AR-15 brand recommendations

This is a discussion on AR-15 brand recommendations within the Defensive Rifles & Shotgun Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Originally Posted by atctimmy No, I don't put PSA on par with BCM but for the money they seem to have a lot of value. ...

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Thread: AR-15 brand recommendations

  1. #61
    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atctimmy View Post
    No, I don't put PSA on par with BCM but for the money they seem to have a lot of value.
    I don't put it on par with anything yet, but from what I hear, it seems very similar when BCM decided to offer uppers and lowers. I think PSA is a good option and starting with their lowers doesn't put you at much risk.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

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  3. #62
    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RKM View Post
    What minor changes would you suggest? The only thing I've really thought about changing on mine was maybe going to a complete BCM BCG. Even so I don't feel like it's completely necessary that I MUST change it, I'd still like to in the near future. And once the barrel wears out, change that to whatever I deem to be acceptable or good at the time that it finally wears out. But I have time, and don't see the need to change the barrel right now. I'm already using a DD 12.0 Omega X because my YHM flip up sight caused my to break my OE Troy handguard. Yeah... The standard A2 front sight went right back on.

    I'm not extremely rough on my rifles. They're mainly used on the range, as it's not often I need to use them for defense :) But home defense is the primary reason I have my rifles.
    I don't think it's necessary to replace the bolt carrier group with an auto carrier. It's my preference, but a semi auto carrier will work fine. I would make sure the bolt had the proper testing and then check the extractor for the correct spring and the black insert.

    I'd double check the staking on my end plate and carrier key... The carrier key being the more important of the too for proper function since gas will leak through and not cycle correctly.

    If it has a fixed front sight block be sure it's F marked so there are no issues with zeroing.

    I'd install an H buffer at the minimum since many of these brands come with a carbine buffer. Personally I'd just switch to a Vltor A5, but that's personal preference.

    I'd check the take down pins but more importantly the trigger and hammer pin holes to assure they're in spec. I'd then have the chamber checked to verify it is 5.56. It's no secret that companies like DPMS, Bushmaster, RRA, Olympic and similar stamp 5.56 on their barrels but actually use a 223 chamber. I guess that's fine if you shoot nothing but 223, but 5.56 can be a serious issue. I'm to sure exactly why they do this. It might be the tighter 223 chamber can be slightly more accurate, maybe it's cheaper?? I've heard about them doing it for accuracy, but I honestly don't know for sure. If my chamber was 223, I'd definitely want it reamed to 5.56 for reliability as I've had issues with a 223 chamber.

    Now, instead of reaming it, you could always just replace the barrel with one from BCM, Daniel Defense, Noveske, Colt, etc. a non-CHF barrel from BCM is just over $200 while the CHF is about $300. Even though the steel used is not mil spec on the commercial grade rifles, it's still likely 4140 or 4150. Mil spec steel is e11952, which is a certified 4150, if I remember correctly. So, even though Bushmaster may use 4150, it's not mil spec...if that matters to you.

    Personally, as long as my rifle was reliable and accurate, I wouldn't change the barrel until it started getting shot out.

    The biggest issue with a commercial grade barrel from Bushmaster, for example, isn't the steel or chrome lining, but the gas ports. If a mil spec gas port on a 14.5" barrel, off the top of my head, is .063. The equivalent commercial grade rifle will usually have a gas port size that's larger. I hear they do this since a commercial grade weapon will usually see commercial grade ammunition and it allows more gas through the system. The down side of this is more gas and carbon in the system, sharper recoil and less smooth operation and quicker erosion of the gas port which will mean even more gas coming in and those issue becoming worse. The not fix for this is a heavier buffer. Seeing as they ship with carbine buffers, often times an parade to an H2 is needed on a 16" carbine gassed commercial grade rifle. Personally, I'd buy an H3, open both the carbine and H3 and mix the SS and tungsten weights to make my own H1, H2 and H3 so I wouldn't have to buy another one. The only difference with doing it this way is the stamp on the buffer. Vltor recommends it for the 14.5" mid length with their A5 buffer if you're short stroking or not locking back.

