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Posted: 10/15/2003 8:27:55 PM EDT
After weeks of reading, looking etc. I've narrowed down my first AR buy to either the Bushmaster A3 carbine with solid stock and no muzzle brake or the Armalite M15A4 carbine. I want a detachable carry handle. I am a very experienced IDPA and IPSC pistol shooter but haven't fired an M16 in 13 years since I got out of the Marines. I was in for 12 years and was very familiar with the M16A1 and was also a Scout sniper among other MOS's. I had no interest in carbines initially but have now warmed up to them. I don't want or need a muzzle brake or the fake folding stock. I do want mil-spec because I am think half the fun of having an Ar is buying stuff for it. I've gotten the following impressions about both manufacturers;
Armalite
Excellent customer service
Slightly better fit and finish than Bushmaster
Slightly better trigger than Bushmaster
-May not be mil spec so some accesories may not fit.
Bushmaster
Mil-spec
Not the greatest customer service but adequate

Any advice would be appreciated!
Link Posted: 10/15/2003 8:31:38 PM EDT
I've got a Bushmaster M4, and I love it. If you're adverse to (rather than just ambivilent about) muzzle devices and fixed telestocks, the good folks at Bushmaster also offer a 'Shorty Carbine' model that features a conventional barrel and A2 stock. Anywho, I have been very pleased with my Bushmaster, and would reccomend their product any day of the week.
Link Posted: 10/15/2003 8:56:09 PM EDT
You can't go wrong with either one. The Armalite is as "mil-spec" as an AR is going to be seeing that the military doesn't use them [;)]. What I'm saying is that anything that'll fit the bushmaster will fit the armalite as well. The only real difference betwee the two (other than fit and finish................and customer service) is the barrel material. Armalite uses 4140 steel and bushmaster uses 4150. Both are chrome lined.
Link Posted: 10/15/2003 9:01:55 PM EDT
Get the Bushy. Semper Fi
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 1:06:16 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/16/2003 1:06:40 AM EDT by AK_Mike]
You don't want that muzzlebreak, they are unnecessary, noisy, and prevents you from adding certain accessories. Go with the Bushy, for more reasons than the one I just mentioned.
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 5:04:09 AM EDT
One area that may or may not be important to you is magazine fit. I was at the gun shop a couple of months ago that had several A-lites and Bushys and was surprised at the differences in mag well sizes. We had several different brands of mil spec mags and they all inserted and dropped free properly from the Bushy. Just my .02.
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 8:21:08 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/16/2003 8:22:29 AM EDT by 5subslr5]
tthiel, I give accuracy, fit and finish to ArmaLite. (That does not mean Bushmaster doesn't make a good AR because they do.) Also, ArmaLite has borrowed a bit from the better gas system in the AR-18 and incorporates portions of that better gas system in their current M15 line. [b]No (as in NONE) AR manufacturer makes a Mil-Spec AR that is available to civilians and that most certainly includes Bushmaster. Further, ArmaLite, Colt and Knights are approved suppliers of weapons to the military. Bushmaster is not an approved military supplier and does not build a Mil-Spec AR.[/b]
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 8:41:59 AM EDT
Originally Posted By 5subslr5: Also, ArmaLite has borrowed a bit from the better gas system in the AR-18 and incorporates portions of that better gas system in their current M15 line.
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Show me! What's better? Where's it better at? Bolt, carrier, gas tube, gas port? Yea, I know, it's a super-secret so we'll just have to take your word for it. Why should I buy a "better" rifle when I don't even know why it's better?
[b]No (as in NONE) AR manufacturer makes a Mil-Spec AR that is available to civilians and that most certainly includes Bushmaster. Further, ArmaLite, Colt and Knights are approved suppliers of weapons to the military. Bushmaster is not an approved military supplier and does not build a Mil-Spec AR.[/b]
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[rolleyes] P.S.: My next AR [b]WILL[/b] be an Armalite (if I ever figure what was changed to make it better), based on their current attitude towards the AWB and their owners participation at Gunstock.
