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What makes a quality rifle?/Is my rifle "good enough?" (merged threads)

Discussion in 'Black Rifle Forum' started by surf, Feb 19, 2011.

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  1. mjkeat


    Jun 17, 2009
    I was curious about price differences after read a prior post. I randomly selected Bushmaster to do some price comparison w/ BCM. Complete rifles were chosen because I wasn't finding a good source for BM complete uppers and lowers.

    I went to BMs site but the prices seemed horribly inflated. Implementing goggle I took a sample of the first three sites that sold BM rifles. Prices were, $999, $949.99, and $930. Impactguns had the BM for $949.99 but did supply a carry handle at no charge.

    BCMs Mod 0 costs $1,025 ( no carry handle) or $1,135 w/ carry handle.

    Thats a $186 savings when going w/ the models shipped w/ carry handles. The models w/o carry handle have a difference in price of $96 and $26. On average that a $102.67 difference in price.

    There might be better deals out there on complete rifles from BM. I just didnt take the time to sift through more than a couple pages on google.
  2. mstennes


    Nov 25, 2010
    But you dont have to stick with the M4, the M16 or should I say AR15 goverment model is 20" and can be made legal for comp (instalation of correct ff hg's) and its TDP, if you want

  3. surf


    Jul 7, 2010
    This is exactly the case. Or often people will buy a lower quality rifle and then dress it up with all the most expensive accessories and optics. Not that this is a problem for most users, but in reality the weapon is the heart of the system, not the stuff you hang on it.

    This sums it up very well for many people. How someone can save say $900 to plunk down on a firearm and cannot save another simple $100-$150 to get one of the best, is beyond me. You give excellent examples of how quickly and easily saving extra money can be done. If there is a will, there is a way. Will is often lacking for many. But again many do not need a top notch rifle and if money really is such an issue, probably USED but very good condition, mid-level rifle at $200-$300 or more less would be a better option. Again this is not people being realistic or understanding their needs and options. Which was the intent of this thread.

    Correct, some get it. Buy what fits your needs and if you like it, just be happy and have fun with it. But please don't try to claim that your rifle is "just as good as". I have a crap load of fun shooting a WASR. It runs like a champ and does what I need it to do. But I sure as hell know it isn't as good as a top of the line AK and don't make such claims. ;)

    What he said.

    No, not really.

    I have just been reading some threads on ranking these weapons in tier categories or arguments over duty worthiness, costs etc, and along with several "which AR should I buy" threads popping up, I thought I would spew some of my own thoughts on screen. I tend to ramble a bit I guess.

    Not sure why your offended by this? It was not my intent to offend anyone with a classification. I could have used the following classification I guess but that would have been boring.

    A) Owner that seldom shoots or just collects cool looking weapons.
    B) Weekend type of recreational shooter.
    C) Dedicated enthusiast who shoots high round counts in a manner that really stresses the weapon and does it frequently.
    D) Home or personal defense, LE / Military.

    Heck, I am not quite an avid golfer, but I like to go hack a few rounds here and there. I have no problem being asked as to what type or category of golfer that I am so I can purchase clubs etc that suit or fit my needs or wants. If someone asks "what AR should I purchase", what is so wrong with asking what their intent or desires are for the rifle and what type of shooting they do? It is hard to give an informed opinion without doing this.

    There is no harm in someone saying "I just get to the range every other weekend and put holes in paper". If the monies, time, desire or personal priorities in life only allow limited shooting time, no problem. I am very pro firearms for any person. Just being involved or interested even if it may only be a few times a year is a good thing.

    Again there is no need to spend thousands on rifles and equipment. Simply understanding your needs and choosing correctly will help from a financial standpoint.

    Yes you are correct and I very much expected this. I even let the thread play out for a couple of days before replying. As can be seen some have the time to comment, but not the time to read. If it is too much to digest simply click the back button and move on. No harm there. I do it all the time.

