1. #1
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    AR-15: Gas or Piston driven?

    Tax time has arrived and it's time for me to buy my AR-15. A buddy of mine owns a gun store and can get a dealer direct gun for dirt cheap...and i'm a left handed rifle shooter so I'm ordering a Stag Arms rifle. He was talking to me tonight about the piston driven AR system vs the Gas operated systems. He's not in the LE world so I figured I'd ask the pros on here what there opinions are on these two types of systems. What's best for the street, practicality uses, wear and tear, etc.

    I'm trying to decide between these two weapons.

    Stag Arms 8L Piston Driven AR-15: http://www.stagarms.com/product_info...roducts_id=322

    Stag Arms 2L Gas Driven AR-15: http://www.stagarms.com/product_info...roducts_id=213

    Any knowledge, opinion or owners can help me out on the decision would be great. Appreciate it guys.

  2. #2
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    Technically they are both gas and piston driven, but I get your point.

    Having said that the Gas Direct Impingement system in the M16/AR/M4 platform of rifles has been battle and street proven to be reliable and successful for over 40 years.
    The comments made herein are those solely of author and in no way reflect the opinions of any other person, agency or other entity.

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  3. #3
    Una Stamus

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    You might want to check out some of the range reports on the left-handed Stags. I've been nosing through Lightfighter.net and Pat Rogers, the owner of EAG Tactical, had this to say after a large course last year:


    http://lightfighter.net/eve/forums/a...56/m/180108777
    Guns and Gear:
    The left handed Stag guns continue to be 100% negative. One shooter had a low round count gun that had worn bolt rings and a worn extractor and apparently other issues.
    He finished the course with an EAG loaner.
    Just something to consider when doing your research.



    Another option to consider:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BzgLq...eature=related
    Last edited by Reedo; 02-08-2011 at 02:55 AM.
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    Disclaimer: My statements are personal opinions, and in no way reflect those of my agency.

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    I'm a lefty, and both of my AR's are set up almost identically to the one in the video Reedo posted. Norgon amb-catch, ambi-safety, and a Badger ambi-charging handle. Works great for me, and I agree 100% on the ejection port position. I have fired thousands and thousands of rounds through my AR and never been hit by brass.

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    I personally consider GP uppers an answer to a non-issue. As has been said, the DI system has been in use for years, and it works. Sure, ARs jam up under certain conditions, but it's usually sand and grit in the action...nothing to do with the gas tube. Save yourself some money (and extra parts to get ****ed up), get a traditional system, and just run with it.
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    Piston has been around as long as the DI version, it just hasn't seen the field as much. I own several AR's and one is a piston (11.5 inch running with a suppressor). Personally I would go piston for an SBR for sure but if it is a standard 14.5 or 16 inch gun it's a toss up. To me the big advantages of the piston is not needing to lube it (one of the most common cause of AR malfunctions) and that I can clean the inside with a couple of passes with a paper towel.

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    The problem with the gas piston for the AR/M16 is there is no industry std. needed replacement parts would be company specific and the companies that do not get the military contract design will not last long term. With the gas DI guns there are available parts everywhere.

    The DI gas system makes a suppressed M16 type gun a muddy pig that needs cleaning a lot. My rifles will stop around 300 rnds when running that way, switch to a gas piston upper and I have ran 1000 rnds without cleaning.

    Right now the Adams Arm piston is pretty popular.

  8. #8
    Oh no, it's da Po-Po
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    Quote Originally Posted by David Hineline View Post
    The DI gas system makes a suppressed M16 type gun a muddy pig that needs cleaning a lot. My rifles will stop around 300 rnds when running that way
    David, you need to get down this way and run my M4. She is a dirty, dirty girl, but has no problem running for a couple of training days between cleanings. I just shoot some Militec in the BCG and rock on. Of course my face looks like I have been licking the rack on a BBQ, at the end of the day, but that's what eye-pro is for. My M4 is a bit overgassed and it runs like a raped ape. The tradeoff is that I need to bend the cotter pin back into shape after a couple thousand rounds.

