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AR 15 gas piston conversion

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  • a44mag4dave

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    I have a Colt Target Match AR 15 that I am thinking of putting a gas piston conversion on. I have found two companies that make a conversion kit, Bushmaster and Adams Arms. My questions are,

    1. Does anybody know of other companies that make them?
    2. Good, bad, other, or any experiences.
    3. Worth the money for the overall results. (recoil, clean up)

    2005078.jpg
    Capitol Armory ad
     

    phatcyclist

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    Feb 22, 2008
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    1. Patriot Ordinance Factory makes them too I believe.
    2. They are expensive and proprietary, which sort of kills the best part of the AR platform (the vast array of replacement parts available).
    3. Probably not worth the money. People claim they are better in some ways, but if you clean your rifle every once in a while you won't see the benefit. Plus i am not sure that adding another moving object into the mix (piston) won't degrade the accuracy.
     

    malladus

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    CMMG makes kits as well. There are some third party ones out there as well, but they seem to be hit or miss on whether or not they work. Most the kits I've seen though are geared towards the carbine length gas system, check and make sure before you buy one to make sure its the right length for your system.

    The switch to a gas piston doesn't change alot of the modularity of the rifle except in the bolt carrier area (primarily the gas key) and in some cases the front sight block. A big thing to look for is that the kit comes with a new bolt carrier with what would be the gas key on a standard AR attached. The gas key should be notched into the bolt carrier with an angled base that goes into a notch in the carrier. If its just a bolt on replacement, the force of the piston rod system with apply force to it in such a manner that it is pushed up and back and eventually cause seperation as if the gas key is getting peeled off the carrier.

    Also, make sure what ever fore-end you are using or want to use will work with the new set up. Alot of folks are having to cut or modify their foregrips to make room for the system.

    And if you plan on running a suppressor make sure the gas block has a adjustable gas check so you can tune it for the can.

    As for the rest I thinks its a big matter of opinion.

    The piston guns are easier to clean in the chamber area for sure.

    General consensus seems to be that the releability aspect is rather moot since most average AR shooters don't tend to push the rifle hard enough in bad conditions that it makes a big difference. But for kit conversions its a trade off as you are basically taking a gas system and modifying it so you see a increased chance of failures due to that that some folks claim makes it a wash.

    Malladus
     

    a44mag4dave

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    Thanks for the insight. I am on the fence with this and your input makes me think that things are best if left alone. I didn't even think about the impact the new bolt on key would take, THANKS. I don't know how, if any, it would mess with accuracy but I have great accuracy now and dont want to lose any of that. HHMMM still debating...
     

    malladus

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    Accuracy shouldn't be affected that much. The gas inlet is so far down the barrel that by time the bullet has past it and the system starts to bleed gas, the bullet has left the barrel. Its part of what helps control the pressure in the rifle as designed. The piston system still gets its energy from that point as well, so unless you are rapid firing its shouldn't induce to much extra motion in the system. The bulk of the weight in the operating system that moves is still going to be the bolt carrier anyways, and that out masses the piston enough that it shouldn't be a problem. As for more moving parts affecting anything, the number of moving parts that touch the barrel and chamber remain the same, so nothing there to cause problems. Heck H&K claims their 416 and 417 shoot sub MOA groups at times, so obviously if you got a good set-up to start with its still going to shoot good.

    Malladus
     
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    I ordered one from Bushmaster for my little 14.5 Bushy. I haven't had a chance to install it yet though. It may be another month or so until I get a chance. When I do get around to it I'll take pics of the process.
     

    ChicagoTex

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    Jul 24, 2008
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    2. They are expensive and proprietary, which sort of kills the best part of the AR platform (the vast array of replacement parts available).
    3. Probably not worth the money. People claim they are better in some ways, but if you clean your rifle every once in a while you won't see the benefit. Plus i am not sure that adding another moving object into the mix (piston) won't degrade the accuracy.

    Gonna have to +1 on both these points - I looked into it for my future AR and decided it just wasn't worth the dough and potential repair problems.
     

    Hochdruck

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    Aug 20, 2008
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    From what I under stand...

    If you go supper short SBR there's a better reliability... The direct gas system really gets turned up on those little buggers to slam the bolt back fast enough in the short length the bullet and pressure is in the barrel.

