8 Tips for the New AR-15 Shooter

SIG Patriot AR-15 rifle right

The AR-15 is America’s rifle. In fact, the black rifle in just about any configuration is very versatile. But choosing the right rifle is a daunting proposition for many. There are many choices, and many good choices. Let’s cover some of the basics.

Ruger AR 556s showing iron sights
Ruger’s AR 556 is supplied with good basic iron sights.

AR-15 Types—Which rifle?

A rifle to be avoided is the parts gun found on the shelf at the pawn shop. You are probably buying someone else’s trouble. A home enthusiast may build a quality rifle using parts from Spikes Tactical and few others. That is true, but you are under control of the contents. The best bet is to purchase a quality rifle from Colt, Ruger, or Smith and Wesson. The value line rifles from these three are reliable and have good actions. They are easily upgraded. Obtaining a quality rifle will make for a smoother path in learning to use the AR-15 rifle. Do not purchase the cheapest alternative. Buy a new gun.

Choose Everyone’s Caliber

The rifle should be chambered for 5.56mm. It is worth an article to discuss the difference, but in a nutshell the 5.56mm is the hotter caliber. There are slight differences between the two calibers—5.56mm and .223 Remington. The 5.56mm rifle is fine with either caliber. I have seen blown primers with 5.56mm NATO in .223 Remington chambers. Vote for versatility. As you become more experienced you may wish to obtain a .300 Blackout upper or even the 6.8mm, or 6.5 Grendel. However, the beginner should choose an affordable cartridge that may be easily obtained.

Chrome Chrome-lined barrels are best for longevity. (Some rifles now have Nitride coatings, others have Melonite.) I like the original chrome-lined bore. Some riflemen of great experience claim the non-chromed barrels are more accurate, but perhaps they are at a different strata of shooting than the rest of us. My chrome-lined bore Colt is the most accurate rifle I own. Costs are cut where you cannot see it, but you will realize the difference in a chrome-lined barrel. An NP3 coated bolt carrier group such as the one offered by Sharps Rifle Company is also a good improvement. Modern self-lubricating technology should be used when available.

Hogue adjustable stock on an AR-15 rifle
As you use the rifle, you may wish to upgrade the stock and other parts. This is a Hogue upgrade.

Understand Barrel Twist Rates

All of my rifles are carbines with a 16-inch barrel, and most of my shooting is recreational and sporting. I do consider the AR a defensive rifle, but that is limited to moderate range. So, which barrel twist rate? This depends upon the weight of the bullet to be used. A fast twist rate is one turn in seven inches. This stabilizes heavy bullets such as the Sierra 77-grain MATCH bullet. A slower twist rate is designed to stabilize lighter bullets. The 1 in 8 inches turn works fine with most projectiles and gives an edge with the standard 55-grain bullet. 1 in 9 inches is also good, and best if you use 40-grain Varmint Grenades. The Ruger AR556 with its 1 in 8-inch twist is proving to be a great performer.

Trigger Action

At present, most of the rifles in my safe exhibit 4 to 6 pounds on the RCBS registering trigger compression gauge. Carefully choose a crisp factory trigger when trying out rifle actions in the shop. I have confirmed factory actions as heavy as 9 pounds. Ruger offers an exceptional after-market trigger for its rifles or any AR-15. A true expert may wish to consider the match trigger, but that isn’t the beginner stage.

Which handguard?

Rifles in the entry price range—$700 to $900—will usually have the standard GI-type handguard or a similar modern version. This isn’t all bad. As you advance as a shooter, you may wish to have more space for optics, slings, and accessories. But take a hard look at the role the rifle is going to play in your life. Is the rifle a fun gun for casual shooting, a 3 Gun Competition rifle, or personal defense rifle? Sometimes the roles will conflict. Cheaper than Dirt! offers excellent service and more than a dozen handguard choices. If you need an upgrade, the project is simple and affordable enough.

SIG Patrol Rifle right with green A2 handgrip and adjustable stock
If you have the coin perhaps you should purchase the best rifle you can afford. This is the SIG Patrol Rifle.

