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Monday, October 11, 2010

The Fighting AR15 Part 2: Accessories

So you got this gun and want to get it set up to fight, but you don't know where to start. There are so many options and access available. What do you need?

Laser, lights, grips; Oh-my!

Lets look at a few different categories of accessories, their purposes, and talk about their real life application to your personal vision for your rifle.

These first items aid or enhance operation and function of the gun, but are not essential or required. They consist of after-market replacement parts for original components like triggers, charging handles, safety levers, and furniture. Lets start there.


I run a standard mil-spec trigger in two of my guns. One is my Patrol Rifle/Go-to All Purpose gun and the other is my back-up/home defense gun. I don't particularly see a need for a fancy, super light trigger in a fighting gun, unless it is going to be employed as a Precision Rifle. There is no room of a 1 ½ pound trigger in an entry stack. Now, I do like to polish up all the contact surfaces of the mil-spec trigger. This lightens and smooths things up just enough. I don't do anything else to the trigger. I run standard trigger pins and springs just as they come.

I also use a JP Enterprise 3 ½ pound fire control system in my Semi-auto Precision Rifle and a Chip McCormick drop in trigger in my Intermediate Range/Hunting gun. These triggers are both finely tuned, single stage “precision” or “performance” triggers.

The JP system is a 4 piece kit that allows the user to keep their hammer. The kit comes with a trigger that is adjustable for engagement and over-travel, a disconnecter, a reduced power hammer spring, and a reduced power trigger spring. I find this trigger to be the most tunable and easiest to use/install system out there. The only recommendation I have is to put a little blue lok-tite on the screws and let it dry before you install them. This will prevent the screws from walking out and messing up your trigger tune. I like the JP system in my SPR because it is very close in weight and feel to the trigger in my bolt gun.

The McCormick system is a simple, straight forward drop in trigger kit. Just remove the safety and old trigger then drop in the McCormick kit and reinstall the safety. Your ready to rock and roll.

Both of these trigger systems allow me a reduction in pull weight, as well as a short to non-existent over-travel. These rifles are, by purpose and configuration, for delivering more accurate fire on target. As such they get a little extra love in the trigger department. You may also look into the 2 stage trigger. Personally, I don't like the 2 stage trigger. I don't really know why, other than I'm a Marine and learned to shoot a Mil-spec single stage trigger. I guess its just not my thing.

Making Loading Easier

Do you have an optic that rides over your charging handle? Don't like having to move your hand to the bolt catch to get your gun into battery? Check these gadgets out!

Two other gizmos I run on my guns are the Magpul BAD (Battery Assist Device) lever, and Badger Ordinance's Gen 1 Tactical Charging Handle Latch. Combined they solve both of the above issues. They are a quick, bolt-on, do-it-yourself add-ons that enhance the function of your combat carbine.

The BAD Lever is an extension of the bolt catch that allows the shooter to function the bolt catch with the trigger finger, without moving the shooting hand from the pistol grip. It allows you to both lock and release the bolt. This is great for speed re-loads and malfunction clearing.

The Badger Ordinance Tactical Latch adds a little extra meat on the charging handle latch side to help you get good purchase on the charging handle for a grip-n-rip charge. It also helps you reach the charging handle under a scope, if that is a set-up you run.

Some other Operational Accessories that may interest you would be Ambidextrous parts like and Ambi-safety selector or Ambi-magazine release. If your a lefty this is a must. If your a righty it is a accessory that only you know if you want or need. As for my guns, I don't like the ambi-safety selectors. I find the right side lever hits my finger and forces me to move my hand away from the grip to function it. All in all, I figure if I'm running my gun lefty only, I have bigger problems than not having an ambidextrous magazine release.


Furniture is what it is. I'm not going to spend a bunch of time on this. My thoughts on this it “To each his own”. There are all kinds of styles, colors, shapes, materials, and designs to consider. It is all up to you. My suggestion is to go with what works for your vision.

Some things I take into consideration are weight, design, and material. I am a huge fan of the Surefire M73 quad-rail handguards. I have been running these on my Patrol Rifle for years. They are machined aluminum, so they are strong but light. They offer a good amount of rail space for mounting all your goodies and even come with ladder rail protectors.

