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diggsbakes 03-05-2011 11:46 PM

Increasing the Reliability of the Ar-15
OK, so I'm originally an AK man. I lived to shoot them (among others) for years. I love to break them down, modify, accessorize and just make improvements in general to them that makes the more effective. The hardest thing to improve was (is) the accuracy. As we all know it is simply the Achillies heel of the AK-47 and there isn't much (outside of major modifications i.e. re-barreling) we can do to improve that.

Now then. . . I'm thinking the same thing about the AR-15 in regards to reliability. I've had quite a bit of luck with them overall, however failures DO happen every time I go to the range. They are all easy fixes, but nevertheless it is something I'm not used to. Just as I was not used to being able to hit a 10" steel plate at 200 yds over and over with a 1x magnification optic.

So I ask. . . What (if any) are some modifications and/or improvements that are available or you have used to improve the reliability of this rifle. Mags and Ammo are a Give In and Don't count here!!!

I ordered a bolt enhancement kit from Bushmaster (only for my basic model BCGs) and know that the Bolt/carrier group is the heart of the AR and a good one is necessary for reliable function. So which one do you use?

Do you see an advantage to using a chrome bolt in a standard carrier?

Is the nickel boron the answer?

Lets Talk!

dog2000tj 03-06-2011 12:08 AM

Aside form the different friction/protection coatings that I have seen some do I thought this might be beneficial,

POF-USA Patriot Ordnance Factory, Inc.

I haven't installed one but it would reason that anything part that can reduce wear and tear would be a plus.

Or maybe I'm just an idiot :o

JonM 03-06-2011 12:29 AM

my first AR15 was a colt sp1 i bought new in the box in 1986. amma was like 5$ per 50 and milsurp was in the area of 50$ per 500. i put a LOT and i mean a lot of rounds downrange. i dont remember that rifle every having a failure to feed or extract. i still have it today. ive since retired it recently building up a RRA lower dpms upper with an m16A1 barrel. i dont have much rounds through that one but it hasnt failed yet.

i think its like anything else mileage varies.

back in the 80's ak47 were in the 90$ range everyone i knew had one or two and ive seen ak's with their share of stove pipes and jams. i just dont ascribe to the reliability myth of the ak47 platform. they are firearms like anything else no better. they jam they misfeed no worse or better than ar15's.

i keep my guns oiled well lubricated and clean. i inspect them frequently for wear and oncoming failures. so when i go out to shoot i seldom have any issues.

if you build a quality AR15 with parts that work it will function just fine. the key for an AR15 to function well is a well fitting bolt carrier and bolt with a prroperly headspaced barrel/extension. if you have a problem AR15 checking for the correct head space and carrier bind is the first thing to do.

but like 1911's the further the weapon drifts from m16A1 specs the more issues will crop up. the more crap you hang on a semi auto rifle without tuning the recoil buffer spring the more fails your gonna have. this is true for any semi-auto or full auto.

weight absorbs recoil an overloaded semi will not function correctly. doesnt matter if its a ar or ak. however the ease of putting junk like 6 different optics huge rails 4 or 5 flash lights extra mags etc all will have some impact on the weapon's ability to cycle correctly.

if you have ever spent anytime with m203 equiped m16's you will come to hate that configuration. it is extremely prone to jams due solely to the thing's weight.

