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  1. #1
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    New: Spike's Tactical 16" Dedicated Piston Upper

    With many of the manufacturers of AR15s selling piston driven weapons…..it’s only fitting that the folks at Spike’s Tactical jump into the complete piston driven AR15 upper receiver market.

    100% made in the US, teaming up with the professionals at Adam's Arms, Spike’s Tactical brings us their 16“ Dedicated Piston Driven Upper Receiver Assembly.

    I’d like to take a moment to thank Tom and the whole team at Spike’s Tactical for sending me one of their upper receivers for evaluation and review, making this of course all possible.



  2. #2
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    The upper receiver shipped to me for evaluation, arrived per UPS and came well packaged in a sturdy cardboard box. Upon opening that box I was greeted by the well known logo of Spike‘s Tactical…..the Spike‘s Spider.

    The upper receiver was sealed in a thick see through plastic bag. Opening the sealed bag I took note of the application of oil as a corrosion prevention measure.

    Well packaged and protected for shipment within this foam lined box, along with the upper receiver, was a Spike‘s ST-T2 Buffer Assembly, a Spike‘s Dog Tag style key ring, and an assortment of Spike‘s Tactical decals.







  3. #3
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    A wash down in Odorless Mineral Spirits made quick work of removing the oil applied as a corrosion prevention compound, and quickly revealed the deep rich black Melonite finish. A light coating of Break-Free CLP, applied with a 1” paint brush, and wiped down with a black t-shirt, made the Melonite finish that much more enjoyable to observe.


  4. #4
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    Field Stripping the upper receiver assembly, we get into the individual basic components that make up the Spike’s 16” Dedicated Piston Upper Receiver.

    1- 3 EA ERGO 18-Slot Ladder LowPro Rail Covers
    2- Spike’s Tactical One-Piece Carrier with Bolt Assembly
    3- Billet Charging Handle
    4- Mil-Spec M4 Flat-top Upper Receiver
    5- Spike's ST-T2 Buffer Assembly
    6- Drive Rod
    7- Plug Assembly
    8- Daniel Defense AR15 Lite Rail 9.0
    9- Stainless Steel Melonite Coated Barrel



  5. #5
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    Disassembling the Spike’s Tactical One-Piece Carrier with Bolt Assembly, we quickly see the differences between a dedicated piston bolt and carrier assembly, and one designed for the direct gas impingement AR15.




    Taking a look at the front of the One-Piece Carrier, we see the lack of gas exhaust ports and typical carrier gas key found on the direct gas impingement carrier assembly. In place of the bolted on hollow gas key with gas passage, we have a solid one-piece integral key upon which the Drive Rod contacts during cycling.




    The rear of the carrier is designed to eliminate the problems associated with “carrier tilt”, a problem often encountered with piston driven AR15s. The carrier is widened at the rear, chamfered to aid in cycling, and designed with two large “skis” at the bottom.


  6. #6
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    The Piston Gas Block of the Spike’s Tactical Upper Receiver is adjustable with three positions of gas flow, and can be disassembled by hand without the need for tools.




    In this shot of the Piston Gas Block we see the locking lugs which engage and retain the gas Plug within the Gas Block, as well as the detents for the three positions of gas flow adjustment.



    Visible in this shot of the Piston Gas Block, we see the gas port coming up from the barrel. This gas port aligns with the gas port in the Gas Plug, and it is the rotation of the Gas Plug within the Gas Block that regulates the flow of gas.

    The flow of gas passes through the center of the Gas Plug, and into the hollow cavity of the Drive Rod pushing it to the rear, subsequently releasing the gas to the atmosphere.

    Think of this action of regulating gas flow by rotating the Gas Plug, much like that of turning the lid of a salt shaker to dispense more or less salt.



  7. #7
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    Here we have the Gas Plug. Visible in this shot is the gas port at the center of the plug, with the exhaust port showing at the bottom of the plug. At the top of the Gas Plug we see the knurled knob which aids in adjustment, and the interior of the spring activated adjustment detent.

    The lug which locks the Gas Plug within the Gas Block, can be seen just aft of the detent.



