Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login

Site Notices
Posted: 8/13/2011 6:03:01 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/14/2011 6:26:16 AM EDT by skullworks]
Hi all,

I did a search for Astra but nothing came up (may be because I'm limited to 30-day searches). Anyway, thought I'd share the following info on the Swiss Astra StG15:

A few months ago several of the guys from my (now) shooting club ordered StG15:s. When I heard about it (after the order had been placed mind you) I had one of those "oh no" feelings.

A quick history lesson first though: AR:s have previously been very rare here in Sweden since they were not allowed for hunting and none of the national shooting associations had semi-auto rifles as a class (not even IPSC Sweden). But over the past year IPSC Sweden has been approved by the National Board of Police (RPS) to sponsor* firearms permits. So, with the RPS approval in check IPSC Sweden decided to recognize IPSC Rifle as well. Shooters who had participated in IPSC Rifle matches abroad (in Denmark and Norway in particular) started applying for AR15 permits more or less immediately.

So, seven of the guys in my club decided to do a group buy, and Astra was willing to give them "a really good price." Now, the most well known AR-manufacturer on the European civilian market is Oberland Arms; and their plain-Jane Oberland Black Label (flattop with removable carry handle) is € 1380 (approx $ 1960). The Astras (in the same configuration) was about € 300/$ 400 less.

I was present when the shipment was unboxed and these are some of the pics I took then (I have photoshopped the serial number).

Lots of markings. No biggie on a competition gun, but still...


Markings on the left side of the lower.


Markings on the left side of the upper (the three stains are just oil - the finish on receiver halves was nice and even).


Markings on the right side of the lower.


A "small" logo on the stock.


Feed ramp (side note: the gas tube was black anodized under the hand guard but not in the upper).


Carrier Key staking (note that these screws are metric - more on that later).


Okay; this I don't get - what's with the file marks around the front edge outer circumference of the bolt?!


Cam pin slot (the tool marks on the bolt carrier were not as visible in real life).


Three gas rings properly aligned. They had no problem holding the bolt in place after the cam pin had been removed.


Rear of the bolt.


Cam pin.


Note that the extractor spring did not have a rubber insert.


As a contrast to the pic above; this is what the Oberland extractor looks like (from an Oberland Arms M1).


Front of the Bolt Carrier (once again the tool marks are more visible here than they were with the naked eye). Though I failed to photograph it, the bolt carrier is engraved on top with the rifle's serial number.


Same but with different focus.


One 30-round magazine comes with the rifles (sorry no pics), it was shoddy and looked like it was made out of sheet metal and it also had a flat plastic follower (as far as I know all of the guys bougth PMAG:s or GMAG:s).

The Astras come with a Lothar Walther barrel with an 1/8 twist. Lothar Walther's barrels are (as most of you know) GTG; these are the first 5 shots fired at 200 meters with one of the Astras using military ammo (Swedish "5,56mm Sk Ptr 5 stkprj," which sports a 62 grain bullet). Seated position, rifle fitted with a Zeiss 3-12x in a Spuhr ISMS mount.


Now; all is not well. One of the rifles had some problems and the owner realized that the carrier key screws, though staked, had come lose. Since I've been stocking up on AR-tools I "just happened" to have a MOACKS II "laying around." As I noted before the carrier key screws on the Astras are metric, so the hex keys included with the MOACKS did not fit (no biggie; I had anticipated this and therefore had both metric and inch sets on hand). A bigger problem presented itself though. Using the MOACKS II I staked the screws, but as the screws are too short (or too deeply seated), the staking went more or less over the carrier key screws, also resulting in some material coming lose from the carrier key at the right-side stake mark by the front screw. This leads me to the conclusion that a) the screw heads are too short or too deeply seated (as noted above), b) Swiss manufacturing is no longer what it once was, and/or c) the carrier key is made out of some crap material. Dean Caputo agrees.