    I am going to eventually build a piston SBR just to see if they are all they are cracked up to be. I really like the PWS 10" uppers (although I think they are heavier than they need to be. I just don't see them as a necessity on a working rifle.
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    My partner runs his SBR with the Adams Arms piston conversion suppressed with zero malfunctions.

    Me personally, I run and like the gas DI on my rifle. This thing runs reliably all day long, so why should I change something that ain't broke? The ONLY reason I would go to a gas system, would be to save time cleaning.
    Last edited by BARNABY JONES; 02-08-2011 at 09:05 PM.

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    I think you'll be good to go on either. Just know if you plan on using the rifle for simmunition training, you won't be able to do so on the "piston" AR. On a regular AR you can just swap the bolt with a sim bolt and you're good. I own both and like both. The "piston" is a joy to clean, but has been brought down to fun gun status, as I want to carry/train with the same AR I carry on SWAT and do sims with.

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    IF (big if) you don't plan on cleaning your guns regularly, or you plan on lots of magazine 'dumps' (fire all rounds as fast as possible), a piston might be for you.
    On the other hand, if (like me) your guns get cleaned after they are shot, and you prefer hitting your targets to 'spray and pray', a 'traditional' AR system will be just fine.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleuth View Post
    IF (big if) you don't plan on cleaning your guns regularly, or you plan on lots of magazine 'dumps' (fire all rounds as fast as possible), a piston might be for you.
    On the other hand, if (like me) your guns get cleaned after they are shot, and you prefer hitting your targets to 'spray and pray', a 'traditional' AR system will be just fine.
    I still don't quite understand this. Remember I come from a background of carrying the M16A2 in some pretty nasty environments. We always wished it was shorter and lighter, but that was about it.
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    Blackdog, the piston guns came to the fore after reports from the sandbox of M4's failing, usually after multiple magazine dumps, or troops (NOT USMC) who failed to clean their weapons. Then sport shooters in the US who did full auto dumps of Beta 100 round mags complained of heat buildup and dirty guns.
    Keep in mind, Stoner, the designer of the AR15/M16 family, went on to design the AR-18 and 180, piston operated guns.

    In any event, the fastest way for makers to show their black gun was ""better"" was to make a piston model.
    Direct gas traces it's history to the Swedish Junngman (6.5X55), Egyptian Hakim (8mm) and Rashid (7.62X39), and the French 49/56 (7.5 French). It may go back further than that. (I own all these guns but the French 49/56. They all had 10 round magazines and were semi-auto only.)
    "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
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  14. #14
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    Stoner actually presented a piston version of the M16 to the US military but they went DI to save money.

    My piston gun is a POF with an NP3 lower and BCG. I kid you not, 1500 rounds in a two day school with no oil required and I can wipe the bolt and lower clean as new with a few napkins. I have never taken anything other than a toothbrush to the thing (not often) and it looks brand new still with about 20K rounds down range on it. They are easier to maintain and clean from my experience between the two. If you can't afford the difference or maintenance/cleaning concerns don't bother someone they are fine with DI as a quality one runs just as well.

  15. #15
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    I have a ar with adams arms piston kit and I love it,2nd one built with that kit and its great

  16. #16
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    If you intend for this to be a patrol rifle, remember how much we are using .22 conversion kits at the range now. Will a piston rifle cycle with the .22 conversion? I don't know the answer, but you should probably check into it if you intend it to be a duty weapon.

  17. #17
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    Our patrol rifles are piston driven and they function reliably with the .22 conversion kits for training. My personal rifle is DI and I have never had any problems with it.

