AR15’s are like… Golf Clubs? Part One

What to look for when setting up a home defense carbine.

One of the most common occurrences as a gunsmith, is seeing an incorrectly set up AR15. I know it’s a bold statement, but how often do you see AR’s adorned with the entire catalog of Magpul products while perusing the tables at a gun show?

It’s common, and I myself was guilty of slapping every part and piece I could find on my rifle when I first started out. Once I started taking classes and entered the firearms industry, I started noticing a couple of recurring themes. When it comes to building out and setting up a good carbine, you should look specifically at what problem your carbine is intended to solve.  The question you should ask yourself, before clicking “buy” on that next 3-point sling that can be configured 6 different ways is this: “What am I planning on doing with this rifle?”

There’s nothing wrong with accessorizing, and personalizing your AR15s. The goal of these articles is to give you some insight on what you might need, versus what you might want when it comes to outfitting a carbine for a specific task. Just like the title of the article says, AR15s are like golf clubs. No one plays a full 18 holes with a putter. No, we play 18 holes with a set of clubs, each one with an intended purpose, and an intended shot. We should strive to set up our carbines for the ideal shot that we are taking. This will save us money, weight, and time!

There are a multitude of uses for the AR15. It’s a fantastic option for home defense, hunting, 2 or 3-gun competitions, training classes, and general plinking. From here, I’ll break down some of my thoughts on how to best accessorize your rifle for its intended purpose.

Home Defense:

A carbine built out for home defense should be something easy to deploy, and operate. It’s of no use to anyone if it takes a minute to get your sling, optic settings, or ammunition situated when you only have seconds to respond.

Below are some tips to consider when setting up your home defense rifle.

  • Slings are ideal for home defense. My general go-to is a two-point sling that can be cinched down enough that the rifle is tight to your body. A sling can come in handy during home defense, as you may need extra support on the rifle as you dial 911, or guide your children to a safe room in your home.

  • Lights are an absolute must on a home defense carbine. You cannot shoot what you cannot see when discussing self defense situations. Get a quality light that has as many lumens and candela as possible. My recommendations would be pretty much anything from Modlite, Surefire, or Streamlight. Pressure switches are cool, however, they can fail or drain the battery while not in use. Clicky tailcaps rarely fail. You also may have a situation where you need to keep the light on for an extended duration of time. A clicky tail-cap will save your thumb in this instance.

  • Optics are optional on a home defense rifle. They are more subjective to your living situation. If you live in a house or apartment building with minimal land, a good set of iron sights, or a quality red dot will get you by. Meanwhile, someone living on 40 acres may need a low power variable optic (LPVO) in order to reach across their property should the need arise.

  • Muzzle device selection is often overlooked. For indoor shooting without a suppressor, flash hiders get two thumbs up from me. While a flash hider generally will not mitigate recoil, it is far less deafening to the shooter. Flash cans or blast diverters work as well, as long as they are directing everything forwards!

  • Triggers can make or break a home defense gun. My advice is to stick with a stock trigger on a home defense gun. It’s long been discussed that after-market triggers on defensive firearms may get you into hot water with a prosecutor. While the debate still rages on, I’d recommend playing it safe. Make sure you buy a carbine that has a quality, usable trigger right out of the box. (Like our MMR and MMP series carbines!)

  • Ambidextrous safeties are preferred on my carbines. I prefer these because I practice to deactivate the safety with my firing hand thumb, and reactivate the safety with my index (trigger) finger. This generates good reps of taking your trigger finger off of, and away from the trigger.

  • Ammunition is the final, most important part to setting up, and using a home defense carbine. There are plenty of arguments out there as to what the best defense round is for .223 or 5.56. My suggestion, and personal opinion is to go with the heavy open tip match (OTM) or hollow point options. I use Hornady 75gr TAP, or Black Hills 77gr OTM in my own carbines. Soft point ammunition is always an option as well, even if it’s the lighter weight options. I would recommend avoiding 62gr green tip ammunition at all costs due to potential over-penetration!

In closing, just remember to keep your home defense setup as simple as possible, and to stage the carbine so that it may be deployed at a moment’s notice. Stay tuned for more articles as we go into solid guidelines to follow for other practical AR15 uses.

-By GL