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 8:46:49 AM EDT
I was also wondering if you could elaborate more on what gas system improvements have been made in the m15 series. Thank you!
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 9:36:35 AM EDT
I'm leaning towards Armalite except for the muzzle brake. What's better about the gas system? I've never been fond of the M-16/AR-15 gas system because it leaves the rifle so dirty and I am fanatical about keeping my weapons clean. Also I have read in many places that Bushmaster does have military contracts.
Originally Posted By 5subslr5: tthiel, I give accuracy, fit and finish to ArmaLite. (That does not mean Bushmaster doesn't make a good AR because they do.) Also, ArmaLite has borrowed a bit from the better gas system in the AR-18 and incorporates portions of that better gas system in their current M15 line. [b]No (as in NONE) AR manufacturer makes a Mil-Spec AR that is available to civilians and that most certainly includes Bushmaster. Further, ArmaLite, Colt and Knights are approved suppliers of weapons to the military. Bushmaster is not an approved military supplier and does not build a Mil-Spec AR.[/b]
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Link Posted: 10/16/2003 10:28:03 AM EDT
5SUbsr is slighlty bending the truth here. Armalite doesn't make AR15s/M16s for the Military for COMBAT use. They make them Cometative shooting teams. Big difference. Knights IIRC only sells the SR25 to the Military, its AR15 line is more for LEOs/civilians. Colt is the only military supplier of M4s (and M16A4s IIRC), FN produces the M16A2 and M16A3s. Bushmaster supposedly delivered 10,000 M4s to the military for Desert Storm. However its been hard to confirm - other than a couple of people on this board who have claimed to been issued one. If you talk with trainers (guys like Giles Stock and Pat Rogers who see 100's of rifles every year) they will tell you Colt is the best, with Bushmaster a distant second. Armalite, RRA, etc are not even in the running). If you want to talk 'mil-spec' SubSR5 is right - nobody (not even Colt) makes a 'mil-spec' AR-15 for civilians. But both Colt and Bushmaster are closer to the spec than anyone else. The one advantage Armalite does have is its mid-length gas system. No its not any cleaner than the other systems - but it operates at a lower pressure than the M4 system making it more reliable and extends parts life.
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 11:34:39 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Forest: 5SUbsr is slighlty bending the truth here. Armalite doesn't make AR15s/M16s for the Military for COMBAT use. They make them Cometative shooting teams. Big difference. Knights IIRC only sells the SR25 to the Military, its AR15 line is more for LEOs/civilians. Colt is the only military supplier of M4s (and M16A4s IIRC), FN produces the M16A2 and M16A3s. Bushmaster supposedly delivered 10,000 M4s to the military for Desert Storm. However its been hard to confirm - other than a couple of people on this board who have claimed to been issued one. If you talk with trainers (guys like Giles Stock and Pat Rogers who see 100's of rifles every year) they will tell you Colt is the best, with Bushmaster a distant second. Armalite, RRA, etc are not even in the running). If you want to talk 'mil-spec' SubSR5 is right - nobody (not even Colt) makes a 'mil-spec' AR-15 for civilians. [red]But both Colt and Bushmaster are closer to the spec than anyone else.[/red] The one advantage Armalite does have is its mid-length gas system. No its not any cleaner than the other systems - but it operates at a lower pressure than the M4 system making it more reliable and extends parts life.
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Thanks for clearing that part up for us Forest. Now, lets here about the "better" gas system used by Armalite. What do ya say 5sub? You surely aren't just talking about just the mid-length gas system used by both Armalite and Rock River are you?