Don’t Turn the Rifle Into a Rooney Gun

The AR-15 rifle is the Mr. Potato Head of rifles. It is a simple matter to fit advanced handguards, optics, laser accessories, range finders, and other gear to the rifle. The problem is the lightweight, fast-handling rifle becomes a burden with this much gear. And, unless you purchase first class gear that may be more expensive than the rifle, you are going to experience failures with some of the gear as well as experiencing battery life problems. A good rule is to add what is needed and nothing more. For most of us, that will mean a red dot or rifle scope. My personal Colt SOCOM wears a Redfield Battlezone optic with a LaserMax laser for close work. A Champion bipod is fixed because this is my dedicated long range AR. My Ruger truck gun is as issued.

Maintain the Rifle

The AR-15 rifle is a low maintenance rifle not a no maintenance rifle. The rifle must be cleaned to preserve reliability and ensure that eccentric wear doesn’t impede function. The bore must be cleaned often and the bolt carrier lubricated before use. This will keep the rifle running, and running for a long time.

The AR-15 is a great rifle, a reliable rifle, and an accurate rifle. It is also a rifle that gives the user much pride of ownership. Consider these tips and your introduction into the AR-15 world will be a pleasant one.

What is the best tip you can give a new AR-15 enthusiast? Share it in the comment section.


About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (47)

  1. I’m late to this conversation, but to me, after 5 builds, 1 grendel and 4- 5.56mm, I can boil it down to this.
    Anderson manufacturing RF-85 parts. NO LUBE at all, clean up with “dawn” water. Faster cycling. 85% less friction. Runs a lot cooler too. Give them a try.

    As always
    Carry on

  2. I know what you mean about the eyesight! I have two WW rifles, in .308 and 7.62×39. Love them both. I wanted the AK round but wanted a solid American-made rifle from which to fire it. I have fired several hundred rounds of steel-case 7.62×39 rounds through it without one FTF/FTE! Really fun rifles to shoot. My therapy is cleaning them after every trip to the range. Makes you slow down a little to do it right. Merry Christmas!

    1. I trained on the M14, but assigned weapon was the M60. The first time I saw the M16, I thought it was made by Mattel and the reports from out in the field weren’t too positive. I finally decided that the AR15 was the modern day equivalent of the musket of the First War of Independence and to conform to being “well regulated” a citizen should have one. Being a concrete sequentialist, I did a great deal of due diligence and my first choice was the original Colt Sporter w/20″ barrel, triangular handguard and forward assist. Those were going for about $2K and I was only willing to pay so much for nostalgia so I kept researching. WW was the best I found for my needs at any price and their quality and service matched their marketing.Changed the iron sights to MagPul flip up rear, and a YMH gas block with flip up front, put a Primary Arms Microdot on as my eyes aren’t what they were 50 years ago and for better cheek weld changed to a MagPul ACS-L stock. It shoots better than I do.

  3. Windham Weaponry was the original manufacturer of the Bushmaster. They have a large, competitively priced selection of well made rifles that are as good as, if not better than, anything out there and outstanding customer service. I like their MPC model.

  4. Can anyone show me what the paperwork would look like if I bought one of these? My dad had one and it’s gone missing. He passed Thanksgiving day and I’m trying to find the serial number so it can be called in stolen. All I have is a few pictures but none of the serial number. Please help! I am trying to find his paperwork… I just don’t know what to look for. Any help would be very appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    1. Katie, I am sorry for the loss of your father. It must be additionally painful to have to do extra research to get the correct ID for the rifle. If you know the store from which he purchased the rifle, they will be able to retrieve that information. If your dad did not buy it from a dealer, and if you don’t know from whom he purchased it, I am afraid there is no way to know. Personally, I keep a record of all my firearms in a file on my computer. Perhaps, if your dad was a computer buff, he may have the serial number recorded there.

    2. James,
      I hope you also have that data backed up to two alternating external hard drives or flash drives and burned into polycarbonate and stashed off site.

