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Posted: 12/3/2007 8:58:16 PM EDT
So, I was recently breaking down my new AR and M1A for the first time and I couldn't help but notice the vast disparity in complexity between the two weapon systems. Now granted, I didn't break down the bolt of the M1A, but that's because the manual really tried to emphasize I didn't need to.

It seemed like the AR had 3X the number of parts - especially smaller parts, screws, pins, etc. Perhaps I'm delusional or it's from not needing to break down the M1A as far- but I had on the one hand a very complicated piece of machinery (the AR) vs. a very simple one with the M1A.

So I ask simply- why? Both are meant to do the same job. You drop the caliber down on the M1A (witness the Mini-14) and add a pistol grip (witness the tactical stocks) and you have a gas-operated, semi-automatic 5.56mm shooter.

In things like automobiles, or computers, or hell, rocket ships - added complexity is needed for added functionality. But when a rifle has a very simple function, why does the AR really need it's seemingly overly-complex build out? What does it gain you besides more maintenance and potentially less reliability?

Now, I think they're sexy as hell (I bought one, didn't I? ) but I can't help but start to understand why many would take the AK any day over it in real field operation. I myself would probably take an M1A- you drop the mag out and the entire mechanism is visible in front of you.

So why? What do we gain with it? Or is it really just as simple a weapon as these others I mentioned?

Thanks so much,
BB
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 9:03:13 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/3/2007 9:04:43 PM EDT by thedoctors308]
The AR15 is a hundred times simpler than any other rifle I have ever shot.
An M1/M1A is an incredibly more complex design.

Compare a field stripped AR15 to a field stripped M1A.
Which was easier to disassemble?
Which is easier to clean?
Which has better ergonomics?
Which operates more simply?
Which has less parts/assemblies?
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 9:07:36 PM EDT
your serious,

AR advantages over an AK, and an M1 are ammo capacity you can realistically carry almost double the ammo, and they AR is a million times more accurate than an AK, especially a 3rd world AK.

Ive never screwed with an m1 but i cant see it being simpler than teh ar,

AR, take out rear takedown pin, pull out BCG and charging handle, take out cotter pin, pull cam pin all parts fall out, clean reassemble,
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 9:09:28 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/3/2007 9:10:33 PM EDT by ChromeLined]
M14 is like 62 parts and AR is 119....but the M14 is far more complex for servicing and the AR way more simple to service try breaking down an M14 trigger group as oposed to the AR15.Or wich barrel is easier to change.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 9:57:17 PM EDT
...and Mini-14's have .223 Rem chambers. (See ammo oracle for more info.)
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 10:18:10 PM EDT
An M1A is a way more complicated than the AR. Think about it, you can take apart the entire BCG on an AR with nothing but a small pin, try doing that to an M1A bolt. Your comparision really is absurd.

It's like saying my car is much more complicated than yours because I took my engine apart and you stopped at opening the hood because that's what the manual said. You have to take BOTH of them apart to the same degree to determine how complex each of them is to the other.

Having built AK's, helped in building FAL's, watched an M1A being put together and built my own AR, the AR is at least 10 times as easy to build and subsequently maintain than any of the above. I can strip my AR down to it's INDIVIDUAL parts with the tools I have and put everything back together with no problem. Try and do that to an M1A or an AK. The AR nly require basic handtools to completely take apart whilst the others will require some power tools, hydraulic presses, special jigs, welding tools, jigs, files and othe rmanner of wizardry.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 10:20:39 PM EDT
The AR is also more complicated than it absolutely has to be. There are ways to reduce parts count by 10% without compromising function.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 10:31:21 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:
The AR is also more complicated than it absolutely has to be. There are ways to reduce parts count by 10% without compromising function.


Yeah, just the trigger guard alone is comprised of 5 parts. If need be, the trigger guard could be machined directly out of the forging. Also there is no dire need for the forward assist. That has to be around 7-8 parts. A2 sights are way complicated, but A1 sights get the job done and are way more simple. Also, the buffer retainer isn't needed for the rifle to function and that's 2 parts.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 10:37:10 PM EDT
You want to realy axe the parts count? M16 upper on Cavalry Arms lower. Thats about 25 parts right there.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 10:55:05 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Salmonaxe:

Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:
The AR is also more complicated than it absolutely has to be. There are ways to reduce parts count by 10% without compromising function.


