Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our ARs finally work!

Or: Why I can't recommend Del-Ton to anyone.

To recap -
I ordered two AR15 uppers from Del-Ton on 1/31/09. This date is important, so keep it in mind.
Between February and the end of November, I made the following posts about it:
Sigh, backorders
Great googly moogly!
Yet another Del-Ton delay
Good news, better news, and bad news
Good news, everyone!

Chris's upper showed up in September, and mine showed up the first week of December of that year. I neglected to post about the upper showing up due to my grandfather's passing, but it did show up that first week in December. By the time mine showed up I was just thrilled to see anything. So: Ordered everything at the end of January, and the second upper showed up almost a YEAR later. In that time, I received absolutely no information from Del-Ton - I had to waste my time and call THEM to get the same answer over and over and over. I don't care how busy a company is, a form email does NOT take much time to write and send out to customers. Thanks to the beauty of technology, said email could have been drafted while someone dropped the kids off at the pool. Anyway, moving on...

We did not get any opportunity to test either upper until 7/4/10, and on that range trip both rifles had consistent issues. I posted about the problems we had here. We did not get another chance to really test anything until last month, when Chris's friend helped him diagnose the problem. After swapping bolts, uppers, lowers, and magazines they were able to determine there was an issue with the gas system in both uppers. Please note, I was quite angry...I expected better of Del-Ton. I suppose I should have used the lack of communication from them as a sign regarding their build quality.

By now, it's well past any warranty would be in effect, so this weekend we took the uppers to Dan over at Gun Connection. Dan was able to diagnose and repair both uppers while we waited. What he found, though, was a bit distressing...both because Del-Ton sent defective parts and because neither Chris nor I knew what we were doing with these rifles. I spent much of Saturday fuming at Del-Ton's shoddy build quality and my own stupidity, and I have since learned my lesson.

So, the problems: On Chris's upper, the gas block was so screwed up there's no way he'd actually get anything to cycle properly. If you take a close look at the photo, you'll see where the hole inside it was poorly drilled...it almost looks like the person who worked on the part used a small explosive to get that hole in there.

That's pretty freaking bad. It also wasn't on properly, as we could jiggle it without loosening anything. No wonder there was an issue with the gas system!

Dan replaced the gas block with one from Daniel Defense and put everything back together. On my upper, the gas tube was off by about 15 degrees and it was clogged (user error - it wasn't properly cleaned before we took it out the first time). He reseated everything and did a particularly thorough cleaning for me. A little over a hundred dollars in parts and labor later and we left with two functioning rifles, though we were charged with testing both over the weekend to make sure everything worked.

Yesterday, during a break in the nasty weather, we took them out...and they worked beautifully. Chris had some difficulty with his optic, but that's user error and will be rectified once he reacquaints himself with the instructions. I, on the other hand, landed almost every shot where I wanted it once I figured out how to use my scope. Overall, I'm glad this ordeal is over, and I'm especially glad we now have two functioning rifles that are quite a bit of fun to shoot.

To sum up:
boo Del-Ton
yay Gun Connection
thoroughly educate yourself about a firearm if it's known to be finicky
thoroughly educate yourself on a retailer before spending a significant amount of money.

The final result of two mags through my rifle (while also learning the particulars of my optics - the low shots were the first few i took, and i aimed for each box at least once to see how well i could do):

...Yeah. I'm happy now.


Anonymous said...

Send Del Ton a copy of this post, not that I think it will matter. I have been considering a carbine. I have considered everything and I ruled out the AR. And here is why. AR’s are like 1911’s, they are the “in” guns and because of it prices are through the roof. Eavesdropping at the gun shows listening to experts talking to people in the know I have heard repeatedly that “you can’t find good AR parts anymore and there is so much crap out there THEY would not want to be in the market for one now”. The AR has always been finicky and many of our soldiers died in Vietnam because of it. Near as I can tell as an outsider, I think it is because of the close tolerances and because of that it is a high maintenance item. Look at the bright side, when you go to range and you have an off day, you can blame it on your Del Ton.

Old NFO said...

I truly hate to say this, but you DO get what you pay for... And DelTon is NOT worth the $$. Glad you got them fixed 'relatively' cheaply...

Chris said...

It's strange. I had read up on the various manufacturers and DEL TON seemed to get good reviews. I made a mistake and now I know better. It's amazing the number of manufacturers out there. Once you see what all the parts do and how it goes together it really doesn't seem that complicated and if you keep it clean it should run great. The quality of the parts and knowledge of the builders seem dramatically different though. BTW our armorer/gunsmith recommended CMMG and Daniel Defense for future purchases

Old NFO said...

Good point Chris.

aczarnowski said...

FWIW Bravo Company Machine makes good stuff at reasonable prices.

I also have an, admittedly, low end CMMG rifle which went back to them once and still doesn't sight like I think it should. The front post is above the ears and it still runs high. After the trip back they couldn't tell me much. They didn't seem interested in really finding the problem.

TomcatTCH said...

an AR is like most any other firearm, it's the sum of it's parts.

That gas block is just sad. I'm thinking it wasn't aligned right, and that's gas etching, and not a screwed up drill or anything.

I bet the monkey's that put your uppers together screwed up both gas blocks. Loose is not acceptable. Neither is mis-aligned. Both/either will turn an otherwise good AR into a straight pull single shot.

If that's gas etching, I gotta wonder where the aluminum went.

As for Anonymous at August 16, 2011 10:33 PM saying there aren't any good parts out there, that's true if you are buying cheap Chinese crap, but absolute rubbish if you buy from a decent company.

Of coarse, he goes back 40 years to make his point about how finicky AR pattern rifles are. That's a pretty important statement.

Hartley said...

Hmm.. I've purchased a total of 6 uppers from Del-Ton over the last 5 years or so, and I've had ZERO problems with any of them.
You ordered during the worst "gun buying panic" in recorded history, particularly for ARs, and I suspect that had a LOT to do with your issues. Incidentally, did you ask Del-Ton to address your problems?

45er said...

Some lemons make it out of manufacture. It's how the problem is handled that will ultimately tell you if a company is worth spending money on. In this case, I'd say "no". I have a small issue with a handgun and the manufacturer has been fantastic about contact and helping get it resolved. That sure does keep the customer (me) happy in a situation that could go sideways very quickly.

Anonymous said...

You really do get what you pay for. If you want something to plink with, get a Ruger 10\22. If you want a rifle for self defence or social work then stick with top quality manufacturers only. I'm partial to Noveske. I've had nothing but good luck with three M forgeries from them. For precision shooting stick with either Fulton Armory for AR rifles & uppers or better yet if you're willing to part with a bit more gelt one of their M-14 pattern 7.62mm rifles. Barrett also makes excellent stuff, but the price these days is outrageous! Don't skimp when it comes to a tool your life may one day depend upon. I'll get off my soapbox now...

Armageddon Rex

Chris said...

aczarnowski - good to know

TomcatTCH - yea i dont think it was drilled wrong i think it was the gas that did it. I'm not sure where the aluminum went but it all looks clean now.

Hartley- they said out of warranty sorry charlie, and like I said previously all I read was good things about them.

45er- yea if they were more customer service oriented i would tend to agree. Trying to fix it goes a long way, but I can't believe they let them leave that way.

Armageddon Rex - lesson learned, and since i have one now i'd probably look for soemthing different in the future anyway.

thanks for the comments all