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Mil-spec what does it mean, is it the best?

 
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  #1  
Old 05-13-2012, 11:46 PM
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Mil-spec what does it mean, is it the best?

Just wanted to throw this out as food for thought. What does mil-spec mean for the AR-15? Mil-spec is a Military Specification set at the time a piece of equipment was developed and adopted.

So what does this mean for the AR-15 and its parts? Well the bolt in an AR-15 uses a design from the 1930's (nothing wrong with that I have a 1911, they have been around for over 100 years). The bolt is built to 1950's standards and methods with some 1960's improvements.

The AR-15 rifle and bolt are the result of the knowledge and steel from the 1950's. It you go out to buy a new or new to you car do you look for a car from the 1950's or do you want something newer because it is better and stronger?

Mil-spec is not the end all solve all. There are companies who make excellent AR's that are not mil-spec, they are better and stronger than mil-spec.

You may ask why the government does not change and use the new metal or metallurgy. Time and money, and if it isn’t broke don't fix it. There is more to it and if you really want to know you can research it out, it is frustrating and mind numbing why they will not change.

To call something mil-spec it has to be made to the military specification. If you make a part (or rifle) that’s constructed of better material using newer technology than when the AR-15 was adopted, you can not call it mil-spec even though it is better than the current mil-spec. Mil-spec is not the best but can give you a direction to go. The Military replacement schedule for an AR-15 bolt is 7,500 rounds. Most of you have read articles of AR’s shooting more rounds than that before any failure or none at all. Now granted the Military wants to replace something before it breaks, who wouldn’t I surly do. I check several different parts on my AR twice a year and make sure they are in good condition and not close to replacement time.

Do your research, call the company and ask questions about their manufacturing and metallurgy processes and knowledge. Just saying your product is mil-spec is not good enough. Your barrel and bolt have to be High Pressure Tested (proof loads shot in them) and Magnetic Particle Inspected to truly be mil-spec.

I would love to own a high end AR and would not think twice about buying one if I could afford it. Since I can not I will stick with those I can afford while making sure they are to MY standards. Just because someone else said it is good enough for them does not mean it is good enough for me.

I owned a Kimber 1911 and would not buy another. Are the bad guns NO, certainly not they are accurate and function if you keep them clean. I use to shoot ISPC pistol matches and if I did not clean my 1911 between matches, half way through the next match it would have issues that were always solved with a cleaning. My Colt/John M Browning 1911 does not have such issues and is more accurate than I am. My Colt 1911 gives me the extra bit I want when choosing a hand gun for Dynamic reasons.

Well I have gone on longer than I intended. It’s time to get some gun work done.



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  #2  
Old 05-14-2012, 06:04 AM
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Re: Mil-spec what does it mean, is it the best?

If you do some checking it doesn't take long to figure out who manufactures what. Out of all the different company that manufacture AR-15's there are about 5 that make all the parts for the rest and just stamp whatever name the paying company wants stamped on them. Some make quality and some don't. I kind of laugh when I see someone say this company makes great parts and that company makes bad ones. Well about half the time the same factory has made both company's parts. About 90% of the quality in those guns is in the assembly.
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Old 05-14-2012, 08:21 AM
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Re: Mil-spec what does it mean, is it the best?

Bill's spot on here. Everytime I see this debate get started, there's a temptation to point out that there's only a very small handful of forges where virtually ALL uppers and lowers come from; Colt's, DPMS, RRA's, Daniel Defence's, Armalite, whoever. All from the same dies, same forges and pretty much the same spec alloys. Unless they've been screwed up in the final machining, I have no issues with using receivers from just about anyone, so long as the holes are properly located, sized and positioned. All will work equally well so long as they're assembled correctly and using quality parts (which may or may not be "Mil-Spec"). I have a number of Match rifles and competitive Service Rifles that are most definately not Mil-Spec, but are built with components that are of a significantly higher level of precision than that intended for a combat rifle. Durability and reliability aren't attributes only associated with military rifles, but in those guns they take precedence over accuracy. That's not what most of us want, or need in our rifles. Nice to have, but you have to establish some priorities along the way.
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Old 05-14-2012, 11:49 AM
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Re: Mil-spec what does it mean, is it the best?

Bill & Kevin,

Thank you for your replyís. You both mentioned items I did not bring up and are VERY valid. I posted this to hopefully help those who are trying to decide "which is the best". We all have our own needs and standards get what you want and do your home work.

I worked on a guys AR bought from a company I had never heard of. The bolt had a single metal piece for the gas rings instead of the 3 individual gas rings. It failed the gas ring check test with minimal rounds through it. The guy sold the gun and now has a much better quality gun, not because I suggested he should he was not happy with it. There was a difference in how it worked VS the other guns it shot next to.

