AK47 or AR15

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by DrewAK47, Jun 25, 2017.

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  1. Prijador

    Prijador Member

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    Personally, when I look at the bolt and carrier design of the AR I basically think to myself "***". Needlessly complex and flawed, compared to darn near every other battle rifle out there.

    The ergonomics are great, choice of cartridge, etc., were all visionary. (Gotta wonder about .280, etc., back then, but water under the bridge).

    Economies of scale have taken prices down to where it just doesn't matter - replacement parts are dirt cheap, but damn... that part of the design could have been both stronger and simpler.

    I spent a whole ton of hours in the service cleaning all those nooks and crannies (pointlessly, of course).
     
  2. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    Absolutely not. Hydrostatic shock is a function of energy alone, and energy is mostly derived from velocity. It's 1/2MV^2, so you can imagine that the weight difference between common rifle calibers doesn't make much difference in the grand scheme of things, and is a detriment if the increase in mass takes away any substantial velocity.

    In all fairness, the AR bolt was designed for a 20'' barrel with a 12'' gas system, and in that configuration they'll run until their legs fall off. And with minor modification, namely simply relieving the stress, the milspec AR bolt can be made to last virtually forever in a 16'' barrel.

    Even then, 20k rounds on an M4 bolt isn't bad. That's the life of a barrel, and considering they're only 60 bucks each the price of replacing one is negligible compared to the cost of breaking one. And as others pointed out, it's a user serviceable item.

    Everything else on an AR will last virtually forever. The recoil spring needs to be replaced every now and again, but we're talking a $3 item, and what gun doesn't need springs replaced?

    What!!!???:what:

    I think to myself, "Sweet mercy, that Stoner guy was a genius!" every time I take my ARs down. Sometimes I clean them when they're not even very dirty just to marvel at the beauty of their simplicity.:rofl:

    I guess that's the difference between a military and civilian shooter. You were taught to hate the platform by people providing you with faulty information, unreasonable expectations, and bad tools for the job. With good cleaning systems like Mil-Comm and a simple bolt scraping tool you can make very fast work of an AR.

    But don't think the AR is unique. You would have learned to hate anything issued to you, from AK to HK416. But instead of scraping hard carbon from the bolt tail you would have been scraping it from the gas piston. 6 of one, half dozen of another. The only rifle that would be truly easier to clean would be something like a CETME type with no gas system.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  3. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    The AR15/M16/M4 is easy to clean.

    What is hard, is to get it inspection clean that the 1st Sgt wants. Which is actually bad in the long run. Scraping off coatings and then leaving it dry is horrible for the weapon.
     
  4. Prijador

    Prijador Member

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    Well then we can agree to disagree, grandpa jack. As I said, from a practical standpoint it doesn't matter - AR or AK, it doesn't really need to be clean to work, it just needs to be lubricated, and economies of scale have driven down the price of ARs and their parts to ridiculously cheap levels.

    Other weapons, such as an AK, are internally much simpler and I marvel at that. The AR's bolt has a giant hole across it for the cam pin. Seven lugs (plus the extractor), 3 little gas rings, why? (yes I know why, but other rifle designs don't have those). Buffer tube that prevents it from having a true folding stock. Charging handle position that, for me at least, is awkward (it's bad on an HK, too, so the AR isn't alone here). Forward assist and a bunch of serrations on the bolt, I find that a laughable solution to the problem - in the AK, for example - you can just push forward on the charging handle if you want to be sure the bolt is in battery - no extra parts, or machining on the carrier necessary.
    (The AR I have dispenses with the forward assist, and I haven't missed it yet.)

    The ergonomics, light weight due to choice of materials, choice of cartridge, there is plenty to admire about the AR. If you find it to be a marvel, then great. It's just not for me.
     
  5. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    It could probably do without the forward assist, but it's just kind of there and not really hurting anything. I suppose if you were trying to build an ultralight AR it would be worth getting rid of.

