It wasn’t that long ago when it felt like men exclusively purchased the AR-15 rifle. Sure, we would shoot our husband’s, boyfriend’s or guy friend’s rifles, but up until about a year ago, not one woman shooter I know had purchased her own AR-15. Now I know plenty who researched, picked out and own their very own AR-15.
I believe the publicized buying trend started after the Sandy Hook shootings in December 2012, when members of Congress pushed for a new assault weapons ban. Many members of the firearms community—men and women—publicly stood in defense of the AR-15, including Gayle Trotter, a senior fellow at conservative nonprofit research group Independent Women’s Forum. In front of a Senate hearing on gun control, Trotter told the Senate that women have a need for the AR-15. She said, “The guns are accurate. They have good handling. They’re light. They’re easy for women to hold.” Former presidential candidate, Michele Bachman admitted, “My favorite gun is an AR-15, because you can be so accurate with it.”
News stories became popular about the rise of women buying AR-15s. Juliana Crowder, president and co-founder of women shooting league A Girl and A Gun was featured in many of them saying she had been training women how to use the AR-15, because it is easy for women to use.
Designed by then ArmaLite chief engineer Eugene Stoner, the AR-15 uses either a direct gas impingement or gas piston system to operate. The design is simple and does not require an engineering degree to understand. Originally chambered for the .223 Remington, AR-15s are available now in a wide variety of calibers. Rough estimates put the AR-15 as the most commonly owned firearm and favorite rifle in America and I know why. I love the AR-15.
There is not one AR-15 I have shot I didn’t like. Sure, I’ve preferred one to the other. For example, the Daniel Defense V7 rifle’s control placement is more comfortable for me than SIG Sauer’s 556. However, every single AR-15 I’ve shot has been a joy to shoot. Here are my reasons why:
Ease of Use
The AR-15 is a simple firearm to learn how to use. You load your magazine into the gun, pull the charging handle—that chambers a round—flip off the safety and pull the trigger. It’s that simple. There are no slides to rack and no other safeties. The ergonomically T-shaped charging handle on an AR-15 is easy to pull back, requiring very little force. Therefore, you don’t have to be build like She-Ra to operate it. I particularly like Bravo Company’s Gunfighter charging handle that operates as smooth as silk.
If the charging handle fails to close completely, a forward assist button—a button resembling a ping-pong paddle—helps finish the job.
Malfunctions are easy to clear. Generally, if you just pull the charging handle again to eject the round causing the malfunction, you can continue shooting.
Most of all I like the consistency. Unlike many semi-automatic handguns, once you learn how to use one AR-15, you know how to operate them all. Generally, factory trigger pulls vary little between AR-15s. Fore me, tt is never too long, nor too short.
Many AR-15s have an adjustable butt stock. You can adjust the length of pull on the rifle from long to short, depending on what fits and feels best for you. Regardless of which position you choose, you still have an ample sight plane. The longer sight plane on rifles makes it easier and faster to sight in the bullseye. As much as I try, I am never as satisfied with my shooting performance with a handgun as I am with an AR—any AR.
Most AR-15s weigh less than seven pounds; some lightweight models weigh just five pounds. Five or even six pounds is light enough to shoot 100 rounds—for me at least—off hand without getting shaky and losing my accuracy.
When I shoulder an AR-15, it just feels powerful. The .223 Remington/5.56mm NATO will stop a threat, but without hard-hitting felt recoil. Shooting the .223 Remington isn’t painful. Recoil is extremely manageable. When I pick up a new AR-15, after adjusting my sights properly, I shoot consistent groups that I am proud of. Confidence is a big thing for women and the AR-15 not only helps me feel secure in my shooting ability, but also gives me the confidence to know I can protect myself. With a 30-round magazine, I am sure I can stop a threat. I’m not so sure I can with a six-round revolver.
On every AR-15 I have ever shot, the placement of controls are spot on. I have never had to remove my hand from the rifle to flip the safety. Slight manipulation such as turning the rifle left or right and having to remove my strong hand off the forearm of some AR-15s is needed for me to push the magazine release and operate the charging handle, but my muzzle never goes off target. The controls on an AR-15 aren’t built for the finger spread of Bigfoot.
You have more accessory options on an AR-15 as opposed to a handgun. There are different stocks and grips to make the rifle more comfortable to shoot. Your shooting can improve with all the different optics or combinations. You can experiment with a variety of lasers, flashlights, red dots, riflescopes, and different types of iron sights to determine what works best for you.
Overall, I am more accurate with a rifle and recoil doesn’t bother me as much on the AR-15 as some handguns. For those without much upper body strength, who have problems racking a slide on a semi-auto handgun or are sensitive to recoil—all of which I hear from women shooters—will find they don’t have these issues with an AR-15.
Joe Biden told us, “You don’t need and AR-15, it’s harder to aim. It’s harder to use… buy a shotgun!” On the contrary, Mr. Biden, those women in the media defending the AR-15 are right. The AR-15 is the perfect defense weapon for a woman.
Ladies, do you love the AR-15 as much as I do? Profess in the comment section.
Women and their AR-15 images courtesy of Oleg Volk.