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Old 02-19-2011, 01:51   #1
surf
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Is my rifle "Good Enough?"

Good enough for what is the real question?

Category A - Is your rifle a wall flower that hangs on a wall or sits in a safe only to be brought out at family gatherings or parties to impress people and make you look cool? Or are you an occasional shooter maybe only shooting 200 - 300 rounds a year, trying to put a few not so well placed holes on a paper target, or hoping to get some solid hits on the deer sized target and maybe praying to hit that pesky squirrel sized steel target but you have just as much fun as anyone else on the range?

Category B - Are you once a month type of shooter who shoots well enough to get most rounds on paper and only needs to rebuild target frames once or twice a year because for the most part you can avoid turning them into Swiss cheese? Or are you a dedicated weekend warrior ripping through 200-300 rounds a session?

Category C - Are you a competition shooter blasting away looking for your next gold medal? Or a firearms enthusiast extraordinaire where you dutifully rip through your entire paycheck weekly on ammo in the anticipation of the apocalyptic zombie hoards that are our inevitable future? Perhaps shooting round counts, maybe in select fire mode, that might even make the super ninjas in Delta say "WTF is up with that guy?" Well OK, maybe the super ninjas might actually laugh but none the less you still dutifully beat the ever living piss our of your boom stick on a regular basis?

Category D - Or do you use your rifle for personal or home defense or for duty / deployment applications, where your very life and the lives of others rests on your equipment and your skills with them?

I will also make note that what I define as Category D, does not automatically mean that this puts many of these users in the "high use" category either. Because quite frankly most in LE and even the military might tote a weapon around daily possibly in a vehicle etc, but it does not go bang as often as some would believe, if ever more than just during qualifications.

So lets look at the categories and what rifle will suit their needs or should be looked at to suit their needs.....

Category A
These people probably would have so little clue about the weapon platform that the name Oly, Vulcan or Hesse would have as little meaning as Noveske, Colt or Bravo Company. They only know that the Evil Black Rifle has a high CDI factor and it might make them look and feel cool. Just having a rifle in this platform is good enough for them and pretty much any EBR would fill their needs perfectly.

If they happen to have the money and want the best then so be it. But having the "Best" will serve them no better than having the "worst". Unless if that hot chick that they are trying to impress actually knows a thing or two about weapons then having the "best" might impress. However if that hot chick actually knows about weapons, there are probably hordes of guys after her anyway and you had best be a "stud" to even think about impressing her. But if you are clueless about the rifle and if you cant shoot, you are probably a "dud" and not a "stud" in her eyes and won't get to first base with her anyway.

Category B
Picking a very average to even a mid level rifle will probably serve you very well in your needs. Even a used mid level rifle in good condition at a good cost is something to look at.

In reality your average to mid level rifle will probably do all that your ever ask of it. However we cannot discount the fact that your probabilities of getting a lemon or having parts fail earlier is increased. This does not mean that weapons in this class are falling apart all over the ranges across America, but to think that anything will last as long as another object made of better materials using higher standards for quality assurance testing and better build methods, is kidding themselves.

Category C
Purchasing a mid level rifle may work well, but you should really be looking at picking a top quality rifle from the start. With the pricing at the time of this writing if you pick a mid level rifle, you might actually be a cheap bastard, or too impulsive or impatient and come up with 101 reasons why you have saved $900 and cannot save another $100 or so to purchase a top quality rifle from the start.

Picking a top quality rifle that addresses the most common failure points of this weapon system is a very good idea. Top quality materials, top quality build standards and top quality testing and quality control procedures. In this category, it is common to see people purchase mid level rifles and end up upgrading out of desire or necessity. Invariably many will end up spending more money in the long run then if they would have spent the money up front right from the start. "Buy once, cry once" fits this category well. However having a total failure of the rifle in this category just means that your shooting day might be spoiled. These shooters should be looking into rifles that fit into the Governments Technical Data Package (TDP), often referred to as Mil-Spec standards.

Category D
I will again quickly reiterate that those within this category of users may not be heavy use shooting types. In fact, from what I have seen in personal experiences in dealing heavily with these types, is that they may be occasional shooters. They may not even be "gun types". They may be able to qualify with their weapons be it CCW, LE or military but that may be the greatest extent of their shooting time. Hearing someone say, "well my rifle has served me well at work for over a decade" is a bit misleading when they may have only fired the damn thing during quals twice a year if that.