    I understand the reputation around here and very much expected to see some negativity. Actually I expected a bit more negativity than I have encountered, so maybe there is hope. :supergrin:

    I very much appreciate those like yourself who have left the nice comments, or those who took the time to type out thoughtful counter points.

    Despite knowing that there would be a bit of negative response, if only a few people read and understand the message that I am trying to convey, or become an informed consumer than it is better for everyone. Perhaps it will make manufacturers either adhere to a standard or at the least charge a fair price for what they are producing and stop praying on consumers who have no clue about TDP standards and why that may be important, especially in regards to what a company charges its customers.

    I will also add that I am in my mid 40's, so my basic learning background is from an "old school", or "old dog" standpoint. However I am still working on a full time unit for a large entity and I teach the most current combative shooting skills as well as time proven skills. However in Military and LE, the wheels of change and progression turn slowly and there are still many "can't teach and old dog new tricks" types in this world and that will always be the case. I just hope that 20 years from now I am not scoffing at the latest and greatest gear and techniques. Not saying that everything will be sliced bread, but keeping an open mind is key. Many do not have an open mind the older and more set in their ways that they become.

    As for your assessment as a generalization, I also find it to be accurate. I think this may very well be related to the actual useage of the weapons in combat or lack of combat. There has been much more combat in the last decade than the couple preceding so you have a much more information available on what works and what doesn't and the consumer benefits. Also what you often hear, "well it was good enough for me when I was serving" usually doesn't hold water, as the "type" of service has greatly changed in the last decade over the 2 preceding decades. It is still hard to teach an old dog a new trick. :supergrin:

    Not a problem here if you don't agree with the classification thing. As I mentioned some took this too literal and not for the intention of what the post is worth. Competition shooters have a need, no doubt. They understand the tradeoff's and often their choices might even exceed what might be considered TDP standards, however you are correct as these items are not included, so the items by their very nature cannot be judged in this manner. You can pretty much bet that most serious competition shooters use high quality and proven parts anyway. Again we are taking a shooters "needs" or "application" into account and giving opinions. Indeed my opinions on competition rifles or even DM or SPR type rifles may not fit into a TDP simply because one does or may not exist on everything that I might suggest. That does not mean that something may not be high quality, probably of a higher quality than a .gov TDP would ask for in a similar weapon.

    As for the price thing, mjkeats gave one example and I will give one example, however I really don't want this thread to go that route. Now if someone wants a high quality rifle, lets say a BCM, they can get a blem lower with a complete upper (w / BCG and charging handle) basically a Mod 0, for $895. I highly suggest this option.

    Very good and thanks for taking the time to find an example. A simple search and pricing can show several examples of how it can be done. If someone gets too literal or strict on my $100 figure then then your $102.67 will not cut it for them. :)
  4. Reb 56

    Reb 56

    Mar 12, 2007
    South Texas
    I confess I bought a cheap AR a bargain bin M4 from CMMG 2 years ago for 630.00 it turned out to be a nice looking and functioned well. At the time I didn't know much about AR's now I'm thinking about ordering a BCM 16" mid lenght upper.
    So I guess like a begining Golfer I needed a starter set to see if I was into AR's or just a passing fancy.
  5. mixflip


    Mar 4, 2009
    Are rubber tube break lines good enough? Or do you need to change out all your break lines to braided stainless steel? Braided steel break lines dont cost much yet folks do go out and change them on every car they own?
  6. Foxtrotx1


    Jan 29, 2010
    Scottsdale AZ
    What about people that just shoot because its a passion? I spend several K on ammo a year because I like things that go bang. No zombies here.
  7. 93GT

    93GT The Ogre

    Jul 6, 2002
    Category B and D here I guess if I had to put myself into them. Looking to bump to C/D now that I have enough money to take things a little more seriously. Time to go from 10/63 to SLG 21-76 and M&P15T to something BCM, but I am keeping the other guns to keep beating up on anyways.
  8. mac66

    mac66 Huge Member Millennium Member

    Oct 28, 1999
    Blue Planet
    I see these threads and I bite my lip and try not to respond


    The first problem with categorizing shooters or guns or placing them on tiers is that much of the criteria used is subjective. Basically opinion with no basis in fact. Many things are choices or options based on a particular need not indicative of quality.

