEVER fails.

So here's my question: if you consider Stag or S&W to be an inferior product to the the "top tier" rifles, please explain why. In doing so, give me a "foundation" for why Stag or S&W is a secone tier platform. Let's not vomit up the same, tired things we all see on the web. Let's hear the facts. I have the money, tell me why I should buy a "top tier" rifle over a Stag or S&W. Thanks!

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JustinJ
August 3, 2012, 10:25 PM
How many Colts and Stag AR's do you think are made each year? Now how can one anecdotal experience be of any indication of overall quality of an item produced in such large numbers?

Auto426
August 3, 2012, 10:27 PM
It's mostly the quality of the materials, finishes, and the methods involved in the construction of the rifles that differentiate makers into the different tiers. There's plenty of discussion online about it, including the oh-so-infamous chart which breaks down the build of most AR makers out there and compares them to military specifications.

rcmodel
August 3, 2012, 10:30 PM
I have a buddy who own a $1,200 Colt M4 who has frequesnt trouble with it.I have more then one buddy who could screw up a wet dream, or a brand new Snap-On wrench too.

On the other hand, I have owned a Colt since 1975, and it has never ever missed a beat so far.
And I'd say close to 95 percent of the ammo through it has been my own reloads.

It don't get now better then that.

Were I to go buy another AR tomorrow?
It would be another Colt.
If it turns out to be even close to as good as the old one I have?
It will still be going strong long after I am pushing up Daisy's.

rc

meanmrmustard
August 3, 2012, 10:47 PM
BCM, or LaRue. I, personally, shy from Colt. I label those "upper-middle" tier in cost, but cost alone.

I don't consider Stag or Smith inferior. They do what an AR ought to, other than hurt your wallet as bad. Others WILL disagree, which is cool with me. I drink my coffee pinky down.

Mr.357Sig
August 3, 2012, 10:49 PM
Loki Weapon Systems. That is all.

Mr.357Sig
August 3, 2012, 10:51 PM
http://www.lokiweaponsystems.com/

C-grunt
August 3, 2012, 11:18 PM
The rifles that are considered to be "Top Tier" either meet or exceed military specification in the areas that matter most. Mil Spec includes how items are made, what materials they are made out of and what testing is done to ensure they meet spec.

I'm a big fan of Colt because of the work I have done. The M4s we had in the Army were fantastic and the 6920s that my dept uses have very few problems. On the other hand the Bushmasters that my dept bought have had a lot of problems. Most of them shoot and feed reliably but have had many instances of broken parts. We dont treat them like safe queens.

All of the people that I know who use rifles for a living choose the Top Tier manufacturers. That being said almost all say that S&W pits out a good rifle as well. It would be my first choice for a lower tier rifle.

Infidel4life11
August 3, 2012, 11:27 PM
It's mostly the quality of the materials, finishes, and the methods involved in the construction of the rifles that differentiate makers into the different tiers. There's plenty of discussion online about it, including the oh-so-infamous chart which breaks down the build of most AR makers out there and compares them to military specifications.
+1 mil-spec vs. cheap stuff, Cold Hammer forged barrels made machine gun steel vs mild metal crap. F marked front sights on flat top receivers vs standard a2 front sight. Bravo Company, Knights Arms, Colt, FN, make weapons for people who go to War. S&W, Stag, PSA, CMMG, Bushmaster (non plastic), windham weaponry, DSA, DPMS etc, etc all make good ARs for people who don't go to War. Your TOP TIER know they're products are going into horrible conditions and are going to take someones life or protect someones life they put a more into they're product.

meanmrmustard
August 3, 2012, 11:29 PM
+1 mil-spec vs. cheap stuff, Cold Hammer forged barrels made machine gun steel vs mild matel crap. F marked front sights on flat top receivers vs standard a2 front sight. Bravo Company, Knights Arms, Colt, FN, make weapons for people who go to War. S&W, Stag, PSA, CMMG, Bushmaster (non plastic), windham weaponry, DSA, DPMS etc, etc all make good ARs for people who don't go to War. Your TOP TIER know they're products are going into horrible conditions and are going to take someones life or protect someones life they put a more into they're product.
Your list of what a "war bound" rifle SHOULD have (for whatever reason) is encompassed by S&W.

davebl
August 3, 2012, 11:33 PM
I have a DPMS Panther Lite that I have not had a single issue with, over 2 years of mag dumps, 100 yd bench rest, 4 wheeler trips. Paid $650 new.

I also have seen custom 3 gun AR's with non stop FTF and FTE's.

Infidel4life11
August 3, 2012, 11:55 PM
Your list of what a "war bound" rifle SHOULD have (for whatever reason) is encompassed by S&W.
True brother, I only stated those war gun because I've used their products and talked with those guys and that is their mindset. There is a single thing wrong with a Smith I now own one, I'd take one to the sand box any day.

Infidel4life11
August 3, 2012, 11:56 PM
Sig Sauers should be in there too

meanmrmustard
August 3, 2012, 11:58 PM
True brother, I only stated those war gun because I've used their products and talked with those guys and that is their mindset. There is a single thing wrong with a Smith I now own one, I'd take one to the sand box any day.
Right on.
Methinks I'd be taking an AK, and a bristle brush for the sandy cracks!

Stay away from Mossberg bro, unc hates it, and it exemplifies what cheap really is.

Infidel4life11
August 4, 2012, 12:01 AM
Mustard, gun show in springfield at the fairgrounds the 11th-12th

meanmrmustard
August 4, 2012, 12:02 AM
Mustard, gun show in springfield at the fairgrounds the 11th-12th
Will look that up. Haven't been down to BP in a few years. Thanks for the heads up!

Infidel4life11
August 4, 2012, 12:07 AM
Will look that up. Haven't been down to BP in a few years. Thanks for the heads up!
Np, I'll be headed to the one tulsa too the following weekend.

chaser_2332
August 4, 2012, 12:13 AM
milspec is good enough to pass and nothing more, any guy with some skill and a cnc machine could wittle out "mil-spec" recievers. For the most part factory rifles are nothing more than a roll mark away from each other. Barrels, triggers, and bcg make the rifle what it is.

holdencm9
August 4, 2012, 01:04 AM
It's funny. It used to be:

"That rifle sucks because x y and z aren't mil-spec"

Then all the other manufacturers listened to their customers who demanded mil-spec and are offering fully mil-spec rifles, save 1 or 2 things that might not even matter. . Now it is:

"They are just piecing together a bunch of mil-spec parts...that don't make it quality!" or "Anyone can do mil-spec...that's all it is, is the military's specifications" or "Yeah but their QC and CS stinks!"

LOL

I agree there is a lot to be said for Colt because they are "proven" and "battle-tested" and everyone else has to sort of play catch-up. There is also something to be said for the assembly of the parts and the QC process each manufacturer uses. But that just dictates how likely you are to get a lemon, not that your rifle is inherently worse than another. There is no such thing as an AR that is greater than the sum of its parts. If everything is the same materials, geometry, finishes, construction, assembled with care, it will function the same. The rollmark on the side won't matter.

That said, if you took 100 S&W's and 100 Colts and ran them all through identical carbine courses, with exact same conditions, ammo, and everything, safe money would be on Colt to have fewer malfunctions. But definitely not 30% fewer which is about the cost difference. I am sure some people will chime in and say "in the courses I've seen it is ALWAYS the cheaper brands that have issues and NEVER Colt" but there is also a little thing called confirmation bias and selective memory.

TonyAngel
August 4, 2012, 01:29 AM
To an extent, I agree with chaser. All milspec is, is a minimum set of standards that have to be met; however, there are many rifles out there that do not meet the minimum standards.

What makes a rifle top tier is the materials that go into the parts that make up the rifle. Heck, a year or so ago, I ran across what I thought was a really good deal on receivers, but upon reading the fine print, discovered that they were milled from 6061 rather than 7075. Still, the barrel, trigger and BCG are the heart of any AR and I prefer that they meet milspec at the very least.

Non milspec or lower to mid tier rifles often have barrels, BCGs and/ trigger groups made of inferior steel. To get the better materials used in upper tiers rifles costs more money, so the question then becomes one of whether you will use the rifle enough to actually realize the benefits of getting an upper or top tier rifle.

The barrel for instance. Barrels made of inferior steel will in all likelihood shoot just fine for most, but for someone that runs one hard, it may mean that they will burn the barrel out sooner, or that accuracy will suffer more when the barrel gets really hot. One thing that I consider to be pretty important is that a milspec barrel will be coated in the area under the gas block. Most non milspec barrels are not. Although this may not sound like it's important, it could be for you if you live or use the rifle in a harsh environment and then one day you are cleaning your rifle and wonder what the ring of rust is around your barrel at the gas block.

