Selecting an AR15 for Defense A Preppers Manual

Written by: Randy Wilson

Introduction First let me start off by introducing myself. My name is Randy and I am a professional gunsmith and owner of Ballistic Gun Works. I have been shooting, building and repairing AR15 rifles for 20 years. The following material is based purely on my experience and testing with the Ar15 rifle platform. Much of the content is my opinion based on my experience with the rifle it’s just the facts as I have experienced them. My intention is to provide the good, the bad and the ugly pulling no punches. My hope is that this text will help others decide if the AR15 rifle platform is suitable for their defense needs. It is assumed since you are reading this manual that you want to hear my opinion on using the AR15 as a primary battle rifle for your preparedness. First off let me start by saying that the AR15 properly configured is a fully acceptable weapon for defense. You should understand however that these rifles have some quarks and complexity issues that must be known. The AR15 rifle is the civilian version of the US military M16 rifle system. There are differences in the civilian and military version of the rifle. Most notably the ability to fire full auto or three round burst is not available in the civilian model rifles. In addition the military M16 rifles are built very well and meet rigid military standards. This manual is not about the science of the AR15 rifle, ballistics, statistics or anything else of the sort. I will impart practical knowledge that will be useful to the average preparer in deciding on a purchase. Please excuse me if I ramble, I am not a great writer.

The AR15 for the Prepper The AR15 in its many different configurations is a lightweight, low recoil and accurate rifle. Being light weight means you can carry more equipment and ammo. The low recoil means almost anyone can handle the rifle. The accuracy helps ensure your safety. The AR15 of today is dependable. Let go of the reputation of yester year about the AR15 being a jam-omatic. Properly built, maintained and used the rifle is very dependable. The Ar15 in my opinion is a defensive rifle in that its range is limited. You will hear many figures about 600yards but I find the rifle to be much less capable in stopping threats. You are safe to assume the rifle will stop acceptably within 400 yards with a well placed shot. This should not be an issue as you are looking for a defensive rifle. Anything further than 100 yards becomes offensive in my opinion. Yes soldiers have taken 700yard kill shots with the M16, it is possible but unlikely (they were trained snipers). They key to self defense is never being out gunned. I am confident that a properly working Ar15 with enough ammunition is fully capable of thwarting most attacks. The ability to lay down an accurate suppressive field of fire with this rifle is a big advantage. AR15 rifles are like anything else, there are good ones and bad ones. Even the best manufacturer spits out a turd every now and again. You should not consider relying on your rifle until you have fired a minimum of 500 rounds through the weapon. Practice, test and familiarize yourself with every aspect of the Ar15 rifle. Your life and possibly the life of your loved ones depend on your ability to use the weapon effectively. I cannot stress how important it is to test these rifles thoroughly prior to considering them for duty use. I have seen far too many brand new factory AR15 rifles malfunction. Just recently I had a brand new factory made AR15 of supposed high quality fail catastrophically (it broke a gas ring and hard jammed) on the range. When I say catastrophically I mean the weapon failed in a way that it could not be fixed in the field and would have been useless in a firefight. I had to hammer the bolt carrier out of the rifle to do repairs at a later time. My advice is to use the AR15 rifle for what it is. Keep it light weight; there is no advantage to a heavy barrel in a semi-auto rifle. Throughout this manual I will tell you what I like and why but I fully expect you will have your own taste in AR15 rifles. You can go from basic no frills to a super duper Bling Omatic, the choice is yours! Just remember simple works.

This is an AR15 Bling Omatic rifle. As you can clearly see the light weight advantage has been significantly reduced. The owner however has many options available if he can find them. Accessories There is a new word for today’s AR15 enthusiast and that word is Tacticool. Everyone seems to want their rifle to have every gadget available. I prefer simplicity in my weapons, after all isn’t the primary advantage of an AR15 being light? I see people with lasers, flare launchers, strobes and a multitude of other things attached all over the rifles. My advice to you is to keep it simple, maybe a flashlight if needed, optics and a sling.