Yeah, just the trigger guard alone is comprised of 5 parts. If need be, the trigger guard could be machined directly out of the forging. Also there is no dire need for the forward assist. That has to be around 7-8 parts. A2 sights are way complicated, but A1 sights get the job done and are way more simple. Also, the buffer retainer isn't needed for the rifle to function and that's 2 parts.


A few new ARs dont have the assist or the dust cover, upper has the rail cast in and the lowers are part of the stock..ide rather have the older ones ...
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 11:06:08 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/3/2007 11:06:29 PM EDT by Combat_Jack]
All modern uppers have integral rails. And you don't want a cast upper. You DO want a dust cover.
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 1:58:00 AM EDT
yeah. umm. nevermind.
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 3:55:45 AM EDT

Originally Posted By 13-F-COLT:
yeah. umm. nevermind.


+1
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 4:02:02 AM EDT
complexity
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 4:47:32 AM EDT
Interesting stuff all around, guys. Thanks! I guess what I was getting at was not so much the complexity of the internals as much as their accessibility and chance for things to get lost in the field-

The AR, with its big internal cavity, BCG, and charging handle assembly seemed to need a good bit of "opening up" to clean effectively (receiver, bolt head, etc.) The M1, with all of that exposed readily, seemed to be a lot more open and just need easy visual inspection. Likewise it seemed there were a lot less crevices as a result where shit could get fouled. You drop the mag and you can pretty much see everything.

So I guess it's more of a how susceptible to fouling/how much maintenance do they require in the field question?
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 5:22:29 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BigBrother:
So, I was recently breaking down my new AR and M1A for the first time and I couldn't help but notice the vast disparity in complexity between the two weapon systems. Now granted, I didn't break down the bolt of the M1A, but that's because the manual really tried to emphasize I didn't need to.


The manual knows that disassembling an M1A, M-14, or Garand, for that manner, is a much more complex operation and requires many more specialized tools and guages.


Originally Posted By BigBrother:
So I ask simply- why? Both are meant to do the same job. You drop the caliber down on the M1A (witness the Mini-14) and add a pistol grip (witness the tactical stocks) and you have a gas-operated, semi-automatic 5.56mm shooter.


and you get an inaccurate mess.
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 5:36:26 AM EDT

Originally Posted By edlmann:

The manual knows that disassembling an M1A, M-14, or Garand, for that manner, is a much more complex operation and requires many more specialized tools and guages.



Ahh, but then that raises the question- do you *need* then to do so with those rifles? Playing devils' advocate here for a sec, but maybe when I'm getting at is the M1A/M1 is a much easier rifle to maintain than an AR - and hence less disassembly is required?

Thoughts?
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 6:05:49 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 6:32:58 AM EDT

Originally Posted By FDC:
complexity


+1
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 6:58:49 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BigBrother:

Originally Posted By edlmann:

The manual knows that disassembling an M1A, M-14, or Garand, for that manner, is a much more complex operation and requires many more specialized tools and guages.



Ahh, but then that raises the question- do you *need* then to do so with those rifles? Playing devils' advocate here for a sec, but maybe when I'm getting at is the M1A/M1 is a much easier rifle to maintain than an AR - and hence less disassembly is required?

Thoughts?


I own an M1 Carbine, and shoot it fairly regularly.
The rifles are fairly similar in the maintainance department.
Believe me when I tell you that an M1 Rifle/M14 Rifle/M1 Carbine is a lot more maintainence intensive than an AR15 series weapon.
M1A needs oil AND grease applied in multiple places.
An AR15 just needs CLP on the BCG.
An M1A needs a bore guide because it has to be cleaned from the muzzle.
Oh, don't forget to make sure no solvent gets into the bolt or trigger group while you are cleaning - bad for the rifle.
An AR15 you just pop open, remove the BCG/CH, and clean away with no worries.
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 7:05:48 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 7:14:23 AM EDT


