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  #1  
Old 01-31-2020, 08:19 AM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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BRN-180 Piston Uppers

When I looked into the new Brownell's BRN-180 uppers, I began to want one. I haven't really wanted a piston upper before this, and its because it gets rid of the rear-pull charging handle, forward assist, buffer tube and it has a reciprocating RH side charging handle. It also fits any regular lower and can take a folding stock. The piston assembly looks to be less massive than others which should eliminate the 'front-heavy' feel of so many other piston uppers. Chamber is .223 Wylde and twist is 1:8. Comes in 16" and 10.5" complete with handguard, ready to drop in.
This thing is 'calling my name' but I don't want to buy anything right now because of the situation here in VA. They are also $800 so I think I'll wait for a sale.
I won't change my Colt but I would replace the upper on my 'mutt' rifle.
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  #2  
Old 01-31-2020, 03:36 PM
VoceNoctum VoceNoctum is offline
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Honestly I had little interest in them, I'm happy with my 10.3 Colt.

The new lowers they did though, the cheaper one with the altered magwell is super nifty and if the total was cheaper I'd probably have one even though I don't need it by any stretch of the imagination.
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Old 01-31-2020, 07:46 PM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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Yeah, I tend to go ape for the new things but I really believe this upper could make many thousands of owners remember why they hate direct gas impingement and the nasty cleaning that goes with it. And, there is no substitute for direct control of the bolt with an attached charging handle.
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  #4  
Old 02-01-2020, 03:24 PM
VoceNoctum VoceNoctum is offline
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I have no problem with DI at all, I just like variety and a folding stock can be fun. The rear pic rail attachment hasn't been supported as much as I'd have though, but still a nice idea.

I've got plenty of guns already, so new is just new, not better. The old "What's your favorite gun?" "my next one" line.
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Old 02-01-2020, 07:45 PM
FNHipowerluv FNHipowerluv is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VoceNoctum View Post
I have no problem with DI at all, I just like variety and a folding stock can be fun. The rear pic rail attachment hasn't been supported as much as I'd have though, but still a nice idea.

I've got plenty of guns already, so new is just new, not better. The old "What's your favorite gun?" "my next one" line.
Yep, piston rifles with regular buffer tube and recoil set ups are a waste of time. Folding stocks are what show potential in a different platform.
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  #6  
Old 02-02-2020, 09:43 AM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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Or 'no stock' as in pistol with the 10.5" BRN-180S upper. I have never had any problem with DI either, but it is inherently not flexible for suppressing and various ammo powers. The 180 upper also has adjustable gas which I forgot to mention. I still think its a game-changer - not only for the AR but for the AK too, as it seems to be the answer to combining the best features of each. I wouldn't be surprised to see further development particularly in full-power .300BLK along with cheaper ammo. This would basically bury the AK.
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:01 AM
FNHipowerluv FNHipowerluv is offline
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Originally Posted by 1saxman View Post
Or 'no stock' as in pistol with the 10.5" BRN-180S upper. I have never had any problem with DI either, but it is inherently not flexible for suppressing and various ammo powers. The 180 upper also has adjustable gas which I forgot to mention. I still think its a game-changer - not only for the AR but for the AK too, as it seems to be the answer to combining the best features of each. I wouldn't be surprised to see further development particularly in full-power .300BLK along with cheaper ammo. This would basically bury the AK.
PSA just introduced an AK with a STANAG Magwell and adjustable gas block. This opens up all sorts of options. Put some Valmet style sights, and some sort modern optic mounting system, and it could be a very promising base gun.
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  #8  
Old 02-02-2020, 01:28 PM
bradsvette bradsvette is offline
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Well, here's a vote for the BRN-180 upper. DI guns get disproportionately dirty while shooting them. A piston gun doesn't. If you're a fastidious cleaner, or if you don't shoot your ARs much, or if carbon crud welding itself to your bolt isn't bothersome, then DI guns are great.

Piston guns stay cleaner. Plus, the side charging feature alone of the BRN-180 makes it worthwhile, but only if it is ambidextrous, meaning in this case able to be swapped to the other side. If it's right hand only, then I guess one could learn to run the gun in the support hand (assuming a RH shooter). The whole thing for $800 seems like a bargain when comparing it to one of the ultra-high-end piston uppers, like LWRC, which just the upper retails for $2000.