The AR15 Rifle Basics The AR-15 is a lightweight, 5.56 mm, air-cooled, gas-operated, magazine-fed semi-automatic rifle, with a rotating-lock bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation. It is manufactured with the extensive use of aluminum alloys and synthetic materials. The main mechanism of operation for the rifle is known as direct gas impingement. Gas is trapped from the barrel as the bullet moves past a gas port located above the rifle's front sight base. The gas rushes into the port and down a gas tube, located above the barrel, which runs from the front sight base into the AR-15's upper receiver. Here, the gas tube protrudes into a “gas key” (bolt carrier key) which accepts the gas and funnels it into the bolt carrier. The bolt and bolt carrier together form a piston, which is caused to expand as the cavity in the bolt carrier fills with high pressure gas. The bolt is locked into the barrel extension, so this expansion forces the bolt carrier backward a short distance in line with the stock of the rifle to first unlocks the bolt. As the bolt carrier moves toward the butt of the gun, the bolt cam pin, riding in a slot on the bolt carrier, forces the bolt to turn and unlock from the barrel extension. (The gas system only serves to unlock the bolt while the projectile has long exited the barrel). Once the bolt is fully unlocked it begins its rearward movement along with the bolt carrier. The bolt's rearward motion extracts the empty cartridge case from the chamber, and as soon as the neck of the case clears the barrel extension, the bolt's spring-loaded ejector forces it out the ejection port in the side of the upper receiver. The bolt is much heavier than the projectile, and along with the recoil-spring pressure inside the stock buffer-tube performs the cartridge ejection function and chambers the following cartridge. Behind the bolt carrier is a plastic or metal buffer which rests in line with a return spring that pushes the bolt carrier back toward the chamber. A groove machined into the upper receiver traps the cam pin and prevents it and the bolt from rotating into a closed position. The bolt's locking lugs then push a fresh round from the magazine which is guided by feed ramps into the chamber. As the bolt's locking lugs move past the barrel extension, the cam pin is allowed to twist into a pocket milled into the upper receiver. This twisting action follows the groove cut into the carrier and forces the bolt to twist and “lock” into the barrel’s unique extension.

The AR15 Rifle Gas System A deeper look The AR15 rifle has been around a very long time. It has gone through a lot of upgrades over the years and after 30+ years it has become a dependable weapon. If you want to read the history of the rifle it is out on the Internet. The AR15 I will be speaking to is the modern rifle with all the upgrades in place. The AR15 rifles design is inherently accurate due to the bolt locking into the barrel extension and the straight travel of the bolt motion. The .223 or 5.56 cartridge is also an accurate round only adding to the overall accuracy of the rifle. There is one major design flaw in the M16 and AR15 rifle design. The rifle poops where it eats! OK maybe your laughing, maybe not (what is this guy talking about?). What I mean is that the gas used to cycle the weapon dumps right into the area the rifle loads a new round in. It deposits carbon at alarming rates into an area designed with close tolerance. This causes malfunctions and stoppages thus giving the rifle some of the negative reputation it has earned over the years. This need not be a liability if the rifle is kept clean and properly lubricated but short of that you are going to have issues.

Direct gas impengement versus piston Recently gas piston conversions have become popular to replace the direct gas impingement system used on the AR15 rifle. While these systems do seem to increase to reliability (if properly installed) they have not come without their own problems. I have seen them break rendering the rifle useless. I have also seen them wear out the bottom of the buffer tube. Is the gas piston really the final answer to the AR15 design problem? I don’t know but to date I have decided to stay with the original direct gas impingement system on all my rifles.

A MILSPEC AR15 It seems that everyone today is an arm chair warrior who knows everything about the AR15. I was in a gun shop the other day and heard a sales person berate a customer over not having purchased a MILSPEC AR15 rifle. I shuffled on over smiling and pleasantly said so what is a military specification rifle and what does it consist of? The sales person puffed out his chest and started to explain what he thought it meant. He of course was wrong. I hear this a good bit, make sure your AR15 is MILSPEC. I have a secret for you… nobody owns a true MILSPEC AR15 because such a thing does not exist. OH I see the look on your face. Some of you are now gnashing your teeth and wringing your hands. Calm down and let me explain my take on the matter. The government does not contract for AR15 rifles. They contract for M16 rifles. The government has onsite inspectors at each contract location to ensure quality control all the way down to the metallurgy used in the receivers (yes I have been part of this process in my lifetime). Everything is exacting and any deviance is cast out (you would cry at what they destroy). Now as far as I know no one is contracting Ar15 rifles as part of a government contract, thus none of the Ar15 rifles have been held to military specification. Hence none of you has a MILSPEC AR15. You might own a MILSPEC M16, I suppose that is fully possible but not an AR15 and you NEVER will. Many manufacturers claim to make MILSPEC AR15 rifles but without the military representation onsite they could never be certified as MILSPEC. The good news is you can build a quality AR15 that is as good as or better for the most part than a MILSPEC M16. We do know a lot about what the military is using and has tested. We can replicate and improve as needed to insure we have a great battle rifle. You now know more about the AR15 rifle than 90% of the big mouths out there. Aren’t you proud? There are some great Ar15 manufacturers out there building high quality rifles. The trick is to make sure we get the right one. I caution you to remember, civilian manufacturers even the best of them occasionally put out a turd, military contractors do not (your tax dollars can afford all the testing ever needed). So you want to buy a quality AR15 right off the shelf. I have a few manufacturer recommendations for you based on my experience in order of quality –

