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What makes an AR by Colt or FN any better than the AR kit I ordered?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Tallbald, Sep 10, 2018.

  1. Tallbald

    Tallbald Member

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    I've been watching assembly videos online so that when my AR pistol kit arrives today, I can look at it overwhelmed and wonder where to begin. Maybe my wife will help me. She can sure tear into a sewing machine and get it back together and stitching in a morning. One video host made a comment about which I'm unsure of as to his rationale. I don't remember the brand he was discussing. The comment went something like "this isn't a gun I'd want to take to war like a Colt or and FN- made AR but it's a good gun for what you'll likely use it for....". I don't dispute his comment because I just don't know. I'm pretty "igorent" about these things.
    Does Colt or FN make and test their components in ways my affordable AR on-the-way isn't created and tested? I'm really unfamiliar with the AR platform having never owned one. But would I take my Ruger 77/357 to war? Sure if I had no larger caliber. And I'd have complete faith in it to do what had to be done.
    What do Colt and FN do that others don't?I mean beside likely overcharge our government.
    Don.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
  2. Hokie_PhD

    Hokie_PhD Member

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    I’m with you in questioning the Colt is the best comments.
    Now many years ago that may have been true, but with so much competition companies have had to step up to produce high quality ARs at rock bottom prices.

    If you look at some of the torture test videos I can’t see where a Colt any other brand is so much better that if you took any sort of care of your AR that it wouldn’t hold up to severe use.

    I’m not an expert but it seems the barrel and the gas tubes are the weak links in an AR. And they’re pretty durable.

    So I guess I’d be more worried about having enough magazines, ammo, spare parts and supplies in the event of needing to use than if it’s the absolute best.

    I’d think you’d be best served to get your AR. Learn how to use it well. Learn it inside and out, and have a spare. Then be prepared for situations you’re likely to encounter. For instance here in Va we’re more likely to be hit by the hurricane this week than a war breaking out any time soon,

    So we’ll stock up on extra water and food, gas for the generator, and be ready to ride out the storm. There’s little chance of civil unrest but if so we’ll be ready for that too.

    Anyway, I guess this is a long way to not worry what others say, learn all you can, do what you can, and have fun.
     
  3. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    Colt and FN should both have better QC measures, and probably more durable finishes. Those are due to govt procurement requirements. Otherwise, they probably aren't "better" per se, just guaranteed to be what they say they are in the advertising.
     
  4. Tallbald

    Tallbald Member

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    Hmm. Thanks. Food for thought. Inquiring minds like mine want to know...... Don
     
  5. Styx

    Styx Member

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    CHF barrels.... I doubt the finish is s any better than the PSA finish.

    PSA also makes uppers with FN CHF barrels which cost more than their in house barrels...

    Other than that, I'd say there's not much of a difference other than brand name recognition...
     
  6. Tallbald

    Tallbald Member

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    I don't know if the fella was referencing PSA per se, but whatever it was it wasn't an FN or Colt. And let me emphasize, the gentleman was speaking positively about the brand he was reviewing. I remember that for certain.
    In any case, I'm tickled. Except that the UPS driver hasn't made it to our house yet today. We are watching though! Don.
     
  7. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    you are going to love that little kit, ar pistols are a lot of fun...
     
  8. FL-NC

    FL-NC Member

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    That is a very good question. As someone who has been building AR's since the 80's (before it was cool) as well as using several versions built by different companies both in the military and as a contractor overseas, I have no idea. I suppose because they (FN and Colt) have most of the contracts for the US MIL, so it MUST be better, right? (#sarcasm). As for me, when I am building a "plane jane" AR, I will typically use a parts kit from DPMS or PSA. If I want a better trigger, I generally opt for the fine MBT from Larue- currently on sale for $87- with the balance of the parts from that DPMS or PSA parts kit. Oh- and I have a rifle I built in my garage with a $150 DPMS barrel from Brownells, which also has the Larue trigger. With good ammo, it shoots about 1.5 MOA suppressed. Here's a pic of it in action a couple weeks ago.

    AR pig.jpg
     
  9. Demi-human

    Demi-human Member

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    Make you a bonafide, low-drag, high-speed, stealth Mfour operator, Brah! You know, for all that tactical training. Do you even carbine, dude?
    Mmm, strawberry tactical rolls with a Murdered Out latte, yum!

    The firearm I'd like to take to war is the one that will go to stomp out evil with ferocity, liberate oppressed humans with grace and with courage and, without me!;)
     
  10. Tommygunn

    Tommygunn Member

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    A lot of makers have "upped their game" in recent years. Colt is a very good weapon (I have one), but others are really just as good. I just bought a Springfield Arms Saint, which has a mil-spec BCG, mil spec buffer tube, H marked buffer, F marked front sight post, M4 type feed ramps, and is a equally decent carbine, IMHO. Most ARs today seem to have the M4 feed ramps, and many if not all of the other "mil spec" stuff. A lot of cheap stuff has left the field .... but then, not entirely. Buy real cheap .... and then you could find old bolt carrier designs still in use, and maybe other issues.
    Keep in mind NO AR-15 you can buy will be truly mil spec because that includes the selective-fire trigger, and as we all know, there ARE laws about that sorta thing.
    There are top tier makers who go above mil spec so keep in mind that it is possible to get better.

