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PIGMAN
January 20, 2011, 04:50 AM
There seems to be a big difference of opinion concerning the level of product quality between the various manufacturers of AR style rifles. I find this confusing especially since all the parts are interchangable. Beond finish and accessorization I can not understand what conditions during the manufacturing process could result in such a dispairity in quality between the manufacturers. Considering the initial expence of setting up the tooling necessary to manufacture rifles, I am left wondering what sort of idiot would buy substandard metal for use in their rifles or build to sloppy tolerances? After examining several AR style rifles I can not see that any were made from inferior metals or could I detect with out using instrumentation any sloppy tollerances present in any of the products I looked at,although some had better finishes than others which is irrelevant to function and function is all I really care about.
Am I missing somthing here if so what are the important differences to look out for when I decide to buy this type of rifle???:confused:

madcratebuilder
January 20, 2011, 07:39 AM
This should get interesting. You have mil-spec and commercial parts, is one better? Not necessarily, depends on what material is used among other things.

Batch test vs full testing, take your pick, batch testing has been a proven method for decades.

You are going to hear a lot about carrier key staking and castle nut staking, what you well not hear is that one of the top tier bolt makers well not honor their warranty if the carrier has been staked. Staking causes more carrier bolt failures than not staking. The original intent of staking was a visual indication that the bolt/nut was loosing it's torque as well as a method of retention. They have been staking small fasteners on military rifles for over one hundred years, nothing new about it.

Uppers and lowers can be forged or billet, 6061 or 7075 and other grades. A few are even cast. Pick your favorite flavor of kool aid.

There was a poop storm a few years back when LMT started using MIM carrier keys. Not one documented failure to date that can be attributed to MIM.

I'm sure many well disagree and add their .02.

Bartholomew Roberts
January 20, 2011, 09:35 AM
The problem is AR rifles are very modular and can be built for a wide variety of uses. To give an example, most people won't notice too many differences between a RRA NM rifle and a Colt LE6920; but even though they look almost identical externally, they are built for two different purposes and are going to have different strengths and weaknesses as a result.

Most of the ARs out there now are relatively high-quality, especially compared to what has been available in the past 10 years.

You are going to hear a lot about carrier key staking and castle nut staking, what you well not hear is that one of the top tier bolt makers well not honor their warranty if the carrier has been staked.

Who is this bolt maker and by what logic do they decline to warranty a bolt based on the fact that the carrier key had been staked?

Staking causes more carrier bolt failures than not staking.

Well, I can only go on my own experience; but I've seen dozens of rifles that failed from having the carrier key work loose. I've never seen a rifle fail due to having the carrier key staked though. Could you elaborate on this hypothesis a bit more for me and describe how staking causes the failure and how you reached the conclusion that staking causes more failures than not staking?

I hate to hold up the military as an example given that most of the bad information I have ever received on weapons maintenance was in the military; but the TM for the M16 calls for staking the carrier key. You would think if this was the source of more failures than not staking, they would have sorted that out by now.

Quentin2
January 20, 2011, 09:48 AM
Pigman, have you looked at various spare parts for cars/trucks? Many parts are built to be interchangeable but are of wildly different quality. One wiper blade (thermostat, head gasket, alternator, starter...) is crap while another will meet the manufacturer's specs. Others may be better than factory issue.

Same thing with PCs, components tend to fit industry standard interfaces but quality varies. Some parts are good, some are not even though they do fit in the slot or drive bay.

No different with ARs. You want parts that meet military specs. You should avoid substandard parts or manufacturers who use them - unless your budget is lowball and the rifle will be very lightly used.

You have to research the components you buy or you probably get less than you paid for.

tirod
January 20, 2011, 10:10 AM
It's about meeting specification, and how it's done. 7075 is spec, but 6061 was first, it got upgraded because 7075 has better corrosion resistance. Strength was actually a minus, as it causes issues with machining tougher material and tool wear. The design is inherently strong enough, it was made for 6061.

How the machining is done, and how close to specification counts. Some lowers have tight magazine wells that have forced Pmag owner to file them down. Some uppers have slightly smaller diameters - say, a .994 vs. a 1.001. If you are using the Brownells' lapping tool to square the receiver, it may not fit the tight upper ever. .007 is all it took, my two different calipers vary that much (cheap - you get what you pay for.)