COLT (specifically the 6920) Lewis Machine & Tool Company LWRC International, LLC Rock River Arms DPMS

(Government contractor) (Government contractor)

Many of you have rifles by manufacturers not listed above and they work very well for you. My list is based from experience in the field shooting more than 1500 rounds through each rifle. If you have an AR15 that you shot more than 1500 rounds without failure in a day please let me know the make!

Buying AR15 Rifles You have some options when it comes to Ar15 rifles. This is really an understatement, you have a slew of options that is mind boggling. You can buy a new off the shelf rifle, you can buy a used factory manufactured rifle, you can buy a used parts built rifle or you can build your own rifle. As a competent gunsmith and I always opt to build my own rifles. I can control the quality of parts and assembly resulting in a known state rifle. I am going to caution you on buying used rifles built from mismatched parts. Only buy used Ar15s from reputable dealers who will refund your money if the rifle fails to function properly. Parts kit built guns are highly susceptible to feeding and ejection issues. The problem with buying a used rifle is you just do not know what you are getting unless you can fire the weapon prior to purchase. I would be less concerned about used factory produced rifles than mixed matched parts guns. Do not be scared off however, some of these parts built rifles perform flawlessly, just be cautious. Here is a list of features you want when buying an AR15 rifle: BOLT CARRIER GROUP This is the part that moves back and forth in the upper receiver chambering fresh rounds, extracting and ejecting empty rounds, and generally ensuring that your rifle or carbine operates as it should. As such, in terms of reliability, the BCG is the heart of the gun, and having as high a quality BCG that is assembled correctly out of the correct materials and which has been properly checked for flaws is key to the continued reliability of the AR-platform firearm. Shot Peened Bolt There are many resources available online as to the exact process and how it affects the structure of the part at the molecular level, but essentially the goal is to increase the resistance of metal to fatigue. The bolt, in the performance of it's duties, is put under a considerable amount of stress as the gun fires. Ensuring that this part lasts as long as possible is key to the continued reliability of the firearm over time, and increasing the resistance of the part to fatigue increases it's service life. High Pressure Test (HPT) Bolt This is also sometimes referred to as "proof loading" or "proof firing". Essentially it is a test fire of the bolt (and barrel) in order to subject the part to a pressure that could cause it to fail in use. This is a preparatory step in order to prepare the part for the next step. Not all companies perform this step and prefer to "batch test" their bolts and barrels, or to test a representative sample of each batch. Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI) Bolt Like shot peening, there are resources available online as to what the exact process is and how it works, but the intended purpose is to check for surface cracks in the part that may not be detectable by the naked eye and that may have been caused by the HPT. Not all companies perform this step and prefer to "batch test" their bolts and barrels, or to test a representative sample of each batch. This is a crucial step following the HPT in order to observe the results.

Black Extractor Spring Insert The crucial element here is, in fact, the 5-coil extractor spring which the black insert indicates as there is some debate as to the actual chemical or physical properties of the insert itself as compared to the rifle version which comes with the 4-coil spring and is blue. The shorter gas system of the carbine makes for a quicker and more violent operation of the BCG which can cause the extractor on the bolt to jump over the rim of the case and not properly extract the empty case. To some degree this can be mitigated by gas port size, but beefing up the spring tension to cause the extractor to clamp more tightly on the case ensures proper function.