    Also, another thing; AR forums historically have put a lot of importance on mil spec and some of it with reason, but I've read enough posts by people who've been in war over in A'stan, and Iraq. The military issue M-4s do hiccup. They also need maintainance, and do jam, so while the weapon performs much better than when initially fielded in Vietnam, they (like ALL) weapons are not "perfect."
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2018
  11. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    TB, the difference is in the processes, springs, decades of experience and refinement, barrel making, bolt making and gas drive. Colt developed and refined the M4 and know it better than anyone.

    My first 16" AR carbine was a PSA and after a couple of tweaks, ran just fine. However, the Colt 6920 felt better when I shot it. Whether or not the refinements are worth the extra money is up to each person. For myself, yes the Colt is worth the extra money. When I got the PSA and assembled it there were feed problems. Partially due to mismatched feed ramps, which PSA cheerfully took care of right away and partially due to the extractor spring, which I fixed with a Colt extractor spring.

    I don't regret getting my PSA. Once I got the feed ramps and extractor spring sorted out and replaced the CAR buffer with an H buffer, it ran great. I put thousands of of hard use rounds through it. I wanted to see if it would fail. It didn't.

    The Colt was another story. I took it out of the box, cleaned off all the preservative, lubed it and ran it as hard as I did the PSA. No tweaking needed to get it to go.

    What does this mean to you? The AR is a simple and robust rifle and much like the FN-FAL, once you get it sorted out, it will run with minimal care. Replace your PSA extractor spring with the Colt spring and the CAR buffer with an H buffer and chances are, your pistol will run just fine. If it doesn't, we'll get you sorted out. Of all the "economy brand" ARs, the one I'd rather see a newbie cut his teeth on than the others is PSA.

    The only way you're gonna find out how well your pistol shoots is to get out & shoot it. So, stop with the buyer's remorse. You're going to learn more about your AR out on the range than you will from watching YouBoob vids or reading posts from Keyboard Commandos.
     
  12. boom boom
    • Contributing Member

    boom boom Contributing Member

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  13. 1911 guy

    1911 guy Member

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    When AR parts were more of a mixed bag, knowing that a rifle was as close to mil-spec as possible meant that it would not fall below a minimum standard for quality and content of the individual parts, care in assembly, or final quality control. Today, it's not hard at all to build a rile that exceeds that specification in almost all areas.

    Colt has made only a few really bad guns. The ones that matter, 1911, AR and SAA, have always been good (except for their experimentation with a collet bushing) but high priced. That has changed and they are competitive. But they're not necessarily better.
     
  14. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    if its anything like my experience, your cheap AR will not stretch brass .014" every round, nor will it jam from time to time. Oh and blueprints or something, although you can find those on the internet, the Ar15.com guys talk it up. Seriously thou, my cheap (M/A parts kit, Tapco stock, Windham Bushmaster barrel) has been beaten, and shot more than %99 of commercial rifles, and holds up fine. FN is a fine company, but when the Colt people start yelling "Mil-Spec" I try to remind them the Colt couldn't make milspec guns to start, and had the spec changed in the 60's, then sold rifles for decades that were so not Milspec as to be incompatible altogether, and also lost the m16 contracts. The only reason the M4 exists is because Colt needed more government money, and that was something they could patent
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
  15. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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    the question reminds me of a range experience I had a few years ago, when the AR was still a rarity, and SKS's and AKM's were the common semi's of the day. I was thinking about buying an AR, and a guy at the range pulled out his Colt, and I asked him about it. He was snobby, gave me the "You would need to get a Colt, everything else is junk" or something to that effect, and clearly looked down on the WASR/SKS group. It jammed so bad loading the first round it needed taken apart, and was 10 minutes before he could get it to fire. Not sure what was wrong with it, guy clearly did not want to tell anyway. Made me decide not to buy an AR for a couple years. Of course when I did, it worked fine.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2018
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  16. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    I think this is most of it. It's a historical artifact from before the AR explosion.

    30 years ago the market was basically Colt and then a handful of people using possibly out of spec lowers and bolting on surplus parts that failed military QC. If you bought a Colt you at least had a decent chance the gun had gotten a proper assembly and that the parts were of good quality. Most of the others were a bit of a gamble. Today a decent AR can be found on almost every street corner. I'm not convinced my Colt can hold up to abuse any better than my Anderson/PSA gun can.
     