Milspec also includes the testing, whether it went through magnetic particle inspection individually or not. Where do the marginal bolts go that don't? We never see the photo of bad bolts getting scrapped, and it would be good advertising. If three of one hundred were tested, a commercial standard, there could be two others not acceptable - but they still get shipped, they weren't found and scrapped. That's why military specs are set up, they protect the taxpayer.

That doesn't mean those specs are leading edge or even good. A chromed barrel is great for throat erosion resistance in high volume fire, but it's not the preferred way to build for precision shooting. DOD only asks for a 2MOA standard anyway, it's effective. The civilian shooter may well want 1/2 MOA, and nitriding the barrel adds to the long term erosion resistance just as well.

That's were you find specs to be the line in the sand. Do you want a MPI GI issue bolt, or 9310 superbolt with 40% stronger lugs and tougher ejector? Parkerized bolt carrier or Melonite coated? GI cam pin or roller? Standard safety or ambidextrous, including the mag release? I'm Right Over Here Black, or camo?

They AREN'T all the same, even Chevy has 9 different small block water pumps, 8 filters, 4 different truck brake systems, etc etc. You have dig beyond the surface looks, it boils down to being educated and familiar with tech specs and how things get built. A debit card and good recommendation are just a start.

Technosavant
January 20, 2011, 11:22 AM
Who is this bolt maker and by what logic do they decline to warranty a bolt based on the fact that the carrier key had been staked?


Young Manufacturing. They consider Loctite good enough. I don't, so I staked mine. I'll have to deal with some chrome plating coming off the key in that area, but I'll try to keep it from affecting my emotional well being.

Generally, there's different amounts of quality control from different makers, but it depends on the exact part. When you're talking bolts, some makers individually do a magnetic particle inspection on every single one to check for problems. Others batch test because it's cheaper. Others don't do it at all. The difference is that microscopic cracks or other faults may not be detected without individual testing, and that can mean an early failure.

I'll say it again: most more expensive parts don't cost more because they're paying the janitor $100/hr and taking the entire company to Bermuda on the weekends. There's the law of diminishing returns- determine what it's worth to you and make your purchase based on that.

Scorch
January 20, 2011, 11:42 AM
There are differences between QC/QA methods used, and there are differences between quality levels of components used by manufacturers trying to hit a target price range. Very few AR makers manufacture their own upper/lower receivers, they buy the components from other manufacturers and assemble parts. Barrels are expensive, better barrels are more expensive, so they buy a barrel that is "good enough" for their target price. Triggers are a high-wear part, and shock-resistant/wear-resistant metals cost more, so they use other metals and sell replacement parts for when the sear wears enough that it affects the user. Lower priced rifles generally have lower quality/lower cost components in them, therefore they can be sold at a lower price. This is not some "evil conspiracy", it is business, and the manufacturers want to sell a product at a profit so they can stay in business. Same with cars, TVs, lawnmowers, etc.

Technosavant
January 20, 2011, 11:57 AM
Very few AR makers manufacture their own upper/lower receivers, they buy the components from other manufacturers and assemble parts.

Correct that few places make the forgings. However, many places will do the final machining and finishing on their own, but then again, there's very few receivers that are junk.

As for parts, they may spec different levels of quality, metal types, and so on, even if they don't make them themselves. Some rifles are built to a price, some are built to a spec, some are a "sky is the limit" even if the actual result doesn't matter much (billet machined receivers really don't result in a better rifle, but they sure cost more).

theinvisibleheart
January 20, 2011, 12:13 PM
my understanding is that for most manufacturers, including RRA, most of the parts, including receivers, are contracted out.

They might put the finishing touch and logo on it, but most of the premium for brand name is for QA/assembling the parts together.

Bartholomew Roberts
January 20, 2011, 12:43 PM
Young Manufacturing. They consider Loctite good enough. I don't, so I staked mine.

Ok, thanks for the heads up. Apparently they are concerned that hammer/punch style staking can stretch the thread on the screw and create a loose screw in the gas key. They explain their rationale here (http://www.youngmanufacturing.net/stakekeys.php).

Like you, I didn't find it all that convincing though. I'm a big believer in loctite, staking and witness marks on threaded fasteners on a firearm. Mostly from the awkward experience of having various fasteners work loose at inopportune times.

