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steel AR15-AR10 receivers?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by animus_divinus, Oct 2, 2011.

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  1. animus_divinus

    animus_divinus Member

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    im wondering what added benefits there would be to the AR platform should someone offer a steel receiver?... there are less issues when mating steel components to a metal receiver, added strength of course.. and then of course, added weight.. now ive seen AR-15 receivers crack from heavy impacts, drops, etc... and my dad who was an armorer/gunsmith in vietnam has gone through countless cracked receivers even then... so it DOES happen if they take abuse

    i like rifles that can take abuse and still work.. heck, hitting something with the butt end of an AR-15 stock would either break the stock off, or tear the steel buffer tube from the aluminum threads so its just not done...

    if the receiver was steel, would the threads be strong enough to handle such a hit from the butt of an AR-15?.. or would it need the added support of possibly a tang? which is quite doable.. and would the increase of an extra pound or so be worth it to have something that much more stronger, and more durable?...

    even with the issues of aluminum vs steel, i would still prefer an AR platform over that of, for example, an AK platform since you can actually buy brand new parts for it, parts are standardized so theyre all practically drop in, and theres a lot more customization with it.. im just curious as to whether or not it could be physically stronger, tougher

    what do you guys think?
     
  2. dprice3844444

    dprice3844444 member

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    se fla i love claymores 01/sot
    weight,rusting, stainless would be better
     
  3. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Of course it would be, but as you mentioned, also much heavier. One of the greatest attributes of the AR is it's light weight.

    I believe the Cobb long action AR rifles (.30-06, .300 WM, .338 Lapua) were steel, but those are the only ones I know of.

    I like steel, too, but don't really want my AR-15 to be as heavy as my AR-10. It's plenty tough.
     
  4. animus_divinus

    animus_divinus Member

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    it seems it would add roughly 1lb of weight to it... i would be willing to accept 1lb for the steel i think

    dprice, you suggest stainless, with perhaps a matte black bake-on finish?
     
  5. Acera

    Acera Member

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    I thinks some guys did that a while back for 50 BMG uppers.

    One advantage, if you could find a steel upper, is you could get a real nice deep blued finish on it, couple that with some of the wood furniture that is available and you would have a unusually nice looking rifle.
     
  6. 68wj

    68wj Member

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    Yes, it is done, routinely in military training (Marines from experience, not sure about the others). They are used as ladder steps to assist troops over obstacles, dropped, and bashing into close combat dummies and tire stacks. I am sure there have been broken extensions from this (they are aluminum too by the way), but never experienced it 1st hand.

    After viewing an interview with Kalashnikov where he felt the same way about the M16s fragility, I conducted further testing with a spare A2 stock against a metal pole and work bench in an armory. Using the standard smash and butt stroke techniques that are training, I and a few other Marines tried to break something but only got cosmetic damage.

    Sure a steel receiver would be stronger, but I don't think it is necessary. One concern that I have is the carrier sliding in the upper receiver's tube like construction. The thick walled aluminum cracks before it bends. A steel receiver would surely be made as thin as possible and still be viable. However, steel will bend and any force that might crack the aluminum part might also dent the steel enough to restrict the carrier's movement. Either way, new receiver time.

    The M16's geometry lends itself to aluminum. If you need steel, there are several existing designs already that need it and work well.
     
  7. TonyAngel

    TonyAngel Member

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    I don't know about this. The aluminum used is most receivers is, I believe, 7075 aluminum. That's some pretty tough stuff. 7075 is a lot tougher than the standard 6061 that is used in most applications.

    Besides, what benefit would you gain by going to a steel receiver. You will obviously gain a stronger receiver, but to what benefit. Whenever you have an assembly and apply an unintended pressure to it to a breaking point, the point where something in the assembly has to give, I would prefer that something that is inexpensive and easily replaceable break. For example, if my rifle some how wound up laying on the ground and was run over by a heavy vehicle, this would be a circumstance where I would hope that my rifle would survive, but if it didn't, I would prefer that a $75 upper and/or lower receiver give than my $300+ barrel.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  8. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    M16/M4 receivers simply don't break much in actual military use, so there doesn't seem to be an issue. FWIW the weakest point is probably the barrel mating threads on the upper receiver, which does on rare occasions fail either from impact or corrosion.

    7075-t6 is milspec for both upper and lower. It's one of the strongest aluminum alloys around, with a tensile strength around 75k psi, better than most mild steel. It is actually not as tough, in terms of resistance to cracking, as 6061-t6, but being nearly twice as strong makes it a better choice overall. Many billet receivers are made of 6061 and are still plenty strong. Armalite uses 7175 on their AR10 receivers, which is slightly stronger yet, but no one else has followed their lead that I know of.

    The whole design point of the original AR-15 was to be as light and handy as possible. Adding weight changes the rifle quite a bit. It may make sense for some uses, but not broadly, especially when there is no real issue with the standard aluminum construction.
     
  9. Justin

    Justin Moderator Emeritus

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    THE CHAIR IS AGAINST THE WALL
    It isn't? The most commonly accepted method for removing a stuck case/round from the chamber of an AR is to grasp the charging handle and hit the butt of the rifle on the ground to generate enough force to extract it.

    I've done this (notably at one particularly miserable local match when I discovered that my reloads were out of spec.) and have yet to break the butt of a rifle.
     
  10. NG VI

    NG VI Member

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    Might be cool for a heavy, all-stainless varmint-type rig.
     
  11. NG VI

    NG VI Member

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    Also I don't ever remember babying my rifle at Basic or after, Basic especially there were some times when I was intentionally rough on it. Never saw any ill effects.
     
