You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know… And This Guy Doesn’t Know.

Let’s continue, shall we?

The extractor, due to its design has issues because it is similar to a teeter-totter that is out of balance. This causes the extractor to want to slip off the rim of the casing causing failure to extract malfunctions. This is particularly evident when the chamber gets fouled from use in combat conditions. Almost all infantry soldiers carry cleaning rods to clear this brutal malfunction so they can knock a spent casing out of the chamber and get back in the fight.

Again, not an issue unique to the AR-15. Nearly every extractor design on an auto-loading firearm is a spring tensioned claw, that is how it gets onto the case. Most issues concerning AR-15 extractors are that the spring tensioning the extractor is not strong enough so it should be changed, that is it. It was a PIP for military rifles, one of an ongoing series of PIP’s that keep a rifle evolving. This happens for all rifles. Also bringing cleaning rods for a stuck case is always prudent, for all rifles.

The bullet itself is a reliability issue.  The 5.56 has a relatively long, slightly tapered  casing which begs for issues disengaging it from the chamber.  And, the casing has to move a long way to disengage.  This becomes a monster issue if the bullet casing bulges during firing or if the chamber becomes excessively fouled, leading to failure to extract or half-extraction. 

Again! Not an issue. What he’s alluding to is the steeper case angles of Russian AK rounds which have the steeper walls because of the extraction issues using steel cases cause. The facet he is trying to use as a weak point for the AR-15 is designed entirely because of a weak point in the materials of the AK ammo.

Steel doesn’t expand and contract the way brass does and provide as good a chamber seal. This leads to a dirtier chamber with more fouling around the case and the steeper chamber wall angle is used to counter that.

The casing has to “move a long way to disengage.”? What does this mean? Are we talking the 45mm case length as opposed to the 39mm? 6 whole extra millimeters to disengage, whatever that means. As soon as the bolt starts moving rearward the case is separated from the chamber wall.

There is no delay in the bolt moving during the extraction phase and this causes tremendous mechanical resistance. When the bolt carrier begins to move, it tries immediately to turn the bolt without first gaining momentum. If the bolt is stuck to the inside of the chamber due to fouling (or crap ammo like in Vietnam) then there is often not enough energy to knock the bolt back into rotation. There’s no “running start” to dislodge the bullet before turning the bolt. Almost all battle rifles, like the M14, M1 and AK use a delayed rotating bolt.

I sit here with an AK in my lap and I can tell you it starts turning the bolt immediately to unlock it as soon as the carrier starts moving. Just like the AR, SCAR, Tavor/X95, etc. There is no “delayed rotating bolt” on any of these platforms. Once the carrier starts reward motion it begins unlocking the bolt.

The mass of the bolt carrier, once in motion, wants to stay in motion and hits the bolt like a hammer, knocking it into rotation and into extraction. Not so for the AR-15.

Not so for the AK either! Also it does not want to stay in motion because it is braced by a spring which is actively pushing the bolt closed. If you want to quote Newton’s laws then understand them and do so correctly. There are a myriad outside forces acting on the carrier.

Also, the steep angle of feed for the bullets has caused more than its fair share of failure to feeds. Overly-strong magazine springs, dirt, burs, or gunk can cause a bullet to hang up as it tries to climb the steep angle.Why do we only load 28 rounds into a 30 round magazine? Say it with me: BAND AID.

Say it with me. Wrong! Feed geometry has been an issue in the past and continues to be and will always be for magazine fed firearms. But the M4 feed ramp improved receiver design is old news and standard now. Today this is almost always a failure in the magazine, a disposable part by design. The PMAG has excellent feed geometry, most of the quality magazines do. Aluminum and steel magazines with bent feed lips that cause issues must be disposed of. This happens. It is normal. It is part of routine preventative maintenance.

Why do we only load 28 rounds? Because in a magazine like a GI where the spring and follower are designed to hold exactly 30 rounds with almost no extra play, the magazine is very difficult to seat on a closed bolt that puts extra pressure on that top round. In magazines like the PMAG this was corrected for in the body, follower, and spring design so there is about 1/2 a rounds extra room to more easily seat the magazine.

Pro tip: always periodically check your gear for wear. Especially disposables like ammunition, batteries, and magazines.

The gas tube dumps carbon and debris into the upper receiver where the bolt carrier relies on a smooth surface to travel, which further exacerbates the tolerance issues with the star chamber. This has us running to piston-type band aid designs these days, as another attempt to fix a fatally-flawed concept. 

