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Is AR quality declining since "the panic" started?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by gunsrfun1, May 11, 2013.

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  1. gunsrfun1

    gunsrfun1 Well-Known Member

    I'm curious if there is any sort of general consensus (or just opinions) on whether this may not be the best time to buy an AR, due to potential quality control issues. IMO, it stands to reason that if these manufacturers are running day and night to fill orders, quality will suffer. (Although they won't tell you that.) An AR put together by an off-the-street newbie working the graveyard shift doesn't inspire confidence. Nor do parts that may have been manufactured as quick as they can be turned out. Plus, I have to think with parts being scarce, some manufacturers are sourcing them from "second tier" suppliers that they may not have considered using in the past.
    Case in point: I ordered an upper from one of the "value" brands and the bore was hosed. They sent me a new one, but it still had a couple fit-and-finish issues (which they did resolve.)
    I'm not in a major hurry ... would it be best to wait until things settle down a bit before I buy my next AR? (I do think the panic will subside eventually.)
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  2. Quentin

    Quentin Well-Known Member

    I think you're right that there's been an urgency to get ARs and parts rushed out the door so QC at some manufacturers has slipped. I got a BCG that was sold as MPI but the bolt wasn't marked. Seems some batch-tested bolts got sourced to complete orders so there were complaints from people who expected individual bolt testing/marking. It's getting sorted out but a problem for many.

    If someone can wait it's likely prices will go lower and quality might get better.
  3. Warp

    Warp Well-Known Member

    I don't think so.

    Buy from the same reputable companies that make quality products, same as before. Prices spiking for a few months due to panic isn't going to change this.

    I'd say that your case is point is more like: Order from a "value" brand, and you stand a greater chance of something being amiss. Prices spiking for a few months due to panic isn't going to change that, either.
  4. Ditch-Tiger

    Ditch-Tiger Well-Known Member

    Quality is definitely suffering; just check out all the "my blot exploded!" threads on AR15.com.
    This being said, if you stick with a high end reputable manufacturer, you won't see this. The problem comes from new manufacturers racing to keep up with demand and individuals sacrificing brands to finish a build.
  5. MagnumWill

    MagnumWill Well-Known Member

    Being a process engineer my whole life, I'm almost certain this could be the case. If you think about it, unless you're making fasteners and nails your production schedule is going to be about equal (if not slightly more) than your capacity to churn out product. If suddenly your orders are quadruple what your process (be it lowers, barreled actions, trigger groups, etc) can handle, mashing the throttle on your machines and workforce UNDOUBTEDLY reduces quality. Anyone saying otherwise is either A) running under capacity or B) making something simple or has a potentially low failure rate. Makers like Colt and Sig Sauer are not exempt from this - their processes are still ran by humans :)

    Frankly, I'm wary of just about anything that comes out of a firearm-related factory for a little while yet. Even ammo - remember when Hornady(I think it was them) accidentally mixed a partial pistol powder batch in with rifle powder and sent out a recall? You better believe quality can slip when a 9-5 operation suddenly goes 24-7 in a week's time. Just MHO.
  6. gunsrfun1

    gunsrfun1 Well-Known Member

    Thanks all, you're reinforcing my suspicions. Magnum, I liked your comment about ammo. I've bought some to stock up on when it's available, but I'm trying to avoid the hoarding mentality that's driving all these shortages. I try to buy enough to keep me ahead of my needs. But I don't over-buy, and one of the reasons is that I am concerned about QC on ammo as well as guns. Who knows if that XXX value-pack is really as good as the pre-panic production lots when they're running the factory full-tilt, or moving production from one line to the other, etc?
  7. Warp

    Warp Well-Known Member

    I call BS.

    Unless you can show links to multiple accounts of recently purchased Carpenter 158, HPT/MPI bolts exploding.

    That, I would love to see.

    You are operating under the assumption that they are mashing the throttle on the machines and workforce, at the expense of the quality of the product.

    What makes you so sure that the quality, reputable, established manufacturers did or are doing that??
  8. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    Four years ago when this happened after the first Obama election there was definitely a spike in failures. Particularly ammo
  9. SSN Vet

    SSN Vet Well-Known Member

    There is a very real potential problem that comes when a manufacturer adds add'l shifts, and that is deluting your pool of talent. This is particularly problematic with your pool of experienced and capable supervisors, as often times, their seniority allows them to choose to stay on their normal (most often day) shift. Finding and training skilled workers to man add'l shifts is tough enough. Going up a level and finding skilled and experienced supervisors to do the training and coach the newbies is especially hard.

    But the few articles I've read, indicate that manufacturers know this surge of demand will be limited in duration, and they are not ramping up with new plants and that they have been already running three shifts in their existing facilities. So all they can really do to increase their production output, is to extend their existing shifts through the weekend with mandatory OT.

    But not every process can ramp up the same. Inspection was already noted. Other operations done on extremely expensive equipment can also present a "choke point", as the cost and/or lead time to procure add'l equipment may lead the owners to opt to make do with what they have, and just let the back log grow.

