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Building a Colt AR15 equal?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Redfisher60, Sep 27, 2017.

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  1. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    Nobody ever said Colts do anything special. That's not the point. It's a matter of consistency from one rifle to the next, and longevity of parts.

    It's all the same question. What the OP is wanting is to build a Colt quality AR for less than the price of an LE6920, which isn't possible. My point is if you want Colt quality, then buy a Colt. You can't beat the price no matter how you hash it.
     
  2. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    How are you measuring quality? My three ARs, which all have thousands through them, are mostly made of PSA and Anderson parts. And, they have been consistent in quality one to the next.

    What standard are you using?

    There is plenty written in this thread, by you, Everready73 and MtMilitiaman talking about how Colt is better than other brands, but now no one is saying they don't do anything special, interesting.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  3. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    This is the problem with these arguments.

    Let's say ten in a hundred of brand X is somehow majorly deficient. Maybe the chrome lining isn't right, the barrel steel was from a bad batch, there's a flaw in one of the bolt lugs, the headspace is excessive, etc. There are a million possibilities.

    So you have a 90% chance of getting a good one. Now the 10% of people who get a bad one, they likely have no way of knowing they have a bad one, and will probably never find out, as most of these issues will only manifest themselves after many rounds. It's fairly safe to say that anything that leaves the factory of a halfway decent manufacturer will shoot, and will probably continue to shoot for some time without issues.

    If you take a random internet poll, brand X is going to look fantastic. 99.9% of people are going to report zero issues.

    But now let's say we take 1,000 rifles from brand X and put 10,000 rounds through each one. This is going to paint a very different picture.
     
  4. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    From your most recent posts...

    1. Colt rifles do nothing special that can't be done in other mass produced rifles.

    2. There isn't a standard that can be applied to an individual rifle to see if it measures up to another individual Colt rifle.

    3. It's better to speculate than talk about actual guns with actual track records.

    I think the problem is pretty clear with the logic being put forth here.
     
  5. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Again, not true. Just go over to PSA and start pricing out assembling from parts or kits versus buying the same rifle assembled.

    You may not be able to build a Colt with all Colt parts for less than you can buy it assembled, but that wasn't the OPs question or my contention.
     
  6. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    Well, considering the barrel alone is almost 300, I'm skeptical. Another thing you're not taking into account is shipping. I've been playing this game for a long time, and I can count on one hand the times I've been able to source all parts from a single place. PSA is notorious for having nothing in stock. The average build will rack up about 50 bucks in shipping, tax, transfer fees, gas, etc. when sourcing parts.

    And this is assuming you have all the tools already. Throw even the most basic tools into the mix and you're way over just on that account.

    The logic is that your sample size isn't anywhere close to big enough to tell anyone anything. Anecdotal accounts of "my PSA is rock solid" don't mean anything.

    Let's take what we do know. We know the military performs large scale quality checks on weapons delivered to them, and we know what the parameters are. And we know companies like Colt, FN, and LMT must be doing pretty well because the government keeps coming back to them. Those companies are also pretty transparent about their civilian sales, in terms of what parts and QC checks are the same across the board.

    We also know there are several other large scale users, such as firearms training schools like Blackwater (or whatever the hell they call themselves now), high traffic rental ranges, and major police departments. These sources are anecdotal as opposed to scientific, but they deal in enough volume for their opinions to be worth something.

    And from these sources we hear constant complaints about value branded ARs.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
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  7. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Would you stop pontificating and just go look for yourself? PSA has free shipping on a significant portion of their uppers, lowers and rifle kits, and if a price is listed, it's in stock. I've also been "playing the game" for awhile, have 13 ARs not counting the 1/2 scale I built or extra uppers. I've ordered a ton from PSA, including rifle kits, uppers, lowers and complete guns, and they have always shipped within 5 business days unless they specifically noted a longer lead time.

    You don't need tools to assemble an upper onto a lower. I just did one of their .308s, $299.99 free shipping upper, $159.99 free shipping lower. That's $459.98 shipped for the same rifle that sells at 599.99 assembled. And it was 8 calendar days from order to delivery, one day less than the CMR-30 I ordered from them a month earlier.

    As for being "way over just on that account.", that's pretty ridiculous. All you need to assemble on the rifle kits is the lower, which can be done with a $10-$15 hammer and $10-$15 punch set. Assembling uppers additionally requires a vise ($30), some soft pine blocks (Maybe $5) and an armorer's wrench (from ~$12).