I also have a rifle with the ARMS 50M SIR forearm. This thing is a beast. It is a free floating aluminum and polymer piece that had a modular rail system. It also incorporates a riser that attaches to the top of a flat top upper receiver for a little extra stability and height. You can purchase an additional rail to add to the top to give you 14 inches of uninterrupted top rail. This is great if you run night vision or a magnifier for a red dot. It is a little heave, but the weight is worth the benefit.

As far as grips go, I'm a Magpul MADI fan. I like the oversized trigger guard piece and the adjustability of the whole thing. I also have a modified ERGO tactical grip on my .308 ar. I cut the palm shelf off of it and rounded the bottom to make it more suitable to my needs.

Like I said before, there are a million options out there in the way of furniture. There are many different models made by many different manufacturers at a wide range of prices. Go with what works for your mission and budget.

Illumination Tools and Laser Sights

Statistically speaking you are more likely to get involved in a shooting in a low light/no light situation. Weather it is in you home in the middle of the night or as a Police Officer responding to a Business Burglary, chances are the scene will not be lit up like a Hollywood movie set. In steps the Illumination Tool to help you make the shot to save the day.

Light is the difference between shooting your teenage kid sneaking in after curfew or just giving them a good lecture on “you could have gotten shot!”. Light is the difference between a hit and a miss as someone is trying to shoot you first.

Without getting deep into low light/no light tactics, I just want to state a few simple principles of LL/NL Operations. Darkness and silence aid stealth. Darkness provides cover in an familiar environment. Light should be used sparingly and quickly to identify threats and clear possible threat areas. Red light filters are worth their weight in gold. Red light does not effect night vision and is much less detectable, especially in no light environments. Strobing is cool but it will effect you ,albeit not as much as the person on the other end. Light is your friend when used properly and your worst enemy when used incorrectly. Now the tools.

There are, once again, seemingly endless options when it comes to weapon's lights. I will address the few models I own or have owned, as well as the few I have played with and would consider as a future purchase.

First, my primary, go to, mother of all weapon's lights- The Surefire M900. This is a bad mofo. Period. I purchased this unit shortly after Hurricane Katrina and it has been on my patrol rifle ever since. Briefly described, it is a vertical grip style light that features a high power (150 lms/225lms) bulb housing and twin LED “navigation lights” offered in your choice of white, red or blue. It uses pressure pad activation switches on both the right and left side of the vertical grip for temporary activation and a twist on/off knob on the bottom of the grip. This also serves as the battery cap, which allows access to the 3 123A batteries that power the unit. The LEDs are activated by a small pressure pad located on the back of the unit at the top of the grip, easily reachable with the thumb. The unit attaches to any Picatinny rail via either a quick release throw lever or a dual thumb screw style attachment.

There are several other weapon's lights available from Surefire, including the Millennium line or the X series lights. You can also adapt a 6P or G2 light to fit on a rail or use a CAA Forward Grip Adapter to achieve a M900 type effect for a fraction of the cost.

I-Tac Defense makes a vertical grip light similar to the Surefire M900. It features a LED light as well as a red laser sight in a vertical grip platform. The light has steady and strobe modes and also runs on 123a batteries. If you are looking for a less expensive alternative to the M900, this is it with extras. With sturdy construction and a super bright 700 Lumen light (yeah, its right- 700 Lumens) you can't go wrong for a MSRP of $229.95.

Crimson Trace recently released a vertical grip light/laser combo that features a 150/200 Lumen LED light with a red or green laser. The unit runs on 2 123A batteries and features pressure pad activation on both sides of the grip for both the light and laser. The green laser is a bit pricy at around $650.00, but if you are looking for an all in one unit this may be just the ticket. My only issue was on the one I tested I found the pressure pad activation switches to be stiff, requiring heavy pressure to activate both the light and laser.

There are several laser units available ranging in price from $80-100 to several thousand, depending on laser color, quality, and weather or not you want (or need) Infrared capability. I have used the military issue AN/PEQ 2a and AN/PAQ 4c. These are both high end military issue IR laser sights. The PEQ 2a also has IR illumination and spot designation capability, if you may need to call in an airstrike. I am not a real fan of laser sights.

That being said, I have a Lasermax Unimax (somewhere). These are available in red or green lasers and can have a remote pressure switch attached. The will fit any Weaver or Picatinny rail and can be set to strobing or steady on. They are small enough and light enough that you can out them on a pistol, but they work just as good on a rifle. My bottom line on laser sights is this- Don't rely on them as a replacement for sights or quality optics. They are a sighting aids, thats all. If you are going to employ a laser, it is best to get a quality laser that will withstand the shock and abuse of being on a fighting gun.

