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Thread: Reputable (Mil-Spec Or Better) Manufacturer vs. Home Build AR-15

  1. #11
    moar cool•onialsism pls schüler's Avatar
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    If you cannot articulate and demonstrate dimensional conformity of each of your home-built firearm's parts you're blowing smoke.

    Back in the day Colt's claim to fame was/is metrics. They did not make everything in house but had machines checking incoming components and machines checking those machines that checked the components. That was for mil contract. I cannot remember if our armorer instructor actually said LE guns came from mil line in those days.

    That works fine if your buyers do not request changes in design and all but guarantee orders. Otherwise your product, reliable as it may be, becomes developmentally stagnant. Colt choked hard after losing exclusive contracts with a narrow customer base. And they didn't choke just once. They offered some interesting things, including cheaper priced guns with model numbers similar to LE offerings.

    I don't know how Colt stands today with regard to metrics/quality. But cheaper usually means something was streamlined along the way. Could be they just have to cut margins to play in the market of the last several years. I personally won't buy any.

    I find others such as BCM (in spite of keymod) offer the quality and everything I need as a regular Joe. I do depend on them to be the SMEs and I am willing to pay the price.

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by schüler View Post
    If you cannot articulate and demonstrate dimensional conformity of each of your home-built firearm's parts you're blowing smoke.

    Back in the day Colt's claim to fame was/is metrics. They did not make everything in house but had machines checking incoming components and machines checking those machines that checked the components. That was for mil contract. I cannot remember if our armorer instructor actually said LE guns came from mil line in those days.

    That works fine if your buyers do not request changes in design and all but guarantee orders. Otherwise your product, reliable as it may be, becomes developmentally stagnant. Colt choked hard after losing exclusive contracts with a narrow customer base. And they didn't choke just once. They offered some interesting things, including cheaper priced guns with model numbers similar to LE offerings.

    I don't know how Colt stands today with regard to metrics/quality. But cheaper usually means something was streamlined along the way. Could be they just have to cut margins to play in the market of the last several years. I personally won't buy any.

    I find others such as BCM (in spite of keymod) offer the quality and everything I need as a regular Joe. I do depend on them to be the SMEs and I am willing to pay the price.
    The cheaper Colts like the expanse, Colt competition guns etc are not made or in some cases even assembled by Colt.

    As for the OEM, 6920, 6720 etc, I think they are able to keep costs down for the same reason S&W 442/642 or SIG SP 2022's are cheap, theyhave built so many, they have gotten efficient at building them and much of the tooling and infrastructure used to build them is long ago paid for.

    BCM is a solid choice, as are Sionics and Sons of Liberty Gun Works.

    DD's are generally well regarded but I've seen a few with issues.
    Last edited by HCM; 08-12-2017 at 06:49 PM.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by HCM View Post
    You probably can but how much time and effort did it take you to get there ? For the average joe? maybe not so much.
    Lots of reading, lots of doing, and mentorship from people like Jim Hodge.

  4. #14
    Site Supporter ReverendMeat's Avatar
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    Seen way too many jacked up home-builds. Everybody thinks they're competent enough to assemble one properly, just like everybody thinks that they're good drivers. Ain't so. If between Colt, S&W, BCM, Sionics, FN, or LMT I can't find what I think I need then I probably don't need it as much as I think.
    Last edited by ReverendMeat; 08-12-2017 at 09:44 PM.
    "Customer is very particular" -- SIG Sauer

  5. #15
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    I'll preface this post with the fact that I've been a quality engineer at large diesel tier 1 contract machine shops or diesel/power transmission OEMs for 19 years. I have six years of running the receiving inspection at a 250,000 square foot machining/assembly facility. At a different OEM I spent four painful years sourcing parts and machining to China and India. I have a Bachelor's degree in Metallurgical Engineering from a well respected university.

    Everything in this post assumes the home builder is buying mil spec or better parts, just like the reputable manufacturers.

    Quote Originally Posted by White Crane View Post
    So I just recently came across this video while reading up on .300 BLK here at PF. An interesting comment was made in it, that you shouldn't home build an AR-15 for various reasons (which were not discussed) and that you should buy Mil-Spec from quality makers.

    I find this interesting in that I know for a fact that many of the better known AR-15 builders are not only outsourcing their parts to a large degree and/or competing heavily enough on price as to be suspect of minimizing QC costs into their production.
    Many people seem to think all "Outsourcing" is bad. It might be. Or it might mean having parts made by people that are experts in the process that is used to make that part. People that are more capable of making good parts at a good price in a good time frame. Or not...you often get what you pay for, and verify, regardless of what you spec. Do not buy cheap parts and trust no one. Even with good vendors, be slow to discontinue/reduce receiving inspection.

