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Discussion Starter #1
We recently were able to purchase patrol rifles for everyone in our department. They had me write the specs for the bid, and I went with the standard civilian legal M-Forgery set up. We ended up with Windom Arms A-3 types.

One of our Lt's stuck his head in my office while I was still writing the specs for the bid. He tried to convince me to go to the HK-416 type, stating it was more reliable and less "maintenance intensive". Being a sergeant, I overruled him. ;)

Seriously, I think that the standard operating system for the AR platform has been pretty well de-bugged over the last - what - 50 years? It's not as maintenance intensive as some people think. Oh, you have to clean it, but it doesn't have to be white glove clean to operate. In fact, you need to keep the bolt and carrier pretty well oiled up for proper functioning.

We are not going to be engaged in firefights where hundred of rounds are expended in short periods of time. Hell, most of our guys won't carry any more than the 90 rounds we will issue them.

I know that the high-speed/low-drag types in the military are carrying 416's. I also know that there are some advantages to a piston-driven system. But for us "average joes", I really can't see that the advantages of a piston system justify the added expense.

Am I just an old fuddy duddy resistant to change? Am I so out of touch that I am missing something? (Hope not...already spent the money.) What say you guys?
 

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IIRC Patrick Sweeney did a torture test writeup on this subject within the the last year. Maybe he'll weigh in on this.

Personally, I like the idea of the piston. But even more than that I like standard, available-anywhere parts for things. I don't like being "married" to one particular manufacturer, who might disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow, leaving me orphaned.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The parts issue was a factor for me too, Snake. From what I understand, each manufacturer uses different designs for their piston systems, and they are not all interchangeable. Hell, I bought a boatload of spare parts for my Rock River...firing pin, springs, pins even a bolt cam pin...just cause I COULD. :D
 

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The parts issue was a factor for me too, Snake. From what I understand, each manufacturer uses different designs for their piston systems, and they are not all interchangeable. Hell, I bought a boatload of spare parts for my Rock River...firing pin, springs, pins even a bolt cam pin...just cause I COULD. :D
True that!
In some piston designs, a problem called "Bolt Carrier Tilt" is induced -- that is, the operation of the piston causes the bolt carrier group to tilt and this causes uneven wear inside the system.
If your department really really insisted bolt design you might have gone with the Sig 556. Problem there is less optional add on parts (though Eotechs and most sighting systems will work) and the Sig is heavier than the AR. I have a Sig "Patrol" and it has a short gas system which makes it almost as light as the AR. The thing is though the AR system is so well established that parts for it are everywear and easy to get and that just can't be said (yet) about the Sig 556 system, so there's a big strike against it for your purposes.
The AR DI system is dirtier than the Sig but OTOH modern ARs can run a long time dirty. Really, the thing the AR community likes to point out is that they like "being run wet." That is, as long as the bolt and the carrier are properly lubbed the gun will run even dirty pretty reliably.
Possibly some day the industry will unify on a piston design with all interchangeable parts, but not yet. The bolt tilt problem has been worked on by some companies .... but I don't know what luck they've had and have forgotten just who "they" is.
So in conclusion: You made the correct decision. The best bet for a large scale department purchase (IMHO) is the standard DI system. Shoot 'em some to sight 'em in and assure initial reliability, run 'em wet (not that you have to drown them { :rolleyes: } and they should work very well.
:thumbsup:
 

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I think that is yet another example of fixing something that wasn't broke :censored:

Sadly there are lots of things infirearms for which one can conjure up a reasonable sounding argument and they sell a bunch without proof of concept.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I think that is yet another example of fixing something that wasn't broke :censored:

Sadly there are lots of things infirearms for which one can conjure up a reasonable sounding argument and they sell a bunch without proof of concept.
When I first heard about the piston systems for the AR, I had the same thought. Why? The arguements were "it'll be like an AK, more reliable" and "you won't have to clean it". Meh.

Like you said, Charlie. In spades.
 

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Based on generally available information, the advantage of the piston system come when used in an automatic rifle configuration.
Is this the outfit? Welcome to Windham Weaponry, Inc.
Did you spec an optic?
I would have spec'd a M-4 semi-auto as well, as close to interchangeable as possible.
Geoff
Who is developing an urge for a S&W OR.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Based on generally available information, the advantage of the piston system come when used in an automatic rifle configuration.
Is this the outfit? Welcome to Windham Weaponry, Inc.
Did you spec an optic?
I would have spec'd a M-4 semi-auto as well, as close to interchangeable as possible.
Geoff
Who is developing an urge for a S&W OR.
No, Geoff. Didn't spec an optic. We were lucky to get the rifles. Maybe next year. And yep, that's the company.
 