Properly Staked Gas Key The gas key on top of the bolt carrier is the part that the gases (which have been re-directed through the gas port, then the gas block or front sight base, and into the gas tube) pass through in order to expand within the carrier, push back on the carrier against the bolt, unlock the bolt and cycle the firearm. As such it is under tremendous pressure and is critical to the continued operation of the firearm, and must remain sealed in order to allow all of the gas pressure into the carrier to do it's job. The key is held on to the top of the carrier by two screws, typically allen but sometimes torx, that are tightened to a specified torque. After tightening the metal of the key should be "staked" in such a way as to prevent the screws from loosening. In order for the staking to perform it's job properly it must deform the metal of the key sufficiently to make contact with, and perhaps even deform a bit, the attachment screws. Use of Locktite is not sufficient, as virtually all versions of Locktite are weakened by heat. BARREL The barrel rivals the bolt in terms of how critical it is to the long term reliability and functionality, as well as accuracy of the firearm. Clearly, accuracy may be sacrificed to some degree in favor of longevity in terms of a chromoly and chrome-lined barrel. The features that are included in the barrel section, the next eight items on the chart, are all related to the longevity of the barrel as well as the reliability of the firearm, with some features being somewhat optional as they pertain to use of certain projectiles and other shooter-defined needs. Barrel Steel This is a science unto itself but I am going to simplify it for you. The best barrels are 4150 hammer forged chrome lined. Other barrels may be used including stainless but the 4150 hammer forged is superior in longevity. High Pressure Test (HPT) Barrel This means the same thing, and is done for the same reason, as the HPT of the bolt. Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI) Barrel This means the same thing, and is done for the same reason, as the MPI of the bolt.

Chrome Chamber and Bore Chrome-lining of the chamber and bore serve to protect both from corrosion due to the heat of combustion of the gunpowder in the bullet as well as "neglect" in humid or other harsh environments. The chamber and bore are directly related to the accuracy potential of a firearm, and damage to either in the form of pitting will negatively impact the accuracy potential. The trade off is that chrome is often applied unevenly, at the microscopic level, meaning that it may negatively affect the accuracy potential in and of itself. The potential for damage due to other factors is generally considered greater than the small amount of uneven application, and so chrome-lining is generally considered desirable. No, it cannot be added after the fact as barrels intended for chrome-lining are first slightly overbored with the lining then reducing the internal diameter to the proper dimension. 5.56 Chamber There is a common misconception that .223 and 5.56 are the same thing. They are not. 5.56 is often loaded to a higher pressure, among other things, which is the most critical issue. There are other dimensional differences pertaining to throat, bullet seat, etc. but what it comes down to in practical terms is that you can shoot .223 in a 5.56 chamber but the reverse is not a good idea. Generally speaking the barrel will be marked with one or the other but unfortunately those markings cannot always be trusted. If you think you may ever shoot 5.56 ammunition it is a good idea to get a 5.56 chamber from a maker that can be trusted. 1:7, 1:8 or 1:9 barrel twist Another common misconception is that bullet weight determines the optimal rifling twist. This is incorrect in that it is actually bullet (projectile) length that should be used to determine the twist rate. Generally speaking, however, the heavier bullets are also longer so while technically incorrect it is common to say that a 1:7 twist is more desirable for the heavier 75 and 77 grain projectiles. Therefore, choosing a barrel twist really comes down to first choosing your projectile weight, and more correctly, length. If you work for a department that mandates or issues a certain ammunition then this should be your guide when choosing a rifling twist rate. A good rule of thumb is that 1:9 will stabilize bullets in the 45 to 62 grain range, and 1:7 will stabilize bullets in the 55 to 77 grain range. Like all things this is not a given, and any barrel should be tested with the intended ammunition to ensure the desired results are achieved. M4 Feed ramps M4 feed ramps refer to the feed ramps in the barrel extension being matched up to feed ramps cut into the upper receiver. The alternative is Rifle feed ramps which stop at the end of the barrel extension and do not continue into the upper receiver. Longer projectiles, soft-point projectiles, and carbines with faster cyclic rates tend to benefit from the extended M4 feed ramps. There are no known downsides to having the extended feed ramps.

