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Posted: 8/30/2004 4:10:04 PM EST
Hey everyone-

I'm considering a mid-length carbine, probably from RRA. I would like to take a practical rifle class at some point in the next six months and prefer the mid-length design over the M4 length because I have long arms and the extra handguard space REALLY helps when shooting from the prone position. [granted, NRA style prone "target" shooting is completely irrelevant for "practical" shooting, but still I would really prefer a rifle I would be comfortable shooting prone if need be]

I know there is a group of posters who apparently have considerable experience teaching practical rifle classes and otherwise using their rifles very hard (they seem to dominate the "troubleshooting forum"). They generally recommend Colt, with reservations, to those purchaing an AR-15 for serious purposes and generally recommend avoiding "clones" due to a higher frequency of shoddy quality control/non-spec parts/poor assembly on non-Colt products.
They also recommend staying as close to military-spec as possible: 20" barrels and Colt M4s.

Saying all this, does anyone have any experience with mid-length carbines in these kinds of practical rifle classes? I'd hate to buy one, go to a class with a thousand rounds, and then find that it breaks at somepoint. I'm particularly concerned that the novelty of the design means that there may be several inherent problems with it that would make it unsuitable for "serious" use.

I know that probably the best answer is either:
a. get a Colt M4 if you want the fewest worries OR
b. get whatever you want, test it and test it again, and gradually work out all the kinks in your particular rifle.
c. by no means get a FrankenAR.

BUT, I am still curious if anyone has put their mid-length through hard use and can provide some further feedback.

Thanks,

G1
Link Posted: 8/30/2004 4:15:39 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/30/2004 4:15:52 PM EST by mongo001]
What's wrong with a FrankenAR?

I've read alot of people here using them in classes and outperforming the ABCs. A good running FrankenAR is just as good as any other good running AR, IMO.

I too need to get my but into some formal classes. Most of my "skills", or lack thereof, are self taught and I'd bet I have every bad habit in the book.
Link Posted: 8/30/2004 5:19:38 PM EST
I would go with the mid from RRA, if you maintain it right it will work out great for you. I teach rifle classes also and see just as many Colts fail as others, its all about having a gun put together right and maintained well.
Link Posted: 8/30/2004 5:50:02 PM EST
I agree with the above statements. I think the reputation that frankenguns have is that a great deal of people build their rifles from no-name gunshow parts of unknown origin. While most of these parts may work fine for a day at the range, they often fail when pushed hard. As long as your parts come from a reputable comapn as well as a reputable retailer, you shoould be good to go.

The other problem is with people doing home mods like trigger jobs to stock trigger assemblies that end up causing them problems as well. For a work rifle, leave the internals stocka nd unmodified.
Link Posted: 8/30/2004 5:56:31 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/31/2004 8:09:53 AM EST by innocent_bystander]
I'll be taking my midlength to a class with Bill Jeans in October.

When someone asks who made it I have to say what part.

Bushmaster lower
Continental upper
Wilson chrome lined 1x9 barrel
3 prong flash hider
Colt M16 bolt and carrier
LMT H buffer
Cavalry Arms coyote tan furniture
Aimpoint M2
LaRue mount and BUIS
GGG sling things
Giles sling

Link Posted: 8/30/2004 6:35:58 PM EST
I've got Gunsite 223 class in a week, and I am taking 2 ARs, one a frankengun, the other a pretty much stock flat-top Bushy XM-15 E2S (552 Holothing on LaRue Holomount, YHM BUIS being the only add-ons).

We will see how they do. Pat Rogers is scheduled to teach my class, last I heard.....
Link Posted: 8/30/2004 7:18:09 PM EST
I used this factory Bushmaster with Armalite mid-length barrel in Andy Stanford's Tactical Carbine course earlier this summer without a hitch:




That being said I have been to several Tactical Carbine Courses, Patrol Carine Courses, SWAT Carbine course, shoot 3 gun matches from time to time, etc, etc, etc.

I would have had problems in the class had I not done my 1,000 round break in period first. During this break in period I realize at around 600 round that the screws for the bolt carrier key were not properly staked and backed out causing the rifle to short stroke.

I am one of the Colt belivers, but feel that other makes will do fine as well. My experience has shown me that a factory Colt tends to have less problems than other makes. The problem with the carrier key was the 2nd new factory Bushmaster that I've had the same problem with.

I would highly recommend a factory gun from RRA, Colt, or Bushmaster with a chrome lined barrel. Learn how to maintian and lube your rilfe properly, and break it in with 1,000 to 2,000 rounds of good quality factory ammo prior to the class. If there are problem with your new gun they will show themselves during the break in period (most of the time).

Anything that you bolt onto the gun (ie. Aimpoint with mount, etc) use Loc-Tite BLUE on ALL the bolts of the mount.....Anything that I bolt on a gun from a pistol grip, to a new buttstock, to optics, etc. I use Loc-Tite BLUE on to keep the bolts from backing out.


Take care and have fun in the class.