Another problem I've seen more in non milspec barrels or more specifically lower tier rifles is that the gas ports are too big. I think that some manufacturers do this to lend some reliability to a rifle and it does work. The problem is that over time, an over gassed rifle will beat the heck out of itself and may also pose some problems shooting steel cased ammo.

A non milspec BCG may not last as long as a milspec BCG due to inferior materials and/or lack of testing. I say MAY not, because I've had cheap bolts that I got from God knows where go a good 6000 rounds before they lost a lug.

As far as triggers go, I don't know. I run Geissele triggers in all of my ARs and consider them to be superior to milspec; but I do know that there are some popular two stage triggers out there, like the Rock River that lots of guys say they love. The trigger is nice and feels pretty good, but I've seen more than a few go south when they hit around the 3000 round mark; although I think that RRA may have fixed this problem. I don't know, I quit using them.

If you really want to see the advantages of a top tier rifle, take a carbine course and take note of the rifles that the others guys are using and then take note of which ones it is that choke during the course.

This is, of course, just my opinion. I'm not a soldier that's been to war, nor am I a part of any special law enforcement team, but over the course of tens of thousands of rounds through ARs, I kind of got a feel for what keeps running and what needs replacing sooner than it should.

Still, in spite of all of this, get what floats your boat. If you take owning an AR seriously and learn the rifle, odds are that you can keep the biggest piece of crap on the market running the way it should. If you get a top tier rifle, odds are that it will run longer on what it came with before you need to start replacing stuff. A cheap rifle is more of a roll of the dice.

To be honest, most of the problems that I've seen with lesser tier rifles has been really stupid stuff. Like gas rings wearing out prematurely or defective extractor springs and extractors. Weak ejector springs and buffer springs and such. Some more serious problems I've seen are trigger groups that lack the proper hardening and actually thrill the owner with how nice they get while breaking in, all the way up to the point where they go full auto; or out of spec chambers.

If you want to dip your toe in the AR pool and don't want to spend a lot of money, the Smith Sport may be for you. They cut a few corners with the rifle. 4140 steel for the barrel, an integrated trigger guard, no dust cover and no forward assist, if you care about those things. The rifles do shoot well for the price. I really can't tell you how they would fare in the long run though. I don't know anyone that has 10,000 rounds through one yet.

I know that there have been and likely will be more recommendations for the Smith and Wesson and I have to assume that the Sport is what they're talking about, because Smith's "better" models aren't cheap and at those prices, there are definitely better options.

If you are willing to spend the money, for around $1000 you can start considering some really nice rifles that are probably less likely to let you down; but like I said, if you really get to know the platform, you can keep just about anything running.

ARs are like tinker toys. There isn't a single part that I can't change, including the barrel, in 30 minutes or less. My AR is a franken rifle. I had gotten out of ARs for awhile and one day while digging through my parts bin, realized that I had enough parts to build a rifle. I try to keep up with the maintenance, but once in a while something gets by me. If the rifle stops running, I just change whatever it was that made it stop. The only part I'm kind of particular about is the bolt/carrier group. I run a Bravo Company group and keep a spare bolt in my grip. Although I have been surprised by some "lesser" bolts, I've also seen some that gave up the ghost a little too quickly.

Would I buy a top tier rifle, like a Noveske? i don't think so. Not unless I run into a guy that was really hard up for rent money and I can practically steal it from him. If I bought a rifle, it would probably be a solid upper mid tier rifle, like a Bravo Company or maybe a Daniel Defense.

Archangel14
August 4, 2012, 01:42 AM
I don't mean to be a jerk, but other than TonyAngel's response, I still haven't really heard "why" certain AR's are top tier, while Stag and S&W are "middle" tier.

You know, the same friend of mine who has a Colt M4 that gets testy and a Stag that runs perfect has a $300 Romanian WASR. I just spoke to him and he advised that his crappy Romanian WASR has never failed in over 8,000 rounds. And it has good accuracy out to about 75 yards. So I ask, what makes a Colt or Noveske so top tier?

Another buddy of mine has a son who is presently a Ranger. Four tours of duty, 3 purple hearts, part of some sort of "seek and snatch team". In questioning him recently on the topic of military issued M4's he was luke warm. He thought it was a good weapon, but advised that "it needs care". He is more impressed by the AK and the HK 416 (I think it was the 416), which he decribed as the "best" small arms rifle in the military. So knowing all this, it is beginning to drive me nut.......why does everyone accept a Colt or Daniels Defense or LaRue as top tier, but not a Stag? It seems to me that we've convinced ourselves of an "untruth".

TonyAngel
August 4, 2012, 02:08 AM
Archangel, what makes a Noveske a top tier rifle is the attention to detail in the assembly and, of course, the parts that they use. The BCG is, of course, milspec. The barrel and receiver is what I've always thought set them apart. The ones I've taken apart have shown a good fit between the receivers. Not too tight and not too loose. The upper receiver faces were square and had a good fit to the barrel extension. What's really special about the rifle is the barrel.

Although I think that their touting their double dipped chromelining is a bunch of hooey, the barrels are made by Pac Nor, which makes very good barrels. The examples of Noveskes that I've played with exhibited a level of accuracy (with good ammunition) that rivals that of some stainless match barrels.

As for your buddies son, I mean absolutely no disrespect, but I also know guys that were/are in the military and have seen combat and am often surprised by how little they know about the rifle that they use to defend the lives of themselves and their buddies. The rifles that they are issued are usually well worn or get to be that way and when they have problems with them, they take them to someone else to fix. As for his stating that it "needs care," he's right. It needs to be properly lubed. If you get gobs of sand in the action, you're going to need to get rid of it; however, I'll attest to the fact that an AR in proper working order does NOT need to be clean to run right. I have, however, found that choice of lube is kind of important. Lots of guys like to use CLP. In my limited experience, CLP will evaporate over time and will cook off with heat. If you use a lube that won't evaporate or cook off, lube intervals can be greatly extended. I use Slip 2000 EWL. I generally lube every 500 to 1000 rounds and I haven't had any problems. ARs really like to be lubed in the gas ring, bolt carrier and bolt areas. The lube serves to provide a medium that allows for the displacement of crud as it builds up. Back when I used CLP, I was lubing every 300 rounds or so while shooting and everytime I pulled the rifle out of the safe, just to keep the rifle running.

As for the WASR, I'm sure that his does run fine. 75 yard accuracy is good enough for many, but move that distance out to 500 or 600 yards and see what it'll get you. It's also kind of funny that you mention the WASR. My brother in law bought one because it was so inexpensive and it doesn't run worth a darn. Still, that action is pretty dependable. I just don't like the triggers or mediocre accuracy.

C-grunt
August 4, 2012, 02:27 AM
I don't mean to be a jerk, but other than TonyAngel's response, I still haven't really heard "why" certain AR's are top tier, while Stag and S&W are "middle" tier.

You know, the same friend of mine who has a Colt M4 that gets testy and a Stag that runs perfect has a $300 Romanian WASR. I just spoke to him and he advised that his crappy Romanian WASR has never failed in over 8,000 rounds. And it has good accuracy out to about 75 yards. So I ask, what makes a Colt or Noveske so top tier?

Another buddy of mine has a son who is presently a Ranger. Four tours of duty, 3 purple hearts, part of some sort of "seek and snatch team". In questioning him recently on the topic of military issued M4's he was luke warm. He thought it was a good weapon, but advised that "it needs care". He is more impressed by the AK and the HK 416 (I think it was the 416), which he decribed as the "best" small arms rifle in the military. So knowing all this, it is beginning to drive me nut.......why does everyone accept a Colt or Daniels Defense or LaRue as top tier, but not a Stag? It seems to me that we've convinced ourselves of an "untruth".
Anyone who has spent time in the military will tell you that the maintenance system for their weapons is horrible. Nothing gets replaced at proper intervals. A deploying Ranger Batt does A LOT of shooting prior to deployment. Most likely enough shooting to warrant replacements of several parts in the weapon. Does that happen???? Probably not.

LoneStarWings
August 4, 2012, 02:33 AM
Double post

LoneStarWings
August 4, 2012, 02:35 AM
I bought a Noveske and consider it top tier because, as stated earlier, they meet or exceed milspec. The biggest difference is barrel quality, in my opinion. I'll pay more for a better barrel, one like noveske's that will last 20,000 rounds, vs a non-chromed 4140 barrel that will start to see accuracy degrade substantially by 8,000 rounds or so.