  8. #8
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    Interior shot of the upper receiver, showing the M4 style feed ramps. Note the absence of the gas tube, but in its place where the usual clover leaf gas tube hole would sit, we have the hole for the Sleeve/Guide Rod to enter through.


  9. #9
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    Spike’s Tactical ST-T2 HDTP (High Density Tungsten Powder) filled Buffer Assembly.


  10. #10
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    Outlined in the diagram below, we see the inner workings of the components of the Spike’s Piston Assembly.



    The following Adam’s Arms video details the differences between the operation cycles of the direct impingement gas system and that of the gas piston system.


  11. #11
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    Below are the specific details of the Spike’s Tactical 16” Dedicated Piston Upper Receiver Assembly.


    T2 Buffer

    - Weight: 4.3oz. (Depending on the density and size of the HDTP, weight can vary slightly.)
    - CNC machined from Solid Billet Aluminum Bar Stock.
    - Anodized Matte Black/Laser engraved with the trademark Spike’s Tactical Spider Logo.
    - Filled with HDTP (High Density Tungsten Powder) makes for a very smooth cycling rifle.
    - Eliminates the chance of bolt bounce and muzzle rise in full-auto.
    - Cuts down on felt recoil.


    Piston Upper Receiver

    - Mil-Spec M4 flat top upper receivers designed and manufactured solely for use with the Spike’s Tactical piston system.
    - Operating rod guide hole in the face of the upper receiver, is designed to the proper diameter eliminating the need of an additional steel bushing.
    - M4 feed ramps standard.
    - Standard rail T-Markings for repeat indexing of optic mounts.
    - Mil-Spec Type III hard coat anodized.
    - Mil-Spec forged billet charging handle.
    - Engraved with the trademark Spike’s Tactical Spider logo.


    Barrel

    - Manufactured from Match Quality stainless steel barrel blanks.
    - Mid-length gas system.
    - 16” length. Lightweight government profile.
    - 1/8 twist rate.
    - Chambered for 5.56mm NATO.
    - Come standard with M4 ramped barrel extension.
    - A2 Flash Hider.
    - Threaded to accept standard 1/2x28 flash suppressors or muzzle breaks.
    - Melonite coated inside and out for corrosion resistance and durability.


    Piston Block

    - Manufactured from High Quality stainless steel.
    - Low profile design, pinned to the barrel using (2) 1/8 hardened straight pins.
    - Gas pressure adjustable through the use of a spring assisted plunger.
    - 3 gas settings for: - Full Gas - Suppressed - No Gas (single shot).
    - Melonite coated inside and out.
    - Engraved with the trademark Spike’s Tactical Spider logo.


    Piston Plug and Op Rod

    - Piston plug and op rod manufactured from High Quality stainless steel.
    - Coated inside and out with Melonite.
    - Requires no tools for disassembly.
    - System can be broke down from the front of the Piston Block for maintenance/cleaning.


    Carrier

    - Bolt carriers are machined as a one piece design.
    - Machined with an enlarged diameter and chamfered end, the carrier has machined in “skis” to help prevent carrier tilt and drag.
    - Melonite coated inside and out for corrosion resistance and durability.
    - Engraved with the trademark Spike’s Tactical Spider logo.


    Bolt

    - Spring loaded design.
    - Mil-Spec, shot peened, MP marked and tested.
    - Extractor spring comes standard with black insert and Viton o-ring.


    Rail System- Free-float Daniel Defense Lite Rail 9.0

    The Daniel Defense AR15 Lite Rail 9.0 (Midlength) utilizes the Patent Pending Bolt Up System™. This innovative system gives the weapon system an uninterrupted upper rail platform and also allows the Armorer to install the rail system with simplified alignment to the upper receiver. Not only does this battle proven system provide features that no other rail system on the market possesses, but it is also the lightest rail system available.

    The 9.0 Free Float Picatinny Handguard was designed to work with mid length AR15 gas systems and its exceptionally light weight makes it perfect for short rifles where size and weight are crucial performance attributes.

    Precision CNC machined from Aircraft Grade 6061-T6 Aluminum and Military Specification Type III Hard Coat Anodized for a rock hard lasting finish while weighing in at a mere 11 ozs. The AR15 Lite Rail 9.0 Barrel Nut is constructed from hardened steel and then Military Specification Heavy Phosphate coated.