Semper Fi
Jeff
Link Posted: 8/31/2004 2:21:23 AM EST
Link Posted: 8/31/2004 6:30:55 AM EST

Originally Posted By mongo001:
I've read alot of people here using them in classes and outperforming the ABCs. A good running FrankenAR is just as good as any other good running AR, IMO.



Talk with the people who actually RUN the classes and see 1000s of rifles. They will tell you the Franken ARs have the WORSE record for reliablity.

RRA is a decent company, and If you really want a mid-length I'd give it a try. However I see 2 issues with the choice.
1) RRA Mid-lengths are not chrome lined (this reduces your reliability out of the gate).
2) RRA Mid-Lengths are HBAR - meaning you WILL be getting tired/sore quicker during the class.

Link Posted: 8/31/2004 7:33:36 AM EST

Originally Posted By Forest:

Originally Posted By mongo001:
I've read alot of people here using them in classes and outperforming the ABCs. A good running FrankenAR is just as good as any other good running AR, IMO.



Talk with the people who actually RUN the classes and see 1000s of rifles. They will tell you the Franken ARs have the WORSE record for reliablity.

RRA is a decent company, and If you really want a mid-length I'd give it a try. However I see 2 issues with the choice.
1) RRA Mid-lengths are not chrome lined (this reduces your reliability out of the gate).
2) RRA Mid-Lengths are HBAR - meaning you WILL be getting tired/sore quicker during the class.



Im sure this statement is true,..
Points 1 and 2 can both be addressed by using an ADCO chromelined Govt profile middy barrel.
I belive unreliable AR's in classes are the fault of the operator not the rifle. Id never build a rifle on Sunday and head of to a class on Monday,... I have 4 FrankenAR's and Id trust 3 of them in a class, The forth only has 250 rounds down the bore, 250 round without a problem but still not enough for me to completely trust it.
Colt,Bushy,RRA, or Udog's custom build, They are only reliable rifle's when theyve proven to be so.....IMHO..........Udog
Link Posted: 8/31/2004 8:43:47 AM EST

Originally Posted By Chuck:
This is a lightweight Dissipator with the barrel turned down under the handguards. A full 2" shorter than a "mid-length" barrel.


Midlength, as in gas system/handguards. Midlengths are a 16", not an 18" barrel.
Link Posted: 8/31/2004 5:30:41 PM EST
Got my Chromelined middy from Steve at ADCO. He can turn it lighter under the handguards or whatever you want.


-Hershey.
Link Posted: 8/31/2004 6:51:04 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/31/2004 6:52:47 PM EST by jar3ds]
what do you call these forest?



these are chromlined and manufactured by RRA... they do come in HBAR... but easily contoured... i think these are a great build...

Gewehreinz... i'd go with a complete RRA's upper... they are a very good company and have great service... you may not have a magniflexed bolt... but you got'a draw the line somewhere... :)

...Jared


Originally Posted By Forest:

Originally Posted By mongo001:
I've read alot of people here using them in classes and outperforming the ABCs. A good running FrankenAR is just as good as any other good running AR, IMO.



Talk with the people who actually RUN the classes and see 1000s of rifles. They will tell you the Franken ARs have the WORSE record for reliablity.

RRA is a decent company, and If you really want a mid-length I'd give it a try. However I see 2 issues with the choice.
1) RRA Mid-lengths are not chrome lined (this reduces your reliability out of the gate).
2) RRA Mid-Lengths are HBAR - meaning you WILL be getting tired/sore quicker during the class.


Link Posted: 8/31/2004 7:42:07 PM EST
Just curious, what constitutes a FrankenAR? Suppose one uses an LMT upper and lower, with a Bushmaster lower parts kit and a Magpul stock. Would that be looked down upon?
Link Posted: 8/31/2004 8:00:21 PM EST
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 2:31:21 AM EST
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 2:50:00 AM EST

Originally Posted By Chuck:
When did a standard 16" carbine start being called a "mid-length?" To me mid-length implies something inbetween 16" and 20"...
-- Chuck


Midlength, of course, refers to the length of the handguards and gas system, not the barrel. The midlength system looks great, feels great, runs great. The only downside I've found to it is that it's a bit harder to come by--only a few suppliers have midlength stuff. But IMHO it's worth seeking out.
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 5:09:12 AM EST

Originally Posted By Chuck:
I don't consider a rifle made from standard parts to be a "frankengun."



Chuck,
I think to both of us 'Standard Parts' means quality stuff from the high end vendors like Colt, Bushmaster, etc.

Most 'Frankenguns' I've seen are built with parts of unknown heratige from the cheapest place they could get them. Those are the guys always in the Troubleshooting forum asking for help...
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 6:15:19 AM EST

Originally Posted By Forest:

Originally Posted By Chuck:
I don't consider a rifle made from standard parts to be a "frankengun."



Chuck,
I think to both of us 'Standard Parts' means quality stuff from the high end vendors like Colt, Bushmaster, etc.

