The AR-15 Rifle

The AR-15 Rifle by Charles Yor for The Survivalist Blog

GNN Note – Probably the single most effective rifle on the market today. It was a great day for Liberty when this weapon rolled off the assembly line.


The AR-15 is by far America’s rifle of choice, the current and future king of the 5.56mm’s. Now a mature design since its inception back in the 1950’s, the AR is showing absolutely no signs of fading away or slowing down.

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There have been many contenders to the throne, and some more recent rifle families may have it topped in one category or another, but few other rifles even come close to the advantages an AR offers in a single lightweight and robust package.

Around the world, the AR remains the standard by which all other intermediate caliber rifles are judged. It is telling that among armed professionals and civilian shooters alike, those that have a choice will usually reach for an AR when they need an all-around carbine or rifle.

This article will serve as a practical, down-and-dirty primer on the ins and outs of using and equipping an AR so you can catch up quickly if you are late to the party or just get right to the bottom line. We’ll be skipping the history lesson today, so if that is what you are after you’ll need to check out another article.

I’ll also be tackling several of the most timeworn myths and misconceptions that constantly orbit the AR’s legacy so you don’t wind up choosing a lesser rifle by mistake; if you are a prepper living in the U.S. and want a rifle for defensive purposes you had better be seriously considering the AR.


Opinion articles like this invariably end with ego-jousting in the comments because people love to be contrarian when it comes to what is objectively one of the very best firearms on the entire planet. Some will claim that they never saw an AR that ran right, and that they would only trust their life to a Mini-14, AK, Garand, FAL, M14 or whatever.

This is most assuredly puffery and bunk, but let them have it. What they are probably striking out at is that they either used or encountered an AR that was not running right for whatever reason, and so declared the entire family of rifles junk. Alternately, they are simply parroting what a friend/relative/neighbor who served in Vietnam parroted that they heard from guys who “were in the shit.”

ARs are made by very literally dozens and dozens of manufacturers. Some have stellar reputations for turning out hard-working tools, others pump out barely serviceable crap, just like makers of any other common pattern of rifle. There is certain price category where you can no longer attain quality. I am not interested in a race to the bottom.

I am also not interested in apples to oranges comparisons and neither should you be. Furthermore, I don’t care how “reliable” a design is supposed to be: if it is made by dirtbags it will not work. I can only about the tale of the tape between two designs of similar build quality. It is only there an honest assessment can be made.

Assume that for the purposes of this article I am referring to an AR’s made by good quality makers, not bargain-basement assembles or home workshop assemblers.

The Basics

The standard AR-15 of today is a lightweight, direct impingement-operated carbine, chambered in 5.56x45mm and fed from a detachable magazine with standard capacity of 30 rounds. It is nominally lightweight, accurate, possessed of excellent ergonomics, and assuming it is made correctly by a good manufacturer, highly reliable and durable, contrary to popular opinion.

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