This is going to get a little technical but bear with me. True mil-spec for the M16 family of weapons can be a slippery slope for discussion. The fact of the matter is that there aren’t any commercially available rifles that fit full MIL-STD, the bottom line is that commercially sold rifles are not subjected to government inspectors and deviate from the procurement data sheets which require certain characteristics. In saying that, the “mil-spec” AR rifles that you see on the market are built with same components that provide uniformity and interchangeability of various components such as roll pins, buffer tubes, etc.,
Below is the actual list of government specifications on this type weapon:
- Accuracy: 5″ at 100 yards with iron sights.
- Barrel: MIL-B-11595E / 4150 Chromemoly (with other chemical requirements from the military)
- Barrel Life: Minimum 6000 rounds.
- Bolt: High Pressure Tested (HPT) (which means they shoot a super over pressure round and make sure it does not blow up), Magnetic Particle Inspected (MPI) this is an x-ray for metal, Shot Peened which is a surface hardening process which gives more strength to the bolt.
- Upper and Lower forged 7075 aluminum.
To compare, we’ve selected the commercial DPMS Sportical rifle:
- Barrel 4140 Chromemoly Rockwell Hardness of 28-32 (less carbon and is a weaker steel and therefore will not last as long. Only Chrome lined as a factory add on.)
- Upper Receiver: Extruded 7029 T6 aluminum (extruded mean basically was cut from a mold, 7029 is also relatively soft.)
- Lower: Forged 7075 aluminum.
- Bolt: Not HPT, MPI or shot peened.
The end result in purchasing such a rifle is ultimately paying a little less for a rifle with about 3000 rounds of barrel life, softer uppers and barrels.
Now, to go forward a bit, on the other side of the coin…there ARE some high end commercial AR type rifles that can outperform and outlast some of the standard GI rifles, for this example I have elected to look at the LWRC M6 series, some other carbines that beg mentioning would be the HK MR556, THOR TR15P CQB, KAC SR15 and so on.
- Accuracy two independent tests confirm that the LWRC can shoot sub 2″ at 100 yards with iron sights.
- The M6A2 comes with a target crowned match barrel that further increases accuracy. This rifle is in use by the DEA and the particular issue rifle tested fired 1.44″ average groups with a best of 1.28″ with 55 grain full metal jacket ammunition.
- Barrel: 4145 Chromemoly which is considered a superior steel for shock and wear resistance also has a NiCorr surface conversion that extend barrel life to 20,000 rounds. Even the new M855A1 round in use by the Army which has cut mil-spec barrel life for 3,000 rounds. LWRC is good for 8,000-10,000 per LWRC testing for the Individual Carbine Program for the Army.
- Bolts: HPT, MPI, shot peened, also given a special nickle coating that nearly eliminates corrosion and is self lubricating. This aids in one of the AR platforms most common malfunction of running a dry rifle.
- Short Stroke Piston: This prevents propellant gasses from getting into the chamber and covering the bolt and internal parts with gunpowder residue this aids in reliability. The piston further cuts down on recoil which aids in accuracy.
- Upper and Lower receiver is 7075 forged aluminum.
- The back up sights are also forged from 7075.
- The LWRC M6A2 5.56 is the issue rifle for the DEA who use it from Columbia to Afghanistan.
- The Ultra Compact Individual Weapon (UCIW) was just selected as the personal defense weapon for the British military and will be issued to their Special Forces, helicopter, and vehicle crewmen. Who demand a compact weapon that is capable of throwing out a wall of rifle fire not sub-machineguns or pistols in 9mm.
- Also Shooting Times declared the LWRC M6 the best option for the Army’s Individual Carbine Program (ICP).
The LWRC is beyond a mil-spec rifle (whatever that means) as the current mil-spec was written in the 1960s using 1960s technology with just a few adjustments in the last few years but nothing in the way of the operating system or how the rifle is put together. Colt was even told with withdraw their piston rifle from the ICP as the Army had no intention of changing rifles or operating systems. With a 20,000 barrel life and match grade accuracy and all of the M4 reliability issues corrected the LWRC is the an excellent option for the serious shooter.