By: Greg Chabot
I am asked quite often by prospective AR-15 owners, “What accessories should I buy? What sling is better?” and so forth.
The list goes on. The goal of this article is to help new AR-15 owners spend their money wisely and get them pointed in the right direction. These tips can apply to all rifles being manufactured today. Due to the popularity of the AR-15, I’ll keep the focus on it.
The first thing I recommend to a new rifle owner is to purchase a cleaning kit and bore snake. Some brands ship with a cleaning kit. If yours did not come with one, I recommend the G.I. kit. They come with everything you need to keep your weapon in good working order without breaking the bank.
A bore-snake is a must in my opinion, as it will cut down on your cleaning time. They are reasonably priced and should be an essential part of your range bag, along with a good quality lube of your choice.
Iron sights are a must on any rifle/carbine, in my opinion. It baffles me that some manufacturers do not include a set on a weapon that cost $1k or more. There also seems to be a train of thought that one does not need to learn irons, just optics. That is setting yourself up for failure as a shooter. Taking the time to master irons will make you a better marksman in the long run. Most shooters who know irons will have an easier time learning how to use an optic.
Magazines and training ammo should be your next purchase. At the time of this writing, good quality mags are easy to find and are very inexpensive. I recommend having six at a minimum. I have witnessed many times at the range, a shooter with a “Tacticool” AR-15 having only two magazines to train with. Instead of shooting, they are spending more time loading magazines.
You want to get the most out of your range session, so buy as many as you can afford. I also take the time to mark my mags GC1,2, etc. I do that for two reasons: the first being a lot of folks use the same types of magazines. Having my initials on them prevents someone from taking mine by mistake. My other reason is in case I have a magazine that is consistently causing malfunctions. All I have to do is look and know mag 3 is causing problems and stop using it. I then mark it as bad and either use it for training or destroy it. I treat magazines as a disposable item, so having more is better in my book. I suggest purchasing at least 600 rounds of training ammo if your budget allows that.
A sling should be your final purchase. They come in all shapes and sizes and prices vary. For someone just starting out, I recommend a basic, two-point sling. After becoming proficient with your weapon, you can always upgrade. The money spent on a “Tacticool” sling would be better spent on extra training ammo.
Lastly, go out and get training. A basic rifle/carbine class is a must. It will teach you how to use the irons as well as the fundamentals of marksmanship.
Remember: it all starts with the basics and builds from there. If you put in the time and effort,t it will pay off in the long run.
Greg Chabot is an Iraq Combat Veteran freelancer, writing from New Hampshire.