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Thread: The Stoner Mistake......

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    Default The Stoner Mistake......

    Did Eugene Stoner make a mistake. Did he fail to see the inherent down side of his gas operating system when designing the AR-10 rifle?

    I've been hanging out with a bunch of high capacity, high speed, low drag three gun shooters lately. I work on some of their guns and try to keep them running right. We shoot the AR platform rifles of various makes, usually in the 5.56 caliber, and shoot about 1000 rounds per week, per gun. Some of the brands are Larue, Rock River, LWRC, Armalite, DPMS, BCM, etc. Many are custom made with various aftermarket accessories. Some are good, some are not so good. I have converted a few of these to the piston system and the owners were happy wiht the results. One particular off the shelf model that stands out and is envied by many are the LWRC piston driven guns. Short stroke piston operated guns do not dump hat gas and propellant residue into the critical moving parts as do the Stoner system guns. This seems to be a cooler and less trouble prone system. The Stoner system, often called a direct gas impingement system, though I believe it is an internal piston system, brings with it an unavoidable side effect of hot high pressure gas into the internals of the receiver. It is obvious some Stoner system guns are better quality than others but those piston guns are cooler and require much less cleaning to stay in the fight. Several hundred rounds won't even burn the oil off the bolt on these cool piston guns. In the same number of rounds through a Stoner system gun will usually carbon the rings together and burn all lube off the bolt and carrier.

    I was wondering what guns are used around the shooting circuit and what folks think of the piston guns. I've heard it said that the piston system is a good fix to a non existent problem. Well I disagree with that and always have. I considered this internal gas system to be troublesome four decades back and other than closer tolerances and higher quality of manufacture they are the same guns. I'm moving ahead and with progress and grabbing a piston driven gun whenever I can. I have a LWRC, M6 SL, 6#, 14.7" rifle that has really shown up as a very high quality built gun. A great shooter and care and upkeep are minimal.
    Last edited by Murphy; 04-24-2012 at 17:38.
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    Default Any basis for bias?

    Just curious - do you receive any considerations, fees, free guns or loans of equipment, discounts, etc. from LWRC or other piston operated weapons manufacturers? Not attempting to imply that there is anything wrong with that or anything - just good to know if you could have a potential bias like other writers in the gun business that get free items, discounts, trips and hunts etc. from the various manufacturers.

    The magazine publishers are perhaps in the worse position - if they state anything negative the manufacturers can kill them by with holding advertising.

    Thanks!


    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Did Eugene Stoner make a mistake. Did he fail to see the inherent down side of his gas operating system when designing the AR-10 rifle?

    (portion deleted to save space)

    I'm moving ahead and with progress and grabbing a piston driven gun whenever I can. I have a LWRC, M6 SL, 6#, 14.7" rifle that has really shown up as a very high quality built gun. A great shooter and care and upkeep are minimal.
    Sure...I get lots of free stuff...I get to play with it then give it back. Free testing!!
    Last edited by Murphy; 04-24-2012 at 17:41.
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    Supporting Member Amigo Will's Avatar
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    I would take a stoner 63 over anything out there,hard to beat 9 carry platforms in one gun on the fly.
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    In the late 1950's I don't think Stoner could see too far into the future. He could see GI's shooting for a few days a few hundred rounds and doing daily cleaning as directed by the GI's NCO. The fine dust of desert battle was not on anyones mind either I would guess. Seeing the soldier transition from how they battled in WWII and Korea to jungle fighting and then sustained fire fights of now was probably not on his mind back then.

    Of course when asking What was Stoner thinking, we have to also ask what did Robert McNemara screw up with all of his design/production changes to save DoD money?

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    I dropped the Stoner design like a hot rock the first time I saw a Daewoo K series....

    Piston driven ARs aren't really a new idea. I dislike most autoloading rifles these days but the DI AR among them foremost.
    Last edited by hodgeman; 04-24-2012 at 16:50. Reason: added link
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    No one seemed to think it was a bad idea until H&K started touting their idea of a piston driven AR. Now it seems to be a "problem".
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    My mouse guns go bang just fine with the "old" system. I read the stories, but can't get excited about spending the $ for a new system so I can have a "cool" gun.