    The second problem is that people tend to think they can substitute equipment for skill. That think they can buy an expensive gun and it will give them special powers. I like good stuff but I very often take stock guns to shooting matches just to show up the guys who try to buy respectability.

    The third problem is that people think expensive equals reliability. Ever shoot IPSC? IDPA or some of the other games? Ever see one of those expensive race guns fail? I have, lots of times. Ever see those training sessions where the guys shoot a thousand rounds in a weekend? Is that even remotely related to real life? Is that even even remotely related to reliability in your carry gun? :dunno:

    I could go on and on about training and gun games etc, but I won't.
  9. surf


    Jul 7, 2010
    I am not sure your understanding the intent of this post. If someone asks what type of rifle should they buy, or do they need and expensive red dot optic or a scope, it is very hard to give an accurate or informed opinion without understanding what type of shooter that person is, or what their exact usage needs are. Once a shooters needs and budget are understood, then a more accurate idea of what quality or price range they can look at purchasing. Just like my example as a golfer. I can be classified as an occasional or recreational golfer somewhere between novice and intermediate who does not wish to spend a fortune on clubs. Now a professional can suggest what clubs and brands that might suit my needs. I don't need the top of the line clubs in every single club available with the most expensive bag or golf shoes. Hope that example helps without offending people on classifying someone in an attempt to accurately give weapons and gear advice. I sure as heck don't want to be told I need certain expensive golf clubs or bags when I really don't need or want them. I understand that I am going to buy quality, but I know that I am not buying THE BEST clubs on the market. I understand this and am quite happy with my choices.

    With weapons also, we should be realistic with our shooting needs, budget and purchase accordingly. From there we should be happy with what we have and have a good time. I am just as happy hacking up the golf course every other weekend or once a month with my mid level equipment and clubs, but I am not going to say that they are better than XYZ brand when they are not. Now if I happen to out golf another guy using THE BEST clubs on the market good for me, but that really has nothing to do with what is good for my needs / desires.

    This has nothing to do with my original post and this thread. I never tell anyone that weapons, gear or optics are a substitute for basic fundamentals and proper learning. I did not elude to this, nor did I think anyone else did either in this thread. This is another topic and I would be happy to discuss it in another thread.

    This thread really wasn't about gamers. However as this thread mentions understanding what our intentions are for a weapon by classifying the type of shooting that we do or what the particular weapon is to be used for can give an accurate assessment of what type of weapon they should be looking at. If someone wants to purchase a rifle to use as a strictly competition weapon, then we can start looking in a certain direction. If we can then classify them as a shooter we can further narrow down their needs. Are they just wanting to try out 3 gun and maybe do it once a month but never really competed before? Or are they a very competitive IDPA or IPSC type and now want a top level competition style rifle in an attempt to compete at a high level of 3 gun. Of course we might suggest different set ups for each of these 2 types of shooters. The first guy might be well suited to jump in with a basically stock mid level rifle. The second guy might want a higher performing weapon with more bells and whistles.

    I never said that competition shooters or gaming relates to real life defensive types of situations. It is a game or a sport, but testing out our defensive weapons and gear in a sporting environment can help vet our weapons and gear as long as we understand the sporting aspect is not a substitution for defensive shooting. Pure competition shooters can afford to have failures in a game. Reliability can at times be a trade off for fractions of a second. We also need to understand failure rates. High level shooters often shoot high volumes of ammunition. By strictly looking at it statistically they will have more failures than those who shoot lower round counts, but yes by the nature of their weapons, they can have issues.