Sniper03 03-06-2011 12:38 AM


I will start off by saying I have never had any significant failures to feed with any of my ARs. And after almost 25,000+ rounds through my oldest AR and 8.5 years I have had only a handful 4 or 5 of malfunctions. Probably due to mags or ammunition not the rifle. I have even re-barreled her once already in 2007. It is hard to rule out Magazines since they are the number one cause of AR Malfunctions. Junk ammunition being shot in a good AR is another as you mentioned. I certainly do not want to offend anyone with my following comments and that is not the purpose. The purpose is to express what I see in the industry. All I hear is AR parts are AR parts. Quite the contrary. There are good parts and there are junk parts. There are so many people making these parts of which the tolerances vary all over the board. From what I have experience the issue comes when the guys building them are buying parts from every tom dick and harry and expecting them to be top quality, match and function in conjunction. Or weapons built by some back yard garage builder. Not saying I put the skilled guys on this forum in that class. I do NOT! There is a lot of skill here! I would say however that if you get parts from the top companies it should eliminate these problems. And I always tell the guys. Just because they are new parts does not guarantee they are good parts! A new AR Rifle should have Zero problems if it is a quality piece and built correctly, despite present belief. The other issues are that some manufacturers will cut barrels down to meet production leaving the original size gas port hole causing the weapon to run hot or out of time. (over gassed!) To get back at your direct question. Manufacturers will sometimes polish the M-4 Feed Ramps and you can too with a Cratex polishing cone or tip. But they forget to relieve the aluminum lip on the Upper Receiver leading into the M-4 Feed Ramps. Causing the cartridge lip to catch and jump up when entering the barrel extension and chamber. This is a little industry secret and most ARs will even feed frangible rounds if this is done. So that is my tip for the day! Anyone having feed problems should check this out "After determining the Magazine is not the problem. One last thing that will save you a lot of frustration and problems. Is get one good magazine that functions flawlessly. Put it into a tupperware container to protect it from any damage. And only use it to diagnose magazine problems, feed problems,function problems, Bolt Catch problems and more. This will be one of the most valuable tools in your tool kit! Next to the Throat Erosion & Head Space Gauges! We call it the Armorer Magazine! And only you and God touches it!!!
Take care and good luck with all your future ARs and AR builds!


Quentin 03-06-2011 04:35 AM

I'd say a chrome or nickel boron bolt/carrier is a total waste of money since a good quality phosphated BCG (chrome lined) can be 100% reliable if you keep it well lubed.

I'm curious why you'd get a bolt enhancement kit from Bushmaster though, why not BCM? I'm assuming you're talking about a upgraded extractor kit?

Anyway, I have an ArmaLite and Daniel Defense BCG and both ARs are 100% reliable with cheap steelcase on up to good 62gr 5.56. I have not fired anything outside the range of 50-62gr. I have yet to have any malfunction with the two year old ArmaLite upper or the month old Daniel Defense (both midlengths). This is rather amazing since I've done a lot of swapping lowers and buffers. I really thought I went too far with an H2 buffer in the ArmaLite but it cycles low powered steel case just fine.

Of course my AK (WASR) has gone 4 years without a malfunction! :p

M14sRock 03-06-2011 04:52 AM

For reliability, I have not found a better upgrade than the Defender "D" ring for increased extractor tension.

Mandatory in my ARs.

russ 03-06-2011 05:29 AM

Well, I'm really thinking that my next upper build will be a DI and unless someone can give me a good reason not to, it's going to get a FailZero BCG in it.

Quentin 03-06-2011 06:02 AM

Russ, the only reasons I can give are the BCM and Daniel Defense BCGs are 100% reliable and half the price of FailZero. And that I don't buy FailZero's claims that you can run their BCG dry. No doubt it's a good unit but I'd still want to lube it.

mjkeat 03-06-2011 03:01 PM

I had a FailZero BCG. Nothing wrong w/ it just decided to go another direction. It was very slippery making it easy to clean. My LWRC has a BCG coated in a similar fasion as the FailZeros. I will say the two DD BCGs and the Spikes work wonderfully. BCM and DD will more than get the job done for less money.

Sniper03 03-06-2011 03:22 PM


The following comment is not meant to be in anyway offensive. But for information purposes only! Keep in mind the D Rings put 3+ times the amount of pressure on the Extractor Claw when extracting the case. I certainly would not suggest anyone use any of the steel cast ammunition in their rifle when using a D-Ring. Increasing the possibility of damaging the Extractor. Brass is more forgiving. Personally I have never needed to use a D Ring on a rifle in over 20 years in the industry. I do recommend using the "Black Extractor Insert and Spring". It is the highest durometer and used on most all select fire weapons to promote reliability. I do know of one company who had about 3000 rifles they sold in Texas that would not extract reliably. Not to mention they put the wrong front sight assembly on the rifles! So they sent the agency D-Rings to correct the problem, rather than correcting the real cause. Quality of parts!
Bottom line is if it helps! Use them but keep an eye on your Extractor. When you run your finger across the Extractor Claw it should feel "Sharp" to the touch.


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