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Thread: Tier 1 manufacturers

  1. #1
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    Tier 1 manufacturers

    From the amount of posts I've read here, I'm starting to get the impression that "ABC" may not be the correct abbreviation for tier one manufacturers (eg. Armalite, Bushmaster and Colt). Characteristics of tier one manufacturers would include such things as proper staking of the key in the bolt carrier, Mil Spec components and forged uppers and lowers to name a few. Am I correct about this?
    "Most standards are set low to accomodate the bottom feeders of life who lack the personal pride, motivation and determination to rise above the rest." - Paul Howe

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    More or less you are correct.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo58
    From the amount of posts I've read here, I'm starting to get the impression that "ABC" may not be the correct abbreviation for tier one manufacturers (eg. Armalite, Bushmaster and Colt). Characteristics of tier one manufacturers would include such things as proper staking of the key in the bolt carrier, Mil Spec components and forged uppers and lowers to name a few. Am I correct about this?
    First of all, ANYONE can produce a lemon, so any firearm you purchase that might ever be used in a defensive situation must be thoroughly tested and broken in, even if there is a prancing pony on the side of it.

    From what I understand, makers like Colt, LMT and a couple of others have more rigorous testing procedures than Bushmaster is reputed to, such as magnetic particle inspection of ALL bolts and barrel extensions that are sold, whereas Bushmaster MPI tests random samples. (Random sample QC, by the way, is used in lots and lots of industries for lots and lots of products, and lots and lots of people would argue that it is just fine for QC purposes. YMMV.)

    MPI testing is not a guarantee that something like a bolt won't break, but it does mean that the part is less likely to fail on you because there is a higher chance of the MPI tests catching a defect in the part.

    I think Colt also shot peens their bolts, but I don't know if anyone else does. I know some makers like Les Baer offer shot peened extractors...

    "mil spec" is sometimes used deceptively so you need to do a lot of research before buying something "milspec". Bushmaster barrels, for instance, are chrome lined which is commonly referred to as a "mil spec" feature, but they use a 1/9 rifling and yet some well meaning but uninformed people may still refer to the barrels as being "mil spec". (Personally I don't get worked up about twist rates...)

    Anyone can produce a lemon, but the idea of a "Tier 1" maker is that they take extra steps to make sure you get a nuts reliable rifle right out of the box, and that it will stay reliable for quite some time. My personal Bushmaster has been a very reliable rifle even under the demanding conditions of multiple carbine courses, so it worked out well for me. Others have reported less than satisfactory experiences with Bushmaster.

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    Here's a graphic representation that might help you to understand.

    Colt



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    Tier 2?

    Ok. I know about lemons. We have them in every industry. However we do have manufacturers that are generally considered "tier one". I've read alot about "Mil Spec" and what it means to me as a consumer. No concerns there. When someone purchases a mil spec rifle they are more likely to have better interchangeability with other components (correct?). And if they claim "mil spec", which specification are they claiming?

    Then would anyone care to list who are the top 4 AR-15 tier one manufacturers and who are four tier two manufacturers?
    "Most standards are set low to accomodate the bottom feeders of life who lack the personal pride, motivation and determination to rise above the rest." - Paul Howe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo58
    When someone purchases a mil spec rifle they are more likely to have better interchangeability with other components (correct?).
    Generally, yes. Bushmaster, for instance, has a bad habit of using non-milspec buffer tubes and the like making putting an aftermarket collapsible stock on them a pain in the neck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mojo58
    Then would anyone care to list who are the top 4 AR-15 tier one manufacturers
    1. Colt
    2. Colt
    3. Colt
    4. Colt
    and who are four tier two manufacturers?
    It depends. I would put LMT, Bravo Company, Noveske, and CMT/Stag at the top of the heap followed (distantly) by Rock River, Bushmaster, and Armalite.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob_s
    1. Colt
    2. Colt
    3. Colt
    4. Colt

    It depends. I would put LMT, Bravo Company, Noveske, and CMT/Stag at the top of the heap followed (distantly) by Rock River, Bushmaster, and Armalite.
    LOL

    I do remember a posting from one civilian contractor working in Iraq that was very pleased with his Bushmaster in those conditions. Can't remember the site where I read it. My first AR-15 was a new Colt AR-15 A2. Unfortunately for us Canadians, civilians can't purchase new Colts.
    "Most standards are set low to accomodate the bottom feeders of life who lack the personal pride, motivation and determination to rise above the rest." - Paul Howe

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    In my experience, just because Colt did it doesn't make it the be all to end all. Not to say that Colt makes a bad product because they don't. A lot of the procedures they use have been updated over the years and the "mil spec" has remained the same. Does that mean the "mil spec" is wrong? No. Just an older version. My best advice is to research and find the best product for a reasonable amount of money. Mercedes makes great cars, but everyone doesn't drive one and they can still get to work and home in their Fords and Chevys.
    AR-15 Specialist, Shop Foreman J&T Distributing

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    The ABC's is/was a good start for civilian shooters. It's not meant to be a comprehensive listing of good carbines and rifles.

    FWIW, I have an ArmaLite lower that has worked well by me.

    I also have two Colt registered receivers. One is a converted SP1 and one is a factory M16A1.

    I've successfully used RRA and LMT lowers in classes at Blackwater, 10-8 Consulting and EAG Tactical.