    To me, the charging handle location is a stroke of genius. It doesn't interfere with optics or things mounted on the rail, and it doesn't require opening up the receiver to dust. You don't use it on an AR anyways due to the bolt catch. That's kind of the difference between the AR and AK in that regard is that with the AK you need the charging handle constantly, and let me tell you it is a pain having to deal with it by reaching under the weapon.

    All rotating bolt designs have a cam pin track in the carrier. There's no way around it. The gas rings are there because the piston has been completely removed, and I'm not sure what's wrong with the lugs. Not to be rude, but it seems like you're making up excuses in your head not to like it.:uhoh:
     
  6. MachIVshooter
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    MachIVshooter Contributing Member

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    That's because you don't really understand the Stoner gas system. It's actually a beautifully simple design that saves a lot of weight compared to conventional op rods, and also results in the carrier having basically zero lateral force against the receiver bore. It's pure genius.
     
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  7. Prijador

    Prijador Member

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    MachIVshooter, I understand it perfectly and I just don't care for the trade-offs - and there certainly ARE trade-offs in the design. There are features that could be differently designed, even with keeping the basic gas tube/key/carrier set-up. Please do not insult my intelligence again.
     
  8. MachIVshooter
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    MachIVshooter Contributing Member

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    If you call something which is elegantly simple and robust, and which has proven an excellent system for more than a half century "needlessly complex and flawed", it is not unreasonable to deduce that you lack a good understanding of it.

    I'm all ears, though, would love to hear someone articulately explain (without any myths or hyperbole) what the "trade-offs" are, how the design could be improved beyond what multiple mechanical engineers have done without actually making it needlessly complex.
     
  9. Prijador

    Prijador Member

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    Perhaps that is part of the difference. I'm left-handed, so I don't reach under the weapon to get to an AK's charging handle.
    (The AK was designed by lefties, for the left-handed ;) The Valmets are even better - the mag release on that is larger (and to the right) which makes hitting it very easy for me (this is an inexpensive mod to make to a regular AK). Being left-handed also makes the bolt-catch on an AR pretty easy, but the problem is the mag release. There are left handed options for an AR mag release, but they certainly aren't ideal.

    All rotating bolt designs have a cam pin track in the carrier - yes, as far as I know that is true. But the cam pin can be a simple protrusion from the bolt, not a separate piece necessitating a huge hole across the bolt with thin walls. Smaller locking lugs are mechanically weaker (and have sheared off in some cases). All of this was in the service of a light-weight BCG, for an M-16 that isn't appreciably lighter than an AKM when comparing unloaded weights. It is a fair point ot say the AR BCG design does result in less reciprocating mass and less lateral force against the receiver (which, for aluminum, is critical, but this is not nearly as much an issue with quality steel).

    It seems a little weird to me that people point out how dirty the piston can get in an AK. It conveniently collects much of the carbon in one place, away from the bolt and any other precision moving parts, and if I really had to, I can just stick my finger in gas tube to clean it. (Once again, I say that it doesn't matter, since both the AR and AK will run just fine if run wet and dirty...)

    The roller-lock system in HK's has its tradeoffs, too, and certainly has it's fans, but notably hasn't been widely adopted in other designs.
     
  10. Prijador

    Prijador Member

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    If we accept the basic gas tube/key/carrier as a design constraint:
    The three little gas rings can be replaced with just one larger ring. The cam pin could be eliminated as a separate piece and merely be a protrusion on the bolt itself (eliminating the thin walls of the bolt). The 7 small locking lugs with space for the extractor means the lugs on either side of the extractor are under extra stress (and in fact are the ones that I've seen break). Fewer lugs would mean they could be stronger, evenly distributed (to compensate for the space taken by the extractor and distribute the force more evenly) at the cost of a slower cycle speed (cyclic speed is not a source of complaints that i have heard, and the AR doesn't really make use of anyway, except in the M231 version).
    As mentioned previously, the forward assist, and the extra machine cuts on the carrier, are unnecessary. If someone really wanted to, you could just have a charging handle at the very front of the bolt, to tap to ensure it is in battery (which are available commercially), to replace the five parts of the forward assist with just one part (ultimately unnecessary).

