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Thread: Be an informed consumer!

  1. #1
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    Be an informed consumer!

    Many of you have seen me write on this forum that Firearms Manufacturers are to be viewed the same way you would a used car salesman. "Trust, but verify."

    The purpose of this thread is to help educate the consumer that is LOOKING to buy a high quality, DEFENSIVE weapon.

    DISCLAIMER: If you are not interested in this type of weapon, this thread is not for you and don't bother reading it (or posting something silly about your Oly being the best).

    Many firearm manufacturers use buzz words such as "Mil-Spec, Mil-Standard, Military Issued, TDP, 4150, CMV, MIL-11595E, HPT, MPI, Carpenter No. 158ģ steel, etc in an effort to get you to believe that their products are the best. Many of these companies believe that the words "Mil-Spec" actually means that their barrel’s, receiver’s, BCG's, lower’s, etc will fit on an M16 or M4. The term "Mil-Spec“ has nothing to do with quality or the TDP standard set forth by the US Govt for a fighting weapon.

    Here are some cold hard facts:

    1. The only way to get a TRULY Mil-Spec weapon is to be issued it by the US Military.
    2. The current two companies with the OFFICIAL TDP (Technical Data Package) are Colt and FN.
    3. Mil-Spec is a standard of quality that the US Govt will accept for a fighting gun.
    4. If a company cannot meet these standards (Mil-Spec/TDP), then what standards are they following (if any)?

    For the purpose of this thread, we are going to stick to the two main components that always cause the most confusion with the consumer. These are the barrel and the bolt.

    Barrel's:

    Per MIL-B-11595E, barrels have to be made out of the following in order to comply with this standard AND have the correct chemical compounds. IF the barrel’s do not meet this standard, they will not meet the mil-standard MPI acceptance criteria! Below are the three types of steel (and their chemical compositions) that are allowed.



    Then the barrels have to meet the following things:

    • Chrome Lined Bore and Chamber
    • Manganese Phosphate Barrel Finish on entire barrel
    • HPT (High Pressure Test, per Milspec) barrel’s
    • MPI (Magnetic Particle Inspected, per Milspec) barrel’s
    • USGI 5.56mm NATO Chamber

    Two of the big ones in the above list are HPT and MPI. In order to stress the barrel, you must use a high pressure load (referred to as an M197). Once this is completed, the barrel then must undergo MPI AND comply with acceptance and exclusion criteria from both the mil-standard and ASTME1444-01 standard and completed by a certified NDT facility.


    Bolt's:

    Per the TDP, bolts are to comply with the following:

    • Bolt machined from Mil-Spec Carpenter No. 158ģ steel
    • HPT Bolt (High Pressure Tested/ Proof)
    • MPI Bolt (Magnetic Particle Inspected)
    • Shot Peened Bolt (per Mil-S-13165)
    • Heat Treated


    Now that we have all the correct names and standards called out, you need to see some examples of what the documentation needs to look like. Luckily for us, BCM has stepped up to the plate and become the FIRST Manufacturer to post their certs for their barrel steel, pressure loads, and MPI.

    To get the full discussion on BCM rifles and all that goes into them, follow this link: http://www.m4carbine.net/showthread.php?t=55930


    Below is what the cert looks like for INDEPENTLY certified barrel steel (notice the date on the steel cert and that it specifically lists all the chemical compounds):




    Below is what the cert looks like for proof loads:




    Below is what the cert for MPI looks like (notice the date):






    As you may have figured out by now, a lot of work goes into all of this. It is not an easy or cheap process and any manufacturer that goes through all the hassle of putting a program together like this is going to shout it from the rooftops because it clearly sets them apart from the competition. A manufacturer also cannot do all of the above and sell a barrel and bolt for a low price. So if it looks to good to be true, then it probably is.

    Know what you are buying and what you are getting! YOU the consumer have the right to ask a manufacturer to provide proof to back up their claims!


    C4
    Last edited by C4IGrant; 09-09-13 at 16:24.

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    Thank you for the info, Grant. This thread, and the other one Paul made the other day, are both a big help.

    I have a buddy at work who is about to buy his first AR. I'm steering him to Noveske and BCM, and info like this is quite helpful for him to reach a decision.

    I did mention you would happily sell him one of each.

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    sticky worthy?

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    Quote Originally Posted by theblackknight View Post
    sticky worthy?
    Yep good info always is! Done!
    FFL/SOT armorer

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    Quote Originally Posted by C4IGrant View Post
    Snip...