I own an M1 Carbine, and shoot it fairly regularly.
The rifles are fairly similar in the maintainance department.
Believe me when I tell you that an M1 Rifle/M14 Rifle/M1 Carbine is a lot more maintainence intensive than an AR15 series weapon.
M1A needs oil AND grease applied in multiple places.
An AR15 just needs CLP on the BCG.
An M1A needs a bore guide because it has to be cleaned from the muzzle.
Oh, don't forget to make sure no solvent gets into the bolt or trigger group while you are cleaning - bad for the rifle.
An AR15 you just pop open, remove the BCG/CH, and clean away with no worries.


Good to know- thanks guys! And BTW, just to be clear- I wasn't in any way saying definitively one way or the other- was just curious as a first time maintainer of these weapons to hear everyone's thoughts. Thanks again!

-BB
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 7:22:37 AM EDT
When you scale down the M14 to the Mini 14, the barrel becomes a whip. It vibrates like a tuning fork when the gas port is pressurized, making accuracy go south.

The AR design gets around this whippy barrel problem by using the gas tube which has no real reaction force on the barrel.

For proper field stripping during operator cleaning, the only pins that are loose are the firing pin, its retaining pin, the cam pin and the extractor pin. Yes, it is easy to lose the extractor pin but its removal isn't 100% necessary.
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 7:22:52 AM EDT
I completely agree that the AR is more complex than many rifles. I remember the first time I detail stripped a Garand, I had the whole thing apart in about 20 minutes, using nothing more than a 1/8" punch (a cartridge would also have worked). I only left two sub-assemblies intact: the barrel and receiver were still screwed together, and the trigger group still had the trigger and hammer mounted.

I think the complexity is a necessary cost to gain modularity and repairability. A Garand barrel screws directly into the receiver, and you are done. An AR-15 barrel screws into an extension, which is retained by a collar, which is turned onto the receiver. Four parts instead of two (unless you count the slip ring assembly to retain the fore stocks, which adds even more), but you gain something in terms of ease of interchangeability.

Speaking of stocks, a Garand wood stock is one piece, and is held at the front by a simple hanger, at the rear merely by trapping it between the trigger mechanism and the action. A traditional AR stock set is four, two held by their own screws, two by a dedicated slip ring assembly/hanger system. Talk about complex. But, you gain modularity and repairability because you can upgrade or swap individual stock components without changing the whole thing. Putting a free-floating rail system on an AR is a snap, putting one on a Garand would be a nightmare.
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 8:25:06 AM EDT
why the ar instead of the m14? maybe because you are on an ar message board. it's a personal preference thing.

i will say that maintenance on an m14 is much easier than on an ar. i have spent way too many hours cleaning an ar. field disassembly is really simple on both weapons. you don't need to clean the inside of the bolt on an m14 because the gases don't shoot into it. instead you clean the gas piston and gas cylinder.

they are two completely different weapons and both have their advantages. just every gun you can get your hands on and pick the one you like best. later.
dustin
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 9:48:46 AM EDT
It may have more parts but how many of those parts are removed during a field strip? A whopping 5.

You remove the bolt carrier and pull it apart and that's it. Sure has lots of springs and detents but if you don't want to remove them you don't.


The bolt carrier when stripped has the firing pin, bolt, bolt carrier, cam pin and firing pin retaining pin. That's it. Other than maintainence disassembly you would never go any further.
Link Posted: 12/4/2007 11:48:56 AM EDT

Originally Posted By BattleRife:
I completely agree that the AR is more complex than many rifles. I remember the first time I detail stripped a Garand, I had the whole thing apart in about 20 minutes, using nothing more than a 1/8" punch (a cartridge would also have worked). I only left two sub-assemblies intact: the barrel and receiver were still screwed together, and the trigger group still had the trigger and hammer mounted.

I think the complexity is a necessary cost to gain modularity and repairability. A Garand barrel screws directly into the receiver, and you are done. An AR-15 barrel screws into an extension, which is retained by a collar, which is turned onto the receiver. Four parts instead of two (unless you count the slip ring assembly to retain the fore stocks, which adds even more), but you gain something in terms of ease of interchangeability.

