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AR/M4 Durability

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Wargarden, Mar 20, 2013.

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  1. Wargarden

    Wargarden New Member

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    Gentlemen, ladies (gotta be a few, lol),

    I'm on my way to complete rifle. I'm looking for opinions on durability. Mostly bolt components and barrel. Manufacturer and specifics of chrome vs whatever welcome. I'm leanring but I still got a lot. Appreciate the resource that is here.

    Its not something I'm going to shoot the hell out of ( I have a Chiappa .22 for that), but it will get worked. But I really want something that will last a few generations. Something I can hand down to my kids when I'm to feeble to lift it and to blind to sight it. lol

    Thanks for you help!
     
  2. HoosierQ

    HoosierQ Senior Member

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    Most of the good AR brands (are there are so many) will last the ordinary sport shooter several lifetimes. The finer points of durability and reliability really come into play in combat service where they'll be shot a lot and then shot some more...day in day out...and have to work with rudimentary maintenance. Few sportshooters of any sort will ever put the thing to that test.

    Considering all the AR brands are based off of the combat ready models to one extent or another, you're already way ahead. For example I'm pretty sure I won't (and don't want to) put 10,000 rounds through my Savage .243 bolt action. Just about any AR made should take 10,000 rounds without much wear and tear if kept well lubed etc.

    That's why people like them. They are designed to shoot shoot shoot.
     
  3. 1KPerDay

    1KPerDay Senior Member

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    Hard to go wrong with a Colt, IMO.
     
  4. holdencm9

    holdencm9 Senior Member

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    Just make sure to get HP/MPI bolt, first and foremost. Full-auto (heavier) bolt carrier is good too, if you are doing a carbine. They make some with fancy coatings to make them slicker but I find the standard BCG is plenty smooth. For the barrel just make sure it is the 4150 CMV barrel and you should be good to go, although many people really like the 4140 melonite barrels that S&W and a few other manufacturers use. I'd take the former over the latter, but it's probably a horse apiece; I doubt you'll shoot out either one in your lifetime or your kid's.
     
  5. Quentin

    Quentin Senior Member

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    If you're going to hand it down a few generations I'd get a Colt. A little more money initially but they're built to last. Quite a few M16s from the early 1960s still are around, some still in use by law enforcement. 1963-2013, that's approaching three generations right there!
     
  6. holdencm9

    holdencm9 Senior Member

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    I got the impression the OP is building a rifle (nearing completion) and just asking about the barrel and bolt parts specifically, that's how my response was tailored.

    OP, are you building or buying?
     
  7. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    i mostly think of the AR15 as a collection of wear parts with a maintenance schedule, and a service life.

    the cheap way to go is probably to buy a couple extra barrels and bolts and collection of other replacement parts such as springs so you can just replace them as necessary, if you really plan to fire the gun a lot.

    if you don't plan to fire the gun much, it will last forever. plastic and aluminum don't degrade much that i'm aware of :)

    if you want a somewhat more expensive option, look at the KAC SR15. iirc, one of the design goals was that it could go 25k rounds without requiring replacement parts. that's pretty dang durable for an AR.


    i actually recommend that you NOT buy a bunch of barrels and replacement parts. the reason is that if you are truly going to shoot it, you are about to learn a whole lot. as you become more proficient, you will start to understand what you like and don't like. it is almost a certainty that your preferences will change and you will want a different setup, at which time, a collection of parts for the old setup will have considerably less utility.

    (i'm talking stuff like length and profile of barrel, and twist rate, and type of handguard and grip and CH, and trigger and stock, etc etc etc
     
  8. ObsceneJesster

    ObsceneJesster Member

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    I am currently in the process of doing two builds right now. The fallowing manufacturers are the only ones I will consider using parts from.

    Spikes
    BCM
    Daniel Defense
    Seekins
    Noveski


    I'm sure there are some other quality ones out there but those are the ones I know will last me a lifetime.
     
