Ditch the Tube, Get a Piston!
To start off I would like to make the disclaimer that this is my opinion and should be viewed as
only that. I am aware there are many that prefer Direct Impingement (D.I.) and that is their preference. I would suggest trying a gas piston set up before discounting my opinion. I was content with the D.I. when I first got my rifle and probably would have never changed if it were not for other issues. The following is a trip through my choices and the Happily Ever After for me and my rifle.
The decision to convert my AR from Direct Impingement to a Gas Piston drive came after some personally created frustration. A few years ago, I purchased an after-market gas block for my Bushmaster XM-15 (Prior to DPMS buy-out) and encountered some issues. I know what many are thinking, if you left it alone you would have been fine. This is true, but who can leave their rifle alone and not get the itch to modify it? Well, that bug bit me and started a chain reaction that has ended with the best decision I made for this rifle.
The issue started after the gas block change where my rifle would no longer function properly with the .223 ammo I had. When firing .223 I would have to manually cycle the action to fire another round, yet this didn’t change operation with 5.56 ammo. After making a few attempts to correct the issue myself, I placed the rifle into its case until I moved. After getting to where I live now, I readdressed the issue and took the rifle to a gunsmith. The issue was mostly corrected until a new issue arose that rendered the rifle unable to function as designed.
This revelation resulted in a trip back to the gunsmith, The Rock Guns and Accessories in Fayetteville, NC, the led to the discovery of the problem maker. The issue was the new gas block itself; it was aluminum and had been eaten away by the gas pressure resulting in the failure. After learning this, I asked the gunsmith what his thoughts on a gas piston upper were. He stated there was a conversion kit that would replace the gas system without replacing the whole upper. I inquired about how the cost would compare to replacing with a specific brand of upper and he recommended the conversion kit as he did not have a positive opinion of the brand I mentioned.
The downside to the change was I would have to replace the handguard as the setup would not allow the existing handguard to remain in use. After talking to him I decided to have the conversion kit and handguard done, to include a Cerakote color match on the new handguard. Since I was having this done, my wife decided to have hers changed over as well. I could explain the anticipation of waiting on the part and the daily activities until completion, but that is too boring so we will jump ahead to the good stuff.
Finally, after much anticipation, the rifle is completed and ready for pick up. The conversion kit, Superlative Arms .750 Adjustable Gas Bleed Off Piston kit is installed. The kit includes the gas block and piston assembly and a new bolt carrier group. This system is adjustable and will work with a suppressor; you have a long Allen Key to adjust the gas pressure. There is a second Allen Key to remove the piston for cleaning, this one is larger and won’t change the gas pressure settings. The profile for the piston system is about the same height as the direct gas system so there won’t be the need for a larger diameter handguard [most standard size handguards will fit].
The handguard change was to a BCM 13-inch handguard that fits perfectly with the Superlative Arms Piston system and includes an attachable rail to add any type of gear you want to attach. Since I have a two-tone color rifle, I had the handguard color match the Magpul Butt Stock and Pistol Grip. Now that I have all this back home there are a few things left to do, you guessed it, range time. This is my favorite part too.
Copyright RATH-Defense, LLC, 2020