    Once you know what you are doing, you can make a "Tier 1" package for less by using quality parts and your know-how.

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    It really comes down to this simple fact; does the manufacturer have the US Govt. issued TDP? If they do then they would be classified as a tier 1. Lot's of companies have copies of the TDP, but that is about it.

    To the best of my knowledge, only Colt and FN have been given the TDP by the Govt. I would like to believe that LMT has been given it as well (as they have contracts with CRANE), but have not seen proof. Everyone else that doesn't have the official copy of the TDP is a tier 2 or 3 manufacturer.

    With that said, will a Stag, BM, Oly, RRA work for you? Most likely so. Are you going to see higher failure rates with bolts, poor accuracy and parts that don't quite fit together? Yes you are.

    Two of the most critical areas in the weapon are the bolt and the barrel. If you can get quality made bolts/barrels that are shot peened and HPT/MPI tested then you are more than half way there IMHO.

    The best values for assembled uppers that follow the mil-standard are LMT and BCM. They closely follow the reqs and are a reasonable price. CMT (stag) and LMT lowers are first rate as well.

    Building your own AR from the ground up, will enable you to choose companies that make high quality products and actually improve upon the Mil-Standard (by using better springs, buffers and triggers).

    Here is a list of my favorite components when building an AR:

    VLTOR VIS or MUR
    LT or DD FF rails
    CMT MP tested M16 BCG with black insert and Crane O-ring
    PRI GB CH
    Noveske SS barrel or BCM 16" Govt Profiled middy
    Vortex
    LT or VLTOR GB
    LMT lower
    LMT SOPMOD or Magpul UBR/CTR or VLTOR stock
    VLTOR Receiver Extension
    ISMI buffer spring
    CMT H2 or H3 buffer
    CProducts SS mags with Ranger plate from Magpul
    Magpul MIAD or TD BG
    CMT lower parts kit for the receiver
    Geissele Trigger




    C4

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by SHIVAN

    Once you know what you are doing, you can make a "Tier 1" package for less by using quality parts and your know-how.

    Yup. And you get exactly the configuration you want up front.

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    Quote Originally Posted by C4IGrant
    ...actually improve upon the Mil-Standard (by using better springs, buffers and triggers).

    Here is a list of my favorite components when building an AR:

    VLTOR VIS or MUR
    LT or DD FF rails
    CMT MP tested M16 BCG with black insert and Crane O-ring
    PRI GB CH
    Noveske SS barrel or BCM 16" Govt Profiled middy
    Vortex
    LT or VLTOR GB
    LMT lower
    LMT SOPMOD or Magpul UBR/CTR or VLTOR stock
    VLTOR Receiver Extension
    ISMI buffer spring
    CMT H2 or H3 buffer
    CProducts SS mags with Ranger plate from Magpul
    Magpul MIAD or TD BG
    CMT lower parts kit for the receiver
    Geissele Trigger




    C4
    Very good point. Thanks for taking the time to list those choices. Every time I come here, I learn more. Your opinions are much appreciated .
    "Most standards are set low to accomodate the bottom feeders of life who lack the personal pride, motivation and determination to rise above the rest." - Paul Howe

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    Quote Originally Posted by rob_s
    Here's a graphic representation that might help you to understand.

    Colt



    Others
    Not bad, except B&D and DeWalt are familial. Perhaps Porter Cable or Milwaukee and B&D would have been better...

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by C4IGrant
    Noveske SS barrel or BCM 16" Govt Profiled middy





    C4
    What does BCM stands for? May you post some info on this bbl? Weight? Price? Chrome lined?

    Souds interesting.

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    Black n Decker makes DeWalt btw
    It is legal to hunt, kill, and eat porcupines, armadillos and badgers in Texas.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TacDoc
    What does BCM stands for? May you post some info on this bbl? Weight? Price? Chrome lined?

    Souds interesting.
    Bravo Company USA

  18. #18
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    This all coming from Rob who uses a Home Depot tool bag as his range bag...


    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball...

  19. #19
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    Grant,

    Thanks for your post. It's a list of vendors and components that's hard to argue with.

    Mojo58,

    That contractor's BM (bowel movement) rifle was a lucky catch for him. Many of those guns, and I include the one I'm stuck with, are pure crap. The reason most of these guys like them are: 1) It's the first M4gery they've had, 2) It's full auto!!!, 3) They don't know shit about what's good and what's bad quality control, 4) They don't shoot them very much, if at all.

    Having a firearms trainer job here gives me a chance to shoot the hell out of issued pistols and rifles. I'm not impressed with most of what I see. The bolt carrier keys are almost NEVER staked or if they are, they aren't staked sufficiently. FSBs look like the Leaning Tower of Pizza (sp?) and windage adjustments are way too far to one side, usually the left. Triggers are horrible and as has been stated, standard aftermarket stocks won't work because of the non standard buffer tubes.

    Somebody in the acquisition process between the Dept of State (who bought most of the contractor guns in country) and BM made a pile of money at the taxpayers' expense that they didn't earn. I would not buy or recommend a BM to anybody who was purchasing for a life saving weapon. There's too many other viable and dependable choices out there to waste your time, money and potentially, your life on a "shitter shooter".

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by 9DivDoc
    Black n Decker makes DeWalt btw
    Not to mention that both those drills are made in China, probably in the same factory.

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