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"TOP Tier" AR15

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Archangel14, Aug 3, 2012.

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  1. Archangel14

    Archangel14 Member

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    I'm looking into buying an AR. I have reviewed a lot of info on the web and spoke to people who have much practical experience with the platform. I've boiled it down to a Stag Arms or S&W AR15.

    Now, when I tell people that I will purchase one or the other, I typically will get some jive about how both are "good" rifles, but not "top tier". Many posters will go off about how a Daniels Defense or Noveske is the cream of the crop.

    But here's my dilemma: I have a buddy who own a $1,200 Colt M4 who has frequesnt trouble with it. I have another buddy who owns a Stag in a basic configuration. He puts it through hard use and it NEVER fails.

    So here's my question: if you consider Stag or S&W to be an inferior product to the the "top tier" rifles, please explain why. In doing so, give me a "foundation" for why Stag or S&W is a secone tier platform. Let's not vomit up the same, tired things we all see on the web. Let's hear the facts. I have the money, tell me why I should buy a "top tier" rifle over a Stag or S&W. Thanks!
     
  2. JustinJ

    JustinJ Member

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    How many Colts and Stag AR's do you think are made each year? Now how can one anecdotal experience be of any indication of overall quality of an item produced in such large numbers?
     
  3. Auto426

    Auto426 Member

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    It's mostly the quality of the materials, finishes, and the methods involved in the construction of the rifles that differentiate makers into the different tiers. There's plenty of discussion online about it, including the oh-so-infamous chart which breaks down the build of most AR makers out there and compares them to military specifications.
     
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I have more then one buddy who could screw up a wet dream, or a brand new Snap-On wrench too.

    On the other hand, I have owned a Colt since 1975, and it has never ever missed a beat so far.
    And I'd say close to 95 percent of the ammo through it has been my own reloads.

    It don't get now better then that.

    Were I to go buy another AR tomorrow?
    It would be another Colt.
    If it turns out to be even close to as good as the old one I have?
    It will still be going strong long after I am pushing up Daisy's.

    rc
     
  5. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Member

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    BCM, or LaRue. I, personally, shy from Colt. I label those "upper-middle" tier in cost, but cost alone.

    I don't consider Stag or Smith inferior. They do what an AR ought to, other than hurt your wallet as bad. Others WILL disagree, which is cool with me. I drink my coffee pinky down.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2012
  6. Mr.357Sig

    Mr.357Sig Member

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    Loki Weapon Systems. That is all.
     
  7. Mr.357Sig

    Mr.357Sig Member

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  8. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    The rifles that are considered to be "Top Tier" either meet or exceed military specification in the areas that matter most. Mil Spec includes how items are made, what materials they are made out of and what testing is done to ensure they meet spec.

    I'm a big fan of Colt because of the work I have done. The M4s we had in the Army were fantastic and the 6920s that my dept uses have very few problems. On the other hand the Bushmasters that my dept bought have had a lot of problems. Most of them shoot and feed reliably but have had many instances of broken parts. We dont treat them like safe queens.

    All of the people that I know who use rifles for a living choose the Top Tier manufacturers. That being said almost all say that S&W pits out a good rifle as well. It would be my first choice for a lower tier rifle.
     
  9. Infidel4life11

    Infidel4life11 Member

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    +1 mil-spec vs. cheap stuff, Cold Hammer forged barrels made machine gun steel vs mild metal crap. F marked front sights on flat top receivers vs standard a2 front sight. Bravo Company, Knights Arms, Colt, FN, make weapons for people who go to War. S&W, Stag, PSA, CMMG, Bushmaster (non plastic), windham weaponry, DSA, DPMS etc, etc all make good ARs for people who don't go to War. Your TOP TIER know they're products are going into horrible conditions and are going to take someones life or protect someones life they put a more into they're product.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2012
  10. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Member

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    Your list of what a "war bound" rifle SHOULD have (for whatever reason) is encompassed by S&W.
     