Odds and Ends

There are a few other things I see as essential equipment on a fighting carbine. The first is a sling. The type is a personal preference. I like the Magpul MS2 because it can be a single or 2 point sling. It is supper versatile and allows for quick transition from single point to 2 point, as well as moving the rifle across the back for climbing, hand cuffing, or other various activities you don't or can't do with a rifle hanging off your chest.

The other items that are a must if you run an optic, especially a red-dot style like the EO-tech or Aimpoint, are backup iron sights. Again there is a wide array of options in this category. Do your research and determine your needs. I like the ARMS 40 and the Magpul BUIS, but there are several other good ones out there that I have seen.

I was going to cover optics, but I decided that will be Part 3 of this series. I'll cover the Aimpoint Micros, M2/3/4 series, EO-Tech, the Trijicon ACOG series and variable low-power (1-4X) combat optics along with some other lower cost optics I have seen out there. Part 4 might get into custom parts and build stuff like barrels, gas blocks, bolts/bcgs, stocks and all that fun stuff.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Practice does not make perfect!

Practice does not make perfect!

I work full time as a local Police Officer and we are in the middle of annual firearms training and qualification, and this brings a few things to mind in regards to range habits, practice, and general shooting shenanigans.

I'm not a rich man, so I don't have an unlimited budget to buy ammo to practice. My department, like every other state and local entity, is also facing budgetary restraints. We don't have ammo to waist. I have even less time to waist. Between full time work, starting a small business, 3 kids, 2 dogs, 1 wife, details and everything else I have barely any free time. Why the hell would I want to waist time and ammo bump-firing my AR for a U-Tube video!?!

Before you answer, think of this:

As a Sheepdog, be it LEO, Military, or CCW, I am a gunfighter. This is a commitment I have made to myself, my family, and my community at a minimum. For some the commitment extends to the public at large as a government agent/representative. With that commitment comes several responsibilities and liabilities. Most of us don't train enough. Me included. Why do I want to spend time and ammo building bad habits and possibly negatively effecting my credibility as a responsible gun owner? So I can get a few hits in the web?

Everything you do on the range is training. If you carry a gun for a living or as a lifestyle you can't afford to eff off on the range. With every pull of the trigger you are building habits. Are you building good ones that will save you or someone else in a violent encounter or are you collecting cool points?

And what about civil and criminal liabilities? I'm not saying you can go to jail for bump-firing (even though....). I am saying that that video on U-Tube is not going to help you on the witness stand. What is the (anti-gun?) jury going to see?

Plaintiff's Attorney: Mr. Doe, would you call yourself a “responsible gun owner”?

Roll U-Tube bump-fire video

Believe it or not, you don't have to bump-fire and run around the range like Rambo on a meth binge to have a good time on the range. In fact, if you can do crazy shit like that on the range you should also be able to work on some basic skills that all Sheepdogs should practice. Here are a few examples:

1.Drawing from your CCW/Duty rig and delivering rounds on target as quickly and accurately as possible.
2.Transition from long gun to pistol.
3.Malfunction drills.
4.Shooting on the move.
5.Shooting from/around cover (Stress Positions).
6.Support side/one hand drills.

The reality of the whole thing is this:

Most gun owners ARE NOT Sheepdogs, they are well armed sheep. Most cops and military people are not “gun guys”. I have been a cop for going on 10 years and can count the number of “gun guy” cops I know on one hand. I spent 7 years selling firearms in a retail store to sheep that wanted guns. They wanted to “feel safe” so they bought a Smith and Wesson 442 and got a CCW permit. Most have probably never shot anything more than the prescribed course of fire to get the CCW permit. Others have played Sheepdog because they had money and a mid-life crisis. They went to Thunder Ranch or took a few Magpul Dynamics classes. They only tote Ed Brown 1911's and JP Rifles. They sport all the latest and greatest gear and even talk the talk. But when the shit gets real the Sheepdogs are changing mags and these guys are shitting their Underarmor.