The greatest distinction in Category D is this person has their own life, lives of loved ones, partners, team members, or those they are entrusted to protect, on the line. They need to have that weapon function as reliably as possible, work each and every time with the highest level of expectation for it to do so, be it a several hundred or thousands of rounds. If you chose to own any weapon for defensive purposes, please have the appropriate quality training from a quality instructor and have a practiced plan and be proficient with the weapon.

This category of user cannot afford to have a "cry twice" experience. While we cannot 100% assure that this will not happen, we can attempt to mitigate these possibilities by making sure that we pick a weapon that adheres to a proven standard of materials, build procedures, testing procedures and quality control. Again nothing is a guarantee in life other than death, but cutting down the chances of death by choosing a high quality firearm to rely upon to save your life or the life of a loved one is a good thing. Unless if someone can give me a reason why choosing one of the best isn't a good thing?

IMO, these shooters need to be looking into rifles that fit into the Governments Technical Data Package (TDP), often referred to as Mil-Spec standards. The assurance that I get and my life or the life of my family is worth more than the extra $100 or so that I spent. Is yours? Or do you feel comfortable advocating anything less than this? I sure as heck don't. Not for a measly $100. This isn't brand snobbery either, just common sense and not letting a small monetary value get in the way of logical thinking.

We also need to understand that just because a LE agency, even Federal, picks a certain weapon, does not automatically make it the best. It usually means that it was the more economical option as opposed to what was the best choice for the job. Again, the best choice and "good enough" does not cut it in my book here.

I will close this category with saying that if you do have a rifle that sees home protection or duty type uses, please do a good vetting of that rifle, no matter if it meets TDP or not. Run the rifle hard with rapid fire, heat up the weapon, make the parts work hard for several hundred or more rounds before you trust your life to it.

OK, so what is so important about the Govs TDP and Mil-Spec?
Without getting too heavily into a Mil-Spec argument, I will just say that nothing is truly Mil-Spec, unless if it has been tested by the Government and certified as such. That does not mean that a maker cannot produce a product to meet or even exceed these standards, but unless if it gets that stamped seal of approval from Uncle Sam, it is NOT Mil-Spec period.

OK, so what is the Governments TDP? The TDP outlines what the Government decided was the minimal standards that a rifle in this category needs to meet. It addresses key or critical components that are most prone to failure and outlines a MINIMAL set of standards that need to be met to greatly decrease the chance of a weapons premature failure or to increase longevity. Again I will reiterate that these are THE MINIMAL GOVERNMENT STANDARDS. This will include, but is not limited to, quality of materials used, assembly procedures and testing procedures.

So if a company cannot AT THE LEAST build a rifle to meet these MINIMAL Government standards, what does that say about that company and their product? What kind of materials do they use? What type of testing procedures do they use to assure their product? What type of manufacture or build procedures do they use? What is their quality control standards? What regulates what they build, how they build it and what they build it out of? Nothing really. There is no other standard.

There is no argument that the cost to build rifles to meet or exceed these standards is costly. Materials cost more, it costs more to conduct the testing, it costs more to build it correctly, it costs more to quality control it. I will say that it is much much more costly than the current $100 or so disparity between the makers who produce rifles that meet the Governments TDP and the next level of rifle makers who do not.

So if a top notch rifle costs only $100 more than a rifle than a rifle that literally costs a few hundred less to produce, what the heck is happening here you might ask? Sounds like there are companies who are relying on people who are less informed about the weapon and companies who pray or rely on ignorant consumers.

I know this is not going to sit well with many people as firearm purchases are extremely personal for most people. But the facts are what they are. Either companies build to these standards or they do not. Don't take things personal as many rifles will bring a smile to your face and hours upon hours and thousands of rounds of enjoyment. Just be informed.

We also need to understand that with thousands or tens of thousands of rifles from a manufacturer a sampling of my rifle and my buddies buddies rifle means little statistically speaking. So saying my rifle runs great is wonderful but in reality it means little in the overall picture.
We need to stop throwing around the word Mil-Spec. We need to avoid saying "it has run flawless" without putting into context what "flawless" means in regards to your usage. We need to stop getting hurt feelings and attempting to justify our purchases. Just know what our needs are, our budget and have fun with it. But please, please avoid saying, "well its as good as a Colt or (insert any rifle that meets the TDP)". Unless if it meets or exceeds the TDP, it 99.9% will not be as good as that top of the line rifle. Again, one or three rifles, a sampling does not make.

There is a rifle out there for everyone but the main thing is that we understand our budget and more importantly what our needs are and be realistic about this. Most important is that we like what we have, understand its assets or limitations and have a good time with it!

