All About the AR-15 Gun Builder
The AR-15 is a general term used to describe many brands and models and calibers of sporting rifles, which generally the same look and design. They are usually black, although desert tan and earth green are also popular colors. They typically have adjustable stocks, detachable magazines (usually 30 rounds), and pistol grips, and they readily accept many types of aftermarket accessories.
The AR-15 was originally designed by Eugene Stoner of ArmaLite Corporation for submission to the U.S. Armed Forces to become their primary service rifle. (AR, by the way, stand for ArmaLite Rifle, not Assault Rifle as many believe). Although the AR-15 was not immediately selected by the Armed Forces, it raised some eyebrows and gained some high-ranking supporters.
Several years later, and after the Secretary of Defense himself intervened, the AR-15 was adopted by first the U.S. Air Force and then the U.S. Armed Forces. With that, it was redesignated as the M16. The original AR-15 that Stoner designed for the Armed Forces was chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO (.308 Winchester). Stoner changed the design to feature the new 5.56mm NATO (.223 Remington) cartridge when it wasn’t selected.
Today, 5.56mm is the most common AR-15 cartridge, but they are available in various sizes. .300 AAC Blackout, .308 Winchester, 6.5mm Grendel, 6.8mm Remington SPC, 9X19mm Parabellum, and .22LR are some of the more popular alternatives to 5.56mm.
Top AR-15 Models To Customize
Here is a list of some of the most popular AR-15 models and what makes them great.
Rock River Arms LAR-15 Entry Tactical
Although not as well-known as Smith & Wesson or Ruger, RRA is one of the best AR-15 builders around today. Their rifles come from the factory with extras like Hogue grips, chrome bolts carriers, and competition triggers. They are so well respected that the FBI and DEA recently signed contracts for RRA to supply their patrol rifles. All of this for a relatively reasonable price, coming in around $1200.
Daniel Defense DDM4v7
Daniel Defense is known for building high-quality AR-15s with attention to details. It features a full-length floating rail for accessories, and Daniel Defense custom padded stock and grips. The DDM4v7 also features an ambidextrous thumb safety; a feature left-handed shooter will find useful that not many AR-15s come with. The high quality of the Daniel Defense DDM4v7 will cost a bit more, it retails around $1750 but is worth every penny.
Bushmaster XM-15 MOE Edition
The Bushmaster XM-15 MOE Edition is a great entry-level AR-15 loaded with accessories. MOE stands for Magpul Original Equipment, and the XM-15 features Magpul everywhere you look. It has handguards, pistol grip, pop up sights, and stock all made by Magpul, one of the leading AR-15 accessory makers. Despite the many features, the Bushmaster comes in with a price tag under $1000.
SIG Sauer M400 Tread
SIG Sauer has a long reputation for making some of the most reliable firearms in the industry. They offer some very high-quality AR-15s. The M400 Tread is their entry-level AR-15 at a price everyone can afford but includes all of the quality and features you’d expect from a SIG. It has a flat top rail for your choice of optics and a free-floating handguard that is compatible with all M-Lok accessories. In addition to that, it also features a Magpul SL-K collapsible stock and a polished trigger for increased performance. The entry-level SIG Sauer M400 Tread is available for around $800.
AR-15 Accessory Guide
One of the best features of AR-15s is the massive amount of accessories available for it. There are entire companies dedicated to making only AR-15 aftermarket accessories. I’ve listed some of the best accessories for AR-15s below.
Optics such as scopes allow you to magnify the target so that it appears closer, improving your accuracy. This is helpful when shooting long distances. The AR-15 is moderately accurate at ranges over 300 yards. It’s not as accurate as a sniper rifle, but better than some other rifles on the market. Adding a scope to your AR-15 will extend its effective range.Another optic popular with AR-15 owners is the red dot reflexive sight. These do not magnify the target but provide an illuminated dot or reticle, making close and mid-range target acquisition faster and more accurate.
The collapsible stock is one of the features that identify the AR-15. Many companies make aftermarket stocks that you can add to your AR-15. The benefit of a collapsible stock is to make the overall length of the rifle shorter, in situations such as close-quarters battle (CQB). If you are part of a team going through a building, you will want your AR-15 as short as possible for maneuverability. Also, the reduced length does little to affect accuracy at such close distances.
Handguards and Forward Grips
Another way to customize your AR-15 is to add custom handguards and a forward grip. The handguards are where you place your support or non-firing hand when aiming. Using a forward pistol grip provides you with better positive control while firing, as well as keeping a better hold while firing and moving.
Slings are an often-overlooked accessory, but if you ever need to use your hands while also have your rifle nearby, a good sling is essential. Slings are categorized by how many connection points they have on your rifle. There are single-point, double-point, and triple-point slings. Single-point slings allow for the best shooting without the sling getting in the way, while double and triple-point slings offer better weapon retention while moving.
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