Gas Impingement vs Piston?

Cameron Hopkins, from the American Rifleman, talks to both sides of the gas impingement vs piston operation systems for the AR platform of rifles.  I have a barebones M4 style AR-15 rifle.  I’ve heard both sides of the debate, and like Cameron I run a gas impingement system rather than piston.

A friend that shoots competitively for the CMP and NRA with AR-15 rifles also prefers the gas impingement system as well.  He witnessed a torture test on a standard gas impingement system AR-15, to see how long it could go without cleaning.  Approximately 100 rounds were fired each week through the AR-15, and it wasn’t until 6,200 rounds later that there was a single failure (fire, feed, extract, eject).

I know that the piston system is supposed to prevent the AR platform of rifles from ‘pooping where they eat’ but with the results of the torture test, I’m in no rush to convert my AR-15 over to a piston system.  Not to mention that Hopkins mentions a bit about pistons causing the bolt carrier to tilt slightly — which was never designed to be tilted — thus possibly causing problems down the road.

One thought on “Gas Impingement vs Piston?

  1. I love this subject! Probably more because I like stirring the pot and less, because it doesn’t really matter. The author is correct insofar as how the platforms operate, but not where they operate. Here in the US (or where ever your home may be) we can clean and lube to our hearts delight, but the same can’t said for our warriors in the field.

    The gas-piston system doesn’t require a soldier in the field to “keep it lubed” where firefights might last days and round count may be in the 1,000’s.

    I like both systems and would own both. If I was deployed to a FOB in the middle east, where the only lube may be piss or spit, I’d prefer a gas-piston setup.

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