Speaking of stocks, a Garand wood stock is one piece, and is held at the front by a simple hanger, at the rear merely by trapping it between the trigger mechanism and the action. A traditional AR stock set is four, two held by their own screws, two by a dedicated slip ring assembly/hanger system. Talk about complex. But, you gain modularity and repairability because you can upgrade or swap individual stock components without changing the whole thing. Putting a free-floating rail system on an AR is a snap, putting one on a Garand would be a nightmare.


Yeah, makes sense. I guess I was somewhat comparing apples to oranges. A very quick check/clean on an M1A is definitely easier, but it's true- the AR needs a minimal amount and boom- it's pretty much stripped as far as you need to go. I wouldn't even know how to break down an M1A to that level. Guess it's a tad more work initially but gets you all the way there with the AR.

Thanks all for your help/info!
-BB
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 9:54:21 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/5/2007 12:00:37 PM EDT by Green_Canoe]
I'd also like to add that as an ME who specializes in tooling, the AR is a much easier rifle to manufacture from raw materials than the M1/M14. Most of the AR parts with the exception of the upper, lower, and some of the small FCG parts are either stampings or easy to machine cylindrical parts. Things like the M1/M14 op rod would be a nightmare to tool for production. The M1/M14 bolt for example has far more complex machining operations performed on it than the AR bolt.

They are both great designs for the era in which they were introduced. The M1 system was introduced at a time when the question was "How can we make a reliable semi-automatic combat rifle?" and the AR was introducted at a time when the question was "How can we make something better then what we already have?".
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 11:21:52 AM EDT
I agree with the last poster. Complexity is not measured merely in a parts count. Many of the parts in the M16/AR15 design are irrelevant to proper function (handguards, delta rings, forward assist, ejection port cover). The M14 is way more complex when it comes to manufacturing and tolerances. The M16 is not. The only really critical fit on the M16/AR15 is the bolt to barrel extension. Everything else can float around on rather loose tolerances. That's why you can build one in your kitchen with a hammer and a punch.
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 3:48:08 PM EDT
What about reliability- would you say, in the field, given a high level of debris, mud, sand, what have you- the M1 with its relatively open structure around the receiver is less prone to error, or no difference?
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 3:59:39 PM EDT
I may be unique here, but, having little experience with other firearms and no mechanical engineering training, I think the AR15 is a beautiful, simple design. It's really a marvel. It may have more parts than some other systems, but it's easier to grok.
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 3:59:59 PM EDT

Originally Posted By thedoctors308:
The AR15 is a hundred times simpler than any other rifle I have ever shot.
An M1/M1A is an incredibly more complex design.

Compare a field stripped AR15 to a field stripped M1A.
Which was easier to disassemble?
Which is easier to clean?
Which has better ergonomics?
Which operates more simply?
Which has less parts/assemblies?



I own both and heres my take.

Which was easier to disassemble? ... M1A....any day of the week.
Which is easier to clean? ... M1A....any day of the week. Dont get real dirty and even when it is it still runs.
Which has better ergonomics? ...AR...absolutlly
Which operates more simply?... M1A...all day long every day
Which has less parts/assemblies?.... M1A....fewer parts and larger parts less likelly to loose in leaves, grass, sand or mud.
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 4:01:04 PM EDT

Originally Posted By BigBrother:
What about reliability- would you say, in the field, given a high level of debris, mud, sand, what have you- the M1 with its relatively open structure around the receiver is less prone to error, or no difference?


Just a second hand story, not gospel.
I worked with an older guy was was in the MD National Guard during the Cold War.
He was part of a security force for one of the Nike missle bases in MD, I think it was Fork.
In any case, he was telling me how they were issued M14s for their duty rifles.
He said the M14 had real problems with malfunctions in the rain.
My co-worker said it was so bad, that during qualifications at the range, their section sergeant would be on the firing line with an oil can.
Once they switched to the M16, they discontinued the practice.

