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Piston Driven AR-15s

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Soldier0117, Apr 9, 2008.

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  1. Soldier0117

    Soldier0117 Member

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    Who do you think has created the best piston driven AR-15 style rifle. Heckler and Koch with the HK 416, LWRC with the M-6, or Barrett with the REC-7 (6.8 mm.)?
     
  2. Deer Hunter

    Deer Hunter Member

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    How about Stoner with the AR-180?

    :)
     
  3. R127

    R127 Member

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    This seems like a good thread to ask the following question, why do you want an AR-15 with a piston driven gas system?
     
  4. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    An interesting question would be "Who here has shot all three piston rifles that you mentioned?"
     
  5. LegalAlien

    LegalAlien Member

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    mmmmmmmmm . . . slightly more than 3 . . . . add the SIG556 to start with, then add the new releases not available yet, such as the FN SCAR, or the Bushmaster ACR aka Magpul Masada

    Looks like a new trend in AR design does it not? Wonder why?

    Is it maybe because the FN FAL gas piston design has been so succesful for so many years? Just wondering. . . . . .
     
  6. lee n. field

    lee n. field Member

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    I know of what you speak. Euuuu.
     
  7. Soldier0117

    Soldier0117 Member

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    The reason I want a piston driven model is because I have no care for the dirty and unreliable direct impingement system. Has anyone at least heard which of this are good? Lastly if no one has shot any ARs that come with the system as a standard, has anyone tried a piston conversion such as the one by Osprey?
     
  8. TestPilot

    TestPilot Member

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    Because I don't like rifles that will run reliably only under a running shower of CLP?

    I don't think it really matters. People who looks for piston driven AR15 does it because of reliability factor. And, reliability of a certain rifle model is one factor that cannot be jusdged by one individual picking up a one specimen and shooting it. Best way is to collect as many user review as possible, and get a statistic.

    For example, I have a SIG that I am very satisfied with. But, if I made the purchase decision based on few range rental SIG I fired before I bought mine, I would have never bought a SIG, because few of those SIG rentals malfunctioned. I still bought my SIG because of the statistics indicated it was reliable, inspite of my range experience.

    Besides reliability, I have no reason to think why a piston AR15 would shoot and operate any different than a regular AR15.
     
  9. everallm

    everallm Member

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    Add to the list of purpose built piston AR format the Robinson Arms XCR.
     
  10. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Well since we seem to be sold on the concept that DI cannot possibly be reliable and that it isn't necessary to actually handle a weapon before commenting on which one would be the most reliable rifle, I will bow out of this conversation.
     
  11. R127

    R127 Member

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    So it is the reliability thing. That's something I could never figure out about AR's. Some people swear the last AR that had reliability problems was built in the 60's and then you have other people engineering gas piston systems. I'm not saying I disagree with the gas piston AR's, it's pretty well established at this point that no matter how good your direct gas impingement system is it will never be as robust as a piston driven system.

    I don't have any experience with piston driven AR's so I can't make any specific reccomendations. I will say there's a whole field of rifles specifically designed around piston driven systems and one of them might be a more cost effective solution.

    Assuming small arms development isn't completely hamstrung by another AWB it will be interesting to watch the progression of AR's transitioning to piston driven gas systems and AK's being built for match grade accuracy.
     
  12. Tom Servo

    Tom Servo Member

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    Awww...c'mon! It's the internet! :)

    Perhaps we could have some clarification on this? Mine runs fine with only cursory cleaning, as do most AR's I've seen. If you want to pack your rifle with mud, run it over with a truck and run it through a rock tumbler, be my guest. I tend to be a bit nicer to things I invest large amounts of money in.

    I've fired the XCR, the Sig 550 and a piston-driven Bushmaster. All three were good shooters, and I encountered no problems. It should be noted that all three are vastly more expensive.

    The only thing I noticed was that firing .223 through a piston-driven system feels weird. Recoil is slightly reduced, but I can't see spending a few hundred dollars extra to rectify what is a largely non-existent problem these days.
     
  13. RedLion

    RedLion Member

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    The fact that the companies building the gas piston ARs are interested in profit should be taken into account as well.

    I don't believe it's much different than the high horsepower SUVs today. I don't think GM and Ford and others built those vehicles because they were needed, I think it was more because they saw an opportunity for cash.

    Are either 'better'? It depends how you look at it.
     
  14. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Member

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    Where to start?

    Retrofitting a gas piston onto a AR just doesn't make much sense to me: The original works fine and the 'fix' doesn't change the things that are the REAL problem.

    When was the last time you saw an AR go down because of gas residue in the bolt carrier? Sand and grit, yes, smokeless powder residue, not so much.