If you'll never put more than 5 or 6 thousand rounds downrange, and will never shoot on a full auto lower, then Stag or S&W are probably just fine.

Surf
August 4, 2012, 02:37 AM
You don't want to be convinced of anything, you just want to be argumentative. It is obvious that you will be convinced of nothing as your basing your judgement off of a sampling of 2 weapons, which is pure ignorance. Buy whatever you like.

Quentin
August 4, 2012, 03:04 AM
Archangel14, you might want to look at Rob Sloyer's old M4 Compatibility Chart to get a more thorough answer. It's getting hard to find but but a nice article showing images and explaining it is linked below.

The M4 Chart is from about 2009 so some brands may be better today but it still illustrates how close civilian "M4geries" come to the Colt M4 Technical Data Package. About 14 different brands were compared as to about 21 TDP specifications and ranked by how well they adhered to the specs. The Tier 1 M4s were Colt, BCM, Daniel Defense, Noveske and LMT. Next came the "Tier 2" models which were missing some features and consisted of S&W, Charles Daly, ArmaLite, CMMG and maybe Stag. Those in the next group were missing even more features, RRA, Bushmaster, then Olympia and DPMS bringing up the rear. (DPMS at the time only got 3 things right!) Even worse ARs can be found like Vulcan/Hesse/Blackthorne but they weren't included. Again, there may be improvements in the lower tier rifles today.

Anyway, you might want to peruse the article below and compare brands you like to the Tier 1 M4s. (You'll have to dig up their specs if they even provide such a thing.) Are these specifications important? Yes they are. Are they important to you? Only you can answer that.

http://www.03designgroup.com/reviews/bcm-complete-ar15-upper-and-lower-receivers

https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=pwswheghNQsEuEhjFwPrgTA&gid=5

mljdeckard
August 4, 2012, 03:13 AM
Most rifles will work just fine for most people in most circumstances most of the time. You have to run an AR pretty hard to reveal any difference in performance.

Having said that, All machines fail eventually. There are some things that a manufacturer can do to make sure they last longer than the rest, just like cars. Some of these solutions are very cost effective, some aren't worth it. (To me, anyway.) I THINK, the Law of Diminishing Returns starts at a Colt 6920. You can pay more, but the return you will get won't be proportional.

There are a few higher-end features I like, particularly Noveske's double chrome-lined barrels. But they aren't necessarily worth the extra expense.

Infidel4life11
August 4, 2012, 03:25 AM
I like what you guys are getting at, but here is where we all "miss" the points. Mil-Spec is the standard set forth by Military because centuries of war have taught us what stands up to the abuse war, Mil-Spec= reliability. If you meet or exceed that, IMO, thats a good weapon. Jim bob milling crap in his garage and writing mil-spec on it doesn't make it mil-spec. I said "they put a more into they're product" meaning the same thing you guys said about better steel used, coatings, better quality parts, etc. I'm sorry I keep it "KISS" next time I'll type it all out. Your ave Soldier is only allowed skill level 1 maintenance on their weapons ie: cleaning, they can not take out the trigger group, remove the extractor from the bolt, or replace springs that is an armor's job. Yes the most of us do these things or tell our armors to do it for us. As Americans we expect great QC and CS from the companies we give our money to. Yes QC can assist you receiving a good weapon however if your company cuts corners in manufacturing and doesn't use quality parts (the steels, coatings, etc we talked about) you just got a quality inspeced piece of crap. CS doesn't get you a good weapon it gets you a good company, I need a weapon that runs and not CS vs. a weapon that doesn't run and needing CS. Mr. Mustard, Tony and Archangel I enjoy you guys we've been on many threads together so with all thats been said here, what makes a rifle top tier: Quality of materials used, the expertise used in manufacturing and assembling, no corners cut, I'll even go as far as the QC involved in the process and great CS to call and tell them their weapon is still up and running. I'm not a brand person but if you put a Bravo, Daniel Defense, Noveske, Sig Sauer, or Knights up against a DPMS, Olympic, model1sales, Carbon15 or Mohawk shot for shot, DPMS, Olympic, model1sales, Carbon15 or Mohawk are going to lose. Yes I agree your ave. person doesn't need a top tier weapon, those of us that live by guns do. I heart you guys

Dr.Rob
August 4, 2012, 03:35 AM
If you see a Colt malfunctioning "all the time" what exactly is happening?

I'm just curious.

What ammo, what magazines what circumstances?

tarosean
August 4, 2012, 03:45 AM
Let's not vomit up the same, tired things we all see on the web. Let's hear the facts. I have the money, tell me why I should buy a "top tier" rifle over a Stag or S&W. Thanks!


I would suggest that you get your hands on everyone your looking at. Dont just look at pretty pictures. Once you do that you it should be abundantly clear.

Other than that what is your intended use for the rifle?

Warp
August 4, 2012, 03:51 AM
Top Tier (and common enough): Colt, Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM), Daniel Defense (DD), Noveske.

S&W, Stag, PSA, RRA...not top tier. They might be what you want, they might represent great value, they might be better for you and your intended uses...but if you want to talk about which ones are better, ignoring price...it's one of those first four. (and some others make good stuff, but we'll leave it at those four for simplicity sake at this point)

I'd be curious in finding out what your friend is doing wrong, or suggesting he get the rifle properly checked out by somebody competent if he isn't doing anything wrong, because something is wrong there. What ammo? Magazines? Cleaning schedule? Bolt wet/slick, or dry? What kind of problems does he have?

Infidel4life11
August 4, 2012, 03:55 AM
Not that I could ever afford it but I would consider LaRue tactical to be top tier, I've seen their OBR's run..........AMAZING

justice06rr
August 4, 2012, 05:47 AM
Just throwing my 2cents in the mix, although i'm no expert;

There is a clear difference between Top-tier brands like Noveske, Mid-tier like Smith&Wesson, and Bottom-tier like DPMS.

If you compare and physically hold all 3 side-by-side, you will know. You get what you pay for. This is not to say that the lower end brands are crap; the top tier brands are just way more superior and proven. I would relate this scenario to cars: a BMW and a Hyundai will do the same exact thing and get you from point A to B. But there is no doubt that BMW is a superior and higher quality vehicle.

If you really have the cheddar, go buy a top tier rifle like Colt, BCM, DD, or Noveske. If you are a budget conscious shooter ,then a S&W/Stag/PSA should serve you fine.

Infidel4life11
August 4, 2012, 06:35 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_4CskJJxvY&feature=plcp
A look at Bravo Company

plateshooter
August 4, 2012, 07:34 AM
milspec is good enough to pass and nothing more, any guy with some skill and a cnc machine could wittle out "mil-spec" recievers. For the most part factory rifles are nothing more than a roll mark away from each other. Barrels, triggers, and bcg make the rifle what it is.
Agree 100%

meanmrmustard
August 4, 2012, 09:30 AM
Just throwing my 2cents in the mix, although i'm no expert;

There is a clear difference between Top-tier brands like Noveske, Mid-tier like Smith&Wesson, and Bottom-tier like DPMS.

If you compare and physically hold all 3 side-by-side, you will know. You get what you pay for. This is not to say that the lower end brands are crap; the top tier brands are just way more superior and proven. I would relate this scenario to cars: a BMW and a Hyundai will do the same exact thing and get you from point A to B. But there is no doubt that BMW is a superior and higher quality vehicle.

If you really have the cheddar, go buy a top tier rifle like Colt, BCM, DD, or Noveske. If you are a budget conscious shooter ,then a S&W/Stag/PSA should serve you fine.
I don't agree. I think holding and shooting (accuracy comparison aside) they feel the same. But, look deeper: field strip them and you'll see where the cost savings were made. I see your point, but I think it's more than skin deep. I don't consider Colt top, but more of a company resting on laurels. There are others in its price range making rifles as good, if not better. BCM, DD, LaRue. I like their stuff, but whoa nelly, I'm not paying that much when a Smith runs as good.

Ps: I'll give you two gold stars for not using vehicle metaphors:D

meanmrmustard
August 4, 2012, 09:35 AM
Not that I could ever afford it but I would consider LaRue tactical to be top tier, I've seen their OBR's run..........AMAZING
Oh man, you ain't kiddin. Coworker got a big bonus check last fall, bought the PredatAR 556 18". Let me shoot it! However, it was 45 degrees in late November and windy as hell. The chattering was drowned out by accurate awesomeness and howling gales. I'd call it top tier, in that it's been 100% reliable so far, is accurate, his wife took her first deer with it during our states doe extension season. Boucoup money though.

holdencm9
August 4, 2012, 11:56 AM
You don't want to be convinced of anything, you just want to be argumentative. It is obvious that you will be convinced of nothing as your basing your judgement off of a sampling of 2 weapons, which is pure ignorance. Buy whatever you like.


