In another piece, we detailed how to buy the right components to build your own survival rifle out of the AR-15 platform. There are so many options out there, maybe you’re not convinced. Let’s break down why the AR 15 is, indeed, the perfect survival rifle:
5. It’s Lightweight and Compact.
Very few rifles can take down a man-sized threat quickly and still measure less than 3 feet while weighing a meager 7 to 9 pounds. The AR-15 was originally developed as a lightweight solution for fatigued soldiers carrying heavy .30-cal guns long distances. The same principle applies in a survival situation where you’ll likely be on your feet, rucking and running day after day.
In a survival scenario, every ounce of weight counts. Look at any online prepper’s list and you’ll likely find the weight contributed by every item, down to that little tube of toothpaste. You want a lightweight rifle with easy-to-carry ammo – even a fully loaded 30-round magazine weighs just over 1 pound.
Chambering small but potent 5.56 or .223, the AR-15 is tough to beat. The best part is how easily the AR-15 breaks in half for storage. Just pop the two retaining pins and you can shove it in a backpack or hide it away.
4. It’s Deadly.
The most common cartridges you’ll find sitting inside an AR-15 are 5.56 NATO and .223 Remington. For simplicity’s sake (and because, for all intents and purposes, they’re the same round) we’ll focus on 5.56. The short-n-sweet of it is that this zippy little round is highly lethal. You’ll find plenty of evidence of hunters dropping deer within 100 yards using standard loads.
You might find some trolls on forums or community pages dissenting the O.G. black rifle round with a snarky smile. They love to put down the 5.56 round while they gently caress their oddball AR-15 safe queens, chambered in a bench round or some weird wildcat.
Those folks are ignorant and they’ve likely never spent time wearing a uniform or shooting at another living person with the intent to kill them. Without getting into the details, every NATO member nation fielding 5.56 has given it a stamp of approval, and NATO militaries agree that the next generation of small arms will still be using 5.56.
The U.S Army trains its service members to kill at 300 yards, and yes, 5.56 will do the job at that distance. Its highly accurate and it penetrates, fragments, and causes quite a bit of trauma. It has a hyper-flat trajectory out to 200 yards, and it’s fired from a lightweight, compact rifle. ‘Nuff said.
3. It’s Accurate.
Go ahead, find another rifle this small and light, with this kind of capacity, that consistently offers 1- or even sub-MOA accuracy using store-bought boxes of ammo for a couple hundred Benjamins. We’ll wait. Yes, almost every AR-15 barrel, upper, or rifle you’ll touch can offer this level of accuracy at 100 yards.
Why? Because the AR-15 market’s flooded. There have been political scares for the past 8 years, but with the current political climate in America, we’re witnessing a sort of gun renaissance. Manufacturers are pumping out truly high-quality, accurate barreled assemblies at great prices. Shooting 5.56, you’ll find your bullet drop is barely 5” at 200 yards and under 2 feet at over 350 yards. This makes for a predictable and easy-to-accurize round.
2. It’s Affordable.
The words “affordable” and “quality” rarely go together, but it’s easy on your wallet to build a quality, M4-like AR-15 to consider anything else for a survival scenario. You can find complete, mid-level rifle kits for under $500 that offer MOA accuracy and a guarantee of reliability. Now think about the last time you shot an “economy” pistol, shotgun, or bolt action. It probably felt snappy or choppy, it was heavy or flimsy, or it was simply a jamming, stovepiping turd.
And that affordable eastern bloc AK, slapped together in Bubba’s shop? Good luck hitting anything smaller than a barn door past 100 yards. We’re not talking smack on the AK market, but dollar for dollar, the AR can’t be beat. With any other weapon system, you’d have to spend a pretty penny to own a piece you’d trust your life to. The AR-15 is one of few that breaks this mold.
1. It’s Reliable. Reliability is #1 on the list of any survival intent. Those affordable rifle kits we just mentioned? Even they can manage 1,000 rounds without a single failure. These are rifles with clean, crisp triggers, good tolerances, reliable feeding and cycling, good accuracy, and mil-spec features.
We’ve all probably gotten into that argument with an ignorant anti-gunner and we’ve all likely resorted to the retort, “An AR-15 is nothing like an M4!”. But in truth, it really is. Few other weapons systems available on the civilian marketplace are as similar in reliability (and quite literally use the same components and features) as their military brethren.
When it really comes down to it, the AR-15 is missing one thing that the M4’s got: An auto sear. Beyond that, you can build or buy your own true M4 clone or forgery for under $800 – a gun that can take a serious beating in any conditions and retain accuracy – and it’ll absolutely provide you with that same militaristic level of ruggedness and reliability.
Seriously, you thought there were only five reasons? Here are a few more, less substantial reasons why the AR-15 is the ultimate survival rifle in a long-term context:
Ammo is plentiful. Seriously, 5.56 and .223 is the most common rifle ammo on store shelves. You can find it in a pinch in those SHTF situations.
Parts are plentiful. The AR-15 is the most commonly bought and owned rifle in the country. Just like ammo, you can them aplenty.
It’s endlessly configurable. Just about every single part can be tailored to you, the shooter. The result is a weapon that feels like a true extension of yourself.
Author bio: William McAllister is a writer who enjoys the simple things in life; waking up in a tent deep in the woods, a black cup of coffee and a flip phone.