Tag Archives: AR15

How low will they go?

$360 dollar AR15 for sale here.

Prices on guns are at an amazingly low price.  I know that gunshops I have talked to are hurting for sales.  Now is really the best time to buy if there is something you want, and a terrible time to be selling.

To paraphrase a quote, “The problem with being in a golden age is that you don’t know it is a golden age when you are in it.”  Take advantage of this time while it lasts.

Build verses buy your first AR?

 

I saw again recently someone suggesting that a first time AR15 buyer build their own AR15 so that they would be better familiar with the parts and operation.  I think a person could learn the parts and operation of a firearm just fine without building one.

By all means build a custom AR if you want too, but I highly recommend buying a good factory built AR15 for your first one.  Having built quite a few ARs myself, and seen many more built, there are all sorts of mistakes a person can make.  I’ve seen incorrectly aligned gas blocks, gas tubes, hammer springs reversed or under the trigger pin (allowing the trigger pin to walk out.  Loose barrel nuts, loose castle nuts (allowing the stock to rotate and or the buffer retainer popping out and jamming the action), and more.  The AR15 is a pretty simple weapon, but simple does not mean that you cannot mess it up.  A factory built gun will generally be assembled correctly and you will have a warranty if there are any issues.

The best thing about the AR family of weapons is the massive amount of aftermarket parts.  It can be overwhelming, and not all of it plays nice together.  With more and more companies producing parts, they are not all interchangeable.  For example, many hand guards now do not fit correctly on various billet uppers due to these aftermarket billet uppers using different dimensions then a milspec upper.

If you buy a complete rifle from a reputable manufacture, you know the parts they choose to use will work.  If you build your own, you will need to do a little research.  Sometimes trying to just buy all the best individual components will leave you with something that won’t work together.  For example, some years back a few companies were making enhanced bolt carriers.  A guy I knew purchased the LMT enhanced bolt carrier since it was supposed to be better than a standard one.  He built a SBR with it, and found it didn’t work (The LMT carrier might not have been the only issue with it, but I’m using as an example).  The LMT enhanced bolt carrier was tuned and built for a 14.5 inch barrel or longer.  This guy just saw that there was an “upgraded” part, bought it, and never realized it wouldn’t work for him.

I could go on with more examples, but if you’re going to get an AR for serious use, or if you are not very familiar with them, it is recommended you buy a factory AR15 from a reputable company.

Magpul PRO LR sights

Last week I bought a set of Magpul PRO LR flip up iron sights.  I got to try them out yesterday at the range and I am liking them.

Magpul PRO

The KAC 2-600m sight are still my favorite, but I think these Magpul PRO sights are well worth the cost.

Magpul PRO

Both the front and rear sight are very low profile.  A very small footprint for either sight.  Both sights have tool less adjustments.  When I first unboxed the sights, I was very impressed with the heavy duty feel of the sights.  The melonited case hardened steel should end up being a very tough, rust resistant sight.

Magpul PRO LR

I really appreciate how the mounting screw for these sights can be tightened by a screw driver or a 1/8 inch Allen wrench.  The PRO LR rear sight has an elevation adjustment wheel unlike the Magpul PRO.

Magpul PRO LR deployed

The elevation wheel is can be set from 2-6 with a single click in between each.  The rear sight offers small and large apertures.  The front sight post is a narrower match style.

I really like these sights, and I recommend them.  These little steel sights feel substantial.  I was worried at first that they would be too stiff and too small to deploy quickly, but since installing them I found that isn’t an issue.  The adjustment are stiff, which I prefer so there isn’t a concern of accidentally adjustment.

The only criticism I can come up with for these are that the back sides when flipped up don’t have the best aesthetics.

Magpul PRO Front Sight Deployed

I also wouldn’t mind seeing a 100 setting for the rear sight.

 

Springfield Armory’s Forgotten AR-15: The XM15

Despite what several gunwriters are claiming, the Springfield Armory Saint is not their first AR-15 rifle. Their first was the XM15, introduced circa 1982-83. However, Springfield has very good reasons to try to sweep the XM15 under the rug.