Magog
January 20, 2011, 02:48 PM
ISO 9000 states all processing has to be documented and audit consistently for QC, and all manufacturing employees six sigma methodologies equaling one defective part in a million.

QC to the professional is a standardize norm across the board. No manufacturing company would be able to secure banking capital if they did not have these two standards in place.


However to the layman who does not know anything about manufacturing quoting "QC bs" sounds real cool, and makes them think they know what they are talking about...

Psst... never buy an extended warranty, that just tells everyone you know nothing about manufacturing...

Also as Richard Scholberger, and Dr. Demming has told us all about world class manufacturing; making sure you do not manufacture junk parts makes sure you do not waste money and resources and save money... It is all about saving money and no one makes money producing crap.


Everything is made under six sigma, and SPC.

Quentin2
January 20, 2011, 03:16 PM
You'd think that Young Manufacturing would invest in a MOACKS tool to solve the "problem".


Young Manufacturing. They consider Loctite good enough. I don't, so I staked mine.

Ok, thanks for the heads up. Apparently they are concerned that hammer/punch style staking can stretch the thread on the screw and create a loose screw in the gas key. They explain their rationale here.

Like you, I didn't find it all that convincing though. I'm a big believer in loctite, staking and witness marks on threaded fasteners on a firearm. Mostly from the awkward experience of having various fasteners work loose at inopportune times.

GaryM&P
January 20, 2011, 03:23 PM
"After examining several AR style rifles I can not see that any were made from inferior metals"

You can tell by looking?

You really have to understand metallurgy to understand the differences between rifles.

Until you do your homework look at it this way. If two wooden bridges were built across a river with identically sized boards, one made out of oak and the other pine, which would you want to drive over?

PIGMAN
January 21, 2011, 02:48 AM
I do not believe anyone uses an inferior metal since the liabilty exposure would be astonomical and I do not know of anyone excepting the Chicoms and Asian Indians who actually make inferior metals. What I mean by inferior in this context refers to various metals which according to generally acceptable mechanical engineering standards where one alloy may be better than another but where more that one metal is with in acceptable standards. Also the cost of the various metals meeting acceptable standards for the application can not have a huge price spreads and considering the weight of metal used in firearm construction is around 20 lbs per unit before milling so metal costs are not a significant factor contolling quality. Aluminum alloy ain't titainium or paladium.

As far as bridge safety is concerned , safety of bridges chiefly depends upon inspection and maintance as well as its original engineering and design. The material used in it's constructed is not nearly as important. All things being equal if I had to choose I definatly like reinforced concrete bridges rather than wood.

PIGMAN
January 21, 2011, 02:59 AM
After reading everyones thoughts on this subject I still think most of these rifles are about the same. There are differences for sure as many of you pointed out, however no one pointed out any fatal flaws in any specific AR on the market. I probably wont go the government route and buy from the lowest bidder. I found a local manufacturer here that hand builds AR"s and will get one from him.

http://azarmory.net/pictures_57VC.html

madcratebuilder
January 21, 2011, 08:24 AM
After reading everyones thoughts on this subject I still think most of these rifles are about the same. There are differences for sure as many of you pointed out, however no one pointed out any fatal flaws in any specific AR on the market. I probably wont go the government route and buy from the lowest bidder. I found a local manufacturer here that hand builds AR"s and will get one from him.

Exactly! It just depends on what flavor of kool-aid you prefer.

What kind of warranty does AA give you? Is it in writing?


Quote:
Staking causes more carrier bolt failures than not staking.
Well, I can only go on my own experience; but I've seen dozens of rifles that failed from having the carrier key work loose. I've never seen a rifle fail due to having the carrier key staked though. Could you elaborate on this hypothesis a bit more for me and describe how staking causes the failure and how you reached the conclusion that staking causes more failures than not staking?

I have seen carrier bolts so badly beaten by staking that they had to be removed on a milling machine. Bolt heads break from over staking then need to be drilled out. IF you use the correct torque specs, correct staking methods (witness marks) and do PM you should SEE any problems with carrier bolts becoming loose before it's a stoppage.