    The points about staking, the bolt and checking the chamber come from the "Oh No, I Bout a Bushmaster, Stag, RRA before I knew better" thread by Rob_S on m4carbine.net. Doing these things will squeeze the most reliability out of your rifle and assuming everything is in spec, it should run as reliable as the pro grade weapons...once you switch to a properly tested bolt and set up the buffer and spring properly.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

  4. #63
    RKM
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    On the old comparison chart (recent one, S&W didn't participate) I remember it showing the M&P15's had an M16 BCG. Not really sure how to tell if mine does. The barrel is stamped 5.56 1:9. I know 1:9 is not mil-spec, but it shoots 75gr at 100 yards just fine, and that's good enough for me. As far as shooting 5.56, again no problems. I'd imagine using 5.56 in a .223 chamber would be problematic. I know that there are differences in the 5.56 and .223 casing. I've shot plenty of 5.56 in my rifle with no ill effects. Empty cases never stick in the chamber. 5.56 cycles fine, and has never blown my rifle to pieces. I'd assume that since S&W designed the rifle for LE, the 5.56 chamber would be true. But I've learned in the past that assuming things can get me into some serious trouble.

    A lot of the stuff you say to check or make sure are in spec, I don't even know where to start to have that done, haha! Where can I check if the bolt has had proper testing? And how can I tell if the extractor has the proper spring and black insert (the o-ring?). It certainly has no issues with extraction. Now the take-down pins, there is a very tiny wiggle in the upper and lower. Honestly, it isn't even noticeable unless you purposely try to wiggle the upper and lower with force. Other that fit and finish, I don't see this having any serious effects on anything. As far as the gas port in the barrel, is 5.56 XM193 considered commercial grade? Or is commercial grade strictly .223?

    Explain what kind of difference a H buffer will make. And how can I can if my rifle has or doesn't have one already?

    I love my M&P15. I know it's not a BCM, LMT or a Colt. But I think it's a pretty decent rifle. However, if I can make improvements that will really make a difference, I'd love to. I'm mainly concerned with knowing for a fact that my chamber is in fact 5.56 and that the bolt is what it needs to be. Those are what most important to me.

  5. #64
    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    If its an H it'll have an H stamped on the flat surface that you can see without removing it. For the auto bolt carrier group I'll have to link some pics.

    Here's a link to a thread that shows the differences - http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=14534
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

  6. #65
    RKM
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    According to this picture, my BCG is an AR15 "enhanced", whatever that means.


    Nothing is stamped on my buffer. Any reason to also upgrade the spring? I do know the buffer tube is mil-spec if that matters. The H buffer is just heavier? Somebody in the link states the beneift of the M16 BCG is extra weight. Does this aid in cycling and chambering? What about the bolt itself. How can I tell that it's properly tested.

    The front sight block is marked "F".

    Everywhere I check online states the M&P chambers are 5.56. Seems nobody has issues firing 5.56, including myself. I mainly fire .223 at the range due to price. However, I like to keep XM193 stashed away. I've shot XM193 and Mk262 with no issues. Only thing I noticed was the Mk262 made mega-tight groups :)

    I apologize. I sound like a child playing 20 questions.

    EDIT: Been doing some reading. The M&P15's have a .070 gas port and people seem to like the Spikes Tactical buffer. The weight is 4.3oz, in between an H at 3.7oz and H2 at 4.7oz. And apparently, is gets rid of the buffer noise, which IMO would be a plus. I just want to make sure I'm still capable of shooting .223 without causing short stroking issues.

    Read the "Oh No, I Bout a Bushmaster, Stag, RRA before I knew better" thread. Good info. After looking through that, it seems, to me comparing pictures to my personal M&P15 that it's not so bad after all. Only thing it lacks is the M16 BCG and H buffer. And it seems as if the buffer has more of an impact on performance than the M16 carrier does. Carrier key looks to be properly staked as does the receiver extension. Extractor does have a black insert. As for the BCG, they're made my LMT? That's a good thing. Comparing the "early S&W" to the "current S&W" BCG, they say the current S&W BCG have LMT "non-performence center models".

    Honestly, after doing a good bit of reading on m4carbine, I think all I'm going to need to make me 100% satisfied is an H buffer and someday, possibly upgrade to a BCM or some other M16 BCG if I feel the need. After comparing my M&P15 to some pictures, it's not so bad. My rifle is NOT a safe queen, but I'm not shooting 15,000 rounds a year either. It'll be awhile until I wear out my barrel and if/when I do, I'll make sure I get something worth while. For now, there is no issue with the barrel that makes me want to upgrade it. The only thing I can't prove or tell is if the bolt is properly tested. Have only found that it is shot peened.

    Thanks for the info and the links. It's been a big help. I learned a lot in the past few hours :) I have much more to learn.
    Last edited by RKM; October 23rd, 2011 at 11:40 PM.

