Why the AR-15 Sucks for Preppers – Page 3 – 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

    http://www.warriortalk.com/archive/index.php/t-32165.html

    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

    https://www.cna.org/CNA_files/PDF/D0015259.A2.pdf

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

    2014 “Secret Test” of M4A1 Carbine

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/aug/19/armys-quits-tests-after-competing-rifle-outperform/

    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

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/19/troop-left-to-fend-for-themselves-after-army-was-w/

    141 comments

    • Me: October 05, 2019

      Youre a idiot

    • Dugan: September 20, 2019

      I would have to agree with this assessment of the AR platform.
      Are they awesome, sexy, have all kinds of cool switches and tacticool doodads….YEP
      But I don’t know how many rounds and extra cash for custom parts it took to get my AR to funtion without flaw.
      He is correct, the carbine system with gastube is wayyyyy overgassed…..but it has to be why? So you can cycle your cheap Russian ammo through it in America.
      BUT – The one thing that caused me to not totally trust the AR….one day while range testing…the roll pin that holds the extractor in….fell out of the bolt….just fell out of its hole and luckily the extractor came undone and caused the bolt to not fully close so the weapon was disabled….
      Got that?….DISABLED dead in the water….a tiny little roll pin…
      Had the weapon fired with the steel roll pin in the bore who knows what damage would have been done to the bore…
      Moral….work all possible flaws out of your prescious AR before trusting your life to it.
      And yes….maintain and keep it lubed…EVEN if it has been just sitting there for a month.
      cycle the bolt to make sure it hasnt rusted itself shut and cannot cycle.

    • Banterbro: September 07, 2019

      I don’t like the AR platform but I have not done exhaustive studies on its weak points. I do know I prefer the AK, and it also has its weak points but I prefer its weak points to the plastic, aluminum mattel toy the U.S. calls its main combat weapon. I also prefer a weapon that doesn’t shit where it eats. Thank ya’ll.

    • John Raba: August 26, 2019

      I can only speak to my personal experience. I have a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 sport 2. I have shot many different kinds of ammo through it many times. At no time has it not performed flawlessly. Not a single glitch. I clean it after each range visit. I have never had any difficulty cleaning the bore, or any other part of the rifle. I lubricate it properly as well. My failure rate is 0. Shoot with good ammo, clean it properly, lubricate it properly and a good (not necessarily expensive) AR will run and run and run. Mine has. Use crappy ammo, fail to properly clean and lubricate any rifle and you will get failures. There is nothing wrong with the AR platform.

    • John Raba: August 26, 2019

      I can only speak to my personal experience. I have a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 sport 2. I have shot many different kinds of ammo through it many times. At no time has it not performed flawlessly. Not a single glitch. I clean it after each range visit. I have never had any difficulty cleaning the bore, or any other part of the rifle. I lubricate it properly as well. My failure rate is 0. Shoot with good ammo, clean it properly, lubricate it properly and a good (not necessarily expensive) AR will run and run and run. Mine has. Use crappy ammo, fail to properly clean and lubricate any rifle and you will get failures. There is nothing wrong with the AR platform.

    • Travis: August 21, 2019

      Man, I gotta say this: Don’t write dumb shit for the sake of SEO and generating traffic to your site. Especially don’t do this by writing some controversial piece about a rifle (and filling that piece with blatant lies). I don’t even need to get into the details – someone else already explained on here, in depth, why every single point in this article is wrong.

      I’ll instead defer you, Mr. high-speed Green Beret bullshitter (I was Army, too. Joint fires, NCO, Range NCOIC, and now I’m a gunsmith and work for a tactical rifle company), to a forum post from Henderson Defense. They run their AR-15s and full-auto M4s into the ground, literally, with over 200,000 rounds downrange. This entire article is malarkey.

      https://www.ar15.com/forums/ar-15/High-round-count-AR-M4-s-over-100-000-rounds-and-how-they-have-handled-on-our-range/118-677135/

    • Robert Pinto: July 20, 2019

      As I’m trying to build a decent battle rifle I’m trying to do my research and one of the biggest problems I’m finding are the choices of barrels. Where do you buy the pencil Barrel or the government profile Barrel they both have severe whip or as people like to call the harmonics if you are using rapid fire the heat up rather quickly and throw your point of impact off my many inches. I also feel that when purchasing Parts as a civilian we are not able to purchase the best of parts unless you want to spend $400 for a bolt carrier group which really don’t make sense either it just seems that these civilians AR-15 R design to be flawed so civilians will never have that perfectly reliable rifle to defend themselves with and in my opinion I feel that is done intentionally. As much as I love my AR-15 if I had to use it in a life-or-death situation yes I’m confident that it will work but if we were invaded by a foreign country or some crazy apocalyptic event happens which I don’t think it will nor do I hope it will that’s what I think the AR-15 platform will fail under stressful situations for a home defense matter as long as you keep it clean you should have no issues but if you’re going to war but I have your tools with you spare parts and your cleaning gear along with 80 to a hundred pounds of other gear. Good luck out there stay safe and be vigilant

    • Nick: July 11, 2019

      To the guy beneath me, nobody has 25% failure rates lol your AK can’t even pass the mudtest. Just another person that sucks at using an AR so they use the AK because it’s limited in skill just like them

    • Roxie Frost: July 08, 2019

      I love and own both platforms AR and AK …
      Also if your little prepping gang has 25% failures with AR’s
      at the range….. then when SHTF…. your groups in Real trouble ….