    ARs fail to function because foreign debris gets into the works. The minimal clearances and compact design of the upper don't allow the garbage anywhere to go. A gas piston will not help with this problem.

    Gas piston retrofits also have problems:

    1) Proprietary parts from manufacturers that may or may not be around when it breaks. Anybody still running a Rhino conversion? Got extra op rods?

    2) Not proven. I want my SHTF firearms to have been manufactured by the millions. I want Garand ser# 4500000, not 0000004. Bugs get worked out in serial production. Proprietary gas piston systems manufactured in the 1000s (if that many) may never get past the buggy stage.

    3) Adverse effect on reliability: Every gas piston system I've seen is using more parts than the system it replaces, a stainless steel tube. Many of these parts are small, of questionable robustness, and have unknown lifetimes. The AR already has too many small parts to get lost and if you've ever dropped a firing pin retaining pin you know what I mean.

    The only positive I've seen from retrofitting a gas piston that is that lube may last longer than with DI. OTOH, a properly lubed AR will fire a basic load of 7 mags without needing additional lube. If you're burning more than that without a chance to clean (or at least relube) you should have brought something beltfed, or preferably fire support.

    BSW
     
  15. alpha6164

    alpha6164 Member

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    I have a POF (Patriot Ordnance Factory) HK416 rifle and its awesome. I have shot over a 1000 rounds without a malfunction. Last week i took the gun apart to see and it looks like it has never been shot. If you check out the reviews they have had by several magazines including Small Arms, etc etc some have shot their weapons upwards of 20,000 rounds without a single cleaning in full auto without a malfunction. I also just purchased an FN FS2000 which is piston driven and love it. I will never buy a DI system.

    Any guns i buy have to be 100% reliable for doomsday:)
     
  16. lonegunman

    lonegunman Member

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    I bought a Sig 556 for my gas pistol experience. The system is tried and true from their 550 series and workmanship is top notch.

    The only exception is the handguards, they were assembled before the rail installed and are a PITA to remove because of that. Everything else about the gun is first rate.

    It has nearly 1000 rds thru it with no problems and no jams.
     
  17. TestPilot

    TestPilot Member

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    This is one part where common wisdom fails. It's true. You cannot determine a reliability of a certain model by one person firing a single specimen, with a few exception. Most reliable method is to gather statistics from multiple users.
    If anyone finds a logical of factual flaw in this, please tell me what it is.

    I handled M4 while in the military. It cannot have malfunctioned because of improper cleaning, because we clean it until whoever inspects it will find nothing on the Q-tip when they swipe any part with it. Then we lubed it.

    If the CLP we used in the army was not applied to a degree where it was dripping fron the gun, carbon build up would seize the bolt to a degree where I have to slam the butt of the rifle on the ground to get the chamber open after shooing close to a combat load, about 7 magazine, or sometimes not even that. The range session started with the gun squeeky clean, so if some contaminant on the bolt seize up the action, it cannot be from anything other than the DI action spraying contaminants inside the receiver. And they say the "crap where it eats" design is no problem.:rolleyes:

    The only way to pervent that was to spray the inner with CLP in interval, to get a "running shower" effect. So that it will continuously flush carbon from building up. Seized up action? A very liberal spray of CLP to the forced open action usually fixed it. After that, if no CLP sprayed again after multiple mags, guess what happens? Seized up again. That's why range sergeants stand by at the entrance to the firing lanes with a big spray bottle of CLP in their hands. And, even then I can't rememebr a single range sesstion without at least one soldier having trouble with his M4 during years of army life.

    No help from a truck or mud packing was needed to seize up the amy issued M4s. Situations where I need it may not be where I can be nicer to things. So, although I do pamper my personally owned weapons, I do not recommend ones that require me to pamper it.
     
  18. Don't Tread On Me

    Don't Tread On Me Member

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    Couldn't have said it better myself. I'd like to expand a bit if I can.

    When you buy a system that is not military-approved and standard issue "in the millions" you are buying an unknown. The people who make that piston, what kind of steel is it? How long will it last?

    Unknowns. Only known by the manufacturer, if they've conducted multiple 20,000rd tests to determine various factors such as wear, effect on reliability, rate of breakage ..and do so in a statistically meaniingful way.


    Look, I HATE the AR-15's gas impingement FILTH. Nasty. Also blows out and dried out the lube so fast. However, with that platform I have an awful lot of knowns. It is known from extensive military testing that a carine length gas system's bolt has a lifespan of about 6,000rds.

    The latest and greatest rifle out there that is hot off the assembly line, and has no military approval and is not being fielded anywhere - do you know how long that bolt will last? Maybe it will only last 2,000rds because they are using inferior metals. Or maybe it has a design flaw that wasn't detected in the early stages of development because so few rifles exist and so few independent or military tests were done.


