Wednesday, March 12, 2008

What does that "test" prove?

I've been studying and researching carbines for a while now, reading what various trainers and trainees have experienced with carbines that have been pushed some. What I noticed about reviews and articles is that, for the most part, the round counts are rather low-I won't blame them for not shooting a case for every rifle they test, because that's a butt load of money-and the courses of fire don't generally show what the gun will do when the carbine is pushed. What I found from other sources contrasts quite a lot with what reviews say.

When the test consists of 300 rounds of leisurely shooting, every carbine on the planet is going to look pretty much the same. With that sort of light use, differences in parts quality won't show up, and a parts gun made with OK parts is going to perform similarly to a Colt, LMT, or LWRC. To see the differences in guns, they have to be pushed.

The reason that Colts and the other brands listed previously at the top have such a stellar reputations is that they hold up under hard use. Second and third tier guns, the commerical brands, have track records of failure that are well documented, as well as being traceable to particular things that differ from the top of the heap. Bolts break because they're not all MP tested and shot peened. Receiver extensions come loose because castle nuts aren't staked. The list goes on.

The thing that's bugging me, because I realize I've touched on this before, is that gun writers are expected to be experts. At least they were when I was growing up. Jordan was a BP agent that had used guns when life counted on it. O'Connor was out slayin' critters all over the world. I'm just not sure that gun writers now live it like they did in the day. There are a few, but they're few and far between. Most of the articles read the same way: here's the history of the rifle...again. Here's the features and stuff the rifle comes with...BTW, a carry strap isn't a tactical sling. Here's the stuff the writer bolted on to take the gun to the range. Here's the list of ammo, and we'll throw the velocity in there for...who knows why. And, 300 rounds later, here's the verdict: "this rifle worked like a champ and all the bullets that fired hit stuff. This rifle worked great, so if you're in the market for a carbine, buy one".

Here's the real bottom line: there's a very good chart that's probably the best resource to determine what's what with commercially available AR carbines. Rob-S, who's been on a lot of forums and who's chart has been declared "good to go" by several big name trainers and carbine authorities. Its the most accurate resource going. The beauty of it is that you can kinda "dial a price" and have a good idea of what features you're getting compared to other brands. Additionally, it shows the difference between the bottom of the line and the top, and if you're savvy, it explains why top tier brands cost what they do. If you happen across Rob-S and his characteristic orange visor, give him a hearty "thank you" for the effort he put into the chart.


DirtCrashr said...

Hey thanks!! I ran across that chart at and thought *Kewl!* but having a recommendation means a lot in addition regard.

I think I understand part what you're saying with the problem of "Who's an expert?" thing - who's come back from having seen the elephant - Falluja (or wherever) with the stories of breakdowns and the problems that got people killed. They don't show up much in any of the magazines I read.

I also noticed a lot of similar things in the way of reporting stuff that you noticed, with an additional division between the guys who say "KISS" vs. the guys who hang everything imaginable off the rails.
So in building my Noveske lower, will the White Oak parts kit do?
Jeebus, I'm still trying to decide on a stock!

Haji said...

I've never used a White Oak parts kit, but I know several people who's opinions I trust that swear that White Oak barrels are among the very best available. I'd go for a White Oak kit in a heart beat over, say, a DPMS kit. The only one I would probably hold in higher regard would probably be the Colt, but its gonna cost a ton and may or may not be very available.

I was talking with my bro Matt today about the KISS guys. The funny thing we both noticed was that other than a LAM, the KISS guns are pretty much the same as what The Big Boys are using, almost to the "t". When it comes to experts, the top of the heap, to me, are still The Big Boys: Vickers, Lamb, Pannone, and like that.

DirtCrashr said...

I used a WO kit to build my Lauer lower, that gave me a chance to talk to John too, he's a pretty darn accomplished guy.
I ordered a CTR stock and MIAD grip. Should be here soon. :-)
I've heard of Vickers, and I've been told Lew Awerbuck sometimes runs classes at a nearby indoor range but I'm not real familiar with everybody - I need a reading list. I just started my SWAT subscription.

Haji said...

Good choices; you're going to be well pleased with that rifle. Make sure you do a detailed post about it on yer blog!

Larry Vickers, along with Kyle Lamb, Mike Panone, Smith, and some others are veterans of The Best Carbine Shooters in the World unit. Any chance to take a class with them should be jumped at. Awerbuck is probably the best shotgun guru on the planet; I've never heard anything but rave reviews of his courses, although I haven't had the chance to do one yet. Pat Rogers is another who's well thought of. He's running a class at the ATS Training Facility in Altha, FL next weekend. I couldn't get in, but a couple guys I work with did.

There's so many good trainers out there that finding them is pretty easy. I got some excellent advice from my bro Matt E., who's trained with several different instructors and has some great pointers. I'm going to compile them and post 'em up sometime soon.

Zaakir Abdullah said...

I think theres a new one out now.

Haji said...

I know Rob was working on another, but I'm not sure if he's posted it yet. I'll have to go look into that. I did find out that somebody posted his chart in Surefire's magazine, Combat Tactics. That would normally be cool, but it was done totally uncredited. Rob posted that over at LF; I haven't seen the magazine yet, but I will soon, since ATS is a full line Surefire dealer and we get that magazine. If that proves to be the case, I'll have to contact Cameron Hopkins, the editor, and ask him to set that right. I have no doubt that he will.