I don't think he is being argumentative. Lots of people going through the same dilemma lately. Now that the mid-tier brands are offering totally mil-spec options they are wondering why pay an extra 3...4...5 hundred for supposed "top tier" brands. Back even just 5 years ago...the reasons were a bit more obvious (although not necessarily more pertinent).

The only reason I can think of, for the OP's purpose, is resale value. Since he phrased it as "invest in" an AR. If he decides to sell it 10 years from now, a Colt will fetch more cash than a S&W or Stag. But it seems most agree, for plinking and general SD/HD use, a mid-tier will suffice.

One other comment: about the carbine classes and observations of which brands fail, it stands to reason that people who drop big bucks on top tier also know what they are doing when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. A lot of people who run the cheaper brands are probably less experienced, which could artificially skew the rate of malfunctions. But in the end I agree with the sentiment to just buy what you want. Chances are, it will be completely adequate for your intended purposes.

meanmrmustard
August 4, 2012, 01:51 PM
I bought a Noveske and consider it top tier because, as stated earlier, they meet or exceed milspec. The biggest difference is barrel quality, in my opinion. I'll pay more for a better barrel, one like noveske's that will last 20,000 rounds, vs a non-chromed 4140 barrel that will start to see accuracy degrade substantially by 8,000 rounds or so.

If you'll never put more than 5 or 6 thousand rounds downrange, and will never shoot on a full auto lower, then Stag or S&W are probably just fine.
Melonite coating has, by means of reviews here and elsewhere, have proved quite resilient to wear, and accuracy potential from treated barrels, IME, was greater than chrome lined.

SpentCasing
August 4, 2012, 02:30 PM
Colt doesnt use CHF barrels as it isnt milspec (it is for Diameco/Colt Canada though). PSA uses CHF barrels from FN. Id much rather have the CHF FN barrel on a hard use gun. FN also owns a proprietary alloy they call "machine gun steel" used for the 240 Bravos that they use on their barrels.

Welding Rod
August 4, 2012, 03:16 PM
One other comment: about the carbine classes and observations of which brands fail, it stands to reason that people who drop big bucks on top tier also know what they are doing when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. A lot of people who run the cheaper brands are probably less experienced, which could artificially skew the rate of malfunctions. But in the end I agree with the sentiment to just buy what you want. Chances are, it will be completely adequate for your intended purposes.

I will add that the budget conscious are also more likely to skimp on the quality of their magazines and the quality of their ammo.

OP - Just keep in mind that as someone else posted above, "top teir" brand name doesn't necessary make the gun more desireable for your purpose. The model variation is huge factor.

For example I have 3 BCM Govt 20s and my lowly 20" RRAs with non-milspec heavy barrels shoot groups have the size. The BCMs were built for reliability when not well maintained and light weight, and the RRAs were built to be accurate. The RRAs chambers don't stretch the brass much compared to the BCMs. Since I sometimes handload my match ammo, I like this. Apples and Oranges.

I maintain all of them reasonably well and have never had a malfunction that wasn't due to a bad magazine. Well actually that isn't true... I found my BCMs can choke on S&B 55 grain 223 ammo. Evidently the S&B doesn't produce enough pressure reliably cycle their actions. The BCMs are 100% with 556 though. The RRAs have ate anything I have fed them, 223 or 556, and chuck the brass into a nice neat pile.

henschman
August 4, 2012, 04:58 PM
I would also define "top tier" ARs as being those that meet or exceed the mil specs. The chart that Quentin posted gives a good run-down of what that means. As he said, some mfg's have upped their standards since that was written, and there are new mfg's on the market that weren't around back then who meet or exceed the mil specs, like PSA.

nathan
August 4, 2012, 06:11 PM
Get a complete upper assembly at PSA with the cold hammer forged barrel and called it done. Then get a complete lower from any of your favorite brands.

Infidel4life11
August 4, 2012, 11:33 PM
I'll be getting one of those PSA's 14.7" CHF uppers soon you can not beat their price

Smokin Gator
August 4, 2012, 11:50 PM
No mention of the JP rifles? What about them? Mark

tarosean
August 5, 2012, 01:38 AM
One other comment: about the carbine classes and observations of which brands fail, it stands to reason that people who drop big bucks on top tier also know what they are doing when it comes to cleaning and maintenance. A lot of people who run the cheaper brands are probably less experienced, which could artificially skew the rate of malfunctions.

Seriously???? Knowledge/experience is based on your wallet size or credit limit?

Warp
August 5, 2012, 01:42 AM
Seriously???? Knowledge/experience is based on your wallet size or credit limit?

No...I don't see how you get that. I'm pretty sure that he is saying the rate of malfunctions could be affected by the wallet size/credit limit (as you put it, or just willingness to spend money on guns and stuff, whatever) because a lot of less expensive stuff (guns, magazines, ammo, etc) are less reliable. It is a solid theory. I agree that there is indeed a chance that people who buy less expensive guns are more likely to put less expensive ammo through them while using less expensive magazines than are people that buy more expensive guns.

tarosean
August 5, 2012, 02:08 AM
because a lot of less expensive stuff (guns, magazines, ammo, etc) are less reliable. It is a solid theory. I agree that there is indeed a chance that people who buy less expensive guns are more likely to put less expensive ammo through them while using less expensive magazines than are people that buy more expensive guns.


I get your point. However that was not his/hers...

Quentin
August 5, 2012, 02:13 AM
...there is indeed a chance that people who buy less expensive guns are more likely to put less expensive ammo through them while using less expensive magazines than are people that buy more expensive guns.

That's an excellent point and no doubt contributes to the reliability issues often linked to "bargain barrel" ARs. Also likely with low price rifles, low end upgrades and unnecessary ninja crap tend to further degrade reliability. Lastly, it stands to reason people buying at the low end are novices and tend to add user error into the mix.

holdencm9
August 5, 2012, 03:09 PM
I get your point. However that was not his/hers...

Not exactly, but Welding Rod, Warp and Quentin expanded/clarified.

Knowledge/experience is not directly based on your wallet/credit limit as you so succinctly put it. But think about it. Maybe you are a former GI, a pro with the AR platform, you will want to buy a Colt because that's what you used in the service. Or if you are running a DD or BCM, maybe it is your 2nd or 3rd AR. A lot of people buy "starter" AR's and upgrade.

Then as the others said, if you refuse to drop big money on an AR, you will probably buy cheaper mags, and not practice as much with it because let's face it, ammo is pricey. But you can save money on ammo by buying crappy ammo. It's also expensive and time-consuming to clean it all the time and all that nonsense. :rolleyes:

I am not saying that really experienced people have never taken a cheaper AR to a class and done everything they should have done and STILL had issues. I am just saying, chances are if someone is running a DPMS or BM or <insert your least favorite low-mid-tier brand here> at a class, it is most likely (a) their first AR, (b) their only AR, and (c) probably not an expert at the ins and outs of the platform.

meanmrmustard
August 5, 2012, 03:24 PM
Not exactly, but Welding Rod, Warp and Quentin expanded/clarified.

Knowledge/experience is not directly based on your wallet/credit limit as you so succinctly put it. But think about it. Maybe you are a former GI, a pro with the AR platform, you will want to buy a Colt because that's what you used in the service. Or if you are running a DD or BCM, maybe it is your 2nd or 3rd AR. A lot of people buy "starter" AR's and upgrade.

Then as the others said, if you refuse to drop big money on an AR, you will probably buy cheaper mags, and not practice as much with it because let's face it, ammo is pricey. But you can save money on ammo by buying crappy ammo. It's also expensive and time-consuming to clean it all the time and all that nonsense. :rolleyes:

I am not saying that really experienced people have never taken a cheaper AR to a class and done everything they should have done and STILL had issues. I am just saying, chances are if someone is running a DPMS or BM or <insert your least favorite low-mid-tier brand here> at a class, it is most likely (a) their first AR, (b) their only AR, and (c) probably not an expert at the ins and outs of the platform.
Based on what? Exactly where are there stats on the mags people buy vs what brand AR they own? You guys are spitballing.