There are a lot of quality AR being built by many different companys I do not know of them all. As in every thing there is also some companys (not many) that are in it for the money


I want this to be an informative post to help anyone who may be in the market for a new or first AR-15.

Again guys thanks for your posts that is good information people should know when looking for a rifle or doing a build.
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"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night
only because rough men stand ready
to do violence on their behalf." -- George Orwell --

Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell... --Unknown--

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  #5  
Old 05-15-2012, 12:50 PM
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Re: Mil-spec what does it mean, is it the best?

Mil-Spec. Just means it meets the military product/part specifications outlined for the product(s).

In the AR world there are a few noted differences, like the stock/buffer assy, if it is Mil-Spec then it is a different size....there are a few other things but they are related to specific weapon types, in general....
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Old 05-15-2012, 02:18 PM
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Re: Mil-spec what does it mean, is it the best?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cordell View Post
Just wanted to throw this out as food for thought. What does mil-spec mean for the AR-15? Mil-spec is a Military Specification set at the time a piece of equipment was developed and adopted.

So what does this mean for the AR-15 and its parts? Well the bolt in an AR-15 uses a design from the 1930's (nothing wrong with that I have a 1911, they have been around for over 100 years). The bolt is built to 1950's standards and methods with some 1960's improvements.

The AR-15 rifle and bolt are the result of the knowledge and steel from the 1950's. It you go out to buy a new or new to you car do you look for a car from the 1950's or do you want something newer because it is better and stronger?

Mil-spec is not the end all solve all. There are companies who make excellent AR's that are not mil-spec, they are better and stronger than mil-spec.

You may ask why the government does not change and use the new metal or metallurgy. Time and money, and if it isnít broke don't fix it. There is more to it and if you really want to know you can research it out, it is frustrating and mind numbing why they will not change.

To call something mil-spec it has to be made to the military specification. If you make a part (or rifle) thatís constructed of better material using newer technology than when the AR-15 was adopted, you can not call it mil-spec even though it is better than the current mil-spec. Mil-spec is not the best but can give you a direction to go. The Military replacement schedule for an AR-15 bolt is 7,500 rounds. Most of you have read articles of ARís shooting more rounds than that before any failure or none at all. Now granted the Military wants to replace something before it breaks, who wouldnít I surly do. I check several different parts on my AR twice a year and make sure they are in good condition and not close to replacement time.

Do your research, call the company and ask questions about their manufacturing and metallurgy processes and knowledge. Just saying your product is mil-spec is not good enough. Your barrel and bolt have to be High Pressure Tested (proof loads shot in them) and Magnetic Particle Inspected to truly be mil-spec.

I would love to own a high end AR and would not think twice about buying one if I could afford it. Since I can not I will stick with those I can afford while making sure they are to MY standards. Just because someone else said it is good enough for them does not mean it is good enough for me.

I owned a Kimber 1911 and would not buy another. Are the bad guns NO, certainly not they are accurate and function if you keep them clean. I use to shoot ISPC pistol matches and if I did not clean my 1911 between matches, half way through the next match it would have issues that were always solved with a cleaning. My Colt/John M Browning 1911 does not have such issues and is more accurate than I am. My Colt 1911 gives me the extra bit I want when choosing a hand gun for Dynamic reasons.

Well I have gone on longer than I intended. Itís time to get some gun work done.


I agree with most everything you are saying. What do you consider a high end AR? I use Mil-spec as the standard if there is a part that exceds the standard then thats great but for me the base line is the mil-spec. If you stick to that your chances of having an issue are reduced. Most of my carbines are fraken builds but all the parts meet or excede the standard. Thats what I try to get through guys heads if you have a budget of 1000$ and your local shop has a Bushmaster for 850 and a colt for 950 your not saving anything buy buying the Busmaster cause its going to cost you at least another 100$ to bring it up to the standard once you relize that you bought a substandard product.
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  #7  
Old 05-15-2012, 02:55 PM
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Re: Mil-spec what does it mean, is it the best?

The problem (or one of them) with the Colt is that now that you want to upgrade it, you're faced with limited availabilty of certain parts due to their idiotic large pin lowers. Several of the better triggers out there are offered in small pin versions only, and that's one of the key components in making a rifle shoot to begin with. Another is the hard chrome barrel, which is also called for in most mil-spec applications. Fine for durability and longevity, but a real killer for accuracy. I don't want a piss-poor shooting barrel that lasts a long time. That's a problem for me. Chrome moly or SS, fine, but NEVER hard chromed. I see a lot of the true believers on that AR website insisting on CHF barrels these days too. In reading their posts, it's painfully obvious that most don't have a clue about the "whys" of CHF barrels, or what they will or will not do. Again, Mil-Spec, but not needed or wanted for some applications.

Continue the Mil-Spec crusade if you want, but a lot of us who understand the term simply have no need for such requirements.
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