The carrier bolts should not be reused. They are dirt cheap, replace them if one becomes loose.

kristop64089
January 21, 2011, 08:28 AM
If your looking at custom builds, look here:
http://www.ar15performance.com/

He is a custom builder as well. His 6.8spc barrels are highly sought after, and are considered to be one of the most accurate(if not THE MOST) accurate rifles.

He also offers a SOCOM/RECON proflie barrel, on midlength gas systems, which is nice, since the M-4 profile is unnecessary for most shooters.

As far as factory built rifles go, there is only one manufacturer I will recommend, and that's because they build 100% of their guns, in house.(except for the Magpul Furniture) And they are DANIEL DEFENSE.

They machine there screws, pins, barrels, sights, forearms, lowers, uppers, grips, all of it. I have talked(in depth) with "Joe" at DD, and he told me this on numerous times. My DD M4v2 may have been the nicest AR I have ever owned

madcratebuilder
January 21, 2011, 09:02 AM
As far as factory built rifles go, there is only one manufacturer I will recommend, and that's because they build 100% of their guns, in house.(except for the Magpul Furniture) And they are DANIEL DEFENSE.

They machine there screws, pins, barrels, sights, forearms, lowers, uppers, grips, all of it. I have talked(in depth) with "Joe" at DD, and he told me this on numerous times. My DD M4v2 may have been the nicest AR I have ever owned

Are you sure about that? From reading DD's web site it indicates to me they rely on venders just like most all AR builders. They do build a fine rifle but they have QC problems like everyone else. Read the industry forum at afrcom.

kristop64089
January 21, 2011, 05:20 PM
Madcrate, Yes as of 1/27/2010 I am sure of it. Here is an email correspondence between Joe Marler and I:

From: Joe Marler <*******@danieldefense.com>
To: kris shaw <********@yahoo.com>
Sent: Wed, January 27, 2010 2:39:09 PM
Subject: RE: Customer Service

Kris,

Thank you for choosing Daniel Defense. Our Uppers, Lowers, Barrels, Charging Handles, and BCGs are all manufactured in our 38000 sq ft manufacturing facility. We have 16 CNC Vertical Machines, 4 CNC Lathes, A hammer forge barrel cell, and a Swiss screw machine. This equipment along with a dedicated, knowledgeable, and professional team enables us to manufacture 100% of our product offerings. If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Semper Fi,

Joe Marler
Military Sales Representative

Granted it is 1 year later, and they have increased there offerings, so it's possible to outsource certain items. The Swiss Screw Machine allows them to manufacture very small parts, such as pins.
This email was enough to gain my confidence and recommend them when ever I can.
QC is so much easier to control, when you produce everything in house. Do they have issues? sure, but it's bound to happen.
The fact that they are producing 100% of their stuff means a great deal to me. Anyone can assemble an AR and charge an arm and a leg, not everyone can build a AR, and keep the price competitive.

Quentin2
January 21, 2011, 08:17 PM
Thanks for posting that email, kris. I'm also sold on Daniel Defense and just received my DD midlength upper yesterday. Top notch quality and specs at a good price. It almost guarantees that the AR I'm building will be done right.

There is a difference between the various manufacturers so I think it's wise to pay a little more for a better rifle. If you're talking a lifetime investment then the extra $100 or so makes sense and probably saves you repair costs later.

Wrath of Firepower
January 22, 2011, 02:41 AM
I love my Daniel Defense XVEZ. Great guns.

madcratebuilder
January 22, 2011, 08:01 AM
Madcrate, Yes as of 1/27/2010 I am sure of it. Here is an email correspondence between Joe Marler and I:

Quote:
From: Joe Marler <*******@danieldefense.com>
To: kris shaw <********@yahoo.com>
Sent: Wed, January 27, 2010 2:39:09 PM
Subject: RE: Customer Service

Kris,

Thank you for choosing Daniel Defense. Our Uppers, Lowers, Barrels, Charging Handles, and BCGs are all manufactured in our 38000 sq ft manufacturing facility. We have 16 CNC Vertical Machines, 4 CNC Lathes, A hammer forge barrel cell, and a Swiss screw machine. This equipment along with a dedicated, knowledgeable, and professional team enables us to manufacture 100% of our product offerings. If you have any more questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Semper Fi,

Joe Marler
Military Sales Representative
Granted it is 1 year later, and they have increased there offerings, so it's possible to outsource certain items. The Swiss Screw Machine allows them to manufacture very small parts, such as pins.
This email was enough to gain my confidence and recommend them when ever I can.
QC is so much easier to control, when you produce everything in house. Do they have issues? sure, but it's bound to happen.
The fact that they are producing 100% of their stuff means a great deal to me. Anyone can assemble an AR and charge an arm and a leg, not everyone can build a AR, and keep the price competitive.