    Now we classified them as a competition only shooter wanting a competition weapon. If they say that want one for home defense, that is a different aspect or classification altogether. No one said a competition shooter has to use their competition weapon for home or personal defense. But if they want to use their personal defense weapon for competition, go for it. By understanding or classifying their shooting type, needs, desires and budget we can correctly suggest weapon choices. Which is one of the main goals of this thread. People being realistic about their needs, type of shooting they do and budget and be realistic about their purchase. From there go out and have a good time with it.
  10. surf


    Jul 7, 2010
    Again this thread isn't to strictly lump people into categories. It is about getting a realistic understanding of what they want to do with their rifle. However if you were to say "I want an AR but am not familiar with which rifle to purchase" I can start making a suggestion with the limited information that you gave me. I would want to know more about the type of shooting that you do such as long range precision, or up close target shooting. Again I am attempting to find out or classify your needs. But just from being a recreational but high volume shooter I would probably suggest either a mid level or a top quality rifle based on this. If I narrowed down your needs more, I could be more specific. I don't get why people get so upset about attempting to classify a persons shooting types when it comes to attempting to suggest a weapon for them? Just like my golfing analogy. It very much helps them to get the right stuff.
  11. surf


    Jul 7, 2010
    A couple of locked threads really have a good basis for a point to be made, but of course threads like that tend to take a nose dive quickly and end up locked and for good reason. Having said that I will attempt to give a rational way of looking at this weapon platform in regards to quality. These same things might be applied to other weapon systems.

    First we should be aware of a few key terms and their definitions and why they might be important to this weapon. Such as Mil-Spec, TDP etc...First off we need to understand the need for these standards as standardization benefits commonality amongst parts, makers, reliability and costs. These standards are set forth by the US Dept of Defense. Keeping this in mind here are a few key terms....

    "Mil-Spec" Short for "Military Specification". This term is related to the actual quality or standards for materials purchased and used. This is not an overall build standard, just a materials standard.

    "Mil-STD" Short for Defense Standard. This would be what outlines specific differences in engineering and technical requirements for military unique items or alterations to commercial designs, processes, procedures, standards etc...This would include standards for design, manufacturing, practices/procedures and testing standards.

    "Mil-PRF" Short for Performance Specification. This is a Performance Specification that an item is expected to achieve under specific use and conditions. This spec does not provide for the manner of testing to be used, just the end goal to be achieved.

    "Mil-DTL" Short for Detail Specification. This encompasses all design requirements including materials used, processes, including fabrication or construction / assembly. This may also be inclusive of performance specifications.

    "TDP" Short for Technical Data Package. Or more correctly "MIL-HDBK" which is the military handbook that will encompass all of the above in regards to any item produced for the military.

    Now we all understand that "if its good enough for the government" isn't always a good thing. I will also note that the above mentioned standards or "TDP" is a baseline or minimal set of standards that need to be followed. There is nothing saying that this is the absolute best standard as you can get materials, testing and build standards that may exceed these military standards.

    Here is the uniqueness with the M16/M4/AR platform of weapon, but is not just exclusive to this weapon. It is known and accepted by not only the Government and military, but also civilian engineering experts in the firearms industry also agree that there are certain specific areas on this platform of weapon that should be addressed to ensure maximum reliability, even under the most extreme uses. This includes materials, testing process, build techniques, and quality assurance. This does not guarantee that every single item will not fail, or that a lemon won't get out the door, but it will very much cut down the likelihood of producing a sub-standard final product that ends up in the end users hands.

    Having said all of the above, either you make a rifle that would meet or exceed Military Specifications under the Technical Data Package for this weapon system, or you don't. Of course only those supplying weapons under contract and under the scrutiny of gov inspectors can actually ever be considered a rifle built to military specifications under the correct TDP. If an item has NOT been tested and produced under military contract it is NOT MIL-SPEC. This does not mean that a company cannot use the same materials and conduct their own testing in the same manner as the government, but it is not truly MIL-SPEC. It may meet similar standards, but to truly be MIL-SPEC, it needs to be under Gov contract and go under Gov inspections.