As a Leader of Marines, Law Enforcement Trainer, and Sheepdog I pick up and carry a firearm with one purpose. That is to potentially take a life in defense of myself or others. PERIOD. If you don't want to or don't think you can, don't leave the house with it. I get dressed for duty every day with the same little ritual. I go in the back room, which just happens to be the “gun room”, and get dressed. In silence, with my only company usually my little buddy Wicket the Pomeranian, I visually inspect my uniform. I reflect on the sacrifices I have made to have the honor to wear that uniform and those that have paid the price of blood while wearing ones like it. Next I strap on my vest and back up gun. Its my Po-Po American Express- I don't got 10-8 without it. I finish getting dressed and grab my gun belt. As I strap it on I remind myself that this could be the day I have to fight for my life. I may have to take a life to save a Brother in Blue or a total stranger. I may get injured, I may bleed. As I finish up and get ready to leave the house I draw from the holster a few times, just to make sure everything is good to go. I walk out of the door ready and willing to pull the trigger if I have to. I have the training, confidence, and gear that make me a Sheepdog. Although I have not trained enough, I have built muscle memory and good habits through the training I have had. But that is not all I have. Most importantly I have accepted my roll as a protector of the flock. A creature more similar in nature to the wolf than the sheep, with one major and vital difference; Love of the sheep. I am a wolf that preys upon wolves.

So go back to the question.......

Why the hell would I want to waist time and ammo bump-firing my AR for a U-Tube video!?!

I don't and won't. I have to much on the line. I have a commitment to uphold.

Practice does not make perfect. Perfect Practice does makes perfect.

And you can never get enough training. There is always room for improvement. Never stop learning.

Amateurs train until they get it right. Professionals train until they get it wrong.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Sheepdog

This is from an email a good friend of mine sent me. It explains it's self so Im not going to provide much more, other than to say thank you to Mac and all my fellow Sheepdogs out there that do what they do, SEMPER FI!

What is a Sheepdog?

Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle,
productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident. We may
well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still
remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people
who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under
extreme provocation. They are sheep.

Then there are the wolves and the wolves feed on the sheep without
mercy. Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the
flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this
world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or
pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

Then there are sheepdogs and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the
flock and confront the wolf. If you have no capacity for violence then
you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity
for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have
defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a
capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What
do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the
uncharted path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into
the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep.
They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can
accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire
extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout
their kids schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of
putting an armed police officer in their kid school. Our children are
thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by
school violence than fire, but the sheep only response to the
possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill
or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the
wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference,
though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm
the sheep. Any sheep dog that intentionally harms the lowliest little
lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way,
at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that
there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell
them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in
our airports, in camouflage fatigues, holding an M-16. The sheep would
much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself
white, and go, Baa. Until the wolf shows up; then the entire flock
tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high
school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have
had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they
just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack,
however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the
officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of

This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is
at the door. Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the
wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever
before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and
military personnel? Understand that there is nothing morally superior
about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be. Also
understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing
around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that
go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the
young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a
little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when
needed, right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep
pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day.
After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is,
most citizens in America said, Thank God I wasn't on one of those
planes. The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, Dear God, I wish I could
have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference.
You want to be able to make a difference. There is nothing morally
superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real
advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive
in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted
of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory
crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement
officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted
victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of
awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when
they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.
Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically
primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can
choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and
more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was
honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall,
was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone
to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When
they learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as
weapons, Todd and the other passengers confronted the terrorist
hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers,
athletes, business people and parents from sheep to sheepdogs and
together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of
lives on the ground.

There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil
of evil men. Edmund Burke.

Only the dead have seen the end of war. Plato

Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of
police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep,
real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are
wolves. They didn't have a choice.

But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you
want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision. If you want to be a
sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand
the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are
going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you. If you
want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt
you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love. But if
you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warriors path, then you must make
a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare
yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes
knocking at the door.

This business of being a sheep or a sheep dog is not a yes-no dichotomy.
It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of
degrees, a continuum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep
and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist
completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in

Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum,
away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and
appreciating their warriors and the warriors started taking their job
more seriously. It's OK to be a sheep, but do not kick the sheep dog.
Indeed, the sheep dog may just run a little harder, strive to protect a
little better and be fully prepared to pay an ultimate price in battle
and spirit with the sheep moving from baa to thanks.

