$399 new AR-15

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Mr. E. Monkey » Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:37 am

Kommander wrote:I made the mistake of following that link and then browsing around AIM. I found this. Who is "Special Ops Tactical" and why is their logo an F-117 with wings or flames coming out the back end?
Apparently,
Special Ops Tactical is owned by Garrett Potter. Garrett used to work over at Spikes Tactical, before going out on his own.
http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_3_12/57638 ... eview.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

I just did a quick google search, so I can't confirm that. Also, no idea on the logo.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by thechin » Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:28 pm

I can’t speak for the upper but I’ll vouch for that new frontier complete lower. Only thing that I hate about it is that the retaining pins are polymer as well. I first had trouble getting the forward pin to fit through the pivot hole when attaching my SAA upper. Took a nail filer to the pin and now the upper fits perfectly, rifle feels like a solid piece. I’ve only had 9 misfeeds at 1,400rds which I suspect had more to do with the magazine than anything else. With optics and empty magazine, rifle weight comes in at 6.1 lbs. Makes running on the treadmill easier.

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by ashwednesday » Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:47 pm

I have a poly lower, a Plum Crazy, and I use it with a dedicated .22 upper. My father has a Plum Crazy lower with a PSA upper because it's light, but he's also 71 years old. I will say that the lower I have has worked fine but I don't ask a lot of it.
If you are buying your first lower, it's waaaaaay better to just get a PSA blem lower, they seem to be only about $50 more.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by gun toting monkeyboy » Tue Feb 04, 2014 4:39 pm

Doctorr Fabulous wrote:
prtp3warrior wrote:
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:
Kommander wrote:I am trying to figure out how PTAC can possibly offer uppers at that price, even if they are not the average.

If I had to guess, $100 for the BCG, and charging handle,
I purchased a PTAC upper with melonite coated barrel. It is quite nice. For Edit: 299 I got an upper with a Midwest Industries ssg12 rail and melonite barrel that has been 100% reliable through couple hundred rounds.


Got an MPI BCG from AIMsurplus for 79.99 Shipped.

slapped it on a 150$ lower build and done.
Which is what worries me. Assume the barrel is about $90 (melonite costs a bit more than the cheapeast unlined stuff) and that's a $90 rail system at the minimum. So the upper, assembly, test fire/QC, gas system, (muzzle device?) and all has to cost less than $119 for them to make a profit.
There are a couple of ways for them to make a profit on these. First, remember that they HAVE to be buying in bulk. My guess is that they moved thousands, if not tens of thousands of these on Black Friday. When the numbers start getting that big, your cost per unit goes down. Way down in some cases. And even a 2-3% profit margin really starts to add up. Second, they can be using these as a lost leader. If PSA bought a huge quantity of these from PTAC as a door buster, and they aren't selling them at below cost, they are still likely to be making money off of these because how many people bought just the cheap upper? A lot of people turned around and bought the rest of the parts, upgrades, and whatever other widgets they had on their shopping list, just to get all of the shipping costs down versus hitting other vendors. That should have helped them significantly with their margins. They seem like a pretty savvy bunch there. My guess is they were making money hand over fist.

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by shiddymunkie » Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:39 pm

New Frontier Armory ≠ Plum Crazy

If I recall correctly, both manufacturers use the same company to make their molds, however the polymer blends used are not the same.
TruthAboutGuns.com wrote:The body of the receiver is made from an extremely rigid glass-filled plastic. The design is externally similar (read: almost identical) to the Plum Crazy polymer lowers we’ve seen for a few years, but New Frontier uses a different polymer formula and different reinforcing fibers. If you like to watch gun porn of the ‘snuff’ variety, New Frontier has some brutal testing videos on its website.
Plus they come with a lifetime warranty anyway, so there you go.

