How Much Modificatiton is Too Much?

#1
Hey everyone, hope this opens up a good discussion.

In one of the recent Modcasts (I believe it was "Improving the AR-15", but not sure), the question was posed to the effect of what would the panelists choose for their patrol rifle. Chad answered (and hopefully I'm not skewing this too out of context) that the only rifles he would take were factory rifles that he hadn't modified. Now, coming from someone with his background, I found that a pretty profound statement. So, here's the questions I would like to pose:

For a "work gun", meaning a patrol rifle, serious training rifle, contractor's personal rifle, etc., limited exclusively to the AR-15, is there an appropriate mount of self modification that can be done, and where does one draw the line? Is there a limit to what modification can be done before the reliability of the rifle starts being affected?

Hope this sparks a good discussion, and looking forward to learning from everyone's perspective.
 
#2
Don't do podcasts, so what IS a "modification?" Can I change the handguard and buttstock? Can I add better sling loops since it's got a rail so is a modular gun?

To me, "modification" means changing the mechanicals, and I can see that. Also, I guess, I am that guy. I only change buffers or extractor stuff (not replace with like at wear intervals, but /change/) when there's an issue. I don't run custom snazzy triggers, etc.
 
#3
Don't do podcasts, so what IS a "modification?" Can I change the handguard and buttstock? Can I add better sling loops since it's got a rail so is a modular gun?

To me, "modification" means changing the mechanicals, and I can see that. Also, I guess, I am that guy. I only change buffers or extractor stuff (not replace with like at wear intervals, but /change/) when there's an issue. I don't run custom snazzy triggers, etc.
Yeah, that's exactly my question. For a duty grade carbine, what is too much? I can see things like the furniture being trivial as it doesn't affect the reliability or function of the rifle itself, unless we start getting into installing free-float tubes or something of that nature. Even swapping a trigger is a fairly easy task. But I guess in this instance a modification is anything that deals with the internal components or would require disassembly of the rifle beyond a basic field strip.
In a police setting, I can see department guidelines providing a bit of a structure to follow if the carbine was individually owned. Curious what the guys with field experience think, and if they're comfortable with using carbines that they've done modifications on in a professional environment.
 
#4
Okay, so here's the actual clip from "The Airing of Grievences" episode:
So, from what I gather, Chad is saying that the internals of the rifle are the ones that shouldn't be monkied with. So, what then counts as the internals of the rifle, and is there anything else that's off limits as far as a DIY job? Thanks in advance, just looking for clarification.
 

Kain

Amateur
Network Support I
#5
I'm not chad here, so I may be taking his words way the hell out of context. So let me get that out of the way before hand.

But, when he mentioned a gun that he has not screwed around with as far as the internals go, I'm reading, or rather hearing, that as the trigger group ain't had someone take a stone to it, or worse a dremel, to smooth up or lighten the trigger, there isn't some wonky voodoo going on with the BCG, none of these flavor of the week buffers, or buffer springs. Stock internals that with a quality manufacturer should fall with in the spec of that gun, the gas port, and all that jazz.

I would also argue, him being an armorer, that perhaps he is trying to make a point that he is a fucking armorer and he doesn't want a rifle that has been monkeyed with by himself. So all the amateurs out , think twice before you go mucking with your rifle if it is for more than just a range toy.

That is my quick and fast thoughts right before running out of the house.
 
#6
I'm not chad here, so I may be taking his words way the hell out of context. So let me get that out of the way before hand.

But, when he mentioned a gun that he has not screwed around with as far as the internals go, I'm reading, or rather hearing, that as the trigger group ain't had someone take a stone to it, or worse a dremel, to smooth up or lighten the trigger, there isn't some wonky voodoo going on with the BCG, none of these flavor of the week buffers, or buffer springs. Stock internals that with a quality manufacturer should fall with in the spec of that gun, the gas port, and all that jazz.

