So you want to buy an AR 15 rifle. You tried to do your due diligence, went online, did a few Google searches, maybe read a few blogs and online forum posts. And yet, you ended up clicking on this topic’s thumbnail for some reason.

Or maybe you’re a reformed anti gun liberal who recently started seeing the error of your leftist ways — kind of like what happened to Elon Musk and Tulsi Gabbard — maybe you were somehow red pilled — you now realize that the AR 15 is NOT a quote unquote “Assault Rifle” and that you need one.

Whatever your reasons are for tuning in, hopefully, we can help you make an informed decision. Here are six of the most important things you should take into careful consideration before you buy your first AR 15.

Table of Contents

6: Purpose

You’ve probably asked yourself this question, but if you haven’t, it’s important that you stop and really think about why you want an AR 15. I remember when I was looking for an AR 15 for the first time, I walked into this gun store not knowing what I wanted. Because I didn’t know what I wanted, I didn’t know the right questions to ask.

Though the AR 15 platform is available in more than a few different rifle calibers, its most common chambering is the 5.56, and the typical AR 15 chambered in 5.56 will also chamber and shoot .223 which is a broad topic in and of itself so we won’t get into it in this topic. 

Suffice it to say that an AR 15 chambered in 5.56 is one of the most versatile firearms anyone can purchase because it can be used for home defense, recreational shooting — if you want to try that — and hunting.

If you do end up purchasing an AR 15, you’ll probably spend a lot of time using it for target shooting or for participating in competitive shooting sports, unless you live in a crime infested city where crack heads break into people’s homes on a daily basis — then again, those cities are typically located in gun restrictive states where people typically don’t bother with AR 15s because of all the red tape they have to put up with to own one.

Still, if you can manage to legally purchase one, an AR 15 is one of the best home defense firearms on the market. The 5.56 cartridge has plenty of stopping power thanks to its nominal 1200 foot pounds of muzzle energy which will reliably incapacitate any bad guy intent on doing you harm with one shot. 

And thanks to the light weight bullets 5.56 factory ammo usually use, shots from the AR 15 penetrate less through walls and structures, especially compared to 9mm rounds fired from a pistol caliber carbine or double aught buck shots fired from a shotgun.

For recreational shooting, an AR 15 can be loads of fun. You can coax your friends and loved ones to participate in friendly target shooting matches during holidays, week ends, and on special occasions. Or you can simply empty a box of ammo every day to improve your marksmanship skills.

And for hunting, an AR 15 in 5.56 is over powered for small game if you intend to eat whatever you shoot, but it’s just right for varmint like javelina, coyote, and wild hogs. If you want to hunt larger game like deer with an AR 15, you can get one chambered in 6.8 SPC II for more power. 

5: Legalities

Certain states in the US have legal restrictions as far as the purchase and sale of so called “Assault Weapons”, an umbrella term which the AR 15 is categorized under. The restrictions also apply to AR 15 magazine capacity and accessories.

These gun restrictive states are California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. If you live in any of these states, the rule of thumb when trying to purchase an AR 15 or any kind of firearm for that matter is to talk to your nearest local gun store salesman first. He would know if the particular gun model you’re interested in is legal to acquire.

And one other thing as far as legalities, certain people aren’t legally allowed to purchase or own firearms under Federal law. These include people who have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Any of these types of convictions will typically result in the individual being prohibited to purchase any kind of firearm for life.

If you or someone you know is interested in an AR 15 for home defense but Federal law doesn’t allow you to legally purchase one, I talked about some Less Lethal Gun Options for Home Defense in one of our topics. In that topic I touched on the Byrna Mission 4, a less lethal AR 15 style gun that you can purchase legally no matter your criminal background or the state you live in. I’ll leave the link in the description below.

4: Budget

It’s easy to look for the most affordable AR 15 options online. All it takes is a single Google Search and you’ll see some of the most affordable AR 15 models on the market that you can purchase today like Palmetto State Armory’s 16 inch M4 with an MSRP of $470 and Aero Precision’s AC-15M with a slightly higher MSRP of $690.

Some of the AR 15s priced within the mid range include Aero Precision’s AR15 M4E1 retailing for $940 and Colt’s Model LE 6920 Law Enforcement Carbine with an MSRP of $990.

There’s also no shortage of high end bang for buck models, some of which include Bravo Company’s RECCE 16 series with a price range betwee $1,300 and $1,400, Daniel Defense’s DDM4V11 that retails for $1,519, and Faxon’s FX5500 Ultralight with an MSRP of just shy of two grand. 

But besides the AR 15 rifle, you have to stack up on other important things like extra mags, ammo, and accessories. Of the three I just mentioned, you should spend the bulk of your budget on ammo, because you never know whether or not the current administration will be able to revive the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. 