  11. davebl

    davebl Member

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    I have a DPMS Panther Lite that I have not had a single issue with, over 2 years of mag dumps, 100 yd bench rest, 4 wheeler trips. Paid $650 new.

    I also have seen custom 3 gun AR's with non stop FTF and FTE's.
     
  12. Infidel4life11

    Infidel4life11 Member

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    True brother, I only stated those war gun because I've used their products and talked with those guys and that is their mindset. There is a single thing wrong with a Smith I now own one, I'd take one to the sand box any day.
     
  13. Infidel4life11

    Infidel4life11 Member

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    Sig Sauers should be in there too
     
  14. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Member

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    Right on.
    Methinks I'd be taking an AK, and a bristle brush for the sandy cracks!

    Stay away from Mossberg bro, unc hates it, and it exemplifies what cheap really is.
     
  15. Infidel4life11

    Infidel4life11 Member

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    Mustard, gun show in springfield at the fairgrounds the 11th-12th
     
  16. meanmrmustard

    meanmrmustard Member

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    Will look that up. Haven't been down to BP in a few years. Thanks for the heads up!
     
  17. Infidel4life11

    Infidel4life11 Member

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    Np, I'll be headed to the one tulsa too the following weekend.
     
  18. chaser_2332

    chaser_2332 Member

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    milspec is good enough to pass and nothing more, any guy with some skill and a cnc machine could wittle out "mil-spec" recievers. For the most part factory rifles are nothing more than a roll mark away from each other. Barrels, triggers, and bcg make the rifle what it is.
     
  19. holdencm9

    holdencm9 Member

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    It's funny. It used to be:

    "That rifle sucks because x y and z aren't mil-spec"

    Then all the other manufacturers listened to their customers who demanded mil-spec and are offering fully mil-spec rifles, save 1 or 2 things that might not even matter. . Now it is:

    "They are just piecing together a bunch of mil-spec parts...that don't make it quality!" or "Anyone can do mil-spec...that's all it is, is the military's specifications" or "Yeah but their QC and CS stinks!"

    LOL

    I agree there is a lot to be said for Colt because they are "proven" and "battle-tested" and everyone else has to sort of play catch-up. There is also something to be said for the assembly of the parts and the QC process each manufacturer uses. But that just dictates how likely you are to get a lemon, not that your rifle is inherently worse than another. There is no such thing as an AR that is greater than the sum of its parts. If everything is the same materials, geometry, finishes, construction, assembled with care, it will function the same. The rollmark on the side won't matter.

    That said, if you took 100 S&W's and 100 Colts and ran them all through identical carbine courses, with exact same conditions, ammo, and everything, safe money would be on Colt to have fewer malfunctions. But definitely not 30% fewer which is about the cost difference. I am sure some people will chime in and say "in the courses I've seen it is ALWAYS the cheaper brands that have issues and NEVER Colt" but there is also a little thing called confirmation bias and selective memory.
     
  20. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    To an extent, I agree with chaser. All milspec is, is a minimum set of standards that have to be met; however, there are many rifles out there that do not meet the minimum standards.

    What makes a rifle top tier is the materials that go into the parts that make up the rifle. Heck, a year or so ago, I ran across what I thought was a really good deal on receivers, but upon reading the fine print, discovered that they were milled from 6061 rather than 7075. Still, the barrel, trigger and BCG are the heart of any AR and I prefer that they meet milspec at the very least.

    Non milspec or lower to mid tier rifles often have barrels, BCGs and/ trigger groups made of inferior steel. To get the better materials used in upper tiers rifles costs more money, so the question then becomes one of whether you will use the rifle enough to actually realize the benefits of getting an upper or top tier rifle.

    The barrel for instance. Barrels made of inferior steel will in all likelihood shoot just fine for most, but for someone that runs one hard, it may mean that they will burn the barrel out sooner, or that accuracy will suffer more when the barrel gets really hot. One thing that I consider to be pretty important is that a milspec barrel will be coated in the area under the gas block. Most non milspec barrels are not. Although this may not sound like it's important, it could be for you if you live or use the rifle in a harsh environment and then one day you are cleaning your rifle and wonder what the ring of rust is around your barrel at the gas block.

