10 Oct 12

Yet another sage observation on serious rifles, from a colleague:

“Mechanics, professional and hobby, draw a critical distinction between Sears’ Craftsman
hand-tools and their competitor, Snap-On.

Craftsman tools are excellent! Without the slightest quibble, Sears cheerfully and unconditionally replaces them when they break. Sears’ guarantee applies, without limit, even when the person bringing in the broken tool is not the original owner! It’s thus hard to go wrong with Craftsman tools, so long of course as, (1) Sears stays in business, and (2) you live nearby.

Conversely, Snap-On tools are preferred by independents and those living in isolated places, because they don’t break. Snap-On, like Sears, will happily replace them when the do, but they don’t!

The institutional/independent distinction may be less appropriate for serious rifles, but the break/don’t break difference can be critical.

You will (at least currently) have an easy time finding replacement parts for your AR. The exercise will likely be more challenging for a simple, minimalist Kalashnikov, but they don’t break nearly as often!

The Stoner system (AR) was designed with the assumption that its users would have the US Quartermaster at their beck-and-call, to maintain, repair, and replace broken bolts, extractors, gas-tubes, et al, as well as interminably supplying lubricants, cleaning equipment, etc.

On the other side, Kalashnikovs are preferred the world over, by rebels, insurgents, terrorists and anyone else who doesn’t have that luxurious backup, and whose ammunition, lubricants, and cleaning gear are acquired intermittently, and on an “exigent basis!”

It’s been said that Kalashnikov’s greatest achievement wasn’t designing the world’s most reliable fighting rifle (albeit unattractive and user-hostile). It was designing a rifle that a fourteen-year-old uneducated, Russian peasant, boy or girl, with three hours of training, can use effectively, reasonably maintain, and will have great difficulty breaking.”

Comment: No doubt a weakness of Western Culture is our proclivity toward superfluous accuracy, close tolerances/clearances, and thus our heavy dependance upon effective and large supply systems, FedEx, sophisticated electronics, and batteries!

When you, like me, are depending upon an AR, a spare bolt assembly, small parts (pins, springs, etc) are a good idea. When they get lost, you can replace them in the field and keep going.

Most of us agree that the M4-pattern AR is the most maintainable.