*Sponsor as in issuing a letter stating that "this shooter is an active participant in IPSC shooting events, has gone through all the training, and has shown skill and judgment" and in which they approve the applicants permit for a specific firearm.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 6:19:25 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/13/2011 6:21:15 AM EDT by sinlessorrow]
Looks good, glad yall got such a good deal, but those logos are

Sucks about that one carrier key. At least the rest turned out good
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 6:31:27 AM EDT
I should add that I did not partake in the group buy. And yes, so far only one rifle has been having problems that could not be solved by proper lubrication.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 6:44:40 AM EDT
Great writeup and good information. Am glad to see you guys having the opportunity (freedom) to enjoy ARs.
Figure with just a little tweaking, these things should run like a Swiss clock Do you think the manufacturer would have offered corrective action on the gas key staking? Maybe not after Moacks staking, but they may be interested in your experience to correct this in the future.
Thanks for the info, and happy shooting...
Those logo's are kinda distracting, I'd prolly have to refinish the "smallish" logo from the stock.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 7:01:22 AM EDT
i don't see an issue with your MOACKS staking... may not be pretty, but itll get the job done.

id be interested to know if the keys in those rifles came properly torqued from the factory, not only is staking important but the torque value is as well.

also, the "gas rings are aligned properly" is a myth. they do not have to be staggered or anything.


nice write up, its always interesting to see how things are done in other places!

Link Posted: 8/13/2011 7:08:22 AM EDT
Ricochet, thanks. To be honest I do not know what Astra's response is. The problem is that European gun laws are... what's the word I'm looking for? Horrid? so just shipping the bolt carrier to them for a quick fix is not an option. The purchase was arranged directly with Astra, but then shipped and imported via a dealer in Denmark. So, the bolt carrier would have to be returned the same way, and it is a part that requires a license in Switzerland (hence the serial number), which further complicates things. I also believe all parts except for the receivers and the barrel are manufactured in Asia.

Anyway, iIf any other of these Astras have this problem I will check and see if I can find a screw with a "longer" head, as I believe this is the only way proper staking can be applied.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 7:16:52 AM EDT
durabo, I am aware of the "stagger myth"; what I referred to (which I realize isn't obvious) is pics previously posted by others of Astra rifles, where the gas rings are crossing over each other.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 7:30:53 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/13/2011 7:37:48 AM EDT by skullworks]
durabo, I had to get my Google-Fu on: here are pics from another forum of an Astra StG4 shipped to the Netherlands:

"Improper" gas ring alignment


Imroper hammer spring alignment


And a slight problem with the finish (apparently the rifle was delivered bone dry


Again, not my pics
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 9:00:36 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/13/2011 9:01:51 AM EDT by RedFalconBill]

Originally Posted By skullworks:
Ricochet, thanks. To be honest I do not know what Astra's response is. The problem is that European gun laws are... what's the word I'm looking for? Horrid? so just shipping the bolt carrier to them for a quick fix is not an option. The purchase was arranged directly with Astra, but then shipped and imported via a dealer in Denmark. So, the bolt carrier would have to be returned the same way, and it is a part that requires a license in Switzerland (hence the serial number), which further complicates things. I also believe all parts except for the receivers and the barrel are manufactured in Asia.

Anyway, iIf any other of these Astras have this problem I will check and see if I can find a screw with a "longer" head, as I believe this is the only way proper staking can be applied.

You mentioned that the carrier key screws were metric. Could you find out what the thread pitch is on the bolt carrier? The correct thread pitch is 8-32. You can find the grade 8 screws here in the USA at home improvement stores and hardware stores.

The new gas key you would have to order. In the USA they are ~$12.00 to $15.00, but you would have to order from someone who would ship internationally. While you are at it, add some gas rings to the order. The rings are $0.25 to $0.50 each.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 10:38:48 AM EDT
Originally Posted By RedFalconBill:
You mentioned that the carrier key screws were metric. Could you find out what the thread pitch is on the bolt carrier? The correct thread pitch is 8-32. You can find the grade 8 screws here in the USA at home improvement stores and hardware stores.

Yes, like I said; if I see another failure where the factory staking is insufficient I will remove the screw and take some measurements, including checking what thread it is. It would not surprise me if the BC is threaded for 8-32 and the screws are the closest match in metric.

The new gas key you would have to order. In the USA they are ~$12.00 to $15.00, but you would have to order from someone who would ship internationally. While you are at it, add some gas rings to the order. The rings are $0.25 to $0.50 each.