Again, just a second hand story.
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 7:34:29 PM EDT
Interesting stuff all around. I'd be curious to hear the tales coming back from Iraq/Af, where they're seeing plenty of ARs side by side with M21s as DMRs, and in less than ideal conditions
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 7:47:43 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FDC:
complexity


+1

I never thought of it as complex either.

buckmeister
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 8:49:41 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/5/2007 8:55:53 PM EDT by BigBrother]
I think for a new user, it most certainly is. Once you get the hang of it it's easy, like anything- but when I first used one, and as I've seen other first timers experience, there are a couple of quirks that make it pretty unintuitive at first.

1. The whole operation of the charging handle. The fact that it can either be "engaged" or disengaged makes for some uncertainty- "now it's pulling with resistance. Now it's not- what gives?" - the catch and charging handle working together is definitely more complicated than, say, the M1A I keep mentioning.

2. The fact that the forward assist and dust cover are basically unused - I've seen many people look at em, prod at em, trying to discern what the heck they do.

I think my biggest gripe is the way the charging handle is set up. Plenty of weapons have a simpler system (MP5s, HK G series, AKs, M1s, etc.). Now, as far as how the mechanism works internally, I'm sure I'm about to get a bunch of flames along the lines of "are you mad? HK uses a rolling gas blippity bloppety" - could be true. I'm just talking about external mechanism. I mean, let's face it - for a new user, the thing has a ton of knobs and bits on the outside compared to other rifles.

BUT, that's what makes it look so damn cool. I just think, using it, it's a more intricate weapon system than other battle rifles out there. Compared to some of the others I mentioned, it basically feels like using a mechanical pencil compared to a wooden one, and I can see why it has had, on numerous occasions, the reputation of needing a lot of maintenance compared to other battle rifles. It's very similar to a lot of other American military engineering - much like an F22 vs. some of the migs that take a beating to shit and still fly. One is at its prime and supreme when it's well maintained and operating, the other is just. built. to run.

Alright, I'm sure this will lead to a torrent of attacks <braces> so go forth...
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 9:14:41 PM EDT
I'm new as hell to AR's and I hate knowing I have to clean my rifle after shooting but as soon as the takedowns come out, I'm in the zone and actually enjoy cleaning her. I've never stripped another rifle so I can't compare but the AR is pretty easy, even for a new guy.
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 9:32:31 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/5/2007 9:37:50 PM EDT by BigBrother]
Oh I definitely agree on the enjoyment once you know what you're doing and the takedown pins are out- at that point it's definitely simple, it just all feels like a more delicate game re: the other points I mentioned!
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 9:41:44 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/5/2007 9:51:38 PM EDT by DuraToTheMax]

Originally Posted By Salmonaxe:

Originally Posted By Combat_Jack:
The AR is also more complicated than it absolutely has to be. There are ways to reduce parts count by 10% without compromising function.


Yeah, just the trigger guard alone is comprised of 5 parts. If need be, the trigger guard could be machined directly out of the forging. Also there is no dire need for the forward assist. That has to be around 7-8 parts. A2 sights are way complicated, but A1 sights get the job done and are way more simple. Also, the buffer retainer isn't needed for the rifle to function and that's 2 parts.


k, so say you want to clean your BCG. You remove the rear takedown pin, fight the tension of the buffer spring to get the upper to swivel up, only to have the buffer pop out upon removal, possibly landing in the dirt. Yay! your rifle has two less parts.

The retainer and spring can't be removed from the operating system, IMO

ETA: almost forgot to mention the fun to be had by holding the buffer in while reconnecting your upper.
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 9:46:02 PM EDT
Buffer retainer ought not be run in Cav Arms lowers. That's about it.
Link Posted: 12/5/2007 10:41:01 PM EDT
Between the two I'll say the M1A is easier to field strip and clean, while the AR is easier to detail strip and clean.

Simply put the M1A's ability to break down into 3 main components is great. No tools required, just some elbow grease. I can break down my SOCOM in seconds and do regular cleaning in a matter of minutes.

Now, once we get into detailed cleaning, the AR does have it's advantages. No gas wrench, drills, bolt assembly tool required.
Link Posted: 12/6/2007 5:04:52 AM EDT
Yep. That sounds about like what I was saying. Thanks!
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