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:50 pm

shiddymunkie wrote:New Frontier Armory ≠ Plum Crazy

If I recall correctly, both manufacturers use the same company to make their molds, however the polymer blends used are not the same.
TruthAboutGuns.com wrote:The body of the receiver is made from an extremely rigid glass-filled plastic. The design is externally similar (read: almost identical) to the Plum Crazy polymer lowers we’ve seen for a few years, but New Frontier uses a different polymer formula and different reinforcing fibers. If you like to watch gun porn of the ‘snuff’ variety, New Frontier has some brutal testing videos on its website.
I've personally handled two broken N.F.A. lowers from two different serial runs. One was a personal I got for T&E, the second was the replacement they sent me (full warrantee coverage) which I sold to someone else, which then broke. The third I sold to a gentleman who bought it to build a .22LR AR with a folding stock adaptor.

Small sample, yada yada, but there are some instances where polymer cannot replace aluminum, and I think the stresses focused on the threads in the receiver are too much for current plastics.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by shiddymunkie » Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:38 pm

That's odd, I've only seen two instances of broken NFA lowers, in person or online, since the company first started making lowers (here and here) with the first instance being the result of running over the rifle with a tractor (see below), and the second being a bit more of a conundrum...

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Ed H. wrote:This is the result of running over one of my AR-15s with my 50hp tractor and a 6 ft Bush Hog. How it occurred is a long sad story, but of no importance to you.

The lower is one of you polymer lowers. What happened here speaks volumes about the ability of the
polymer lower to take punishment and keep on functioning.

The polymer stock was ripped out of the threads of the lower. The keeper key was bent and the buffer with spring went flying. The bolt carrier was sticking about 1/3 of its length out of the back of the upper. You will note that the rear takedown pin appears to be missing, not so. The upper sheared the rear pin off at both ends and the polymer pin’s center was still in the upper. The half full magazine was ripped out of the lower. After cleaning, the magazine went right back into the lower and locked up, with the release functioning as prior to modification. The trigger, sear and hammer functioned perfectly after the sand was removed and the lower was flushed.

After cleaning with mineral spirits and flushing then hammering the key flat, the stock treaded right back onto the lower, locked up, and was ready to go with the replacement of the rear pin, plunger and spring, plus the buffer plunger and its spring.

The aluminum upper receiver did not fare so well, it was cracked where the barrel extension attached to the upper receiver. Oh, I had to cut the barrel, forearm and gas tube off 6 inches in front of the receiver with a saws-all to get the upper apart. The barrel was bent in 3 directions and the gas tube, still attached to the gas block, was wrapped around the barrel.

If someone wants to know how tough your lower is and if your lower will take punishment, show them this picture.
I'm sure these things can break, and I wouldn't necessarily call them battle-ready, but Plum Crazys they ain't.

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:02 pm

http://i49.tinypic.com/jkcf9x.jpg

New Frontier from arfcom. Cause was merely repetitive stress. I know on the ATI and the NF I had, the holes were too small or improperly finished out.

I'm sure there's 1000 good ones for every lemon, but why take the risk when $60 gets you a nice shiny Al lower?
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by shiddymunkie » Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:45 pm

Doctorr Fabulous wrote:http://i49.tinypic.com/jkcf9x.jpg

New Frontier from arfcom. Cause was merely repetitive stress. I know on the ATI and the NF I had, the holes were too small or improperly finished out.


Yep, that's the instance cited in the second link I sent. Peeps thought it was the result of dry-firing the lower without an upper too many times, but no one knows for sure b/c the dude bought the lower that way. Just being thorough, I did find one more instance here. Looks like an issue with the molding (a split along the seam). Of course, the comments on this one indicate that most people were nothing short of baffled that an NFA lower had broke, which I'd say represents 99+% of NFA owners.

I guess that makes 3 confirmed (photographed) failures I've now been able to find, not counting the few anecdotes of a failure from a handful of (supposed) lw-15 owners.