    If we don't limit ourselves to the gas tube/key/carrier design, then we end up with a piston gun, which doesn't have a gas key attached to the top with two screws, doesn't have to worry about a bolt-override malfunction, doesn't have any gas rings, has a different spring arrangement which doesn't need the buffer retaining pin (and it's spring) which I have seen break, and allows for an actual folding stock.

    FOR ME, it comes down to this:
    Why have the possibility of a brass over bolt (bolt override)?
    Why have gas rings on a bolt (that need replacing eventually)?
    Why have a bolt where the lugs can (and sometimes do) shear off, or a bolt that breaks at the hole for the cam pin?
    Why can't I have a folding stock?
    For what, cyclic speed I don't use? Light weight that doesn't translate into an appreciably lighter weapon (than a piston design)?
    The only advantage I can see - inherent to the gas tube/key/carrier design - is less reciprocating mass for quicker follow up shots.

    (Everything is irrespective of cartridge, as there are AR's, AK's, HK's, etc., available in different calibers like 5.56, 7.62x39, 7.62x51 etc. - so that is a separate discussion).

    The ergonomics of the AK are terrible, except that I'm left-handed, so they actually work for me quite well, in fact. (It would be nice to have a bolt catch, admittedly, but I've seen people fiddling with their BAD levers, too.)
    I'm not saying the AR is a bad rifle. It's just not for me.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  11. RPZ

    RPZ Member

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    The dynamic hydraulic effect when a bullet strikes fluid can be distilled down in repeatable form with a couple of gallon water containers struck with two bullets of equal impact kinectic energy, one fast and light, one slow and heavy. Both are going to have a proportional effect of that energy.

    Neither the human body nor a similar sized animal have anywhere near such a concentration of fluid present in the thorasic cavity or abdomen.

    The theory that hydrstatic shock has a significant killing or incapacitating effect over the simple destruction of tissue of a slower larger bullet of equal impact energy is unprovable. It has not been consistently replicated in live walking creatures.

    If it were not so, Roy Weatherby would have been crowned king a long time ago, and all arguments over effective game, and dangerous game hunting would have been decided back then.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  12. MachIVshooter
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    MachIVshooter Contributing Member

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    That would not seal well, and would be far stiffer, resulting in cylinder bore wear. Why do you think virtually all IC engines have more than one compression ring? The only ones which don't have low life expectancy, such as nitro RC engines (no rings, but tapered cylinders) or small displacement low performance 2 strokes found in chainsaws, weed eaters and the like.

    I don't see why that's a point of contention anyway. It's not like the gas rings are removed for routine cleaning, nor do they need to be replaced very often. I still have the original rings in my Armalite M15A2C with over 17K round through it.

    Oh, I'd love to see how you propose that working. Once again, you support my assertion that you lack a solid understanding of the system.

    More smaller lugs are not inherently weaker than fewer larger ones. If the sum of the engagement area and bases of the lugs are equal, the math comes out the same, whether there are 2 or 20.

    The AR/M16 can also keep running with one or two lugs sheared off. When it happens (which isn't nearly as frequent as the interwebz would have you believe), people often don't notice it until they're cleaning the weapon.

    On that point, lugs breaking has more to do with metallurgy/heat treat and QC than the design. Properly heat treated C158 or 9310 steel is incredibly strong, but an improper temper for the application on any hardenable alloy will negatively affect the mechanical properties. In fact, the nitriding of AR bolts is one cause of this phenomenon, as the salt bath exceeds the correct tempering heat for either C158 or 9310, giving them a softer temper. Ergo, it's actually a testament to the design that we see very few problems result from bolts that are not correctly tempered.

    The FA is not part of the BCG, and it's utility or lack thereof is a separate discussion.

    As for reciprocating charging handles, some of us just plain don't like them. That's not a design flaw either way, but a matter of personal preference. As well, if you're going to bash non-reciprocating charging handles, you cannot limit your disdain to the AR. The FAL and all derivatives of the CETME/G3 are also non-reciprocating, as are other designs.

