Privacy guaranteed - Your email is not shared with anyone.

Welcome to Glock Forum at

Why should YOU join our forums?

  • Reason #1
  • Reason #2
  • Reason #3

Site Description

AR Quality - Question

Discussion in 'Black Rifle Forum' started by hounds2, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. hounds2


    Jan 2, 2009
    I am not trying to start a flame, but i would like to know why some ARs are junk and others are top tier. if a gun is accurate, shoots reliable and looks good (they all look alike), why isnt it top tier? i have heard that colt is the standard and everthing else is less. i have heard bushmaster is junk. i know people that have them and love them. i just got my first AR. i looked around and handled a few. i bought a windham weaponry HBC for a bit over 800 bucks, including tax. it shoots more accurately than i can. it has never misfired (even on my reloads) and it has a lifetime warrenty (limited). the parts are interchangeable with other ARs. what more can you ask? i am not trying to argue but i am curios why so many people are adament that some guns are no good, when they appear to make their owners happy and shoot reliably. i am honesty asking this as i might be missing something. what would i get if i "upgraded" my windham for a colt, or other top tier off the shelf guns. please dont flame me, i would just like to know.
  2. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy ********* Moderator Moderator Millennium Member Lifetime Member

    Jan 16, 2001
    Buried in the X-files
    Believe what you want.

    I've carried weapons on duty, sold them and worked for a manufacturer in sales and technical support (you know, the guys who are supposed to know stuff....).

    You pay for Quality Control and materials.

    Colt is milspec, which is the baseline for quality in AR's. They make the original, no one else does. Doesn't mean they're perfect (they do screw up occasionally) but their rifles meet the government standard. Many others do not. They cheat with 'as good as' 'looks like' or similar in materials, using inferior metals, etc. Or they'll skip steps, like staking the gas block. That won't cause many issues for the average 30 rounds a range trip paper killer. Not all of us are that guy. If you run the gun hard (i.e combat conditions or equivalent) that unstaked gas block can come loose and turn the gun into a single shot.

    That's just 1 example.

    Top tier guns are what they are because the extra time and money is spent inspecting everything and making sure it's built right. Every time. There's still the possibility of an oops, but far less.

    Bushmaster had a good rep once, when there were few players on the market, because they took their time and did it right. During the initial AR surge they lost that rep when they stopped taking the time and flooded the market with rifles not built right or with mistakes in production that got out into 'the wild'.

    I inspect any rifle I'd buy simply because I do generally know what to look for (I'm not an armorer or gunsmith) and the technical spec sheet can tell you other stuff, like what steel is used in the barrel, etc.

    I currently use an M&P15 bought in the Obamascare craze after i came home from 3 years overseas. Few other options existed at the time that were quality. It's not Milspec, but it's been heavily inspected by several good AR gunsmiths (the gas key was restaked, as was the castle nut, just in case, even though they'd both been staked to start) and I've run enough rounds in a hurry through it (2-3,000, most of that high volume in shooting drills) that it runs okay.

    I'd rather have a Colt, BCM, LaRue, Noveske or similar and I'm working on it. But I don't carry a rifle for a living anymore, it's less an issue.

    Your Windham rifle, if properly inspected will probably give you a lifetime of service without serious issue, since odds are, you won't ever run it hard enough to seriously matter. Just remember with ARs, like optics and hookers, you DO get what you pay for.

  3. MD357


    Jul 13, 2008
    A LOT of it is underlying insecurity. You see it across several firearm platforms for whatever reason.

    That being said there are significant differences between AR models that will and can matter for some depending on it's use. I actually understand people saying just buy a Colt, but I don't understand putting people down because they didn't. Either way, who cares what they think if your Windham is working?
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  4. hounds2


    Jan 2, 2009
    i can understand that. inspection does cost, and certainly will pay off in a combat situation where things must be consistant. i did look at the metals question and made sure that the same metals appeared to be used (i am not a metalurgist). i know in all guns barrels are important and for those that like little ragged holes thats huge. triggers are different too. both of those can add value and cost for the right person but for the average shooter it may not. so what you are saying is on some companies your odds of getting a lemon are greater, that makes sense. also, you also may get a good one which may be as good as any. that can be true in cars. i've had good chevys and bad chevys, but my good ones were as good as any car on the planet. you made some good points. thats what i am looking for.....thanks
  5. svtpwnz


    Nov 19, 2010
    i'll put it this way. Would you buy a 9mm Highpoint for $175 or a Glock G19 for $195 ? Sure, they both will shoot a 9mm round and the Highpoint is reliable for the most part. So, which one would you take and why?
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  6. eracer

    eracer Where's my EBT?