    - Aircraft Grade 6061-T6 Aluminum
    - Military Specification Type III Hard Coat Anodized
    - Weighs only 11 ozs!
    - Made in the USA!


    __________________________________________

    Spikes Tactical LLC
    2593 Clark Street #103
    Apopka, FL 32703
    USA


    www.spikestactical.com

  12. #12
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    PISTON DISASSEMBLY










  13. #13
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    I hope this review gives you a better insight into the inner workings and quality craftsmanship of the Spike’s Piston Upper Receiver. Check back often as I update this review with range reports and details involving cleaning and maintenance.
    __________________________________________________






  14. #14
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    I had the opportunity this past weekend to finally get out and shoot the piston upper that the folks at Spike’s Tactical were so kind to send me for review last fall.

    Now, having been introduced to the AR15/M16 and its direct impingement gas system some 25+ years ago, this was my first experience firing a piston driven AR. I must report, the Spike’s upper was a real pleasure to shoot. I fired about 240rds total through the upper receiver on this morning.....240 flawless, malfunction free rounds.


    Once set up at the range, first on the agenda was to lube the weapon. Here I disassembled the upper receiver and field stripped the bolt and carrier assembly. Lubing was straight forward and deviated very little from the standard bolt and carrier lubrication requirements with the exception of the requirement to lube the gas rings, which of course the piston bolt assembly lacks. Lube used for the review was Tetra Gun Oil.


    I released and removed the Plug Assembly from the Gas Block, along with the Drive Rod Assembly. With the Drive Rod in hand, I lightly lubed the Return Spring and its guide, and the portion of the Drive Rod that enters the front of the Upper Receiver.


    The Charging handle was lightly lubed, the weapon reassembled and functioned checked.


    Now to pull the trigger.....


    The ammo used for the eval was the standard Federal .223 REM 55 grain FMJ target ammo sold in the 100 Round Value Pack. Magazines used were a mix of the newest generation of Magpul PMAG, Bravo Company D&H Teflon 30rd GI mags with Magpul followers, and NHMTG 30rd GI mags with standard “green“ followers. All mags fed flawlessly with no failures to feed or malfunctions to report.

    Having heard of the difference in felt recoil between gas impingement and piston driven weapons, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect for recoil. I was surprised at the first trigger pull. The difference in recoil between the two systems was slightly noticeable, but nothing like I had envisioned. While the gas impingement system seems to have a slower more steady “push” for recoil, the piston driven system seems to have a slight “kick” to it. Nothing negative by any means, but as I mentioned above, there is a slight difference noticeable to those of us used to the familiar recoil of the original design.


    This review of the Spike’s piston upper receiver offered me a platform upon which I could review the new Lucid HD7 RDS. Seeing how the HD7 was used as a means to sight in the Spike’s upper receiver, I’ll save how the Spike’s piston upper receiver groups, for a later upcoming range review.


    I have to admit, I enjoy cleaning and maintaining my ARs. I know, I know, go ahead and say it….”Quib, you just aren’t right in the head!” “Who enjoys cleaning weapons?” Well, I do. Sorry, but I enjoy cleaning and maintaining my weapons just as much as I enjoy shooting them.

    I have to confess, I get no real enjoyment from cleaning the Spike’s Dedicated 16” Piston Upper Receiver.

    Why do I get no enjoyment, you ask? Well, because the darn thing just doesn’t get dirty! I truly believe, had the US Army issued piston driven Spike’s M16s in Basic Training, that the duration of Basic could have been cut in half, since it seemed like half that time was spent cleaning weapons!


    Back on the bench in the shop, I disassembled the weapon, field stripped the bolt and carrier, and dropped the associated parts into my mixture of Odorless Mineral Spirits and CLP. With no carbon build-up to deal with, I simply washed the parts down with a paintbrush, pulled them out, dried them off with shop air, and lightly lubed with CLP for storage. I truly felt guilty, as if I was some how neglecting the weapon. There simply wasn’t anything to scrub. A quick solvent bath, shop air drying and re-lube for storage, was it. I was done with the bolt and carrier.


