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Piston vs DI?






#1
So, I haven't shot an AR platform since basic, which was way back when. Been all handguns, shotguns and bolt actions since then.

Thinking about pickup an AR style platform once this craziness calms and people unload stuff cheap, but curious what the experts around here think. What I think I know is that pistons are a little heavier, more expensive, and purportedly a little more robust in their functioning, but maybe don't run as many cycles without replacing major parts (?).

I'm a person who's willing to spend more for quality, but what am I really going to get for an extra $300-$800?

Thoughts? Also, just talking 223/556 here.
 

Fogie

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#2
Piston guns run cleaner, but are more intensive to clean...meh. No thanks.
The only real advantage to them is when running suppressed and then not suppressed IMO, which I won't.
 
#4
As stated, a piston upper runs cleaner, either suppressed or without the can. IMO it's almost a necessity when using a suppressor. I don't find that it's any more difficult to clean than a DI. The piston mechanism doesn't often require attention.
 

Kinoons

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#10
Battlefield LV has found pistons generally don't holdup well to high round counts. The one exception for them was TDI piston uppers, which are supposed to be a knock-off of the HK416.

https://www.ar15.com/forums/ar-15/H...w_they_have_handled_on_our_range/118-677135/?
From the link

We no longer use ANY piston conversions or factory pistons guns with the exception of the HK-416 "knock-off" TDI upper. I purchased a FACTORY brand-new MR556 and it started keyholing after only 10,000 rounds. I was SO pissed because I spent all that money on the gun and it couldn't last 10,000 rounds. I had barrels from before we even opened the range with 1,000's of rounds on them from J&T Distributing (chrome-lined) that didn't keyhole well into the 80,000-100,000 range. I don't know who makes or made the J&T barrels but I was so pissed that actually wasted the money on a MR556 and that's all I got from it. I purchased two of the 14.5" TDI knock-offs approximately 6-8 weeks ago and they have been on the line daily with ZERO issues. I only purchased them because people will come in specifically request the "416" and even they've never handled a weapon their entire lives, they KNOW that the top half isn't the "416 like in COD/MW".
10,000 rounds? Even at $300/1000 you’re looking at $3000 of ammo alone before “failure” out a sample of one gun. If you can afford that much ammo repairing a rifle shouldn’t be an issue. I doubt 99.5% of civilian shooters will put 5,000 rounds through their AR in a lifetime, much less 10,000. Also sample of one. Any one item can break at anytime.

The only piston system to last on the range so far is the HK416 and TD415 system. Ever other systems we have tried has failed in one way or another. I won't say who's broke or how they broke so PLEASE don't ask. Each mfg has their own system for cleaning intervals and we may not follow their way. We have a way of cleaning and keeping records that suits our needs because of so much use.
So you don’t follow the manufactures recommended practices for parts replacement and cleaning and then complain when the device breaks? What kind of sense does that make? If the item doesn’t suit your needs because it’s too difficult, unusual, or non-standard to fit your establishes practices, well that’s a perfectly fine reason to not use something. However to try to shoehorn an item into your practices and then complain that it breaks, well that’s on you, not the device.
 
#11
Another vote for a piston rifle.

After way too many hours spent cleaning M16's in the Army, (even a single magazine of blanks with a blank adapter would make the rifle look like it had been carried through an entire year of combat - and it would take HOURS of tedious work to get clean enough to please the company armorer), I prefer a piston driven rifle of just about any type to a direct impingement AR15 blowing crud into the receiver.

I keep two AR's in my collection, as they are great rifles, accurate, no recoil, and I am super familiar with the manual of arms, but both are piston designs - I love the fact that they stay so clean (relative to a DI rifle), as I'm more the type to simply spray a weapon down, wipe it with a rag, and pull a bore snake through it, then a detail cleaner.

These are the two models, I highly recommend either one, the PWS especially is a very nice rifle for the money (LWRC you pay a premium for the name brand, etc) :

https://www.lwrci.com/IC-SPR-Rifle_p_255.html

https://www.primaryweapons.com/mk116-pro-rifle


As has been pointed out, I don't think there is any way I would put enough rounds through them to make them fail - more likely I would cause something to fail from being so full of crud and filthy on a DI rifle that I was too lazy to clean....