    Here are some cold hard facts:

    1. The only way to get a TRULY Mil-Spec weapon is to be issued it by the US Military.
    2. The current two companies with the OFFICIAL TDP (Technical Data Package) are Colt and FN.
    3. Mil-Spec means that LOWEST acceptable quality the US Govt will accept for a fighting gun.
    4. If a company cannot meet the lowest of standards (Mil-Spec/TDP), what standards are they following (if any)?

    C4
    Wouldn't mil-spec be better described as the MINIMUM standard than lowest acceptable quality?

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    O
    Quote Originally Posted by MK18Pilot View Post
    Wouldn't mil-spec be better described as the MINIMUM standard than lowest acceptable quality?
    And the difference is? Glass half full half empty means the same thing.
    Last edited by Robb Jensen; 06-13-10 at 21:25.
    FFL/SOT armorer

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    Thanks Grant. Good info. Going to add it to my "Favorites List"
    Dave
    Last edited by shadow65; 06-13-10 at 21:25.
    Independent Field Testing/R & D

    Better to die for something than live for nothing

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    Should be required reading. Thanks for the info Grant!

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    Very insightful and instructive, thanks.

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    Thank you for the feedback and hope that some will get something out of it.



    C4

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    Great thread and great info. Definitely worth a sticky.

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    Excellent info. I work with automotive engine components, and we get virtually identical material certs for the different steels and nickel alloys we use, and have to provide nearly identical testing certs for our completed components as well.

    Grant,
    Do you happen to know the spec on the bore/chamber chrome plating thickness?

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    Thanks for the education. Great write-up.

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    Thanks Grant, well worth the read.
    "This is 2012. The world is going to end this December and people are still trying to debate the merits of piece of shit, cost cutting crap AR's. Really?"-Iraqgunz

    "You live more in 5 minutes on a motorcycle
    than some people do in a lifetime"-B. Munro

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rara View Post
    Excellent info. I work with automotive engine components, and we get virtually identical material certs for the different steels and nickel alloys we use, and have to provide nearly identical testing certs for our completed components as well.

    Grant,
    Do you happen to know the spec on the bore/chamber chrome plating thickness?

    Thanks much.

    I do not know the spec on the chrome thickness off the top of my head, but can get it if you really want it.


    C4
    Last edited by C4IGrant; 06-15-10 at 09:55.

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    Quote Originally Posted by C4IGrant View Post
    Thanks much.

    I do not know the spec on the chrome thickness off the top of my head, but can get it if you really want it.

    C4
    Grant, I would be very interested if you can get it. In my current job, I design engine valves, which have a far more similar function to a rifle barrel than most people realize, and often in a far more harsh environment. Many of my valves are chrome plated on the stem for both wear resistance, and in some cases to improve corrosion resistance. I typically spec chrome plate in the 9-14 micron thick range, and I'm wondering how comparable it is to "mil-spec" on a chamber/bore. I'm also assuming the spec is the same for thickness in the chamber and bore, but it wouldn't necessarily have to be.

    One other thing I wouldn't mind pointing out as a corollary to the original post, is that just because something isn't "mil-spec" doesn't mean that it is automatically junk. A newer, and better steel that wasn't around when the spec was written wouldn't be mil-spec, but by definition would be better. A process like nitriding wouldn't be mil-spec on a barrel, but could provide a more consistant and better wear and corrosion resistant surface for the barrel than mil-spec (depending on the steel used). I guess my point is, we shouldn't use mil-spec as a crutch so much, and evaluate each individual component design and build quality for its intended use, especially when our usage of the item is not the same as what drove the creation of that mil-spec in the first place.
    Last edited by Rara; 06-15-10 at 13:14.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rara View Post
    Grant, I would be very interested if you can get it. In my current job, I design engine valves, which have a far more similar function to a rifle barrel than most people realize, and often in a far more harsh environment. Many of my valves are chrome plated on the stem for both wear resistance, and in some cases to improve corrosion resistance. I typically spec chrome plate in the 9-14 micron thick range, and I'm wondering how comparable it is to "mil-spec" on a chamber/bore. I'm also assuming the spec is the same for thickness in the chamber and bore, but it wouldn't necessarily have to be.

    One other thing I wouldn't mind pointing out as a corollary to the original post, is that just because something isn't "mil-spec" doesn't mean that it is automatically junk. A newer, and better steel that wasn't around when the spec was written wouldn't be mil-spec, but by definition would be better. A process like nitriding wouldn't be mil-spec on a barrel, but could provide a more consistant and better wear and corrosion resistant surface for the barrel than mil-spec (depending on the steel used). I guess my point is, we shouldn't use mil-spec as a crutch so much, and evaluate each individual component design and build quality for its intended use, especially when our usage of the item is not the same as what drove the creation of that mil-spec in the first place.

