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Experiance or thoughts on Sharps Relia-bolt?

Discussion in 'Rifle Discussion' started by IronMonster, Aug 30, 2014.

  1. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    I recently purchased a couple of Sharps Relia-bolt's. Part of what sold me was the fact they are using S-7 which is a shock resistance high end alloy that is around 75% stronger than Mil spec. I don't know how I feel about the redesigned lug though.

    My first thought is its a solution in search of a problem. There claim is that the new lug will blast through crud and lock in battery where a conventional bolt would hang up. I was not in the military, have never wielded a firearm as combat tool so my experience is limited to say the least but with modern high quality DI AR's this does not seem to be a wide spread problem? I know there are piston converts and believers that think DI guns are a cesspool of filth and carbon but my (limited) experience has been that its not a problem to fire a thousand rounds between a quick hose down with no reliability concerns with only a "real" cleaning every several thousand. ( I almost never go that far but I have with no issues) Of course I am talking about relatively high end AR's with quality ammo.

    I read a discussion with John Noveske back in the day when the piston rage was in its infancy. The interviewer ask him when they would be joining the piston market, He said never, It made heavier firearms that required specialized parts which attempted to solve a problem that didn't exist. (that is paraphrased, that's not a quote, just the jist of what he was saying best I can remember) That kind of stuck with me , I was thinking I had to have a piston gun at the time.

    Anyway what is your take? is it a gimmick? A revolutionary break through? I have quality BCG in all my AR's as I believe they are the heart of the platform, If its worth owning, its worth a $200 BCG. I bought of couple of these I plan to run in my "shooters" for a long term test. I'll report back as I feel the need but I am still curious what the general feeling is.

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  2. BlackSheepJ

    BlackSheepJ Central Washington Member

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    If I may, I was researching this particular product recently, and would like to share my personal findings. S7 steel is a very tough material, significantly stronger than other common bolt steels, in ductile strength. Meaning that if you repeatedly struck S7 it would hold it's true form longer than other types of steel. However, I ran into a problem. S7 isn't the 'toughest' steel by far. Technically, many different alloys, specifically cobalt steels beat it to a bloody pulp.

    What are you solving using S7 in an AR-15? It might out last your barrel, which then would require a replacement bolt so that they can wear into one another or maintain proper head-spacing with the new barrel, but in the life of a barrel, how many repeated cyclings do you need? Frankly I think Sharps may be over engineering what is necessary for reliable function and wear and tear. The change in bolt geometry is more interesting to me, though I have never once seen a malfunction the bolt could correct that remedial actions couldn't. In my experience build up occurs around moving parts, not on them, the rear of the bolt being the chief example. Would this bolt allow more build up in the barrel extension than an ordinary bolt? My thinking is yes.

    I simply don't see the need of this bolt, but believe me, I do understand the want. Whether we will ever need our rifle when our life or livelihoods are on the line or not, the idea that they work 100% of the time is a comforting thought. I just don't see these bolts being that special, but if the extra money spent helps you in some way, go for it. Then again I could be wrong, it happens frequently. I am looking forward to you observations though.
  3. IronMonster

    IronMonster Washington Opinionated Member Diamond Supporter

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    Actually BlacksheepJ I think we are about on the same page. As far as S7 not being the toughest, I don't know that the toughest is actually what you want. There are hundreds of alloys and each has some defining characteristics. S7 is a impact/shock resisting alloy. It is mostly used in high end pneumatic tool bits that get beat a hundred times a minute into something else.

    I am a blacksmith by trade and I forge quite a bit of S7, along with other steels such as H13 which is a high heat steel and 4340 which is one of the nickel/chrome super alloys (with very little in common with its little brother 4140). S7 is great for some things and not so great for others but it seems to me that a AR bolt is a perfect use of its property's and is far better suited than cobalt or anything of that sort. Cobalt is too hard, it likely would not take the shock well. It would never deform but would likely crack as its so hard it has no give at all. There is a fine balance between hardness and toughness. Steels that get really hard tend to be brittle and not take shock well. Steels that are really tough typically wont take or hold a razor edge and are subject to fluid deformation effects from repeated blows (although they tend to give rather than break like the super hard steels)

    All in all I think S7 is a great choice, Is it necessary? Probably not. Is there any practical improvement for the average shooter? I doubt it. Over the course of a hundred thousand rounds I have no doubt the S7 would have less wear and fewer failures although over 5000-10000 rounds I bet there is no discernible difference. The mil spec steel is perfectly adequate.

    And I am with you on the lug design. I think its interesting, I am curious to see if there are any observable benefits. I am thinking maybe I will put one in a plinker AR and not clean the action at all and see what kind of round count I can get before issues start to arise. I think its sort of a solution in search of a problem but I want to keep and open mind.

    I bought them because I wanted some first hand experience to make up my own mind. For what they are I think the current price is reasonable. They are only about $20 more than a quality mil spec bolt. I would spend an extra $20 just to get the S7 with NP3 coating. My guess is the average AR guy has no first hand experience with the differences in steel alloys so I would not expect this to be a selling point for the average buyer

    I am not looking for them to solve any problem, as I don't think I have a problem to solve. I just want to put some mileage on them to make a more informed opinion. Maybe they will surprise me.

    All that said I am sort of a sucker for the "next big thing" We'll see how it turns out.
  4. rick benjamin

    rick benjamin USA, Or, Damascus Secure the drama Silver Supporter 2016 Volunteer

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    I think Sharps Relia-Bolt is a marketing variation.
    Not a critical innovation.

    What looks attractive is the 25-45 Sharps barrel.