    People tend to love the OT at first, but after several months without a day off, it's natural to start to resent it and to fatigue of it.

    Also, you can only defer machinery maintenance for so long before, you have machines go down... And sometimes you will float out of your control envelope, before you realize that the equipment finally has to have it's TLC.

    In the final analyses, it really depends on how zealously the manufacturing processes and procedures are followed, as even in a normal demand environment there are tensions and conflict between the production schedule and quality controls.

    Only the best outfits really have their acts together with fully developed manufacturing processes and quality controls, and given the incredible effort they've had to invest to get to where they are, it's likely that they will not deviate from their high standards!
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
  10. Quentin

    Quentin Well-Known Member

    There's a lot of truth in this, the bulk of recent quality problems likely is linked to some manufacturers being overwhelmed with orders and scrambling to find new sources of parts then shipping out product that hasn't had proper QC.

    The last part of the quote points out a big part of the problem and complaints: many people are settling for ARs and components they should have passed on but they were desperate to find something, anything, at any price. No doubt some of the worst AR builds I've seen have been during this panic buying period. (For example, people who should know better have settled for low quality BCGs because they were in such short supply until recently.) However, these bottom tier builds and complete ARs often sold at inflated prices so no doubt dissatisfied folks are going to be posting on forums their displeasure - after all they paid top dollar but got low quality.
  11. Warp

    Warp Well-Known Member

    What recent quality problems?

    I am not familiar with what you are referring to.

    Can you be more specific?
  12. OilyPablo

    OilyPablo Well-Known Member

    Buy quality, get quality. Don't buy a junker rush-made by profit hounds trying to take advantage of a shortage caused mental midgets trying to collapse the Constitution.

    Buy at least a Daniel Defense. You can tell how well an AR is constructed if you need to take it apart!
  13. Grunt

    Grunt Well-Known Member

    I would suspect that any time you have to speed up your production, quality is going to suffer, especially if you want to keep the prices competitive. With your quality manufacturers, I would say that the odds of getting a lemon are lower than buying from a builder that just bangs them out as fast as they can. I really don't see Larue or Daniel Defense for example letting out too many bad guns from them. They built a reputation on top quality and with their higher prices, I don't think skimping on their quality would go well for them. On the other hand, you have the angry beavers at Century or Hesse that have problems even in good times so I would be highly suspect of anything they are cranking out at this point in time.
  14. PabloJ

    PabloJ Well-Known Member

    I would not worry as these were always machine-made designed for military use clunkers. I don't see how speeding production could hurt quality of final product. We are not talking bench-made sporting rifles but cheaply designed and made military style weapons.
  15. Warp

    Warp Well-Known Member

    It could.

    The specifics mentioned in this thread are accurate.

    I don't think we have any reason to believe that is what happens with the quality manufacturers, but, yes...it could/does.
  16. MaterDei

    MaterDei Well-Known Member

    Companies with long term guarantees have a lot of financial incentive to get it right the first time. I'd be surprised to see a significant increase of qc issues and as the owner of two new ARs, I hope I'm right!
  17. allfouledup

    allfouledup Active Member

    I'm glad you brought this up gunsrfun1. I stopped buying AR related anything when the scarcity and gouging started, not because I'm smart so much as I was already in pretty good shape when it became obvious. I don't have enough inside knowledge to know which manufacturers will not sacrifice quality and reputation for profit, and who will. For now it's lever guns, 270 win ammo and other stuff not effected by the panic. Anybody interested in a box of Pmags for $50 each?:D
  18. Warp

    Warp Well-Known Member

    You should try to acquire some of that insight before you buy anything.

    If you think no companies ever sacrificed quality and reputation for profits prior to the panic, well, I think you're a bit ignorant as to how the world works.

    There have always been and will always be companies and people who will do that.
  19. allfouledup

    allfouledup Active Member

    Oh YES MAAM! I will always cherish your wise and condescending words! I guess you must have a secret decoder ring that allows you to peer into the minds of the owners brains or the collective mindset of the Boards of Directors of parent corporations. Either that or you are an employee of about 150 AR, accessory, ammo and other related small shops that gives you special insight. Oooo, I'm so glad you introduced me to the concept of researching consumer products and the oh so elusive "buyer beware"! Have a nice day. Signed, a bit ignorant:neener:
  20. Quentin

    Quentin Well-Known Member

    Warp, I know you browse AR specific forums so don't say you're not familiar with various complaints about recent AR purchases, especially from lesser brands. Also there are quite a few over the first few months of this year right here at THR. Yes, there have been issues, plenty of them.

    Recent complaints I've seen involve disappointing BCGs, rails poorly installed, FCGs that act up and various assembly issues. No doubt this is less likely with Colt or BCM and more common with the $650 rifles that were pushed out fast and selling for $1200.
    Last edited: May 12, 2013
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