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 11:53:48 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/16/2003 12:22:26 PM EDT by 5subslr5]
Originally Posted By Forest: 5SUbsr is slighlty bending the truth here. Armalite doesn't make AR15s/M16s for the Military for COMBAT use. They make them Cometative shooting teams. Big difference. Knights IIRC only sells the SR25 to the Military, its AR15 line is more for LEOs/civilians. Colt is the only military supplier of M4s (and M16A4s IIRC), FN produces the M16A2 and M16A3s. Bushmaster supposedly delivered 10,000 M4s to the military for Desert Storm. However its been hard to confirm - other than a couple of people on this board who have claimed to been issued one. If you talk with trainers (guys like Giles Stock and Pat Rogers who see 100's of rifles every year) they will tell you Colt is the best, with Bushmaster a distant second. Armalite, RRA, etc are not even in the running). If you want to talk 'mil-spec' SubSR5 is right - nobody (not even Colt) makes a 'mil-spec' AR-15 for civilians. But both Colt and Bushmaster are closer to the spec than anyone else. The one advantage Armalite does have is its mid-length gas system. No its not any cleaner than the other systems - but it operates at a lower pressure than the M4 system making it more reliable and extends parts life.
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Forest (All), I've again read my post re this topic and no where did I say ArmaLite built AR-15's for the military. I did say ArmaLite was an approved manufacturer. If I 'inferred' that AR-15's were supplied by ArmaLite within the post, my apologies. ArmaLite does build and sell to various components of our military the AR-10. Additionally, at least two foreign (but friendly) militaries also buy the AR-10. Certain other ArmaLite rifles are also purchased and used by our military. To the best of my knowledge, Bushmaster DID build AR-15's for the military during Desert Storm. To the best of my knowledge, Bushmaster has not built any since Desert Storm. 5sub ----------------------------------------------- Edited to add: [b]I'm certainly going to post something is not correct from time to time. However, I NEVER knowingly post something I know not to be true.[/b]
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 12:02:34 PM EDT
Originally Posted By G-CODE: Now, lets here about the "better" gas system used by Armalite. What do ya say 5sub? You surely aren't just talking about just the mid-length gas system used by both Armalite and Rock River are you?
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G-Code, in most ways ArmaLite is a very open company. As an example, if they have a product problem, they will publish that fact in a Technical Note or Technical Bulletin for all the world to see. However, when it comes to some few things that give ArmaLite a competitive edge, they are very secretive. I would simply remind you that the ArmaLite AR-15 was a product of the 1950's. The AR-18 was a product of the 1960's. By the time the AR-18 was designed, ArmaLite knew quite a bit more about what made their guns function reliably. 5sub
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 12:18:31 PM EDT
Rule #1:You are not allowed to get an Armalite in AR-15 config until you get an Armalite AR-10 Rule #2: You are not allowed to get an AR-10 until I do! Seriously, both are excellent. Bushmaster: Great quality but MUCH cheaper. Chrome lined barrel that is DEFINITELY chambered for 5.56. One of the closest to Mil-Spec. Can get without a muzzle brake. Armalite: VERY expensive but has a lifetime warranty. New post ban program (see threads over past few days for details).
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 12:24:56 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/16/2003 12:25:33 PM EDT by 5subslr5]
I believe the ArmaLite AR-15's and AR-10's can now be ordered with or without a brake. (I do advise anyone buying an AR-10 Carbine to definitely get the brake.)
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 12:26:12 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 5subslr5: I would simply remind you that the ArmaLite AR-15 was a product of the 1950's. The AR-18 was a product of the 1960's. By the time the AR-18 was designed, ArmaLite knew quite a bit more about what made their guns function reliably.
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True - but remember this, they HAD to come up with a new gas system as they sold Colt the Patent on the AR-15 system. I would also point out that system didn't do so well when the British tested it (see the History section at Armalite.com). Its also interesting to note Stoner kept the AR's gas system when he collaborated with Knights on the SR-25. BTW IIRC Armalite makes the flattop upper receiver for the SPR's. Somthing about they have thicker walls and are a bit stiffer than all the others.
