xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' My guide to AR-15's ~ The Prepared Guy

Monday, August 10, 2015

My guide to AR-15's

I have not touched on the topic of guns for quite some time so for a brief change, that I am happy to make, i'll give you some of my thoughts and advice once again.

There are many reasons why I recommend that everyone who is serious about defending their home and family and is also serious about the right to bear arms should own an AR-15.  This is my 'quick and dirty' guide and I'm not going to provide lots of detail.  Please do your research before you make a purchase, but here's my two bits of advice.  

First, an AR-15 is an excellent choice for home protection as long as you use the right defensive ammunition in that situation.  You will want to choose a round that is meant to expand or fracture upon impact and not full metal jacket rounds.  This will help ensure that if you must fire within your home the round has a minimal chance of leaving your home and if it does it will have lost much of its velocity and will be less dangerous if it does make it out.  Because of the standard 30 round capacity magazines you have a weapon capable of defending your home from multiple attackers without reloading or swapping out magazines.

Second, the AR-15 is a relatively light rifle with a short barrel and can be used in tight quarters more effectively than many other weapons.

Third, the AR is a more versatile platform than most others that can be added to, subtracted and tweaked with accessories and options to make it just how you like it.  With your first AR you probably won't know exactly what you like or need until you put it to use and start training with it.  You'll then find out what works and what doesn't work for you in your unique situation and application.        




Fourth, it makes gun-grabbers mad that they can't control this aspect of our lives.  They call it an "assault" weapon and think it looks scary.  The truth and reality is that the look and the function of the AR-15 are what makes it so versatile, reliable as well as fun to shoot.

Fifth; A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Enough said.

Now, my advice is the way I have built my own personal AR.  After plenty of research, trial and error and lots of shooting I know exactly what you will want in your first AR too.  Obviously that's meant to be a joke, but I do believe that you can't go wrong with this advice.

The rifle above is a Smith & Wesson M&P-15.  It is mil-spec which includes the forward assist, brass deflector, flash hider/break and front iron post sight.  You can purchase a more basic AR without most of these features but I discourage it.  The ability to shoot lefty or righty without getting brass in your face is, let me say, important.  The front iron sight will get in the way of some optical sights but is easily dealt with and is "bomb proof".  The front sight is the most important.  It can be used as a blunt instrument when fighting in close quarters and it also allows for you to affix a bayonet.

The picture of the AR shown above has pencil barrel profile.  I prefer the M4 barrel as it is has the accuracy of a heavy barrel without all the extra weight. The A2 flash hider also helps to manage recoil.    

This pic shows the M4 barrel and A2 flash hider.

I am a big fan of the Magpul hardware as the rifle is outfitted above.  It's very ergonomic and extremely durable as well as good looking.  You can customize your rifle easily with Magpul accessories including choosing the color of the furniture.  The M&P rifle above is also a mid-lenth gas system.  Either carbine-length or mid-length is preferable to me and extremely reliable with minimal maintenance.  

The short magpul vertical forward grip on the hand guard is the one I use.  I have tried several different kinds and prefer this short length.  I do not hold this forward grip with my entire hand but rather place my thumb over the top of the hand guard and three fingers around this grip.  The longer mid length system and hand guard allows you to grip the rifle in multiple ways including fully extending the forward arm.  It also provides for a slightly longer sight radius which is preferable.

This rifle as is off the shelf, out of the box is excellent!  There are a few modifications that you can very easily make that will increase its reliability.  

First, switch out the wimpy stock charging handle with a BCM or other brand,  This makes chambering a round much easier especially when you are wearing gloves.  



Next, consider switching out the standard bolt carrier group with a coated BCG like ones from FailZero.  This is touted as self-lubricating and has much more wear resistance which also makes it easier to clean.  



Another mod I highly recommended is anti-rotation pins.  It sucks when you are out shooting and one of the pins holding in the trigger group falls out.  Granted this does not happen very often but it is another very easy and inexpensive way to increase the reliability of your AR-15.  It may only be an inconvenience when target shooting and a pin drops out but when it really counts I really don't want to have any problems.  



Rear sight; again, I prefer Magpul.  Either the MBUS or PRO.

Trigger;  Keep it stock.  The mil-spec trigger that comes with most basic AR's is usually a single stage that has around 7 lbs pull.  It's kinda rough and there's nothing special about it... except reliability.  Sure you could drop in a nice smooth two-stage trigger but at what cost?  They are expensive and are not as reliable as a mil-spec.  However, you do need to have spare parts.  After you have some experience with your AR and feel the need for a better trigger I say go for it.  Then you'll have the stock trigger as a back up spare part.  Put this toward the bottom of your list.  You can learn to pull a stock heavy trigger well.