    Quote Originally Posted by White Crane View Post
    That being said, I know there are a lot of things that go into 'putting together' an AR-15 that your average person either doesn't know the 'correct' way or just plain messes up and doesn't care. Anybody care to share their thoughts on this matter?
    Quote Originally Posted by Unobtanium View Post
    I personally feel that I am capable of producing and equal or better AR, given quality parts, vs. "the factory", after owning multiple Daniel Defense and Colt rifles.
    You probably are, if you are willing to make/buy some specialty tools. Have you done/do some of the following: Change your own oil, rotate your tires, put a roof on your house, framed a house, or hundreds of other mechanically inclined tasks? If so, you are likely more innately skilled than some(many) of the people who assemble firearms at the big companies. However, they have: a proven process, professional tools/fixtures, experience, and inspectors. You have the will and desire to do it properly yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by 37th Mass View Post
    I think it depends on what you want the AR-15 for.

    On one hand, building AR-15's can be fun and educational. I just built my first, a 6.8, for hog and deer hunting. I used (mostly) milspec parts, and it seems to function fine. Accuracy is sufficient for ethical hunting out to 300 yards. I had fun and learned a lot. But my life won't depend on that weapon.
    It is fun. I "built" an upper, including drilling and reaming the barrel/front sight for the taper pins. By the time it was done, it was about $75-100 more than buying an equivalent BCM upper I didn't do it to save money. However, I had a great time setting up the barrel/front sight in the mill with gage blocks and drilling/reaming the taper pins while my Dad accused me of being waaaay too anal. I damn well know my gage block setup was much more precise than any production fixture in use at Colt. My rear sight is almost perfectly centered after sighting in, so I would say it was time well spent.

    Quote Originally Posted by 37th Mass View Post
    If you need an AR-15 that your life might depend on, you would probably be better off spending more money and buying a proven rifle from a respected manufacturer.
    Either way, you need to prove it with +/- a case of ammo minimum.

    Quote Originally Posted by schüler View Post
    If you cannot articulate and demonstrate dimensional conformity of each of your home-built firearm's parts you're blowing smoke.
    If you cannot articulate and demonstrate dimensional conformity of each of your purchased complete firearm's parts, you're blowing the same smoke. It doesn't matter who manufactured the firearm, it needs to be vetted before serious use. Whether they build it from quality mil-spec parts, or you build it from quality mil-spec parts, the chance of a bad part is probably about the same, given current machining and inspection practices. A purchased complete firearm has probably been function tested, so that is a plus, but things are getting close to equal after a couple of mags through the home-built.

    Quote Originally Posted by schüler View Post
    Back in the day Colt's claim to fame was/is metrics. They did not make everything in house but had machines checking incoming components and machines checking those machines that checked the components. That was for mil contract. I cannot remember if our armorer instructor actually said LE guns came from mil line in those days.

    That works fine if your buyers do not request changes in design and all but guarantee orders. Otherwise your product, reliable as it may be, becomes developmentally stagnant. Colt choked hard after losing exclusive contracts with a narrow customer base. And they didn't choke just once. They offered some interesting things, including cheaper priced guns with model numbers similar to LE offerings.
    I've worked on military parts before. Buyers do not get to make design changes, unless a company is dumb enough to risk having the government shove the units down their throat. Even if design changes would be obviously beneficial to quality and cost, it is an uphill battle to go through proper channels and change any military part. Especially the old ones where the design team is no longer intact.

    Quote Originally Posted by ReverendMeat View Post
    Seen way too many jacked up home-builds. Everybody thinks they're competent enough to assemble one properly, just like everybody thinks that they're good drivers. Ain't so. If between Colt, S&W, BCM, Sionics, FN, or LMT I can't find what I think I need then I probably don't need it as much as I think.
    I've seen them as well. But those are the same people who show up to a match with an improperly assembled handgun and crap reloads that won't function after somebody else fixes their pistol. They probably shouldn't have tried in the first place, based on my mechanical aptitude criteria above. It isn't rocket science. With good parts, and patience, it shouldn't be difficult. Cheap parts + no tools + no mechanical aptitude + no patience = (probably) jacked up home build.

  6. #16
    moar cool•onialsism pls schüler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Toonces View Post
    ...
    If you cannot articulate and demonstrate dimensional conformity of each of your purchased complete firearm's parts, you're blowing the same smoke. It doesn't matter who manufactured the firearm, it needs to be vetted before serious use. Whether they build it from quality mil-spec parts, or you build it from quality mil-spec parts, the chance of a bad part is probably about the same, given current machining and inspection practices. A purchased complete firearm has probably been function tested, so that is a plus, but things are getting close to equal after a couple of mags through the home-built.
    ...
    I've worked on military parts before. Buyers do not get to make design changes, unless a company is dumb enough to risk having the government shove the units down their throat. Even if design changes would be obviously beneficial to quality and cost, it is an uphill battle to go through proper channels and change any military part. Especially the old ones where the design team is no longer intact.
    ...
    Exactly! Joe Blow isn't going to somehow duplicate cumulative expertise, processes and 3rd eye of craftsmanship... and the TDP isn't responsive to and does not allow for current development.

  7. #17
    Site Supporter rob_s's Avatar
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    Most of the home builds fall squarely in the snowflake "i *need* better" category.