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Gunsmithing...093448&hash=item51f2a6f3f5:g:cJsAAOSwN2VZVTp1

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Grip-9-Pc-F...040497&hash=item51eb41f31f:g:~VoAAOSwzaJX9~nx

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Model-AR15-...013480?hash=item2119d07868:g:l44AAOSwcLxYGDfn

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/5-Mechanic-...011075?hash=item2a6d197403:g:~4kAAOSwZVlXlciF

    That's a whole $67 in tools.

    So buy a $299.99 free shipping rifle kit from PSA (they've even been as low as $269.99 with free shipping recently), go to the gun store and get a $50 Anderson lower (we sell them for $48.95 in stock, $52.82 with tax) and buy the punch set, hammer and armorer's wrench (vise not needed with assembled upper), you're still at just $390 grand total.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  8. MTMilitiaman

    MTMilitiaman Member

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    [/QUOTE]

    FN produces M16s and M4s for the military now, but this is a relatively recent development. IIRC, the contract stated Colt would lose sole production rights on the design in 2013. And they still own the TDP for that rifle, so FN still has to pay them and abide by certain contract restrictions.

    I got nothing against FN. The company of John Moses Browning creates some of the finest small arms in the world and is miles ahead of Colt in innovation. But the statement was not about belt fed machine guns. It was about issued rifles in general and specifically, AR/M16/M4 rifles. And in that regard, Colt still has much more experience than FN.
     
  9. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    A $300 kit is not going to get you the premium components. Again, the barrel alone is almost $300.

    As far as buying a complete upper and putting it on a complete lower, I don't know. From what I've seen, you generally end up paying about the same, potentially incurring more shipping costs, and forfeiting accessories that generally come with complete rifles, like magazines and sights.
     
  10. cougar1717

    cougar1717 Member

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    With so many different kinds of AR's out there, I wish there was a handy guide to help an inexperienced person make a decision on which ones have quality parts and milspec features ;)
     
  11. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    I didn't say it would.

    Your contention is that you cannot build a rifle for less than you can buy one assembled, "all else being equal". That is demonstrably false.

    On that note, however, if you know what you're doing, what to look for, you can certainly build a better rifle than you can buy for equal money or less. Case in point, my 22" bull barrel critter, which I put together for under a grand ($927 with shipping, to be exact) with a 22" Wilson match grade tube, and that figure includes a Luth-AR adjustable stock and Hyperfire 24-3G trigger. Have the emailed receipts to prove it. Comparable production rifle from DPMS would be a bull 20, which is $753 + transfer from Buds, and then another $390 for the grip ($15), selector ($20), stock ($130) and trigger ($225) I used. That's $1,168 total, assuming a $25 transfer. And that would be the cheapest near-competitor to what I put together.

    You really can't be bothered to look, can you? I just gave you a specific example in post #32 of saving $140 that way. Even if I'd needed to buy a mag, I'd still be $120 ahead on the exact same rifle. It's pretty pointless to continue debating when you or anyone else can simply go to PSA, JSE, AIM or others and see for yourself. The numbers don't lie, nor do they support your assertions.

    As for mags & sights, some kits & rifles come with sights, some don't, and AR-15 mags are $7 or less.
     
  12. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    On the M16, yes. On issued infantry rifles in general, between the contract Mausers, BAR, 49, FAL, M16, P90, F2000, SCAR and others, I don't think so.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  13. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    Your complete aversion to giving some standard that a Colt is supposed to meet, one that can actually be tested by the individual, maybe even something that you have done yourself on more than one occasion, is 100% because you know that people would be meeting that standard with cheaper brands of ARs. Or, it would be a standard that almost no one has met, and wouldn't meet the criteria of a being a standard.

    You're not the first person on a gun forum to debate the premium vs budget AR topic who keeps things vague so no one could show you to be wrong.
     
  14. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    The upper and lower forgings don't matter. There's relatively few places making them and roll marking them for everybody else. If the stripped receiver is cosmetically clean, there's a 99.99% chance you're good.

    HPT/MPI bolt and carrier. I like BCM and Spikes Tactical.

    Any decent lower parts kit will equal or surpass Colt, their triggers suck. I like the ALG Defense QMS trigger. For a range or target gun, the sky is the limit on triggers.