Fun fact: The gas tube dumps gas and carbon directly into the bolt carrier. This is how the DI system operates and it can go for thousands of rounds properly (lightly) lubed. This has been shown time and time and time again. Piston systems improperly lubed can fail hard too. I’ve seen every supposedly infallible system stop. I’ve seen all the wonder gun systems stop within the last few months. SCARs, AKs, Tavors, ARs, Sig MCX. I have seen each one of them experience stoppages.

Also in 2019 SOCOM is running the URG-I. SOCOM who has all the latitude to buy and demand the design of anything they could want. They are running the URG-I on their M4’s and “spoiler alert” they are DI.

This AR vendetta is a tad ludicrous. But I am having a good time at this point.

The hammer only goes to a 90 degree angle, which is ok, but does not take into account any mishaps, cold or weak primers, or a bolt that is not seated all the way.

I don’t even know how to address this. It’s not like the hammer being able to travel drastically further inside the receiver than where the firing pin sits inside the bolt carrier benefits the rifle. Every design I am thinking of (most of them, believe me) the firing pin is at a point where the hammer strikes it perpendicular to the receiver and chamber.

What mishaps? Cold primers? And if the bolt is not in battery, or seated since he really likes that word, I want the design to stop the hammer from igniting the primer and powder charge. I want that explosion very safely sealed in the chamber.

Magazines for the AR-15 used to be notorious for feed lips cracking, springs getting weak, and followers not putting bullets at the correct angle (which still happens with plastic mags all the time.)

The PMAG M3 actually (again) has the best feed geometry which is why the Marine Corps picked it. Magazines are disposable parts. When they break, not if, you get new ones.

The bolt carrier does not ride on rails, and therefore wobbles as it travels back and forth in the upper receiver.  This wobble is one of the contributing factors to the lugs on the bolt face not lining up for proper mating with the chamber—causing other failures to feed.  This is another one of the reasons AR’s have a forward assist.

Nope they don’t have rails, instead it rides in a forged tube the proper diameter for the bolt carrier. And speaking of wobbles…

Look at ALL that bolt carrier wobble on that AR… oh.. wait.

If the buffer, buffer tube or buffer spring are out of balance, it leads to all manner of malfunctions. When I was at 1st SFG and we were first issued the M4 to replace the M16A2 there was no end of problems because the buffers were not the correct weight which caused weird failures to feed. Once the buffer weight was fixed we ran into problems with the buffer spring tension; more malfunctions. Then we ran into a buffer tube length problem. All of the three had to be working in harmony or we would be going to war with sexy-looking paperweights. Never mind if dirt got into the buffer tube…I have probably made several AR-15 die-hard’s angry, and for that I apologize.

Don’t apologize. You’ve been wrong on so many points so far that this one almost being correct is astonishing!

Yes using an improperly massed bolt carrier and buffer with an improper spring causes issues. You can get carrier bounce where the rifle partially unlocks again after fully closing (problematic on full auto especially) or with too little return force it can cause failure to feed issues. This is why the PIP’s have used improved buffers systems to further increase the reliability of systems we have a tendency to keep monkeying with and changing around.

When all of these arguments are brought to bear, the inevitable retort is this: “If the AR-15 is so bad, why does the United States government use it?” Anyone who has been in the military can attest: we do lots of dumb things, and sometimes we do them for generations.

As a vet of only 11 paltry years to his 28 I still call bullshit on this argument. Yes we did a lot of stupid time wasting things in the military… A LOT. But let’s not roll the fact that privates sometimes have to mop a parking lot in the rain and equate it to force systems weapon acquisition like they’re on the same decision playing field.

The fact we are still using the M4/M4A1 is really quite simple. No system is yet better enough to justify the change. Going to a rifle like the SCAR or HK416 will likely happen eventually. However, rearming the entirety of the United States Armed Forces from rifles that work well to rifles that work marginally better? We’ll get there but the problem isn’t that much of a problem. The USMC has already bought into the HK416 with the M27 but that was only ~16,000 units. We will continue to see incremental improvements in acquisitions. The M4A1 force wide adoption and the M27 ground forces adoption are examples of continued rifle improvements.

In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales said,  “American penchant for arming troops with lousy rifles has been responsible for a staggering number of unnecessary deaths…They died because the Army’s weapon buying bureaucracy has consistently denied that a Soldier’s individual weapon is important enough to gain their serious attention.”

Scales’ crusade, while well meaning, was largely based on biased misrepresentation of information from Afghanistan engagement reports and conflated and misconstrued weapon systems reports.

Test after test fielded by the U.S. armed services demonstrate that the AR-15 has a litany of problems. These problems are much, much worse for non-professional soldiers such as citizen preppers.