  7. #66
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    Nice link Jon, I learned something. Thanks.
    Mark Twain:
    The government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant; it cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong, and decide who is a
    patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.

  8. #67
    VIP Member Array jonconsiglio's Avatar
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    RKM, I'll answer those questions in a few... For now, stay away from the Spikes buffer. It's a bit gimmicky (though it can work) and offers nothing over the H or H2 that it falls between. I would absolutely switch to an H2.. What I'd do is buy an H3 and use the 3 tungsten weights for it and the 3 steel weights from your current carbine buffer to make my own H1 or H2. With your set up, an H2 is most likely ideal though an H will work fine as well. the number after the H refers to the number of tungsten weights used. They contain three weights total and the other weights will be stainless except in the H3 which is just 3 tungsten weights. The Spikes uses a tungsten powder.

    What ammo do you typically run? I should have asked this first....

    EDIT - the heavier buffer and bolt carrier will slow unlocking time which aids in extraction (as does having the black insert instead of blue under the extractor) and also stops any bolt bounce when the bolt slams home.

    My explanation may not be perfect, so some research is a good idea, but here's the gist of it - when the bullet is fired, the case expands and seals the chamber. If extraction starts too soon after the bullet is fired, there's a greater chance of a malfunction. Most likely the extra force required to extract the round will slow the bolt enough to cause a failure to cycle. Another possibility is a torn case rim or damage to the extractor. At the very least, the result will be a less smooth extraction and overal function.

    By switching to a heavier buffer and auto bolt carrier group, you'll help delay extraction. By delaying the extraction, it gives the case enough time to recover from the expansion allowing a smoother extraction. This obviously will result in smoother operation. The overal speed of the bolt carrier will be reduced as well during the cycle thus resulting in smoother operation.

    Another result of the added weight will be reducing bolt bounce. If you Google it, you'll see video of the bolt coming ome, then bouncing back before locking closed. Not a good thing obviously.

    An H buffer and auto bolt carrier group as well as the proper extractor insert are included with most professional grade rifles. It's definitely a worthwhile upgrade. You can buy the auto bolt carrier or bolt carrier group and continue to use the bolt that you have now until it needs replaced, or replace it with the new one and keep it as an emergency spare.

    There's more too it than that, but hopefully it gives you a basic understanding of the benefits. Of course has port and ammunition will play a part in this. Stick with milspec springs for the most part. A carbine receiver extension has a lot less room to work and is less forgiving than a rifle receiver extension. Though rifle buffers are a bit heavier (and longer) than carbine buffers, you can't really compare weights in that sense due to the longer and more forgiving rifle spring. This is why I prefer the Vltor A5 receiver extension. It'll stil fit mil spec stocks, but the tube is 3/4" longer than a carbine's. The spring used is a rifle spring and the buffer is of rifle weight, it's just shorter since they removed some of the length that's not needed for function. This gives you the best of both worlds in my opinion. It's almost the same size as a standard carbine receiver extension, uses the same stocks but has the added reliability of the rifle receiver extsension. That's for another thread though.

    Hope this helps a bit. Let me now if you need more info. I'll see what links I can find as well.
    Proven combat techniques may not be flashy and may require a bit more physical effort on the part of the shooter. Further, they may not win competition matches, but they will help ensure your survival in a shooting or gunfight on the street. ~Paul Howe

  9. #68
    RKM
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    I mainly shoot .223, but not exclusively. It's probably a 70/30 mix of .223 vs 5.56. Like I said, I have 5.56 stashed away because even FMJ .223 vs FMJ 5.56, it's superior in fragmentation. I didn't want to go so heavy that .223 won't cycle the bolt. Though, I saw some vids on youtube last night. I was reading all about bolt bounce. It was like information overload. It seems the H vs. the ST-T2 (even though it's heavier) the H prevents bolt bounce much more than the Spikes does. Only true benefit I've read about the Spikes is it's quieter. Also stated the ammo and the buffer being used in the vid, they were shooting Wolf with H2's, so I'm sure quality .223 will do just fine.

    Upgrading the buffer seems much more economical as far as bag for buck vs. the M16 BCG. What kind of extra weight is there compared to the standard semi-BCG? I'd eventually do both, but the buffer alone is much cheaper. Thankfully, I already knew I had a black insert under my extractor. Not like that would be an expensive change anyway.

    The only thing I know about my buffer tube is that it's mil-spec. I have a Mil-spec Magpul stock on it. Not sure about the spring.

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