Edit to add: ARs are simplistic, that's the beauty of them while not as mechanically Spartan as other semi autos, I could teach a monkey how to field strip, maintain, and shoot an AR. Unless one hasn't ever shot nor owned one, I wouldn't be quick to turn your pinkies up at a "novice" when there isn't much there to learn.

tarosean
August 5, 2012, 03:54 PM
Not exactly, but Welding Rod, Warp and Quentin expanded/clarified.
Knowledge/experience is not directly based on your wallet/credit limit as you so succinctly put it. But think about it. Maybe you are a former GI, a pro with the AR platform, you will want to buy a Colt because that's what you used in the service. Or if you are running a DD or BCM, maybe it is your 2nd or 3rd AR. A lot of people buy "starter" AR's and upgrade.

I see the points they made.. Maybe I just read too much into your post.. (wouldnt be the first time Ive done that)
For the record, Ive only owned two AR's a Bushmaster in the late 80's that I sold to fund my honeymoon with my X (yeah Im a **** in retrospect) and I currently have a LaRue in 556. I bought the LaRue because the cheap stuff looked like it came out of cracker jack boxes.

So I would probably be considered a novice on the platform. However, I dont buy the knockoffs or lower tier in other Rifles or Handguns either. Course I drive a beat to hell 98 dually but refuse to own weapons that look cheap.. Priorities! LOL

Cesiumsponge
August 5, 2012, 04:43 PM
Your standard Colt 6920 is about $950-1050 if honestly priced. $1200 includes an extra $200 in dealer markup for fun if that's what your buddy paid. The people who seem most upset and hostile to the most expensive AR offerings are people who can't, or don't want to buy one. Considering how popular the platform is now, everyone and their grandma make rifles and rifle parts. They aren't all the same quality or keep the same tolerances and processes.

As others have mentioned, being in the military doesn't make you an expert on weapons. Not everyone who enlists is a "gun guy". If you want to talk to someone that HAS seen a large statistical sampling of a wide range of firearm makes and models under harsh conditions, talk to firearm trainers and ask them what types of rifle makes and brands go down under fire-intensive carbine courses.

holdencm9
August 5, 2012, 06:45 PM
Based on what? Exactly where are there stats on the mags people buy vs what brand AR they own? You guys are spitballing.

Speculatin' or spitballin' or whatever you want to call it. That's all any of this really is. Exactly where are the stats on failure rates of various brands? Even talking to trainers about which brands go down during courses only goes so far. They are limited by what they can readily see and observe, what they know (did that Stag have the plus package that makes everything mil-spec or was it the base package? etc) and are susceptible to their own biases. And unless they know the number of each brand and which ones malfunction then they won't know the rates

meanmrmustard
August 5, 2012, 06:51 PM
Speculatin' or spitballin' or whatever you want to call it. That's all any of this really is. Exactly where are the stats on failure rates of various brands? Even talking to trainers about which brands go down during courses only goes so far. They are limited by what they can readily see and observe, what they know (did that Stag have the plus package that makes everything mil-spec or was it the base package? etc) and are susceptible to their own biases. And unless they know the number of each brand and which ones malfunction then they won't know the rates
Exactly. So the statement holds no water.

I know there are crappy mags, but unless we get a focus group here to list mags with which they've experienced failures. It'd still be flawed, but it's a start, getting an idea of which rifles fail with what mags. Sounds exhausting, but it's the only way I can see to get rid of the dreaded "x" variable, which is folks OPINIONS.

holdencm9
August 5, 2012, 06:58 PM
Exactly. So the statement holds no water.

I know there are crappy mags, but unless we get a focus group here to list mags with which they've experienced failures. It'd still be flawed, but it's a start, getting an idea of which rifles fail with what mags. Sounds exhausting, but it's the only way I can see to get rid of the dreaded "x" variable, which is folks OPINIONS.

You're right. I would love love love LOVE to get a research grant to take 100 "equivalent" AR's from each brand and run them each through the exact same rigorous 10,000 round course with the same cleaning and maintenance routines, same ammo, mags, everything. Sadly NSF doesn't do those kinds of things :(

meanmrmustard
August 5, 2012, 07:16 PM
You're right. I would love love love LOVE to get a research grant to take 100 "equivalent" AR's from each brand and run them each through the exact same rigorous 10,000 round course with the same cleaning and maintenance routines, same ammo, mags, everything. Sadly NSF doesn't do those kinds of things :(
Then we are right back where we started. Hearsay.:(

minutemen1776
August 5, 2012, 07:31 PM
To my understanding, amongst manufacturers who otherwise meet mil-spec, the top-tier producers are those who use higher quality parts and materials, and who also have more rigid inspection processes to ensure the overall quality of the end product. The end result should be a more consistently quality product.

I doubt anyone here can speak to the relative quality of all brands across the spectrum of ARs, but I have experienced the top and bottom, and I refuse to return to the bottom. I began with an Olympic Arms rifle that performed reasonably well, but it often malfunctioned and required constant tweaking to keep it running. I sold it and built a rifle with an LMT lower, BCM upper, and a DD BCG, which is all top-tier stuff. For the few hundred dollars in price difference, I can now use my range time to shoot rather than to clear malfunctions and wonder what's wrong with my carbine on that particular day. I still regularly enjoy my new rifle, but I've long forgotten the extra cash I paid for it. Maybe I overbought, but I don't care since the result has been precisely what I wanted all along.

mshootnit
August 5, 2012, 07:36 PM
man if I had the money I would get a Noveske sure or another high end unit. but what is important to me is to get an upper with a good chrome lined barrel, put known quality BCG in it. I know that's simple but I look for good m4 feedramps, f marked front sight post, 7075, and quality parts.

Granted I don't use one for a living.

Warp
August 5, 2012, 08:13 PM
Based on what? Exactly where are there stats on the mags people buy vs what brand AR they own? You guys are spitballing.

Most things in life don't have "statistics" to back them up. And most statics aren't all that great anyway. What's that old "lies, damn lies, and statistics" saying?

This is based on good sense, logic, and years of observing and talking to real people in person, as well as online.

meanmrmustard
August 5, 2012, 08:40 PM
Most things in life don't have "statistics" to back them up. And most statics aren't all that great anyway. What's that old "lies, damn lies, and statistics" saying?

This is based on good sense, logic, and years of observing and talking to real people in person, as well as online.
Then that's saying stats are about as useless as what you hear on the webz. I don't advocate crap, but I do humor a good web poll on occasion. I do, however, buy based on real world experiences of others and my own. Inexpensive rifles and cheap mags causing failures isn't one I'm privvy to. I've heard of cheap mags failing in expensive rifles, in turn causing a stoppage, and the same with (very rare occasion) proprietary mags, as in the case of Bushmaster, and my own Savage 340 mag (it is crap). But, I personally cant say that I've experienced where owning a less expensive rifle is synonymous with owning cheap mags ergo causing failures. I'm at the range...alot. People are more and more buying the hell outta ARs, and it isn't strange to see every flavor of the platform out at the local range. I'm not saying youse guys' theory is unfounded, as it is generalized. That's where I don't agree.

I used nothing but Magpuls with the Sports. Don't consider them "cheap" in that they aren't shoddy. Never a failure from a $16 mag. Cheap mags can suck, doesn't speak for the rifle.

Warp
August 5, 2012, 08:56 PM
Then that's saying stats are about as useless as what you hear on the webz.

No, it isn't. It's saying that a lot of stats are not useful. Hopefully you can look at the stats and get a good idea how useful they are, or are not, with a little critical thinking and investigation.

meanmrmustard
August 5, 2012, 09:02 PM
No, it isn't. It's saying that a lot of stats are not useful. Hopefully you can look at the stats and get a good idea how useful they are, or are not, with a little critical thinking and investigation.
Hopefully indeed. But, there aren't really any studies of this "phenomena" around.

Warp
August 5, 2012, 09:09 PM
Hopefully indeed. But, there aren't really any studies of this "phenomena" around.

Of course not. Most things don't have studies. Studies only exist when somebody thinks it's worth spending the money to do the study so they can then make money off of it, or use it to further their own interests.

Nobody ever said it was a proven thing, now did they? It's a theory. It's a possibility. It is something presented as a potential for consideration. That's all.

meanmrmustard
August 5, 2012, 09:12 PM
Of course not. Most things don't have studies. Studies only exist when somebody thinks it's worth spending the money to do the study so they can then make money off of it, or use it to further their own interests.

Nobody ever said it was a proven thing, now did they? It's a theory. It's a possibility. It is something presented as a potential for consideration. That's all.
Wish someone would. But, wishful expensive thinking.

Yes, it is just a theory. Which is a shame.

Warp
August 5, 2012, 09:28 PM
Wish someone would. But, wishful expensive thinking.