Last edited by bradsvette; 02-02-2020 at 01:39 PM.
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  #9  
Old 02-02-2020, 03:15 PM
VoceNoctum VoceNoctum is offline
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Originally Posted by 1saxman View Post
Or 'no stock' as in pistol with the 10.5" BRN-180S upper.
I think everyone braces now, so it's not that big of a deal compared to the olden days of yore. A decade ago when I worked at a dealer, the Keltec PLR16 was one of our best sellers. Now I wonder if anyone still cares about them.
Quote:
I have never had any problem with DI either, but it is inherently not flexible for suppressing and various ammo powers. The 180 upper also has adjustable gas which I forgot to mention.
Adjustable gas is good, but plenty of DI's with adjustable gas. For a silencer, piston port pop is irritating, and they have as much chamber debris as DI, though obviously no gas tube gas.

The keltec RDB is good for that, no chamber to get blasted by, but still port pop. My Beretta ARX is horrible to suppress in 10", but hella fun anyway so I'll leave the silencer on my Colt. If someone had a RDB-S I could handle, I'd probably buy one.

But anyway, Brownells! I'll give them a bit to see some reviews (since I do think they had a couple issues that they've fixed already) and wait for the neater/ cheaper lower to decide.

Quote:
I still think its a game-changer - not only for the AR but for the AK too, as it seems to be the answer to combining the best features of each. I wouldn't be surprised to see further development particularly in full-power .300BLK along with cheaper ammo. This would basically bury the AK.
Honestly, there's too many game-changers to matter anymore. I'd buy this over a SIG MCX (trust Brownells more than SIG) or the CZ or B&T or whatnot, but is it better? We're living in the golden age of 5.56, enjoy the variety.
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Old 05-25-2020, 08:28 PM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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In the spirit of 'enjoying the variety' and also because of the Memorial Day $150 off, I pushed the button on a BRN-180 upper yesterday. My son has already called dibs on my existing upper, a CMMG modified HBAR, middy, 1:7, 5.56, chrome lined, shaved sight base, MOE handguard, M4 receiver, M16 bolt carrier. That has been a good rifle but its too heavy for what it is. I'll swap over the ACOG and keep the M16A1 stock but without the recoil spring and rifle buffer. If I fall over a free or cheap carbine stock and buffer tube I might do that at some point. The lower is an old roll mark Aero Precision with an ALG-ACT ignition set in it.
Meanwhile I'm just looking forward to getting rid of every AR15 pet peeve at one time with this upper, like gas in the receiver, firing residues in the bolt carrier and on the bolt tail, charging handle location and function, no direct control of the bolt and of course, THE SPROING! I will still have a DI AR15, a Colt AR15A3 (6721) that I love very much and which I would never change, but the new rifle is intriguing - can't wait to get it rigged up and to the range.
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Old 05-25-2020, 10:11 PM
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Tom Freeman Tom Freeman is offline
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I got to shoot one of these uppers the other day and I was impressed with the lack of felt recoil. Shooting factory XM-193 ammo it was really soft shooting. It felt like there was a brake on there, but it was just a plain jane flash hider.

Might have to get one for a shorty project.
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Old 05-25-2020, 11:40 PM
Striker2237 Striker2237 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradsvette View Post
Well, here's a vote for the BRN-180 upper. DI guns get disproportionately dirty while shooting them. A piston gun doesn't. If you're a fastidious cleaner, or if you don't shoot your ARs much, or if carbon crud welding itself to your bolt isn't bothersome, then DI guns are great.

Piston guns stay cleaner. Plus, the side charging feature alone of the BRN-180 makes it worthwhile, but only if it is ambidextrous, meaning in this case able to be swapped to the other side. If it's right hand only, then I guess one could learn to run the gun in the support hand (assuming a RH shooter). The whole thing for $800 seems like a bargain when comparing it to one of the ultra-high-end piston uppers, like LWRC, which just the upper retails for $2000.
Hey now I quite like my non bargain LWRCs lol! Honestly even the DI ones don't really get too dirty with the ceramics and nickel treatment but the piston ones are disgusting how much full auto they can do without getting warm or dirty

I'm waiting on a sale on armalite lowers for the 10 inch 180 since I want to use it for my next pistol build
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Old 05-26-2020, 06:52 PM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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'Keltec PLR16 was one of our best sellers. Now I wonder if anyone still cares about them.'

