The top AR 15 tips for beginners is a quick read that will pay off dividends for many years to come if you take the advice to heart. This is not blind advice, this is what we have discovered with years of selling parts to buyers from first time builders all the way to wholesale builders who sell the builds they make every day. Of course, this is free advice, so take it for what it is worth, but if you find one word of value in this it was worth the write.
What AR 15 to Buy to Get Started
If you are considering delving into the world of AR 15 ownership there are a few things you need to consider before making your first purchase. Primarily, do not buy “your buddy’s used old piece of crap.” They probably got stuck with someone else’s problem to get started and are just pushing the crap downhill.
Skip the regretful first purchase of someone else’s problem and get a good starter rifle. Oh, I know, you are ready to construct yourself a custom build right out of the gate. But, keep in mind, that you will inevitably want to make changes after you have used it a few times. Plus, you may need to sell your starter rifle to make room in your safe. It is far easier to let go of a stock rifle to a friend or stranger than one you have put your heart and soul into. Plus, few people want to buy "franken-guns" from first time builders. In fact, I just warned you away from buying one of those in the previous paragraph.
If you have to get artistic, paint or Cerakote the weapon, but leave your first rifle bone stock. It not only gives you a great standard to compare to, but it also shows off your journey from first to last weapon.
AR 15 Caliber Choices
There is a laundry list of calibers to choose from when considering your first AR 15. But honestly, just stick with .223 or 5.56 for your first rifle. It will make finding ammo, parts, and supplies far easier and more affordable than choosing a less common counterpart, such as a .300 blackout or a 6.5 Grendel. You can always decide on a different caliber later when you want to build a specific rifle.
Another consideration is to choose both a .223 and 5.56 at the same time with a .223 Wylde barrel. We will discuss that later in the barrels section, but for now, it allows for the use of either caliber in the same rifle.
AR 15 Barrel Lengths and Twists
The length of the barrel is a consideration that should be made with the purpose and law in mind. What I mean by that is this, your first purchase should most likely be a 16” barrel. Because it is generally 50 state legal and a good middle of the road length. It is a standard rifle length for distance as well as close range firing.
The longer barrels, such as 18” or 20”, do allow for greater accuracy at farther distances but at the cost of weight and maneuverability. While shorter barrels make for easy concealment and versatility, they quickly lose accuracy. Not to mention they are often not legal without unique tax stamps or other requirements. Check your local jurisdiction.
The twist rate is the number of turns the bullet turns in a barrel length. The weight of the round most often decides this. The heavier, the more turns it needs to stay accurate. For instance, a 1:7 twist rate is a complete turn every seven inches. While a 1:9 twist rate is one complete turn only every nine inches. So the barrel's twist rate is caused by the rifling inside the barrel. There are multiple ways of creating or cutting the rifling into barrels; for a more detailed look, read AR 15 Barrels Explained.
Which Type of AR 15 Handguard is Best?
Handguards are there to protect your hands from the barrel's heat. But because they also act as attachment points for accessories, they have become a fashion statement. What to think about is what you need in a handguard. Then what do you want in a handguard. There are different attachment styles. Picatinny rails, Key-Mod, and M-Lok, are the most popular attachments for AR 15’s. They all have pros and cons. But they are almost equal at this time.
Free-float handguards are becoming increasingly popular in modern configurations, for help deciding what to look for in a high-quality handguard, read: What You Need to Know About AR 15 Handguards.
Consider the Trigger
Yep, the pesky little thing is how you activate the rifle to dispel the projectile. We often do not think that the trigger pull is a matter of personal preference. The pressure needed to deploy the trigger ranges from 4-6 pounds of pull resistance for most factory actions. However, you can get some that require far less and far more. So, it is really up to you. We suggest you start with a standard 4-pound trigger and decide if you want a more complex or softer pull from there.
The next thing to decide after the amount of pull needed to activate the trigger is the type of the trigger; there are match triggers, single-stage triggers, two-stage triggers, curved triggers, and even straight triggers, you name it, they probably make it.
The AR 15 Stock Prices
Okay, forgive the pun, but the stock is an integral part of the rifle. There are hundreds of styles to choose from. They come in single or multiple colors; they come fixed or adjustable, they come oversized, padded, miniature, and even with integrated storage compartments. Whatever you want in a stock, it probably exists in the market.
The only tip here is to remember that when buying a stock, there are mil-spec and commercial buffer tubes. So please be sure to buy the right stock for your type tube. Buying a decent quality starter AR 15 from a reputable dealer should come stock with a mil-spec tube. But be sure to ask before you buy. If you already own and want to determine which you have read: The Best AR 15 Upgrades.
Don’t Overdo the AR 15 Accessories
With all the available accessories for an AR 15, how do you decide which to attach to your weapon? Remember, every additional attachment you add makes the gun heavier, and less maneuverable. It can often even make it more awkward to retrieve from its carry bag or position hanging from a sling.
Do not add an accessory for every possible use you may or may not need. Instead, could you just put on your rifle that which you absolutely need? It will be lighter and more fun to use, meaning you will ultimately like it better. That being said, if the rifle is primarily for looks and will be suspended from a wall mount in your office above the desk, add all the pricy bling you want to it.
Maintaining the AR 15
The last tip for AR 15 beginners is do not forget to maintain your weapon regularly. Do it before and after use. It will make for a much more enjoyable experience. A well-maintained AR 15 will be more reliable and perform better longer term. Not to mention, it is a great way to inspect your rifle before and after for any unusual signs or wear or tear. You should be familiar with all of the parts and how they work, one of the best ways to get comfortable with the AR 15 is to break it down and clean it safely.
Besides wiping down all of the individual parts the inside bore of the rifle should be cleaned and debris free before and after use. The Bore snake is a great way to brush, clean, clear, and even lubricate the inside bore of your rifle. For more on how to chose a proper bore snake read: What Size Bore Snake for AR 15.
Where to Look for Great AR 15 Parts
If you have decided, you are ready to begin replacing parts or even building your own AR 15 for yourself you need high quality parts at reasonable prices along with five-star customer service. You will find all of those here at Black Rifle Depot. We have been in the AR 15 industry far longer than we like to admit. We have been shooting ARs with our fathers since before we even shot our first BB gun. So, when we decided to get into business selling what we love, we decided to sell American made products, at prices everyone could afford. We also have live inventory on our website. Because there is nothing more frustrating than finding the part you have been looking for, then ordering it and thinking it is on the way to find out weeks later it is on back order.
If you see it is in stock, buy it, because if it says we have it in stock, we do. We cannot guarantee it will stay there long however, as our inventory turns several times a month.