I’m the proud owner of an AR-15.
Alright, I own two. Well, make that, three… I mean five – oh, heck, I own a bunch of them. But this isn’t about how many I own, it is about why I own them.
At almost 50, I can state that the AR-15 held little interest for me for the vast majority of my life. The 223 / 5.56 NATO round is underpowered and has inferior ballistics to, well, almost any other rifle round.
My theory used to be that you need to have a round that will DO THE JOB and then some. The family of 7.62 rounds did that for me.
In my early gun-owning days, I was poor and the SKS was cheap, as was the ammunition. The bullet for the SKS is significantly bigger than the AR-15 bullet, so it must be “better.” Or at least that was my thought.
That skewed logic led me down a certain path for my prepper/home defense ideas. I am not saying it was a bad plan; just that my life changed and so did my priorities.
Taking the Plunge
The first thing that changed was my level of disposable income. It went up and I had opportunities to buy things outside of the $200 price range. (Not to mention, how many Mosin Nagants and SKSs does a guy really want?)
Secondly, the woman who would become my wife hated the Mosin and disliked the SKS with their very soft steel butt plates. She was also very not fond of stripper clips or reloading the Yugo SKS. If I wanted her to practice, there needed to be a change.
This led to holding my nose and purchasing our first AR-15. We went with an entry-level Smith and Wesson Sport. I told myself it was for her. I would stay with the more manly calibers.
That concept lasted until I did the first load-out drill and realized what armies have known for, well, pretty much forever. Keep it simple. We had a commonality of sidearm ammunition and magazines with our 9mm GLOCKs.
This made having two different rifle calibers and loading mechanisms—rather inefficient. Not to mention, she could consistently get bullets downrange for longer and with faster follow-up shots.
Hitting with authority is awesome, but getting the first hit is usually the deciding factor. It also helped that, compared to the SKS, she loved the AR-15.
It was significantly lighter, held more bullets, was easier to reload and was decidedly more accurate, even without an optic. Unlike on the SKS, mounting an optic was simple. With the optic, she hit spray paint cans at 75 yards more often than she missed.
The More, the Merrier
This led to the purchase of our second AR-15 to “simplify logistics.” I had unwillingly joined the MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle) Revolution. The second AR-15 was a component gun that I assembled myself.
It consisted of a Spikes Tactical lower, a Magpul CTR stock and a Geissele SSA_E trigger. The finished product was an 18” 1:8 twist barrel gun with a lightweight quad rail.
The brown truck of happiness also arrived with a ten pack of Magpul magazines and a pile of reloading components.
The reloading components were to help offset the biggest issue with 5.56 caliber ARs. Most people shoot pesky little 55-grain FMJ bullets. I was bound and determined to get better terminal ballistics, so I went heavier.
The first forays were with 55-grain soft point bullets. Their performance was not a significant improvement. Further testing with 60-65 grain soft points also provided marginal or inconsistent improvements. Then I moved up to the 75+ class of bullets.
My testing showed that several of these did remarkably well considering their lack of diameter and weight. The Berger and Sierra’s did great both on gel and in deer hunting.
The Prvi Partizan 75-grain FMJ is a fairly close approximation from a ballistic standpoint and works great for practicing at half the cost. Of the six deer shot, five were on the ground in less than five yards.
They shredded tissue but also tended not to over-penetrate. This is very important, especially with kids in the house.
To sum up, the initial purchase of the AR-15 was to accommodate my future (now late) wife with a firearm that was easier to transport, softer recoiling, easier to load and more fun to practice with.
The reality was, the platform is much better suited to almost all aspects of what we wanted. She relegated the original S&W Sport to trunk duty and stole the 18” gun for her bug-out kit. My bug-out kit was a tad more bulky with a 24” precision barrel on mine.
That left my 18” gun as my trunk gun. I think you can see how they multiplied. Then I discovered PCC (pistol caliber carbine) ARs and got one in 9mm and .45 ACP. ‘
Then I discovered pistol braces, specifically the ones from Gear Head Works. That led to several AR pistols in useful bedside calibers like 9mm and .300 BLO.
I own AR-15s because they work. The manual of arms is easy and the same on almost all calibers. They range from the .22 LR version for training, teaching newbies and kids; to the hog hunting with .458 Socom.
I even have a wildcat in 6mm FatRat that will reach out to 1,000 yards with accuracy. Each gun has a distinct role and performs it well. Despite what the rabid anti-ARs say, none of my guns have killed a human.
They have dispatched a poisonous snake, provided dozens of squirrels and bunnies as food, half a dozen deer and a few hogs as well. If a two-legged varmint needs dispatching, several sit ready and waiting, but the hope is to never need them.
Mostly, my girlfriend and I punch paper and steel in 3-Gun matches, in the time-honored, American tradition of turning money into noise.
How many AR-15s do you own? Why do you own one? Let us know in the comments below.