Springfield Armory XM15 wood furniture
Here’s a vintage 1980s gun magazine advertisement promoting the Springfield Armory XM15 and its optional wood furniture.

It appears that in 1983, Springfield (or their fraternal sibling Rock Island Armory, Inc.) wrangled a ~$900,000 FMS contract for 2,000 “M16-type” rifles to El Salvador. For those who don’t remember, RIA specialized in Title 2 NFA items, while Springfield focused on Title 1 firearms. Dennis Reese was president of Springfield, while his brother David was president of RIA. This 1984-vintage Washington Post article notes the Springfield rifle contract, along with some other questionable FMS contracts to El Salvador.

Colt caught wind of the XM15 contract and unleashed their lawyers against Springfield and their parts suppliers. Springfield Armory and Colt ultimately settled the suit in September 1984. While the majority of Colt’s patent rights should have already expired by the early 1980s, Colt’s argument was that Springfield and its suppliers were using Colt’s proprietary engineering drawings to manufacture the parts. It is my understanding that Springfield was permanently enjoined from selling their existing XM15 rifles. Moreover, Springfield could not use Colt’s proprietary drawings and information in the future manufacture or sale of AR-15/M16 rifles, unless Colt was later determined to have lost its trade secret rights.

While the decision in Colt Industries Operating Corp., Firearms Division v. Springfield Armory, Inc., 732 F. 2d 168, (Fed. Cir.) was unpublished, you can find mention of the suit in a series of related cases involving one of Springfield’s suppliers, Charles Christianson. Christianson fought back against Colt for several years, with one appeal even hitting the US Supreme Court.

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 609 F.Supp. 1174 (1985)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 613 F.Supp. 330 (1985)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 798 F.2d 1051 (1986)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 822 F.2d 1544 (1987)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 486 U.S. 800 (1988)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES OPERATING CORP., 870 F.2d 1292 (1989)

CHRISTIANSON v. COLT INDUSTRIES, 766 F.Supp. 670 (1991)

Christianson appears to have been sourcing his parts primarily via Colt’s Philippine licensee Elisco, as well as certain Colt subcontractors within the US. However, I also have circumstantial evidence that the South Korean licensee Daewoo was one of Springfield’s other suppliers. According to an old GAO report, Daewoo allegedly tried to sell 12,500 spare parts worth ~$127,000 to an undisclosed US company in 1983. The GAO stated that this sale was halted due to legal action by Colt against the US company.

In 1989, Dennis Reese plead guilty to tax evasion, conspiracy, and filing false statements regarding their FMS contracts with El Salvador. There were accusations that Reese had conspired with a US military adviser (Col. Juan Lopez de la Cruz, US Army) and bribed him to the tune of ~$70,000 to help grease the skids for a $3.7 million contract. They reportedly falsified claims for $94,600 in sales commissions to a pair of Salvadorans, who then kicked back the majority to Reese. Reese also told the Defense Security Assistance Agency that the Greek Portuguese-vintage HK G3 barrels they were selling were of US origin. Reese was granted immunity to testify against the Col. Lopez; however, the latter was ultimately acquitted.

However, the US Justice Department was not finished with the Reese family. In 1990, David Reese and RIA were indicted by a Federal grand jury over the illegal manufacture and transfer of machine guns. The Feds alleged that RIA had sold 148 M60 with serial numbers recycled from transferable Title 2 weapons bought from John Stemple and Kent Lomont. The following link is one of the court decisions resulting from the RIA indictment:
U.S. v. ROCK ISLAND ARMORY, INC., 773 F.Supp. 117 (1991)
.

RIA Ad - November 1982
This RIA advertisement ran in a popular gun magazine’s November 1982 issue.
RIA Catalog - 1982
Here’s a page from a 1982 RIA dealer catalog showing off their XM15 rifles, uppers and other parts.
Springfield XM15 Ad - April 1983
This is one of the first Springfield Armory-branded advertisements for the XM15. It appeared in a gun magazine’s April 1983 issue.
Springfield XM15 Ad - September 1983
Note that the prices have changed in this Springfield Armory advertisement from the same magazine’s September 1983 issue.
RIA Catalog - 1984
This 1984-vintage dealer flyer from RIA notes their settlement with Colt over the XM15.

