I’ve already said I think the AR-15 is the best survival rifle. I’m not trying to rehash that debate now. I’m saying I particularly like the AR-15 in the A2 configuration, because it’s basic and reliable. The AR platform provides an opportunity to easily customize your rifle. The “M16 A2″ style is an older configuration that basically means a full stock, fixed carry handle style upper receiver and a 20” barrel. It screams “basic training.”
The “A2” style also includes specific sights, barrel type and other features. I’m not getting into all of those details, but some AR enthusiasts will ask why I like the A2 when, for roughly the same money, I could instead get a basic “M4 A3” style configuration that could more easily be modified to accept additional features, something more like this:
I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that argument. The M4 A3 configuration pictured above is lighter and shorter; more versatile and easily carried. The carry handle unscrews to more easily mount optics. I visited one online gun store and, as of right now, one could buy a new Bushmaster in the A2 configuration for $860.00. A new Bushmaster in the M4 configuration is $884.00.
Call me nostalgic, but I still like the A2 and I think it’s a great choice for someone without a basic rifle. These are the advantages to the A2:
- It’s meaty – it feels like a rifle.
- It’s solid – there are fewer moving parts in the sights and stock.
- It’s balanced – the collapsible stock on the M4 is lighter than the full stock, making the M4 front heavy.
- It’s affordable (if you can call $860 affordable) – an AR-15 gun purchase can quickly rob your wallet for more than just the rifle. Once you start upgrading stocks, sights, optics, etc. you may get stuck with Black Rifle Disease and risk ruining your marriage because you think getting that new flash suppressor is more important than taking your wife out to dinner.
- It’s a classic.
The A2 provides a great opportunity to learn the basic rifle marksmanship on a modern platform. If you are considering an A2, there are a few extras I’d recommend. This is what I see as a basic A2 package:
A – quality range bag with numerous pockets for magazines, tools, cleaning equipment, etc.
B – rifle sling
C – field repair kit that fits inside the stock
D – small M16 technical manual
E – standard magazine
F – ammo (Lake City 62 grain pictured)
G – basic bipod that easily screws on and off
If you are buying one, there are only a few modifications I’d make from the standard A2. I’d upgrade the grip to something you like, I’d have the feed ramps extended and polished, I’d get a barrel with a 1/7 barrel twist (not 1/9) to better stabilize larger sized 5.56 bullets, competition front post, and I’d upgrade the flash suppressor to the phantom style with closed bottom port. You might want a sight adjustment tool and I recommend this book, AR-15/M16/M4 marksmanship book pictured (and linked to) here:
The book is only 5 dollars more than the small technical manual and is far more thorough and reader friendly. You would be crazy to spend over $800 on a rifle and not spend $25 on a book that describes the ins and outs of it and its operation.
– Ranger Man
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