Why the AR-15 Sucks for Preppers – Readyman

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Why the AR-15 Sucks for Preppers

Posted on March 17 2019

I’m a 28-year Green Beret veteran (8 years boots-on-the-ground just in Afghanistan). My family comes from a manufacturing background.

And, I hate the AR-15. 

This sounds like an AA meeting for American veterans, so I better put up a decent argument soon before I’m lynched. Why does the AR suck?  

It’s too complex. Any time you have a system that is complex, you have two results: efficiency and fragility. 

In the military we are taught that the AR-15 is a fine weapon “as long as you maintain it.” In truth, the design works (80% of the time) in spite of itself, and has gone through so many design iterations that people have lost count.  The history of the AR-15 is a history of band-aids.

From front to back:

  • The front sight assembly sits ridiculously high because the straight (non-ergonomic) stock has to contain a massive spring and buffer assembly. If the weight or spring compression in that assembly is off just a small amount, it causes malfunction. This design flaw, right out of the gate, causes a huge mechanical offset where the eye lines up around three inches higher than the barrel. That’s why in 2019 you can’t find a new AR-15 with an old school front sight assembly.

  • The gas tube is thin, fragile and subject to bending or breaking—usually taking the rifle out of commission. 

If a build up of mud, water or carbon decreases gas pressure to the bolt, the the AR-15 fails to cycle.  This is particularly common with AR’s that have shorter barrels. That’s why gas rods have become all the rage. Yet another band aid…

    • The star chamber and bolt face are perhaps the single biggest design flaw of the AR-15.  That’s the eight-petaled flower at the front of the bolt. Flowers don’t belong in assault rifles. Some say the star chamber provides accuracy. It does not. Bolt-action sniper rifles don’t have star chambers. They have two or three lug bolts and they are the gold standard for accuracy. 

    Ask any soldier about weapons inspection and they will tell you the test is worming a pinky in the chamber of the rifle. The pinky never comes out clean and that should give us a clue. The single most important part of the rifle is nearly impossible to keep clean even in a garrison setting.  Think about that for a minute: the point where the bolt, bullet, and barrel meet is almost impossible to keep clean in an AR-15.

    The lugs on the bolt that lock into the star chamber are essentially a series of gears that if they don’t match up exactly, they cause a failure to feed or a failure to fire.  Any number of things can cause the lugs not to pass efficiently through the star portion of the chamber: dirt, heat expansion, ice, wobbly bolt carrier or wear and tear. All can cause a bolt to seat incorrectly in the chamber, or not to extract after firing, causing a whole host of malfunctions.  This is one of the reasons the forward assist was developed.

    • The extractor, due to its design has issues because it is similar to a teeter-totter that is out of balance. This causes the extractor to want to slip off the rim of the casing causing failure to extract malfunctions. This is particularly evident when the chamber gets fouled from use in combat conditions. Almost all infantry soldiers carry cleaning rods to clear this brutal malfunction so they can knock a spent casing out of the chamber and get back in the fight.

    • The bullet itself is a reliability issue.  The 5.56 has a relatively long, slightly tapered  casing which begs for issues disengaging it from the chamber.  And, the casing has to move a long way to disengage.  This becomes a monster issue if the bullet casing bulges during firing or if the chamber becomes excessively fouled, leading to failure to extract or half-extraction. 
    • There is no delay in the bolt moving during the extraction phase and this causes tremendous mechanical resistance. When the bolt carrier begins to move, it tries immediately to turn the bolt without first gaining momentum. If the bolt is stuck to the inside of the chamber due to fouling (or crap ammo like in Vietnam) then there is often not enough energy to knock the bolt back into rotation. There’s no “running start” to dislodge the bullet before turning the bolt. Almost all battle rifles, like the M14, M1 and AK use a delayed rotating bolt. The mass of the bolt carrier, once in motion, wants to stay in motion and hits the bolt like a hammer, knocking it into rotation and into extraction. Not so for the AR-15.
    • Also, the steep angle of feed for the bullets has caused more than its fair share of failure to feeds. Overly-strong magazine springs, dirt, burs, or gunk can cause a bullet to hang up as it tries to climb the steep angle.Why do we only load 28 rounds into a 30 round magazine? Say it with me: BAND AID.
    • The gas tube dumps carbon and debris into the upper receiver where the bolt carrier relies on a smooth surface to travel, which further exacerbates the tolerance issues with the star chamber. This has us running to piston-type band aid designs these days, as another attempt to fix a fatally-flawed concept. 
    • The hammer only goes to a 90 degree angle, which is ok, but does not take into account any mishaps, cold or weak primers, or a bolt that is not seated all the way.
    • Magazines for the AR-15 used to be notorious for feed lips cracking, springs getting weak, and followers not putting bullets at the correct angle (which still happens with plastic mags all the time.)
    • The bolt carrier does not ride on rails, and therefore wobbles as it travels back and forth in the upper receiver.  This wobble is one of the contributing factors to the lugs on the bolt face not lining up for proper mating with the chamber—causing other failures to feed.  This is another one of the reasons AR’s have a forward assist.