Review: LaRue RISR on an AR15

 

I purchased a used Magpul CTR stock with LaRue RISR and POD installed.  It was interesting to try out the LaRue Reciprocating Inline Stock Riser (RISR) on an AR15.  The RISR is made to give a higher cheekweld on rifles like the LaRue .308 OBR and accommodate the charging handle on the AR series of rifles.

I tried the RISR on a Colt 6920 first.  I found the RISR to be high enough that I could not use the standard iron sights on the 6920.  When I tried another upper with a NightForce 2.5-10×24 in a LT135 high mount.  Even with the scope mounted higher then normal, I found the taller checkweld that the RISR gave made looking through the scope awkward.

Using the RISR gave a little more resistance then charging a normal AR15.  Having an extended charging handle lever would help when using the RISR.

The RISR may be an excellent choice for high mounted optics on the higher rail of a .308 AR.  However for me, the RISR just gets in my way on AR15s.  I have already removed the RISR from my rifle and will be sending it to Shawn so he can try it out.

Review: DSA AR15 Ambi-Safety

 

DSArms offers an AR15 semi-auto Ambi-Safety for $28 dollars; part number ZM41367AMBISA-A.  Both parts of the Ambi safety appear to be cast.  The groove allowing rotation is cut all the way around the DSA ambi safety, allowing the safety/selector to move into what would be a Burst/Full Auto position on a select fire rifle.  However the rifle will not fire while the safety is placed on this position.

The DSA safety is one of the cheapest options for an ambidextrous safety for the AR15.  The both sides of this safety lever are full size, so it may bump into your trigger finger when you flip the safety.  This safety also sticks out a little more from the receiver then other safeties.  This is most likely to ensure compatibility with the wide variety of aftermarket pistol grips available for the AR15.  I really do not like how the safety will spin into the third position.  If I push too hard or too far when trying to take the rifle off safe, I can push the safety past the fire point and any point past that the rifle will not fire.

I do not recommend the DSArms ambi-safety because it will rotate past fire.  However if that is not an issue for you, the DSArms ambi-safety is one of the cheapest ambi-safeties around.

On the Side Sling swivel

Occasionally questions arise about the side sling swivel for the AR15/M16/M4.  This will answer a few common questions.

It is normal for the sling mount to move.  it will wear and make marks on the barrel.

Side sling swivels come from the factory mounted so the loop faces the rear of the rifle.  This is fine if your using CAR or M4 plastic hand guards.  However if you are using a Knights M4 RAS this loop will interfer with installing and removing rail panel covers.  The Army authorizes mounting the sling loop forwards to negate that issue.

If you are mounting a M203 underbarrel grenade launcher on a M4, the side sling swivel will need to be mounted so the loop is on the ejector port side of the rifle(same side as used for left handed shooters).

SUREFIRE 60 round magazine

The Surefire magazines that hold 60 and 100 rounds have been out for a while now. If you are like me, you have read a few conflicting reports on the quality of the mags all over the internet.  With a possible panic buy situation looming in the future and my own curiosity I decided to try one out. I had no real use for the 100 round magazine since I am not a SAW gunner I opted for the 60 round mag. And as a side note it should be pointed out that surefire now sells MOLLE mag pouches that will hold the mags now.

Once I got the mag, I set out to test it as hard as I could. I loaded it completely full and inserted it into my carbine expecting it to feel like a boat anchor. I was greatly relieved to find that you can not really tell  it is 60 rounds. It really does not feel like any real extra weight. The balance of the weapon still has the same balance and handles just as well as it would with a 30 rounder.  The mag dropped free when empty and I felt no stiffness or friction when the mag release was pressed.  The mag was also very easy to seat  into the gun when loaded full and the bolt was closed. I thought with all the tension from that much ammo it would need some effort but it did not. Another nice discovery was that the 60th round was just as easy to thumb into the mag as the 1st round was. No sore bloody thumbs like was expecting. That was a very nice surprise.

