How to Choose an AR-15 that’s Right for You

How to Choose an AR-15 that’s Right for You

AR-15 101: How to Choose an AR-15

AR-15 101: How to Choose an AR-15

Can an AR15 Survive After Being Dropped from a Helicopter? Watch this Video to Find Out!


The AR-15 rifle is a heavily sought after semi-automatic rife that has many applications and add-ons for anyone wanting to survive.

In the U.S. it is perfectly legal to own AR-15 rifles although some states regulate the possession of the guns or their features. The purchaser of the AR-15 will be subject to specific regulations on a per state basis and should consult with their gun provider for these laws before they purchase any additional features that may be suspect to regulation.

The AR-15 is Used By:

AR-15's in action

AR-15′s in action

  • U.S. Navy
  • Air Force
  • Army
  • Marine Corps
  • Law-enforcement agencies
  • Civilians
  • Survivalists who want to survive!

The original AR-15 was less than six pounds although heavy-barrel versions are now available and weigh upwards of 8.5 lbs. Because of the various add-ons and variety of companies that manufacture the gun have skyrocketed the popularity of the gun has attracted the attention of sport shooters and law enforcement around the world.

The AR-15 is known for is accuracy and personalization abilities particular to each enthusiast or application. It will also be one of the most important survival tools you could ever own.

How to Choose an AR-15: AR-15 Uppers

An AR-15 upper is the upper part of the AR-15 that supports the barrel assembly and to house and guide the bolt carrier group. Here are the parts that are located on the AR-15 upper receiver:

  • Ejection port cover
  • Forward assist
  • Rear sight assembly
  • Charging hammer

A1/A2 – AR-15 Upper Receivers

AR-15 A1 Upper

AR-15 A1 Upper

  • Windage-only adjustable rear sight mounted on a fixed carrying handle
  • Sight is a peep-hole type sight
  • Has larger close-range appeture and smaller longer range appeture
  • The adjustment for elevation is made with the front sight post
  • The A1 type sight may be difficult to come by and you may have limited options

Did you know you could convert any .223 AR15 into a .22 and practice shooting while saving money? Its so easy and cheap! Click the image below to read about it.

Bug out bag contents - AR15 to .22 conversion kit

Simply pop in this bolt and use this magazine to fire .22LRs from any standard AR15! Costs about $150 bucks.

A3 – AR-15 Upper Receivers (Flat Top Receivers)

AR-15 Lower Receiver

A3 AR-15 UpperReceiver

  • Usually more desirable than the A1 or A2 AR-15 upper receivers
  • The major benefit of the A3 AR-15 upper is the Picatinny rail system
  • This provides a solid attachment point for all types of optics and accessories
  • Bottom line: you have way more options to roll with when customizing your AR-15

AR-15 Lower Receivers

AR-15 Lower

AR-15 Lower

Check out this AR15 torture test video we did!

Here’s another AR15 torture test with the same gun!

The lower receivers contain the fire control system, the magazine well, and serves as the attachment device of the buttstock and pistol grip.

The lower receiver is pretty much common for all upper receiver and buttstock types.

There are 9 subassemblies attached to the lower receiver:

  • Buttstock
  • Pistol grip
  • Fire control selector (fire, safe, off)
  • Trigger group
  • Magazine group
  • Bolt catch
  • Trigger guard
  • Rear takedown pin
  • Pivot pin
You can either buy the individual parts, a kit, or an entire pre-assembled lower receiver ready to go for your AR-15.  You can have an absolutely unlimited number of custom parts and assemblies – the internal workings of the AR-15 lower can be completely customized. For the purpose of this article, however, we won’t be discussing customizing the lower AR-15 receiver – this article is more for beginning survivalists interested in AR-15s.

AR-15 Customization Tips

Keep these tips in mind when customizing your AR-15:

  • There are different sizes of trigger/hammer pins. Make sure you know what size yours is before ordering custom parts. The most common are 154 thousandths for military and after market specs, and 171 thousandths. You’ll need to know what size yours is, and make sure your fire control pin, trigger pin, and hammer pin match. If you’re not completely sure, use a set of calipers to measure.
  • AR-15 pivot pin sizes are super important – make sure your pivot pins match the upper and lower receivers. You can also get adapters to get the pins to match up.

What Will You Use Your AR-15 For?

The application of your AR-15 should be taken into account when selecting a gun that is appropriate for you.

