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

AR15 Guest Blog: Prepper Joe’s Preferred AR15/M4 Style Rifle Starter List

Posted On April 18, 2012 at 4:00 pm by / 2 Comments

When it comes to finding your first AR15/M4 style rifle there are a few guidelines I recommend following (these are purely from my experience and research and are of course entirely opinion):

• Make sure it is 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington. You can shoot .223 Remington from a 5.56 but not a 5.56 from a strictly .223 Remington (Some say you can shoot 5.56 from a .223 Remington, but you run the risk of severely damaging your weapon and possibly injuring yourself—don’t do it).

• I don’t recommend building your first AR style rifle. While they are not hard to build, there are too many reports of people going out, piecing together their ideal build and then having issues with it not firing, etc. I recommend buying one straight out, getting used to the weapon, learning its mechanisms, and then slowly start piecing together your next one based on your experience.

How to Choose an AR15 That’s Right for You

• I recommend getting an AR with a flat top or optic ready top. If you get the railings you limit the ease of application and capability of some scopes. If you get a flat top/optic ready you can generally put about any scope you want on them.

• My personal preference is a 16” barrel compared to the more expensive 18” or 20” barrels. Unless you’re planning on shooting beyond 350 yards, you really don’t need more than 16”. Also, keeping the 16” barrel holds true to the tactical nature of many of these weapons—they provide easier maneuverability and adjustment to closer threats.

• Always take your time and research the weapon you want to purchase. Read reviews, read specifications, read fine text then reread the reviews! Make sure you’re going to get what you’re wanting.

There are three particular AR Styled rifles that I recommend as a first purchase. Each of these has quite a few variations available, but the base models are as follows:

Colt LE6920
Colt LE6920

Colt LE6920 – Approximately $1000-$1200 online depending on source
Barrel Length: 16.1”
Standard Magazine Capacity: 30+1
Total Length: 35.5”
Weight (Unloaded): 6.95 Pounds

Bushmaster 90888
Bushmaster 90888

Bushmaster 90888 – Approximately $875 online depending on source
Barrel Length: 16”
Standard Magazine Capacity: 30+1
Total Length: 36.25”
Weight (Unloaded): 6 Pounds

Windham Weaponry R16M4FTT
Windham Weaponry R16M4FTT

Windham Weaponry R16M4FTT – Approximately $825 online depending on source
Barrel Length: 16”
Standard Magazine Capacity: 30+1
Total Length: 34.5”
Weight (Unloaded): 6.9 Pounds

As you can see, all of these guns are pretty much identical. Same barrel length, very slight variations on total length and weight, and each of them will generally use the same magazines. Generally when you buy an AR, unless you’re in California, it will come with a single 30 round magazine.

I have not shot or handled a Windham Weaponry R16M4FTT, but have read many great reviews and heard good things from people close to me. I personally prefer the Bushmaster 90888 for its price and capabilities, but the Colt, despite paying more for a name, is the most reliable AR I’ve handled/shot.

Though I’ve never had the desire to dip my Colt in mud and then attempt to fire it, I’ve read reports on people doing just that and having it fire. I would never condone testing that, but it is a testament to its reliability.

This guest blog post was written and sent in by Prepper Joe over at

How to Choose an AR15 That’s Right for You

2 thoughts on “AR15 Guest Blog: Prepper Joe’s Preferred AR15/M4 Style Rifle Starter List

  1. I too lean toward Bushmaster having a ’99 that has proven to be extremely reliable! That said, it is also straight Direct Impingement with no gas piston. IMUO it is cheaper, proven by Colt, US Military since 60’s, tad lighter, less to tear up than gas piston systems. Just MUO! Having back up spare parts is critical & cheap! To completely understand the AR, there are many sources, my fav is DVD w Robert Dunlap!

  2. Good plan. Drive on.From Gallipoli to Inchon, for 40 years in the Fulda Gap, and for 60 years in the ROK DMZ, the lesson is that Combat Loading works.(The flip side of that is: Failure To Plan= Planing To Fail).Step Two, IMHO, is fiigrung out plans for both your potential types (two-legged and four-wheeled) of exfils, prioritizing the loadouts so the important stuff makes the cut if time is critical, and planning *where* you put stuff so that when the zombie hordes crest the next ridge, or someone gets punctured, the bullets and bandaids are right handy, and not at the back, on the bottom, and under a palletload of useful but less-critical stuff (unless one PLANS to throw MREs, cans of Spam, and diapers at the oncoming horde).Demarcating 1st line (body carry) 2d line (LBE) 3rd line (ruck) 4th line (vehicle) 5th line (BOL/retreat/basement), and alternate/supplemental (caches, family/friend/tribe) options, into a logically expanding pyramid is a very useful way to go about that.That should keep you busy until the holidays.Happy unpacking!Best Regards,-Aesop

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