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I also would see the AR as fine as-is, Police units have used them since the 1970s and they are pretty well known. The main issue, I would think, would be magazines as there are various reviews out there of different makers' gear.

If reliability in line with the AK line is a selling point, I wonder if any Police Departments would issue AK platform rifles? I have heard of some officers using SKS carbines. Ironically, the SKS was used as a police rifle in many former Com Bloc countries and is still used that way in a few.
 

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In my experience, the AR can be filthy dirty and work just fine if you keep feeding it a good lubricant like CLP. The dirtier she gets, the wetter she needs to be. I see this as the option when one just doesn’t have the time to do maintenance. Fortunately for a LE weapon, there should be ample opportunity for maintenance. If the weapon is constantly stored muzzle up, then you’ll get much of the lube flowing to the bottom. At least weekly, someone should open them up, towel out any accumulated lubricant toward the bottom of things and re-lube.

The DI system is well proven and there was never anything wrong with it, just the Army’s understanding of it. Its’ well understood now and serves our soldiers well in conditions far worse than any LE application is likely to call for. The M4 configuration is just about perfect; well done.

Regarding the piston thing: At first I was concerned about the whole carrier tilt thing but in every piston gun I’ve seen, I’ve yet to see where it has been an issue. It’s true that the piston guns tend to take a little more abuse and shrug it off a little easier, but here’s my main concerns:

1 – Parts: As previously mentioned, when you go to a piston system, you’ve committed yourself to that makers supply chain. One must be able to ensure a security of supply for those parts in particular.
2- Not militarily proven: Each of those systems are very sound from a design standpoint, but so was the M16 and look at the trouble we had with it. There has never been an actual change to the DESIGN of the M16 operating system, but several changes in how it’s managed, and the materials chosen, and how they are manufactured. These little things are the difference between dead soldiers clutching inoperable weapons, and dead enemies from effective weapons. In my opinion, this is a big deal for a serious defensive rifle. Military specs are almost unreasonably specific and there’s very good reason for that. There are many makers that are making AR’s to mil spec or better; but there are many who aren’t. The piston guns meet no one’s spec but the makers, and we don’t know if it’s perfect, or fatally flawed.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I think the political fallout would be too much to bear
Exactly! The AK is the "bad guys" gun. Even non-gun folks recognize it's profile as being the gun terrorists use.

My own dear wife, when she saw my AK, said "That thing LOOKS mean." A silly point maybe, but one that is still politically important.

That, and I trust the accuracy of the AR. Not so much the average AK.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
True that!
In some piston designs, a problem called "Bolt Carrier Tilt" is induced -- that is, the operation of the piston causes the bolt carrier group to tilt and this causes uneven wear inside the system.
If your department really really insisted bolt design you might have gone with the Sig 556. Problem there is less optional add on parts (though Eotechs and most sighting systems will work) and the Sig is heavier than the AR. I have a Sig "Patrol" and it has a short gas system which makes it almost as light as the AR. The thing is though the AR system is so well established that parts for it are everywear and easy to get and that just can't be said (yet) about the Sig 556 system, so there's a big strike against it for your purposes.
The AR DI system is dirtier than the Sig but OTOH modern ARs can run a long time dirty. Really, the thing the AR community likes to point out is that they like "being run wet." That is, as long as the bolt and the carrier are properly lubbed the gun will run even dirty pretty reliably.
Possibly some day the industry will unify on a piston design with all interchangeable parts, but not yet. The bolt tilt problem has been worked on by some companies .... but I don't know what luck they've had and have forgotten just who "they" is.
So in conclusion: You made the correct decision. The best bet for a large scale department purchase (IMHO) is the standard DI system. Shoot 'em some to sight 'em in and assure initial reliability, run 'em wet (not that you have to drown them { :rolleyes: } and they should work very well.
:thumbsup:
Tommy: I agree with everything you said. And how do you like your SIG Patrol Rifle? (I ask just a little jealously?) ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
In my experience, the AR can be filthy dirty and work just fine if you keep feeding it a good lubricant like CLP. The dirtier she gets, the wetter she needs to be. I see this as the option when one just doesn't have the time to do maintenance. Fortunately for a LE weapon, there should be ample opportunity for maintenance. If the weapon is constantly stored muzzle up, then you'll get much of the lube flowing to the bottom. At least weekly, someone should open them up, towel out any accumulated lubricant toward the bottom of things and re-lube.