Yes, it is just a theory. Which is a shame.

Another theory is that we seem to see more malfunctions and KBs in non-top tier rifles because their quality and consistency are kinda crappy by comparison. Perhaps you prefer that theory.

meanmrmustard
August 5, 2012, 09:35 PM
Another theory is that we seem to see more malfunctions and KBs in non-top tier rifles because their quality and consistency are kinda crappy by comparison. Perhaps you prefer that theory.
That's what I love about theories: they lack any factual basis until proven.
One theory I do favor: Top tier rifles having inconsistent quality, and hearing the "lemon" excuse.

Contemplative, abstract thinking.

Warp
August 5, 2012, 09:52 PM
That's what I love about theories: they lack any factual basis until proven.

Incorrect.

Just because a theory isn't "proven" that doesn't mean it lacks any factual basis. It just means it isn't proven.

holdencm9
August 5, 2012, 09:55 PM
I think we can all agree that you are less likely to get a lemon if you buy a Colt, BCM, DD, Noveske, etc. How much disparity, no one knows. But for some, it makes perfect sense to spend more to reduce the risk of getting one of these lemons.

The next logical question to ask is, assuming you do not have a lemon on your hands, what is the benefit of a Colt et al versus S&W et al? Some may argue the Colt & Co "feel better" or "more solid" or what-have-you. Some may say that with x-thousand round count subjected to xyz abuse, the Colt is less likely to suffer a malfunction. Neither reason may ever matter to the person buying the rifle, so if they choose to go with the mid-tier rifle, more power to them. Some people it definitely matters, and they should absolutely buy the high-end gun. Some people, it will never matter, but they still like having the high end model, with the peace of mind that their piece of hardware could handle 50-thousand rounds and tons of abuse, maybe, even if they never plan to subject it to that abuse and round count.

meanmrmustard
August 5, 2012, 10:05 PM
Incorrect.

Just because a theory isn't "proven" that doesn't mean it lacks any factual basis. It just means it isn't proven.
That makes no sense. Next you'll tell me Sasquatch and Nessie are an item.

Only lemon I've owned, AR anyway, was a Colt. Not so much a lemon, but a less than expected manufacturing error slipping through the cracks of an otherwise sterling, reputed company. Crappy CS to boot, so call me the anomaly in an otherwise status quo. Can't speak for the other coveted rifles, those I've shot weren't stripped and inspected by myself.
The Colt didn't meet it's own standards. Smith met every expectation, exceeded some. That's not theory, it's personal, proven fact. Not a fanboy hypothesis based on pocket change spent and soldier of fortune thinking.

Lastly, as I said, if I had the funds at any given time, I'd buy LaRue. I'll never buy from Colt again.

All you, Warp.

Warp
August 5, 2012, 10:53 PM
That makes no sense. Next you'll tell me Sasquatch and Nessie are an item.

Only lemon I've owned, AR anyway, was a Colt. Not so much a lemon, but a less than expected manufacturing error slipping through the cracks of an otherwise sterling, reputed company. Crappy CS to boot, so call me the anomaly in an otherwise status quo. Can't speak for the other coveted rifles, those I've shot weren't stripped and inspected by myself.
The Colt didn't meet it's own standards. Smith met every expectation, exceeded some. That's not theory, it's personal, proven fact. Not a fanboy hypothesis based on pocket change spent and soldier of fortune thinking.

Lastly, as I said, if I had the funds at any given time, I'd buy LaRue. I'll never buy from Colt again.

All you, Warp.



Yes, we know. You had a bad experience with Colt and a good one with S&W, therefore anybody who says Colt makes higher quality and more consistent guns than S&W is a fanboy. We get it.


BTW: Plenty of things that have some kind of factual basis aren't proven. Sometimes things (theories, if you will) have a factual basis without being proven.

ndh87
August 5, 2012, 11:20 PM
LWRC. nuff said

Auto426
August 5, 2012, 11:38 PM
Yes, we know. You had a bad experience with Colt and a good one with S&W, therefore anybody who says Colt makes higher quality and more consistent guns than S&W is a fanboy. We get it.

We've certainly heard it plenty of times.

meanmrmustard
August 5, 2012, 11:45 PM
Yes, we know. You had a bad experience with Colt and a good one with S&W, therefore anybody who says Colt makes higher quality and more consistent guns than S&W is a fanboy. We get it.


BTW: Plenty of things that have some kind of factual basis aren't proven. Sometimes things (theories, if you will) have a factual basis without being proven.
Never said any one who liked colt was a fan boy. No where did I state specifically a brand that generated a fan boy response. You'd do well to read, and attack the argument not the arguer.

What is factual, that doesn't exist? I'm confused, I guess maybe I am as dumb as I look.

If we are debating semantics, you can have this one. Otherwise, I doubt that something factual (as in true to its form in existence in general knowledge) can be just that without having been proven to be all but false or nonexistent.

meanmrmustard
August 5, 2012, 11:48 PM
We've certainly heard it plenty of times.
And, is that a problem? We've been regaled as to why some ARs are better than others and why. I'm stating the same. If it annoys you, there are other threads going.

TonyAngel
August 5, 2012, 11:48 PM
The only rifle that never breaks down or needs to have parts replaced is a rifle that doesn't get used, no matter what brand you start with.

What you get with a top tier AR is likely to be a rifle built with parts that will last longer and perform better. If you're looking for a rifle to buy, ask yourself the question of what you're going to be doing with that rifle and then make an assessment of what is going to be good enough for you.

Some don't want to spend more money than they need to. Some are willing to spend more money for either the pride of ownership or the peace of mind that comes along with buying something better than "good enough." Then there are those that are willing to spend the money to buy top tier stuff because it absolutely, positively has to work.

So, the question still remains. What is good enough? I can't answer that for anyone other than myself. As has been mentioned, there is no quantifiable data that clearly states that "lesser" rifles break down or fail more than "better" rifles.

I know that I think what I think, after having had to work on more ARs that I can remember for various reasons, because of my personal experiences.

Sure there are budget priced rifles that will, for some undetermined length of time, operate the way they're supposed to; but when the time comes to start replacing parts, what you are going to replace those parts with?

You can go through the threads on this site alone. If you need to buy a replacement bolt, what are you going to buy? Are you going to buy one that is used in a budget rifle or are you going to try to find something that is machined of milspec carpenter steel that's been shot peened for strength and magnetic particle inspected with a strong tool steel extractor?

If you need to replace the barrel, are you going to replace it with a budget barrel of 4140 steel or are you going to replace it with the best barrel that you can get? Maybe something of a higher grade steel that is hammer forged, high pressure tested and MPI with a good chrome lining?

Maybe some guys are looking at the way of choosing which rifle to buy back a$$wards. Maybe a good way to go about it is to figure out what ingredients you want and buy a rifle made of those ingredients.

When I was really into ARs there were particular parts that I looked for because they will last longer. In some cases, a lot longer.

For a non precision rifle, I want milspec steel and prefer chrome lined. I want a barrel that is coated in the gas block area. Hammer forged barrels are nice. I really like the barrels from Bravo Company and Daniel Defense, although these brands aren't the only good barrels out there. I wouldn't get overly excited about things like 5r rifling and/or any special coatings. Neither are new. In fact, both have been around for a while and neither will turn a turd into a diamond.

A barrel is all about the steel and the manufacturing process. I'm not talking about being able to shoot sub MOA. Really, I've seen most barrels be able to accomplish this, given the right ammo. The real test of the quality of a barrel is how it behaves under stress. If you really want to see what a barrel can do, put 50 rounds through it quickly and get it good and hot and then shoot groups with it. This is when you'll see the difference between a good barrel and a lesser barrel.

I want a full auto bolt carrier group that's been chromed in the right places and made of milspec or better steel. The BCG is the hardest working part of the rifle.

I also want a milspec or better trigger. Milspec triggers have been hardened to a specified depth and, although they may not produce the best feel in the world, they will be more reliable.

Lastly, I really don't know if there is even a milspec on the small parts, but I buy things like springs, rings and pins from vendors that build milspec rifles. They are made from the proper materials and are the proper size. I get my stuff from Bravo Company and I say that they are made of the proper materials and are of the proper size because I've never had any problems with them.

If you don't think this last thing is important, you can do a search here on THR and see the number of threads of guys asking why their AR won't eject, or the trigger won't reset, or the bolt catch doesn't work the way it's supposed to, or the trigger pins are walking, etc.

For those guys arguing that the top tier rifles (and what makes those rifles top tier) aren't worth the cost or that top tier status isn't worth it because something made of budget parts is just as good, I have to ask...do any of you guys have any hard data?