"F" Height Front Sight Base Front sight bases come in two basic varieties. One is the front sight base intended for use on carbines and rifles with fixed A2 uppers, the other (The "F") is intended for carbines with flattop uppers. In order to ensure compatibility with the various aftermarket rear back up iron sights, the "F" is more desirable. Not all "F" height front sight bases are marked with the "F" (LMT for example), and some that are marked are not true to the correct height. Taper Pins at Front Sight Base (FSB) A minor issue, but taper pins hold the front sight base better and tighter than a straight pin. Some makers attempt to make up for this by using slightly oversized straight pins that can be extremely difficult to remove. Parkerizing under FSB Parkerizing under the front sight base (or FSB) is done by very few makers. Most prefer to attach the base to the barrel and then parkerize the assembly as a whole. If parkerized as an assembly, both the outside of the barrel under the rings of the base and the inside of the rings themselves do not get the protective coating of the parkerizing process. There have been some reports of these parts rusting in the unprotected area, but it is unlikely that rust in these locations will affect the function of the carbine. Double Heat Shield Handguards The added diameter and extra shield serve to keep the shooter's hands cooler over prolonged periods of fire. LOWER RECEIVER The receiver extension is the part of the rifle, often mistakenly called the "buffer tube" that extends out from the back of the lower receiver. It not only holds the stock on the rifle but also does act as a tube for the buffer and bolt carrier to move back and forth inside of when the rifle cycles. This receiver extension is held in place by a castle nut which also holds the receiver end plate in plate, which in turn holds a spring and detent in place inside the lower. 1.14" Diameter Receiver Extension This is often referred to as the "milspec" receiver extension. The alternative to a "milspec" receiver extension is the "civilian" or "commercial" receiver extension. There is some debate as to whether or not the milspec extension is actually stronger or "better" than the commercial, but for most users the real choice comes down to availability of aftermarket stocks. Some companies, like Magpul with their CTR stock, offer versions for both extensions, but many do not. If you know that your intended stock is available for the commercial receiver extension or if you are happy with the stock your rifle comes with it is most likely not an issue. If, however, you want to change the stock or just keep your options open then the milspec extension is preferred.

Staked Castle Nut The castle nut is the nut that holds the receiver extension in to the lower receiver and prevents it from backing out. If it backs out, the buffer retainer spring inside the lower can come loose, which in turn can render the carbine inoperable. The best case scenario if your castle nut comes loose is that your stock becomes loose which is also not a good thing. Calling it a "staked castle nut" is somewhat of a misnomer as the part that is staked is actually the receiver endplate. The castle nut itself has small notches on the forward side, and large notches to the rear. The large notches are used for tightening, and the small notches are there so that the receiver endplate can be staked to displace metal into the notch on the castle nut, thereby keeping it from turning. With the proper castle nut wrench the staking can be easily overcome to change out the parts, but without the tool the nut will not come loose. Locktite may be a viable solution but is rarely applied correctly and lacks the readily visible check that the staking provides, and may be overapplied to the point of actually being harder to remove than a staked nut. "H" Buffer The buffer is the weighted part that moves back and forth inside the receiver extension when the rifle cycles. It is held forward by a long spring called the buffer spring, and is kept from moving too far forward by the buffer retainer pin (which is in turn held in place by the receiver extension, see "staked castle nut" above). The buffer and spring provide resistance to the bolt carrier as it cycles and the spring then pushes the bolt and carrier back into battery after the empty case is ejected. A heavier buffer can increase lock time (see "M16 bolt carrier" above) which reduces wear and tear on parts and increases reliability in carbines. The heavier buffer can also decrease felt recoil. It is, however, possible to install a buffer that is too heavy which will not allow the rifle to cycle properly. Typically the "H" buffer is used on carbines with barrels 10-16" with carbine (7.0) length gas tubes. .154" Diameter Fire Control Group (FCG) Pins At one time, Colt was the only maker of complete rifles that used slightly oversized fire control group (trigger and hammer) pins to prevent the installation of M16 full-auto or burst parts from being installed in the lower. Virtually all aftermarket trigger makers (Timney, Geissele, McCormick, etc.) make trigger groups that utilize the larger pin size so finding aftermarket parts is a non issue. The odd-size pins do become an issue if you own rifles from Colt and other companies as the spare parts in question will not be interchangeable. In addition, finding the proper diameter pins, and the FCG parts they hold in place, for spares from any vendor other than Colt may prove difficult. This issue has been resolved on current-production Colt 6920s as they are now shipping with .154" diameter hammer and trigger pins.

Magazines To the Ar15 rifle nothing is more important than the magazine. I have tried them all and there is only one brand I use or recommend. The PMAG® MAGAZINES by MagPul are far superior to any other magazine available. This statement has caused great debate but remember this is my opinion based on years of experience. No other magazine functions and feeds ammunition to the Ar15 rifle as dependably as the PMAG. Military magazines are inferior and at only $15.00 at the time of this writing they are an incredible value. Trust me on this. Buy the PMAGS and only PMAGS for your AR15 rifle. I do not work for MagPul or have any affiliation they are just the best hands down.

