Springfield XD Forum banner

1 - 20 of 34 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
152 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I was curious as to many members thoughts of lower priced versus higher end AR's.

I myself have owned Palmetto State Armory builds in the past with no issues. However I primarily used my (Pre-Freedom Group) Bushmaster for my range rifle. I did have a minor issue with the Bushmaster which I asked for help with here - I basically had to completely disassemble the bolt and clean the gunk from the ejector spring.

Some say 'mil spec is mil spec'. Some say PSA is fine for a range toy but not for a 'if your life depends on it' rifle.

I bring up this topic because I have since gotten rid of my PSA builds and am pondering a higher end piece. I am looking for a 'if I ever really have to use an AR defensively I own one' rifle.

I don't need brand names, just overall thoughts and consensus on the issue.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
21,680 Posts
Civic and a corvette will get you where you need to go. One could do it a whole lot faster and with more style.
 
  • Like
Reactions: windsearcher

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
I only own one AR, my brother in law helped me build it and he was a Marine, so it was pretty much all mil-spec. I've since slowly upgraded it where it has the things on it I want and need, it sure doesn't look like a military rifle now but that's how it started out in life.....the innards are all milspec and it all works great. I don't see why you couldn't have the best of both worlds, especially if you're building your own.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,063 Posts
It's not about the gun "working" or not. :) I'd no sooner offer to stand in front of the muzzle of a Poverty Pony as I would offer to stand in front of a Hodge. ;)

There's plenty of slop in the tolerances that will allow even the guns that are literally right on the ragged-edge to function more than well enough, for more than long enough, that unless the weapon was put to a more demanding schedule or is otherwise in extremis (i.e. lack of sufficient lubrication and/or exposure to harsher use conditions) - whether it be a high-round-count backyard range session or for a training class or when used in dire straits - problems just won't manifest.

The real magic is in the QA/QC, and this is not necessarily going to be apparent when a shopper picks up that rifle off a rack at the gun-shop (how many buyers will even field-strip the weapon and look inside? how many actually know what they are looking at?)...nor is it necessarily apparent when they take that gun apart once they got home (how many of us have a bore-scope? AR-specific gauges?), or even necessarily when at the range or in a training class - or even when used in a duty/defensive capacity (how many of the modern police shoot-outs involving AR15s or their LE/military select-fire counterparts actually have any of the shooters expending hundreds of rounds at-cyclic? how many of the modern home-defense use of the AR15 had the same?). Better QA/QC betters the buyer's chances that the gun will work in the fashion that it needs to when that shooter needs it to, and that it will continue working even in sub-optimal conditions, and perhaps work for longer.

The better makes also tend to source the parts that they need from manufacturers that, in-turn, stick to a higher level of QA/QC themselves and/or simply makes it out of better (or properly in-spec) materials.

At the same time, this isn't to say that every single example that rolls off the mythical XYZ corporations' production line will be a beast/monster. Tolerance stacking still can occur, as well as simple manufacturing or human mistakes that are overlooked, despite even best-practices and the best of intentions. Yes, buying quality helps, but that individual and unique gun is still going to be a question mark until it has proven itself - whether it's by you or a trusted gunsmith examining and gauging everything and/or by live-fire testing.

With the School of the American Rifle Facebook group now capped, perhaps the best resources are now their YouTube Channel ( School of the American Rifle ) and the Primary & Secondary ModCasts that deep-dive into the platform.

SOTAR's YouTube Channel is a great - visual - way to get a feel for how that "MilSpec" still means that there can be differences. Crank the date back to his first posts, and start working towards the present from there. You'll get the necessary expository narration from Chad Albrecht as he gauges and troubleshoots various components.

And don't let the run-time of this video scare you too much - when you're ready for that deep dive, it offers a truly eye-opening perspective into the QA/QC realm:


^ Once you've viewed that video, you'll have the necessary perspective to truly appreciate what is described in this BCM promo video:


@Cips , it's reading to me like you're starting to take a big breath in, in-preparation for a deep-dive.

If that's the case, then I'd earnestly recommend that you take an even bigger step back (particularly given today's marketplace), and consider using some of the money from the sale of your "lesser" ARs to use for tuition for a reputable open-enrollment armorer's class.


^ The class/instructor detailed there - the late William Larson (aka iraqgunz on M4Carbine.net)/Semper Paratus Arms - was perhaps the best known of this genre. Attending a class like this can really help you with those questions and concerns that are floating around in your head, now. I've only attended what is probably the least "formal" of such classes, and even so (thanks to the quality of instruction - i.e. the person teaching the class), I walked away with soooooooo much more appreciation for the platform: not only about its mechanical function, but also in terms of how to diagnose and remedy both benchtop issues as well as live-fire/realtime stoppage reduction.

Currently, SOTAR is probably the most well-known. I'm certainly looking forward to attending, and, I'd be totally jealous if you were to go (and write an AAR for us, here). :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
11,643 Posts
To me, mil spec is mil spec.

