Six Letters Re: HK 416 Gas Piston M16/AR-15 Rifles and Upper Receiver Assemblies

Hey James,
I got the chance to see a cool AR [gas] piston system this past week at the NRA Convention in St. Louis. It is made by LWRC. They have a great video on their web site that explains in detail the design and benefits.
Personally, I’m an AK guy because I want absolute reliability and was willing to give up some accuracy if it meant my rifle went bang every time. Even with my Arsenal milled receiver, accuracy is improved but [still] not like an AR. I may switch back to an AR platform and give this a try. – Zac

From what I understand, Heckler & Koch will be producing neither full rifles nor uppers in semi-auto [U.S. civilian market] form at this time. I do believe, however, that Bushmaster is getting ready to produce a gas piston AR-style rifle.
I think that for the money you would eventually have to spend on a 416, you could most definitely buy a new SIG 556 rifle, which most people say is better. Personally, I’m saving my money for an AR-10. – LK from Wisconsin


One of the popular FN-FAL makers is [also] making a gas piston upper for the AR-15: DS Arms. – BMech

Hi Jim,
Just thought I would let you know that the music wire big buffer spring in all these [AR-15 family] weapons have a life expectancy of 25,000 rounds. But if you replace them with a flat chrome silicon buffer spring they have a cycle rate life expectancy of 500,000 rounds.
You can also improve your AR-15 bolt carrier by air brushing a baked moly or ceramic coating on them and you can install a chrome silicon extractor and ejector spring, want to know more you can contact me or call Marc at ISMI Gun Springs, at: (800) 773-1940 Regards, – Pistolsmith Teddy Jacobson


Dear Jim,
There actually has been very little trouble with troops using aftermarket parts on their M16s.
As near as I can tell, the first changes were the desert tan furniture that Cavalry Arms donated to many units, along with private purchase light mounts and optics, since only a few specific troops and units were issued these.
It has reached a point, according to a friend of mine deployed as a small arms repairer, that as long as the returned weapon matches the issue, commanders have stopped worrying about what happens in between. A search for photos will show that almost no two troops have quite the same configuration. After my unit returned from Afghanistan, I helped clean 200 M4s for return to depot, and a huge number still had aftermarket mounts on them, even with accessories removed.
One word of caution is that, while mod uppers and even sidearms are allowed in theater, very few commanders are willing to sign for non-MTOE gear to return from overseas. This is probably due to the liability risk of a soldier attempting to return a war trophy, which, while once common, is now prohibited.
I’m eager to try the HK 416, but won’t be spending money on one until I’ve had a chance to. While there are limitations to the M16, I am familiar with them. I’m not prepared to trust H&K’s marketing department that their version is without flaw.
Good advice for weapon platforms in Arabian conditions is to use dry graphite lube or no oil at all (if graphite is not available) in lieu of oil which will attract sand and create sludge. Remember that Arabian sand (especially in the South) is as fine as clay, and turns into cement like muck as it dries. Oil should be considered an expedient repair method during the mission if needed, and then cleaned thoroughly afterwards. I suspect a lot of malfunctions are due to troops being eager with oil. I have seen this happen even stateside.
A dry-lubed AR can actually blow its receiver clean of sand, and, from some operators, has an advantage in that regard. Of course, others are equally condemning. It’s one weapon that almost no one is ambivalent about. – Michael Z. Williamson

Pakistan Ordnance Factory? Are you kidding? Slow down and get with the program! See: Thanks for SurvivalBlog and “Patriots” . You have really helped me wake the People I care about up. – Mark

JWR Replies: That was indeed my mistake. Here is a quote from POF-USA’s “Contact” web page page, that threw me: [begin quote]
P.O.F.-USA, INC. has engineered, manufactured and tested this system. We are extremely proud of the durability and performance of the P-415 / P-416 Gas-Piston uppers. We have eliminated features of the Gas Operating System such as gas-rings, gas tube, gas key. The P-415 / P-416 Gas-Piston system also eliminates Heat, Carbon build up and Gas Leaks which can have an adverse effect on the operating system. The biggest issue being “HEAT”. A weapons first priority, must be “RELIABILITY”.
We first displayed our gas piston uppers at the 2004 Shot Show. We have engineered the entire system using standard “AR15/M16” style parts such as the flat top receiver and bolt. We add only three additional parts to operate our gas piston uppers (Gas plug, Gas piston, and push rod). All uppers come standard with C.R.O.S. (Corrosion Resistant Operating System).
G3 / HK-91 PARTS
All items are new, made on HK licensed tooling from Pakistan Ordnance Factories and J.L.D. Enterprises, Inc.
MP-5 / HK-94 PARTS
All items are new, made on HK licensed tooling from Pakistan Ordnance Factories.
[end quote]
Up until they started making 415 and 416 uppers and lowers, most of POF-USA’s parts were manufactured in Pakistan. The company got its start in partnership with Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF), and the the word “Patriot” was substituted for “Pakistan”, for US marketing purposes. Nearly al of their HK91 and HK MP5 products were (and still are) made in Pakistan, at one of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories plants. So when I saw their 415 and 416 upper and lower assemblies advertised, I just assumed that they were also made in Pakistan. After receiving your e-mail, I contacted POF-USA to confirm this. But I was surprised to hear their reply: “Our gas piston system is 100% USA made and we are the patent holder and manufacturer!” It is good to hear that it is an American-made product, but disappointing to hear that they latched on to the “416” designation without using HK’s technology. Obviously, the POF-USA upper gas piston parts will not interchange with original HK 416 gas piston parts. 🙁 Shame on me for assuming that because they used the HK “416” designation and because they had previously imported HK clone parts from Pakistan, that these new parts were also made by POF in Pakistan. I just went back and corrected my original post. Thanks to Mark for pointing out my error.