  5. i get where some of the article is going and yes it is bias, to say the least. But i’m a firm believer in buying cheap till you learn and figure out what you want. after reading the comments from the ‘vets”. its clear that building your own AR is the cheapest more perfect way to accomplish the wants, needs, and affordability. the only thing really dont know is where to start. all i know is what i want out of such, but how to accomplish it, affordability, and being realistic in situational trade offs- i have no clue. So for me buying a cheap fairly decent AR is the perfect 1st step for me, THEN i would build for my 2nd one after all the knowledge Ive gathered. i wouldnt waste the money augmenting a the 1st cheap one when i could prob build 1 totally better for a reasonable increase in total value

  6. I have one buddy who bought an AR. He doesn’t know if it is DI-gas or not, and he doesn’t care. I have another buddy who is an Iraq war vet. He convinced me to build my first AR. Before jumping into the market, I researched ARs, their evolution, problems along the way, and then spent two months shopping for parts on every website imaginable. Many of the comments in this article are good, however, buying a stock rifle just to start taking it apart and customizing doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. Some people can build a rifle, or anything else for that matter. Others, well they should stick to the gun stores. I guess it all depends on your aptitudes, and in my experience most firearm enthusiasts get a new gun and immediately take it apart to see how it works and if they can get it back together again.

  7. I’m not sure I agree that one is better off buying a factory-built rifle. Building an AR is relatively simple and one can upgrade more affordably without paying a premium for names like COLT, RUGER and S&W. I have many AR’s. Only one of them is name brand and I regret it. The ones I built are far superior in every way. If you buy a factory-built AR- especially entry-level- you don’t get to “choose a crisp factory trigger.” One gets whatever trigger it comes with- cheap, gritty, long, junk. Why buy a factory-built Ar just to upgrade the trigger, hand gaurd, grip, stock etc.?

    Additionally, If you buy an AR that is built by someone else (not factory) and there is a problem, it is often easily diagnosable. That is the beauty of the AR platform…not complicated….In fact, it’s quite simple. There is no reason to buy factory-built or new unless you just want to spend money. There is nothing COLT offers in an entry-level gun that is better than what I can assemble on my own.

    Most “NEW AR-15” buyers are recreational shooters. These folks don’t care about barrel twist nor should they. Most AR’s come in 1:7, 1:8 and 1:9. The new buyer will not notice the difference and therefore, it really isn’t a high priority in the buying decision. Also, you mention that chrome-lined barrels are best like that isn’t debatable. Again, most recreational shooters will never shoot their entry-level AR- or any AR- long enough to wear out a barrel. Melonite is perfectly fine for “the new AR-15 Shooter.” I’d be surprised if you disagreed.

    I agree totally that the AR barrel should be 5.56. This makes perfectly good sense.I also agree that buyers should be careful not to add a bunch of accessories so as to add unnecesary weight. There is no need most of the time unless there is a specific reason for them like a bipod for your long range AR or a red dot/ laser for your range AR.

  8. There are many fine entry level AR15 rifles out there including Radical Firearms, Anderson, DPMS, Diamondback and others. I have fired many of these and others that can be had for $500-$600 and during some sales, even under $450. I have had zero problems with them. Yes, they may not have the upgraded parts like a nickel boron BCG or match trigger, but very tight groups can be shot with them with red dots and scopes that don’t break the bank. I have built an AR15 pistol from a parts kit and it has been extremely reliable and accurate.

    I recommend looking at all the rifles you can find in your price range and then research them by going to the AR forums and watching reviews and range tests on YouTube. Get a real world viewpoint from others who have tested them. You can always upgrade parts later…but you may find you don’t need to.

    What I do agree with in the article is to avoid the desire to over accessorize your AR with every add-on out there. Keep it as lightweight and easy to maintain and operate as possible.

    There are many great options out there for the new shooter. Some are great values and need little to no upgrading.

  9. A question.. if you build an AR, which has no two parts, except for the internals, from the same manufacturer, how do you describe it? Is the make of the lower receiver the key?