However, your '"higher end" are usually built with better/lighter materials and much tighter tolerances along with better fit and finishes. I have custom built my current 2 ARs myself. One is in 556 and the other in 300BO. Both were built to " my spec" with what I believed to be better/higher end parts. Such as barrel, BCG, trigger, handguard and stock. They are very rock solid and absolutely accurate.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,103 Posts
I recently discovered SOTAR's youtube channel. Wow. Eye-opening, to say the least. Also good ASMR-sleep-inducing material, if you're already tired from a long day of work. :)

As far as my personal thoughts on high-end vs low-end names, I think, as long as it runs reliably and does the job you need it to do, run it, until you can afford better. If you're looking at getting something in the higher-end category, you'll find the same names keep popping up in the conversation, and it's probably for a good reason. Those are probably the ones to look for because of good end-user results.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,195 Posts
The only realistic metrics are:

RELIABILITY
ACCURACY

if it does make the grade on both, sell it and ge something better. In most cases with weapons, you pay for what you get.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,447 Posts
People say "milspec is milspec" which is true, but milspec is the MINIMUM required. There is such a thing as better than milspec. I don't have much experience comparing bare minimum milspec versus premium, but I have 2 3-gun rifles built to my specs and I think the grades come down to "probability". There's no guarantee that a premium rifle will shoot better, last longer or look better, but they probably will based on how much you pay. I think a milspec rifle is supposed to be 2-3 MOA accurate, but who wants that kind of inaccuracy? I wanna shoot quarters at 100 yards with cheap ammo.

I shot with a buddy recently and he brought his fairly basic rifle to test a lot of handloads through it. He shot it for hours doing a lot of testing and got the info he needed. Then I brought out my primary 3-gun rifle and let him shoot it. After shooting his for hours and trying mine, he almost immediately looked up and was surprised at how well and softly it shot. With nothing more than a 6x scope, he almost outshot his basic rifle with handloads he was testing using a 10x scope while my ammo was nothing more than PMC Bronze ammo. Also, as hard as I have run that rifle in competition, it has never failed in any way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
720 Posts
I don't know if mine is a high end or low end. It is Colt AR 15 carbine from the eighties. Never had anything added to it but a Colt low power scope attached to the carry handle. Yes, I said carry handle. LOL. I can't remember it ever jamming and if I do my part it has no problem shooting under an inch at 100 yards. It is my "varmit" rifle.

Padraig
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,063 Posts
Colt's got the TDP, and there's some mojo in that.

I believe it was a SOTAR post in which a higher-end make's error in the barrel-extension/upper was in-discussion that Chad himself cited the fact that in so far as he can remember, Colts were the only ARs which he's never seen that kind of error make it out to open-market.

But alas, there's going to be ups-and-downs for any manufacturer, and Colt was no exception. I don't know much about the gun world before I really came aboard in about 2010, and there was a time during the intervening decade where what rolled out of Colt's doors for civilians weren't looked-upon very favorably. But that said, the tide did change, and Colt did rectify those issues: my buddy's 6920 has now seen several high-round-count classes, and it's chugging along just fine. It also passed muster at the armorer's class we took a few years ago, in which the guns were brought down to individual components.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
People say "milspec is milspec" which is true, but milspec is the MINIMUM required.
This. I've never understood why so many bragged about having mil-spec rifles!

Rack grade rifles were supposed to be good enough to hit a 4MOA target at 500 yds. In today's world getting 1/2 that, or even better, is easily achievable. My 20" BCM shot about 3/4 MOA and my AR-10 is right there with it with FGMM ammo. I'm sure there are PSAs that can produce sub-MOA groups but thats more an outlier than the standard.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,063 Posts
^ I understand the sentiment - and don't disagree.

But "MilSpec" is more than just the gun's performance in terms of accuracy/precision.

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,447 Posts
TSiWRX, make sure you finish my statement...milspec is the MINIMUM standard to achieve for both performance and manufacturing tolerances. There is better than milspec, but milspec is where one should start and go up from there if they choose.

Now, from what the OP is stating, he (assumed gender, apologies) is interested in a "save your life rifle". That standard can only be determined by the shooter/owner. EVERY gun must be vetted to attain the owner's/shooter's level of expectation of function and accuracy. I don't know what scenario Cips is thinking about...a simple break-in where he might shoot 10 rounds in self-defense or if he's thinking of an eotwawki situation. Buy a rifle, shoot the crap out of it, test its performance (accuracy and reliability) and decide if it covers the situations you want to be ready for.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
124 Posts
I have built many ar’s in my day and have mixed emotions over this thread. It all depends on what you are building an ar for. Are you building it to shoot or to save your ass? I have always built mine with quality bolt and carriers, barrels and triggers. As far as I am concerned everything else is for appearance.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
653 Posts
Just for me I prefer something that has the upper receiver lapped to squarely marry up with the barrel. This helps create a more consistent and accurate rifle. I used to think of nitride as a lesser alternative to to a chrome lined barrel, but now I have a couple and like them. Get one or the other.