Do any of you guys have something like a Smith and Wesson Sport, Stag or Rock River with 5000 rounds or 10000 rounds through it? Without having been cleaned? Have any of you ever shot an AR to a point where you NEEDED to change the bolt? Cam pin? Or even the rings? I'm asking because if you haven't, you haven't shot the rifle enough to be able to tell anything from personal experience.

I'm not trying to get harsh, but I'm hearing a lot of claims like "my rifle has never given me any trouble" or "it's a tack driver" or "I run it hard." Those statements are also pretty vague.

Warp
August 5, 2012, 11:59 PM
That makes no sense. Next you'll tell me Sasquatch and Nessie are an item.

Only lemon I've owned, AR anyway, was a Colt. Not so much a lemon, but a less than expected manufacturing error slipping through the cracks of an otherwise sterling, reputed company. Crappy CS to boot, so call me the anomaly in an otherwise status quo. Can't speak for the other coveted rifles, those I've shot weren't stripped and inspected by myself.
The Colt didn't meet it's own standards. Smith met every expectation, exceeded some. That's not theory, it's personal, proven fact. Not a fanboy hypothesis based on pocket change spent and soldier of fortune thinking.

Lastly, as I said, if I had the funds at any given time, I'd buy LaRue. I'll never buy from Colt again.

All you, Warp.


Just sayin

Warp
August 6, 2012, 12:03 AM
The only rifle that never breaks down or needs to have parts replaced is a rifle that doesn't get used, no matter what brand you start with.

What you get with a top tier AR is likely to be a rifle built with parts that will last longer and perform better. If you're looking for a rifle to buy, ask yourself the question of what you're going to be doing with that rifle and then make an assessment of what is going to be good enough for you.

Some don't want to spend more money than they need to. Some are willing to spend more money for either the pride of ownership or the peace of mind that comes along with buying something better than "good enough." Then there are those that are willing to spend the money to buy top tier stuff because it absolutely, positively has to work.

So, the question still remains. What is good enough? I can't answer that for anyone other than myself. As has been mentioned, there is no quantifiable data that clearly states that "lesser" rifles break down or fail more than "better" rifles.

I know that I think what I think, after having had to work on more ARs that I can remember for various reasons, because of my personal experiences.

Sure there are budget priced rifles that will, for some undetermined length of time, operate the way they're supposed to; but when the time comes to start replacing parts, what you are going to replace those parts with?

You can go through the threads on this site alone. If you need to buy a replacement bolt, what are you going to buy? Are you going to buy one that is used in a budget rifle or are you going to try to find something that is machined of milspec carpenter steel that's been shot peened for strength and magnetic particle inspected with a strong tool steel extractor?

If you need to replace the barrel, are you going to replace it with a budget barrel of 4140 steel or are you going to replace it with the best barrel that you can get? Maybe something of a higher grade steel that is hammer forged, high pressure tested and MPI with a good chrome lining?

Maybe some guys are looking at the way of choosing which rifle to buy back a$$wards. Maybe a good way to go about it is to figure out what ingredients you want and buy a rifle made of those ingredients.

When I was really into ARs there were particular parts that I looked for because they will last longer. In some cases, a lot longer.

For a non precision rifle, I want milspec steel and prefer chrome lined. I want a barrel that is coated in the gas block area. Hammer forged barrels are nice. I really like the barrels from Bravo Company and Daniel Defense, although these brands aren't the only good barrels out there. I wouldn't get overly excited about things like 5r rifling and/or any special coatings. Neither are new. In fact, both have been around for a while and neither will turn a turd into a diamond.

A barrel is all about the steel and the manufacturing process. I'm not talking about being able to shoot sub MOA. Really, I've seen most barrels be able to accomplish this, given the right ammo. The real test of the quality of a barrel is how it behaves under stress. If you really want to see what a barrel can do, put 50 rounds through it quickly and get it good and hot and then shoot groups with it. This is when you'll see the difference between a good barrel and a lesser barrel.

I want a full auto bolt carrier group that's been chromed in the right places and made of milspec or better steel. The BCG is the hardest working part of the rifle.

I also want a milspec or better trigger. Milspec triggers have been hardened to a specified depth and, although they may not produce the best feel in the world, they will be more reliable.

Lastly, I really don't know if there is even a milspec on the small parts, but I buy things like springs, rings and pins from vendors that build milspec rifles. They are made from the proper materials and are the proper size. I get my stuff from Bravo Company and I say that they are made of the proper materials and are of the proper size because I've never had any problems with them.

If you don't think this last thing is important, you can do a search here on THR and see the number of threads of guys asking why their AR won't eject, or the trigger won't reset, or the bolt catch doesn't work the way it's supposed to, or the trigger pins are walking, etc.

For those guys arguing that the top tier rifles (and what makes those rifles top tier) aren't worth the cost or that top tier status isn't worth it because something made of budget parts is just as good, I have to ask...do any of you guys have any hard data?

Do any of you guys have something like a Smith and Wesson Sport, Stag or Rock River with 5000 rounds or 10000 rounds through it? Without having been cleaned? Have any of you ever shot an AR to a point where you NEEDED to change the bolt? Cam pin? Or even the rings? I'm asking because if you haven't, you haven't shot the rifle enough to be able to tell anything from personal experience.

I'm not trying to get harsh, but I'm hearing a lot of claims like "my rifle has never given me any trouble" or "it's a tack driver" or "I run it hard." Those statements are also pretty vague.


I like this guy.

meanmrmustard
August 6, 2012, 12:06 AM
Sadly, I don't run my rifles like I hate them. Im a neat freak. So, regardless of what I spent on a "junk" Sport, or a ritzy rifle costing twice, they'd never see that many rounds without cleaning. At least, not an AR. Most I've gone is something like 600 rounds, and it killed me to do that. In the field, I'd be screwed with an AR, because I'd be shot or captured while I'm busy picking crud out of the barrel extension.

So, no. Can't say I know personally that a cheaper rifle wouldn't malfunction with that round count. Also, can't say a more expensive, fully mil spec AR would either, as I've not run one that far too. So, if I can't differentiate based on personal experience which is truly better because of not having run 10000 rounds through either without cleaning, then neither is a true winner. To be fair, as per your post, instances of frugality with cleaning and a high round count in btween without failures is also pretty vague. I dare say, hearsay.

My "addlib favorite rifle" runs 10000 rounds without cleaning, sans malfunction.
Pretty vague, indeed.

meanmrmustard
August 6, 2012, 12:08 AM
Just sayin
Just saying what exactly? You bolded a completely open ended statement. Once again, fact is proven. Youve proved nothing.

If I had to choose, HAD to, I'd buy a LaRue. I like what I've owned. Ill shut up now, so this thing doesn't snowball. I live life pinky down, and judge based on ability, not price tag. That's all.

Warp
August 6, 2012, 12:11 AM
The fact is that you are the one coming into these threads throwing around the fanboy tag when people say top tier rifles like Colt are consistently a higher quality. That's a fact. You might use innuendo and implication in order to maintain a semi-plausible deniability as you do not explicitly state it flat out, but it's certainly there.

At any rate I think your personal experience has been well documented within this particular thread, so anybody reading or who searches later will be informed of your experience.

holdencm9
August 6, 2012, 12:17 AM
Okay, so what is missing from this list

16" CMV 4150 M4 profile barrel, 5.56mm 1:7 twist, HP & MPI tested. A2 flash hider
Carbine-length gas port
M4 feed ramps
Taper-pinned, f-marked front sight post
Forged aluminum 7075-T6 flat top upper, hard coat anodized, machined T-marks
Carpenter 168 bolt, shot peened, MPI and HPT. Staked gas key
Full-auto BCG parkerized outside, chrome-lined inside
Forged 7075-T6 lower, black hardcoat anoized per MIL-8625 Type 3 Class 2
Mil spec size buffer tub, 6-position, staked castle nut

Just let me know if there is anything I oughta upgrade. Seriously I don't want to worry about things breaking. :/

meanmrmustard
August 6, 2012, 12:19 AM
The fact is that you are the one coming into these threads throwing around the fanboy tag when people say top tier rifles like Colt are consistently a higher quality. That's a fact. You might use innuendo and implication in order to maintain a semi-plausible deniability as you do not explicitly state it flat out, but it's certainly there.

At any rate I think your personal experience has been well documented within this particular thread, so anybody reading or who searches later will be informed of your experience.
Higher quality? No. Worse customer service on top of that. Add that to my anti Colt post count.

