Friday, October 16, 2015

When Your Optics and AR Platform Rifles Break?

John Mosby wrote When You Break Your Optic which is a very good article discussing the ruggedness of quality modern optics. He brings up some excellent points. Modern quality optics designed for combat use (vs deer hunting, airsoft, etc) are pretty darn rugged. I hesitate to name brands and get too deep into that debate but brands like Trijicon, Aimpoint, Eotech and the Leupold LEO/mil line come to mind. Also the Burris MTAC is hell for stout (albeit with a weight to match).

Before going on I should talk about my background because it applies to this conversation. I have over a decade of service in the Army. Some reserve and some active. Split among various types of units but all people who use their weapons for hard realistic training on a regular basis and in ground combat. I have been to so many ranges, live fires and field problems it would take too long to list. I have also deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan. The point is not to brag or some junk but to illustrate that I have used/shot a whole bunch of AR type rifles and been around a metric shit ton off them being used/shot. Ditto for optics.

Based on personal experiences and direct observations on combat optics:

-I have seen a handful of Eotech's and a couple of Aimpoint's fail. The Eotech's half strait up failed and half failed to hold zero/ take adjustments. The Aimpoints all kept functioning but failed to hold zero/ take adjustments. These optics were just plain worn out. They all had at least 2 deployments (aprox 27 months of combat time in Baghdad) as well as lots of training and range time. The use these optics took exceeds what any civilian user would do in a lifetime. Except just maybe John who trains a lot and likes to throw his rifle all over the place.

-The screws that hold the batteries in Aimpoint's tend to occasionally get mis threaded or lost. A couple spares (with the spring etc) per optic in the safe and maybe one per every several rifles in say a squad rifle repair kit would address the problem. They are about the size of a small gumball and I suspect fairly affordable.

-Eotech's. While I would agree with the consensus that they are the weakest of the big 3 (Aimpoint, Eotech, ACOG) they do not seem to have a single weak point. I should note being the weakest of those 3 is like being the #3 heavyweight power lifter at a major regional meet. Yes you are weaker than the two who placed higher but you are still ridiculously strong.

-ACOG's are damn near bombproof.

I also got to thinking about the AR-15 platform of rifles. Mostly this is based on military experience but I have a fair bit of experience on the civilian side as well.

Based on personal experiences and direct observations on the AR-15 platform:

-The receiver extension AKA buffer tube on adjustable stock (M4) type rifles is a weakest link of the chain. I have seen several break. They can take very little pressure at an angle before breaking. That IMT junk where you use the butt to break your fall does not work with this setup. Note if you want to whack someone with your M4 buttstock do it in a strait thrust.

-Lots of ejectors and buffer tube springs causing problems. We could debate whether this is a direct failure or a lack of adequate preentative maintenance but all the same. Stock spares of these parts.

-Tons of little pins getting lost during cleaning. So many pins, springs, extractors, etc. Even a few firing pins. My advice is that unless you have a decent place inside with an honest to goodness floor AND access to spare parts in a combat/ survival situation I would only strip an AR-15 down to the complete bolt carrier group, charging handle and the receiver. Clean the barrel with a rod or boresnake, wipe down the inside of the receiver and the BCG to get the crud off, relube and you are good to go.

[As an aside I have often wondered how long I could use an AR-15 with only this method of cleaning. Unless Lucky Gunner decides to send me a few dozen cases of M193 ball we are unlikely to find out but I suspect a very long time. Certainly long enough that a survivalist/ G would rotate back to some permissive area where a detailed cleaning would be safe and prudent.]

-Occasionally extractors strait up break. Again we could debate if preventative maintenance should catch it but I have seen it enough I would say the part is a fairly weak link.

-Once in a blue moon a bolt breaks.

Anyway I hope that my ramblings give you some things to think about and just maybe use to feed your stock spare parts, etc.

The comments section is open as always.

4 comments:

Meister said...

Great post! I was writing a breakage post earlier this year but never finished, you have once again been my encouragement to complete the post.

I don't agree with Mosby on the BUIS issue. I've been in training and needed them twice now. It seems that the guys I take classes from enjoy the rain and muck. I've literally had to hose my AR off to remove the mud and crap from it. Dropping off the RDS and flipping up sights is far easier and faster than trying to clean the lens in a serious need. If your rifle is muddy, you more than likely don't have anything dry/clean to clean it with.

riverrider said...

concur on most. gas rings have been a problem with our range guns lately, like one out of every three guns blowing one or shearing one or more off to god knows where. we lost three bolts out of three hundred last cycle, more than i replaced in ten years of 45b work. consulted higher, they said ammo probs. blew up a rock river armory m4, same thing, bad ammo. we were shooting federal. theory is every once in a while one goes by uncharged and the next one gets a double. anyway, a spare bolt, the small pins, gas rings and the take down pin detent spring{snuffies like to take stuff apart} would cover most field emergencies. as to cleaning, i have seen guns take several thousand between cleaning as long as the clp was slathered on. makes it easy to clean too. carbon sticks better to dry guns. optics, only use as an aid not a crutch.

AuricTech said...

The receiver extension AKA buffer tube on adjustable stock (M4) type rifles is a weakest link of the chain. I have seen several break. They can take very little pressure at an angle before breaking. That IMT junk where you use the butt to break your fall does not work with this setup. Note if you want to whack someone with your M4 buttstock do it in a strait thrust.

Do you think that the Magpul UBR stock would help in this regard? For use in a SHTF situation, is it worth the extra weight?

Note that Magpul offers an aluminum strike plate, for those who anticipate a need to treat foes to the gentle ministrations of a well-placed buttstroke.

Full disclosure: I have one on my 300 AAC Blackout AR-15. I like it, but I haven't tried to hump my rifle over extended distances.

Tam said...

"As an aside I have often wondered how long I could use an AR-15 with only this method of cleaning."

Well, Pat Rogers has a whole bunch of rounds through Filthy 14.

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