In early 2007 Magpul announced the PMAG 30-round 5.56 NATO Polymer Magazine for AR15/M16 platform weapons. With millions fielded to military, law enforcement, and commercial users, PMAGs have become the de facto standard for magazine reliability and durability. You should have at least twelve MPAG 30 round magazines for each of your rifles. The PMAGs can be loaded and left in storage for many years without issue so they are always at the ready. Use the provided caps that lock on for long term storage to alleviate the pressure on the upper feed lips of the magazine. NOTE: A note on magazine rotation practices. It is a common practice for people to keep several magazines loaded for a period of time and then rotate them and load others for a period of time. It was once believed this would extend the life of magazines. I will not go into the science but due to the way springs work loading and unloading magazines is the worst thing you can do for them! The compression and decompression of magazines is what weakens the springs, not leaving them loaded.

Ammunition The AR15 rifle shoots a very anemic .224 diameter bullet (that’s a .22 caliber). Military ammunition is very light weighing in at 55 to 62 grains based on ammo type used. There are varied opinions on why the US military adopted this light varmint round for a combat rifle. Some say the intent was to wound not kill in the field of battle. Others claim it was because the ammunition is light and a soldier can carry more. I have read that the light recoil and accuracy was the primary reason and this sounds most plausible to me. Whatever the reason the military ammunition is unacceptable for the intended purpose of defense. Yes I said the MILITARY ammunition is not adequate for your defense. There are reports coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan where soldiers are shooting multiple times to stop a threat. In the real world you cannot always take the headshot, in fact you should not even try, shoot center mass. So what is needed to insure a one shot incapacitation of a human from an AR15? Well you have some options with today’s modern ammo technology. One is the DRT ammunition from Dynamic Research Technologies offered in 55 and 79 grain bullets. This ammo will stop a human with a single shot to the torso 90% of the time, Special Forces refer to it as DEAD RIGHT THERE ammo. It has a powdered tungsten steel core that explodes in a target after about 3 to 4 inches of penetration. My testing also shows it will fully penetrate class 1 body armor at 75 yards. The second option is to purchase modern civilian ammunition. I have included a good list below to help you get started. NOTE: The ammunition you choose must be supported by the twist rate of your barrel. First generation M16 and AR15 rifles used a 1 in 12 twist rate. This would only stabilize up to a 55 grain bullet. Today there are various twist rates available for the AR15 barrel all the way to 1 in 7 twist rate (my preferred barrel). If Barrier penetration is NOT an important factor AND your rifle can stabilize them (1:9 minimum twist rate): Hornady 75gr OTM loads Nosler 77gr OTM loads Sierra 77gr SMK loads If Barrier penetration is NOT an important factor AND your rifle can't stabilize the heavy 70+ grain bullets: Sierra 69gr SMK loads Hornady 68gr OTM loads Winchester 64gr JSP (RA223R2) Federal 64gr TRU (223L) Hornady 60gr JSP

If your rifle is 1:12 twist rate and can only shoot lighter-weight bullets: 55gr DRT 55gr Federal bonded JSP load (LE223T1 or P223T2) Barnes 55gr TSX/TAC-X 50gr TSX loaded by Black Hills* If Barrier penetration IS an important factor (most of these should work with 1:9 barrels, but use common sense in regards to twist rate requirements) 62gr Federal Trophy Bonded Bear Claw (TBBC) bonded JSP (XM556FBIT3)* 64gr Winchester solid base bonded JSP (Q3313/RA556B)* 50gr TSX loaded by Black Hills* Speer 55 & 64gr Gold Dot JSP (5.56)* Federal 62gr Mk318 Mod0 (T556TNB1)* 62gr Federal bonded JSP Tactical (LE223T3) 55gr Federal bonded JSP load (Tactical––LE223T1 or identical Premium Rifle–– P223T2) Swift 75gr Scirocco (usually requires 1:7 twist) 60gr Nosler Partition JSP Remington 62gr bonded JSP Federal 55gr TSX (T223S) Speer 55 & 64gr Gold Dot JSP (.223) Federal 62gr Fusion JSP (Same construction as the Gold Dot) I am going to go a little more into military ammunition as it is highly available and at the time of my writing and fairly inexpensive. The military uses two basic rounds one is a 55grain bullet with a cantilure designated XM193. This round is only dependably lethal out to 200 yards (you will never see that in a manual but it is true). The bullet will travel much further than 200 yards but we are talking stopping power not range. The 55grain round when traveling very fast will strike its target and yaw creating a serious wound channel due to the cantilure destabilizing the round. The problem comes in after 200 yards the bullet speed has dropped to low to dependably cause the yaw effect on impact. So if you are going to use this round 200 yards and closer it will perform satisfactorily.