Optics.  There are lots of great choices for optics.  First, get to know your gun with steel sights.  Then move up to a good quality optic.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  This is also true in optics, up to a point.  This is where it really depends upon your skill level.  If you really need the best of the best then you will end of paying upwards of $2,000 on a scope or you can spend 1/4 of that cost for a scope that will do very well for most people and skill levels.

Get a red dot.  These are best for up close as well as out to around 100 yards or so.  They are small and lightweight.  For an economical but still very good red dot go for the Bushnell TRS 25.  It's only around $100 but is really great for the $.  Consider a red dot if you primarily intend to use your AR for home defense.


For a better built red dot that is still a great value go for the Aimpoint PRO.  At less than $500 you can't go wrong with an Aimpoint.  And they go up in price from there... but most of us won't have the need for a military grade optic like some of the higher end Aimpoints.  


For me, my AR is a multipurpose tool.  It needs to work up close for defending our home as well as reach out a little farther for hunting coyotes and varmints.  To shoot accurately at distance a scope will be necessary.  The problem with many traditional scopes mounted on an AR-15, built the way I have been describing, is that they are no good up close.  Most scopes begin at 3x or 4x magnification.  For these reasons Vortex and other manufacturers make a specific type of scope for this purpose.  With a wide field of view at 1x magnification and the ability to zoom into 4x or more, these types of scopes provide the best of both worlds; no magnification for up close shots with the ability to quickly zoom in to accurately take those longer shots.  

The Vortex PST is a fantastic scope for this purpose and can be purchased for around $500.  You will also need a mounting system.  I prefer a quick release mount.  A good mount will cost you $100 or more.  Keep in mind that having a scope on your AR makes it more versatile but also quite a bit heavier.


One last item that can't be forgotten is a dedicated weapon mounted light.  If you have your AR-15 set up for home defense you must have a light on it!  A clear view of your target at all times, especially in the dark, is imperative.  You don't want to shoot your daughters boyfriend while he's attempting to sneak into the house.  Trust me, you don't.  Just like most of these other accessories there are many different attachments for flashlights and many different kinds of weapons lighting systems.  My advice; keep it simple.  My setup is the Magpul rail light mount for the Magpul hand guard.  It is mounted on the opposite site of my forward arm so that I can depress the on/off button on my Fenix PD20 with my thumb.  This particular light takes a single CR123 lithium battery, is small, lightweight and has a button on the bottom of the light.  You'll want a light upwards of 200 lumens that also has a stobe selection.  I can easily turn on and off this light with my thumb.  When I let go of the button the light stays on.  There are other momentary lights available that stay on only when the button is depressed.  I prefer the opposite so that when I identify my target I do not have to concentrate on depressing the button while firing but rather release the button so that I can concentrate on pulling the trigger and aiming properly.   Make sense?  A light with a lithium battery is ideal.  A lithium battery can sit unused for 10 years and it will still work, and they don't corrode or leak like alkaline batteries do over time.  




The fact is that there are lots of great choices for rifles, sights and accessories.  After considering and using many different types of accessories these are the ones that I am currently using.  There are many great rifle and accessory manufacturers to choose from other than these.  Like me, it may take you a while to figure out which work best for you for your needs but hopefully my advice has helped you to better make your own decisions.  

2 comments:

Thanks for your guide to AR-15'S.
I'm considering building a AR. Am I understanding this right, The only time I'll have to fill out the paper work and follow the proper channels according to state law is when I purchase the lower receiver is that correct ?

In my state (and in most states) that is correct. The lower receiver is the component that has the serial number and is considered the firearm. Check with your local gun shop for the exact procedures but typically yes. After you have purchased the lower receiver you can buy all the other components individually without additional background checks. More power to you if you want to build your own. You may save some money but the primary benefit of building your own is to ensure that you have all the components that you really want. When I got my first AR I didn't know exactly what I wanted. That's why I purchased an already built AR and have been learning and upgrading as I go. My next AR I will build myself exactly how I have learned that I want it.

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The purpose of this site is to provide you with information about what I have learned, my experience, and what my motivations are as a Prepared Guy. I have always felt driven to be ready for any situation by something powerful deep inside me. Being prepared has always served me well. I feel compelled to help others do the same.
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