Granted, HR 1808 failed to gather the requisite number of votes to pass the Senate in November of 2022, but Bill Clinton didn’t need votes in the Senate to sign the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban into law. If you want more specific info on this matter, let us know by commenting down below.

Besides the looming Assault Weapons Ban, ammo prices have been skyrocketing since the pandemic hit the US in 2020, and the increases in prices aren’t showing signs of stopping anytime soon. And there’s also the matter of the ongoing recession which is only making matters worse.

For these reasons, I would highly recommend you spend no less than $500 on ammo for target practice, hunting, and home defense. If you can’t manage that amount, you should at least try to stockpile as much ammo as you can. 

3: Brands

There are countless brands of firearm manufacturers, both local and foreign, and it can be potentially brain damaging to list down every single company that builds an AR 15. I would suggest you buy American made AR 15s if only because the country’s economy is hurting. It can use every single dollar you’re willing to spend on an AR 15.

But it’s your money so you can buy whichever AR 15 brand and model you like. Still, at the very minimum, you should do some research to make sure that the company you’re buying an AR 15 from has a good reputation. 

There are companies that will do anything to maintain their good reputation for two reasons: one, they know that word of mouth is the most effective form of advertising; and two, great customer service results in more repeat customers. On the other hand, bigger and more popular companies tend to rest on their laurels so that’s something to think about as well.

If you don’t personally know someone who is knowledgeable when it comes to AR 15 brands, you can always talk to your local gun store sales men or post on online gun forums. Just ask which brands or models have repeated issues, which ones are always getting returned, which ones are the most popular, and what they have to say about those brands or models of AR 15s.

And just before you make a purchase, it doesn’t hurt to ask about the particular AR 15’s warranty and how its manufacturer handles aftermarket support requests just in case something in it breaks or it decides to stop working all of a sudden.

2: Accessories

You’ve probably heard from some AR 15 owners before that the AR 15 is the lego of the gun world, and if you’ve never had the need to accessorize an AR 15 before, trust me when I say they weren’t kidding. 

AR 15s in the budget segment of the market typically don’t come with sights, and there’s no way you can utilize the power of the 5.56 cartridge without sights on your AR 15. You can buy models with fixed sights but personally, I’d recommend you install some flip up iron sights capable of full co witness with a red dot optic of your choice.

Also, most budget AR 15s use a hand guard made of plastic. You only really need it so your support hand can hold on to the weapon while your strong hand holds the pistol grip and pulls the trigger. The hand guard will work well for its intended purpose and should tide you over until you can purchase an upgrade.

If budget is a major consideration, feel free to skimp on any aftermarket hand guards you may be interested in. Again, you should stock pile ammo before you even think of buying accessories. But if you can spare a few hundred bucks, consider adding an aftermarket handguard or a free float rail so you can attach useful accessories like a flash light or even a bayonet.

Other accessories that may be of interest include, but are not limited to, an ambidextrous charging handle, QD sling mounts, a sling, a bipod, a cheek riser, and a front grip.

Accessory rails come in all sorts of configurations. There are short rails, long rails, quad rails, et cetera. The only thing that limits your rifle as far as the accessories you can mount on it is your budget.

But there is a caveat when it comes to accessorizing your AR 15. It goes without saying that the more accessories you mount on it, the heavier it gets, so consider mounting only the necessary hardware for your intended purpose. If you don’t remember your intended purpose, well, you should watch this topic again from the very beginning.

1: Training

And finally, the most important thing to take into consideration before you purchase an AR 15, or any brand or make or model of a firearm, for that matter, is to make sure that you spend enough time and money for training.

Yes, you heard it right. You need both money and time for training. It’s not enough to simply do dry fire drills or mag dump a couple of boxes worth of ammo into a dumpster or your most hated neighbor’s old beat up car.

You need to look for licensed firearms instructors in your area and talk to them about how you can receive formal training. That’s because even though the AR 15 is the Lego of the gun world, it is NOT a toy. With a single shot, the AR 15 is capable of killing any individual who is unfortunate enough to be in front of its muzzle when it fires.

You can have the most expensive mall ninja AR 15 fully decked out with infrared, night vision, ACOG, a laser, a bayonet, and a KCI USA 100 Round Dual Drum mag, but if you have no idea how to properly utilize your tactiCOOL piece, a lowly .22 LR derringer in the hands of an expert marksman can end you with one shot.

By the same token, it doesn’t matter that you only have a budget AR 15 with fixed iron sights, if you received proper training and you know what you’re doing, you can win practically any gun fight. That’s why TRAINING is number one on this list.

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