    And which adds weight and causes carrier tilt, which results in receiver and extension wear if not compensated for with other design changes.

    It is very easy to get under 5 lbs with a title I AR, and possible to come in at less than 3. Good luck hitting those numbers with an AK anything, even SBR'd.

    An M4 without any crap piled on it is also a pound lighter than a bare AKM carbine..
     
  13. Prijador

    Prijador Member

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    Sure it works, but why does every single little piece *have* to be designed the way it is? That is my question, and yes it is pretty much academic.

    "The AR/M16 can also keep running with one or two lugs sheared off."

    Sure. Why not just omit the lugs most likely to break (on either side of the extractor) from the design?
    Because then the next lugs in line to either side of the extractor would experience more force, and eventually break.
    Would you continue to run a bolt missing a lug or two, or would you replace it?
    Please answer the question directly: why *can't* the 7 locking lugs, with uneven distribution of force on two of them on either side of the extractor, be differently configured? How would that spoil the design? So what if it only matters one time in a million, what would have been so wrong if it had be designed with fewer, larger lugs, evenly spaced - like only 6? Or 5? Why can't it?

    Why does the cam pin have to be a separate part? It doesn't have to mount from the "top" in any case, it could have been mounted from the side, for example (although you'd need a differently shaped, slight bump in the upper - I'm not advocating this, I'm saying it doesn't matter in this design). It doesn't seal the piston of the bolt (that's what the gas ring does, and it's past that). It just rotates the bolt to get it unlocked (and keeps it properly aligned while loading a round into the chamber). Why do you need a separate cam pin, which leads to a large hole across the bolt, which results in thin walls which can break? Other rifles work just fine with a simple protrusion from the bolt fitting into the cam pin track on the carrier - it works just fine, and no need for a large hole through the bolt (and the firing pin is held in place by the bolt and a retaining pin, as in the AR). Against, how would such a change spoil the design?

    Re: reciprocating, or not, charging handles. I dislike the charging handle being at the rear, instead of right there by the magazine. If I am fiddling with a reload or a misfire, I would like everything to be right there in the same place (mag release and charging handle) the only muscle memory I need is my hand going right there on the weapon. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. I don't have much of an opinion about reciprocating vs. non, but I can see how some people don't like a charging handle flying towards them. As a left-handed shooter, the AK charging handle is coming directly at my face, and I don't even notice it. I also mentioned I don't like the charging handle all the way forward, either (like on the HK G3).
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
  14. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    Again, you just relieve the stresses and it's all good from there. Essentially it's been deemed unnecessary by the powers that be because the current design works. But it's really a very simple process. It doesn't even require modifying the design, just adding a few more steps when machining the lugs.

    And again, the reason you want a charging handle instead of a simple bolt handle is to keep the system sealed. Otherwise you're looking at little plastic gaskets like you see on the Sig 550, which are bound to break off and end up running around in your trigger group eventually, and still don't seal the system as well. An AR will drastically outperform an AK in adverse conditions simply because it's closed off, whereas the AK is wide open.

    Most people consider the buffer system a feature. Folding stocks just aren't really a necessity for most people. If it's that important to you, though, there are ways to add a folding stock. It's just never been deemed to be a problem in the first place. Personally I would rather have an adjustable stock over a folding stock any day of the weak. If it folds too then all the better, but it's only advantageous if you're jumping out of a plane or something.
     
  15. bnolsen

    bnolsen Member

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    Cool this degraded into an all out war ak vs ar war again. The AR18 and ALL its descendants are where many recent innovations have been. It's just those don't have all the interchangeable parts and their prices have all been stable during the recent market dumping of ar15 rifles.

    The henderson defense guy did state that they can service 4-5 AKs for each M4 they operate and that service seems to also apply to the g36 and rifles. The M4 system is certainly NOT God's gift to firearms.
     
