To: Curtis Lowe
Date: Monday, April 4, 2011, 9:57 AM
I have a dilemma. I’m currently saving up for a new rifle of the .308/7.62×51 variety. I’m looking at 2 rifle types: an M-14 (a Fulton armory EBR type, NOT your daddy’s M-14!) or an AR-10 type (LMT type w/chrome bolt, etc.). Price ranges are close. An EBR (enhanced battle rifle) looks to be a great platform, but weighs about 14 lbs. An AR-10 (LMT version) comes in at about 10lbs. I’m more familiar with the Stoner design, but can get reacquainted with the Garand-based design easily enough. Both of the models I’m looking at are designed for 800 meters to 1200 meters effective range.
What to do?
Feel free to make a blog post, complete with pictures, and open this up for discussion.
Nothing like poking the purists (on both sides) with a stick.
First of all, I think it is a great choice of caliber. The military should have stuck with it 50 years ago. As to the question of platform, before you get an answer you get some questions back…
Starting with: Do you want a direct impingement system or gas piston system?
In the direct impingement system (Stoner design) gas travels through the gas tube and acts directly upon the bolt and carrier. Pros: fewer parts, less weight and lowered costs of production/maintenance. Cons: the gas heats the bolt and bolt carrier as the firearm operates, as well as fouling the bolt carrier group (You remember cleaning that sumbitch in the Corps, Steve).
The gas piston system uses the gas to move the operating rod, which in turn reciprocates the bolt, but then vents the gas (usually) out near the front of the barrel – thus no heat and no gas on the bolt.
Also, because the direct impingement system is not adjustable, it is more sensitive to variations between different types of ammunition. All rifles I know of that operate with a gas piston have an adjustable gas system – which means you can tweak it to get the best performance out of different kinds of ammunition, as well as adjust it on the run in the field as the weapon gets dirty/hot.
Availability and cost of magazines can be another concern. I can get magazines by the dozen from Brownell’s for my AR-15s. I can also get plenty of magazines there for my SOCOM M1A (although not quite so cheap). I am not sure about the availability/price of magazines for the AR-10 – maybe a reader can tell us in comments.
Here is a video that shows how gas piston systems work (although it is an HK, not an M1A design, you get the idea).
Click on the “Compare to M4” box in the lower right to see how that system operates.
Also, in the .308 I would expect more recoil out of the lighter AR-10 than an M1A platform, but recoil has never bothered me – YMMV.
Personally, I own guns in both systems. I like my ARs for their light weight (which makes them a nice platform to teach my kids on), their common and cheap spare parts, and it’s the system I know in my sleep from the Corps.
I love my Socom and M1A too – the Garand system is reliable and over-engineered. Why not get one of each? Oh, and just to ad to the mix, here’s another gas-piston alternative – looks to be very similar to the H&K 416: Patriot Ordnance Factory…
What do all 3 of my readers think? Discuss amongst yourselves…