Surf
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Old 02-19-2011, 08:53   #2
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Good post.
With a case of ammo costing around $300, if you are an avid shooter, it won’t be long before you spend more on ammo than what the gun cost. So why not get a TDP grade carbine to begin with.
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Old 02-19-2011, 09:22   #3
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Good post.

Impatience leading to purchasing something under qualified for your needs is what I cant understand. Finances arent always available for youre ideal firearm at the moment, understandably. How easy is it though to look through your expenses and find multiple spots you can cut back. Im not talking about paying bills late or going hungry. Its as simple as cutting out McDonalds in exchange for PB&J, a couple less trips to the movies or your favorite resturant. Dont buy groceries for eight when theres only two of you in the house. Dont purchase that cheap optic you know you're not going to be happy w/. You'll end up replaceing it. Thats money lost. If you're just punching paper why not buy Wolf or Tula instead of the $300+ a case stuff? Most if not all rifles should function w/ it.

Saving that extra $100 is easy and can, in most cases, be done in a month or less.

My first AR purchase was a LWRC w/ an EoTech. I caught some flac over it. But I took it to heart and learned from it. My experience, sample of one, has been great. I do however understand some guys have experienced problems w/ theirs. If I had the 3k to do over again, who knows.
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Old 02-19-2011, 09:58   #4
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Somebody read the OP and give me a short synopsis of what he said.
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:11   #5
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Somebody read the OP and give me a short synopsis of what he said.
Buy a gun that suits your individual needs, but don't claim that an Oly with cast receiver you bought from a buddy for $500 is as good as a Noveske N4. As with any product, you truly do get what you pay for.
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:34   #6
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Somebody read the OP and give me a short synopsis of what he said.
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:42   #7
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Somebody read the OP and give me a short synopsis of what he said.
It left me scratching my head too.

It almost apears that he is saying that if an AR meets the TDP standards, then it is "good enough". When people talk about "Mil-Spec" and "TDP", there are somethings they leave out. The Government requires batch testing of certain components and end products. One thing I saw a few years ago was testing on Kevlar helmets. The company in Ohio that produces these is required to pull a small number out of a large batch and test them with a light load 55gr. .223 round. I found that to be odd. The guys shooting at me are likely to be using a 123gr. 7.62x39 round. Why is testing not done with those? If the .223 round does not penetrate, the batch is good to go. I doubt very seriously that every bolt, BCG, CH, lower receiver, barrel, upper receiver, mag release, etc. goes through QC testing. If they did and provided proof for each and every part, I would be very impressed. Are some ARs built to better standards than some others, you bet. These days, I would venture to say that differences are getting fewer. A lot of newer companies have come on the scene and stepped up the game by providing good quality ARs for very reasonable prices. They are giving the "so-called" big dogs a good dose of competition.

People are going to buy what appeals to them. A lot of them have limited budgets and want to get the best bang for their buck. I build most of my ARs because I know what I want. If I want to build a HSLD gun, I will look for some of the best parts available. If I am building a fun gun, I want good quality stuff for a reasonable price. I DO NOT buy junk. My money is too hard to come by to waste it like that. I research all of my builds before I get started. I look around for the product that best suits my needs and then I try to get the best price on it. I have learned how to save money on some things in order to spend a little more where I need it. I have several AR that have over $3K put into them and I have some that have less than $1K put into them. I even have a few that I built for less than $700 that function "flawlessly".

Are all 18 of my ARs good enough? You bet your @$$. Are some of them more than good enough? Yes. Will every one of them kill a man when I need use it for such purpose? Without a doubt.

What category do I fit in? My own.
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Old 02-19-2011, 11:51   #8
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If I want to build a HSLD gun, I will look for some of the best parts available. If I am building a fun gun, I want good quality stuff for a reasonable price.
So.......pretty much what OP said; buy according to your intended use.
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Old 02-19-2011, 13:19   #9
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Was this in response to someone asking if their rifle was good enough?
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Old 02-19-2011, 13:25   #10
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Was this in response to someone asking if their rifle was good enough?
They will still post the same damn question or which ammo is better
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Old 02-19-2011, 13:52   #11
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It's actually a bit offending to classify people into groups....

But whatever, I'm a B. Some of us don't have the $ to spend on thousands or rounds of ammo, or guns that cost $2K. And some of us have lives that don't evolve around firearms. Some of us know the reality of the world & that zombies are a fairy tail, & the chances of little old me repealing boarders with my few rds of ammo & a few small arms are about as likely as living on the sun.
I have good enough stuff for me.

With that said I have mid/upper tier gear. BCM, Spikes, LMT,Eotechs.
$ is limited I rather only spend it on decent stuff.