  • Will you use it for survival/personal protection situations? Maybe a red dot sight or rail sight would work best for you.
  • Do you want to make it into a long range (sniper rifle?) You will want a heavier barrel and a great sight.
AR-15’s are used in law enforcement and in military applications but are also used for sport and hunting. Sport or militant operations may consider the application of a fully automatic AR-15 to satisfy the use of the rifle.
Other accessories of the gun that may also be taken into account when selecting the right gun includes the caliber, sight, optical devices and stock. As the application of the AR-15 may mandate differing features you will want to discuss with your gun provider or online gun forums what the preferred features are for you and your desired use(s).

Shooting an AR-15

You should shoot as many AR-15’s as possible to see which one feels right to you. Because there are so many variations of the gun including barrel lengths and caliber sizes each gun may feel different in your hands.

Handling the gun at a shooting range will give you the best idea of which options or manufacturer you feel most comfortable with.

Cost of AR-15

Your budget for your new AR-15 should be taken into consideration because the price points of the gun can vary significantly. The average price of the AR-15 ranges from $850.00 to $2,000.00 for new guns.

The cheaper alternative would be to purchase a used gun which can picked up for around $600.00 and up.

For more great tips and resources on the AR-15, feel free to check out our friends at Florida Gun Supply!

Florida Gun Supply

13 Comments

  1. Avatar
    George April 28, 2012

    Just don’t buy the first green one you see at the local gun show!

    • Avatar
      admin May 08, 2012

      When I was new to AR-15s, I did that once. Took home a no-name AR-15 and plinked around. Next thing I knew, it had somehow malfunctioned and every time I fired, 4 rounds would fire! Super dangerous. I brought it back that same day – this time I researched which gun I wanted and got a very high quality AR-15.

  2. Avatar
    Prepper Joe May 15, 2012

    AR15s are by far my favorite weapon. I recommend people new to them buy one outright from a reputable manufacturer. Do plenty of research on them and determine the quality based on reviews/comments on the product from others who have actually owned/handled that exact weapon/model. There are too many cheap ones on the market that aren’t worth a damn and if they rush into buying one they may end up getting one that doesn’t deserve its classification.

    My personal favorite (outright, full model) is the Colt LE6920 M4 Carbine (16″ barrel). After they own one and handle it for a while, then I recommend buying a second and customizing it piece by piece to meet their exact desires.

  3. Avatar
    Austin Green August 19, 2012

    I agree with the first poster, don’t buy the first you see. There are thousands of different possible combinations of parts. Today it seems people are gravitating toward the more minimalist end of the spectrum, get a rail on top, none on the sides, a light, maybe a grip a sling and an optic but keep the gun light and it will stay handy!

  4. Avatar
    Bill Masson September 04, 2012

    If your looking to tool up your AR15, I would recommend checking out Tactical Eagle. http://www.tacticaleagle.com I just picked up a new night vision scope for the top of my AR15. (You never know when you will have to hunt Zombies at night.)

  5. Avatar
    antonio flores September 13, 2012

    i jest bout a AR-15 out of a pawn shop for 800$ yal think i might have gotten a cheap bad quality one??

    • Avatar
      antonio flores September 13, 2012

      i jest bout a AR-15 out of a pawn shop for 800$ yal think i might have gotten a cheap bad quality one?? n also i bout it used because i heard a seasoned barrel is better because the bullet moves through it better

  6. Avatar
    antonio flores September 13, 2012

    is it true?? or yal think i jest screwed up bad?

  7. Avatar
    Bill Wilson March 02, 2013

    I agree it is best to spend time and do your research and really think about what your needs are. There are a lot of guys that have ended up spending 3x as much as they originally planned on their AR build just because they kept changing their minds on different components.

  8. Avatar
    Curtis February 05, 2014

    You can pick a smith and wesson m&p 15 sport for $700. That is tax included. Not a bad beginner gun

  9. Avatar
    Robert Brooks March 27, 2014

    I had years of experience with AR’s in the military. When I decided to finally buy one, it wa a totally different world. The selection was almost overwhelming. I went to several shops. I was cost conscious, but put my trust in the people at the shop that treated me best. I spent a little more on the best basic rifle I could afford. I started with a Stag Arms Mdl-1, and made up-grades as deemed necessary. Over the years, I’ve been pleased with a good rifle that’s made just for me! IMHO, get the best rifle you can afford, and spend your money on good ammo and good magazines. The rest will come with time.

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