15,000 Rounds and Counting. AR-15 Torture Testing (Now with Sand!)

Ballistic Radio has been diligently doing what most of us could not – torture testing an AR-15 through the end of its life. Now past 15,000 rounds of cleaning-free operation, they moved on to the “fun” part of testing, now using sand (on a closed dust cover).

The cover does not keep everything out of the action, but it does help. Check out the video below to see the gritty action. (Pun very much intended)

*Note- Some NSFW language is in the video. Use appropriate caution.

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For detailed video of the aftermath to the action, hit the link to be taken to GunNuts. 

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • d_grey

    An interesting torture test, but at the end of the day, it still ain’t near the Ak. 😛

    • Joshua

      Even the AK isn’t near the AK of the intermet.

      • d_grey

        Well put!

    • andrey kireev

      Depends… I crappily put together AK is a lot less reliable and jams on its own… I know, because I have one… (out of 5) …

  • Esh325

    These “sand tests” have been repeated hundreds of times and at the end of the day they are nothing but marketing really because there’s nothing scientific about them.

  • andrey kireev

    Oohhh, I know, for the next test leave dust cover open !

  • echelon

    Next Test: continuous mag dumps on full auto in 100+ degree weather with sand blowing in the wind. Oh and with armed people shooting back at you…

    Get back to me then.

    • n0truscotsman

      Already done

      • echelon

        Yep and it chokes well before 15k rounds too! 😉

        • Joshua

          Never seen a gun go 15,000 rounds between failures in Afghanistan or Iraq. Not the AK, not our M110’s, not our M107’s, not our M4A1’s, not our M2’s, not our M249’s, not our M240’s, etc, etc, etc.

          Fact is stoppages happen to every rifle and none will ever get 15,000MRBS in places like Afghanistan.

          I will say in recent tests done by us, upgraded SOPMOD M4A1’s with Pmags had around 1,200MRBS.

          • echelon

            See. Just like I said WELL before 15K rounds. 🙂 AK is easily double that for sure.

            I’m just trolling a little bit. People get all worked up over the DI vs. Piston, AK vs. AR stuff. I just think it’s funny.

            I personally prefer piston systems primarily for cleaning reasons (I’m lazy) and I’m left handed and I’ve had some nasty gas-in-face experiences with some DI guns.

            Having said that, I do own a DI gun that I use primarily for hunting.

  • Don Ward

    Yes. But what if you accidentally drop your ham sammich into the action?

    • Sam Schifo

      If you store your sandwiches in the magwell like me then you should be fine. I’ve never had one work it’s way in.

    • Joshua

      The AR does fine with ham sammiches, its true weakness is the twinkies.

  • Joshua

    They are now right at the point where standard bolts begin to fail. Generally anywhere from 10,000-14,000 rounds in a military M4A1 is when the bolt snaps lugs, should be interesting to see how much further this bolt goes.

  • TheSmellofNapalm

    Nothing beats a badass sand camo job than actual sand

  • Grindstone50k

    Magpul should make FDE sand.

  • Ethan

    You have some pour spelling issues. (get it?)

  • Grindstone50k

    (Subject to ITAR restrictions)

  • Ryan Osborn

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  • Kivaari

    Any box magazine self loading rifle will fail if given enough sand. Many AKs encountered in the field after being dropped by the Egyptian soldiers were inoperable due to sand in the magazines. No one should expect any infantry rifle or pistol to function if it is left dirty. I had the pleasure of talking to an Israeli weapons expert while he worked for Detonics in the Bellevue factory. He recalled being with Galili (yes that one) inspecting AKs left behind by fleeing Egyptian soldiers. They found most were inoperable due to sand in the magazines. Glili was looking at an AKM, when he dropped it to the ground and stepped on the receiver. It collapsed. He was said to comment, “When we make ours, it will have a machined receiver”. Thus the Galil rifle was in the works. A fine variant of the AK. Heavy and costly, but a good rifle, that would stop working given enough sand.

  • ruffone

    You must not have clicked on the link above that has another video further showing him cycling the bolt where you can clearly see and hear all the grit in the upper.

    1. And he never says the system is totally sealed, he actually states that dirt and grit does get in.

    2. Most AR’s have play in them, they usually have a small gap between the upper and lower so sand will get in them.

    People like you who speak before really thinking and doing their own research are half the problem with this myth.

  • ruffone

    So you are saying that our soldiers open up their ejection port covers while the bolt is locked in the rear and then pour sand in them during combat? Wake up…

  • echelon

    All I’ll say is that most of the trusted military small arms are piston systems. And not converted AR piston systems either.

    The AR does just fine because the US Armed Forces decided not to give up on it and they’ve spent a lot of money continually improving it. Not many other guns have had that kind of support. I would daresay that if any other marginal design was given the same treatment and support as the AR platform then it would probably be a good performer at this point as well.

    So other than the one example I just don’t see anyone clamoring for any other DI gun system.