  17. mjsdwash

    mjsdwash Member

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  18. Tallbald

    Tallbald Member

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    Hey thank you all so much for the replies. It appears that things have changed a lot in the 30 years I've been aware of the AR platform. Dad was a Korean War Era vet and had no interest in messing with of even owning one because it wasn't an M14 or Garand. So, as his sidekick and shooting buddy I didn't develop and interest. had Dad lived past 1978 when he passed away at age 46 he may have changed his tune with the proliferation of AR improvements and accessories. He loved gun gadgets a lot.
    My PSA kit arrived this evening.It was on our porch when we returned form a errand. It's still in the shipper and I will open it in a bit for a first looksee. Right now I'm prolonging the excitement like some child on Christmas day, and having an after supper smoke next to my beloved wife at the kitchen table. And participating in a phone call to a very aged Aunt-in-Law just to say hello and see how she is.
    Thanks again. I'll be taking much of the sage advise offered here as funds allow. I prefer to listen to the words of experience rather than pave my own way on already well traveled roads.
    Thanks again folks. Don
     
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  19. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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  20. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    You don’t always get what you pay for but you always pay for what you get.

    I have had great luck with Colts but I think it might be a stretch to call it luck. I have more “other” brands though. Some I would call “luck” as to how well they are and others that are “premium” over Colt offerings.
     
    Skylerbone likes this.
  21. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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    there are two things to consider: parts and assembly

    yes, many of the cheaper brands have stepped up their game and are building much better ARs than they were 10 years ago. However, it's probably worth noting the unwashed masses 10 years ago were all saying there was no difference back then either, when in fact, there was a significant difference. Feel free to peruse the archives here for humorous pre-"the chart" advice from the "fit and finish" crowd.

    it is probably also worth considering that colt and fn offerings are high fidelity clones of carbines that are designed to shoot mil spec ammo which operates within a mil spec pressure range, and likely has substantially different gas characteristics than steel cased wolf and winchester white box from wally world.

    now, parts are fairly easy to verify and the cheaper brands have certainly upped their game on the part specs. assembly is somewhat more difficult to verify and most aspects you might measure are non-binary. for example, how close to the torque spec was the barrel nut? did they use grease or loctite? was the gas block properly installed so that it's not partially blocking the gas port and so that the gas tube is centered and not causing issues with the carrier key? some stakes are better than others, and a wee dent in the carrier key bolts may or may not be functional. Were the handguards installed properly so they aren't prone to rotating once you get the system warmed up and start torquing on it?

    for much of the past two decades, you could pretty much go to any carbine class and watch colts and BCM and a few other quality brands function flawlessly for 800-1500 round over 3 days, while the franken guns would typically suffer from poor machining and assembly resulting in much frustration for the dudes who spent $$$$ on ammo, travel and tuition but elected to save $ on their rifle. has that changed a lot? i couldn't say. I've been too busy shooting bolt guns lately to take carbine classes.

    that said, if you are interested in learning and fun, build it and it survives a few matches or a class, well done. if not, keep learning, fix it and try again. the only way you can really go wrong is if you slap it together, fire 100 slow fire rounds through it off a bench, and announce to the internet that it's as good as a colt.
     
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  22. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    From 2010. https://www.americanrifleman.org/articles/2010/3/30/the-specs-of-milspec/

    I put a few rounds down the barrel of my M16A1 carbine. No problems from the rifle. I did reload using the wrong primer one day. Did pock mark the bolt face.

    Many manufactures of parts and kits these days. How does one know for sure? Good or bad quality?
     
  23. Tallbald

    Tallbald Member

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    Well here it is 845 PM our time. Supper dishes cleared. Opened the PSA box on the kitchen table and I swear I think a clear bright white light beamed down on the contents. What the heck?! Harp music began to play in the background! Didn't know THAT was included in the shipment, or I was just imagining it? Whoa!! I think beautiful butterflies and white doves flew from the box, out the window. Lo! There in the clear light lay a beautiful complete upper and a clear heavy plastic bag with multiple other little bags inside.
    Carefully...no...lovingly.... I took my hands and raised the upper to the light and said cried "Behold! The only thing greater than yourself!" Wait a minute. That's been used. Anyway....
    The upper is apparently flawless cosmetically. The front sight ramp appears perfectly perpendicular to the pic rail. The Flat Dark Earth furniture feels solid and good in the hand. The finish on the upper matches the Aero lower nicely to these old eyes.
    Wife and I have to continue cleaning our garage tomorrow morning but in the afternoon I'll begin to slowly, carefully and methodically assemble this little gem. Some have suggested a linear compensator. I may machine one for myself from some cold rolled 1018 steel. Need to buy a 1/2-28 tap though first. And find a good price on an H buffer as has been advised (I guess I'll weigh the factory one on a postal scale first. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised with what was sent.).
    I won't post a photo here of my new acquisition because I know it's just like everyone elses's. But I thank all of you here for the kind and reassuring thoughts about my purchase. I think it'll be a fun and practical learning experience for this old man.
    Don.
     
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  24. taliv

    taliv Moderator

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  25. entropy

    entropy Member

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    You'd better post a pic of it after it's built, or it didn't happen. ;)
     
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