  16. Prijador

    Prijador Member

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    GrampaJack,
    If you are ever in combat, and someone is trying to shovel dirt or mud into your rifle, then shoot them.
    Otherwise, if carrying an AK, keep the safety on unless you are shooting at something and you should be just fine (which is good high road advice anyway).

    (Heck, what happens when the AR has its bolt locked back, which should happen about once per magazine change? What happens if someone shovels dirt in it then?)
    Count me skeptical that the AR is more reliable than the AK in adverse conditions. Or that a well-built standard AR is more reliable than a well-built piston weapon without a reciprocating charging handle.

    Edit: I think discussing reliability would be a terrible waste of time (even more so than this thread already is ;)
     
  17. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    Debris being introduced into the weapon is a very real factor. If a modern weapon isn't sealed as well as possible then it really doesn't deserve a second look. It's just a very basic and very easy goal to achieve.

    Believe it or not, the M1 Garand wasn't as reliable as people make it out to be. There were lots of reports in WWII in both theatres, but especially in the Pacific, that it was sensitive to debris entering into it through the numerous pathways down into the works.

    Now don't think I'm trying to say that DI is more reliable than piston operated. In my estimation there's really no tangible difference between the two in that regard, or rather that both have the potential to be equally as reliable. It's just that older designs like the AK, M14, etc. have large openings where dirt and debris can enter the works. I don't see any reason why a modern piston gun like a SCAR couldn't be just as reliable as an M16.
     
  18. MachIVshooter
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    MachIVshooter Contributing Member

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    ArmaLite addressed that years ago; the lug opposite the extractor is short, doesn't actually engage the barrel extension. However, and once again, the internet vastly overstates the broken lug "problem". We build, rebuild, upgrade and custom alter ARs as a major part of our business, and we just don't see broken bolt lugs. Has it happened to some folks? Sure. Common problem? Nope. Considering the millions of ARs out there, some of which see many thousands of rounds annually, if broken bolt lugs were an epidemic, we'd hear a lot more about it.

    You cannot make the cam pin an integral part of the bolt or carrier without completely redesigning both parts, as well as the receiver. The pin doesn't just cam the bolt; it retains it. And once more, broken bolt tails just aren't very common.

    And there we are with personal preference. I have no problem with the AR's CH location and operation, nor do millions of others. If you don't like it, don't buy one. Regardless, it's not a flaw, just a feature. I don't like the location of the power button on an Iphone. Doesn't mean Apple screwed up, just means I prefer Android phones with side mounted buttons.
     
  19. Ironicaintit

    Ironicaintit Member

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    Hey now, an AR can be cleaned in a pinch with diesel and a knotted shoe string as well. If ya wanna get reeal fancy, you can use 550 cord instead.

    I still love my AK, but the AR is steadily gaining my preference.

    And at today's prices, you'd be a fool not to have at least one AR
     
  20. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    I know I'm wasting my time, but the reason the bolt has rings is because the bolt is a piston. The three rings can be replaced by a one piece spiral ring. The spiral ring was designed to replace the 3 ring design, but the military didn't want it.

    The bolt could be designed with fewer lugs. The trade off is that the lugs would have to be larger and require an increase in bolt rotation for locking and unlocking.

    The bolt was redesigned for longevity. That design is used by Knight's Armament. It was offered to the military, but they rejected it. I believe their reasoning was that the increase in bolt life offered no real advantage. Currently, when the military replaces a worn out barrel, they also replace the bolt. As bolts generally last the life of the barrel, the military sees no need to spend more for bolt life they will not use.

    A rifle with a folding stock has limited utility. The only time a folding stock is handy is when the rifle is stored in a tight space. A rifle fired with the stock folded is difficult to control and impossible to aim. The AR trades the limited utility of the folding stock for the far more useful inline recoil system giving the user greater control of the rifle during recoil and faster aimed follow up shots.

    I agree that the charging handle as designed is sometimes awkward to use. One of the most awkward manipulations of an AR is locking the action back without a magazine. I would much prefer a side charger with a folding handle like the L1A1. But I think lefties would find that design even more awkward to use.