  10. Mr. Roberts,
    Your article is extremely biased to the OEM manufacturers mentioned!! It is obvious that you have little experience building the AR platform or you would not have made the “Potato Head” reference. Proof in point that over the Thanksgiving weekend while visiting a range in Sapulpa, Okla. I was approached by numerous patrons who had recently purchased OEM rifles and their interest in the two recent builds that I was shooting for the first time prompted numerous conversation. The conversations of course ranged from cost, accuracy, components, tools required, and the list goes on. Each person that inquired I of course offered them the chance to put bullets down range. The end result was that each person was amazed that such opportunity existed for them to build the exact gun of their choice using the best parts in their budget which far exceeded the quality and performance of their OEM gun. Two folks actually offered to purchase my rifles on the spot however, I am a collector not a FFl.

  11. I will start my comment by stating I am not a gunsmith. IMHO buying a brand named entry level AR is making a choice to settle for trade offs. Companies like S&W and Ruger can not offer the quality rifle that one can easily make by buying quality components. In reality putting an AR 15 together requires no more skill then properly maintaining one. It may seem a daunting task at first but there are enough good videos available to help even a beginner assemble there own rifle. My AR cost me a total of $470 to build and that includes a 416R 1:7 SS barrel and a polished nickle plated trigger group, Magpul stock, standard A2 handguard and front sight/gas block with an MBUS rear sight. It is a 1 MOA rifle with just decent ammo. I would suggest anyone looking to get into shooting an AR should seriously building their own. There is no better way to learn about your rifle. Just a thought for a beginner to consider.

  12. First of all good job on the article. Its always interesting to see the peanut gallery comments come alive after every new article. Critics please remeber we have enough enemies as there are, we dont have to come out with the ususal, ultra technical arguementsn to see who’s barrel is longer… this is a “general” how-to article! Let me toss my soap box aside, I think another good tip for new buyers is this: take a look at the upper reciever, many companies want to cut cost and pass it on to the first time buyer by removing little to seldom used components like the dust cover and foward assist. Or maybe youre just one of those people that think less is more and want one less moving part, a slick upper reciever maybe just for you. Oh and by the way, if my grammer is wrong or spelling, please reply imediately, I really want to know! Hahahaha… God bless America.

  13. I thought he made some good points and offered solid advice. There’s a lot of info out there and a lot of opinions to wade through when you’re looking at your first AR and I thought he did a good job of boiling it down to just a few important considerations. My first AR was an M&P 15 Sport II and it was a great intro AR for me. I learned to shoot it well and while doing that I experimented with customizing it. It was a great way to learn what I wanted in a custom build. It might be hard to know that without any prior experience with an AR and without experimenting with upgrades know just what you want in a higher end rifle. I still like the M&P and I only paid $600 for a good quality firearm that is accurate and dependable. One might have a challenge building something comparable for much less. I love the platform and the “Mr. Potato Head” analogy. What other rifle platform offers that kind of flexibility and build options? Plus it fires about the most inexpensive round to shoot with minimal recoil.

  14. I continue to be shocked at no mention of Windham Weaponry AR’s. I have one each in 7.62×39 and 7.62×51. Awesome rifles! Well made and great shooters. I’d put them up to anything mentioned thus far.

  15. Thanks for the comments, all! Especially Mark Are and Jim. You’ve motivated this multi-AR owner to learn how to build my own (much to my wife’s dismay), and Jim, to stop practicing with my Glock 10 mm to get to be a better shot with it (practice with the Glock 9 to get better with the 10.) Spank you all very much!

  16. If I only had one piece of advise to offer it would be before buying aftermarket triggers, different hand guards, expensive glass, the list goes on. Get to know the rifle you brought, make sure you intend yo keep it. I’ve brought more than one AR that for various reasons I chose not to keep but not before spending money to upgrade them finding in the end it was money not spent wisely.
    I also wouldn’t get stuck on the 16 inch barrell mantra. You can do some amazing shooting with 18, 20, and 24 inch barrels. If CQB is your purpose, buy a good AK.

  17. I have to admit I don’t see a whole lot of value to the article.
    Colt? Sure if you have a bunch of money and feel like over paying for a product just so you can have their stamp on it. Too many other companies build top quality parts for less.
    Second, why buy a built gun if your only going to change everything out? Save the time and money, build your own the way you want the first time and be done.
    I have 3 home builds, one on Olympic arms, others on seekins and bcm, they don’t say colt and their cheaper and just as good.