Doctorr Fabulous wrote:I'm sure there's 1000 good ones for every lemon, but why take the risk when $60 gets you a nice shiny Al lower?
For me, the weight is what caught my attention, but the price, reviews, (apparent) durability, and lifetime warranty sold me on it. I pulled this off their website for other possible reasons one might go this route:
lw15.com wrote:Complete Lower - ready to pin onto upper and fire!!!
Lightweight – weighs in at 1.6 lbs – That’s 7.2oz lighter than a standard lower
Lightest most durable composite polymer lower on the market today
Low maintenance / easy cleaning / scratch resistant
Accepts all standard MIL SPEC uppers
Features the accu-group composite fire control system
Can accommodate any brand MIL SPEC LPK upgrade
Reversible safety to accommodate left or right hand shooters
“Zero Slop” fit eliminates the need for wedges
Lifetime warranty against any manufacturer defects when used as directed
Granted, I'm more of a casual shooter so that factored in as well. Was it risky? Maybe, but only time will tell and so far I'm liking my odds. In the meantime I'll get to enjoy this lightweight build, and if at some point the lower breaks in some sort of catastrophic way, then I can always go aluminum then and sell my free replacement lower (or use it for a plinker build or something).

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Ransak » Sun Feb 09, 2014 2:10 am

Hey there. I just built an AR-15 from PSA for $453 (that's with shipping), so I thought I'd share.

Let me start off by saying that I don't like AR-15s. I spent more time than I care to recount with an M16-A1 strapped to me in the military and I tend to prefer older guns (favorite being a Winchester 1894 30-30 pre 1964). I've worked on and fixed about a dozen over the years for family and friends however, so I've seen a few different models, but by no means I'd consider myself an AR-15 expert.

I spotted a PSA deal for about $420ish about a month ago for a complete AR-15 and decided to jump on it. I still wouldn't have picked it up had I not been introduced to the SSAR-15 Slide Fire stock. I already had one for the AK-47 and a homebuilt one for a Yugo SKS, but my wife doesn't like either of those weapons, so I finally pulled the trigger so-to-speak on building an AR-15. The reason mine was $453 with shipping was I went with the PTAC MOE lower build kit, I knew the SSAR-15 stock would require the milspec buffer tube.

I took a few pics uploaded here. The only thing added to it in those pics are the rear sight (it came off the pellet rifle that looks identical to an M4 AR-15 visible in a few of them - scary, eh?) and the Mossberg 30 round magazine.

A few things I noted about the PSA parts:

1) The bolt carrier group looks like a M16 BCG, plain and simple. I was actually surprised. The back end of the M16 BCG has a lot more material that interacts with the auto sear, all of the AR-15s I've worked on prior to this one have a lot less material, and even one manufacturer that makes a BCG that has no material at all on the back (Colt I think). It's heavier as a result so it'll probably fire a tiny bit slower but not enough to where most people would ever notice it.

2) The upper receiver is from BAFE, a lot of AR-15 manufacturers use their parts and they're fairly well respected.

3) The Anderson lower receiver met all of the tolerances really well. I can't say anything bad about them, but I haven't fired live rounds from this weapon yet (I just finished it a couple of hours ago). Hopefully tomorrow I'll get some range time in.

4) The barrel is sort of weird, it's a 16" barrel with a 1:7 twist and not chromed. Usually 1:7 twisted barrels are used for heavier ammo (72 grain I think?) for really, really long range shots and I know some people favor non chromed barrels since they're supposed to be more accurate since the rifling digs into the round better. In theory it should be fairly accurate but I'm not sure why you'd want that on a 16" barrel. Long range shooters from what I remember favored 20" barrels. Since it's not chromed using 'rapid fire' with a bump fire stock like the SSAR-15 will cause it to wear faster, but as long as you let it cool between magazines it should be fine for most people provided they aren't dragging it through a jungle.

Since I haven't fired real ammo through it yet (just snap caps) I'll hold off on a judgement but all of the parts met the tolerances pretty well. I'll post an update after I've ran a few boxes of shells through it, but even though I'm not an AR-15 fan I'm optimistic.