  9. jungle

    jungle Member

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    The standard GI M4/M16 can take a huge amount of abuse and still deliver the goods. They live a very hard life in the field and in training.
    Barrel life for a chrome lined bore can easily be 30k if full auto and long strings of rapid fire are avoided. This means acceptable combat accuracy, not match grade accuracy.
     
  10. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Senior Member

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    Probably the weakest part on a standard AR is the bolt. You're going to break one if you shoot the rifle enough. They go at the locking lugs nearest the extractor or at the cam pin hole. The design is just over stressed for the material it's made from.

    I'd be surprised if a bolt failed before 10k rounds or lasted longer than 30,000.

    BSW
     
  11. Girodin

    Girodin Senior Member

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    Many AR parts have a limited service life and will eventually need to be replaced. An AR is very modular and replacing those parts is pretty easy.

    As for which one will last the longest. Some will argue a quality brand but non-HP tested bolt will last longer than one that has been been subjected to a HP test due to the stress that test imposes on the bolt. The service life is close enough and the recommended replacement schedule is what it is so I wouldn't worry one way or another. I'd just get a high quality, say BCM, bolt carrier group. I also tend to keep a spare bolt on hand. Finding bolts and BCG is tough right now.

    As to the barrel. There are debates about hard chrome vs melonited barrels. The only real good data I've seen on that is decades old military testing data. Some suggest that meloniting doesn't resist throat erosion as well as chrome and that throat erosion is where the barrel is likely to be shot out first. I don't really know and there simply is not good independent testing data out there. If it were me I'd but a quality barrel that is what I otherwise wanted and if you shoot enough rounds to shoot it out then buy a new one. The cost of barrel at that point is negligible compared to ammo costs.

    If you don't shoot it much it will easily outlast you. If you shoot a lot replacing springs and then major parts is just part of the game and is easy enough to do.
     
  12. InkEd

    InkEd Senior Member

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    There are a lot of good ARs out there. Colt is still the gold standard though.
     
  13. Hummer70

    Hummer70 Member

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    Barrel life depends on several things. What it is fed, how hard it is run, and what kind of TLC you give it.

    For match ARs the rule of thumb is 2000 rounds change barrels. Match shooters run 69, 75, 77 and 80 gr bullets and they are tough on barrels. The Army MTU changes barrels every 700 rounds.

    The propellant you use to load your ammo can make or break you. I would stay off ball propellants and run stuff like 4895, N135 etc.

    The Marine Corps requirement for the heavy barrel M16 back in early 80s was 12,000 rounds. With LC ammo loaded with WC844 (a ball propellant) the barrels were at the reject point at 4800 rounds and were completely gone at 6000.

    The test was reconducted with genuine SS109 made by FN and they were right at rejection at 12,000 rounds. The firing schedule for military testing consists of two 30 round mags semi auto and two 30 round mags in 3 shot bursts and barrels are cooled down with forced air. The rifles were cleaned at 600 rounds or at the end of the day's firing whichever occurred first.

    Military rifles are purchased and only required to shoot in 4.5" at 100 yards which is actually very poor. They are rejected at 7.2" at 100 yards. 10 shots are required from a fouled barrel prior to testing.

    You must also keep in mind that just because the parts are black and look like M16 parts does not mean they meet the orginal Colt drawings for materials, heat treat, finish or tolerance.

    I know the former procurement contract officer for M16 parts from Rock Island and he tells me 95%of the parts floating around won't meet the Colt drawing package.

    Last I heard 45% of M16 lower receivers gage out at first depot rebuild.

    Though I have several ARs I would not choose one as a long term weapon unless it had a barrel from http://www.superiorbarrels.com as their barrels will hold up a remarkably long time. I have four of them. As others have pointed out other things tend to happen besides barrels going South.

    As a survival rifle I would not want one as they require too much TLC to keep them going.