I would also argue, him being an armorer, that perhaps he is trying to make a point that he is a fucking armorer and he doesn't want a rifle that has been monkeyed with by himself. So all the amateurs out , think twice before you go mucking with your rifle if it is for more than just a range toy.

That is my quick and fast thoughts right before running out of the house.
Yeah, after listening to it a couple times, I came to the same conclusions.

So, in other words: In a rifle manufactured by Company "A", adding various parts from Company "B", "C", and "D", whether they're all manufactured to "mil-spec" or not, is not a guarantee that the parts will interface well together because the parts weren't necessarily designed or machined to interface with each other, and therefore on a rifle that you're entrusting your life to, mitigate the risk of those parts not playing well together by keeping the rifle in factory configuration.

Am I in the ballpark here?
 

krax

Regular Member
Network Support I
#7
Hey everyone, hope this opens up a good discussion.

For a "work gun", meaning a patrol rifle, serious training rifle, contractor's personal rifle, etc., limited exclusively to the AR-15, is there an appropriate mount of self modification that can be done, and where does one draw the line? Is there a limit to what modification can be done before the reliability of the rifle starts being affected?
Well, on one hand, I'd say one would draw the line wherever they could get away with it. There's actually two lines though: one where your agency/company/unit tells you what you can't touch certain things and you don't feel comfortable doing it anyway, and one where your modifications either affect reliability or offer no value outside of aesthetics. I personally draw the line at what I feel I can install myself and confidently uninstall when appropriate. I tend to make only subtle changes that don't draw undue attention. I also don't install race gun parts on duty guns unless it's the sort of thing that's suitable for duty, but happens to be used by some competitors.

Is there a limit before we start affecting reliability? Of course. Race gun parts like lighter BCGs, pretty much any aftermarket trigger that's not a Geissle or KAC, skinny rails that affect laser use, shitty optics, etc.

Assuming you're starting out with a quality rifle from your agency/company/unit (let's just say M4 or 6920 for now), modifying it with known-quantity parts like a Geissle trigger, optic, longer handguard, etc. only increase capability. It's on the user to install said parts and deal with the nuances of company policy and dirty looks from the armorer (assuming you're not in a place where the armorer would install those parts for you).

If you're starting out with a POS, then it's really about what you're allowed or can get away with to increase the capability of what you're given. If I was issued a Bushmaster, I may be tempted to purchase my own BCG, trigger, and buffer system, install those parts upon issue, and remove those parts at turn-in. If I was issued a Colt, DD, 416, or similar and it already had a free-float handguard and Giessle trigger, I'd probably leave it the hell alone.

Then there's the frivolous "mods". Ejection port covers that make the news, for example.

Does that answer the question at all?
 
#8
Well, on one hand, I'd say one would draw the line wherever they could get away with it. There's actually two lines though: one where your agency/company/unit tells you what you can't touch certain things and you don't feel comfortable doing it anyway, and one where your modifications either affect reliability or offer no value outside of aesthetics. I personally draw the line at what I feel I can install myself and confidently uninstall when appropriate. I tend to make only subtle changes that don't draw undue attention. I also don't install race gun parts on duty guns unless it's the sort of thing that's suitable for duty, but happens to be used by some competitors.

Is there a limit before we start affecting reliability? Of course. Race gun parts like lighter BCGs, pretty much any aftermarket trigger that's not a Geissle or KAC, skinny rails that affect laser use, shitty optics, etc.

Assuming you're starting out with a quality rifle from your agency/company/unit (let's just say M4 or 6920 for now), modifying it with known-quantity parts like a Geissle trigger, optic, longer handguard, etc. only increase capability. It's on the user to install said parts and deal with the nuances of company policy and dirty looks from the armorer (assuming you're not in a place where the armorer would install those parts for you).
That absolutely answers it for me. I couldn't agree more. Thank you for your answer. Anyone else is more than encouraged to chime in, but what krax said is exactly what I was thinking. Thanks again.
 
