Piston system vs Gas questions?
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Old 02-27-2014, 05:41 PM   #1
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Default Piston system vs Gas questions?

I have heard and have done some reading on piston vs gas, and have suffieciently heard piston has the advantage because it doesnt spew carbon and debris all over the BCG, so I just have some questions on this

If I have a gas system, and I would like to change it how would I do that?

How much would it cost?

and do I need a different BCG with a piston system?

Thanks very much.

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Old 02-27-2014, 05:57 PM   #2
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I'm sure the ar experts will weigh in soon , but I'm pretty sure the bcg for a piston system is proprietary. As for the advantages, keeping the chamber clean seems to be the main draw to a piston system. Some issues (that some higher end companies seemed to remedy) are carrier tilt. The carrier being struck by the piston will not move straight back and will wobble a bit and rub the buffer tube. Rugers sr556 now has an updates bcg that is rounded in the back to combat that. Lwrc has done a great job of controlling carrier tilt in their rifles. I'm not new to guns, but I'm new to ARs. I like the piston systems but I think some day ill buy a DI gun as well. Is there a particular brand you were thinking of buying? Just curious.

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Old 02-27-2014, 06:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niescior View Post
I have heard and have done some reading on piston vs gas, and have suffieciently heard piston has the advantage because it doesnt spew carbon and debris all over the BCG, so I just have some questions on this

If I have a gas system, and I would like to change it how would I do that?

How much would it cost?

and do I need a different BCG with a piston system?

Thanks very much.
An Adams Arms conversion will run $400 or so. Not worth the cost. I had a Huldra (piston upper made by Adams Arms), but I sold it during the panic and got all of my money back plus the LGS earned his consignment fee.

If you want a piston upper, sell your DI and buy a piston. But don't butcher your functional DI upper to create a piston upper.

This is just my $0.02, it is your money.

Yes, you need a BCG designed to run with piston.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:07 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FernandoTheCommando View Post
I'm sure the ar experts will weigh in soon , but I'm pretty sure the bcg for a piston system is proprietary. As for the advantages, keeping the chamber clean seems to be the main draw to a piston system. Some issues (that some higher end companies seemed to remedy) are carrier tilt. The carrier being struck by the piston will not move straight back and will wobble a bit and rub the buffer tube. Rugers sr556 now has an updates bcg that is rounded in the back to combat that. Lwrc has done a great job of controlling carrier tilt in their rifles. I'm not new to guns, but I'm new to ARs. I like the piston systems but I think some day ill buy a DI gun as well. Is there a particular brand you were thinking of buying? Just curious.

Sent from my HTC One X using Firearms Talk mobile app

I do not even know what brand to look toward yet, and honestly this is more for information sake and knowing how to do it and what goes into it.

But thanks for the info.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:12 PM   #5
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The piston system ARs are 99.999% reliable, and keep the chamber a bit cleaner than a DI AR would, but they weight more than the DI ARs and cost a lot more than most DI ARs. DI ARs are 99.998% reliable.

So is a very small amount of extra reliability, and a little less cleaning worth heavier rifle that costs a lot more?

To give you an idea of the cost difference, I built a DI AR out of really good parts, and it ended up being around $1200. Some good ARs can be had for as low as $600-$800. The Ruger SR-556 has a MSRP of $1995. If you just want the upper, it's still $1499.

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Old 02-27-2014, 06:15 PM   #6
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Yes, you'll need a different BCG, basically a complete piston upper. Those cost as much as another good AR but are available.

Your chamber will foul less, but you will have the dirty piston assembly to clean. Overall, pretty much zero sum. The only rational reason for choosing a piston driven AR is using a suppressor. A piston system like the SIG 516 can show extraordinary versatility in adverse conditions, the kind we as civilians are not subjected to.

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Old 02-27-2014, 08:00 PM   #7
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I know this is one of those divided arguments but I would stick with the gas system. Proven, reliable, interchangeable parts, and cheap.

If your worried about a little extra time cleaning and have money to burn. I started reloading, after playing with my loads a bit I ended up with a load that is accurate and efficient( less unburnt powder) in another 500 rounds my reloading investment will have paid for itself. Which one it warms up, won't take long.

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Old 02-27-2014, 08:13 PM   #8
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If you want a piston gun don't do it to an ar15. Sell what ya got then go get a rifle designed to be a piston gun from the get go.

Truth of the matter is pistons aren't cleaner or more reliable than di guns. They just accrue gunk in different areas. The amount of cleaning is the same.

Installing a ad on piston system you almost certainly going to decrease reliability as the diy kits aren't the greatest. You will turn your rifle nose heavy and increase weight.

The ar15's dirty little secret is its di system IS a piston design with the bolt acting as the piston portion. Stoner just put the piston on the tail of the bolt instead of waaaay out front. Doing that simplifues operation decreases weight and makes it vastly easier to repair in the field. You can even jury rig gas rings for the ar15 out of bits of common wire if you really had to.

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Old 02-27-2014, 10:59 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Niescior View Post
I have heard and have done some reading on piston vs gas, and have suffieciently heard piston has the advantage because it doesnt spew carbon and debris all over the BCG, so I just have some questions on this

If I have a gas system, and I would like to change it how would I do that?

How much would it cost?

and do I need a different BCG with a piston system?

Thanks very much.
Adams arms makes a conversion kit.

I owned a Adams arms before and liked it.
Not as pretty as the off the shelf systems but works.
I've owned many DI's and many piston AR's

Some real nice and high end piston guns out there and some more affordable ones ( Sig516, SR556 RRA piston ) are out there but they are all more expensive than DI guns.

I am a bigger guy so I dont mind that Pistons are usually a few ounces heavier and i love not having to clean my rifle after every use.

I usually let piston AR's go about 1000 rds between cleanings with no ill effects, thats about the time the barrel needs cleaning.

But nothing wrong with DI guns either.. the parts are interchangeable since they are so common and Daniel Defence, LMT, BCM and Noveske make some fine DI's.

Most my ARs now are Pistons mostly because i find them interesting and they have a certain purity to them as even the dirtiest ammo cna be shot with no ill effects since the gases get vented out right away.
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Old 02-28-2014, 12:22 AM   #10
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If I'm buying a piston rifle, it'll be something designed from the ground up in that direction....like an AK.

There are a number of reasons why my ARs are not piston driven:

  • They cost more
  • Lack of interchangable parts
  • Heavier, and less balanced (often front heavy)

None of this should imply that a piston AR can't be a really good rifle. But there are other upgrades that make more sense for my tastes. Your money, your rifle. My tastes should have little impact on your decision.
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