In a market saturated with AR-15’s I constantly get asked “Which AR should I buy?” It’s long overdue I dedicate some time to this topic because it’s not as straight forward as it seems nor is it a simple question to answer without asking some questions in return.
Prices on new AR-15’s range anywhere from about $499 if you build it yourself using the least expensive components you can find, or get a “black friday” deal on an entry type of rifle, to thousands of dollars if you go full tilt.
Generally I try to find out what the buyer is looking for in the rifle, as opposed to going strictly off a price point because once you start looking at adding on options, that base price isn’t as attractive as it first seemed.
Are they looking for a plinker and new range toy? Are they looking to hunt prairie dogs in South Dakota? Home defense rifle? Are they looking for a SHTF rifle to bring them through the zombie Apocalypse? Is money no object and they are looking to sport the biggest name AR at the range and impress their friends? Exactly what are their needs?
Inevitably the answer usually falls into the “all of the above” category, minus the prairie dogs and money being no object anyway. That leaves me with a tall order to fill.
Plinker for a range toy? Virtually any AR can fill this slot, although for the price point and out of the box, the $700~ S&W M&P 15 is going to be hard to beat and it’s worth the few extra bucks over piecing together something yourself.
An AR that will make everyone drool while draining your pocket book? HK 416, no question about it there.
The question really comes down to some combination of the above factors and finding a balance. I.e. the best rifle for shooting those prairie dogs at 800+ yards is probably going to make a horrible home defense rifle and unless you really get a bunch of over time at work, the HK416 is probably not something that is even on your radar. Honestly for it’s price point, it really shouldn’t be on anyones radar, not that it isn’t a great rifle, it’s just unrealistically priced for what it is… in my opinion anyway.
That leaves us with rifles that will encompass what most of my subscribers are looking for. Something that will make an excellent home defense defense rifle and have the reliability to get you through a possible zombie outbreak as well as having the accuracy you’d expect and demand from a modern quality AR-15 firearm. By default that generally also makes it an excellent choice for a “plinker” as well.
You won’t be spending thousands of dollars for such a rifle but you won’t be picking one up for $700 either. There are a myriad of options to consider from fixed front sight posts, free floated rails, triggers, stock options and more.
As you can see picking the right rifle for your needs isn’t as simple as the question might lead one to believe. In my next article I’ll talk about some of the things I look for in an AR as well as the Mk4 RCE from CMMG.
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