When you work in the gun industry, it is easy to be caught up in the hype of buying the end-all-be-all of rifles. Often, we fail to realize that your average American shooter does not want, nor can they afford, a Noveske or LWRC. That being said, how do we arm the general populous with a rifle that meets all their needs without destroying their bank account? Here, we will find that middle of the road in quality versus price for the rifle, optic and light.
The market has become so flooded that it is fairly easy for the average Joe to have an AR-15 that not only withstands some of the more rigorous paces, yet is still affordable enough to escape murder by your significant other. Often, it is far better to pick up a gun at a decent price, so you can attach the parts you need instead of dropping your hard-earned greenbacks on just the gun. By jumping on the first high-end rifle you come across, you are selling yourself short on being able to pick up an optic that will get you through the fight, and the light that will blind your enemy in the dead of night.
At just below the $600 mark, the Del-Ton ECHO comes almost ready to rock and roll. Not many AR’s in this price range will be able to perform as well as this gun. Typically, when you go cheap you can run into various issues such as improperly staked gas keys or dremel work on the feed ramps (yes, that is a common thing). You will not run into these issues with Del-Ton. For the comfortable price of $600, this rifle features a 1:9 heavy profile Chrome Moly barrel great for reaching out and dropping hogs, MOE furniture with almost limitless options for attachments, M4 feed ramps, and the reliability that only an American-made firearm can achieve. Couple this firearm with some 55-grain ammo such as Federal V-Shok and you have a force to reckon with.
Trying to decide on an optic is by far the hardest part. Looking for an optic that is capable of intermediate range work to CQB is no easy task, so I hope this helps you in your adventure. The fact is, most people can’t afford a new ACOG. Are they some of the best? Sure. Will they ever fail? Probably not. But at an average price of around $1100, it is just not a feasible option.
After careful consideration, the 4×32 AR-15/M16 sight from Barska became the obvious choice. At a sub $200 price tag, it is a contender for even the most frugal of gun owners. Few optics will give you the flexibility to engage a target at 350 yards and still be able to defend the home in a CQB situation. The Mil-Dot reticle will assist when compensating for range, while the shockproof design gives you the versatility to not have to baby a gun that helps defend your life.
One thing to keep in mind is that even with a great optic, a must-have is a backup sight. Sometimes we have to quote Murphy’s Law and remember that what can go wrong will go wrong. Optics go down and that is an unfortunate part of being a shooter. My go-to back-up sight is a flip up from Mako Group. Going with flip up sights is always a great option because they are easy to keep on hand, yet rarely do they get in the way or get caught on things. Flip-up sights from Mako will run you less than $40 and be ready to save the day when things go south.
Lights can be a tricky road to travel when we are looking for quality and affordability at the same time. Often, I have found the best thing to do when light shopping on a budget is to go with a handheld light and add a mount. Most lights from reputable manufacturers will have a standard one-inch body that fit a plethora of very affordable mounts. For this setup, we will go with a Surefire G2X Tactical. Ideally, we would like to go with a higher output light, but for the topic of budget guns, this is one of the best options out there. The G2X will light up any target at home defense distances. For those of you who have never been hit with a high output light such as the G2X, all I can really tell you is that it hurts. The upstanding gentleman creeping around your house at night is not going to be able to see much of you at all—just a painful light to leave him disoriented. The only thing left is to add a mount so that you can attach it to the gun. The BLACKHAWK! offset mount is quality that you can depend on.
Any of us can be armed and ready to defend life, liberty, and property with the right tools and a little bit of nudge in the right direction.
Have you set up an AR-15 on a strict budget? What rifle and parts did you use? Share your build with us in the comment section.
Kyle has been very active with firearms from a young age when his father gave him his first .22 and a brick of ammo. This led on to deer hunting in southern Illinois to doves in west Texas. He is an Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, and currently works as a product tech for Cheaper Than Dirt!