    You have some manufacturers who take the time, effort and invest the money on quality materials, quality build process, quality testing and quality quality control. They often spend the money on replicating building rifles along the guidelines of the TDP (commonly referred to as Mil-SPEC). They undeniably produce a high quality product that will withstand more harsh use and there will be less chance for failure. Again there are still going to be issues, but far far less and often much less severe of problems.

    Now there are other manufacturers who might use very good quality materials with decent build standards and have good quality control and they would make a very good rifle also. But they would clearly not have the likelihood of building as good of a rifle as the above manufacturers who build towards the Govs TDP standard. However these rifles will more than likely give a shooter a lifetime of great shooting pleasure.

    Next you have those, who would chose the least desirable materials and pay little attention to quality build standards. No one is saying that their rifles are going to fall apart when you take it out of the box, however the odds of getting a really bad rifle is exponentially higher than the above manufacturers. Not saying you can't upgrade these rifles to make them reliable because usually you can. It doesn't take much effort, but the companies chose to cut costs and keep profit margins high at the expense of the consumer. Or they just produce an crap rifle, that looks like window dressing trying to hawk their goods to the uniformed who couldn't tell a good rifle from a bad one. In either case this last category of rifle / weapon maker is slimy and should be avoided anyway.

    Finally, why should any company produce a product with parts that is lesser in quality, build to a lower standard, not pay to have their parts tested and allow for more products to get out the door that have issues, yet charge just as much or more than the other guys? Which is exactly what you are seeing right now in this industry. I don't care if I don't need a Corvette when a Neon will get me from A-Z. If the damn Vette is the same price as the Neon, I know which one I am buying every time.

    That is my opinion anyway. :)

    See and I didn't even mention the "Cha.." :wavey:
    MSW likes this.
  12. bullittmcqueen

    bullittmcqueen Gunfighter

    Feb 18, 2011
    Leesburg, GA
    Surf, an excellent post as always. Hopefully some of the new guys will take the time to read it all and not fall into the brand vs brand debate. Nice job as always. I always enjoy your knowledgeable posts.
  13. nastytrigger

    nastytrigger Mediocre Member

    Apr 10, 2005
    My LMT SBR upper has a NSN, but my Bushy lower is 'commercial'. So, I have a half-MIL-spec rifle?

    MIL-SPEC's a word a lot of firearm industry companies throw around too much with no real explanation. Yay marketing!

    Outdoor Hub mobile, the outdoor information engine
  14. mixflip


    Mar 4, 2009
    Good job SURF. I vote this to be a sticky since this question comes up alot. Plus with guys like SURF in the blackrifle section of GT, it should get GT some respect. Mahalo braddah!
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  15. mjkeat


    Jun 17, 2009
    I second the sticky request although many will ignore it because "Joe" down at the "GunMart" said such'n such.
  16. surf


    Jul 7, 2010
    Thanks guys, unfortunately those who probably NEED to read this post, probably won't take the time to do so. Then they will probably ignore the information anyway. :)
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  17. SigFTW


    Nov 4, 2010
    Very good post!
    3x sticky
  18. Spiffums

    Spiffums I.C.P.

    Sep 30, 2006
    All turned in by the lowest bidder too...........
  19. pag23


    Jul 28, 2008
    Eastern PA
    Great post to define things.. I tend to read more in this forum than post as there is great information to be learned.
  20. Henry's Dad

    Henry's Dad woof, woof

    I'm one who needed the info and read it, so many thanks for posting it.

    Now for Part II: without asking you to list manufacturers (but please do so if you're inclined), is there a clearinghouse of info on which manufacturers fall into which category?

    All the info is great, but the real utility would be in knowing which companies follow which practices.
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