05 June 2012

Branding Ramble

People get attached to brands.

I'm as guilty as the next guy.  There're two Chevy's parked here.

I know why I chose my Chevys.  My first moddable car was a '76 Camaro.  I learned a lot about wrenching on that car and discovered that rodding a Chevy was a ton cheaper than Ford or MOPAR (at least at the time, it could be different now).

There's brand specific knowledge that you pick up, so my next projects were also Chevy.  No need to learn new things staying in brand.

But this fails to explain why some people are so damned militant about their brand of AR.

You hear that Colt is best.  OK.  Quantify that.

Cue cricket.

There was a lengthy thread on Arfcom where the attempt to fuss out what breaks on lesser carbines was made.  Pat Roberts even posted his observations from running carbine classes.  Wanna know what breaks on a "cheap" AR?  The bolt, extractor and gas key.  Pages and pages of blue cursing and bile and the conclusion seems to be: Buy a cheap AR, get a complete Colt bolt from Brownells and check the staking on the gas key.

Colt does make a decent product, but cosmetically they can be quite bad.  Doesn't affect the function, but it's rough.  For less money I can get pretty with the same function.  I mentioned it in one of the threads talking about the cosmetics, "If they don't care to bother making the outside smooth and regular, why would I develop any confidence it's any better inside?"  It shows they are cheaping out on something.  A $1,500+ AR had better be as cosmetically pleasing as a $800 one.

There's a lot of snobbery about kit guns too.  Every single one of my ARs is a kit gun.  Mostly because it's cheaper and I like configurations that aren't offered as complete rifles from the large makers.  It gets amusing because they are talking up Colt quality and bad mouthing kit guns...  My R604 clone is nearly all Colt parts.  Just the lower receiver and lower parts kit are non-Colt; the rest is entirely Air Force surplus.  It's my best shooting 5.56 AR...  But it's a mere kit gun, so the Colt content is irrelevant.

Never mind the political Bullshit that never stops from Colt.  There's a laundry list of things that were different on a Colt than any other AR because they kept trying to curry favor by neutering their guns.  Then there was the great LE screwing where they'd go the extra mile to make sure their distributors were not selling guns to mere civilians.  More obscure is the perpetual contract from the 1966 "one time buy" that just keeps getting amended that keeps the price up and ruins competition because of how the technical data package will be handled.  Did you know the M16 was the first milspec item that referred to confidential data from the original maker and not just to a drawing included in the spec?  There are several places that effectively say, "See Colt's drawing for the actual specification."  To make a genuinely milspec AR you need to have that drawing and meet its specifications.

You could reverse engineer it, and many have, but you'd still need the drawing to confirm you'd succeeded.  The '66 contract makes sure you will and you will pay Colt for it.

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