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 12:28:34 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 5subslr5:
Originally Posted By G-CODE: Now, lets here about the "better" gas system used by Armalite. What do ya say 5sub? You surely aren't just talking about just the mid-length gas system used by both Armalite and Rock River are you?
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G-Code, in most ways ArmaLite is a very open company. As an example, if they have a product problem, they will publish that fact in a Technical Note or Technical Bulletin for all the world to see. However, when it comes to some few things that give ArmaLite a competitive edge, they are very secretive. I would simply remind you that the ArmaLite AR-15 was a product of the 1950's. The AR-18 was a product of the 1960's. By the time the AR-18 was designed, ArmaLite knew quite a bit more about what made their guns function reliably. 5sub
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Thanks for the response 5subslr5. My biggest concern is why do "you" state that Armalite has this "better" gas system without proof to back it up. I mean, nobody really knows what is better about it, so why even mention it? IMO it's really useless info to the average buyer if one can't confirm it. This is the type of stuff that breeds internet misinformation. Saying something like "it's better, but we can't tell you why or what is better" doesn't work for me. Oh well.....
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 1:01:42 PM EDT
Originally Posted By 5subslr5: I would simply remind you that the ArmaLite AR-15 was a product of the 1950's. The AR-18 was a product of the 1960's. By the time the AR-18 was designed, ArmaLite knew quite a bit more about what made their guns function reliably.
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5sub, I don't mean to be a prick or anything, please don't think I'm trying to beat up on you. Anyway I posted ealier on this comment but something struck me funny and it took me a few minutes to realize it. In the above quote you mention Armalite having knowledge and experience with the gas system so they knew how to improve it. That is what we call 'institutional knowledge'. You have employees who remember problems and solutions and can apply them to the current project. However we are discussing the gas system of TODAY's Armalites. The Armalite of today [b]IS NOT[/b] the same company as the Armalite under Fairchild Aircraft. Many of use remember when Eagle Arms bought the Armalite name and trademark, then 'switched' names. Today's Armalite has no institutional knowledge from the orginal Armalite. Witness all the issues from their AR-10; if they had institutional knowledge from Armalite it would not have had so many years of teething issues. If you want a company with lots in institutional knowledge about ARs is going to be Colt (much as I hate to admit it). They have been working on the rifles for 40+ years and been involved in almost every research and upgrade program. The one advantage is Armalite's Mid Length gas system. I think not having so much R&D money invested in the carbine gas system (being a new company) allowed them to build the better carbine system. Now if they would just make some M16 chambered, 1:7 twist, chrome lined, mid length barrels (light weight profile please) - then we'd be set.
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 1:16:18 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Forest:
Originally Posted By 5subslr5: I would simply remind you that the ArmaLite AR-15 was a product of the 1950's. The AR-18 was a product of the 1960's. By the time the AR-18 was designed, ArmaLite knew quite a bit more about what made their guns function reliably.
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5sub, I don't mean to be a prick or anything, please don't think I'm trying to beat up on you. Anyway I posted ealier on this comment but something struck me funny and it took me a few minutes to realize it. In the above quote you mention Armalite having knowledge and experience with the gas system so they knew how to improve it. That is what we call 'institutional knowledge'. You have employees who remember problems and solutions and can apply them to the current project. However we are discussing the gas system of TODAY's Armalites. The Armalite of today [b]IS NOT[/b] the same company as the Armalite under Fairchild Aircraft. Many of use remember when Eagle Arms bought the Armalite name and trademark, then 'switched' names. Today's Armalite has no institutional knowledge from the orginal Armalite. Witness all the issues from their AR-10; if they had institutional knowledge from Armalite it would not have had so many years of teething issues. If you want a company with lots in institutional knowledge about ARs is going to be Colt (much as I hate to admit it). They have been working on the rifles for 40+ years and been involved in almost every research and upgrade program. The one advantage is Armalite's Mid Length gas system. I think not having so much R&D money invested in the carbine gas system (being a new company) allowed them to build the better carbine system. Now if they would just make some M16 chambered, 1:7 twist, chrome lined, mid length barrels (light weight profile please) - then we'd be set.