    • Jo jo: July 05, 2019

      Yes complexity effects reliability. It also increases effectiveness. A spear is very reliable. The USA military is extremely effective. Technology wins wars. What is the role of the rifle in a modern military? It is becoming self defense not a primary system.
      The stoner system is very accurate lightweight and mounts optics well. Every firearm represents a compromise. Think the sight plane is high try a ak with a belarus side mount. The ar is a superior weapon while it works. While it works it is killing enemy. When it doesn’t that doesn’t negate the kills it made. If you are manning a primary system a heavy rifle tires you. The m4 is a reasonable compromise for a modern military. We have a reliable weapon that never fails. Its called a kabar. There is no perfect rifle. The m249 performed great in tests. In the field not so much. The ar with optics allows hits to be made more readily than a ak with optics. Is it a good rifle for the civilian ? You don’t know until you shoot it in your environment in all seasons.

    • Nick: June 26, 2019

      Civilian AR15s are made better than m4s so comparing your pos m4 that’s had more people run through it than Pamela Anderson is a dumb comparison. But then again most of you will drop thousands of dollars on outdated rifles like m14s and think you’re so bad ass for owning it because it shoots 308. Anyone who says an ak is better because “rElIaBiLiTy” hasn’t put their ak in mud. The mudtest showed the ak is a pos. And for the dumbass above saying the sks 😂😂😂 that’s another garbage rifle. All I see are fudds and bootlickers complaining because they can’t run a 5.56 rifle righr

    • Chris: June 10, 2019

      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.

      80% of the time in spite of itself….I know, that other 20% is LOVE… Really bud. Is it the best? At what, where and under which conditions….rethink it brother, PEACE!

    • Mech Warrior: May 17, 2019

      I was in the Army 8 years but haven’t fired near as many rounds as you have. I personally didn’t experience many failures on the firing line but I’m sure that’s because I was never deployed as an infantryman. When I look at an AR15 or M16A2 I notice some of the same things as you have. The M16 or AR15 are good weapons but as long as you have maintenance support. The few malfunctions I’ve had with either of those weapons was usually because of the characteristics of the round, that long round with a very narrow neck that easily gets bent in a misfeed. The M16/AR15 could have been made into a simpler design and I think we would all agree that simpler usually goes along with more reliable and more robust. I just bought a WASR-10 and I can easily see a big difference in simplicity of design and a more robust construction. Thank you for your service.
      G Troop, 2/11th ACR (OPFOR)

    • Ranger Rick: May 10, 2019

      I liked the M-16 because I never had many issues with mine. Our Teams Weapons folks made them reliable. Custom if you will.
      I have some AR’S now and may convert them to the 6.5. THOUGHTS?
      Thank you for your insight and service.
      5th Grp Medic early 70"s.

    • US Corporation of America: May 08, 2019

      Your racist toward white people for hating the ar15.

    • Retired Para: April 15, 2019

      I have to say that I can understand the angst the AR type of rifle causes for some veterans; however, I see this article as being way over the top.

      Now here’s my take on the AR type rifle courtesy of 22 years in the military. Out of that time I have gone from my first issue M16A1 that was on a lower marked XM16E1 to using a HK416 thanks to AWG. In between plenty of time on the A2 and M4. Add to that the years, yep years, spent in Afghanistan, Iraq, as well as time in Panama, Honduras, Korea, etc…

      So what is my opinion? Simple. A quality made AR is robust, reliable, and accurate that requires just basic maintenance. It does well in all environments and actually beats the vaunted AK in some circumstances (see InRange’s mud test on the AR vs AK as well as Military Arms Channel’s testing on the AR)

      A standard DI AR will serve anyone quite well with basic maintenance. Keep the bore clean and proper lubrication and the rifle will run, PERIOD.

      As others have noted, every time a replacement is tried (SCAR-16, XM-8, etc…) they end up bringing nothing more to the table that the current AR based infantry rifles don’t already do as well or better.

      To the writer, I respect your viewpoint but I think you’re off base on this one.

    • Wm: April 06, 2019

      This fella wrote a piece giving his opinion on the M16/M4 he provided cites to support his position.

      I have seen nothing in the Flame Commentaries to rebut his points no citations or references to do so.

      Therefor his position carries the day simply based upon the evidence he presented and lack of any contrary evidence.

      Anecdotally.. I learned 40 plus years ago how inadequate and unreliable the M16 and the round it fired was..

      Anecdotally.. I learned 40 plus years ago how inadequate and unreliable the M16 and the round it fired was..If you are forced to defend yourself.. You will want to stop hazards immediately with finality.

      Anecdotally.. I learned 40 plus years ago how inadequate and unreliable the M16 and the round it fired was..If you are forced to defend yourself.. You will want to stop hazards immediately with finality.

    • AJ: April 06, 2019

      this article is fucking bull shit lol whoever wrote this had too many concussions

    • J: April 04, 2019

      We may soon come to find out that the best way to clean and lube your AR is with tears.

    • Bj: April 04, 2019

      You’re a fucking dumb cunt
      Not only is it the most popular rifle in the country but is also chambered in the most popular caliber.
      It’s the most customisable and parts are fucking everywhere. To run anything else in the apocalypse is fucking stupid.
      Not only are you not going to be putting 10000 rounds through your apocalypse rifle so whatever argument you put forward about an all doing 1000s more without cleaning and without parks breaking but you’ll probably just carry the fucking thing around all day and hardly ever shoot it more than a few burst to scare people off. So being as lightweight and compact as possible is going to be seriously important.

      A glock in 9mm and a modern ar15 like a BCM 10-14.5inch mcmr upper in 5.56. Done. 1-8/1-6 LPVO or a red dot with a magnifier, sling and you’re done. Doesn’t have to be any fancier than that. Anything else in place of your primary and secondary is fucking stupid.

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