The DI system is well proven and there was never anything wrong with it, just the Army's understanding of it. Its' well understood now and serves our soldiers well in conditions far worse than any LE application is likely to call for. The M4 configuration is just about perfect; well done.

Regarding the piston thing: At first I was concerned about the whole carrier tilt thing but in every piston gun I've seen, I've yet to see where it has been an issue. It's true that the piston guns tend to take a little more abuse and shrug it off a little easier, but here's my main concerns:

1 - Parts: As previously mentioned, when you go to a piston system, you've committed yourself to that makers supply chain. One must be able to ensure a security of supply for those parts in particular.
2- Not militarily proven: Each of those systems are very sound from a design standpoint, but so was the M16 and look at the trouble we had with it. There has never been an actual change to the DESIGN of the M16 operating system, but several changes in how it's managed, and the materials chosen, and how they are manufactured. These little things are the difference between dead soldiers clutching inoperable weapons, and dead enemies from effective weapons. In my opinion, this is a big deal for a serious defensive rifle. Military specs are almost unreasonably specific and there's very good reason for that. There are many makers that are making AR's to mil spec or better; but there are many who aren't. The piston guns meet no one's spec but the makers, and we don't know if it's perfect, or fatally flawed.
Absolutely, Kevin. The innards of my Rock River are just like the innards of the old M-16/GAU5a I carried in the USAF for the better part of 18 years. Well, the two stage trigger in the Rock River is a little different, and the upper and lower receivers are better finished, but other than that...

As for storage, the guns come in a hard case. We have two types of vehicles. basically...Crown Vics and Chevy Tahoe patrol packages. We are trying to find a mount that will work well in each. We're leaning toward a ceiling mount, but...

I am going to beg these guys NOT to leave their rifles in their cars when off duty (we have take-home cars). But I have personally had to spray the bolt of a lieutenants 870 with brake cleaner just to be able to work the action, and have seen Glocks I literally blew dust bunnies out of. Not an exageration.

The AR is a simple, relatively easy to repair platform, with parts available from numerous sources at reasonable prices.

And we got ours for about $625 a copy with 3 30 round magazines a single point sling and a hard case. I'm happy.
 

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No, Geoff. Didn't spec an optic. We were lucky to get the rifles. Maybe next year. And yep, that's the company.
I do not know how your Dept feels about "Voluntary" standards, but a short list might prevent the Odd Fellow, Elk or Rotarian from putting a Cross bow scope on the handle with hose clamps.

Geoff
Who saw worse in the US Army...shudder....I won't confess to listing a screw on mount with standard rings on a convenient surface, in answer to an idle question of course nothing official...never...no how.....<innocent, idle, uninterested look.>
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I do not know how your Dept feels about "Voluntary" standards, but a short list might prevent the Odd Fellow, Elk or Rotarian from putting a Cross bow scope on the handle with hose clamps.

Geoff
Who saw worse in the US Army...shudder....I won't confess to listing a screw on mount with standard rings on a convenient surface, in answer to an idle question of course nothing official...never...no how.....<innocent, idle, uninterested look.>
We kinda thought of that, Geoff. No modifications or add-ons allowed unless approved by a one of a select few deputies. :thumbsup:
 

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Tommy: I agree with everything you said. And how do you like your SIG Patrol Rifle? (I ask just a little jealously?) ;)
I like it just fine.
The good points:
· It uses standard AR mags, including all the polymer types, some of which are very good.
· It has the mil spec 7:1 twist. barrel....which is kind of picky I suppose because the 9:1 most ARs have work fine with 55-62 grain bullets.
· Easy takedown of piston gas assembly and bolt, and bolt carrier for cleaning, lacks the multiluck "asterisk" bolt of the AR design. In fact if you know the AK system you KNOW where the Sig came from.
·Has standard AK reliable function.