#9
For a "work gun", meaning a patrol rifle, serious training rifle, contractor's personal rifle, etc., limited exclusively to the AR-15, is there an appropriate mount of self modification that can be done, and where does one draw the line? Is there a limit to what modification can be done before the reliability of the rifle starts being affected?
IMHO as a person who trains lots of armorers & instructors, and also builds and designs guns & parts:
If it's a "work gun", in my mind that means lives depend upon it, and if you are going to make any modification from factory spec, then you need to be able to justify it. That justification may come in front of a Jury, when you are asked by an attorney (probably with theatrics involved) what you changed and why? Any modifications will most likely be used a propaganda that is not in your favor, by the attorney(s) to attack your credibility not only in front of the jury, but also possibly leaked to the media who will use them to stir things up in the court of public opinion.

CY6
Greg Sullivan "Sully"
SLR15 Rifles
TheDefensiveEdge.com
(763) 712-0123
 
#10
IMHO as a person who trains lots of armorers & instructors, and also builds and designs guns & parts:
If it's a "work gun", in my mind that means lives depend upon it, and if you are going to make any modification from factory spec, then you need to be able to justify it. That justification may come in front of a Jury, when you are asked by an attorney (probably with theatrics involved) what you changed and why? Any modifications will most likely be used a propaganda that is not in your favor, by the attorney(s) to attack your credibility not only in front of the jury, but also possibly leaked to the media who will use them to stir things up in the court of public opinion.

CY6
Greg Sullivan "Sully"
SLR15 Rifles
TheDefensiveEdge.com
(763) 712-0123
An excellent, and probably the most crucial point. Very thankful for your input.
 
#11
I had this dilemna when doing my duty build. My issue is difficulty finding factory rifles that were truly ambi and had upgraded triggers. LMT and Radian wouldvd broke my bank. So I ordered a true ambi lower from SanTan and built it.

This question still feels unsettled in my mind. I felt justified in my needs for a custom build. Being a lefty sucks. But should I have just sucked it up and got a factory ambi lower? (By true ambi I mean full capabilities, not just a safety) or dealt with a semi-ambi from a factory? Or was I justified?

--Chaucer

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-N920A using Tapatalk
 

Default.mp3

Regular Member
Network Support I
#12
So I ordered a true ambi lower from SanTan and built it.
San Tans aren't true ambi, though; they lack a right side bolt lock. The ADM UIC lowers would have been a true ambi lower with lower cost than a Radian AX556 or LMT MARS-L lowers.

Beyond that, meh. I own zero factory rifles, and only one factory upper; the lowers I've assembled myself with no issues thus far, and with quality parts, I question just how much can go wrong with a lower. The uppers, I had a very experienced gunsmith (Dave Laubert over at Defensive Crations) assemble those, also out of quality parts, so I have zero worries there, either. Vet your shit, and you're good to go. The AR-15 ain't Legos, but it's not fucking brain surgery, either. There are well-known standards, it's not some impossible task to adhere to them.
 
#13
Obviously modifications that negatively affect reliability or safety (patrol rifles shouldn’t have 3 pound triggers, etc) are foolish.

In my opinion modifications that fundamentally change how the gun operates, such that if you trained on it then picked up a standard gun you might have issues are bad. BAD levers come to mind.

As to messing with internal parts. I would really want to have a firm purpose. Upgrading the buffer spring and extractor on the AR platform from standard parts is arguably a good idea. CSM Zinn (ret) wrote an article about it. On the other hand swapping out a Colt/ DD/ BCM/etc BCG probably doesn’t have a real purpose.
 
#14
Add an appropriate optic, if that's your thing, but definitely add a weapon-light. Vertical and angled foregrips are optional. As are suppressors. Run the guts of the rifle stock.

I mean way more high-speed mofos, than I, have said it best. Keep It Simple, Stupid.