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Kommander » Sun Feb 09, 2014 4:27 am

The reason the barrel is not chromed is simply to save money. From what I understand that heavy twist is useful for stabilizing heavy rounds no matter the range and as such rounds are currently en vogue for self defence it's not surprising to see. It's also likely made of cheaper steel such as 4140. Is the bolt carrier marked in any way?
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Ransak » Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:33 am

It's certainly cheaper to not chrome the barrel, but I can't see a 1:7 twist making a difference in a home defense situation. What's the most common distance incidents involving firearms occurs, like eight feet? Even with a 1:12 twist over three times that distance I can't see stabilization of the round doing a whole lot. I've got a Jennings J22 Saturday Night Special that the rounds start to tumble at 15 feet but it's still accurate enough to use out to 20 :)

I get the feeling PSA got a deal from some shop that had different plans for the barrels. 55g ammo is the most common since the military buys tons of the stuff. I was once told that a 1:9 twist is optimal for 55g but I'm going off memory from a previous life so I might be wrong. It just seems weird to me to have a 16" barrel with a 1:7 twist but really I can't see most people ever doing shooting at a level that they'd notice a difference. The heavier ammo is typically used for really long shots due to the heavier mass retaining more inertia. I have no clue of the advantages in using heavier ammo at close range but that makes sense as long as it's pre-frag or hollow point.

You're probably right about the steel in the barrel. The PSA site lists the upper as 'expected to be in milspec' but that doesn't include the barrel. I suspect it's probably good enough for shooters who maybe put 400 rounds through the weapon over a year, but people hitting the range every week will probably shoot it out after a year or two.

I just double checked the BCG, no makers mark. It's chromed internally and the PSA site does list it as a M16 BCG using Carpenter 158 which is milspec. No idea if it was MPI or HPT checked however.
Kommander wrote:The reason the barrel is not chromed is simply to save money. From what I understand that heavy twist is useful for stabilizing heavy rounds no matter the range and as such rounds are currently en vogue for self defence it's not surprising to see. It's also likely made of cheaper steel such as 4140. Is the bolt carrier marked in any way?

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Skull_Hide » Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:58 pm

Only my bolt was marked MP, not the BCG and mine is not chrome lined, just black "maybe park?" The Mellonite barrel did come with M4 feed ramps even though the listing did not claim they were included. Well I guess we'll see what holds up on the gun. Out of all the steel cases I've put through it "Bi metal Brown Bear", more than the yearly average I suppose. I haven't had one problem other than mag related, knock off Pmags and one case of running it too dry. I have hope for it.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Ransak » Mon Feb 10, 2014 12:03 am

Interesting, it sounds like PSA probably pulled in parts from a few different manufacturers since neither my bolt or the carrier is marked at all and is chromed. PSA has been selling AR parts like they're going out of style so it makes sense. For $400ish it's hard to beat even if the barrel and bolt aren't chromed, especially since 99% of the people buying them probably won't be shooting more than a couple thousand rounds a year at the most through them and aren't using them for jungle warfare :D You could build two of these for what a Bushmaster costs.
Skull_Hide wrote:Only my bolt was marked MP, not the BCG and mine is not chrome lined, just black "maybe park?" The Mellonite barrel did come with M4 feed ramps even though the listing did not claim they were included. Well I guess we'll see what holds up on the gun. Out of all the steel cases I've put through it "Bi metal Brown Bear", more than the yearly average I suppose. I haven't had one problem other than mag related, knock off Pmags and one case of running it too dry. I have hope for it.

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by ashwednesday » Sat Feb 15, 2014 3:09 pm

Image

This one cost a bit more than $400, but not by much.

Surplus Ammo & Arms M4 with free float tube, Brownells folding sights, Solarforce L2M one-cell in GG&G ring. I attached a bit of Magpul rail through the slot in the free float tube. No provision for a sling. Bushnell TRS 25 optic. It's sometimes my truck gun, basically an exercise in frugality.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by vegasguy » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:45 pm

ashwednesday wrote:Image

This one cost a bit more than $400, but not by much.

