Why I Love the AR-15: A Woman’s Perspective

Picture shows a woman holding a black AR-15 chambered for .458 SOCOM in front of steel target.

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.

Image shows I and a heart and underneath a picture of an AR-15 rifle.
I love the 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:

Picture shows a woman learning how to shoot an AR-15 rifle.
The AR-15 is a simple firearm to learn how to use.

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.

.223 Remington

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.

Control Placement

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.

Picture shows a woman holding a black AR-15 chambered for .458 SOCOM in front of steel target.
The AR-15 is the perfect defense weapon for a woman.


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.

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 (10)

  1. To #6 Lauren,
    My wife and I have his and her’s AR’s, and I confess her’s is nicer than mine. She loves shooting it and is quite good with it (but she hates cleaning it). We belong to an outdoor range with both rifle (up to 200 yds) and pistol ranges, and usually shoot on both on a monthly basis.

    Next on our list is a pair of AR-10’s.

    Keep ’em in the ten!

  2. Love hearing this from another woman! I love my AR-15!

    I actually built mine… So I would know better how it works and how to clean it.

    I have to admit, nothing makes me feel more proud pulling up to the (outdoor) range, getting out my totally girlie rifle bag, staking my claim of stalls, and blowing away my target… knowing that ALL the guys are watching, thinking “what toy is this chic gonna mess up with”. Put THAT in your pipe and smoke it! I’VE GOT THIS!! 😀

    I’ve actually had men come up to me to congratulate me on my targets! Confessing that they thought I had no idea what I was doing and wondering when my man was going to show up since I was playing with “his” toy.

    I do still have a slight problem after a day at the range, with a bruised shoulder and collarbone (I’m kinda boney). But it’s not enough to make me stop shooting, and I’m sure my new padded shoulder shooting shirt can handle it!

    Thank you for posting this. I would love to see more women out at the range, shooting AR-15’s!


  3. Hey Suzanne,
    Another informative and insightful blog. Always a pleasure reading you view point!
    I’m not sure, however,
    that I would agree with your timeline as it concerns acceptance and ownership of the AR platform by women. There may be some truth to it if the discussion is only about women in the USA. However, even if we are only talking about women in the US I think that the time line goes back some years in the past. As with every upsurge of interest for whatever reason in a give area , such as firearms, the “splash” of information often hides or obscures some or all of the facts and history. The use of the AR platforms has shown an increasing ownership and acceptance among women over the last 25 years or so and an interest that may predate that by a bit as well. This is certainly true outside of the US and may also reflect the AK platform as well as the AR. I’m not disagreeing with the foundations or tenets of your article as its your expected and well presented offering that we have come to expect from you. Its only that the time lines may be far more extensive than you give them credit.
    I have … several … AR platforms and, like you, enjoy them all a few better than others. Just a thought, I’d suggest that if you like the general AR platform that you also give it a try in .308 or 7.62×39. I’d also strongly suggest, if you can lay your hands on one, the .300AAC. ( if you can’t find one let me know an you can come an shoot mine!). You will be impressed!
    I would also strongly suggest that you might have a go with the BullPup designed platforms. This design has been my “go to” for some years. I haven’t met a gal yet, I mean not one, who hasn’t been handed a BullPup, before or after shooting an AR, and who likes it so much they don’t want to give it back. Balance, ergonomics, natural situational awareness of field of fire, platform size, and instant natural mussel recognition combined with eye alignment may have something to do with it. I’d suggest you might give it a go! Yup, they look a little weird, but it comes to the hand, shoulder and eye as if nature thru its millennia of evolution designed it to do so for the human form alone. Just my opinions of course, but, if you don’t speak out you don’t get heard! If you should try any of the above would be very pleased to know your impressions. Regards, Pete sends . . .

  4. Love my M&P 15, and I got the 15-22 as well! All of the points in the article are true–the AR-15 rifles are easily adjustable and customizable, making them easy and accurate for women of varying shapes and sizes to shoot. Biden can keep his shotgun. I’m keeping my AR platform rifles!

  5. I see the article has been slightly corrected. When I read it this morning before my morning coffee, the line “Sure, we would shoot our husband’s, boyfriend’s or guy friend’s,…” almost had spit up my cereal. I see the word “rifles” has now been added after “guy friend’s”.

    Of course the email alert I received about this posting still has the original sentence LOL.

  6. Every time my wife and I would go to the range she wanted to shoot my AR. And being a gentleman, I said “ladies first”. The result? She liked shooting it so much she would shoot all the ammo we brought for the session, leaving me to be only the spotter. The solution? Last Christmas she got her own DPMS AR-15. Problem solved.

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