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Piston AR Recommendation

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Hedgemeister, Nov 4, 2010.

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  1. Hedgemeister

    Hedgemeister Member

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    I am looking to purchase a new piston AR and I am stuck between the POF and LWRC. I have to get a 5.56 as my wife is in the police academy and will be using this rifle on duty. We live in Glendale where POF is based, but my research is pushing me toward the LWRC. Specifically I am looking at the POF 415 and LWRC M6A2. Anyone have experience with these models? This will be our first and only AR at least for awhile. $ is not a factor as we live in the Phoenix metro area and I want her to have the best and most reliable AR out there.
     
  2. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    She's only just in the academy, and you are already buying a high-end piston-AR for duty use?

    Slow down big hoss.

    Does the department not furnish rifles to those who can qualify on them?

    I'm sure she will pass the academy with flying colors. That said, do they even let probies carry rifles on the street?
     
  3. Hedgemeister

    Hedgemeister Member

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    They do not issue duty rifles only Rem 870's, which she will also use. She will not be able to carry it on duty until after probation. I want to get one now so she can become proficient with the rifle and take some carbine courses before she takes it on duty. The AR will also double as a coyote/varmint gun.
     
  4. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    If you have certain misgivings about either of those guns, maybe if you would state them, folks could address your concerns.

    Either rifle is quite expensive, and is from a reputable manufacturer.
    I would expect either rifle to perform admirably.
     
  5. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    What made you decide that you want a piston rifle? If this is for her, she should really get out and check out a few. I'm not an LEO or anything, I live to play with guns and have shot a LOT of different rifles. The only piston guns I've had were conversions, but I've shot the Ruger and LWRC versions. They shot well enough, although I found the recoil impulse to be different. Maybe sharper. Not harder, just sharper. Sort of like the comparison in recoil between a .45 ACP (which is kind of a roll) and a .40 (which is more like a snap). I think a gas AR has more of a roll.

    My other observations were that the rifles were heavy. Heavier than a rifle that size should have been. I just don't think that they swing the same, although it may have just been me.

    I really DO NOT want to turn this into a gas vs. piston thread, but what makes you assume that a piston is going to be more reliable? Don't get me wrong, piston guns are nice, but they have their own problems too. At least, with a gas rifle, if it stops running a couple drops of lube will get it back in the game again or maybe a change of the gas rings which can be had at a great number of sources. When a piston gun fouls up due to something breaking, it usually means having to get a hold of some proprietary parts.

    In any case, I would suggest that your wife check them out first hand before settling on something. Whatever she gets, you should also make sure that her department armorer will be able to service it.
     
  6. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    A friend of mine has the POF in both 556 and 762 flavors. Both seem great. Price is sky high, and they are a bit front-heavy.

    A professional trainer who I've met a few times has a very dim opinion of POF and has said as much to my friend. I don't have more info than that.

    Personally I would get a quality DI AR from any of the top brands, but I'm trying not to veer this thread too much.

    Between those two choices, both are expensive, quality rifles, both are rather proprietary. I expect both are fine. If you're only considering those two, I suppose I would go LWRC simply because it seems a bit more "in" with mil and LEO. And that's the extent of it. How many of the piston AR designs really have enough real-world use to say anything meaningful about? IMHO really only the HK416, which is apparently good enough for the USMC, and going a bit broader the FN SCAR although it's an entirely different platform.
     
  7. stchman

    stchman Member

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    Ruger's SR556 is a really nice piston driven AR. Bud's has it for $1418 shipped.

    IMO piston semi auto rifles are the way to go.
     
  8. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    Ruger's SR556 has had a wide range of carrier tilt problems (buffer tube wear), is very front-heavy (hmm, almost a theme) and like most/all piston guns will fry your left hand with 2nd degree burns if your hand slips after shooting a couple of mags quickly, which is a realistic LE training scenario.

    For those who must have pistons, I really think the SCAR, and when the price comes down, the Shrubmaster ACR, are where it's at. Or the FN-FAL, which like those two was designed from the ground up with a piston. To me a piston AR makes as much sense as a DI conversion for an M14.
     
  9. Hedgemeister

    Hedgemeister Member

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    A couple of my concerns are being addressed. The biggest concern I have is reliability. We live in a hot dusty climate and I want the gun to run no matter what. I recognize that both DI and pistons have their pros and cons. I like the fact that the piston rifles do not need lube or cleaning as often. In particular these models have nickel teflon coating that keep lubricity without lube. I was in the military have seen first hand what heat and dirt can do to the DI gun if not properly maintained. Good point on the armory. They only run Colts, so I will have to check on that. I have limited experience with AR's. I have spent a good bit of time with a Colt and that is it. I have done research everywhere and THR seems like the only place you can get an honest and unbiased answer. I looked at the Ruger and they are nice, but I want a 1:7 barrel to shoot the 75 and 77 grains. I am not sure the weight and swing is much of an issue, because this will be her first experience with an AR and she won't know any different.
     