    Another problem I've seen more in non milspec barrels or more specifically lower tier rifles is that the gas ports are too big. I think that some manufacturers do this to lend some reliability to a rifle and it does work. The problem is that over time, an over gassed rifle will beat the heck out of itself and may also pose some problems shooting steel cased ammo.

    A non milspec BCG may not last as long as a milspec BCG due to inferior materials and/or lack of testing. I say MAY not, because I've had cheap bolts that I got from God knows where go a good 6000 rounds before they lost a lug.

    As far as triggers go, I don't know. I run Geissele triggers in all of my ARs and consider them to be superior to milspec; but I do know that there are some popular two stage triggers out there, like the Rock River that lots of guys say they love. The trigger is nice and feels pretty good, but I've seen more than a few go south when they hit around the 3000 round mark; although I think that RRA may have fixed this problem. I don't know, I quit using them.

    If you really want to see the advantages of a top tier rifle, take a carbine course and take note of the rifles that the others guys are using and then take note of which ones it is that choke during the course.

    This is, of course, just my opinion. I'm not a soldier that's been to war, nor am I a part of any special law enforcement team, but over the course of tens of thousands of rounds through ARs, I kind of got a feel for what keeps running and what needs replacing sooner than it should.

    Still, in spite of all of this, get what floats your boat. If you take owning an AR seriously and learn the rifle, odds are that you can keep the biggest piece of crap on the market running the way it should. If you get a top tier rifle, odds are that it will run longer on what it came with before you need to start replacing stuff. A cheap rifle is more of a roll of the dice.

    To be honest, most of the problems that I've seen with lesser tier rifles has been really stupid stuff. Like gas rings wearing out prematurely or defective extractor springs and extractors. Weak ejector springs and buffer springs and such. Some more serious problems I've seen are trigger groups that lack the proper hardening and actually thrill the owner with how nice they get while breaking in, all the way up to the point where they go full auto; or out of spec chambers.

    If you want to dip your toe in the AR pool and don't want to spend a lot of money, the Smith Sport may be for you. They cut a few corners with the rifle. 4140 steel for the barrel, an integrated trigger guard, no dust cover and no forward assist, if you care about those things. The rifles do shoot well for the price. I really can't tell you how they would fare in the long run though. I don't know anyone that has 10,000 rounds through one yet.

    I know that there have been and likely will be more recommendations for the Smith and Wesson and I have to assume that the Sport is what they're talking about, because Smith's "better" models aren't cheap and at those prices, there are definitely better options.

    If you are willing to spend the money, for around $1000 you can start considering some really nice rifles that are probably less likely to let you down; but like I said, if you really get to know the platform, you can keep just about anything running.

    ARs are like tinker toys. There isn't a single part that I can't change, including the barrel, in 30 minutes or less. My AR is a franken rifle. I had gotten out of ARs for awhile and one day while digging through my parts bin, realized that I had enough parts to build a rifle. I try to keep up with the maintenance, but once in a while something gets by me. If the rifle stops running, I just change whatever it was that made it stop. The only part I'm kind of particular about is the bolt/carrier group. I run a Bravo Company group and keep a spare bolt in my grip. Although I have been surprised by some "lesser" bolts, I've also seen some that gave up the ghost a little too quickly.

    Would I buy a top tier rifle, like a Noveske? i don't think so. Not unless I run into a guy that was really hard up for rent money and I can practically steal it from him. If I bought a rifle, it would probably be a solid upper mid tier rifle, like a Bravo Company or maybe a Daniel Defense.
     
  21. Archangel14

    Archangel14 Member

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    I don't mean to be a jerk, but other than TonyAngel's response, I still haven't really heard "why" certain AR's are top tier, while Stag and S&W are "middle" tier.