And yes, search my posts, you'll see that for everyone where I say boo about Colt, you come running. That's not innuendo, that's fact.

Not very high road to take the fight to the arguer.

Warp
August 6, 2012, 12:25 AM
Higher quality? No.

Yes, actually.

meanmrmustard
August 6, 2012, 12:26 AM
Yes, actually.
Ok. If you say so.

holdencm9
August 6, 2012, 12:28 AM
Alrighty ya'll. We are all still friends.

Warp
August 6, 2012, 12:30 AM
I think we're good now.

meanmrmustard
August 6, 2012, 12:33 AM
I'm always good, always.

mustanggt
August 6, 2012, 12:52 AM
I guess I'll go where angels fear to tread. I am waiting on my first AR. I've had plenty of chances to get one but have not felt the love for one like alot of guys have. I have always been a wood and blued steel guy but have felt the angst to get one like when the angst hit alot of people 4 years ago. I was going to buy an LWRC M6IC because they are in the top tier and are worth the money. I am old enough now to have extra money to indulge myself and also to live by "pay once, cry once." I decided to change my mind because I found a Kimber 84M in 257 Roberts that said buy me. She's so purty!!! So I then had a talk with myself about needing a top tier piston gun when a top tier DI gun would do just as well for me. I'm not an LEO or any operator that needs a top tier gun to do his job with but I do want this rifle to protect my family's life as well as my own. So I am sparing no expense in getting this thing right the first time. I'm waiting for a LaRue PredatAR in 556 with a 16" barrel. For my purposes the LWRC was overkill but what a great product. I was able to run two of them for a few hours one day which prompted me to order one in the first place. In the end it was a win/win for me as I got two rifles I really wanted/needed for the price of the LWRC.

Warp
August 6, 2012, 12:55 AM
I guess I'll go where angels fear to tread. I am waiting on my first AR. I've had plenty of chances to get one but have not felt the love for one like alot of guys have. I have always been a wood and blued steel guy but have felt the angst to get one like when the angst hit alot of people 4 years ago. I was going to buy an LWRC M6IC because they are in the top tier and are worth the money. I am old enough now to have extra money to indulge myself and also to live by "pay once, cry once." I decided to change my mind because I found a Kimber 84M in 257 Roberts that said buy me. She's so purty!!! So I then had a talk with myself about needing a top tier piston gun when a top tier DI gun would do just as well for me. I'm not an LEO or any operator that needs a top tier gun to do his job with but I do want this rifle to protect my family's life as well as my own. So I am sparing no expense in getting this thing right the first time. I'm waiting for a LaRue PredatAR in 556 with a 16" barrel. For my purposes the LWRC was overkill but what a great product. I was able to run two of them for a few hours one day which prompted me to order one in the first place. In the end it was a win/win for me as I got two rifles I really wanted/needed for the price of the LWRC.


I hear you.

Here's mine in a bit of a "one of these does not belong" shot (my complete rifle lineup) (AR has since been accessorized, this was right after I got it)

http://i54.photobucket.com/albums/g105/austin3161324/20120712_223434.jpg

TonyAngel
August 6, 2012, 01:43 AM
Okay, so what is missing from this list

16" CMV 4150 M4 profile barrel, 5.56mm 1:7 twist, HP & MPI tested. A2 flash hider
Carbine-length gas port
M4 feed ramps
Taper-pinned, f-marked front sight post
Forged aluminum 7075-T6 flat top upper, hard coat anodized, machined T-marks
Carpenter 168 bolt, shot peened, MPI and HPT. Staked gas key
Full-auto BCG parkerized outside, chrome-lined inside
Forged 7075-T6 lower, black hardcoat anoized per MIL-8625 Type 3 Class 2
Mil spec size buffer tub, 6-position, staked castle nut

Just let me know if there is anything I oughta upgrade. Seriously I don't want to worry about things breaking. :/

If you're serious, that looks like a nice list. Put a couple thousand rounds through it and make sure that it's solid. As for not having to worry about things breaking, sorry. Like I said above, all rifles will need parts replaced, sooner or later. A list like yours helps to ensure that it's likely to be later than sooner. If you want some extra insurance that you won't be stuck someplace, get a spare bolt with cam pin and firing pin retainer. A spare bolt will cover most of what usually goes wrong on an AR. Rings, extractor, extractor spring, ejector/spring are all there and will take less than a minute to replace.

If you are the paranoid type, like I am, you can also keep a set of springs and pins for your FCG.

mustang, I think you made the right choice. Two is often better than one and Kimber makes some beautiful rifles. As for the piston gun, both pistons and DIs have their pros and cons. My only real aversion to pistons is that fact that there is no standardized system and availability of parts may be a problem.

holdencm9
August 6, 2012, 02:31 AM
If you're serious, that looks like a nice list. Put a couple thousand rounds through it and make sure that it's solid. As for not having to worry about things breaking, sorry. Like I said above, all rifles will need parts replaced, sooner or later. A list like yours helps to ensure that it's likely to be later than sooner. If you want some extra insurance that you won't be stuck someplace, get a spare bolt with cam pin and firing pin retainer. A spare bolt will cover most of what usually goes wrong on an AR. Rings, extractor, extractor spring, ejector/spring are all there and will take less than a minute to replace.

If you are the paranoid type, like I am, you can also keep a set of springs and pins for your FCG.

I was serious. Thanks for the tips. I will definitely look into getting spare springs/pins for the FCG. As for the bolt....actually, what I ended up doing was ordering another AR. :banghead: I couldn't resist.

I originally just wanted to upgrade my grip and stock to Magpul...then figured, why not just order another receiver, to have handy, and while I am at it order another BCG, then I thought, a middy would be nice, may as well spend a few more bucks and get a whole barreled upper...now I have 2 AR's, one a middy with heavy barrel and one with M4 gov't profile and standard grips/stock. But the side-benefit is having some spare parts, assuming they don't go down simultaneously...

Warp
August 6, 2012, 02:35 AM
Good.

Now go buy several cases of ammo. :)

Quentin
August 6, 2012, 02:38 AM
That's what I love about theories: they lack any factual basis until proven.
One theory I do favor: Top tier rifles having inconsistent quality, and hearing the "lemon" excuse.

Contemplative, abstract thinking.

Actually we should have been using the term hypothesis not theory. Theory is concrete evidence in science, such as the Theory of Evolution. A well-substantiated body of research and facts that explain scientific observations. Theories are full of facts, hypotheses are explanations that have not yet been proven.

ETA:
In my mind I'm convinced the Tier 1 ARs are better and worth the extra cost, but that's only a hypothesis on my part. :D

Warp
August 6, 2012, 02:45 AM
In the scientific world, yes. Most people in most conversation don't use theory the way the scientific community would use when talking about something like the theory of gravity or what have you.

But it would be good to use consistent definitions. Hypothesis it is.

TonyAngel
August 6, 2012, 03:23 AM
holden, it sounds like you caught the disease. I know how it feels. There was a time when it seemed that every time I went to the range, they had a Spike's Tactical lower with a different color filled roll mark that I just had to have. Of course, you understand that you can't just have a lower sitting there doing nothing.

Thank goodness that wore off. In any case, I don't want to get too far off on a tangent; but if you get the upgrade bug, be sure to check out the Magpul UBR stocks. Yes, they are expensive. Yes, they are on the heavy side; but they are rock solid and the weight actually lends a better sense of balance to the rifle. It's actually easier to carry unslung. The good part about it is that it's not likely to need to be replaced.

meanmrmustard
August 6, 2012, 07:41 AM
I think ill use myth. Or urban legend.:D

mustanggt
August 6, 2012, 11:26 AM
I like the part about a DI gun that you can replace parts with any other to keep it running where as with a piston there are a number of proprietary parts. Draw back to the Larue is waiting and waiting. Oh well good thing I have many guns to play with till then.

JustinJ
August 6, 2012, 12:57 PM
Milspec standards do not ensure every Colt rifle will be more reliable or durable than a Stag, or other non-milspec rifle. What it means is that if you have 1,000 Colts and 1,000 Stags the incidence of failures and breakages will be lower with the milspec Colts. HP/MPI testing a bolt does not make it a better bolt. It simply weeds out defective ones. Also, certain materials tend to be more durable than others. So again, the likelihood of issues will differ. Milspec can not guarantee no issues. It simply reduces their probability. Anecdotal experiences mean nothing by themselves.

So yes, a non-milspec AR may serve you great for thousands of rounds but the chances of it doing so are simply lower than with a milspec. That is all.

taliv
August 6, 2012, 01:00 PM
That is all.

whew, about time :)

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