    • If the buffer, buffer tube or buffer spring are out of balance, it leads to all manner of malfunctions. When I was at 1st SFG and we were first issued the M4 to replace the M16A2 there was no end of problems because the buffers were not the correct weight which caused weird failures to feed. Once the buffer weight was fixed we ran into problems with the buffer spring tension; more malfunctions. Then we ran into a buffer tube length problem. All of the three had to be working in harmony or we would be going to war with sexy-looking paperweights. Never mind if dirt got into the buffer tube…

    I have probably made several AR-15 die-hard’s angry, and for that I apologize.

    When all of these arguments are brought to bear, the inevitable retort is this: “If the AR-15 is so bad, why does the United States government use it?” Anyone who has been in the military can attest: we do lots of dumb things, and sometimes we do them for generations.

    In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales said,  "American penchant for arming troops with lousy rifles has been responsible for a staggering number of unnecessary deaths…They died because the Army’s weapon buying bureaucracy has consistently denied that a Soldier’s individual weapon is important enough to gain their serious attention.”

    Test after test fielded by the U.S. armed services demonstrate that the AR-15 has a litany of problems. These problems are much, much worse for non-professional soldiers such as citizen preppers. On the ReadyMan range, with regular folks appearing with their own AR-15 rifles, grab-bag ammunition, custom modifications and uneven maintenance, our failure rate for shooting ARs runs about 25%.
    Granted: professional soldiers with training and dedicated time for rifle maintenance don’t experience quite such horrifying results with the M4, but preppers should beware: just because the U.S. military enjoys buying them, doesn’t mean the AR-15 is the right rifle for gardening one moment, defending your life the next.

    If a Tesla car failed 25% of the time, we would lynch Elon Musk and duct tape him to one of his rockets. If our iPhones only worked “when well maintained,” we would’ve chucked them all off a bridge. If our pants failed 19% of the time they went into battle, we’d burn that manufacturer at the stake for being an unpatriotic cost-cutter. For some reason, we’re still buying from Colt.

    (Editor's Note: Before you flame a 28-year Green Beret, please be so kind as to read the research attached below. Then, flame away.) 

    ReadyMen Closed Group
    Learn more cool things at ReadyMan.com 


    2007 Aberdeen Sandstorm Test. U.S. Army


    10 Rifles. 60,000 rounds each.

    XM8: 127 stoppages.

    MK16 SCAR Light: 226 stoppages.

    416: 233 stoppages.

    M4: 882 stoppages. (3.5 times the second worst, which is also an AR-15)


    2006 CNA Corporation Soldier Satisfaction Survey


    “Only” 19% of servicemen reported their M4 experiencing a stoppage during battle.

    2014 “Secret Test” of M4A1 Carbine


    Competing rifle outperforms the M4 and Army calls off the test.


    "Troops left to fend for themselves after Army was warned of flaws in rifle"

    Washington Times article, 2014



    • Jake: March 25, 2020

      Ok, then what would you recomend when $hit hits the fan? Yeah I love a bolt gun but when push comes to shove I’ll take the Ar. ;)

    • Ryan: March 23, 2020

      All you turds who think that milspec=garbage are literally retarded. Generally, milspec guns work best, its you idiots that put the hi speed bullshit in your triggers and bcg’s and gas blocks that make excuses for why yours had a malfunction.

      Or that calling an ar15 an m4 is a ‘liberal talking point’ are brain dead. Its the same exact gun, minus an extra hole in the lower.

      Yes, m4’s CAN be reliable guns. If you do it correctly. Which neither the army nor marines do. I earned the right to not capitalize shit, so fuck off.

