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Relatively new to AR15s, have questions....

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by 45Badger, Jan 18, 2008.

  1. 45Badger

    45Badger Participating Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    Illinois, about 26 miles west of the cess-pool
    Snagged a couple ARs, a couple dozen mags, and a couple thousand rounds of ammunition in preparation for SHFT, Hillary, AWB, and more shooting opportunities with my 12 year old. Got a couple questions-

    1) Spare parts- what should I fill the parts drawer with? What breaks? What are common (sensible) upgrades/replacement parts? Brands?

    2) Mags- Got a bunch of used 20s (Colt, straight, with metal follower) and 30s (assorted). I know to replace the black followers on the 30s. USGI green? magpul? What? why? really why? What about the 20s? Any easy way to determine mag spring life/durability? How do I know when to pitch them? If I want to replace springs, what are good products, best place to buy?

    One more on mags- Saw ads for PMags. Do aluminum feedlips really get stretched and out of what by being stored loaded? or just hype for mall ninjas?

    Thanks for any and all insight!
  2. dmftoy1

    dmftoy1 Senior Member

    Nov 17, 2003
    Lexington, IL
    I don't carry a spare bolt, but I've always thought that one of the $35 field repair kits from Bushmaster and a spare bolt would be all I'd ever carry. (along with a shell extractor)

    Mags - I only buy the one's with the green follower's but I don't think you can go wrong with Magpul

    Aluminum lips - I think it's a wives tale but I've only got about 4 years on mine. I tend to use the same 3-5 mags over and over figuring that if they wear out I'll grab a "new" one from the box.
  3. LiquidTension

    LiquidTension Senior Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    I really like my PMags. It's mostly aesthetic since I've never had a malfunction with any of my aluminum mags, but the mag cover is nice to have.

    Firing pin, extractor, and extractor spring are the main parts I'd be worried about.

    As far as upgrades, that depends entirely on you. You might want an adjustable stock for your 12yr old. Maybe optics of some sort depending on how good or bad your eyes are. Definitely a sling.
  4. BigG

    BigG Mentor

    Dec 24, 2002
    I'd maybe get the little cotter pin that holds the firing pin in.
  5. DnPRK

    DnPRK Active Member

    Mar 30, 2003
    LA, CA
    The best upgrades are (in order of importance):
    1. Better sight equipment (optics, price varies from cheap to $1000+)
    2. Better trigger (Rock River Arms 2 stage trigger, $120)
    3. Free float tube or rail (price varies from $45 to $350)
  6. Tribal

    Tribal Active Member

    Dec 28, 2007
    Virginia 757
    I think what BigG said is a general rule: if it's smaller than a .22sr, you probably need backups.
  7. takhtakaal

    takhtakaal Active Member

    Nov 16, 2007
    Some people just buy a replacement, populated BCG, others simply the parts therein. Having one ready to go in an emergency that can just be slapped into place is probably best, especially if you have a pair of all of the components inside and on the carrier. +1 on the suggestion to have a shell extractor.

    Better optics are always nice, but it can get really, really expensive chasing the latest and the greatest. I've gotten a replacement front sight blade for my traditional front irons from XS, since most polite social encounters take place after dark. In fact, I'm a bit stodgy, and still have the A3 carry handle on, as well, although that might change this summer.

    Consider a decent sling arrangement, and look at the various options. If you have to carry it one day, over the shoulder is not the best option.

    I like magpul followers -- they're less likely to go out of kilter and stop a magazine from functioning correctly. My color preference is orange -- they show up nicely in low light. Magazine springs are rather durable, and keeping them loaded isn't really an issue -- it's the loading and unloading of magazines repeatedly that kills springs. Supposedly, chromium steel springs are more resistant to longevity issues than stainless steel. I've dealt with CProducts and been fairly happy with their service, moreso with their products.

    I don't think that lips wear from stretching, but they do from loading via fingers or stripper clip. Consider investing in a Lula loader.
  8. taliv

    taliv Moderator

    Oct 23, 2004
    1. spare parts:

    DPMS ultimate repair kit is the most convenient
    BCM bolt upgrade etc is far higher quality

    for a list of stuff, look at the list in the kit

    upgrades: aimpoint (micro T1), magpul stock, quad-rail
    I personally would NOT recommend putting a match trigger in a SHTF rifle.

    2. mags: pmags rock. they're cheap and work great!

    given that you have a bunch of mags already, get in the practice of using them and every time you have a malfunction of ANY type, just put a little scratch on the base plate. After a period of time, if it becomes obvious that some mags are good and others not so much, then pitch the bad ones. duh.
  9. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Senior Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    I carry a complete spare bolt with firing pin, cam pin, and firing pin retaining pin in a Magpul pistol grip. That will cover the vast majority of problems. I check headspace on the spare bolt once a year to make sure it's still ok.

    As for mags, I have a reasonable quantity of C Products 30 round stainless mags. I've used these at local matches and at a rifle class and have never had a mag problem. Price on the stainless mags has been dropped recently too to about $14ea.

    I would spend money on ammo and training rather than doo-dads. Find a shoot-and-move rifle match in your area and go shoot. Find out what works and what doesn't before spending $.

  10. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 26, 2002
    For spare parts you need at least a spare bolt. Not only will this fix any ejector or extractor problems you have; but it is easier and faster to drop in a new bolt (or bolt carrier group if you can swing it) than it is to replace the smaller individual parts. In addition, the bolt is the part that sees most of the stress and they can break at both the base of the bolt lugs or at the cam pin hole.

    For what it is worth, someone once showed an AR15 bolt with three lugs missing and it kept on firing (so long as the broken lugs don't end up somewhere nasty).

    If you want to add a package of spare springs and some extra firing pin retaining pins, that doesn't hurt anything. If you catch the dreaded "Black Rifle Disease" you'll have plenty of spare parts within a few years just from trying out the latest gizmos. I actually built an entire rifle just from parts I had discarded off other rifles. It is the secret reproductive cycle of the AR15.

    I mark all my mags and when I get two or more stoppages with a specific magazine and I can't determine any other cause for them, I put that magazine in a pile to have the springs and follower replaced with Specialized Armament's Heavy Duty mag springs and a Magpul follower. If that doesn't fix the problem, I remove the new springs and follower and crush the mag body before I pitch it (otherwise I end up walking around the house a week later going - who left this mag out? and throwing it back into my kit).
  11. jerkface11

    jerkface11 Mentor

    Oct 27, 2005
    You might as well throw in a complete 20" A2 upper and a stripped lower to round out your spare parts collection. You just never know.
  12. BigG

    BigG Mentor

    Dec 24, 2002
    Heck, why not just buy a spare rifle? :neener: That and a beer case full of mags will be a good start. ;)

    Good luck on your new shooting love, bud!
  13. asknight

    asknight Participating Member

    Dec 29, 2005
    BigG, that's what I was thinking! He said he snagged a "couple" of ARs, so I was thinking to myself "He's already got his spare parts right there!"

    That's a problem I have. All of the spare parts laying around somehow turn into complete rifles over a short amount of time. So, I just quit buying spares because the safe door was getting too hard to close.

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