The AR 15 rifle is the civilian variant of the militaries M16 and M4 series of rifle. The weapon is one of the most prolific in existence. The AR does not stand for assault rifle, but for Armalite, the original manufacturer. These days, with the weapon’s popularity it could easily be known as America’s rifle. The AR 15 is most commonly chambered in 5.56 and 223, but due to its popularity one could find an AR variant in nearly any caliber.
I suggest a new gun owner keeping to the original 5.56/223 variants. The reason being is the 5.56/223 variant is much more common, more affordable, and plenty capable. The round is also much cheaper and easily available nearly anywhere.
The AR 15’s popularity has developed a wide range of different accessories and aftermarket add-ons. Anyone buying an AR 15 rifle can rest assured they can customize it to whatever specs they require. An AR can be a carbine style rifle developed for short and medium ranges, or a precision platform depending on the components used. I suggest sticking to a simple M4 variant with a 16-inch barrel and a collapsible stock. This is a good all around rifle.
A basic AR platform has the capability to be effective out to 500 yards. The Marine Corps requires Marine to qualify yearly with their rifle, with a 500 yard finishing stage. So anyone doubting the effective range of an AR can turn to Marines to prove them wrong.
The most common magazine utilized in the AR 15 is the 30 round variety, but magazines can go from 5 rounds to 90 round drums and beyond. I suggest sticking to 30 round magazines for simplicity’s sake, as they tend to be both affordable and reliable. That leads us to our first accessory for ARs.
Most malfunctions for any weapon are caused by either magazines or poor quality ammunition. That being said I cannot stress enough that you utilize quality magazines. Luckily, these days’ magazines are cheap due to the high amount of competition, and many are high quality.
The models I suggest are:
OKAY Industries – They make genuine USGI issue magazines utilized by the military, and they don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk too.
MagPul Pmags – These are polymer based magazines that are tough as nails. They are lightweight and extremely available and affordable.
The military has standardized optics for every infantry soldier and for good reason. An optic gives a shooter a whole new advantage. When magnified they make longer shots easier, and non-magnified reflex sights are much easier to use at close range. Marines equipped with optics were scoring so many headshots in Iraq a formal investigation was launched to make sure they weren’t executing people. Optics range greatly in price, but a quality optic doesn’t always have to break the bank.
My favorites include:
Trijicon ACOG – 4x fixed power optic that is quite expensive. The favorite of Marines, this optic features a bullet drop compensator for 5.56 ammunition. Make sure you get the variant for you barrel length.
Nikon P223 – is an affordable budget optic that works tremendously well. The optic features a bullet drop compensator and come sit at under 200 dollars. The optic itself is specifically designed for the AR 15 rifle.
An optic has become the primary sighting system for most rifles in military, police and civilian hands. However every rifle should have a backup set of iron sight attached to it. Iron sights are more difficult to break, do not run out of batteries, and weigh nearly nothing. A good set of fold down sights is cheaper than an optic and can simply fold out of the way.
Magpul MBUS – sights are polymer-folding sights that are lightweight and extremely easy to use. They attach to standard pica tinny rails and are quite affordable.
BCM folding sights – these metal sights are a bit heavier, but they are also much stronger. The downside is the cost, but they are made to be extremely durable and long lasting.