    Apr 5, 2011
    Tampa, FL
    The difference in quality between a well-constructed AR-15 and a cheaply made one is obvious in so many ways.
  7. fuzzy03cls


    Jan 28, 2010
    Well said.
    Some also are military centric. They want what the military uses & will not accept anything less even it's a paper pusher, then put down everything else.
    Also keep in mind these are parts systems & can be ungraded individually to better parts, when/if needed.

    No use in debating things. If your happy with your rifle & it's intended uses, that's what counts.

    Personally, EVERY AR I have shot cheap or expensive has shot about the same. Each has survived a 1K rd test in one session with nothing but lube.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  8. Steve in PA

    Steve in PA

    Mar 1, 2000
    "milspec" is an overblown and overused word when talking about AR's.

    Buy something other than brand "X" and all the so called "operators and wannabe operators" will belittle and berate you. There are lots of AR manufacturers popping up now and some are probably below standard.
  9. RyanNREMTP

    RyanNREMTP Inactive/Banned

    Jun 16, 2007
    Waco, Texas
    Of course it also depends on the user knowing how to take care of the rifle as well.
  10. PettyOfficer


    Nov 24, 2011
    Houston, TX
    I won't speak to milstd other than mil-std's are used in most industries as a measure of durability.

    A lot of the new ar manufacturers are just builders (like Red Jacket)... They buy most everything and just assemble... So now there's the concern about whether or not they buy cheap parts.

    There are a few that make everything themselves, and that's where you should start. Well, as far as the uppers are concerned anyways.
  11. CAcop


    Jul 21, 2002
    The AR-15 world of the enthusiasts reminds me of the 1911 world. (or even pistols in general) There are a lot of choices and each one is geared towards a certain customer.

    Some manufacturers aim for the "mil-spec" crowd.

    Some manufacturers aim for the "better than mil-spec" crowd.

    And some aim for the "it looks like a mil-spec or better than mil-spec gun" crowd.

    Figure out what kind of shooter you are or what purpose your weapon will be for and go with it. If you want a good reliable weapon for a reasonable price and you don't need to trick it out, a Colt will do just fine. If you have plenty of money to spare and want to try out the latest "better than mil-spec" a LMT might be up your alley. If you want a gun you will take out a couple times a year and put 40 rounds downrange each trip a no name gun will do just fine.

    I think some people get too emotionally invested in their choice of gun.

    Some spend a lot of money pimping out there gun to go to classes and train after the fact but work in a cube farm with no real chance of using the rifle to the limits of it's design when their life is on the line. Those folks get a little defensive when they realize people like them spent a lot of money and they are in danger of looking like a poser.

    Others will buy a low tier weapon and pay almost as much as some of the better weapons but not run them as hard. They get butthurt that theirs really wasn't put together with much thought or care.

    Just like the 1911 world does an accountant need a $4,000 1911 to go to training classes and CCW? Are they going to get butthurt if a Kimber outperforms their gun in the hands of an LAPD SWAT officer?

    When it comes to AR-15s I just read an article up in Coptalk where a SWAT officer was involved in a shooting with his personal RRA AR-15. According to some he should have died because the rifle is inferior.

    In the end buy what you want. Hopefully you will research some before you go. If you don't and the rifle works out for you, who cares? It's your money. Either sell it and buy something "better" or keep it and be happy.

    Life is too short to worry about what other people think of you.
  12. series1811

    series1811 Enforcerator. CLM

    I never get too excited about these arguments and for the same reason I have posted over and over. My last two agencies kept detailed records of shootings and makes them available to employees (with names redacted) for review.

    In hundreds of shootings, I could not find one single failure to fire from mechanical or quality reasons. I did find the following reasons for guns failing to fire.
    1. Failure to chamber a round
    2. Failure to take safety off
    3. Magazine seated improperly
    4. Gun in contact with object or person preventing gun from cycling properly, or being pushed out of battery
    5. Gun disabled by gunfire (two of these, and both resulting in a line of duty death).

    None of these reasons care what brand of weapon you are using.

    I personally just decided that I was better off practicing failure drills as often as possible, rather than trying to ensure that my weapon never failed.

    But, I recognize there are sure a lot of people out there that think they can engineer themselves out of needing to worry about that. :supergrin:
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  13. Javelin

    Javelin Got Glock? Silver Member

    Feb 9, 2008
    N. Dallas
    If you upgrade from your Windham to a Colt I don't know honestly. A Pony on the side? I don't know anything about Windham.

    I think the impulse purchasing only for folks to find out later after that their gun is not really all that great runs pretty deep. And then it is vicious because no one wants to learn that the gun they bought and spent a chunk of change on sucks. Happened to me - 3x over.

    If you like your gun keep it. Maybe down the road you can get something like a LaRue, KAC, Noveske etc.