The surefire is pretty much USGI in the feed lips department. The mag body is made from the same metal as the gov issue mags with what appears to be the same coatings. It is pretty simple to take the mag down for cleaning etc.

I went into the testing after all the usual examinations and fondling. I fired the mag empty in one go and it worked fine, locked the bolt open and dropped free while using M855. Next I dropped the ammo into the dirt, loaded them while dirty, shook them up in the mag and ran it dry with the same result.  Next I got into prone and put all the pressure I could on the mag using it as a monopod. I ran it empty with the same results.

I know some mags will give problems from the mag rest so I tested this a lot over two days. I fired another full mag while using it as a rest, but this time pushing it forward as I fired, rocking it forward. I reloaded it and did the same thing though this time I pulled back on it while pushing down hard. It worked great in both cases. I then did the same while holding the gun at an angle to the left then the right. I did both of these tests with a full mag. I did this thinking that some people  may have trouble shooting under a car and not touching the ground with the mag because of the longer length. In any case it did not matter. The mag ran fine with no problems. At this point I had put 400 rounds through the mag adn the gun. I had wiped off most of the lube from the colt to try to make it harder on the magazine. I also made sure to use stripper clips to laod as fast as I could so as to keep the gun hot and the mag warm and dirty. At this point I started using crummy ammo. I tried it with silver bear, brown bear, tula and wolf. Some of it was very under powered but, the mag worked fine. I would have been surprised to have any problems at that point, but I tried them just for the sake of trying them. And I am always looking for an excuse to shoot so it worked out nicely. Most of this testing was done today and a very windy and dusty place. My carbine was coated in a fairly thick coating of dust and I left the bolt open with mag in it to let dust in while shooting other guns to see if I could at least get the mag to feel gritty while working. No dice.

Now I will show a few pictures comparing the mag to a regular USGI and a Pmag and with and without ranger plates so people can get a idea of how long it is.

Here they are side by side. As can be seen, they are not to different in size. To the one guy who does not have a Pmag, they are slightly longer then a USGI.

I think this is a better shot to compare length with out the trick of the  curve of mags making them seem longer.

As can be seen in the picture. The surefire really is not too bad when you see its barely longer then a USGI with a magpul ranger plate on it. A lot of people use the pull tabs anyway, so when it comes to just plain length, it is really not all that much longer.

I know there is a lot of bad reports of the surefire all over the internet, but there is good as well. Mine has run great so far. I plan to test it a while longer before I say it is 100 percent ready to trust my life on it, or even a rifle match. But I am leaning toward that thinking currently. As much as i would like to say “buy with complete confidence” I must hang back. Though it worked great so far, it is not quite mature technology that has been proven enough in real combat in my mind. But, I am slow to jump all over something new. I usually want to see 5-10 years of something being used by the military or some other hard use  group and widespread adoption before I switch to something new. Especially if it is something really different. The surefire mag is not quite as big a deal as a new jet fighter or standard infantry round but, having a mag that fails you in a fight is a pretty big deal to anyone I think.  I will say it is worth buying and trying. if it works fine for you then that is great but take into consideration all the problems we are hearing. I have no way to prove how these supposed problems have happened or how  the mags were treated before they failed so keep in mind that most of the bad mouthing may be BS.  I will say I have heard a lot more good then bad. If you do want one but can not do it right now keep these things in mind.

Surefire will only improve it as time goes on an they will make any problem right. And there is a very very very good chance of wide spread panic buying and price hiking to come over the next few months and is a certainty if you know who is re elected.  So, my thinking was, if it works, great, I got it at a good price and if it give trouble, surefire will fix it and I will have gotten what at a good price before any chance, real or imagined for them to become hard to get, very high priced and sold out. I hope that at least helps you decide on to get one or not. I am very happy with mine and if it keeps performing as is, I will get another one for sure.