The not so good points:
· While the rifle has a top rail the design does not allow interchangeability with sights that are available for the AR system. This is most problematic when choosing BUIS sights. You can easily mount eotechs and other type optics on the Sig but co-witnessing (if you desire) is problematic. There ARE sights made for the Sig that overcome this---as they're made specifically for the Sig. My Sig's front sight is such a sight.
· The safety, while somewhat similar to the AR's is not placed so ergonomically; a slight reposition of the hand is required to flip it.
· The collapsable shoulder stock. Mine has a three position extension and folds to the right side whgere a tab on the forend clicks into a springloaded slot on the stock. It's OK and sort of neat but it is not as rugged as the typical AR stock. Many Sig aficionados replace this with a M4 type stock.
· The pistol grip. While many people don't like it replacing it is a bit problematic as there aren't yet very many options. The AR has its pistol grip detractors but there are plenty of options available to replace it if it's a big deal to them.
Fortunatly I must have wierd hands. I have no problem with either the Sig or the AR grip. They both work for me.
Recoil on the 556 is neglible. As stated the rifle is heavier than the AR M4orgery and that absorbs much of it....and the 5.56mm. round isn't much of a shoulder thumper anyway.
 

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Forty odd years ago I'd have jumped on the piston driven bandwagon with glee and abandon.

Given product improvements, I'm no longer of that opinion. I still think the AR system is excessively maintenance intensive, but it doesn't have to be white glove inspection clean to function well*. If I'd been writing the specs, I'd have gone for the mid length gas system, but changes in bolt heat treat in the better grades of AR seem to have mitigated any problems with premature bolt lug cracking in the M4 type platform.

Now, if I was going to be operating for an extended time deep in the boonies with irregular resupply and lugging everything around on my own back, my opinion might well change. Despite the great ergomomics, I'm not sure my choice in that case would involve an AR Klone. Remember, NO AR builder makes all the parts. All you can do is hope they buy first quality parts and do receipt inspections to make sure they're getting the parts they/you paid for. McFarland one piece gas ring assemblies are wonderous items.

The one caution I do have regards the care by individuals who may not be well supervised. I'm not a believer in the "wet" AR, but even so, "wet" doesn't mean drowned in lube. I've seen bolt carriers with enough lube to do an oil change on my Toyota. Since most of the carrier doesn't touch any part of the receiver, the only thing this does is increase the accumulation of dust, dirt and anything else in the evironment that'll stick to the lube. The second part of this is the officer that may clean the piece after training, throw it in the trunk and never touch it until the next range session or call out lo many months later. At which point, much of the lube may well be in a puddle in the bottom of the case.

*When Ruger came out with their piston driven AR, I was in lust after an extended fondling. Then reality set in: I've owned a Mini-14 for over 30 years and am sick to death of the proprietary parts crap and the refusal to sell certain parts. Learning that the gas system was assembled with alignment jigs and you shouldn't futz with it didn't do anything to improve my mood.
 

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I like it just fine.
The good points:
· It uses standard AR mags, including all the polymer types, some of which are very good.
· It has the mil spec 7:1 twist. barrel....which is kind of picky I suppose because the 9:1 most ARs have work fine with 55-62 grain bullets.
· Easy takedown of piston gas assembly and bolt, and bolt carrier for cleaning, lacks the multiluck "asterisk" bolt of the AR design. In fact if you know the AK system you KNOW where the Sig came from.
·Has standard AK reliable function.

The not so good points:
· While the rifle has a top rail the design does not allow interchangeability with sights that are available for the AR system. This is most problematic when choosing BUIS sights. You can easily mount eotechs and other type optics on the Sig but co-witnessing (if you desire) is problematic. There ARE sights made for the Sig that overcome this---as they're made specifically for the Sig. My Sig's front sight is such a sight.
· The safety, while somewhat similar to the AR's is not placed so ergonomically; a slight reposition of the hand is required to flip it.
· The collapsable shoulder stock. Mine has a three position extension and folds to the right side whgere a tab on the forend clicks into a springloaded slot on the stock. It's OK and sort of neat but it is not as rugged as the typical AR stock. Many Sig aficionados replace this with a M4 type stock.
· The pistol grip. While many people don't like it replacing it is a bit problematic as there aren't yet very many options. The AR has its pistol grip detractors but there are plenty of options available to replace it if it's a big deal to them.
Fortunatly I must have wierd hands. I have no problem with either the Sig or the AR grip. They both work for me.
Recoil on the 556 is neglible. As stated the rifle is heavier than the AR M4orgery and that absorbs much of it....and the 5.56mm. round isn't much of a shoulder thumper anyway.
Sounds like you'd be happier with an AR of some sort.
 
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