The other round the military is fielding in its newer rifles with faster twist rates is the 62grain SS109 or M855 bullet. This bullet is often inaccurately identified as armor piercing, it is not! It does have a small steel penetrator that helps it go through enemy Kevlar helmets but it will not go through armor. This round though heavier is actually worse than the 55grain round against soft targets as it tends to zip right through. Look I am not saying it will not kill, it just is not optimal.

Conclusion The best ammo is the ammo you have! However if while prepping you have the opportunity to acquire superior ammunition why not do so? Keep the military stuff for practice and use the proven heavier rounds for defense.

NOTE: Always use brass case ammo in the AR15 rifle. DO NOT use steel case lacquer coated ammunition from Russia unless it is an emergency in an AR15. This ammo will eventually gum up the chamber and cause your rifle to fail.

Iron sights are a wonderful thing and no optic should ever be used to replace them. Always have backup iron sights available and zeroed on your rifle regardless of other add-on optics. First and foremost when it comes to optics you get what you pay for (and not always then). Do not buy cheap optics and put on your AR15 rifle. It is also counterproductive to mount anything more than a 4x power optic on an AR15, they are not sniper rifles (even though they use them in the movies).

NOTE: ONLY buy optics from reputable dealers, there are many forgeries from China and they can be difficult for the novice to spot. If the deal is too good to be true…. I warned you!

ACOG The number one best optic for the AR15 is the Advanced Combat Optical Gunsights (abbreviated ACOG) TA31RCO-M150CP: Trijicon ACOG 4x32, ARMY Rifle Combat Optic. It just doesn’t get any better than this. You are going to pay about $1400.00 for this optic but it is worth every penny.

Standard issue with many governments worldwide. Specified for use by the Marines, U.S. Army and Navy Seals, self-illuminating Trijicon scopes and sights have earned a reputation as the most sophisticated and dependable combat optics on the battlefield.

Uses Batteries: Magnification: Water Proof: Fog Proof: US Military Use: Durability: Glass Quality:


AIMPOINT The next best sight is the Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic. While you do not get any magnification you do get stellar performance. A single battery will last three years turned on! They are used by the military and are tough and accurate for around $400.00

Designed with input from a distinguished group of current and former professionals, the Patrol Rifle Optic incorporates many never before seen features to maximize this sight's performance within the challenging conditions faced by modern law enforcement. A hard-anodized 30mm tube was utilized, enclosing a high efficiency circuit that allows the sight to be turned on and left on for up to three years using a single battery.

Uses Batteries: Magnification: Water Proof: Fog Proof: US Military Use: Durability: Glass Quality:


VECTOR I know that some of you are on a very tight budget but still want a tacticool optic that will work dependably. There is only one that I know of and it is the Vector Red Dot Sight SCRD-06. It is a red dot site for around $140.00 that has held up pretty well in my testing. I have dropped them, soaked them and generally abused the sites and they still seem to work and hold zero. While not the quality of the ACOG or AIMPOINT they can be used. They do eat batteries so you will need a good supply for the long term if you choose this optic.

Uses Batteries: Magnification: Water Proof: Fog Proof: US Military Use: Durability: Glass Quality:


EOTech I do not recommend this optic for your use. It is somewhat fragile and uses batteries quickly. I have had them open up and dump batteries during live fire exercises so I cannot recommend them to you. They are tacticool but not tough. Prices start around $350.00

Uses Batteries: Magnification: Water Proof: Fog Proof: US Military Use: Durability: Glass Quality:


NOTE: I really wanted to like this optic but my testing will not allow me too.

Conclusion I hope maybe all this typing has helped someone out there, otherwise my two fingers hurt for no reason. If you have any questions please feel free to email me and I will be happy to try and answer them. My email is on the first page.

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