Great info, thanks. I completely agree with you, in house production does give them much better control. I have always liked DD rails and lpk's. I'll add complete rifles to my list.

PIGMAN
January 25, 2011, 04:44 AM
The main reason I am shopping for an AR style rifle (besides the fact they are cool) is for camp ground security.I live in Arizona and due to the problem of illegal aliens roaming loose around the State doing burglaries, armed robberies and most every other known felony and misdemenor caused me to re-evaluate my primary defensive weapon.The illegals are well known for shooting at who ever when ever. For this and other less compelling reasons I decided a high capacity magazine semi auto with more range than my Mini-14 may be needed especially since the most recent news coverage of drug and weapon seizures shows the illegals have appearently up graded their weaponry from a just a few AK-47s and an assortment of bolt and lever guns to presumably M-16s. After watching the latest bad news surrounding the border war this weekend I changed my mind entirely on buying any assault rifle chambered for anything less than .30 cal.

This weekends round up of illegal aliens covered on the local news shows they are now packing M-16/ARs instead of the usual AKs etc.The cops also seized somthing like 50 AR rifles going south in to Mexico and also covered the latest drug war casualties in Mexico. According to latest pictures of the the Mexican authorities, it appears they have very recently switched from M-16s to FALs. Makes me wonder if the Mexican Army sold their M-16s to the drug gangs and bought FALs.

Unless you live near the Mexican border it would be impossible for anyone to really wrap their mind around what sort of craziness is going on here and the need for as much fire power as you can afford just to go camping fishing or hunting.

The Mexicans seem to be re-tooling for more efficent mahem with M-16s. Now the question has become which rifle do I purchase in order to OUT GUN M-16 weilding felonious drug crazed Mexican border thugs? No question about it,the first name that comes to mind is Ronnie Barrett and his line of rifles.But considering what may be coming down the pipeline can Mini-guns or other full auto belt fed weapons be considered excessive especially in certain situations such as while hunting and accidently stumbling in to a Mexican run clandestine pot farm and surprising 5 or 6 paranoid drug addled third worlders packing drum fed AKs.. In a case like this an A-10 Warthog would not necessarily be considered too much gun by many sportsmen.


As a result of Obamanomics coupled with many other unfortunate economic circumstances , Mr.Barrett's fine products(as well as Class-3 weaponry) are beyond my present budget . After taking my financial resources and everything else bearing on this subject in to consideration,I decided to look at AR platforms chambered for in .308, M1A1 and the FAL.


After shopping around,I discovered I could purchase an M1A1 for about the same cost as the DPMS LR8 with with lots of usefull accessories such as, 5 extra mags,a Nikon fixed 4X Prostaff scope , a Sight Mark laser and an ATN gen#1 night vision scope. I liked the LR8 and with all these extras incuded got the whole package for about what the M1A1 cost with no extras. For general campground warfare the LR8 with the extra goodies added for my intended purpose and budget was by far the best choice.So all things considered I am satisfied with what I got for my money.After breaking in the barrel I fired 100 rnds.thru it and it shoots great.It is accurate and my only gripes are the grips ( changed to Houges) and the trigger,otherwise its a great rifle.


Thanks for all of your input on AR platform rifles.I chose the AR platform because it was the biggest bang for the buck and no one who responded to this thread said they did not like this platform, the only subject of disagreement concerned only which maker produced the best product. I am sure pleased with my LR8 and thanks for the input.

Quentin2
January 25, 2011, 12:40 PM
Good luck P, I hope your new rifle works out and that you never need to use it for defense.

I will say that the link you gave bothered me because they don't identify many of the parts going into their ARs. I would not have confidence in their product and think you were wise to go with something else.

Wrath of Firepower
January 25, 2011, 12:44 PM
Be safe , alert and vigilant and good luck.