    The concept of the piston you applying pressure to a greater surface area with same pressure cause a larger force and accelerating the op rod faster using less cycle time and gas. When the piston strokes far enough to operate the bolt it blows the excess out a port so you don't have to worry as much about dialing in your gas system on the SBR when switching back and forth from a can. And of course the known part that the bolt area stays cleaner and cooler. POF actually claims you can run their system dry. That would def make it easier to not collect dust and sand.

    the following pulled from Tactical-Life.com » Spike’s Tactical SBR 5.56mm "Now I would be remiss if I did not mention this weapon’s one real drawback. It gets dirty in a big way. Because its barrel is so short the SBR doesn’t have enough time to build up proper pressure and heat so as to burn off all the powder in the casing. What you end up with is a thick copper-colored, baked-on mess that sticks to your bolt and carrier. It takes some elbow grease and creativity to get it thoroughly clean. The good news is that even with all that fouling going into your weapon you really have to do a lot of shooting for this weapon to fail."
     

    TexasHK

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    Jul 7, 2008
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    I was looking at the new piston systems for my Bushmaster 16" AR-15 and after weighing any possible upgrades it could give...and weiging in that when I sighted a scope to it, my 16" barrel gave sub-MOA with good ammo and MOA with decent...

    I decided that: "IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT." would be the way to go.
     

    idleprocess

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    As much as people rail against the direct-impingement system on the AR, it generally works quite well. The average shooter will never see failures caused by the system and in the field I understand that it's fairly reliable given regular maintenance. The upside seems to be a cleaner receiver, but that still needs to be cleaned regularly anyway.

    If you want a gas-piston AR-style weapon, get one of the Sig 556 rifles, the Robarms XCR, pay dearly for a scarce HK semi-auto 416, or hope Bushmaster's ACR adaptation of Magpul's Masada is released before time draws to an end.
     

    Infamous

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    i wouldnt spend money on a piston conversion. like everyone before me has stated, they are proprietary and expensive. you might as well sell your weapon and buy something entirely new and designed around a piston.
     

    Renegade

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    I have the ARES kit which is the one Bushmaster sells. It works great, I have had it for 2 years. It does EXACTLY what I wanted, less heat in the action and less dirt. I run it on hard-use M16. I see no use for it on a semi-auto gun.

    GSR-2.jpg


    GSR-1.jpg
     

    50calRay

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    Personaly, I would use the money to buy another rifle but that is just me. I actually like the piston AR upper but like others, I don't believe most people will ever push their AR to the extreme. Also there is a small noticible difference in weight between it and a typical AR upper.
     

    a44mag4dave

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    I guess after all the reviews It looks like I wouldn't get much benefit for the money. I might build a HD shotgun instead since I don't have one of those yet. Thanks for all the input and views.

    Thanks for the pics Renegade, did you install it yourself? How difficult and mods if any?
     

    Renegade

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    Thanks for the pics Renegade, did you install it yourself? How difficult and mods if any?

    Yes DIY. Not a problem if you are familiar with installing a gas tube or barrel.

    As picture shows, I was at limit of barrel thickness for the front portion. Any thicker and I would have had to turn down the barrel.
     
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    As much as people rail against the direct-impingement system on the AR, it generally works quite well. The average shooter will never see failures caused by the system and in the field I understand that it's fairly reliable given regular maintenance. The upside seems to be a cleaner receiver, but that still needs to be cleaned regularly anyway.

    If you want a gas-piston AR-style weapon, get one of the Sig 556 rifles, the Robarms XCR, pay dearly for a scarce HK semi-auto 416, or hope Bushmaster's ACR adaptation of Magpul's Masada is released before time draws to an end.

    Here's my $.02: I used to participate in a monthly IPSC-style rifle & shotgun match in south Florida. Most of the shooters had ARs. There were a few guys with AKs, and there some other types of rifles as well. We would typically shoot 200-400 rounds in the course of an evening.

    All of the weapons malfunctions I saw were with the ARs, especially after 100-200 rounds nonstop. Based on what I've seen , I would only own an AR if it had a gas piston upper, especially if I ever thought my life would depend upon it. YMMV.

    One of the guys who competed with an AK never cleaned it - he was conducting an experiment to see how many rounds he could put through it without cleaning before it would malfunction. It never malfunctioned that I know of.
     

    p51mustang

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    I too have shot USPSA three gun matches with an Armalite M15A4 and have never had a malfunction. Yes I have seen guns that do have problems but the majority have had no issues. The ARs are fine rifles if you maintain them properly.
     

    TAZ

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    I too have been contemplating getting a gas piston upper for my latest assembly job. After looking/reading about the POF, Bushmaster (conversion kit), Henderson Defense (conversion and upper), LWRC (complete upper), LMT (complete upper) I have decided to stay with direct gas. Having owned rifle and carbines with the direct gas, I know how to keep them running. If I were running full auto or suppressed I'd give it some more thought, but at this time I am going to go with the if it anit broke dont fix it mentality. The added couple of hundred dollars just wasnt worth the investement at this time. Like I said, if youre running full auto, suppressed or have no maintenance availability for whatever reason, they have advantages. For most of my paper punching needs they really arent a must have.
     
    Every Day Man
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