  18. This article makes several good points. I own two AR-15s: a standard 1994 Colt Sporter with a fixed stock in .223, and a Frankenstein DPMS with a ton of aftermarket parts in 7.62×39. I started with the Colt as a young-un, and then “graduated” to the self-styled DPMS after I had gleaned a lot more experience. Do I even need to tell you which is more “fun”? A piston+bolt carrier, adjustable stock, light split-buffer and spring, mil-style handguard, etc. (Side note — given its comparable operative cleanliness, I keep waiting for the piston to become standard issue on ARs. Not yet.) Anyway, my goal was reliability as well as fun, which I’ve achieved. But on top of that, the world of AR-15s has changed dramatically in the twenty years since I bought that Colt.

    So yes, a novice might find it wise to keep it simple and stick with one of the author’s recommendations for his/her first AR. But trust me, that will likely serve as what the addiction counselors call a “gateway drug”. The dollars can add up, yes. But modifications and customization are where the AR-15 platform really shines, and a major reason why it’s so popular.

  19. I would gather that Mr. Wilburn is a gunsmith who happens to look down on we “home builders”. If you have the ‘coin’ to use his words, by all means buy an AR-15 from one of the ‘best known’ manufacturers, but since the AR-15 IS a modular weapon…I wouldn’t use the term ‘potato head’, the satisfaction of ‘rolling your own’ is a great reason to do so. I’ve never heard of a chrome, chrome lined barrel. Perhaps, Mr. Wilburn is referring to a carbon steel chrome lined barrel? And why chamber it for 5.56 or.223 at all? I suppose that now as the Gulfwars are winding down, this caliber will be cheaper to buy, but it surely hasn’t been in the past. One thing that he doesn’t mention is the argument between the piston guns and the direct impingement guns. If you are a soldier and shoot thousands of rounds a day, then the piston operated weapon will reward you with fewer malfunctions and easier cleaning, but if you are a plinker and an occasional hunter such as I am, go with the direct impingement system because it affords less recoil. I have ARs with both systems and I’ll pick the direct impingement any day of the week over the piston. Note: I have no 5.56 or .223 ARs because of the ammo cost, but I have two ARs and a Galil in 5.45 x 39mm or the Russian 5.56. One is direct impingement and the other two utilize pistons.
    I also have a ‘home built’ 6.5 Grendel AR-15 as well as a custom built bolt gun in that caliber. I do not understand Mr. wilburn’s comment about cost of ammo because the 6.5 although it IS harder to find, does NOT cost anymore than any other ammo!
    As to building an AR-15 of your own it will be lighter with a carbon steel barrel over a Stainless Steel one, but I prefer the SS. Buy a good lower> I prefer DPMS. For an upper I usually buy either DPMS or Bushmaster. The lower kit and other internal components come from SARCO as they have the best prices. My free float hand guard and reduced sized gas block comes from the Optics Factory in Oregon as they sell the cheapest. They are still made of the same material as are the ones from the more expensive companies. I buy my 6 position Stock from TAPCO because it works just as well as a Magpul for around $49.95. Because I use SS barrels, they are the most expensive part and I have them built by Lothar-Walther because they use German machine gun SS. They are 18 inches with the AR-10 thread on which I screw Vais muzzle brakes for a finished length of 20 inches. Sure my rifles cost in the $900 to $1000 range, but the finished product is well worth the cost and will last the rest of my lifetime as well as that of my heirs.
    As to the sights, that is a personal decision. I shot National match for the ARMY for many years and liked the rear peep and the bladed front sight very much although I think that the Galil system is better because if one can see the entire globe of the front sight in the peep, one will hit the target whether they are canted or not. This is not the case with the American bladed front sights. As to an optic, it depends on the rifle’s use. a 3x to 9x is great for hunting, but if you ae shooting long distances, you’ll need something stronger…probably a 8x to 24x by 56mm. Of course, ‘back in the day’ we shot 1000 meters with our open sights on our National Match M14s!

