The No Frills AR-15 is Ideal for First-Time Buyers
The AR-15 is the increasingly popular long gun used extensively in the United States by law enforcement, outdoorsmen, and property owners who are conscious about home defense. When first introduced in the mid-1950s by Armalite, its design was considered revolutionary. Intended as an upgrade for the U.S. Army Infantry, the rifle easily outperformed earlier weapons that were based on obsolete technology.
Armalite Rifle (hence the AR) was a subdivision of Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation.
This relationship allowed early versions of the AR-15 to borrow from the aircraft industry by using light, but strong materials such as plastics, aircraft grade anodized aluminum, and various other alloys.
Today, the AR-15 is a high-performance rifle with many options for customization, including left and right-handed models, caliber conversion kits, and full barrel customization. But as author Scott W. Wagner points out in his article “Shopping for Your First AR” at USConcealedCarry.com, the basic AR-15 has a lot going for it:
“The AR-15 served successfully for many years in its issued, un-adorned format. The original design is still a winner. Start out with the original, and if need be, work up from there. As for me, I will take my working, rough-use rifle as is.” (Read more at USConcealedCarry.com)
So if you are looking to get into a no-frills AR-15 for under a thousand bucks, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind. First, the AR-15 is extremely reliable. The direct gas system keeps the rifle on the lighter side for both weight and price. The drawback is that the gas design requires regular cleaning and lubrication to continue performing at optimal levels.
Secondly, the naked AR-15 is a thing of beauty. No dressing required. This is especially true if this is your first AR. Take a few test drives, find out what works for you, and go from there. Unnecessary accoutrements can seriously bog you down.
Iron sights are standard issue on the AR-15, and again, it is best to become familiar with them before taking it to the next level with a scope. The iron sights will withstand a ton of heavy duty use, while scopes must be treated with care.
And finally, do not mess with any caliber customizing, at least for a while. The original 5.56/.223 ammo is an effective round for new shooters, especially when using premium ammo. If you prefer more power, the full-length AR with a 20-inch barrel delivers 3200 fps velocity using 55-grain ammo.
The best news is that you can purchase a bare-bones street-ready AR for about $900. After a little practice, you will have a feel for what accessories are needed to adapt to your outdoor, recreational, or home defense preferences.