    Whole point is, when you go with something new or unknown, you are giving up a massive, almost complete wealth of knowledge on another system

    AK-47 - proven.
    AR-15 proven, same with FAL and others.

    People even know the differences between original military parts quality and that from the aftermarket in terms of life-span and reliability for all three above platforms.


    That has a tremendous value.


    So when you take the plunge and buy that new rifle system - you are essentially becoming a "beta tester" ...

    If you visit the SIG 556 forums and read around, you'll see that already there's been changes done to the handgards, to the magazine catch and elsewhere because the first batch of rifles showed problems.


    I'm not going to bet my life on something that isn't tried and tested. 1911 platform. That's another one. If you buy a real one (no MIM parts) with quality parts, made well ...it is one super reliable, nearly unstoppable pistol. Junk MIM parts, poor fitting, over-accurizing/tightening of the action as well as the #1 culprit - crap magazines makes a lot of 1911's jam and finicky with ammo. But, with that platform, there's not going to be any new surprises or unresolved problems. Everything that can be imagined has been done and experienced with that platform. You're not going to run into anything that hasn't been seen or dealt with before.


    I've been looking at the SIG 556. I might want to try out a piston system. Being a lot cleaner is appealing. Although, the cleaning you save in the action is often offset by having to clean the gas/piston tube. Still, it is cleaner overall. AK style bolt....

    Speaking of which. AR-15 unreliability in the desert is primarily HK propaganda to push for their piston uppers.

    HK does have a point. Yes, less carbon filth in the action is better. Also, a cool running bolt and carrier will not be subject to heat-stress and fatigue. Heat something to where you can't touch it, while exerting lots of force and you are wearing it down. So it is reasonable to see that a piston upper AR will increase the lifespan of the bolt - which is a weak part of the AR. But it does NOTHING to solve the issue of dirt and dust.

    That's the HK's bait and switch. The problem is not related to their solution. The problem of sand/dust is the military's top concern when going to another platform. The military isn't as concerned about the other issues. After all, the U.S. military - after the adoption of the M16, kept on with its testing and trials and did experiment with a piston driven M16. Colt discusses this. They provided prototypes and the military tried them and saw no significant improvement.


    Why? Because the problem lies in the bolt. It has tiny lugs and the fit to the carrier as well as the carrier to the upper doesn't allow grit, sand and dust to get out of the way. Compare that to the AK which is very loose by design. AK has less lugs, more carrier mass with a long stroke slamming down on the round, it has tapered ammunition, a fixed ejector, an overpowered extractor...so forth an so on. There's more, but that's the gist of it.


    Piston AR's offer no solution whatsoever to the sand/grit problem.

    That being said, in a clean environment - a gas impingement AR can run well over 240 rounds (8 full 30rd magazines) without a single failure and without a cleaning or a lube. That is a full load-out. In many cases, thousands of users have done twice that without failure, and others 3-4x that amount only adding some lube. That shows the carbon fouling is not a problem.

    Remember, the M16 wasn't designed to be used be mindless idiots who don't clean their rifles. Even the Red Army trained their men to clean their AK-47's after each use. Why? Because it is common sense and a good precaution regardless of the inherent reliability of the platform. You know, they do make stuck-case removers for 7.62x39mm for a reason. Abuse can lead to problems in anything.



    For me, it's the AK or the AR. The new guns hitting the market now will be a lot of fun for action-shooting and as a range toy. It's going to be some time before the various trials are done and finished and many reports come in. Even if they are approved and fielded, reports still show weaknesses, suggested schedule of maintenance etc....all useful.


    Just look at the PDF's Barth has posted in the past. That is just a sample of the documents available for the M16 system. There are thousands of pages written for hundreds of tests, done by the military with thousands of rounds of ammo fired. I don't think there's a rifle or system out there with such a massive amount of analysis and testing done. It is the most documented rifle on Earth.
     
  19. TestPilot

    TestPilot Member

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    AR -15 Proven? Of course it is. Proven to still jam after decades of adoption and changes. I'm supposed to be comforted by this?

    It was plenty unreliable in the in the military range without being in the desert.

    This is not the only problem. 100% for the failures I've observed related to M4 was not foreign sand/grit. The top cause was carbon the DI system sprayed on the inner seizing up the action, followed by poor magazine.

    If I have an M4 with a seized up bolt carrier in my hand, and I don't have a massive spray bottole of CLP with me, that thousands of pages of written documents will help me how?

    I was one of the people who said, "DI AR15 is okay. They are dirtier, but with proper maintenance it will run reliably." It was because that's what army is saying in the press, and they still try releasing some surveys about soldiers being satisfied with M4s, they never came around to ask me though. AR 15 system being reliable was what I wanted to believe about the rifle U.S. army was using, and for the complaints, I assumed most of them were comming from people who did not knew better.