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    I am not about to make any comment to defame or malign Mr. Stoner. I do think he did a great job. It was one mans attempt to develop what was perceived to be the best possible replacement for the M1 Garand battle rifle. He had little to go on and only that it have a few characteristics, namely-fed like the BAR. Lighter weight than the M1 and full auto capable. He succeeded on all three points.

    I also don't think H&K has made anything superior to the AR in functionality.

    Im really just asking for opinions here from those who understand how both the Stoner and piston systems work.
    Last edited by Murphy; 04-24-2012 at 18:19.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitroman View Post
    No one seemed to think it was a bad idea until H&K started touting their idea of a piston driven AR. Now it seems to be a "problem".
    I disagree to a point, I think it is "cyclical"....a competing design like the AR-18 (not Stoner designed) is from the 60's and touted its superiority to the DI system. Daewoo brought the K2 out in the mid 80's and widely claimed it's reliability an advantage. The Daewoo is only adopted in small number outside of ROK and the AR18 was a total flop commercially and not adopted by anyone unless you count the IRA...

    The Israeli Galil and Finnish Valmet and both 5.56 rifles based on the AK...largely due to the inherent problems with the M16 in their countries of origin's environments.

    The M16 design is pretty well entrenched and I agree that most of the recent "issues" are generated by people looking to sell more rifles but lots of folks have looked at the DI design since the beginning and thought there was a better way.

    The one advantage of the DI design is that you don't have a mass of metal (piston, op rod) moving forward of the action...it would be interesting to see what kind of design criteria Stoner was working to but the basic design seems ill-conceived as a sustained fire weapon in harsh environments.
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    I am hardly an expert on infantry tactics, but tend to suspect AKRay has about got it nailed. I have five days active duty in the navy. Zero infantry time, obviously.

    However, I have read over and over about how important the Garand was in giving WWII GIs the ability to move and fire and move and fire. I recall reading on cnn dot com in the last couple years about a group of current GIs pinned down in a sandbox, according to the report they heated multiple M-4s to white hot (how many rounds does it take to get a barrel that hot?), and found 18 dead and wounded enemy the next morning.

    I can't rationally hold Stoner responsible for his "inability" to forsee infantry tactics 50 years into the future.

    To be fair, I would rather buy a pallet of 5.56 and a case of M4s than a single prosthetic leg or a single casket.

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    My personal opinion is that with the bolt lock up system of the AR, DI is a must. In the piston systems, there is no gas to blow out sand, dust, etc. and the bolt locking system of the AR otherwise is sensitive to dirt. With a piston, and different (less precise- or lower tolerance) battery, the overall system might be superior. However, using a piston in the AR is the worst of both worlds IMO.

    Part of the selling point of DI is that it is "self cleaning," and to a certain extent, it is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    I disagree to a point, I think it is "cyclical"....a competing design like the AR-18 (not Stoner designed) is from the 60's and touted its superiority to the DI system. ........
    Ahh....Actually I do think that the AR-18 piston driven rifle was in fact another scaled down Stoner design from the AR-16 which was in 308. As was his original AR-10 design scaled down by others for the M-16.

    I think the AR16/AR18 was done after he left Fairchild and worked for Cadillac Gage. He also designed the Stoner 63 and the LMG version known as the Mk23 to the Navy. These are piston guns but I think he believed that DI was the system of the future. He designed the SR-25 made by KAC and the Navy calls the Mk11 the anti-pirate rifle.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akheloce View Post
    My personal opinion is that with the bolt lock up system of the AR, DI is a must. In the piston systems, there is no gas to blow out sand, dust, etc. and the bolt locking system of the AR otherwise is sensitive to dirt. With a piston, and different (less precise- or lower tolerance) battery, the overall system might be superior. However, using a piston in the AR is the worst of both worlds IMO.

