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Re: Best brand of AR15 to buy?

TxsTxs Member Posts: 18,801
edited October 2008 in Ask the Experts
Colt has the highest consistent quality of all AR manufacturers because each and every component is manufactured in accordance with the US military approved 'Technical Data Package'. This establishes design, materials, manufacturing and testing criteria for all components and is what is meant by the term 'milspec'. Colt's semiauto rifles are also manufactured to these same standards, the lowers are just machined to prevent installation of full-auto components and the fire control group has a somewhat different design. Materials, finish and tolerances are all TDP quality.

It's not that other manufacturers don't care to have this quality, it's because as approved US military suppliers Colt and FN are the only manufacturers who can legally have access to this TDP. It's true they don't manufacture each and every component themselves, but any subcontractors they use must also be approved as manufacturing to TDP standards and remain open to inspectors.

When you see other manufacturers referring to their rifles as milspec they're actually only saying a portion of their components meet this standard because they purchased them from one of Colt or FN's subcontractors. It's impossible to manufacture a true milspec gun without following the TDP and they don't have access to it.

Something to be aware of also is that non-Colt AR manufacturers often change the suppliers of their components, which can result in your seeing an XYZ brand rifle that's darn near perfect but then seeing one that has issues. It's a matter of which subcontractor can supply the parts at the correct price at the time they're needed. Consistency can become a big issue when doing things this way.

To give you an idea, I recently examined a S&W MP15 that was equipped with a Colt hammer/disconnector/trigger package that was powered by JP springs. Good stuff there, but I seriously doubt that all S&W AR lowers contain those more expensive Colt components. It's owner lucked out.

None of this is intended to say if it's not a Colt it's crap, just that if it's non-Colt it can often be a crap shoot.

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    JustCJustC Member Posts: 16,056 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    There are only 3 major companies that create the forgings for the receivers. The only differences in mil-spec receivers is the machining that the company who puts their name on it puts into the fit and finish.

    Pretty much all mil-spec receivers will be so close, that the differences aren't worth noting. Now the CHEAP ones, are just that.

    DPMS, Olympic arms, anvil arms, double star, stag, mega, del-ton, LMT, noveske, etc

    look up a guy named Mike Milli who owns Dedicated Technologies. he builds custom AR style rifles in a myriad of chamberings, to very tight tolerances. he uses DPMS lowers and has no complaints.
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    nmyersnmyers Member Posts: 16,879 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Sabre Industries is now a supplier of M16's & variations to the US military.

    Neal
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    TxsTxs Member Posts: 18,801
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by nmyers
    Sabre Industries is now a supplier of M16's & variations to the US military.

    Neal
    Maybe a supplier of components, but not rifles.

    Beyond the Vietnam era M16A1, Colt and FN are the only manufacturers who have held the US military contract. Bushmaster was inadvertantly contracted to supply a small number of M4's back when they were being developed, but Colt filed suit and won over the government's release of the TDP to them.

    Part of this settlement was Colt's exclusive M4 manufacturing rights. FN supplies the US military with M16's, but if you see an M4 with one of their receivers it's been arsenal rebuilt into this configuration. This is strictly Colt territory.

    The bottom line is that except for those couple of thousand Bushmasters floating around, if it's a US military issue M16-type it's either a Colt or an FN product.
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    TxsTxs Member Posts: 18,801
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by JustC
    Pretty much all mil-spec receivers will be so close, that the differences aren't worth noting. Now the CHEAP ones, are just that.
    The only actual 'milspec' complete receivers made in the US are Colt. The others call their's milspec only because they obtain forgings from the same supplier.

    It's true that there are only a few manufacturers of milspec M16 forgings, but this is really nothing more than an interesting piece of trivia. The difference lies in the TDP level quality of machining and finish. High quality consistency of the final product is the issue.
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    Wehrmacht_45Wehrmacht_45 Member Posts: 3,377
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Txs
    quote:Originally posted by nmyers
    Sabre Industries is now a supplier of M16's & variations to the US military.

    Neal
    Maybe a supplier of components, but not rifles.

    Beyond the Vietnam era M16A1, Colt and FN are the only manufacturers who have held the US military contract. Bushmaster was inadvertantly contracted to supply a small number of M4's back when they were being developed, but Colt filed suit and won over the government's release of the TDP to them.

    Part of this settlement was Colt's exclusive M4 manufacturing rights. FN supplies the US military with M16's, but if you see an M4 with one of their receivers it's been arsenal rebuilt into this configuration. This is strictly Colt territory.

    The bottom line is that except for those couple of thousand Bushmasters floating around, if it's a US military issue M16-type it's either a Colt or an FN product.



    No Sabre just won a manufacturing contract for small batches of complete M16 rifles. It is posted on their site.
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    givettegivette Member Posts: 10,886
    edited November -1
    There's MILSPEC then there's contract MILSPEC. If I am an ace machinist, and have the receiver blueprint drawing, I'll make to MILitarySPECification. (Mettalurgy/heat treating to spec, also).

    If there's blueprints for parts, hammers, pins, etc which include metallurgy requirements, It will be to military specification if made correctly.

    I think there's non-contractual MILSPEC parts out there. The problem is relying on reputation to make sure you're getting "in-spec" parts.

    Best, Joe
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    TxsTxs Member Posts: 18,801
    edited November -1
    You're correct that FN lost their M16A3/M16A4 contract to Sabre a few months ago, but as good a company as they are don't expect that rifles you buy from them will be manufactured to the same quality level as their military guns. Due to legalities, Colt remains the only manufacturer of true 'milspec' M16/AR rifles or receivers available to the public.

    Milspec means an item has been manufactured in accordance with a Technical Data Package and the M16 TDP belongs to Colt. The US military can turn this package over to whoever they contract for manufacture, but since Colt developed the TDP they maintain control over it's use for commercial purposes. Notice how you've never seen FN AR's for sale to the public? Due to this control FN's contract prohibited them from selling these rifles to anyone but the US military, even law enforcement agencies.

    Also, don't expect that Colt is going to sell rights to Sabre for commercial manufacture of AR's using their TDP. They currently hold an exclusive contract to manufacture M4's for our military until 2012, but the way it's looking the M16 platform might not be around much beyond this date. Down the road Colt is going to need all the commercial AR sales they can get.

    quote:Originally posted by givette
    If I am an ace machinist, and have the receiver blueprint drawing, I'll make to MILitarySPECification. (Mettalurgy/heat treating to spec, also).And those are just a few of the millions of little details that are contained in the TDP, plus all the required periodic inspections during the manufacturing process of each and every component.

    If it's stated that an item is manufactured in accordance with all aspects of a TDP it's quality is assured, not just close.
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    Wehrmacht_45Wehrmacht_45 Member Posts: 3,377
    edited November -1
    CDNN was selling FN NIB M16A2 uppers last year though.


    It is quite amazing that the M16 was a stopgap between the M14 and the SPIW, yet has lasted over 4 decades.
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    Mk 19Mk 19 Member Posts: 8,170
    edited November -1
    I am very suprized that no one has brought up JP yet. Colt and the other may be nice for milspec work, but if you want better than milspec there is only one company to see:
    http://www.jprifles.com/
    http://gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=111836116
    http://gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=112378411
    http://gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.asp?Item=111835677
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