    16" barrel with mid-length gas system or 14.5" with carbine gas. Whatever barrel you choose, buy from a known maker and get chrome, nitride or melonite lining. In ascending order, melonite being best.

    Everything else is personal preference or usefulness.

    However, the black rifle market being what it is right now, you may find yourself money ahead or at least even just buying the rifle outright.
     
  15. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    That's great if everything really is the same. Like I said, I don't really pay attention to that stuff. Everyone who talks to me is only interested in building an upper from scratch. I did recently look at BCM prices, though, and if you order an upper and lower separately it's almost $100 more than just buying the complete rifle. I've always found this to be the case with other manufacturers in the past, as well.

    I have always liked assembling spikes parts in the past, but here recently they've taken a turn for the worse. One of the most ill fitting LPKs I've ever coerced together was a newer spikes one here recently. I sold it and swore off spikes for good, at least when it comes to my personal consumption.

    I don't have the time, energy, or money to do any testing on any AR that would be in any way significant, much less come up with hard data comparing PSA to Colt. And neither do you!

    No one does. That kind of testing can only be performed by an institution with money and manpower. Like the Army, for example.

    Tell you what. Email some of the larger training schools around the country, and ask them if they recommend bringing a budget brand AR to one of their carbine classes.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
  16. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    I have mentioned a few things the Colt 6920 gets right that other brands often do not, but few pay attention. That's ok because no one is required to listen.

    First, Colt has the extractor spring figured out. My personal hands on experience with PSA is that the extractor springs they use tend to fail within the first thousand rounds.

    Second, Colt has chrome lined barrels figured out. Testing by Molon has consistently shown Colt barrels deliver accuracy almost on par with unlined barrels.

    Third, Colt has gas ports figured out. Colt ARs are not over gassed.

    Fourth, Colt delivers their 6920 with an H buffer. PSA uses a carbine weight buffer which is a bit too light, especially when the barrel is over gassed.

    Fifth, Colt gets the little details right. For example, when I installed a PSA RE, the end plate tongue didn't fit in the groove of the RE very well. I had a hard time keeping the RE from canting during installation. That wasn't a problem when installing a Colt RE.

    Sample of one, but the trigger in my 6920 was on par with the trigger in my PSA and the PSA trigger was pretty good for a standard AR trigger. The trick to both was removing the triggers, cleaning them and lubing them up before reinstalling them.

    I grant you the above are seemingly small details, but they do add up. It also puts to rest the claim no one can point out what the Colt does better.

    Once a PSA or other brand of AR is sorted out (usually the extractor spring) there is little, if anything, a Colt can do that the PSA cannot. But the reverse is also true.

    One can throw together a PSA for say, $400 or $500 but the barrel will be of a lower quality, the RE will be made of 6061, the furniture of lesser quality and the buffer will most certainly be too light. So yes, an AR can be built for less than what a new Colt will cost, but the quality is lower.

    A word about HPT testing- it reduces the life of the bolt and barrel. What's really important is shot peening the bolt to relieve stress.

    Something to think about for those who wish to avoid paying FET on a firearm. That money goes to pay for public ranges and such programs as Hunter Safety courses. Without subsidies from the FET, many public ranges would be closed and safety courses would be more costly.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
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  17. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    This is good, something to actually talk about.

    I'll say that my experience differs from you. I replace the springs in my PSA bolts at 5k rounds, as a rule. I've done it four times and am coming up on a fifth. None have failed, just been replaced.

    Putting stock in Molon is almost a litmus test for people who shoot casually and don't delve into some shooting discipline. For example, Molon tests one load and judges a barrel based on that. Do you know of any other serious shooter that does that? Certainly no competitive shooter. Molon has done a handful of other things that dime him out as an internet expert, like testing accuracy at 50 yards and multiplying that group size to simulate distance, using the same stainless 223 barrel for several years with no loss in accuracy, or responding to criticism like a little brat.

    I've seen plenty of ARs that eject in the 2 o'clock range but run 5.56 ammo, extract just fine and don't break extractors. They aren't over gassed. It is rare to see an AR actually choke up. If you've got a PSA that can't run 5.56, I'd like to see a video of it.

    Here is common AR myth, that buffer weight significantly changes the function of an AR. The total moving weight on an M16 BCG with a Carbine buffer is about 14.5 ounces. Step up to an H buffer and you are looking at 15.3 ounces, or, a whole 5% weight increase. Jumping "all the way up", so to speak, to an H3 buffer nets a 17% weight increase over a carbine. Many ARs will run any buffer weight the user wants to put in there, but have zero problems running 5.56 ammo with a carbine buffer.