  20. Having built and competitively shot several AR-15’s in several different calibers I can say that Mr. Campbell’s article is both lacking factually and a disservice to the novice who needs all the ACCURATE information they can get to save themselves $$$ on the learning curve. Shame on him

  21. Melonite and nitride are the same thing. They are the same like Clorox is the same as bleach. Melonite is the trade name. The are also not coatings. They are a metal treatment that alters the top layers of the metal molecules so there is no build up like a coating. As for the AR platform? Buy the 15 so you can get some reasonable priced practice in and then get an AR 10 for the real stuff. If the extra 3 pounds is too much, well then go to a gym and work out. The .308 /7.62 cartridge will stop the zombies, the 5.56 will just piss a lot of them off. I’ll take my AR 10/ FN FAL/ HK 93 for a go to rifle over my 5.56 versions any day. For that matter, I’ll take the 300 blackout over it too if I’m looking to save weight. I practice with 9mm and .22 ammo and carry a 10mm or .45. You build the muscle memory on the less powerful cartridges and it will carry over fine to the higher powered ones.

    1. I disagree with the difference between the .223 and 5.56 and zombies. Either one will do the job as many VC and NVA, along with ME types would attest… if they were still capable of doing so.

  22. Most American made AR-15″s have very good barrels. If you buy entry level, or build your own, put a good trigger in it. Most AR’s are capable of half inch groups with good ammo. There’s no recoil shooting these rifles. So a beginner has a easier time concentrating on getting the basics right.. AR’s have come a long way over the years. By all means go buy one. You’ll have a great time shooting them.

  23. I just built my 3rd AR, and I must say I agree with Matthew as just because it’s built from parts doesn’t mean it’s junk….I buy matching lower and uppers from same company,and have went with reviews when buying parts….I have gotten hooked as they are really easy to build…AHOOOA!

  24. OK. This topic is virtually unhelpful. First Mr. Campbell tells the reader to by one of the “name brands”, then goes on to tell us about his custom AR’s, and on to custom components.

    If the shooter/buyer wants a plinker, then buy an already built, off-the-shelf full-up rifle with the “stock” configuration. If you want one that fits one (or several) of your needs, then start with a stripped lower & upper receivers (or ones that have the basic parts kits installed). The most important part of an AR lower receiver is the trigger. Find a quality one that suits your needs & budget. The most important part of the upper receiver is the barrel. Know what bullets you are going to shoot, pick the twist rate, then barrel length, finish, etc.

    I have worked extensively with NRA High Power Rifle shooters, and virtually none have off-the-shelf rifles. That said, I have also taught clinics & helped friends with their AR’s, and have to say that I would avoid the Rugers and S&W pre-built rifles. Both companies “skimp” on quality parts and/or their manufacturing quality control. Ruger, for example uses bolt-carriers that expose the rear of the firing pin and lack the metal of the newest AR-15 & M-16/M4 carriers. I have seen Ruger rifles that had roll pins that were only partially pressed into their holes. Look closely at their fit & finish, have the rifle disassembled to see what components are used, compare brands, ask questions, and stay away from plain-Jane, “military” triggers! These triggers do more to affect precision & accuracy than any other component (unless you got a really bad barrel).

    I have built over 20 AR’s for myself & others, and am always able to find high-quality parts from reputable manufacturers & dealers, and am usually able to build a custom AR for about the same cost as an off-the-shelf, plain-Jane rifle.

    Opinions about building/buying, accessorizing & shooting AR’s are as varied as any topic on earth. A serious AR shooter needs to buy BOOK(s) on the subject. My favorite author is Glen Zediker. His (multiple) books cover just about every subject on the AR’s from the rifle itself to the ammo that is shot through it.

    1. Spacegunner your knowledge is much more interesting and gives a beginner or novice a better understanding. Well done Sir, very helpful.

    2. I’m a beginner (the intended audience for this article, I’ll add) and I have a Ruger AR 556. I have to say, I think it’s really great and fun to shoot. For someone who is only going to visit a range once a month, it’s not a bad option for that and as a “life and liberty” weapon. I didn’t find the build on mine to be substandard at all. However, I 100% agree with you regarding the bolt carrier exposing the rear of the firing pin. After sending 1000 rounds down range, I’m noticing some wear that as a novice I’m not sure what to make of. It seems like a poor design choice for sure. Would an aftermarket bolt carrier and firing pin be a recommended measure, if I’m going to keep it?