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Old 02-19-2011, 14:25   #12
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...
With that said I have mid/upper tier gear. BCM, Spikes, LMT,Eotechs.
$ is limited I rather only spend it on decent stuff.
This is what I try to get at. If you have limited funds, don't buy crap. The way I look at it, I don't have enough money or time left on this Earth to buy crap. I learned a few years ago that saving up for the next (ugh, am I really going to say this) "tier" up is usually worth it, so long as it fits your intended use of the gun.
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Old 02-19-2011, 14:55   #13
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I buy guns to look cool, not to shoot well.
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Old 02-19-2011, 15:05   #14
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I buy guns to look cool, not to shoot well.
While my sarcasm senses are tingly, I have seen many a time at a guns store where something was bought because it looked "cool".
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Old 02-19-2011, 15:23   #15
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While my sarcasm senses are tingly, I have seen many a time at a guns store where something was bought because it looked "cool".
No, I'm being serious. It's not like I'm some soldier or something. I just need it to impress chicks. The cooler and more futuristic looking, the better.
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Old 02-19-2011, 15:44   #16
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Hmmmm...looks like I must be a "category C". Even though I am not a national-level competitor and I most certainly DO NOT "regularly beat the piss out of my boomstick", I do shoot them a lot.
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Old 02-19-2011, 17:05   #17
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Good post!
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Old 02-19-2011, 18:20   #18
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Some people take a great piece of information and get butt hurt. They go into it w/ a defensive mind set and miss all the good information because theryre searching for some sort of weak spot to attack.
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Old 02-19-2011, 19:17   #19
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Informative post Surf, it was a genuine effort that will likely be unappreciated around these parts.

I've noticed another interesting aspect in classifying shooters/builders/collectors around here recently.

A) Shooters who served in the 70's/80's/90's, whether it be in a LEO or .mil capacity, are the naysayers of the chart, don't like the idea of spending the extra $80 for a BCM, and purveyors of the "my local brand is as good as your national and proven brand", etc. etc.

B) Shooters who served in OIF/OEF/GWOT and current LEO's typically prefer brands regarded as higher quality and more proven. And by proven I mean by thousands of units, not "my friend shoots them so they are the best".

Now this observation is not conclusive, but it is something I have noticed here and at other forums/locations.

On another note, I don't give a flying rodent's behind about what a civilian or LEO ends up with when they are using their money. We are all adults here (at least by legal standards) and we should be able to reach conclusions logically with intelligent discussion.
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Old 02-19-2011, 21:46   #20
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Surf,

I have to disagree with Category C.

Quote:
Category C - Are you a competition shooter blasting away looking for your next gold medal?
Quote:

These shooters should be looking into rifles that fit into the Governments Technical Data Package (TDP), often referred to as Mil-Spec standards.
Because a high power competition shooter does not want a M4 type Mil-spec rifle.

They don't want a 16" chrome lined bore, they want a 20-24" match grade hand honed stainless target barrel. They don't want a 6 position M4 stock, they want an A2 stock, they don't want double heat shield hand guards they want a CMP legal free float tube. They don't want a mil-spec trigger they want a Giessel. They don't want mil-spec sights they want target sights.

Matter of fact the only milspec or TDP parts a serious target shooter might want to use is the bolt and extractor.

I don't see many 3-gun competitors shooting Mil-Spec guns either, they are generally much more customized.

If you are a competitor you need a gun tailored to your specific competition needs, not the military's needs.

I would change Category C to a high volume shooter instead of competitor. There are folks out there that like to shoot their rifles a lot, take multi day training classes several times a year, and generally burn through 5K rounds or more a year in their rifles.

Actually to keep some from getting but hurt or insulted by your descriptions I would change A to a low volume shooter, like you mentioned 200-300 rounds a year. Change B to a medium volume shooter, ie 200-300 rounds a month or 2,000-3,000 rounds a year.

I also don't know where you are getting $100 difference between those that meet the TDP (ie Colt or BCM) and the next lower level of guns.

A Bravo Company M4 Mod1 is $1,135 from Bravo Company. Colt 6920 is about the same price.

S+W's, Rock Rivers, Bushmaster, and many others with similar features (features like removable carrying handle, spare mag, sling, ect...) are retailing around $800 right now. That's over a $300 difference. And before someone mentions buying the upper and lower separately from BCM, if I do the same with other mid tier brands I can get their prices down cheaper too.

Now if you are counting on a gun to save your life I really don't think $300 should be the driving factor. But it is quite a bit more then the $100 you claim.
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