    Sample of one, right? I'm not saying I don't believe you, but any random collection of AR parts isn't going to always fit together. What did PSA customer service say when you contacted them about the faulty part?

    Okay, here is my challenge, and I'm pretty sure I've extended this to you in the past. Take everything you just said, and put it into doing a video showing something with your Colt AR that can't be done with my PSA. I'll do a video too. It shouldn't actually be that hard, since you did mention accuracy after all. That's where everything you said would go from talk to reality.
     
  18. NWcityguy2

    NWcityguy2 Member

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    I've documented my shooting experiences in a handful of threads, which I shared with you before. You started questioning my integrity, and I believe that of others as well, and the thread was locked. Maybe you don't have time to document the shooting that you (one would assume) are already doing anyway, but the same is incorrect for me.
     
  19. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    No one is questioning your integrity, but it's INCREDIBLY narcissistic of you to think that everyone should automatically take the word of some random dude on the internet. I don't have any reason to disbelieve you, but on the other hand I don't have any reason to believe you either.

    Secondly, a sample size of three ARs with 5,000 rounds each on them IS NOT in any way significant. Give me a sample size of 1,000, with 20,000 rounds each on them, and then we can talk. I already explained to you how it's easily possible that 10% of Brand X is defective without anyone really being aware of that fact, given that the VAST, OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of PSA et al owners don't shoot more than a hundred rounds a year on average. That's the difference between a brand that sells primarily to governments, as opposed to one that sells to recreational shooters. Brands like Colt and FN have testing on a scale that is significant, while brands like PSA have internet anecdotes. If Colt or FN falls asleep at the wheel, you're going to hear about it, and fast. If PSA drops their quality control then you're not likely to realize it, and if you do it's going to be years after the fact.

    Thirdly, in the realm of anecdotal evidence, you are small fish to say the very least. If I want anecdotal evidence, I'm going to ask instructors at high volume schools, high traffic rental ranges, competition shooters, etc. And the overwhelming trend here is that budget brand ARs don't do well, as a rule.

    Now I and everyone else here have also said that PSA's premium line is probably good to go. And if Colts were still selling for 1500 and PSA was selling something comparable for 750, I would think long and hard about going with the PSA. But that's not the situation. Right now I can get an LE6920 for $50 less than PSA's equivalent. And the Colt is full milspec, whereas the PSA is not. And the Colt comes with a carry handle, two Colt mags, cleaning kit, sling...what's so difficult to understand about this situation??? Why in the heck would ANYONE buy a PSA right now when the Colts can be had for the same or less???

    Even if you could save a few bucks by "building" the PSA, why not spend a few bucks more and get a known quantity with a higher resale value? I do not understand what we're arguing about here. The nicest thing anyone can say about PSA is that their premium line is as good as Colt. Well, I should hope so considering they're just as much money.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2017
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  20. MTMilitiaman

    MTMilitiaman Member

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    Nobody is saying "Milspec" is the best there is. Rather I think everyone here understands that "milspec" is really a minimum standard. It means your carbine doesn't suck anymore than a established standard, but it is important to some people because it means your parts have been tested and are of known quantity. Sure you can throw together a parts kit, but do you get a CMV barrel rated for 25,000 rounds with it? Probably not because Colt's barrel sells for almost $300 by itself:

    https://www.brownells.com/rifle-par...15-m16-16-5-56-barrel-assembly-prod71164.aspx
     
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  21. Jackal

    Jackal Member

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    I always assemble AR's because we have 9% sales tax on gun purchases here in WA. Sales tax on a $75 stripped lower is a lot cheaper than sales tax on a $800 rifle.
     
  22. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    I love it! That's the best definition of milspec I've seen. It's funny because it's true. Saying your rifle is milspec is really synonymous with saying it doesn't suck. It's certainly nothing to brag about. When I see "milspec" in marketing for ARs, I think, "Great, this company is bragging about meeting the bare minimum standards for a decent AR."

    People do have a point that milspec is meaningless when you see it in product descriptions. But they have to realize when I use the term in threads like this, I'm using it in a very different way than it's abused for marketing purposes. I'm referring to the entire milspec that is applicable to any given rifle, not just the handful of specs commonly known amongst savvy AR consumers.