Most of my super high count range sessions are with one of my AK's. Cheaper to shoot, REALLY simple to maintain, almost never "need" cleaning, and the rifle and round itself just lends itself more to "plinking and blasting", IMHO.

:)
 
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#12
From the link



10,000 rounds? Even at $300/1000 you’re looking at $3000 of ammo alone before “failure” out a sample of one gun. If you can afford that much ammo repairing a rifle shouldn’t be an issue. I doubt 99.5% of civilian shooters will put 5,000 rounds through their AR in a lifetime, much less 10,000. Also sample of one. Any one item can break at anytime.



So you don’t follow the manufactures recommended practices for parts replacement and cleaning and then complain when the device breaks? What kind of sense does that make? If the item doesn’t suit your needs because it’s too difficult, unusual, or non-standard to fit your establishes practices, well that’s a perfectly fine reason to not use something. However to try to shoehorn an item into your practices and then complain that it breaks, well that’s on you, not the device.
Point is there's no standard on piston ARs, thus no standard on maintenance schedule/practices/breakages either.

For the AR platform specifically, the DI system is just much better understood/documented in terms of maintenance schedule, and parts breakages.
 

jfrey123

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#13
I wish I had splurged on piston uppers when I built my two AR’s. I might still go that route someday, but my cheap AR’s run well and shoot better than I do, and I’m not one to fix what ain’t broken.
 

secretasianman

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#14
My first AR15 was a LWRC M6A2 gas piston rifle.

Pros: The BCG stayed cleaner and cooler during sustained fire because the gas wasn't being dumped into the upper receiver. It'll reduce time spent cleaning the rifle.

Cons: The BCG and piston system are proprietary. Older piston systems had bolt carrier tilt causing abnormal wear on the buffer tube which can cause a major malfunction if you're not paying attention to the wear. I believe most newer gas piston AR15s have resolved this issue with redesigned proprietary BCGs.

My opinion: Stick with DI rifles for better component compatibility. Spend your money on a good BCG and cleaning tools to make BCG and bolt cleaning easier.
 

pooty

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#15
a special operations SGM on why he chose to carry a piston AR

https://www.arbuildjunkie.com/chuck-pressburg-hk-416/
So, I learned that by having a piston gun of the H&K variety, I could absolutely, 100 percent, without fail, get through a mag or two, even dusty and dirty. I knew I was going to be able to get through a mag or two with a bone-dry rifle...

So..that ability to have a gun in a high sand environment that did not need to be wet all the time to work was absolutely priceless to me.
 

LVTrenton

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#17
The BAR, M1 Garand, M14, and M1 carbine all have a separate piston connected to an operating rod which drives the bolt/carrier assembly. The original AR design has no separate piston/op rod. Thus the current trend to characterize the original AR design as 'direct impingement' (since the gas pushes directly on the bolt carrier key), and the modified designs as 'piston operated' (since the gas pushes on a piston which then pushes the bolt carrier).
 

MAC702

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#18
To clarify, an M1 Garand's piston is part of the operating rod itself, not a separately moving part. The M14's separate piston is what makes it far more tolerant of different ammunition power levels.
 

SixshooterSam

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#19
I've never seen the point in spending the extra money on a piston AR myself. Yes, theoretically a piston AR requires less cleaning, but how hard is it to clean a DI AR? Not at all. The most I will fire any one AR in a typical round of shooting is a few hundred rounds, after which I do a thorough cleaning regardless, which takes all of ten minutes or less. So it's not like it's some big production to properly clean it. Knowing myself and my tendencies, I'd do the same with a piston AR just the same. I don't like to put anything away dirty.

I can't speak on the differences when using a suppressor or not, or with pistol length uppers. But I've never had any issues with DI ARs.
 

pc911lv

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#20
I have been and always will be an AK guy. So piston was an easy choice for me when I finally got a semi-auto for a hog hunter. I spent WAY too much and as of next week my can for it has been at NFA in prison for a year. BUT, I took down 2 hogs with this bad boy in FL last year and it (poop) like heaven. A72CF2E6-F6C4-4BFD-9FBA-E7D38E08EF42.jpeg