  14. hounds2


    Jan 2, 2009
    thank you all for your replys. the fellow that talked about the inspections made a good point that i hadnt thought about. people that make the comment that the difference in quality is obvious are what confuses me. i cannot see any obvious differences. mil-spec is basically a benchmark for inspection and quality that may or may not be exceeded or even improved on by a manufacturer. it is possible that with new technology and the speed the govt moves one could build "down" to mil -spec. i was just looking for something that was totally obvious and easily quantified that would separate good from bad. random opionions of quality are worth just what they cost. time and performance are the only true measures of quality and it appears that it is still an open mystery to me. the fellow that mentioned a glock brought up a thought. i have and carry a glock. i shoot ipsc style combat meets with a glock. my glock costs a fraction of some of the 1911's that i shoot against. some of them (the 1911's) cannot make it through 2 stations without a problem. these are expensive guns, from good manufacturers of long standing, that are very ammo sensitive. i do not think they are junk. i have not seen a glock that had problems, with ammo or anything else. cost, and name, is not an indicator of quality and reliability. i appreciate the comments.
  15. cyphertext


    Jan 6, 2004
    A kinder, gentler, Javelin....I like it! :wavey:

    Here's my thought....You have to decide if the price you paid represents a value to you. You can only do that once you understand the difference between the top tier rifles and the one you bought.

    In my case, I purchased the M&P 15 Sport. Probably the AR that is most argued over across the 'net. Anyway, it is not mil-spec. But, it also can be had for $650 or less from local brick and mortar shops that allow me to see and inspect what I am buying before I buy. I compared the features of the Colt vs the Sport, and decided that for my use, the Sport would meet my needs and allow me to leave money in the gun fund. I'm not a soldier or LE, so I will not run the gun hard. The hardest I will run it is if I go to a carbine class. I decided what mil-spec type features were important and what I could live without.
  16. Wil Ufgood

    Wil Ufgood GTDS #88 CLM

    Mar 20, 2009
    Out There
    Does anyone have any links to comparison tests (legit ones) for different AR brands? I'd like to see how they stack up under "torture" tests.
  17. Gunnut 45/454

    Gunnut 45/454

    Jun 20, 2002
    So most of you guy's are off the caffine? This has been the most "no butt hurt" thread I've seen. No bashing of the non-mil spec guy! Wow there is hope. :rofl: As been said it your money buy what you wish and be happy. I'm very happy with all my non-teir 1 AR's they go bang everytime and put bullets where they need to be when I do my part.:supergrin:
  18. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy ********* Moderator Moderator Millennium Member Lifetime Member

    Jan 16, 2001
    Buried in the X-files
    The S&W M&P15A (not Sport) had 3 of them run 14,000 rounds during a carbine course over 3 days in a test by EAG Tactical. No cleaning, just lube.

    For a nonmilspec (but fairly close to it) gun, this is excellent performance, and one most Bushmasters, RRA's and similar, if assembled correctly, can at least hope to equal.

    I'm not down on non spec guns for most uses, MY uses are not everyone's. But that performance of the M&P15 was why when my options were "none, M&P or RRA" I chose the M&P at that time.
  19. WoodenPlank

    WoodenPlank Who?

    May 15, 2010
    NW Florida
    I'd like to add that it's possible to get a nearly bullet-proof, reliable, hell-and-back AR from almost any company. Broken clock, twice a day, that kinda thing. The issue comes in in how consistent a given company is in producing that quality.

    Companies like BCM, LaRue, Colt, Daniel Defense, Noveske, and LMT are known for doing this day in, day out, with only rare hiccups.

    Companies like S&W, Rock River, PSA seem to do a good job of it, but seem to more frequently have lemons pop up, and aren't always up to "mil-spec."

    Other companies may fall into one of those categories, but many are somewhere below that.

    Milspec may not be right for everyone in all cases, such as1/8 being an all around better twist than 1/7, different profile barrels, chrome vs. melonite/stainless, etc. However, some things that are "mil-spec" should be non-negotiable in almost any type of AR you could ask for. Things like properly staked gas keys, properly torqued barrel nuts and castle nuts, auto (or at least shrouded semi) carriers, proper height front sight towers, etc. Unfortunately, many of the cut rate companies skip these steps in favor of selling a lower priced AR, then try to act like they are just as good as the top end brands. While you might get lucky to get one that IS as good (or spend the time and money after the fact to make it such), this is by far the exception, and not the rule.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012
  20. ArmoryDoc


    May 14, 2006
    I think what messes with peoples head the most is the fact that off-brands look like the Colt's and other premium guns so they must be good like them. "If it looks like an AR, it's an AR". You can't visually "see" the quality difference so it must not matter.

    The quality difference IS there. And it matters greatly, unless you are an AR hobbyist.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2012