      Oh, YOURS has never malfunctioned? Well, princess, thats cuz you dont train. No, you dont.

      Oh, you watched a movie on the youtoobs?? Wow, cool story, bro.

      Literally know a guy whose gun NEVER malfunctions, it just sometimes doesnt eject a round all the way, or chamber one. But it never malfunctions.

      You dumb fucks are that retarded.

      The BESTEST MOST TOUGHEST ar15 is a milspec one. With the 0 ring and proper springs and buffer. And good magazines.

      Ak’s have been that reliable since 1965, ar15’s since 2015. Partly because they didnt have a good magazine until like, 2007.

      Thats a big difference.

      Thats a big deal.

      Yall now have my permission to fuck off. Ya bunch of fuckin fetuses. No,-shootin sunszabitches

    • Yo momma: March 20, 2020

      I always take my advice from 28 year olds that simply parrot what others have been saying for decades. With those skills, he could run for office and read off a teleprompter.

    • AAC: March 19, 2020

      I read not only comments but the articles and I must say I agree with the man. Truth be told, most possible reason to keep band aiding the AR 15 platform is the same reason why in Vietnam they did not re issue the m14’s they already had…and it might have something to do with deniability of failure and gun manufacturing lobby. Take into consideration that same stubborness was the winning point for adopting the 7.62 nato rather than the british and belgium cartridge and the FALs served alongside the M16 in vietnam in the ANZAAC forces….with same results…..FALs were overall better in sustained operation….same as G3s, that is why they keep popping up worldwide and despite being most likely over 50 years old guns, in continouos service, they still fire decently. Although must be acknowledged the great improvements done to the AR15 platform…and yes, it is a better sealed gun…..not necessarely better overall. After HK redesigned some of it, the 416 and M27 have dealt with a lot…..but as much as you patch a broken vase, it lies broken still.

      I think it has received enough overhaul to be considered “decent”……but if I had to bet my life on it….I would choose “proven, successful and reliable” and in that regard, an AR15 would not be my choice.

    • Boogaloo Daddy: March 16, 2020

      OK Boomer.

      Seriously. I bet you still rock a Garand and a 1911, or at least an M1A and a 1911A1.

    • dick phuck: March 16, 2020

      The writer of this article is a faggot of the highest caliber and a fudd. the ar15 is easily the best choice due to availability of ammu tion popularity and the sheer amount of parts not to mention simplicity and the ease of assembly. also the writer is just ass mad he got fucked for 83%apr on a dogshit red mustang.

    • D50: March 15, 2020

      >Let me inform people how military-issue weapons are bad for preppers, despite the fact civilians have no access to military-issue weapons in the first place and instead buy aftermarket guns with better QC and performance because they aren’t cheaping out on costs like what the government does on a everything.
      >Let me also cover my tracks by stating I served in the military. Because serving in the military automatically makes me the arbiter of gun arguments. Yeah, that’ll keep those trolls at bay.
      >I’ll also post sources, but they’re more than a decade old, or not released by sources that actually work on firearms.

      So were you just a clerk for the Green Berets for the past 28 years, or did you just buy a green beret 28 years ago?

    • CodeWA: March 15, 2020

      >Using your dd214 blanket to validate your opinions
      >Note knowing that the HK 416 is not an AR15 that doesn’t even use the same gas operation
      >When you use a military bottom bidding rifle to say ‘ar15 shit’
      >when you think you can’t mortar an AR15
      >when you haven’t seen the inrangetv mud test to show that a modern AR15 is better than an AK in mud
      >when you think the almost literal lego playset of a rifle is complicated and doesn’t take barely a youtube video to build one
      >when you barely seem to understand how your rifle works despite using your dd214 blanket to defend your option

    • Sam : March 15, 2020

      Is this a satire page?

    • Dirk Diggler: March 15, 2020

      I hop this is a troll atricle, I really do.
      If not, then it goes to show you have no actual idea on how the M4/M16/AR15 works. This article was a spew fest of misinformation. Also having to tout a DD214 so people will think your an “expert” is also bullshit. Go shoot your Tapco SKS and hang yourself with a RATS.

    • Edward: March 15, 2020

      28 years of service? Take that, your DD214, and a couple of bucks, a bungee cord you call a fucking TQ, go have a coffee and shut the fuck up.
      Name a single military that uses the AR 15. I’ll be waiting forever because there isn’t one. Liberal bullshit talking point. Just like that shit you shill as coffee, bullshit.
      If you have an IQ above room temperature, the AR isn’t a problem to maintain.