  10. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    How strong is your wife? I'm 6' tall, stout, and I would be quite tired trying to run the POF for an 8-hour training day. Sure, I can run it in competition just fine, which is 1-3 minute increments, and in an actual LE scenario it might be OK since those aren't likely to last real long either - but in formal training it would get very tiring to the point of affecting performance. It's very different from casual shooting or hunting. I first learned this point when I tried to run a 6" Ruger GP100 revolver (approx 49oz) in a CPL class - bad idea. That was sure fun trying to hold in designated shooting positions for a couple minutes at a time. Yet I can shoot it perfectly fine in any casual setting.

    I'm not trying to lecture, and I don't know if the LWRC is similarly front heavy. Just be sure to really, really handle the POF and try holding it in a shooting position nonstop for a couple minutes to be sure that the weight and balance is not an issue.
     
  11. Hedgemeister

    Hedgemeister Member

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    It's all good, I did notice the POF was 1/2 pound heavier than the LWRC.
     
  12. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    Hedgemeister, I'm not trying to argue with you, but just playing devil's advocate. Like I said, I've never been to the "sand box" or on patrol, but I do live to play with guns. I'll say this, I don't think there's any such thing as a rifle that will run no matter what.

    Yes, there are piston guns (and DI rifles) that come with uber coatings that apply a permanent lube to the parts etc, but these coatings only work when the parts are clean. It does NOT guarantee that the rifle will run no matter what. Lubing gun parts does two things. First it lubes. The second is that it provides a means for the action of the rifle to displace crud/dirt as it builds up. Of course, some lube works and lasts longer than others, but that is a topic for another discussion.

    My point is that even a piston gun is going to need maintenance. I don't care if it's piston operated or not. If you're running it dry and a good bit of crud/sand/dirt builds up in the locking lugs (or elsewhere) and there's no way to displace it, it's going to stop running at some point. In a couple of extreme cases, with the owner believing that the rifle didn't need maintenance, I've seen pistons lock up. I'm talking about the op rod refusing to move. The moral of my rant is that both are going to need lube and I don't think that there is any concrete data that would indicate that one system is more reliable than the other, assuming proper care.

    I think the important thing is to get her a rifle that fits her and that she can be proficient with. If she is on the petite side, a front heavy rifle may not be the way to go. A front heavy 7lb rifle swings like crap compared to a well balanced 8lb rifle. A well balanced 7lb rifle works like an extension of your body. I don't think that anyone can call any piston gun well balanced. It may not matter to a 180lb guy that trains with the rifle everyday, but for a 125lb lady who only has to qualify with the rifle twice (once?) a year, it may matter.

    Since it appears that cost is no object, if a piston gun is engraved in your mind, I'd go LWRC. If you are open to options, I'd be looking at Noveske or Daniel Defense. Noveske and Daniel Defense may not offer anything more than the likes of Bravo Company, in terms of reliability, but having the name may give you piece of mind. It seems to me that a Colt would be the logical choice, since the armorer already works on them and is probably familiar with any quirks (if any) that the Colts may have.

    Personally, I don't buy ARs. I build mine, but if I were to buy one, I'd buy it from either Bravo Company or Spike's Tactical and for a couple of reasons. Both build excellent rifles and with both, most problems are handled with a phone call that usually results in replacements being sent out right away.
     
  13. Hedgemeister

    Hedgemeister Member

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    Tony, good points. This rifle will be meticulously maintained as her life may depend on it. So I guess I just like the peace of mind of the NP3 coating. I did not realize the weight and swing would be a concern. I am 220 lbs though and my wife is 135. I think as someone mentioned to try them first. I know I can rent them at Scottsdale Gun Club here.
     
  14. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    Bud, it just needs to be maintained. I understand your concern, but perhaps you are over thinking this. Go with quality (there's lots out there) and she'll be fine. Just FYI, I haven't cleaned my home built carbine in over 3000 rounds. I shoot all sorts of crap ammo through it and all I do is keep adding lube every 500 rounds or so (I use Slip 2000) and it keeps on running. The barrel is bushmaster, the upper is Daniel Defense and the lower is Spike's Tactical. What brand would you say my rifle is? I don't know, but it does have quality parts that keep doing what they are supposed to.

    Good luck to your wife!!
     
  15. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    She should not show up with any equipment that is "better" or more expensive than the equipment used by her training officer.

    I understand the objective is "survival."

    A noobie officer needs to fit-in to have the best chances of surviving.
     
  16. Quentin

    Quentin Member

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    I also recommend that for a first AR it's best not to go with a piston version - instead learn how to run a high quality standard DI rifle. With proper maintanence and training it will perform as well as any firearm you could want. No need to blaze a new path especially for a rookie officer, there are reasons LE and the miltary go with DI and it's not just cost.