Surplus Ammo & Arms M4 with free float tube, Brownells folding sights, Solarforce L2M one-cell in GG&G ring. I attached a bit of Magpul rail through the slot in the free float tube. No provision for a sling. Bushnell TRS 25 optic. It's sometimes my truck gun, basically an exercise in frugality.
How much did that one cost you??

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by immortalhxl » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:05 am

It would probably last you long enough to get a real AR-15. I would feel woefully underarmed though.

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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Gingerbread Man » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:36 am

Okay about the lining on this barrel, it is. Inside and out. It's called nitiride processing which not only is a surface protectant but also a hardener. That's right, CHEMISTRY! Yes, someone with loads of smarts came up with a process that chemically alters steel to give it these benefits. I think nitirde is better than chromelining (CL). There, said it. FUCK YOU GBM! GO FUCK YOURSELF! Wait, hold on.
This process has been used for a very long time in plenty of guns. Why is this superior to CL? It's not a coating, it's a steel treatment. There is nothing to wear out. This treatment last as long as the rifling does, an estimated 15,000 rds, same as a CL. Not only are you not coating (which can be bad for the lands and decreases accuracy) your removing a major step that can screw barrels up. Nitriding is just a massive chemical bath.
Well! The military isn't using it! Yet. The military is never an early adopter, they have massive contracts that aren't easily changed nor are the mind of people making them. Nitriding is done in massive batches much faster than chromelining ever will be and can be done in thousand barrel lots. It can use milder less tempered steel thus reducing the over all cost. No need to CHF, no need to CL, just dip in a bath and you have a barrel of equal qualities the leaves sharper better rifling that leads directly to better accuracy.
Within 20 years CL is going to be gone. It's a 1950 process that has seen it's day. But it's got no track record! Bullshit, how's that Glock holding up? Or any polymer modern gun? Those are all nitirded. Plenty of rifles have been using this process for at least 20 years including AR-15s. Once steel was the material to use. Now it's polymer. Once CL CHF was the best, now it's nitiriding. Chemistry is awesome like that.

I'm waiting for a lightweight nitiride to come in stock to get, then I'll do a full review vs a light weight CHF CL barrel.

ETA: Nitriding also has quality of lubricity and corrosion resistant superior to chromelining and phosphate coatings that is intrinsic to it. Expect to see bolts and carriers soon. There are some in the PTAC line that already have the bolts like this. I have one, no more MPI or HPT necessary as it treats the steel and chemically bonds on a molecular level as opposed it a coating. Melonite is the same process under a different trade name. Same goes for Tenifer.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Kommander » Sun Feb 16, 2014 2:16 pm

I think you are vastly overstating the capabilities of nitriding. It's certainly a good surface treatment but that's all it is, a surface treatment. It's not going to make crappy barrel steel good nor is it going to make MPI and HPT unnecessary.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Bearcat » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:41 pm

Kommander wrote: It's not going to make crappy barrel steel good
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see how chrome lining does either.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Sun Feb 16, 2014 8:47 pm

Bearcat wrote:
Kommander wrote: It's not going to make crappy barrel steel good
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see how chrome lining does either.
That's why you buy a decent barrel from a reputable manufacturer, Nitriding, meloniting, chrome lining, whatever won't fix poor manufacturing.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Kommander » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:32 pm

Yes, my comment was in regards to Gingerbread Mans comment that "It can use milder less tempered steel thus reducing the over all cost." While this may be technically true crappy steel is crappy steel no matter what coating or surface treatment you use.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Gingerbread Man » Sun Feb 16, 2014 9:54 pm

All I can say is come to Columbia and go on a tour of FN and talk with the engineer who oversees the nitriding processing. It's not a surface coating, it chemically changes steel on a molecular level. No matter the steel grade.416 takes very well to the process as well.
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Re: $399 new AR-15

Post by Kommander » Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:58 am

Please note that above I said surface treatment, not coating.

I have no issues with nitriding. In time it could very well replace chrome lining. However all it is is a surface hardening process. The only steel that it being changed is on the surface of the object being treated. It's not magic. It's not going to make poor steel better and it's not going to make MPI or HPT obsolete.
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