I would look at La Rue, BCM, Colt, Daniels Defense, Noveske, Armalite. I don't know anything about Springfield's offerings, I calmed down way before they were making them. I think most of the premium builders lap the receivers, but I know that Armalite does
 
  • Like
Reactions: 151553

·
Registered
Joined
·
152 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
TSiWRX thanks for the video links. An hour into the video I can see clearly there are tiers of rifles.

...
Now, from what the OP is stating, he (assumed gender, apologies) is interested in a "save your life rifle". That standard can only be determined by the shooter/owner. EVERY gun must be vetted to attain the owner's/shooter's level of expectation of function and accuracy. I don't know what scenario Cips is thinking about...a simple break-in where he might shoot 10 rounds in self-defense or if he's thinking of an eotwawki situation. Buy a rifle, shoot the crap out of it, test its performance (accuracy and reliability) and decide if it covers the situations you want to be ready for.
I'm interested in a EOTWAWKI rifle. But I want to ask this...
With my Bushmaster I had two issues, one I mentioned earlier. The other was an issue not reliably feeding a new round which was found to be a weak buffer spring.
Are these normal things to experience? Would that have happened to the more premium makers?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,447 Posts
Ok, it helps to know what you're thinking about and envisioning. As with most tiered things, you get what you pay for generally. Good products leave bad factories and sometimes, although more rarely, bad products leave good factories. If you decide to drop $1500-$2000 (or more) on a "high end" rifle, as I said before, the likelihood is that you will get a solid and accurate rifle from a higher end maker.

As ChrisS819 said above, quality BCGs, barrels and triggers are the most important components of a solid, dependable and accurate rifle.

Some good companies to look at have already been listed. Care to share your budget?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,063 Posts
TSiWRX, make sure you finish my statement...milspec is the MINIMUM standard to achieve for both performance and manufacturing tolerances. There is better than milspec, but milspec is where one should start and go up from there if they choose.
So, that's tricky, right - what's "better?"

Various surface treatments - NiB? NP3?

Proprietary BCGs and other parts?

Definitely, some are better - but some of these "improvements" outright either are or will eventually cause issues. SOTAR's many FB Group posts as well as various "autopsy" videos very well demonstrates this outcome, as do the archive of old iraqgunz posts on M4C.net. Are the proprietary Sandcutter BCG and the E3 bolt in the KAC guns improvements? I think it's hard to argue against either. But is a wonder-coated extractor claw necessarily an improvement? And given what we can now see of various coatings' impacts towards dimensional consistency and how different manufacturers are either better/worse at both this as well as making adjustments to compensate for this, can we say that "better" here is truly an improvement? Or is a properly built, plain-Jane BCG that meets TDP - like a phosphate BCM or SOLGW - going to translate to better durability/reliability versus the latter?

Similarly, what does that "minimum" actually suggest? That the parts are produced within-tolerances would be the way that I would interpret that verbiage, but even when parts that are within tolerances meet up, there's the very real possibility of tolerance-stacking that can actually cause real-world stoppages.

I absolutely get what you mean, and as with @ErikAnderson 's post, I don't disagree at all with either of what the two of you mentioned, but to me - there's a lot to be considered: a lot of questions to be asked/answered.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,063 Posts
TSiWRX thanks for the video links. An hour into the video I can see clearly there are tiers of rifles.
Glad to be of-service. (y):cool:

With my Bushmaster I had two issues, one I mentioned earlier. The other was an issue not reliably feeding a new round which was found to be a weak buffer spring.
Are these normal things to experience? Would that have happened to the more premium makers?
Yes, normal - but there's a caveat to this.

As with any machine, parts will wear over time and use. Your AR, regardless of "tier," is/will-be no different.

Various components will have both a finite expected service life as well as have documented service/maintenance intervals. Again, the US military's protocols/Colt's Armorer's schedule for this are Gold Standards in a similar manner that the TDPs are for MilSpec. I'll try to remember to post-up with this type of info. when I get home today/tomorrow - it's worth printing out a copy to keep with your tools/gun-bag. :)

That said, as @LocoGringo, @ErikAnderson, and many others on this thread have pointed out, there are just some parts that are better, and some that are worse. In terms of your specific issues @Cips , it goes to illustrate that even the smallest parts matter, and that in this respect, just as with the bigger parts, often MilSpec is really not only not a bad thing, but something to be strived towards. As you undoubtedly have seen in the SOTAR videos and in reading the late iraqgunz's old posts on M4C.net, the "gold" Colt spring for the extractor is both the bare-minimum as well as one of the best to use (competing directly with the Sprinco). At the same time, sometimes improvements are actually better: the nitrided safety detent from KNS, for example, wears significantly longer versus MilSpec, and is often a recommended upgrade, particularly for those who really expose this part to a high usage cycle.

The smaller parts in the bolt, the bolt itself...every spring. There's always wear - just like the barrel - and you'll want to keep up with their intervals just as you would replace a shot-out barrel.

And even the premium makes will require the same preventative maintenance and wear/use-parts replacements, based on your usage schedule.

Great questions, @Cips .
 
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Top