    Now all this carbon had to go somewhere right? I mean, it surely must be accumulated within the Gas Block, Drive Rod Cup, and the Plug Assembly. Right away, I envisioned the piston rod from my AK’s, and how they were covered in carbon build-up.

    I disassembled the latter, only to find nothing! I had to grab a q-tip and literally search for carbon, and only to come up empty handed. Well I’ll admit, a q-tip with solvent, shoved down the gas path within the center of the Gas Plug came out slightly grey. But other than that, I couldn’t find the deep black soot so common with the direct impingement gas system! The weapon literally dumped every bit overboard.



    Now there was some slight discoloration of the Daniel Defense Lite Rail, from the exhaust ported out of the aft of the gas block during firing, but nothing that a paint brush dampened with OMS/CLP couldn’t get rid of.


    The Gas Block, Drive Rod Cup, and the Plug Assembly all received a light coating of CLP for storage, and were reassembled.

    The Melonite coated barrel proved easy to clean as well. Here I simply inserted my chamber guide, and with a plastic bore brush and CLP, made a dozen or so runs through the bore. A flushing of the chamber and locking lugs with Break-Free Powder Blast removed large deposits from this area. I followed this up with a wool mop and CLP dampened patch. The barrel was patched dry, and a CLP dampened patch ran down the bore for storage.



    The rear of the Spike’s Piston Bolt Carrier is designed to eliminate a problem known as “carrier tilt”. This is a problem which is often encountered with other piston driven AR15s in which the carrier is tilted down at the rear during cycling.

    This “carrier tilting” is known to wear into the lower receiver extension just aft of the Buffer Retainer.

    The Spike’s Bolt Carrier is designed wider at the rear, chamfered to aid in cycling, and with two large “skis” machined into the Carrier at the bottom. These design features seemed to have eliminated the potential for “carrier tilt” with the Spike’s system. The interior of the Receiver Extension of the host Lower Receiver showed no signs of “tilt” or “drag”.





    With the weapon reassembled, a function check finished the task of Preventative Maintenance.

    The Spike’s 16” Dedicated Piston Upper Receiver was not only a pleasure to shoot, but with the cleaner running piston design, it was a pleasure to clean as well.

    I look forward to continued range time with the Spike’s Piston Upper, and hope soon to outfit the upper for some target work where I can provide some grouping data as well. I’ll be sure to keep our readers and members posted of upcoming range sessions.



  15. #15
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    I had the opportunity to get out again with the Spike’s Piston Upper Receiver. For this range session, installed on the carbine was my Nikon 3-9X40 with BDC. Mounting to the weapon was provided by American Defense Manufacturing’s RECON-S scope mount.





    For this range session I choose a variety of common, locally purchased ammunition. I placed a target at 50M and used this distance to get the scope on paper. For this initial zero and the proceeding zero at 100M, I used PMC’s Bronze .223 in 55gr. Shooting due South, wind conditions for the morning according to the NOAA web site were gusting 10-15 MPH and coming slightly from the SE.



    Lube used for this session, was Break-Free’s LP. Thicker than CLP and according to Break-Free a suitable substitute for grease, I’ve found LP to be an excellent lube for the AR bolt and carrier assembly.



    The Spike’s Upper once again performed flawlessly with no weapon related malfunctions to report. I can also confidently report that there are still no signs of carrier tilt or drag.

    The only malfunctions to report, were ammunition related, and were experienced while shooting the box of American Eagle Tactical XM193. With the 20rds of AE XM193, I experienced 2-FTF’s. In the process of clearing the FTF’s, I also noticed primer anvils laying on the bench. I’m not sure if they are related to the XM193, but they were only noticed during the shooting of this ammo. The XM193 was also the worst grouping ammo of the lot. Aiming at the lower R/H bulls eye of the target, all shots were off the paper. At one point, a round hit a rock at the base of the target, fragmenting the bullet, sending shrapnel into the target ripping it from the box it was taped to.












    The Spike’s Piston Upper Receiver was once again very enjoyable to shoot. Carbon build-up from this range session mirrors my experience from the initial range report. Now I’m off to the shop to clean her up! What little clean-up there is......

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