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Other Hazards of Low Quality ARs

As we’ve seen previously with the dismal MMC AR-15, the biggest problem with buying crappy ARs and AR parts is that you spend about the same money for a useless, out of spec piece of trash when you could have gotten a real rifle instead.

But as Erin Palette unhappily discovered with the scam artists at R-Guns, there’s another problem. Businesses that ship low-grade parts also tend to have low-grade business practices! This mirrors my experience with Palmetto State Armory. I placed an order for two uppers before the panic, but neglected to notice PSA’s warning that a 10% restocking fee applies to all returns and cancellations! That should have been a clue.

PSA charged my card immediately, then six weeks passed with no email, no replies to emails, or contact as to when to expect my parts. I called their 800 number a few times, but nobody picked up. Then I sent a final email at 9AM demanding that they ship my order or I’d initiate a chargeback. My uppers shipped at 5PM that evening.

I suppose the good news is that I got my uppers. The bad news is that I got PSA uppers, and while they have a reputation for very good barrels by FN, and the gas system was correctly pinned and aligned, I have zero expectation of any customer support should something go wrong, and they have considerably less resale value than uppers from a legit manufacturer.

I really should have spent the extra dough and gotten Bravo Company uppers like I had intended to. The $300 I saved seems fairly paltry now. I ordered my bolt carrier groups from BCM post election, and not only did they ship the same day and were in my greedy hands a weekend later, they also threw in a bunch of awesome stickers, catalogs and other goodies. If you browse BCM’s retail site, you will notice that many things are out of stock. But the items that are listed as in stock are actually in stock! and will ship immediately. This is the difference between buying on price or buying on what you get, and I wish i didn’t have to keep relearning this lesson. I blame my Swedish ancestors.

And it wouldn’t be an AR post without an AR picture, so here’s an updated pic of AR-dos wearing it’s new Magpul MOE fixed stock and a straight GI 20. I do have a Blackhawk! buttstock magazine pouch for it, but right now I’m enjoying the lightness.


{ 9 } Comments

  1. Steven | May 16, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    It is sad that you had issues withe PSA. I have gotten uppers, lowers and other stuff from them, and I have never had any problems. Unfortunely, many companies of restocking fees these days.

  2. pdb | May 16, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really mind restocking fees if I’ve actually received the goods, but to keep 10% of my money for the privilege of cancelling my order on uppers that haven’t even been built yet is bullshit.

  3. a guy | May 16, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    I have a stripped lower and need a lower parts kit. What is your take on good manufacturers of LPKs? Thank you.

  4. pdb | May 18, 2013 at 11:49 pm | Permalink

    It’s probably more important that your bolt carrier group and barrel and gas system is made by a reputable company, but you can still run into issues with out of spec pins and crappy triggers on lower quality LPKs. At this time you can’t be too picky, but I would still hold out for a higher quality LPK. Daniel Defense in particular sells their own LPKs that are very good. Another option is the Brownells LPK with the ALG ACT trigger. It’s out of stock now (what isn’t?) but they’ll alert you when it’s available.

  5. Leatherwing | May 20, 2013 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    Speaking of the Smith & Wesson, I’ve been checking some online places while I’m saving up for an AR. I have your advicebot post opened in another tab. The Colt is out of my budget, but how do you pick an M&P model? Specifically, which features are most important to find? (they actually have them at Gander Mountain online, but I can’t tell which features make one 1,000 and another 1500). It would be my first centerfire rifle, so I have little experience.

  6. pdb | May 20, 2013 at 1:16 am | Permalink

    The M&P-15s I recommend would be the plain M&P15 with the carry handle and fixed front sight (SKU 811000) or the M&P-15 MOE (SKU 811053). For your first AR, I think iron sights are important (which eliminates the Optics Ready models), and options like rails or float tubes aren’t recommended until you’ve gotten some experience with the gun. The M&P Sport isn’t bad for the price and is only missing a few features, but I think the chrome lined barrel is important to reliability and worth the extra dough.

    My cousin bought the 811000 and I was really impressed. It’s an excellent platform to build on, and his was very accurate right out of the box. The sights were dead on with no adjustments required. It would be difficult to get a better basic AR for any money.

    Good luck!

  7. Fiftycal | May 20, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Add Yankee Hill Machine to the good guy list. And LaRue. Both are about 1 year out. But the Specter upper I have gotten is sweet. When the madness ends in 2016 or so, I want a lightweight YHM upper with no sights and no forearm. Should be about $650 with the BCG.

  8. McThag | May 21, 2013 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    The cancellation fee is an artifact of people ordering what they want from EVERY seller and when they finally get one, canceling all the other orders.

    You’re being punished for the actions of others again.

  9. Ben C | May 26, 2013 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Huh, my PSA upper had either a mis-aligned or bent front sight. Functioned fine, but shot just beyond the leftmost adjustment range of either rear sight I tried. Red dot did just fine though. Based on how long it took to get the thing in the first place, it wasnt gong back there. It now sports a 13″ troy float tube with a sight on top and shoots just fine.

    I like the PSA lpk I got, part quality and fit was much better than an old DPMS kit I got before I knew better. The safety detent actually detents on the PSA part.

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