So You’re Looking at an AR-15…

Down Range is The Chron’s latest blog, dedicated to guns & ammo. Run by our resident gun expert, Max Baird.

By: Max Baird

The Colt AR-15 Sporter SP1 Carbine. Photo by M62.
The Colt AR-15 Sporter SP1 Carbine.
Photo by M62.

With all of this talk about gun control coming from Washington and the mainstream media, some must be confused about what the terms that are being thrown around actually mean. Barrel shrouds; bayonet lugs; telescoping stocks; the dreaded and controversial term “assault weapon.” But perhaps the biggest question that gets tossed at gun owners by the media and the gun control crowd is “Why does anyone need an AR-15?”

Let’s say you’re somebody who doesn’t have much in the way of shooting experience. You want to buy a gun, but you’re not quite sure what you want to do with it. You’re not sure if you want to hunt or target shoot, get into competition shooting or just want it around the house in case somebody breaks in. What could you possibly buy that could do all of these things? You could buy a handgun, but you can’t practically hunt with most handguns. You could buy a shotgun, but shells are expensive. You could get a bolt action rifle, but they’re clumsy if you have a break in, and competition shooting with them boils down to punching holes in paper from really far away.

So what could possibly fit the bill for all of these activities and not break the bank? The answer: the 9-pound amalgam of plastic and steel that is the AR-15. But what makes it different? The AR-15 and its clones are among the most popular rifles in America, numbering over 4 million. They’re relatively cheap for entry level models, accessories are plentiful, ammunition is easy to find and inexpensive. But what can you do with it? They don’t have any legitimate sporting purpose, and the news tells us that the only thing they’re good for is killing people.

The question should be what can’t you do with it. Would you like to hunt? Get a nice scope and a 6.8 mm SPC conversion kit with some 5 round magazines. Just switch out the bolt assembly, barrel, and magazine and it fires a whole new bullet. Way cheaper than buying a different gun. How about target shooting? Put the .223 Remington parts back in, load up some 30 round magazines and ping steel targets to your heart’s content. Want to shoot in competitions? Buy some cool looking sights, lasers, or grips. Speed shoot in the 3-gun circuit. Don’t want to buy any fancy bells and whistles for the rifle? Shoot with iron sights in Service Rifle competitions.

Now comes the kicker: How could this rifle be used for home defense? Most ARs have a 16-inch barrel and a telescoping stock, making it perfect for use in tight spaces. The .223 round that comes standard with most AR-type rifles doesn’t recoil too much. Throw a flashlight on the end of the gun. Maybe add some fiber optic night sights. Load up some 30 round magazines and you’re ready to deal with anybody foolish enough to break into your home.

The AR-15: easy to use, relatively inexpensive, a modular tool that can adapt to almost any situation. One of the most popular rifles in America: a favorite of sportsmen nationwide. A tool with more uses than just killing people as some would have you believe. Want a gun, but not sure what to do with it? Give the AR another look.

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