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Forest, I AM talking about today's ArmaLite. It's been posted here that Mark Westrom and Eagle Arms bought just the name "ArmaLite" some years back. While it is true they did buy the name, they also bought 'certain other assets'. While I understand your point regarding "institutional knowledge" what I'm referring to you here is 'documented knowledge'. Yes, Colt has tons of institutional knowledge re the AR-15/M-16 but NO knowledge re the AR-18/AR-180. (Man, I'm with you on the 1:7 barrel just as you describe it. I've damn near made a nuisance of myself re 1:7 barrels and a FF RAS !!) 5sub
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 1:46:45 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/16/2003 1:47:39 PM EDT by Forest]
Originally Posted By 5subslr5: While it is true they did buy the name, they also bought 'certain other assets'. While I understand your point regarding "institutional knowledge" what I'm referring to you here is 'documented knowledge'.
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Don't doubt they bought some of written info as well. But documents tend not to tell the WHOLE story (ask the guys at Colt). That is why having employees who remembers stuff is much more important. "oh yeah we found that is works better if you.... just forgot to write a memo on it..". You could see that in their release of the AR-10. I've been in the defense industry long enough to have seen this sort of thing go on. Much of this was prior to the PC (electronic data is easier to search & update, and much easier to backup), and prior to ISO 9000 needs. You also have to remember Stoner and Sullivan left for Colt prior to the AR18 - so much of the that info was lost.
(Man, I'm with you on the 1:7 barrel just as you describe it. I've damn near made a nuisance of myself re 1:7 barrels and a FF RAS !!)
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I'll write letters! Call People! If you need help let me know! Lord knows neither Bushmaster nor Colt isn't interested in such a project.
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 1:55:04 PM EDT
I don't know about AR15's but Armalite certainly makes AR-10's for military use. I don't see where you have Colt being so high quality and Bushmaster a distant second. I would really disagree with that.
Originally Posted By Forest: 5SUbsr is slighlty bending the truth here. Armalite doesn't make AR15s/M16s for the Military for COMBAT use. They make them Cometative shooting teams. Big difference. Knights IIRC only sells the SR25 to the Military, its AR15 line is more for LEOs/civilians. Colt is the only military supplier of M4s (and M16A4s IIRC), FN produces the M16A2 and M16A3s. Bushmaster supposedly delivered 10,000 M4s to the military for Desert Storm. However its been hard to confirm - other than a couple of people on this board who have claimed to been issued one. If you talk with trainers (guys like Giles Stock and Pat Rogers who see 100's of rifles every year) they will tell you Colt is the best, with Bushmaster a distant second. Armalite, RRA, etc are not even in the running). If you want to talk 'mil-spec' SubSR5 is right - nobody (not even Colt) makes a 'mil-spec' AR-15 for civilians. But both Colt and Bushmaster are closer to the spec than anyone else. The one advantage Armalite does have is its mid-length gas system. No its not any cleaner than the other systems - but it operates at a lower pressure than the M4 system making it more reliable and extends parts life.
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Link Posted: 10/16/2003 2:00:15 PM EDT
Thanks for all the information folks. I ordered a new Bushmaster A3 16" carbine this morning. I'm sure the Armalite would have been fine as well. The price wasn't much different and wasn't an issue anyway but I didn't want a muzzle brake and it seems hard to go wrong with Bushmaster. I may buy an AR-10 later though.
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 2:11:03 PM EDT
Originally Posted By tthiel: Thanks for all the information folks. I ordered a new Bushmaster A3 16" carbine this morning. I'm sure the Armalite would have been fine as well. The price wasn't much different and wasn't an issue anyway but I didn't want a muzzle brake and it seems hard to go wrong with Bushmaster. I may buy an AR-10 later though.