Brownells do ship international, so that is not a problem. I noticed that DPMS offer the cheapest gas keys there ($15 without discount; about $30 less than the same part from Colt), and it would not surprise me if they [DPMS] shop at the same place as Astra.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 10:52:07 AM EDT
I see that the uppers are serial numbered to the lower, can you guys not have multiple uppers for the same lower?
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 11:01:27 AM EDT
And we think we have it bad here with gun laws. :(

I suspect your guess as to the carrier being threaded for a standard pitch and a "next closest" metric bolt being used
is right.

The usual advice is just buy a bolt-carrier assembly from a known good manufacturer, but if they are serial numbered to the particular
rifle, what a bother.

Let us know how it goes.

Link Posted: 8/13/2011 11:10:42 AM EDT

Originally Posted By skullworks:

Yes, like I said; if I see another failure where the factory staking is insufficient I will remove the screw and take some measurements, including checking what thread it is. It would not surprise me if the BC is threaded for 8-32 and the screws are the closest match in metric.

Was wondering about that, since a lot of parts come from Taiwan and China.


Originally Posted By skullworks:

Brownells do ship international, so that is not a problem. I noticed that DPMS offer the cheapest gas keys there ($15 without discount; about $30 less than the same part from Colt), and it would not surprise me if they [DPMS] shop at the same place as Astra.

whiteoakarmament.com has the keys for $10 and armlite.com has the keys for $14. Both require international orders to call for clarification.

Brownell's might be quicker with less aggravation on your part.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 11:38:51 AM EDT
Originally Posted By TheMercenary:
I see that the uppers are serial numbered to the lower, can you guys not have multiple uppers for the same lower?

Speaking for Sweden only; each barreled upper would require an individual permit. However, permits on parts are for the most part easier to get than for complete firearms. In Sweden the following parts need permits:

For rifles & shotguns
    Barrels
    Bolts
    Actions

Pistols:
    Barrels
    Slides
    Frames

Revolvers
    Barrels
    Cylinders
    Frames

For AR:s
    Barrel
    Bolt
    Upper

But, as to the AR; some municipalities interpret the laws differently and also require permits for the lowers.

There is also the option to get a permit for what we call a "växelsats" which would be a conversion kit. A conversion kit for an AR could easily be a complete barreled upped including a BCG. That too is easier to get than a complete rifle.

Link Posted: 8/13/2011 11:42:30 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/13/2011 11:46:33 AM EDT by skullworks]
Originally Posted By wolfwalker:
The usual advice is just buy a bolt-carrier assembly from a known good manufacturer, but if they are serial numbered to the particular
rifle, what a bother.

In Sweden that is not a problem as the Bolt Carrier is not restricted (only the bolt). The bigger problem is finding a quality carrier from a known manufacturer. As you know most quality carriers run around $100 or up, and any gunpart priced over $100 require a $250 export license from the U.S. That leaves us with European manufacturers, and as noted before most of them are suspect.

Link Posted: 8/13/2011 11:44:14 AM EDT
Originally Posted By RedFalconBill:
whiteoakarmament.com has the keys for $10 and armlite.com has the keys for $14. Both require international orders to call for clarification.

Thank you for the information. Never heard of White Oak Armament before, are they reputable?

Link Posted: 8/13/2011 11:52:50 AM EDT

Originally Posted By skullworks:
Originally Posted By RedFalconBill:
whiteoakarmament.com has the keys for $10 and armlite.com has the keys for $14. Both require international orders to call for clarification.

Thank you for the information. Never heard of White Oak Armament before, are they reputable?

Yes, John Hollinger is among the best in the business here. WOA makes just about the best Serivce Rifle (match grade AR-15) in the US.

Armalite is not a bad company either, and they are bigger. Might be easier to work with.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 11:56:19 AM EDT
Hollinger's name I recognize; hadn't heard of White Oak though. And yes, Armalite is well known.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 2:26:19 PM EDT
Man, I couldn't stand the bill boards on my gun like that. But glad you were able to get them into the country.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 2:37:29 PM EDT
Originally Posted By damcv62:
Man, I couldn't stand the bill boards on my gun like that. But glad you were able to get them into the country.

As I recall, 6 out of 7 Astra owners have since switched to a different stock (Magpul UBR and CTR seems to be the most popular).
Top Top