    You know, the same friend of mine who has a Colt M4 that gets testy and a Stag that runs perfect has a $300 Romanian WASR. I just spoke to him and he advised that his crappy Romanian WASR has never failed in over 8,000 rounds. And it has good accuracy out to about 75 yards. So I ask, what makes a Colt or Noveske so top tier?

    Another buddy of mine has a son who is presently a Ranger. Four tours of duty, 3 purple hearts, part of some sort of "seek and snatch team". In questioning him recently on the topic of military issued M4's he was luke warm. He thought it was a good weapon, but advised that "it needs care". He is more impressed by the AK and the HK 416 (I think it was the 416), which he decribed as the "best" small arms rifle in the military. So knowing all this, it is beginning to drive me nut.......why does everyone accept a Colt or Daniels Defense or LaRue as top tier, but not a Stag? It seems to me that we've convinced ourselves of an "untruth".
     
  22. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    Archangel, what makes a Noveske a top tier rifle is the attention to detail in the assembly and, of course, the parts that they use. The BCG is, of course, milspec. The barrel and receiver is what I've always thought set them apart. The ones I've taken apart have shown a good fit between the receivers. Not too tight and not too loose. The upper receiver faces were square and had a good fit to the barrel extension. What's really special about the rifle is the barrel.

    Although I think that their touting their double dipped chromelining is a bunch of hooey, the barrels are made by Pac Nor, which makes very good barrels. The examples of Noveskes that I've played with exhibited a level of accuracy (with good ammunition) that rivals that of some stainless match barrels.

    As for your buddies son, I mean absolutely no disrespect, but I also know guys that were/are in the military and have seen combat and am often surprised by how little they know about the rifle that they use to defend the lives of themselves and their buddies. The rifles that they are issued are usually well worn or get to be that way and when they have problems with them, they take them to someone else to fix. As for his stating that it "needs care," he's right. It needs to be properly lubed. If you get gobs of sand in the action, you're going to need to get rid of it; however, I'll attest to the fact that an AR in proper working order does NOT need to be clean to run right. I have, however, found that choice of lube is kind of important. Lots of guys like to use CLP. In my limited experience, CLP will evaporate over time and will cook off with heat. If you use a lube that won't evaporate or cook off, lube intervals can be greatly extended. I use Slip 2000 EWL. I generally lube every 500 to 1000 rounds and I haven't had any problems. ARs really like to be lubed in the gas ring, bolt carrier and bolt areas. The lube serves to provide a medium that allows for the displacement of crud as it builds up. Back when I used CLP, I was lubing every 300 rounds or so while shooting and everytime I pulled the rifle out of the safe, just to keep the rifle running.

    As for the WASR, I'm sure that his does run fine. 75 yard accuracy is good enough for many, but move that distance out to 500 or 600 yards and see what it'll get you. It's also kind of funny that you mention the WASR. My brother in law bought one because it was so inexpensive and it doesn't run worth a darn. Still, that action is pretty dependable. I just don't like the triggers or mediocre accuracy.
     
  23. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    Anyone who has spent time in the military will tell you that the maintenance system for their weapons is horrible. Nothing gets replaced at proper intervals. A deploying Ranger Batt does A LOT of shooting prior to deployment. Most likely enough shooting to warrant replacements of several parts in the weapon. Does that happen???? Probably not.
     
  24. LoneStarWings

    LoneStarWings Member

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    Double post
     
  25. LoneStarWings

    LoneStarWings Member

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    I bought a Noveske and consider it top tier because, as stated earlier, they meet or exceed milspec. The biggest difference is barrel quality, in my opinion. I'll pay more for a better barrel, one like noveske's that will last 20,000 rounds, vs a non-chromed 4140 barrel that will start to see accuracy degrade substantially by 8,000 rounds or so.

    If you'll never put more than 5 or 6 thousand rounds downrange, and will never shoot on a full auto lower, then Stag or S&W are probably just fine.
     
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