    Will see what I can get.

    I agree that just because something isn't "mil-spec" does not mean it is junk. You MUST prove though that it is superior to the mil-standard though. This is often hard to do.


    C4

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    Quote Originally Posted by C4IGrant View Post
    Will see what I can get.

    I agree that just because something isn't "mil-spec" does not mean it is junk. You MUST prove though that it is superior to the mil-standard though. This is often hard to do.


    C4
    Thanks, and I couldn't agree more. The difficulty is often the lack of available technical information, and/or relevant testing. It frustrates me to no end how many people have no concept of good objective testing, and fall back to the "well, my Uncle Nester had one, back in aught-four, and he dropped three squirrels with one shot, so it must be the most amazing thing ever" type anecdotal stories.

    but to be fair, the mil-spec is written to be the minimum acceptable, and cost and high volume manufacturing considerations are a huge part of the decision making process in developing the specs. As an example, I can think of a half-dozen different stainless steels I use daily that would perform far better in every way than a 4150 CMV in an AR barrel, but they would be awfully hard to make in high volume, and not to mention expensive.

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    the mil-spec is written to be the minimum acceptable, and cost and high volume manufacturing considerations are a huge part of the decision making process


    This is correct. ^^^^^^

    These weapons and parts ase made by SEVERAL different companies. Mil-Spec establishes a minimum acceptable standard so all manufactured parts fit no matter where they came from.

    just because something isn't "mil-spec" does not mean it is junk.


    This is true as well ^^^^

    Materials and methods have come along ways in the last 40 years.
    Last edited by Failure2Stop; 09-09-10 at 20:14.

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    Rara, you may find this interesting. It is from an interview with John Noveske where he is discussing his barrels:


    Crane: Right, o.k., now youíre double-chrome-lining your barrels, or some of your barrels, not the stainless steel barrels, but theÖ

    Noveske: The N4 Light Carbine and N4 Light Recce barrels.

    Crane: Light Carbine barrels. Youíre double chrominí Ďem, and obviously, you must be getting a pretty nice even chrome job on there.

    Noveske: Yes. I have a tolerance that is equal to a match-grade barrel.

    Crane: Equal to a stainless barrel?


    Noveske: Well, that doesnít mean anything, because thereís a lot of different makers of stainless barrels, but there is a kind of an unspoken match-grade tolerance in the custom barrel world of 2/10ths of a thousoundth concentricity, orÖin uniformity of bore diameter from end to end, and I spec that out on my chrome-lined barrels.

    Crane: Are you the only guy thatís double-chrome-lining Ďem?

    Noveske: Thatís not the right [terminology]. "Double-chrome-lining" implies that Iím chroming twice. Iím chroming once to the technical data package requirements for the M249 machine gun [FN M249 Squad Automatic Weapon a.k.a. FN M249 SAW], which call out for a chrome thickness that is approximately twice the thickness of an M16 or an M4.

    Crane: The barrels that weíre talkiní about are Pac-Nor.

    Noveske: Our stainless barrels are made partially in ourshop and partially in Pac-Norís shop. And, the relationship that I have with Pac-NorÖI used to work there, and now whatís goiní on is I buy steel, I take it to Pac-Nor, when the guys clock out of Pac-Nor, they clock into our barrel production. They machine my blanks with our tooling, which is all made to our design, including the drills, reamers, button, so forth, so on. They stress-relieve to our recipe, and then they give the barrels back to us, and then we finish them all in our shop.

    Crane: What type of stainless are they using?

    Noveske: Well, they use 416 project 70. I use a different type of material.

    Crane: And what about the standard steel barrels? What kind of steel is that?


    Noveske: Let me back up. You canít call the barrel that we make a Pac-Nor barrel, because if you call Pac-Nor and order a stainless barrel, itís gonnaí be much different. Itís gonnaí be different in every way from the barrel I sell. So when you say "what kind of materal do they use?", last time I checked, Pac-Nor uses 416 project 70 made by Carpenter, and I use a different material which is technically considered 416R, and itís a lot harder than any stainless weíve ever tested from other manufacturers. Our stainless comes in around 32 on the Rockwell C scale, and thatís harder even than the call-out for the M16 barrel.

    Crane: And the standard barrel thatís being chrome-lined, the non-stainless-steel barrel, what kind of steel is that?

    Noveske: Thatís the same steel thatís in the technical data package requirement for the M249.

    Crane: And what is that?

    Noveske: Well, Iím not gonnaí talk about what it is, specfiically.

    http://www.defensereview.com/noveske...view-part-one/

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