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Direct impingement or gas piston?

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It’s estimated that Americans own over 20 million AR-15 style firearms, which is awesome.

When you hear politicians talk about these firearms, they often mention that these rifles are weapons of war.

But what politicians forget is that many firearms were first designed for war.

For example, your grandfather’s favorite hunting rifle may have been a Henry lever action rifle.

Politicians fail to remember that the Henry rifle was made for the Civil War, and it had a devastating effect on the battlefield.

Throughout history, weapons were made for war and self-defense.

These days the AR-15 is a self-defense firearm for millions of Americans.

For example, a few months ago, a Texas man used an AR-15 in self-defense, and there was little reporting on the incident.

The man, who lives in Brownsboro, TX, heard glass breaking near the front door of his home.

He armed himself with an AR-15 and soon found himself face-to-face with an intruder. In fact, two intruders (a male and female) had forced entry into the home.

The homeowner held the male intruder at gunpoint while he called the police. The second suspect fled before police arrived.

The Brownsboro Independent School District locked exterior doors of nearby schools and students were not allowed to leave while police searched for the second suspect.

Law enforcement officers from several agencies searched the town for the remaining suspect but were unable to locate her.

The man who was arrested and charged with burglary of a habitation was taken to the Henderson County Jail.

The homeowner made a good choice when it came to a home defense weapon.

AR-15s are versatile firearms and come in different sizes and even different operating systems.

The two systems are known as direct impingement and gas piston. Since there are two different systems, which is the best choice for you?

Let’s consider each and their benefits and drawbacks…

Direct impingement (DI):

The first AR-15 was designed with a direct impingement (DI) system.

This system works by directing gas through a cavity in the barrel. Then, it pushes through a small tube and impacts the bolt carrier.

The DI mechanism extracts and ejects the spent casing as the gas is forced to the back of the gun.

Next, the system moves the next round into the barrel chamber and is ready to fire again.

Benefits of direct impingement:

The direct impingement system has been around for a long time. It’s a system that has worked for decades.

The biggest benefit to the DI system is that it is lightweight. Also, the system is versatile and works with different barrel lengths and calibers.

Another advantage to the DI system is that there is less recoil. This is because the gas moves the bolt carrier more slowly.

Problems with direct impingement:

The biggest complaint with DI systems is reliability.

This is especially true with shorter barrels, as a shorter barrel can lead to extraction issues.

Also, the system can cause the gas port to erode over time. In select-fire rifles, this is a more common problem since it reduces the cycle time.

Gas piston:

As the AR-15 increased in popularity there was a desire to develop a more reliable system than DI.

So, the gas piston AR-15 system was introduced using designs based on the AK-47.

The AK has an operating rod that acts as a piston. Depending on who you ask this system was an improvement over direct impingement.

Unlike the DI system, the gas piston system uses pressure to push a metal rod to the rear of the gun. The rod, or piston, strikes the top of the bolt to cycle the action.

Benefits of gas piston:

Gas piston systems are newer and more reliable than DI.

Since gas piston systems don’t have as many variations, they are less likely to malfunction.

Plus, with a gas system, the operating piston does most of the work rather than just the gas. This can lead to better performance when firing many rounds.

Drawbacks to gas piston:

The biggest problem with a gas piston system is that they are known to be less accurate compared to direct impingement.

The reason is that there is a rotating piston that affects the barrel movements. Also, the piston adds extra weight to the rifle.

Finally, gas piston systems tend to be more expensive than DI.

Which system is better?:

Deciding which system is better comes down to personal preference.

The DI system is usually more accurate and a more affordable rifle.

On the other hand, a gas piston system is more reliable and helps the rifle run cooler.

The direct impingement system is tried and tested for decades. With quality ammo, it should perform well.

Yet, if you spend hours at the range shooting hundreds of rounds, a gas piston system might hold up a little better.

It all comes down to which factors are most important to you, and you can use the information above to help you decide.

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