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Thread: Bushmaster lower

  1. #11
    Member ASH556's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRB View Post

    Years ago, back in the early 90's, Bushmaster was a very respected name in the AR game, right behind Colt. If your lower or a particular Bushmaster rifle that for sure was made in the '90's, it's almost certainly good to go.
    That's only because at the time ABC was the only game in town: Armalite, Bushmaster, and Colt. DPMS, SGW, some other smaller companies made some stuff here and there, but they were pulling shenanigans like cast (vs forged) lowers. Colt was mostly unobtanium in the civilian market and when you got them they had neutered carriers, oversized FCG pins, sear blocks, etc.

    Bushmaster has never made a "good" rifle. It's just they were the best of what was available. Most of the issues are correctable with proper tools, knowledge and parts. The biggest parts issues are gas port size on barrels (too large), buffer weight (exacerbated by over-sized gas ports), gas key screws, and receiver extensions (buffer tubes).

    All that said, if in-spec, (and from what I've seen they usually are; certainly more than RRA) the OP will be fine building on a Bushmaster lower.
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  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ASH556 View Post
    That's only because at the time ABC was the only game in town: Armalite, Bushmaster, and Colt. DPMS, SGW, some other smaller companies made some stuff here and there, but they were pulling shenanigans like cast (vs forged) lowers. Colt was mostly unobtanium in the civilian market and when you got them they had neutered carriers, oversized FCG pins, sear blocks, etc.

    Bushmaster has never made a "good" rifle. It's just they were the best of what was available. Most of the issues are correctable with proper tools, knowledge and parts. The biggest parts issues are gas port size on barrels (too large), buffer weight (exacerbated by over-sized gas ports), gas key screws, and receiver extensions (buffer tubes).

    All that said, if in-spec, (and from what I've seen they usually are; certainly more than RRA) the OP will be fine building on a Bushmaster lower.
    Thank you for that, ASH556. I am intimately familiar with the neutered Colt variants of that era but I didn't have much exposure to Armalite or Bushmasters. As you put it, 'ABC' were the best options available and touted accordingly.

    If I may ask, though - how much of that gap between 'good' by today's standards and 'good' of those days is simply advancement of the industry/materials/design? It seems that things like gas ports were historically run large back in those days for 'reliability' because today's focus on optimizing gas, muzzle brakes, etc simply didn't exist.

    I'd welcome your thoughts on that - you clearly know what the hell is going on with AR's.
    Last edited by JRB; 04-01-2019 at 03:26 PM.

  3. #13
    Member ASH556's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JRB View Post
    Thank you for that, ASH556. I am intimately familiar with the neutered Colt variants of that era but I didn't have much exposure to Armalite or Bushmasters. As you put it, 'ABC' were the best options available and touted accordingly.

    If I may ask, though - how much of that gap between 'good' by today's standards and 'good' of those days is simply advancement of the industry/materials/design? It seems that things like gas ports were historically run large back in those days for 'reliability' because today's focus on optimizing gas, muzzle brakes, etc simply didn't exist.

    I'd welcome your thoughts on that - you clearly know what the hell is going on with AR's.
    I think it had more to do with the Clinton AWB '94-'04. According to Wiki, the M4 was adopted in '94. Had it been available on the civilian market (at least in non-neutered configuration), then I think demand would have driven quality alternatives. As it was, there wasn't much financial incentive for companies to enter the civilian AR market until the ban sunset. That's when you saw all the good alternates we have today really begin to form.

    My point is I think the quality or lack thereof with the late 90's and early 2000's AR's had much more to do with lack of interest/consumer accountability than manufacturing technology. To my knowledge, Colt barrels were never produced with oversized gas ports because they knew what the right size was supposed to be.

    *as a side note: lack of lubrication probably has more to do with guns not running with "civilian spec" ammo than a milspec gas port. My guns with milspec gas ports run SAMMI pressure and even Wolf (on the occasion where I was given a few hundred rounds) just fine. It's a classic case of people not understanding the system and mis-diagnosing it. Another such example would be the myth that you need to stagger your gas ring gaps. You know what happens to those gaps when you put the bolt in the carrier? They compress and close.

    Anyway, truth be told, @rob_s is probably due much credit for his infamous chart as a large part of creating consumer accountability among AR manufacturers with respect to part selection, gas port sizing, and assembly practices.

    **Caveat: I didn't get into this until around 2002 (My ARFCOM account dates to March 2003), so there's probably stuff that guys who lived through more of the ban and M4's adoption would know better than I.
    Last edited by ASH556; 04-01-2019 at 04:06 PM.
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  4. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by JRB View Post
    IIRC Bushmaster was sold in ~2006 give or take, and as far as I've seen, the ~2009+ ones when production was moved to NY are the ones to really worry about.