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GOOD shooting !!
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 7:58:41 PM EDT
5subslr5, Mil-spec is moot technically, NO AR-15 is mil-spec because there are only mil-spec M16's, there is no mil-spec for an AR-15 as far as I know, the AR-15 is simply a modified/semi-auto version of the mil-spec M16. If there is a mil-spec for an AR-15, I never heard about it. Mil-spec doesn't always mean the best, it's just what the military ordered - deviations from mil-spec can be for the better depending on application, and civilian requirements differ from military requirements.
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 8:34:51 PM EDT
Orginally Posted By: G-CODE
[rolleyes] P.S.: My next AR [b]WILL[/b] be an Armalite (if I ever figure what was changed to make it better), based on their current attitude towards the AWB and their owners participation at Gunstock.
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Whats this mean, I'm kinda in the dark here ?
Link Posted: 10/16/2003 10:44:19 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/16/2003 10:46:17 PM EDT by pulpsmack]
Originally Posted By AK_Mike: 5subslr5, Mil-spec is moot technically, NO AR-15 is mil-spec because there are only mil-spec M16's, there is no mil-spec for an AR-15 as far as I know, the AR-15 is simply a modified/semi-auto version of the mil-spec M16.
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There is no refuting your point at the heart of its message. The thing is that people have become less concise expressing their TRUE meaning these days. Most everybody on the boards knows there is no mil-spec rifle aside from the M-16/M-4. However, the term "Mil-spec" in our discussions pertains to the closest representation of a true battle rifle that a civillian can buy. I also know you know this AK Mike, I'm just getting this out so the new guys can hear this. Why insist on a "Mil-Spec" rifle when NO rifle truly deserves that name? Because the degrees of separation between SOME AR manufacturers are quite large. If you argue that No rifle is "mil-spec" then how far are you willing to lower your standards? Will you settle for a rifle that doesn't have a chrome-lined barrel? How about one with screws instead of push pins, uppers that need adapters, and sear blocks? What about tolerances? Some ARs are so out of "spec" that USGI magazines don't insert properly, & some uppers made by a different company won't fit without filing or some other sort of fitting. In my case I insist on the closest thing to "mil-spec" to ensure reliability and interchangability. This issue can NOT be underestimated at all.
Link Posted: 10/17/2003 2:15:56 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/17/2003 2:16:15 AM EDT by Brett_Bass]
Enjoy the new Bushmaster, man!
Link Posted: 10/17/2003 5:35:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/17/2003 5:39:15 AM EDT by Forest]
Originally Posted By tthiel: I don't see where you have Colt being so high quality and Bushmaster a distant second. I would really disagree with that.
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Based on what experience? The men who are indicating the above are world renown trainers in the use of AR-15s. They not only teach at Gunsite, but at other venues around the country (to include major police & military units). These men aren't concerned with prissy things like color matching or a tight fit - they want rifles that are reliable as 'fence posts'. They all indicate when it comes to running - the Colts are the best period, the Bushmaster's are second, with the rest far behind. You can go argue with them all you want - but I'll bet these guys see more ARs in action in the course of a month than you or I will over the course of several years. [i]Edited to add:[/i] BTW all my rifles are Bushmasters and they run very well, they are what I recommend. But then I don't see as many rifles in action as they do.
Link Posted: 10/23/2003 11:38:43 AM EDT
Forest, you didn't read my original question very well or you wouldn't ask based on what experience. You still have not given specific reasons for your statements about Colt re Bushmaster btw. I spent 12, almost 13 years in the Marines with multiple MOS's; Rifleman, Scout-Sniper, Sensor Operator, Intellience Analyst, Reconnaissance Marine etc. I also was medically discharged due to combat related injuries incurred in Beirut. So I know a few things about Colt AR's.....
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