The 1% Solution for Customer Service Issues

1% of the cost of a rifle or upper receiver assembly.

Maybe that’s too much to ask. I do know that margins are pretty low in this business.

What am I talking about? I’m asking manufacturers to spend 1% of the money they make from the sale of a rifle or upper receiver assembly on ammunition with which to test fire the weapon in question. Maybe spend .5% on ammunition and .5% on an extra employee to just look at stuff before it goes out the door. Poke it. Prod it. See if stuff falls off. Make sure that the right parts were used.

Evidence of sufficient test firing on a new production Spike's Tactical upper receiver assembly.

I’ve seen way too many issues recently that resulted from poor or nonexistent quality control at various manufacturers. It almost seems to be escalating. Take, for example, the DSA uppers that are still shipping out with rifle barrel extensions and M4 upper receivers, six months after they were initially made aware of the issue. For those that don’t know, this combination creates a large divot underneath the left and the right feed ramps in an AR-15 upper, and can cause the weapon to stop functioning. I’d post a link, but DSA deleted the thread in their industry forum. It’s too bad that they didn’t decide to spend more time on quality control and less time on hiding their mistakes.

It’s not just cheap, low end manufacturers, though – the new LWRC REPR has a problem with magazines. Not just one or two, but all of them. A significant number of new REPRs simply will not function with the supplied magazines, Magpul mags, DPMS mags, or Knight’s Armament mags. Certain magazines fall out of the rifle after a few shots are fired. Now, LWRC decided to ship the REPR with CProducts magazines, but wouldn’t it also make sense to test their rifle with the other magazines on the market? By the way, this rifle lists for over $3,000.

The Bushmaster ACR is currently selling for anywhere between $2,200 and $2,500. 1% of that would be a full magazine or two (at retail prices for brass cased ammunition). However, Bushmaster apparently sees fit to fire only three to five rounds through their rifles, according to a dealer which saw a fair sample size of ACRs. This extensive test program didn’t stop at least one ACR from shipping with a loose barrel.

Colt fires a full 30 round magazine through every rifle that leaves their factory. Ruger also fires 30 rounds through every SR-556 they sell, after which the rifles are inspected thoroughly before shipping. Many other manufacturers have similar test programs, and the silence is deafening – that is, we don’t hear about too many problems with Bravo Company or Spike’s Tactical upper receiver assemblies. In fact, I’m told that so far, only one Spike’s Tactical M4 LE upper has been returned for functional issues, and those were entirely ammo related: the owner was trying to shoot gun show reloads through the rifle. It should go without saying that such ammunition is low quality, and in this case, powder charges varied wildly, preventing the weapon from functioning properly.

So, is 1% too much? That’d be 15-20 rounds or so for the average upper receiver assembly, assuming that the manufacturers got a deal on the ammunition. It’s climb pretty rapidly for a $3000 rifle. Maybe it should be limited to one full magazine. So, 1% of the cost of the weapon or upper, or one full magazine, whichever costs less. I don’t think it’s too much to ask. It’s cheaper than shipping items back and forth, paying a guy to fix all the broken/nonfunctional stuff returned for repair, and lost sales due to bad publicity.

You’re welcome to spend your money where you want, but I’ll keep buying items from companies that care enough to carve a portion of their profit away in order to make sure that the customer receives a working product.

Update 4/14: I examined an ACR today and it appeared to have been test fired at least 20 times. That’s a definite improvement. However, it doesn’t explain the loose barrel as seen above.



Filed under Firearms

11 responses to “The 1% Solution for Customer Service Issues

  1. Mike W

    Amen brother. I’d have a meltdown if I’d just bought a REPR and my various mags didn’t work or plain fell out.

  2. JB

    Amen covers it. One of the reasons I bought an SR556 is because of good experince with quality control and service from Ruger.

  3. I think you have it backwards: let’s take the cost of a magazine of ammo and add it to the price – is the premium offset by the apparent rise in quality to the consumer? I don’t think we should look at a $400 upper and ask the manufacturer to take a $40 hit on a magazine or two; we should ask if we’re willing to pay a $40 premium on an otherwise $400 upper in order to know that all of the bathtub curve issues have been knocked out.

    • Andrew (Vuurwapen Admin)

      1% of $400 is $4, not $40. 😉

      I think they could easily tack $4 on to the price if they really wanted to, and it wouldn’t be a huge deal to me as a consumer, especially if I knew that I wouldn’t have to deal with the hassle of returning a faulty product.

      • I’m suggesting they could spend 10% and, if it delivered a better experience, people would pay it. Look at the price penalty people pay for LaRue’s OBR or Knight’s SR25 – they pay for the reliability, which I’d bet comes from hard experience at both companies.

  4. Darren

    Wow, do you ever have it wrong! I suppose you consider yourself a pretty smart guy. Acting as a pseudo journalist, so don’t you owe it to your readers to supply accurate information?

    Would be happy to educate, but only if interested. Seems you are not if you want to pontificate from a pedestal.

  5. Mike W

    I’m glad you knew what Darren was talking about since it doesn’t reference anything in his post (at least how it’s posted)

  6. Pingback: +Lifealist » Blog Archive » The 1% Solution For CS Issues

  7. Maigo

    If you’re buying something (anything), it had better work the first time, every time.

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