Non-professional soldiers… Okay welcome to fantasy camp ladies and gentlemen. First world folk who generally live and work in a far cleaner environment than a line platoon with the time space and convenience to keep their equipment running.

On the ReadyMan range, with regular folks appearing with their own AR-15 rifles, grab-bag ammunition, custom modifications and uneven maintenance, our failure rate for shooting ARs runs about 25%.

Doubt it, but okay? So do you correct these shooters deficiencies and tell them how to run their tools correctly or just spout off that the tool they aren’t using correctly is bad? Do you check to make sure their rifle is properly built? That nothing obvious is missing or busted because of their poorly done home gunsmithering? I have a ream of personal stories of people who took perfectly working rifles and made them not work because they were “customizing” them and not paying attention.

Granted: professional soldiers with training and dedicated time for rifle maintenance don’t experience quite such horrifying results with the M4, but preppers should beware: just because the U.S. military enjoys buying them, doesn’t mean the AR-15 is the right rifle for gardening one moment, defending your life the next.

So you’re admitting that if you take the 10-20 minutes to properly clean and lubricate the AR it works fine?

I and MrGunsnGear have saved all the preppers with AR’s. You’re welcome.

If a Tesla car failed 25% of the time, we would lynch Elon Musk and duct tape him to one of his rockets. If our iPhones only worked “when well maintained,” we would’ve chucked them all off a bridge. If our pants failed 19% of the time they went into battle, we’d burn that manufacturer at the stake for being an unpatriotic cost-cutter. For some reason, we’re still buying from Colt. 

I don’t know what you’re getting at here. Yes if a car failed at a 1:4 rate we’d devalue and malign the brand, lynch is a bit extreme. But if its our own fault it doesn’t work then… operator error is not a manufacturer’s problem when they have provided clear directions.

iPhones do only work when well maintained. Keeping them charged, updated, screen clean, etc. What do you think maintained means?

Pants? What? Why are we in such lynchy mood right now? If my pants tear in combat or on exercise (which they do, happens all the time) I am an adult and go get new pants. If they were tearing just putting them on that would be a different story but c’mon man, make a case… a real case. Here you haven’t.

(Editor’s Note: Before you flame a 28-year Green Beret, please be so kind as to read the research attached below. Then, flame away.) 

Editor’s advice to the Editor: If nearly every other professional and subject matter expert in the industry would disagree with your 28 year Green Beret veteran… we call that a fucking clue. Flame on.

Now that this debacle is over he can get back to falsifying data about his tourniquet design vs. the competition.

Oh, and on the 2007 Aberdeen Sandstorm Test. U.S. Army

10 Rifles. 60,000 rounds each.

XM8: 127 stoppages.

MK16 SCAR Light: 226 stoppages.

416: 233 stoppages.

M4: 882 stoppages. (3.5 times the second worst, which is also an AR-15)

Let’s take a look at Aberdeen which did have issues as an overall test but is illustrative in a few ways.

“Applicability:  This test did not address… Reliability in typical operational conditionsExtreme Dust Test Brief, 2007

Success Rates:

  • M4: 98.6%
  • XM8: 99.8%
  • HK416: 99.6%
  • SCAR: 99.7%

The dust test is extreme level data collection and beyond any operational environment. Additional data collected was further illustrative.

-All weapons exceeded their headspace limit by end of test.
-This condition caused ruptured cartridge cases to occur on several weapons towards the end of test.
-No significant difference in head space loss between weapon types!

– XM8: 10
– SCAR: 7
– HK 416: 3
– M4: 1

What was that claim… a 25% failure rate? or is it 1.4%

That data undoubtedly shows the SCAR, HK416 and XM8 (a US requested G36 variant) are better rifles in certain important categories, but only by a single percentile and in an unnaturally abrasive setting.


Meaning under incredibly harsh conditions the M4 might fail one to two rounds every 4 full magazines, and far fewer in the clean start state than the dirty later cycles. Now my favorite rifle, the SCAR, turned in a much more impressive one failure per 12 magazines. Much better right?

Yes and no.

It is better, but largely academically not functionally. What it proves is that today’s quality AR’s will go bang nearly every single time you ask of them and the world leaders in 21st century service rifles are only a single percentage point ahead of good AR designs, and this pulling from 12 year old data.

What it means is that anyone who is trashing the AR for anything other than personal aesthetic dislike is either ignorant or an idiot.

Oh, and in a survey from the CNA “1% of Soldiers indicated the M4 should be replaced.” -Slide 14, EDT Brief 12 Dec 2007

Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.