So, I completely stripped the Norinco CQA (AR-15 M4 clone) and the bolt assembly and firing pin were filthy - so much so that the bolt struggled to move in the bolt carrier - that would explain the reliability issues. Accuracy, however was not a problem, even with the cheap ammo and the standard open sights built into the carrying handle - but some kind of better sight would definitely help.
So, which parts would be going back together and which would be destined for the spares box?
Starting with the lower, the first part I changed was a part that didn't strictly need changing, but I had a replacement (destined for a future project involving a Remington 870) - the buffer tube. The Norinco has a commercial spec tube, but the replacement that the Colonel sourced was nicer quality, better finished and lighter - so on it went along with a different buffer tube endplate - another great item sourced by the Colonel. This one is beautifully finished and allows either a single point or a two point sling to be mounted on either side. I know that this Sling Adapter will be on www.colonelmustard.ca shortly and we have good stocks...
The pictures show both sides of the new endplate along with the take-off part for comparison. The next set of pictures show the differences between the buffer tubes - with the replacement on the bottom in both pictures and the lighter of the two scale pictures (with roughly an ounce difference).
To be continued...
Ok, so I have a confession to make: I am normally pretty particular about my firearms and make it a point to completely strip, clean and reassemble anything new (or new to me) before I use it - that way I have a good understanding of how it works and I know that all is good (as long as I put it back together properly)... then I bought a new Norinco AR-15 M4 clone, designated a CQA, for a ridiculously low sum from a well-known Canadian dealer.
I pulled out the piece of gauze from the end of the barrel, opened it up to make sure there weren't any more inside, wiped over the outside and... used it - for about 500 rounds over a couple of sessions using only cheap and dirty Norinco surplus ammo. I didn't clean it. At all. And I didn't feel guilty - it's an AR-15, so it's meant to be used, right? All was good, apart from one 10 round pistol mag that occasionally seated itself a little too deeply in the mag well. But over the last 50 rounds or so, I was getting a few stoppages - failures to feed and failures to fully eject.
I guess I need to clean it - and maybe while it's in pieces I'll swap some of them... before then, this is what it looks like stock and what it weighs - 6.85 lb or 6 lb 13.5 oz., as Colonel Mustard would prefer (I did say I was particular).
...to be continued.