    Part of the selling point of DI is that it is "self cleaning," and to a certain extent, it is.
    That's a good point. The "self cleaning" aspect as we know was carried much too far in the original M-16 design and Colt didn't help that point at all. Truthfully though the DI system does little to clean the locking lugs of externally introduced debris. I think the present day piston systems are well proven in harsh climates.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    I think the AR16/AR18 was done after he left Fairchild and worked for Cadillac Gage. He also designed the Stoner 63 and the LMG version known as the Mk23 to the Navy. These are piston guns but I think he believed that DI was the system of the future. He designed the SR-25 made by KAC and the Navy calls the Mk11 the anti-pirate rifle.
    IIRC, the AR16 was Stoner's last design before he left Fairchild. The AR18 is pretty obviously a scaled copy but Armalite gives official credit to other Armalite engineers. The relationships of all these folks as Fairchild spun off and sold off pieces is pretty murky stuff.

    Colt was sold rights to the DI design so future DI work from Stoner could have been problematic. In regards that DI is the design of the future was pretty accurate- the M16 is one of the most copied modern infantry rifle designs and is in service all over the world. Interesting when you consider how much more expensive it is than AK variants.
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    I suppose so. Thanks for the correction.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    I am not about to make any comment to defame or malign Mr. Stoner. I do think he did a great job. It was one mans attempt to develop what was perceived to be the best possible replacement for the M1 Garand battle rifle. He had little to go on and only that it have a few characteristics, namely-fed like the BAR. Lighter weight than the M1 and full auto capable. He succeeded on all three points.

    I also don't think H&K has made anything superior to the AR in functionality.

    Im really just asking for opinions here from those who understand how both the Stoner and piston systems work.
    The claim could be made that Stoner never dreamed up the idea, that he copied it from Dieudonne Saive who perfected the FN FAL in 1953. If you remove the piston from the FAL and add a tube to carry the gas, HEY!!! You have the AR!!

    (And we all know the US would have escaped the M14 debacle had the DOD not rigged the cold weather tests with handbuilt and tuned M14 prototypes. Even then Dieudonne flew to Fairbanks, made adjustments to the gas system, and the FAL continued to flat outperform the M14 in every test.)

    The FAL was used by over 90 countries, far more than the M16 and/or the AK-47. It is a robust, powerful, exceedingly ergonomic design that flat works.

    The AR works too. After some teething problems. Only real challenge is the small diameter of projectile, but that is another story.
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    The FAL is actually far removed from any AR DI system. It is piston driven with an adjustable gas relief collar, Tipping single lug bolt as opposed to rotating multi lug bolt, and the trigger/disconnector/auto sear system is substantially different in how it functions. Plus the manufactuing procedure is radically different, being stamped and formed steel lowers with machined steel forged uppers, whereas the AR type rifles use cast and/or forged aluminum uppers and lowers to acheive the weight reduction so widely touted. Although with all the "tactical" strap ons added these days, many approach 9+ lbs. Not much is similar between an FAL and AR. But we digress. Cheers.
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    Oh I donít think the gas system was a mistake, I prefer gas piston myself but Stonerís gun works great. Any machine can be improved on, no such critter as the perfect design. Like as always happens Stoner made a great design and somebody saw a way to tweak it, for the most part for the better with a gas piston setup. The mistake was fielding them in the mists of war without cleaning kits and a way to close the bolt on a dirty gun, a mistake stemming from the Washington power games more than Stoner.
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    Our first AR's were Armalite AR-15 and in fall of 67 we got the AR 16 a1 with forward assist as the 15 without sucked. We had a half dozen high dollar Stoners and thats what we hoped to get but not our government.The first 16's had thin gas tubes and they would grimp off with a tigertail out of the mag.Stocks also broke off easy when hitting the deck.
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    After reading this thread,I have yet to see Accuracy mentioned in the DI vs. Piston debate.The AR15 seems to be the favorite in many matches and I don't think many are piston rifles.I'll stick to my proven DI rifle with less moving parts..............

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