    From what I've seen, pound for pound, the AR handles heat better than the AK
     
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  21. JHansenAK47

    JHansenAK47 Member

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    The M1 Garand is still pretty reliable. Having a large cartridge requires a stiffer spring and the action hammers through most debris. The parts also hang free to give somewhere for the debris to get out of the way. The AK also hangs free, is overgassed, and has a lot of mass in the bolt carrier group. The AR upper is more prone to binding issues and has less mass in the bolt to hammer through debris on the return stroke. Long story short AK > AR10 > AR15 for reliability.

    The thing is most of the AR15s issues can be mitigated and the AR15s strengths let you outshoot the AK, assuming one has more than Dunning-Kruger skill.

    I like AKs, but 3 gun is dominated by ARs for a reason.
     
  22. Ignition Override

    Ignition Override Member

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    Among many other aspects, it's also an attempted comparison between a rifle designed with aperture sights to a rifle which has old leaf iron sights, unless modified.

    Has 922r been mentioned yet? Does everybody here know what 922r is?
    ARs don't require several foreign-made parts to be substituted by US-made parts (parts compliance), in order to be imported and distributed inside the US. This was created by politicians and the ATF.

    ARs don't have this handicap. Neither do the brands of AKs (Century and I.O.) which are now 100% US-made (but use cheap, commercial-grade steel). The majority of AKs are still a bit handicapped in this regard, and on a totally different note, many Hungarian AKs require pricey repairs to tiny spot welds on the required muzzle brakes, because of ATF regulations on min. barrel lengths versus SBR (< 16").
     
  23. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    It's interesting to note that the life of a bolt is approximately equal to the life of the barrel, at least for the shorter ones. It certainly works out conveniently even if it wasn't exactly planned that way. Still though, if LMT/Knight's enhanced bolt would be adopted as standard milspec, then there's not much reason why it would have to cost much more than it already does (maybe 65-70 instead of 60). I have to think that eventually it will be standard, especially with the rising popularity of short barreled ARs.

    I agree that the AR handles heat as well as anything else. I hesitate to say better because it's really all a matter of barrel weight and composition, but I think the AR has as much chance as anything else when it comes to handling high round count sessions. I think I've seen every meltdown test ever done on the M4, and every single time the barrel itself failed, which is all you can ask of any gun really. The gas tube, gas rings, and springs were all working just fine when the barrel failed. It's a myth in my opinion that DI gets the BCG hot enough to have any impact on reliability. For one thing the gas has cooled significantly by the time it reaches the pocket in the carrier. Yes, the bolt will get hot if you do mag dumps, but I've also seen people burn themselves on AK bolts as well.
     
  24. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    I can tell you from experience that hot carriers are a myth. More than once, I've gotten ARs hot enough to scorch, but the carrier was barely warm enough to note. This weekend, I got a suppressed AR hot enough to burn a wet rag I was using to cool the suppressor and gas block, but the carrier was barely warm. There aren't many BTUs left in the gas by the time it reaches the carrier.

    Barrel profile is the primary factor in handling heat. But the AK uses steel throughout, making the rest of the rifle heavier. All that extra weight of the AK (except the receiver where the barrel is pressed in) does nothing to cool the rifle. The AR uses aluminum, keeping the weight of the rest of the rifle to a minimum. It also has the advantage of using aluminum for the upper receiver which sheds heat faster than steel. Pound for pound, the AR handles heat better than the AK.

    When over heated, some ARs fail at the barrel. In particular, the M4 profile barrel will often fail at the M203 notch. But ARs with heavier profile barrels, like the M4A1 SOCOM barrel, will fail at the gas tube right behind the gas block
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
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  25. MachIVshooter
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    MachIVshooter Contributing Member

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    That really has no basis in reality. More like AR15=AK47, .308 AR a runner up. We really can't classify the .308 AR the same way we can the AR-15, as there is virtually no standardization across the multiple makes. Using AR-15 FCG parts is about the only thing you can bank on across all .308 AR platforms.

    The Dunning-Kruger effect is not a skill level.
     
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