    If it's your first gun, buy a factory gun from a reputable maker (off the top of which I can only think of four I'd bother with: Colt, BCM, Daniel Defense, and Knight's Armament). The little details like which grip, handguard, barrel, trigger, and all that other minutiae Internet forums and entertrainment homos go on about don't actually matter. What you need is a trigger that functions and is reliable and robust, not the *best* trigger. Same goes for all of the other junk. People get all worked up about this new maker, or that special frozen barrel, or keymod vs Mlok vs picatinny, or whatever the newest 1.x-Y optic is being used by which particular forum "SME" or celebrity trainer, or which special sauce whichever new "builder" is supposed to have, etc. it's all horseshit.

    Just buy this and get to shooting
    https://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/...14177/redirect

    If you think you "need" something more or later on want to start spending money or this doodad or that widget, just PayPal the money to me and punch yourself in the nuts. When you get your head out of your ass I'll end the money back to you.

  8. #18
    Site Supporter rob_s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by schüler View Post
    Exactly! Joe Blow isn't going to somehow duplicate cumulative expertise, processes and 3rd eye of craftsmanship... and the TDP isn't responsive to and does not allow for current development.
    Virtually all of that "current development" is the AR world is snake oil and bullshit designed to sell parts and "lifestyle" to all the choads that think they know better.

  9. #19
    moar cool•onialsism pls schüler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob_s View Post
    Virtually all of that "current development" is the AR world is snake oil and bullshit designed to sell parts and "lifestyle" to all the choads that think they know better.
    I think most of the minds here can discern that bastardization of the definition of "current development".

    Reliable/adjustable gas blocks, gas port sizing, barrel material and profile, accurizing procedures, bolt carriers, buffers/springs, etc. The legitimate optimization outside a standard 'mil spec' offering or TDP.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by schüler View Post
    If you cannot articulate and demonstrate dimensional conformity of each of your home-built firearm's parts you're blowing smoke.
    Really? There's a whole thread on building home defense shotguns on this board, does the same rule apply there?

    Should we expand this to cover other aspects of "home build"? I also build my own bikes from bare frames, do I need to be able to articulate and demonstrate the dimensional conformity of the bearings in the sealed bearing headset or just accept when the manufacturer says it's a 1.125" internal headset and assume when the headset installs correctly and moves smoothly that it's GTG and I can move onto the other aspects of the build?

    Quote Originally Posted by ReverendMeat View Post
    Seen way too many jacked up home-builds. Everybody thinks they're competent enough to assemble one properly, just like everybody thinks that they're good drivers.
    I can't build 1000 units better than Colt, but I can assemble unit 1 for recreational purposes good enough to meet my needs. ARs are pretty well documented and quite simple compared to other guns I've worked on.

    Quote Originally Posted by Toonces View Post
    You probably are, if you are willing to make/buy some specialty tools. Have you done/do some of the following: Change your own oil, rotate your tires, put a roof on your house, framed a house, or hundreds of other mechanically inclined tasks? If so, you are likely more innately skilled than some(many) of the people who assemble firearms at the big companies. However, they have: a proven process, professional tools/fixtures, experience, and inspectors. You have the will and desire to do it properly yourself.
    That would be describing me. I do a number of complex mechanical tasks not because I have to, but because I enjoy the work or want to experience the process. I own maintenance for all my vehicles and frequently take on complex maintenance or repair tasks. I've rebuilt the front end on my 4x4 and aligned the front end well enough to get it to a shop with the proper equipment for final alignment, upgraded the front brakes on that same 4x4 to larger wheel cylinders and rotors (BTW, can anyone describe how braking performance changed and the relationship between the factory master cylinder and the larger-than-factory wheel cylinders?), replaced the brakes (pads and rotors) on numerous vehicles, replaced shocks and struts, etc. Not to mention the small engine repairs, repaired appliances, the bikes I mentioned above, and all sorts of things that contribute to my mechanical aptitude.

    Quote Originally Posted by Toonces View Post
    However, I had a great time
    That is the only reason I build my own ARs, for the enjoyment and experience. I have no fantasies of doing it better than Colt, but by doing it myself, I have a better understanding of what's going on inside the gun, facilitating my current experiments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Toonces View Post
    It isn't rocket science. With good parts, and patience, it shouldn't be difficult. Cheap parts + no tools + no mechanical aptitude + no patience = (probably) jacked up home build.
    This. I don't think anyone thinks they can improve over the likes of Colt for dozens, hundreds, or thousands of units, but anyone with aptitude and patience can successfully build a single unit.

    Quote Originally Posted by rob_s View Post
    Most of the home builds fall squarely in the snowflake "i *need* better" category.
    Mine have always been about doing it myself for the fun of it. I like "building" things (in case it wasn't obvious from the comments above). My current rifle is part father/daughter project and part "let's see how soft shooting I can make this thing". I started out with an adjustable gas block and light BCG. Next step is a lighter buffer. Once I get all that dialed down to the minimum and with reliable operation, I'll start working on the ammo.

    Chris
    Last edited by mtnbkr; 08-13-2017 at 07:32 AM.

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