    Years ago, back in the early 90's, Bushmaster was a very respected name in the AR game, right behind Colt. If your lower or a particular Bushmaster rifle that for sure was made in the '90's, it's almost certainly good to go.
    To be honest, that's because we as consumers didn't know any better.
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  5. #15
    Site Supporter rob_s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ASH556 View Post
    IAnyway, truth be told, @rob_s is probably due much credit for his infamous chart as a large part of creating consumer accountability among AR manufacturers with respect to part selection, gas port sizing, and assembly practices.
    Which never really was the goal. The funny thing about The Chart is that it started just as a way for my analytical brain to try and understand “why”.

    To your other point(s), I worked at a gun shop during the AWB and for sure sold a lot of ABC guns, and quite a few Olympics and others. Besides, or coincident with, The Chart, the sun setting of the AWB and the subsequent rise in interest in the AR, along with the rise in interest in all things war post-9/11, along with the various vets returning looking for something to do and the resultant rise in interest in training (along with the paranoia driver of people thinking they were going to be attacked by moose-limbs at the mall) all combined to have a lot to do with where the AR market sits today.

    Frankly, most ARs made and sold today are probably better than 99% of those sold 20 years ago... Christ has it been 20 years...?

  6. #16
    Member JonInWA's Avatar
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    I had my late 1990s Bushmaster XM15ES carbine (heavy non-fluted barrel with AK74 muzzle brake) professionally examined by a very reputable AR shop; it was given a very clean bill of health regarding assembly and operation. It's always shot accurately for me, and any issues have been magazine related. I currently use Magpul magazines exclusively, primarily their 20-round (out of personal preference) with several 30-rounders in reserve. Mine has had the furniture upgraded with Magpul's M-LOK Handguard and Angled Fore Grip, which I find provides better and more ergonomic handling characteristics.

    Best, Jon

  7. #17
    Believe it or not around 1997-2004 before most of the present gun forums and AR manufacturers existed, Bushmaster was near the top of the list as far as AR quality. Over at the early AR15.com the Bushmaster was considered the go to gun right behind Colt. It was the BCM of the day simply because there was not much competition back then during the Assault Weapon ban. Colt, Olympic Arms, Bushmaster, Armalite and a hand full of others was all there was. That said I recently assembled a Bushmaster overrun lower that had been sitting on my shelf for a few years. It was out of spec. The channels for the bolt catch and magazine catch were not milled deep and wide enough. Never had that problem with Anderson lowers. Got the Bushmaster working though.
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  8. #18
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    [QUOTE=ASH556;865344
    My point is I think the quality or lack thereof with the late 90's and early 2000's AR's had much more to do with lack of interest/consumer accountability than manufacturing technology. To my knowledge, Colt barrels were never produced with oversized gas ports because they knew what the right size was supposed to be.[/QUOTE]




    Correct. Colt built them from the actual technical data package plans not from "reverse engineering " someone else's gun.

    Back then fewer people even owned ARs. Even here in the South where lots of folks are "gun people" you just didn't see as many people with ARs back in the early to mid 90s. It was still "Gun Culture 1.0 " back then and if you had an AR you were something of a novelty. And we just didn't know as much about WHY they were less reliable than they should have been. In the 80s some people even argued that the Mini 14 was a more reliable rifle than the AR....

    When you did see people with ARs and they had issues with them it was largely due to old magazines (thanks to the Crime Bill keeping you from getting newer ones) with the old 1970s-80s era black non leveling followers, bone dry unlubed guns, and if it was not a Colt it most likely had the wrong tension on the extractor. The rifle and the carbine extractor had different size (and color ) inserts in the extractor spring. That is why the "D-fender ring " came into being - extraction issues people were having ....mostly in non Colt guns. And if it had a Bushmaster M4 upper you probably could not zero it at 50 yards because the front sight was the wrong height. They used a rifle height front sight assembly instead of the carbine. You could solve that by replacing the front sight post with the front sight post for the Colt SMG (taller post) but the carbine and rifle do not use the same height sights....but apparently nobody told Bushmaster.

    Fast forward to a time with the crime bill has sunset, new mags come with better followers and stronger mag springs, and more companies are using "mil spec" extractor springs and inserts, people actually lube the guns, and suddenly the AR is superbly reliable. Back in the late 90s and early 2000s my advice to people who had issues with their non colt made AR was to replace all their mag springs and followers with the green military follower and red springs "christmas tree" package from Ken Elmore (Specialized Armament), and get at the very least a Colt carrier group (they are milspec and the carrier key staked on) or ideally a complete colt factory upper and actually lube the thing like you mean it and more times than not their reliability issues went away. Now there are far more choices if you want a reliable AR platform , but back then there were only a few manufacturers other than Colt and while most of them could figure out where to drill the holes in the lower, the quality of their uppers and barrels (and the expertise of the folks screwing the barrels into the receivers) was a little lacking.
    Last edited by Randy Harris; 06-25-2019 at 05:03 PM.

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