We do not call for gifts or freedoms beyond our lot. We just need a
small pat on the head, a smile and a thank you to fill the emotional
tank which is drained protecting the sheep. And when our number is
called by The Almighty, and day retreats into night, a small prayer
before the heavens just may be in order to say thanks for letting you
continue to be a sheep. And be grateful for the thousands, millions of
American sheepdogs who permit you the freedom to express even bad ideas.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Fighting AR15, Part 1- Gas Piston vs Direct Impingement

The Fighting AR15, Part 1- Gas Piston vs Direct Impingement

There is a lot of discussion about the reliability, or lack there of, of the AR15 platform. The latest and greatest solution to this fabled lack of reliability is the gas piston.

Well, I don't buy into it.

Before I explain, a story........

I had gone to the VA Hospital in New Orleans to get a check-up and decided that since I was in the city I would visit a local store that specializes in tactical weapons and supplies. The owner is a Former Marine Gunsmith and has a great wealth of experience and knowledge. I had never done buisness with him, but had friends that had.

At the time I was building a new AR15 Carbine and was looking for a complete upper. I didn't want anything special other than a flat top and M4 barrel profile. When I approached the counter I introduced myself and we exchanged war stories and credentials for a few minutes. Then I asked if he had any AR uppers in stock. He said he had only one left. It was a LWRC or POF or some other crazy gas piston $2000 upper that weighed and cost far more than it needed to to do the job. I told the store owner that I thought the gas piston was a fad for the inexperienced gun guy that bought in to all the “My brother's best friend is a super secret CIA SEAL Force Recon Parajumping Ranger with the NSA and he said the AR15 gas system sucks” crap.

I was quickly put in line by an older man to my right. You know the type, the gun-shop hangout guy that knows all and offers all his advise unsolicited. He began to explain to me that the reason why “the gooks kicked our ass in the Nam was because we had M16s that did not work and they had Aks”. He then told me that with that upper there I could fire 2000 round in one day with no malfunction. He swore be damned that that upper was the end all be all in reliability. He told me as a cop I was crazy for not using that gun. I quickly ended the discussion by telling him that politics lost the Vietnam war, not the M16. I also explained that the school I went to teaches that after the third magazine change you either break contact or call for Air Support. There is not feasible or plausible explanation for having to send 2000 rounds down range in a fire fight from a M16/M4/AR15. Period. I told him that when I was in the desert I carried 180 rounds for my M4, and 80 rounds for my DMR/SASS if I had it with me. Needless to say he didn't know the number of magazines or weight of a combat load out with 180 rounds vs 2000 rounds.

So, back to the AR reliability issue.

First you need to understand that there are two types of failures. There are Stoppages and Malfunctions. A stoppage is a failure of an automatic or semiautomatic firearm to complete the cycle of operation for reasons other than mechanical failure. A malfunction is a stoppage due to mechanical failure of the weapon, feeding device, or ammunition. So, now that we have established the types of failures lets talk about them an how the two gas systems relate to them.

First the Malfunction.

Shit breaks. Pretty straight forward, isn't it? If it is used enough, stressed enough or just the right way, used wrong, abused, just gets mad at you or wants to make you look stupid for not having spare parts, it will break. Only the gun gods can control that. The most common malfunctions I have seen involve the magazine and extractor. Cheap aluminum magazines get bent, dented or otherwise abused and then your SOL. We use to get our asses chewed for letting M16 magazines hit anything other than grass or sand (and sand ain't good either). Thankfully in recent years companies like Magpul has made drastic improvements in the AR magazine, making it more sturdy, reliable, and grunt/cop-proof. Believe me, if it can be broken give it to a cop or grunt and have them “try it in the field”. It'll get broken.

The problem with the extractor is not the extractor it's self. Its the spring. It becomes weak after time, thus causing the extractor to become weak. This causes all types of problems- Failure to extract and double feeds being the two main ones. The solution is to use an extra power or enhanced extractor spring and O-ring.

As far as the action spring goes I run a Wolff extra weight spring and a H2 Buffer. This does a few things for reliability and accuracy. First it provided extra force behind the bolt carrier and bolt as the action closes. This facilitates more reliable feeding from the magazine as well as feeding thought the throat and into the chamber. It also provides as a secondary function recoil dampening, thus facilitating faster follow up shots. In full auto guns it will also slow down the rate of fire, making the gun more controllable in full auto.