I've always wanted one and there's still nothing like it. The ultimate truck gun.
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Old 06-07-2020, 11:16 AM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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I received my upper today (yes, on Sunday!). Right off the bat, I have to say it fits my Aero Precision lower absolutely perfectly. You have to push down a bit on the back of the upper to snap the pin in but there is NO wobble in the assembly. Its not as light as I had hoped but I guess the rifle is about a pound or so lighter (I had a long rifle buffer and spring in it before). Everything seems functional but now I need to shoot it.
On the fit; my previous upper had a little too much play considering this is my scoped AR, so I put a wedge in it which required considerable force to close but did work fine (yes, I trimmed it but didn't want to go any lower). With the new upper and no wedge, the pressure needed to pin it is much lighter and most likely will break in a little. I don't know, I'm just looking forward to settling my face down behind that ACOG without thinking once about the rare instances of the charging handle popping back into your nose, and also I won't miss that puff of smoke that comes out the back of the receiver after every shot. As long as it shoots as well as the other one, about 1.5 to 1.75 MOA, I will be very content. Otherwise I don't know if I will keep it. Let's just say I'm keeping all the old parts until I know what I have here.


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Last edited by 1saxman; 06-07-2020 at 01:37 PM.
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Old 06-08-2020, 10:29 AM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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Function was good and accuracy seems to be okay. I started out at 50 yds where I was 6" low I was able to fairly quickly walk it up to about 1" low which I thought would be about right at 100 yds. Groups were a little scattered and it was me. I just couldn't get 'in the zone' with it this morning and its like starting out with a new rifle. I never went to the 100 - I'll go back another day.
One thing happened several times - on the last round (lock-back), the last fired case would get knocked back into the receiver. Because I was shooting from bags and laying the rifle on its side to pull the mag and put it back in, the case did not have the opportunity to fall out. Normally it would fall out when you remove the mag with the mag well vertical.
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Old 06-08-2020, 01:54 PM
M-Peltier M-Peltier is offline
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Though I like the concept, one of the virtues Eugene Stoner posited of the 180 was that it was supposed to be more economical than an AR15 to manufacture. I guess they are not passing that savings onto the customer.
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Old 06-08-2020, 04:01 PM
Jim Watson Jim Watson is online now
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It wasn't the difference between piston and DI, it was the material of construction.
The AR 15 is cheap... if you have an aluminum production and fabricating industry.
If you don't, the AR 18 was meant to be banged out on sheet metal presses... like an AK.

Whatever advantage of the AR 15 piston mutant might have, you are at the mercy of the manufacturer. These things seem to come and go, and there is no standardization.
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Old 06-09-2020, 05:08 PM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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It reminds me of a really well-made AK in .223 - I like it. This is not my 'go-to' AR - Where I live you probably don't need a scope to defend your area. I just think I need one scoped rifle and this is it. I might be in for an ammo change though - I was using the 77gr IMI in the old upper with 1:7 barrel, and I noticed at the range that some 24-year-old 62gr reloads I had made in 1996 actually were more accurate in the 1:8 barrel. I have lots of 62gr but I also have some 69gr OTM that really works in my Colt 1:9. I also have some 75gr OTM that I will try next along with the 69gr. I may be selling the 77gr and buying more of whichever one works best.
I also plan to set up my phone to video at slo-mo and see how those last rounds are staying in the receiver. I might be changing charging handles.
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Old 06-13-2020, 04:03 PM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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Now with the Strike industries 'Warhog' mini-comp I had on the prior upper.
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Last edited by 1saxman; 06-14-2020 at 09:01 AM.
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Old 06-18-2020, 03:00 PM
1saxman 1saxman is offline
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I had no more trouble with ejecting so I guess that was a 'break-in' thing. I did find that it really likes the PRVI 69gr OTM. The Colt with 1:9 barrel likes it too, so I guess I'm going to be looking for a lot more of that. I need to find a 5.56 load that works in it too. M855 is probably going to be the one.
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Old 06-18-2020, 11:20 PM
BBBBill BBBBill is offline
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Originally Posted by M-Peltier View Post
Though I like the concept, one of the virtues Eugene Stoner posited of the 180 was that it was supposed to be more economical than an AR15 to manufacture. I guess they are not passing that savings onto the customer.
If it were a true AR-18/180 upper it would be less expensive to manufacture at scale. This is an AR-18/180 look-a-like with similar operating system using a forged aluminum upper in small scale production for a niche market.
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Old 06-19-2020, 04:22 PM
M-Peltier M-Peltier is offline
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If it were a true AR-18/180 upper it would be less expensive to manufacture at scale. This is an AR-18/180 look-a-like with similar operating system using a forged aluminum upper in small scale production for a niche market.
I get that, I sorta meant it Tonge in cheek.
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Old 06-21-2020, 10:54 PM
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I went a little different with mine re muzzle device. The issue one seems over-sized and the AR-180 is light on recoil anyway. I have a Robinson M-96 and it's soft shooting in about the same measure. I went with an old "Duckbill" flash hider. Works fine and doesn't add too much length or weight.
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