Most 'Frankenguns' I've seen are built with parts of unknown heratige from the cheapest place they could get them. Those are the guys always in the Troubleshooting forum asking for help...



Correct. All AR15's are parts guns! There is no special hand fitting or anything like that at the factory. Nothing special. You are not disrupting any special magic that makes your AR run right when you add parts to it. Just as long as the parts are good.

Using a bunch of parts from the mil-surp parts bin, is probably not the best course.
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 6:46:38 AM EST

Originally Posted By Forest:

Originally Posted By Chuck:
I don't consider a rifle made from standard parts to be a "frankengun."



Chuck,
I think to both of us 'Standard Parts' means quality stuff from the high end vendors like Colt, Bushmaster, etc.

Most 'Frankenguns' I've seen are built with parts of unknown heratige from the cheapest place they could get them. Those are the guys always in the Troubleshooting forum asking for help...



I guess I need to change my definition of Frankengun then. I considered all of mine to be Frankenguns, as I have built and/or modified every one of them. I don't and never will use cheap components. So I guess none of my "mutts" are Frankenguns, then.

I also don't spend much time in the troubleshooting forum either.
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 8:21:40 AM EST
[Last Edit: 9/1/2004 8:26:40 AM EST by NewbHunter]

Originally Posted By Forest:

Originally Posted By mongo001:
I've read alot of people here using them in classes and outperforming the ABCs. A good running FrankenAR is just as good as any other good running AR, IMO.



Talk with the people who actually RUN the classes and see 1000s of rifles. They will tell you the Franken ARs have the WORSE record for reliablity.

RRA is a decent company, and If you really want a mid-length I'd give it a try. However I see 2 issues with the choice.
1) RRA Mid-lengths are not chrome lined (this reduces your reliability out of the gate).
2) RRA Mid-Lengths are HBAR - meaning you WILL be getting tired/sore quicker during the class.




Just thought I'd make this comment on these two points. Forest is correct...HOWEVER...

Right now in the group buy forum Giffman has a group buy going for 16" midlength, chrome-lined, 5.56 chambered, 1/7 twist, "medium" profile (.720 profile all the way from barrel nut to muzzle, .75 for the FSB, .78 step for the handguard cap) barrels going. These barrels will come from RRA and would be a great choice I think for your class. Not heavy, so it shouldn't cause premature fatigue in class, but not too light either, plus they are chrome lined. AFAIK there isn't any barrel like this on the market right now, so this group buy is the only way to get one. You might want to check into it because we still need some people.

Here's the link:

www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=7&f=121&t=207911&page=1

ETA: Just added 5.56 chamber to the above list of features on this barrel.
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 2:19:42 PM EST
I took my RRA middy on a Bushy lower to a class at blackwater and had no problems at all. I think I put about 800 round a day through it.
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 5:37:10 PM EST

Originally Posted By NewbHunter:
Right now in the group buy forum Giffman has a group buy going for 16" midlength, chrome-lined, 5.56 chambered, 1/7 twist, "medium" profile (.720 profile all the way from barrel nut to muzzle, .75 for the FSB, .78 step for the handguard cap) barrels going.



Thanks NewbHunter- I expressed my interest to Giffman a few weeks ago. And yes, it looks perfect, assuming the chrome lining is done right, the chambers is made correctly, and the barrel extension is in spec. I will probably turn it down from HBAR to Govt profile in the end.

Anyway, I have a build all ready put together in the mind and this barrel is on it. CMT upper, Larue FF rail, Vortex FH, probably a flip up front and rear, and perhaps a Colt Bolt group [is it desirable?] mounted to a lower with the KAC trigger and (soon) a Magpul. I may also replace the Armalite bolt catch and mag release with Colt Parts. HK mags or USGI mags with a magpul follower and the SAW spring [btw could someone email me telling me where I could get the latter]. In other words, a "good" Frankengun (if you assume it to mean a gun with parts of different manufacture and unknown quality] but one that will be dependent on the [unknown] quality of the parts and the quality of the assembler [hmmm. Maybe I should find a good assembler - and they are out there! - and let HIM play with the internals].

The only real good alternative that I see would be to pick up a real Colt LEO M4. It probably won't be in the end much more expensive [maybe even cheaper, esp. with the KAC trigger, Magpul, and $300 lathed down, flip up fronted and Vortexed barrel!], and the only flaw I can see is the abominable stock trigger [with no good replacement options] and -again- the too-short-for-me handguard. I wonder if this option is in the end better after 1000 rounds or so. Another nice thing about this is that there is a possibility I may go to the sandbox and if I am issued a rifle it will be an M4, and so it there will be no adjustment phase. The bad thing about it is that AFAIC the [trigger and length] setup is inferior; bad equipment limits you in ways that using good equipment and later scaling back never does.

Thanks all for the replies and feedback [and if you have other things to say please keep em coming!]. I will certainly do the 1000 round test on either set up and hopefully all the bugs will be worked out.
Link Posted: 9/1/2004 6:42:53 PM EST
Gewehreinz, check your IM

-Cap'n
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