    That was my attitude until I actually had to deal with it in the military and be the one who has to wonder if that thing would seize up before I even finigh up shooting combat load.
     
  20. BsChoy

    BsChoy Member

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    In my experience with the original DI system AR's and having fired thousands of rounds and watched thousands more be fired I cannot remember seeing one carbon build up related malf? This is with base model Bushmaster patrol rifles in M4 and A3 config's.

    I have to say pistol driven really intrigues me but like I said its not an overly troublesome system in my opinion.
     
  21. jason10mm

    jason10mm Member

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    I wonder if the piston systems will take over in the next 10-15 years, especially if the military moves away from the M16-based systems.

    I think the AR-15 platform is here to stay for a long time in civilian hands (barring legal action) due to its modularity and ergonomics, but if piston uppers can be made for the same price and involve less cleaning and gain an air of "improved reliability" then I could see them becoming more popular, especially if the Cerebus owned lines add them to their catalogue.
     
  22. Don't Tread On Me

    Don't Tread On Me Member

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    I reference the military reports, but I always rely on my personal experience. I have yet to have a single failure in my AR-15's and I don't exactly clean them often.

    That's a lie, I had one failure. I had a stuck case (Wolf ammo) and that was after firing in excess of 500 rounds of that filthy crap without a single cleaning whatsoever.

    Regular ammo - never a single malfunction. I use USGI mags and I have good AR's.


    If carbon fouling stops them, I don't know how much more dirty to get them so that they jam as a result of it. I've had good reliability run wet or even after they dried out from so much shooting. The gases heat the oil and burn it off, they blast the oils out and the carbon soaks it up and dried up the action. Despite that, it still runs.


    Now, aside from my personal tests - when I am regularly maintaining my rifles, I've NEVER ever abide by the whole "run em dry" philosophy that seems to have started from Gulf War I. I've always lubed them and lubed them generously. Nice and wet. Now, like I said ...I've run them after they were crusty and dried out with full filth and they kept going, but its always better as a precaution to keep them lubed.


    To me, those parts are a tight fit, a lot of friction areas, subject to heat and dirt and the gas rings/carrier reminds me of piston in a cylinder of a motor. Do you run a car engine dry? Nonsense. I've always lubed them and they run great. Even during my filth tests they ran when dried out from lack of maintenance.


    I view the AR's system as having flaws ---- but my whole point is that the flaws are known, the lifespan of the parts, system and schedule of maintenance, parts etc are all KNOWN quantities. The AR's system is simpler. Less parts with just a gas tube. But, you pay for that with more heat/filth. Yet, that really isn't a problem either because carbon does not make the rifle unreliable...especially if you clean the rifle after 240rds which is a full load out. Keep in mind, that the vast majority of AR opinions out there are based on junk AR's made of non-spec parts and metals and lack testing processes. A lot of the opinions are based on the testimony of people whose cleaning and oiling habits vary from excellent to worse than a conscript who's never held a gun before.


    Whatever the case, due to the AR's system and it 40+ year military service and adoption in dozens of nation, service in multiple wars, and hundreds of tests and massive widespread civilian use in competition from highpower to 3-gun ...there's a lot of data. So much so, I know what to expect and when to expect it. I know what to do and what not to do.


    I can work around that. I can't work around the surprises produced by what are minimally tested prototypes or new-concept firearms.
     
  23. cracked butt

    cracked butt Member

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    Piston ARs make some sense if you don't like cleaning rifles very much (still have to clean the gas tube and piston which would seem to me that there would be some loss in accuracy after a cleaning as the mechanical pices 'settle back in' after reassembly). They are an answer to a problem that doesn't exist when it comes to reliability.
     
  24. JHansenAK47

    JHansenAK47 Member

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    The gas piston works. However they still had to add sand cuts because they would jam in dust. Go google the problems the Israelis had with their FALs jamming.
    Very similar to the problem the FAL had. The bolt is binding in the receiver. Piston ARs and DI Ars use the same bolt. Military bolts are usually parked. Remember the parked M9 mags having issues. They didn't redesign the mag they just redid the finish. Point being it is not just the gas system causing failures.
     
  25. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    And how do you propose to gather statistics from multiple users if according to you it doesn't matter how many people here have even used the weapons in question? Where else are you going to get comparative statistics for the weapons mentioned by the original poster except from people who have used all three weapons?

    As for your experience with the M4, all I can say is that I have never had the same problem either in the military or in owning/building/shooting these rifles the past 17 years. In fact, I commonly run my rifles 500-750 rounds without adding additional lube. I also use a suppressor which both increases heat and the amount of carbon blown back into the chamber.

    How much of your military experience was livefire and how much was blanks?
     
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