    3. Yes, absolutely. The Bravo Company bolts and complete bolt carrier groups are the only ones I’ll (and a LOT of other folks will) use. BCM is the new Colt, but better.

  25. Great article! The only comment I would have is to remind consumers that you get what you pay for. AR accessories is a huge market and this market is flooded with garbage. Buyer beware… Thanks!

    1. @adam–I tell people this about ALL weapons. More times than not you get what you pay for. It is possible to get a great deal on a GOOD gun, but a cheap gun will ALWAYS be a cheap gun. Instead of buying several $300 cheap guns. Buy one $700 good gun. At a local retailer (a few years back) while I was waiting on a background check (on a SIG) a younger man was questioning and having some afterburn as he bought his new Colt. I told him, no man has ever uttered the phrase, “I wish I had NOT gone with the Colt.”

    2. I own 4 ARs, 3 of them very high dollar custom jobs that I really like and shoot well with. My favorite that I seem to want to grab every time I go shooting? My $800 Sig!

    3. I’ve uttered those words…I find that COLT’s products are overpriced for the market. You can get a better 1911 for cheaper from SA, Kimber, Wilson, just to name a few. Same with the AR family. Daniel Defense, BCM, DPMS, CMMG, all make good quality without the crazy pro-union COLT price.
      I’ve found I get even more “bang” for my buck by building my own on Aero-Precision lowers. The BCG and barrel are really the critical components, followed by trigger. Get a match-grade M-16 BCG, a .223 Wylde 1/8 mid-length gas melonite barrel, and a Geissele SSA-E trigger and the rest is just lipstick on the pig.

  26. The AR-15, with all of it’s variations and nuances has essentially become “America’s Rifle”, and it seems that if one does not have at least one in his/her collection, that collection may be viewed as incomplete. As a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, I had an intimate relationship with the M-16, and when AR-15s began popping up in the marketplace, I was very quick to acquire one, if for no other reason than my own nostalgic memories. Since that first purchase long ago, I have added more of them. They do not disappoint, and the number and variety of gadgets one can hang on them is considerable enough to have spawned a subordinate industry of neat items specifically intended for use with “America’s Rifle”.

  27. A lot of manufactures use the terms nitriding and melonite interchangeably. They roughly do the same thing and produce the same results, with slightly different processes.

    The biggest issue I have with this section of the article is calling it a coating. Nitriding is a chemical conversion to the outer few thousands of the metal. There is no dimensional change, and no way for it to peel off like poor chrome and nib applications.

  28. This article has some good information, but it’s also written by a biased party that’s either trying to brown nose the big gun companies or just hawk their own wears.

    If you do your research before hand and follow instructions closely, it is hilariously cheap and simple to put together an AR from scratch that functions perfectly. Unfortunately, once you start building ARs you’ll find it very hard to stop, definitely one of the more satisfying hobbies I’ve ever picked up.

  29. If you purchase a complete rifle from a reliable manufacturer, follow their recommendation on the type of ammo you use. Many, if not most, will recommend brass cased ammunition. This may also be a warranty issue.

    Some ADs perform well with less expensive steel case ammo, but not all do. My experience is that this has to do with the chamber tolerances and how steel cases behave in the chamber.

  30. I inherited an AR15 from my father. One of those poly lowers. Shoots fine and accurate. Red /Green dot holographic sites. Adjustable three position stock, standard factory trigger and 16 inch 1 in 9 twist barrel. Pulled it out the other day and shot a few rounds off out back. Target was a 1″” X 3″ piece of trim wood at about 50 yards. Hit two out of three off hand and the third round hit the tree next to the target . Bullet which was standard .223 Remington 55 grain FMJ rounds went clean through a 9 inch tree! Can’t beat the versatility of an AR15. Want to get the 300 blackout upper as an alternative caliber.

  31. “(Some rifles now have Nitride coatings, others have Melonite.)”

    You forgot Teflon! Gotta have Teflon… it keeps your bacon from sticking to the barrel!
    Mmmmmm… bacon!

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