Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Gun Nut Goes Too Far....Maybe

Okay, so maybe I was a little rough with Bushmaster over the ACR. The truth is that I've wanted one since I saw it on Future Weapons about two years ago. Unimpressed with piston-op ARs I'd seen in the gun rags, I was looking for something new and interesting. I *almost* bought a Sig-556, but then the reviews on it were so-so. Throw in a proprietary trigger that isn't very good, and it looked like I could spend $1350 in better ways, and I ended up with an M&P15 which was well under $1000. But the ACR (Masada at the time) used AR triggers, so if the stock one wasn't what you wanted, there were already lots of affordable replacements in production. Add in that the Masada used cheap and plentiful M-16/AR15 barrels, you could have it in whatever length you wanted in seconds.

According to some vague postings on the interwebs, which I know is a fantastic source of information, the ACR no longer accurately reflects what Magpul was trying to accomplish. The current ACR uses proprietary barrels, and if I read the article right, it also uses proprietary triggers, so good luck customizing either of those things without spending MORE money with Bushmaster. As if $3061 wasn't enough. I also read that there is no longer an option for an AK-47 lower that took cheap AK mags. Originally, converting your ACR to 7.62x39 and shooting cheap steel case commie ammo would only require spending the cash on a barrel, bolt, and plastic magazine well. The original design was brilliant! And it isn't like Magpul was pulling these ideas out of a hat. They had working prototypes that had these features. Bushmaster has just decided that these revolutionary features---features that would justify spending the money on the rifle---were not necessary. In short, it would appear that Bushmaster has re-engineered the ACR to be not as good, but more expensive, and at the same time made it so you have to keep spending money with Bushmaster if you want to achieve what Magpul said they could do for the pittance of $1500.

Maybe $1500 was not a good estimate. Maybe injection-molded plastic parts cost a lot more to make than I think they do. Certainly start-up costs have to be covered and they'd need a lot of stuff to start making ACRs. But as Magpul had it designed, the ACR could have been built with a lot of stuff that Bushmaster already had lying around. That certainly would have kept costs down. Or at least I think it would have.

At any rate, the ACR is still at least interesting, even if it isn't revolutionary anymore. If prices do ever drop down below $2000, I'd at least think about getting one. But right now it looks like the SCAR-L is going to be more affordable--which is shocking because FN hates civilians almost as much as H&K does.

And while we're on the subject of expensive 5.56 toys, the MSAR and FS2000 both used to retail at or above $2000, which I think is about the ceiling for 5.56 prices. For me anyway. But those two guns offer meaningful departures from the AR platform, while still using cheap AR mags. Now that MSAR E4s are down to $1400, I'd think about one. FN still wants around $2000 for their bullpup though. They're definitely worth it if you need a short 5.56 but can't get an SBR.

As for me, yeah, I'll think about an ACR, but only in a few years if the price drops dramatically. $3000 is just way too much to spend on a toy gun. I'm not a super duper Modern Warfare 2 operator. I don't spend my weekends running secret ops against communists in Paraguay. If I get a rifle like this, the closest it will get to combat is wasting zombie-shaped cardboard targets. It might even go camping with me and fend off a 40lb coyote. Maybe. Then again, my $450 AK-74 does that pretty well already. And for $3061, I could get about 21,600 rounds for my AK. Or I could get a used motorcycle. Or put a downpayment on a house. Has Bushmaster gone too far?....or have I?


Huey148 said...

Nice post, good stream of thought you put down here.

Yeah, Bushy took a great idea and product from Magpul and slapped it around and ran the price up...shame..

Got a M&P15 to, bought the patrol carbine (stock AR build) but eventually put all Magpul furniture on it and turned it into the MOE edition...shoots just fine..

The Flatland Gun Nut said...

The thing that keeps me away from the $1500+ piston operated ARs is that I don't think they offer any meaningful advantage over a DI AR. Yeah, DI runs dirtier, but I run 90-120 rounds of Wolf through my M&P15 at a time and in almost two years now, it has malfunctioned exactly zero times. I've got about 1250rds of Wolf through my M&P15 with no issues, as well as a further 600 or so random brands of brass cased stuff. No problems of any kind so far.

In the big Army test that the M4 "failed" it achieved something like 98.2% reliability, while piston ops like the XM8 and H&K416 were like 99%. So you can pay $600 extra for a piston that does keep your upper cooler and cleaner, but only represents about a 0.8% improvement over a DI gun. Everything eventually fails. Everything.

The Masada would have been revolutionary in addition to being super cool looking. Now it's sort of a super cool looking piston op AR. My $3061 will probably go toward an MSAR, a Flaming Pig flash hider, and several thousand rounds of ammunition. Or a house if my wife wants to go that route.

I sure would have liked to own a Masada though.