Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

The AR For General Purpose

The original AR/M16 rifle- a lightweight assault rifle with a thin 20-inch barrel, capable of engaging targets out to 300 meters – is easy to handle, simple to operate. The A2 version, adopted in 1983, has a thicker barrel, sights adjustable out to 800 meters, and a stock lengthened by 5/8 of an inch. Today there are a variety of versions in use by military, security and law enforcement personnel, but somewhere along the way the AR lost its simplicity. The AR’s of today are bulky, heavier, and more complicated than ever.

For law enforcement patrol use or personal defense, the categories most of us fall under, we need a lightweight and simple rifle. In a fight you have plenty to worry about without a complex heavy rifle adding the list. A thin16-inch lightweight barrel does everything you need. It’s short enough to maneuver in tight quarters, you can practice and train without muscle fatigue, and it’s quicker to transition from target to target. For handguards I use a free-floated carbon fiber unit built by Rod Holland of Hi/Per Form. It’s a one-piece assembly, so it’s simple, and the carbon fiber is lightweight but thick enough to drill holes for attaching rails and sling mounts.

For optics I like the Aimpoints. They are rugged and reliable, and with the extended battery life you turn it on, leave it on, and change batteries once a year. That way I don’t have to remember to turn it on during stressful situations. Backup iron sights are a must. I prefer a fixed stand-up front and rear sight – under combative conditions you won’t have time to flip up folding sights.

I use stock trigger components. Most aftermarket assemblies are listed as “match,” “competition” or “adjustable” triggers. I don’t want a 3-pound trigger on a fighting carbine. Nor do I want anything that can come out of adjustment. Standard triggers work well, and provide a very positive trigger reset.

I like the original A1 fixed stock. If you wear bulky body armor, work inside assault vehicles or Little Bird helicopters you might need an adjustable stock, but I don’t so the A1 stock works for me. The original G.I. cotton sling does everything I need. Tactical slings (any sling that loops around your body) are designed for tactical applications. I don’t like being tied to the rifle, and for patrol applications or self-defense it’s unlikely you’ll have time to loop the sling around your body any way. A weapon mounted light is always good, but you also need to know how to use a handheld light in case that one fails.

I am not saying you don’t need any accessories on your rifle. My point is that modifications to your rifle should satisfy a specific need, and you must understand the application, advantages and disadvantages, of any modifications. Ultimately you build the rifle that meets your needs. We’re talking about a weapon used for fighting, so it doesn’t matter how cool it looks, just that it functions properly, and that you know how to use it.

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September 19, 2010 - Posted by | AR-15

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