    Definitely have her rent guns at the Scottsdale club and choose the barrel profile and balance she likes best. It's almost certain a DI will be easier for her to wield. You're not going to find much better or more reliable than BCM, Daniel Defense and Colt.
     
  17. Hedgemeister

    Hedgemeister Member

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    Thanks for the advice. It sounds like I am overthinking it a bit. The DI guns certainly are a lot cheaper. Off to the range.
     
  18. Quentin

    Quentin Member

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    Good call, HM! If at all possible try to find a BCM 14.5" or 16" LW midlength (midlength gas system instead of carbine length - the gas tube is 2" longer making a softer shooting AR). Lots of rave reviews for the BCM and Daniel Defense LW middies from people carry an AR seriously.

    And a rookie with a quality rifle like that will get nods of approval from people in the know.
     
  19. deadduck357

    deadduck357 Member

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    I have 3 SR-556's and have experienced non of which you mentioned.

    SR-556 left and SR-556C right
    [​IMG]

    SR-556 6.8spc
    [​IMG]
     
  20. wally

    wally Member

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    I've a Ruger SR-556 and a CMMG M4-gery piston ARs. I'm very happy with both, they do stay a lot cleaner and are a bit front heavy.

    The CMMG is available as an upper only, which is how I bought mine.
     
  21. strambo

    strambo Member

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    As the owner of a fairly high end piston (LMT MRP), I'd recommend something like a BCM 14.5" middy for this. Light, handy, reliable, soft shooting and waaay less expensive. It doesn't have to be meticulously maintained either. A BCM middy has been run hard in EAG carbine courses as a loaner with I think one cleaning and over 31,000 rds.

    Use the savings on ammo/training for her and her survivability percentage will go way up vs getting a rifle that costs 2X as much (that adds maybe a few percentage points more theoretical reliability) and not much $ left for training/ammo.

    If money is no object, I could see getting an LWRC and then sending her to a top carbine school.
     
  22. benEzra

    benEzra Moderator Emeritus

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    A DI gun with the same type of self-lubricating coating (e.g., Fail Zero) will have the same characteristics. That is a function of the parts coatings, not a function of DI vs forward-mounted piston. Heat and dirt would cause a neglected, uncoated piston gun to fail in the exact same manner that DI guns fail.

    Generally speaking, AR failures are primarily due to (1) questionable magazines, (2) improper assembly, (3) substandard/damaged/worn-out parts, often in combination with failure to properly lubricate. None of those problems have much to do with the DI system. Use Pmags, check the gas key and castle nut staking, and buy from a Tier 1 manufacturer (mainly the bolt carrier group), and a DI rifle will be as reliable as any piston AR, IMO. As others have suggested, a midlength gas system will probably be a bit more durable than a carbine length gas system, assuming a 16" barrel.

    FWIW, if you want to read up on AR's and the pros/cons of the various manufacturers, you may want to check out the AR Technical Discussion and AR General Discussion forums on www.m4carbine.net.
     
  23. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    Oh man, definitely check out some flavor of carbine with a mid length gas system. I built one using mostly Bravo Company parts not too long ago. VERY smooth shooting. I could go through 500 rounds with very little shooter fatigue and I'm a small guy. 5'2" and go 150-160lbs, depending on how good dinner has been lately.
     
  24. LRS_Ranger

    LRS_Ranger Member

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    What piston gun burns your left hand, and why would it do that? No matter how hot I get the barrel on my LWRC, I have never burned either hand. In fact, being able to pull the carrier after 4 fast mags and still have it cool to the touch is pretty neat. No mess, no heat, and tons of lube still on everything. It is a little heavy, but I think it's the heavy barrel. Get a comparable barrel, and I don't think that it would be really any heavier than a DI..

    Back to the OP, I would say get an LWRC, POF has had some shoddy QC issues, and the one friend that I had that owned one sold it, I don't remember the specifics of why. He always said he would get an LWRC next time he was getting an AR. My LWRC runs like a champ, I wish ammo was free and I could run it till it broke.. I imagine I would be shooting for a while...
     
  25. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

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    A patrol rifle typically rides in a rack in the car or in the trunk and never, ever gets as dirty as M4s I was issued on the .mil side that ran just fine with minimal maintenance.

    Additional considerations are

    A) Besides whether or not the department issues patrol carbines, there's the other issues of whether or not they have an approved list of carbines, and whether or not they have anyone trained to do armorer level inspections and maintenance on the weapon.

    B) Is she even going to be allowed carry a patrol carbine right out of the academy, or is it something the department won't clear until after she finishes Field Training? My department limits recruits in field training to handguns and shotguns for liability reasons. I'd think that's fairly common.

    That shouldn't matter to an FTO who has any business doing the job (which, of course, doesn't mean it won't matter, depending on the luck of the draw and how stingent her department is with who it lets FTO), but I do agree she'd be better off showing up with some piece of mid-priced kit she is expert with than some very expensive piece of kit she can't run competently.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
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