    On the other hand, I think what it boils down to is just buying your guns from serious manufacturers. Obviously there are lots of guns without any milspecs that we regard as being top notch, and we blindly trust the company's internal QC standards because of their reputation. BCM is one such company.

    What I really dislike about companies like PSA is that they can't make up their mind. They'll gladly sell a crappy AR if there's a demand for it, and that mentality really torques me off. I want someone who takes pride in their work, or I can't even begin to trust them.
     
  23. hdwhit

    hdwhit Member

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    Can't be done.

    What makes a Colt AR15 a Colt AR15 is the pony logo and nobody else can lawfully apply that to a gun except Colt.

    You can purchase or assemble a "functionally equivalent" rifle for the same or less money quite easily. Many manufacturers do it and many vendors sell the parts to let someone who wants to, do it themselves. But, if you were to claim any of them to be "equal" to the Colt, the Colt purists would simply laugh derisively and point to the pony.

    Agreed. The other manufacturers are putting out 100% inspected, functionally equivalent, $500 carbines.
     
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  24. grampajack

    grampajack AR Junkie

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    Let's just take this to it's logical conclusion...

    What is better than any generic "milspec" AR? So an Anderson M-forgery, for example. What is better than that? A BCM? FN? LMT?

    Is an Anderson as good as a BCM?
     
  25. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    Not everyone's experience is going to be exactly the same, but if you do some research, you'll see on various forums where shooters have been having problems with their ARs that can be traced directly back to the extractor spring and that includes BCM. Very few, if any, have been ARs with Colt extractor springs. It's a trend that mirrors my personal experience.

    Molon's methods are scientific and the results well documented. He is meticulous and his methods are repeatable. If you've ever worked with people like Molon, you'd know his personality traits are to be expected. A researcher acting like a brat does not mean the results are wrong.


    Ejection patterns are not a reliable indication of proper gas flow. Experience with tuning ARs has shown that the lock back test is a far better method.

    I'm not claiming buffer weight significantly changes the function of an AR, but it is important. A lighter reciprocating mass is more likely to have bolt bounce because carrier speed needs to be increased to make up for the loss of mass to maintain the right momentum. As there is a specified carrier speed as expressed in rounds per minute and as there needs to be a certain amount of momentum to ensure proper function, there is also a proper range of reciprocating mass. After decades of testing, Colt has determined what buffer weight delivers the greatest span of operation and with what gas port diameter. In an M4 type carbine, that buffer is the H for semiauto and H2 for fullauto.

    This supports the opening statement of my earlier post- Few pay attention. I never said a PSA won't run 5.56 spec ammo. In fact, the PSA carbine I had came with a stainless steel barrel that, as best I could tell, came from Wilson. All evidence showed the barrel had the right size gas port and once I got the extractor spring replaced, ran fine with the proper H buffer, until I tried Wolf ammo. Switching to a carbine weight buffer fixed that problem.

    ARs do occasionally choke, but once sorted out, they run fine.

    I never contacted PSA about the problem for two reasons. First, it was a minor problem that I could fix myself. It didn't affect function and once the castlenut was tight and the RE properly positioned, I didn't think about it again. Second, it was early in my AR building experience and I thought it was normal. It was after working on a Colt that this small detail came to my attention.

    If I had brought it to the attention of PSA, I'm confident they would have taken care of it. I've had nothing but good customer service from PSA. They were pleasant and prompt in dealing with a feed ramp issue I had with one upper and when it turned out another upper I ordered was out of stock, they offered me a better, more expensive upper at no extra charge.

    As I said-
    No video needed. I talked with a well respected firearms instructor who has a PSA carbine topped with Primary Arms Advanced red dot. He said that while he wouldn't recommend either to carry to war, he found both to be surprisingly reliable and that neither have ever given him a lick of trouble. He has run that combination hard in drills and uses it to loan to students and it's held up. I'm not in the "PSA is Garbage" camp. But my experience has been that PSA ARs (among others) often require a detail or two to be sorted out before can be trusted to run without a hiccup and once sorted out. That's the beauty of an AR. Once a basic understanding of how an AR functions is achieved, it's easy to sort out any problems that crop up.

    I ran my PSA hard and put several thousand rounds through it. Except for the extractor spring, it never let me down. I was quite happy with it. It's just that I'm happier with the Colt.
     
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