    The big draw back of the AR is their highest wound ballistic capability drops off quickly after 95 yards.
     
  14. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    if you're going to make statements like that, you should probably be very specific about barrel length and ammo
     
  15. Warp

    Warp Senior Member

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    For the utmost of longevity and durability with solid use, the recommendation for a KAC SR15 I saw above is good. Damn fine rifle.

    Buy a known-good manufacturer. Do a bunch of research until you know what barrel steel you want, what lining you want, what twist rate, what the bolt and carrier are to be made of, etc. (hint, you want the bolt to be shot peened Carpenter 158 that is MPI, for sure)

    Then buy backup and replacement parts. To last generations I, personally, would want..let's see here...I'm winging this...:

    2 complete rifles
    2 complete bolt carrier groups (BCG)
    2 complete bolts
    Several sets of gas rings
    1 lower parts kit to include a quality fire control group
    2 sets of all springs
    2 sets of all pins
    6 buffer springs
    Dozens of magazines
    Tens of thousands of rounds of ammo


    Or something along those lines.

    If you really think it could be shot a LOT and want it to last decades, you are going to wear out a lot of stuff. Including barrels.


    Or if you just want to have a rifle with a reasonable amount of spare parts to make it last awhile...1 complete rifle, 1 complete bolt, a couple sets of gas rings, a couple buffer springs, a fire control group, a set of all pins, a set of all springs, and extra magazines.
     
  16. JustinJ

    JustinJ Senior Member

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    In theory a 20" barrel should cause less wear and tear on the bolt than a shorter one. Also, make sure the barrel is chrome lined and I suppose a slower twist will probably increase barrel life some. Also, thicker barrels should also last longer than skinny or gov't profile since they heat up slower and the extra metal provides a heat sink type effect. NP3 coated BCG probably isn't a bad idea to extend the life of internals and maybe run it a little on the wet side. Aside from that barrel and bolt life will probably be greatest affected by higher rates of fire so don't do mag dumps. Oh, and avoid E. European ammo like the plague as the bullets are copper washed over steel.
     
  17. Wargarden

    Wargarden New Member

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    Yes. building. I have a psa multical lower. I put in a match grade trigger fro RRA. Wasn't necessary, but I do like the weight.
    I'm leaning towards a BCM or LMT upper with a Colt barrel. just have to find the rightt deal.
     
  18. JustinJ

    JustinJ Senior Member

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    A Colt barrel? Why? Nothing wrong with Colt barrels but why not go for BCM or PSA hammer forged chrome lined? Also, if you are gona do a 16" and durability is your concern you should go with a midlength gas system. I don't believe Colt offers such.
     
  19. CountryUgly

    CountryUgly Member

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    One Word.... COLT! ..... Colt's AR's have more than proven their durability of the last half century.
     
  20. Auto426

    Auto426 Member

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    This. The basic receivers will last quite some time, but things like barrels and bolts will eventually wear out and need replacement. Buy good quality name brand parts like Colt, BCM, Noveske, etc. and you won't have to replace them as often, but shoot enough and they will eventually wear out.

    Buying a barreled upper receiver from BCM will net you an equivalent quality barrel and likely save you a few bucks in the process. That's if they ever come back in stock.
     
  21. Warp

    Warp Senior Member

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    They have been in stock for hours at a time multiple times a week for the past 2-3 weeks.
     
  22. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Senior Member

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    Hahahahaha!!!
     
  23. C-grunt

    C-grunt Senior Member

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    ^^^^ What's so funny about that?
     
  24. TechBrute

    TechBrute Senior Member

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  25. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Senior Member

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    Only the whole statement.

    The weapon of today that wears Colts badge is several decades of refinement, not an unchanged rifle that went without numerous modification to bring it into the world theater as a small arms contender.

    It was fifty years in the making, not a home run out of the gate. That said, there are few rifles that are recognized as even near perfect for their design right from the get go. The AR/M16 wasn't that gun.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
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