    • Lmao who wrote this: March 13, 2020

      This is absolutely laughable. Tons of misinformation and irrelevant points.
      I’ll start with a simple one: No military uses the AR-15. That’s the first shittest failure.
      And this dude thinks the angle a hammer sits at has anything to do with weak primers or the gun not being in battery. The two are completely unrelated.
      Who wrote this trash?

    • Shep: March 05, 2020

      I bought a bone stock. DPMS AR-15 in 1992. Have put 1000’s of rounds thru it, in some pretty adverse conditions. It has remained bone stock and is extremely reliable. I fell in love with the M16 A2 as a 17 year old Marine. I know DPMS quality has gone downhill since then, so I bought my wife a Daniel Defense V7. I agree with nothing in this article. Maybe I was just lucky, who knows
      Semper Fi
      Make sure the other MF dies

    • Rotenhahn: February 10, 2020

      Wow. A lot of hurt feelings and false arguing here! If you actually are a prepper and you don’t have an AK then you’re deluding yourself. Proven the world over to be the best and most rugged firearm ever is an AK. NOT an AR/M4/M16. This article is exactly spot on-and yes- ARs do blow dirty gas all over the action- whoever said the gas comes out the side of the bolt carrier is full of shit. Snap out of it you silly Americans! Your small arms SUCK!

    • Guy: February 10, 2020

      Very interesting I used to feel the same way then I saw for myself guys putting 1000s of rds through Ars and not cleaning them and they still ran. That being said I would carry an Sks without the duck bill mags but if shtf and I was up against multiple enemies then yea I would go for the ar. The sks is a great ranch rifle and all around rifle wish I had one still.

    • Jesse Owens: February 07, 2020

      This is garbage propaganda to attack ar15 ownership from a different angle. Next they’ll be having prominent homosexuals posing with them to make it look gay. I call bs on the whole article, starting with the author. I don’t know this asshole but I know rangers, combat controllers, marine recon, Marines and grunts. They all say the same thing, NATO ball doesn’t kill. Never once have I heard that today’s M16/M4/AR15 is unreliable, AND THEY OWN THESE WEPAONS PRIVATELY. So the author is a fucking liar with an agenda, not a Green Berett. And if by chance you (the author) aren’t lying , you’ve pissed into the arena of gun ownership. There are men here.

    • Creepy Joe Biden: January 25, 2020

      Big difference between clapped out M4A1s that have been poorly maintained by armorers and a quality built AR15 built with the latest innovations. Milpsec=Cheapest shit that will meet minimum standards. Same concept can be seen in the berreta m9 pistol. They were clapped out and poorly maintained. Does that mean the M9 is a bad pistol? Nope far from it. As far as the locking lug problem that was a colt heat treat issue and btw an ar15/m16 is absolutley has a delayed bolt system Use of a short barrel like in MK18 will reduce dwell time 11.5 is a better option for parts longevity imo.Its very easy and cost effective to build an Ar15 that is dead nuts reliable. I always KG Gunkote(similar to cerakote high lubricity) the inside of my uppers and use NIB/Np3 BCG makes everything feel like glass. Get rid of the pencil barrel and go with a SOCOM profile. Im starting to ramble but im just not seeing were you are making sense. Semper Fi

    • Joe: January 23, 2020

      Let’s be 100% here… the author of this nonsense doesn’t even understand how the AR-15 operates.

      How are you going to “inform” people on a platform you’re not even marginally knowledgeable about? The bolt carrier absolutely performs a delayed bolt unlocking. How is this even up for discussion… seriously… this is the most basic of AR-15 knowledge.

    • Joe: January 23, 2020

      You need to go back to school. 19% of soldiers experiencing a failure isn’t a 20% failure rate. A 20% failure rate means 1 out of 5 bullets will malfunction. You would be hard pressed to locate even 1 AR-15 shooter that experiences this.

      What an totally garbage opinion piece…

    • Greg: January 12, 2020

      Just goes to show you how experience in the .mil, including at the upper levels of combat arms, doesn’t translate to being a firearms expert. This article is an ill-informed piece that gets several technical and historical issues completely wrong, and reeks of bias and subjectivity.

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