  12. browneu

    browneu Member

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    No thank you. I want my ARs to be as light as possible since that's what I like about the design.

    Sent from my LG-P999 using Tapatalk
     
  13. navajo

    navajo Member

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    steel

    Its been done. I remember seeing ads in Shotgun News for SS uppers and lowers in the 1970s. Have yet to see either and don't know if any were sold.
     
  14. CleverNickname

    CleverNickname Member

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    I have a stainless steel transferable Group Industries M16. It's about 14oz heavier than a normal aluminum lower. It's nice that steel's a bit easier to weld than aluminum, so if it ever breaks it'll be easier to fix. But I don't think the extra weight would be worth it for a plain title I AR, or even an title II SBR, either of which could be replaced if they were broken.
     
  15. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    Stainless is not at all easy to weld compared to aluminum. It has very different properties than carbon steel, and TIG is the preferred method (as with aluminum)

    For the lower only. If the upper and other aluminum parts were steel as well, you'd have a 9 pound AR-15. No thank you.

    Also, as mentioned, the added time and tooling wear to forge and mill steel vs. aluminum would make them quite expensive.
     
  16. sixgunner455

    sixgunner455 Member

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    Blech. What a horrible idea. My light-barreled carbine weighs 5.5 lbs.

    I remember being in a National Guard arms room about ten years go. There were receivers in that room that had been rebuilt 3 or 4 times in their lives, and these weren't babied rifles. I'm talking about school rifles that get humped all over creation, 4 seasons of the year, and fired all the time, too. Early Vietnam-era production H&R, and other manufacturers that also haven't made any since the early 1970s. It's not the receivers that were wearing out in all that use, my friend.
     
  17. kwelz

    kwelz Member

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    Just to pile on.

    Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

    I don't think you understand what it takes to put an AR out of commission.

    https://danieldefense.com/TortureTest

    Most quality (BCM, Noveske, Colt, a couple others) ARs could take what the above DD did. If you can do more damage than this then I would be impressed.
     
  18. Z-Michigan

    Z-Michigan Member

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    Some stainless is weldable, some is not or is far into the "you really shouldn't try" category (including some barrel steels like 416R and 17-4PH)... but I don't think 7075-T6 is weldable either. If you manage to really break a standard AR receiver it's probably toast.
     
  19. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    You can weld any type of steel or aluminum alloy; Whether or not it has any integrity is another story.

    I've MIG welded cast iron exhaust manifolds, but if they were cracked through, I also used threaded fasteners; The weld was more for sealing, and helps bolster the joint strength in addition to the mechanical fasteners.
     
  20. helotaxi

    helotaxi Member

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    DPMS used to make a stainless receiver set. Used to. No market for it.

    The M16 was designed from the beginning to be a fighting rifle. That includes rifle fighting close combat. Parts of Krav Maga are based on using the M4 for close combat defense and offense. You don't hear about them breaking.
     
  21. desertfox2001

    desertfox2001 Member

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    I have a DPMS stainless build with a ASA side charger, 22" bull barrel. weighs 15 lbs. I call it my Lead Sled, it does not moving during shooting. it is a varmit/bench gun....and before anyone gets on me about having a rifle that weighs so much, this is not my only AR, it was built to be a heavy pig.
     
  22. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    Nobody has said it, but most of the comments imply it would be a machined steel billet receiver. Doesn't have to be, and if made from steel stampings, could be within ounces of the same weight. Apparently few AR fans have had long term experience with HKs.

    Rust? Not if it's nitrided, ion treated, or whatever.

    Frankly, it wasn't made of forged aluminum to be any special strength - it was a fabrication technique based on mass production economics. Once a set of forging dies is made, stamp enough platters and machine them, and you get a much lower cost than full on CNC.

    Economics in construction first included wood stocks, then the European nations turned to stamped metal in guns to reduce or eliminate machining. From there, the Stoner team went to forged, and now, we see polymer lowers and extruded aluminum uppers. Consider that an extruded upper can be made to any length, and finish machining is extremely limited in a design maximized to eliminate it (no rails, etc.). Basically cut to length, port, and anodize.

    As far as mass production goes, a steel receiver is a retrograde movement. And technology doesn't back up unless there's a good reason.
     
  23. Bartholomew Roberts

    Bartholomew Roberts Moderator Emeritus

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    Steel receivers are kind of pointless in my view, short of very special applications maybe. Aluminium receivers are already way tougher than the OP seems to give them credit for... I can remember checking M16A2s out of an armory where the lower receiver was marked "XM16E1" - meaning that not only did that not have the reinforced lower receiver extension now common to A2s; but that the receiver had been in service since the early Vietnam era and was still satisfactory for general issue.

    And for that matter, there just isn't a lot of stress on the AR receiver to begin with, which is why some companies are making them out of plastic now. So I don't see why reinforcing it is a useful benefit unless you plan on using it primarily as a ladder and a club (or just want to add weight). Since I plan on using it primarily as a rifle, with only occasional ladder/club use, I'm comfortable with aluminium.
     
  24. jobu07

    jobu07 Member

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    I respectfully disagree. I recall using the buttstock of a M16 extensively during training. Likewise, a M4. And both butts are used hard during Individual Movement Techniques. Will one break? Possibly. Will the wood butt of a M14 crack? Just as possibly. Are they going to? Not probably.
     
  25. helotaxi

    helotaxi Member

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    Forging or machining would be the only way to make an AR receiver. Steel works fine where the weapon is designed with it in mind, ala AK, HK, etc... The AR was designed around being made of aluminum. You could design a similar rifle using steel stampings, but it won't be an AR.
     
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