How reliable is the AR15 platform REALLY?

In this article, we have located a rather amazing field report from none other than Henderson Defense. They operate a place called battlefield Las Vegas. At their range, they rent everything from a basic Ruger 10/22 all the way up to a M1 Abrams battle tank. They rent everything in between those two extremes.


AR stoppages and failures happen, but interestingly enough the long-term reliability is beyond the AK47. At least not involving a welder.

Due to the nature of their business, they go through literally millions of rounds a year, some weapons seeing tens, if not hundreds of thousands of rounds of ammunition.

As a part of a Q&A session, they were asked what guns proved to be reliable and what ones did not.

A member asked me if I would give some insight into how our M4’s handle on the range because I’ve started threads on the AK’s, pistols and .50 Barretts.

Here’s a little background on what we do. We operate a high-volume range in Las Vegas. You can’t bring your personal weapons in and rent lanes for an hour. Customers use only our weapons and our ammo. We only use factory new ammo and zero reloads. We keep maintenance log on EACH and every weapon to include cleanings, parts replaced and any other issues that need to be noted. We shoot approximately 400,000 rounds down range each month and the numbers have actually gone up a bit for May and June. Tourists get to shoot everything from Type 99 Arisaka’s, M1 Garand C and D’s, MP-44’s, G43’s, M2HB’s, 240’s, 249’s, MG42’s, MG34’s, M-14’s, Luger’s, Swedish K’s, M203’s, M79’s and you get the point. Some weapons are very rare historical weapons that rarely come out of collections or museums and see the light of day.

Here is some insight about OUR experience with M4’s and other guns on the range.

– Some of our M4’s have well over 200,000 rounds down range. Barrels have been replaced, gas tubes have been replaced, BCG’s have been replaced but what sets it apart from the AK47’s is that upper and lower receivers continue to function. AK’s get to about the 100,000+ round count and rails on the receiver will start to crack. It’s an easy fix with tig welding but they crack. We have yet to lose an upper or lower receiver from cracking.

– We get about 20,000 rounds out of bolts before we start experiencing issues. The headspace gauge will start getting closing on NO-GO but not close on field. We will lose a lug on the bolt. The bolt will start skipping over rounds in the magazine and fail to insert a round. We use LMT and Daniel Defense bolts and some will actually go longer but at about 20,000 rounds is when we will start to see issues appear.

– Gas tubes will erode away at the FSB after 12+ months

– Charging handles will “stretch” allowing the locking lever and spring to fly out

– Hammer pins and disconnectors on the 8.5″ full-auto’s will break after approximately 4,000-5,000 rounds regardless of the buffer weight

– We have yet to lose a single flash hider as compared to muzzle brakes on an AK-47. The muzzle brakes will literally split in half, looking a like bird with his beak open and go flying down range.

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