I've seen other parts malfunction also, but most were a result of human intervention. If you use a firing pin as a punch it will get jacked up and may fail. If you try to file carbon off of the back of a bolt it will get scarred up and may fail. If you use a butt stock to beat a cleaning rod down a barrel trying to get out a squib it can break and thus may fail.

It has also been my experience that major components don't just break. I have NEVER seen a bolt break, so why carry an extra one in the pistol grip? Bolt carrier keys, when properly installed and staked, do not just come loose; thus the purpose of staking is revealed. Here is a hint- JB Weld does not belong in your AR field repair kit and it don't go on a bolt carrier (Yeah, I've seen it).

And then there is the Stoppage.

Stoppage is due to fouling, dirt, and lack of or improper lubrication. Now first let me say if you are a piston guy and I offend you, you'll get over it. I'm a passionate guy and can come across as an ass at times. You have been warned.

There is one reason for a stoppage- lack of proper maintenance. This whole gun thing is pretty simple. Buy gun, Clean gun, Shoot gun, Clean gun. Repeat as necessary and as your female companion will allow. Or for those who are not tracking-CLEAN YOUR GUNS! This should be simple enough, but I'll go a little more in depth.

The first thing you should do with any gun you bring home is clean it. I personally do a complete disassembly. I inspect all parts and components, especially on a used gun. Next I scrub, scrub, scrub. I use a special mix of solvents that I have been using for several years. You can use CLP, Remoil, or whatever gun cleaner you prefer. And all you need to do is field strip. Complete disassembly is not required. The gunk on most guns from the factory are not there as a lubrication primarily. It is more of a preservative and corrosion preventative put on the gun to protect it during shipping and storage.

Obviously if you shoot a gun you should clean it. What most people don't do is clean a gun prior to shooting it. If you have had a gun in the safe for a few months and are planning to shoot it the next day you need to clean it and make sure it is properly lubricated. Lubricants do not last for ever, even in storage. Maintenance on the AR is the key to reliability, as it is with every firearm.

Operating Cycle of a Direct Inpingement System

Now, when you think of the operation of the rifle, how does a gas piston solve issues of stoppage caused by poor maintenance? The operating system inside the upper receiver is virtually the same. The only difference is the bolt carrier key and gas tube are replaced by an operating rod and bolt carrier push plate. All of the moving, sliding, rotating parts are still there. In fact, you have added a spring and piston into the mix at a bare minimum. Some piston systems incorporate up to 4 moving parts. There are no tolerance increases and no elimination of moving parts in the upper. It still needs to be cleaned and lubricated. And it costs $400.00 more. My two springs, buffer, and o-ring cost a total of about $40.00. Oh, and you still need to do this in a gas piston gun too.

Some argue that the Direct Impingement system injects carbon fouling into the upper receiver. Ok, maybe you'll just have to spend a little extra time cleaning. Even after 2000 rounds a properly lubed and maintained gun should still be reliable unless those 2000 rounds were loaded with crude oil and dinosaur bones. There isn't that much crap spewed into the action through the gas tube.

Operating cycle of a Gas Piston System

I will concede that the first M16 issued to the troops in Vietnam were rushed into service and our troops payed dearly because of its reliability issues. But that was over 40 years ago. Many improvements have been made to the system including the addition of the forward assist. If the M16 was such a problem it would have been replaced already.

The bottom line is weather you choose to run a Direct Impingement gun or a Gas Piston gun you need to follow a few simple rules to help your gun keep you alive.
1.Routine maintenance. Clean your gun.
2.Keep the Ejection Port Cover closed. It ain't there to engrave cool shit on the inside.
3.Use a muzzle cap.
4.Keep a magazine inserted or keep the magazine well covered.
5.Slap the forward assist every now and again.

Weapon, body, gear, chow. In that order. Those are your down time priorities. Your gun will take care of you if you take care of it. You rely on your car to get you to work so you maintain it. Do your gun the same.

I guess I made it fairly obvious I'm not a gas piston fan and hopefully I explained myself fairly well. I just don't buy into the hype but to each his own. Next time you hear a guy say he had issues with his rifle in Iraq or Afghanistan ask him what happened. Most will blame the sand or dust. A gas piston ain't gonna stop sand and dust from binding an AR action. If you get enough crap in there to have a stoppage, Piston or Impingement, you got issues.