  18. #18
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    Lefty here and never had a problem shooting a right handed AR
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    A quality AR can run for thousands of rounds without cleaning. They have to as they would be absolutely worthless for combat if they didn't. The very first M16s issued had some major reliability problems, but that was because the Department of Defense changed a lot of things that Stoner had designed due to cost saving and the conclusion that the rifle "didn't need that." The direct impingement, as far as I've read, was never an issue. Once the M16 was upgraded to the M16A1, it was a phenomenal rifle and it's only gotten better in the newer versions.

    The piston is a good idea in theory: Keep the burnt powder out of the action, cool the weapon, reduce cleaning time, etc. However, it's got a few problems: First, it adds weight. Some of the better systems only increase the weight very slightly (by like only 1 or 2 ounces), but others add up to a pound at the front of the rifle. The second thing is there's no standard for pistons yet; there's H&K, ADCOR, LWRC, LMT, Adams Arms, Sig, Colt, Bushmaster, Stag, Ruger...everyone has their own piston and no two are the same or compatible with another one. Third, it doesn't reduce heat, it just moves it to the front gas block and often radiates to the handguards (depending on the system and the handguards). It can get hot enough to burn you if you're not careful.

    I'd save a few bucks and just get a DI gun. You won't have any reliability problems that a piston will cure.
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  20. #20
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    I agree that a DI system is the way to go. Parts can be found in quite a few places. Regular cleaning and proper care will go a long way.

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    I just got a Ruger SR-556, which is a gas piston AR. I fired 60 rounds through it yesterday, and I can't tell a difference from all of the traditional ARs I've fired. I will carry this after qualifying with it, and I will turn in my Bushmaster M-4.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackdog F4i View Post
    David, you need to get down this way and run my M4. She is a dirty, dirty girl, but has no problem running for a couple of training days between cleanings. I just shoot some Militec in the BCG and rock on. Of course my face looks like I have been licking the rack on a BBQ, at the end of the day, but that's what eye-pro is for. My M4 is a bit overgassed and it runs like a raped ape. The tradeoff is that I need to bend the cotter pin back into shape after a couple thousand rounds.

    I am going to eventually build a piston SBR just to see if they are all they are cracked up to be. I really like the PWS 10" uppers (although I think they are heavier than they need to be. I just don't see them as a necessity on a working rifle.
    I have a PWS Mk114. it's ligther compared to a regular AR15.

    I will be putting a MK110 on a M16 lower for my duty gun. I tihink it will be an awesome match. I handled DMack's and I loved it.

    that being said, to be honest, my DI has not failed me in harsh conditions.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ftttu View Post
    I just got a Ruger SR-556, which is a gas piston AR. I fired 60 rounds through it yesterday, and I can't tell a difference from all of the traditional ARs I've fired. I will carry this after qualifying with it, and I will turn in my Bushmaster M-4.
    You're not going to be able to tell a difference with 60 rounds lol. you will notice the difference after couple thousands rounds and not cleaning it.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by 11B250 View Post
    You're not going to be able to tell a difference with 60 rounds lol. you will notice the difference after couple thousands rounds and not cleaning it.
    You got that right. I just wish I could put a "couple of thousand rounds" through it to find that out. I've never had to purchase 5.56/.223 since they have always been issued to me, but I will see if my range buddy can hook me up so I can get some practice in before qualification day.

    Also, I took my wife and daughter out shooting yesterday while the sun was going down. I wasn't too concerned about the accuracy of the sights(Troy folding iron sights) due to the diminishing light level. It pretty much turned into a photo op for my 16 year old daughter who wanted to take photos of her with the weapon after seeing the movie, "The Purge." However, just from some off-handed 50 yard shots, I was able to hit 12 oz cans which I could barely see in the sight picture. I will be out and about in the next few days, hopefully, and will evaluate it more thoroughly. So far, I can't be happier with it.

    Link:http://ruger.com/products/sr556Standard/models.html
    Last edited by ftttu; 06-17-2013 at 02:00 PM. Reason: added link to mentioned weapon

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