In this article we will review this extremely popular riflescope from Vortex Optics. Vortex is very popular in the industry, and for good reason. They produce some extremely high quality optics, and are available at a pretty reasonable cost.
We will fully review the optic in terms of pros and cons, and make some buying recommendations.
In terms of size, this scope is not that large, despite its magnification range. It has some weight to it, but compared to other scopes with similar magnification, this one is definitely around the same size. The eye relief is somewhat short, but it definitely works for shooting this scope.
The scope offers some excellent optical features. The internals of the scope are fully multi-coated. This allows for maximum light transmission, especially when paired with the large 40mm objective lens. To put it simply, this light allows maximum light to go through, so you will be able to clearly see everything through the scope.
Another huge pro of this scope is that the reticle is on the second focal plane. This means that while you change the magnification range, the scale of the reticle remains the exact same. Especially when you are using the bullet drop compensating reticle at longer distance, this is a huge pro for you.
One other thing to consider with the optical features of the scope is how acute the adjustments are. Each click of the turrets allow for a ¼ MOA adjustment. This translates to ¼ inch at 100 yards. As you can see, this is very precise. The turrets also allow for an easy return to zero, once you are done shooting at long distance.
However, the best feature of this scope is the durability. It is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof, and the internals are contained within an aluminum housing that is given a hard anodized finish. This makes for a very tough scope that can withstand the elements and any amount of recoil that you can imagine.
In terms of the optics though, there are a couple cons that we found. For one, dependent on the range at which you zero the rifle, the parallax at close range makes the scope nearly unshootable. However, this scope really isn’t meant for shooting at close range, as evidenced by the minimum 4x magnification.
Another con that we identified is that the eye relief is pretty unforgiving. While the scope can withstand the recoil, the eye relief is pretty difficult to manage, especially with larger caliber weapons. When using a higher magnification, this eye relief becomes difficult to manage.
Lastly, it can have some glare in it at some times. We would recommend adding a sunshade to optimize this scope.
Upon first looking at this best scope for ar 15, it’s clear to see that it’s obviously meant for long range hunting or hunting with a larger caliber weapon. It is extremely durable, and it can withstand any recoil from the weapon. As such, it’s great for big game hunting or for use when shooting shotgun slugs.
However, that’s not to say that it’s impossible to use the scope for anything else. Due to how precise the adjustments can be on this scope, you could use this for longer range target shooting. After all, this scope does zoom out to 12x, and it does have ¼ MOA adjustments. For target shooting of this nature, the eye relief may not be as much of a concern either.
Overall, this is a quality scope that offers some great optical features. It is very clear, and extremely durable. While there are some shortcomings that are to be expected of a scope of this nature, it is a great product for multiple uses when it’s all said and done. Regardless of your use for the scope, you will pleased with its performance overall.
Red dot style sights are by far the most popular choice for AR-15s and other AR-frame weapons.
As such, there are hundreds of different options available on the market. Every single person has their own personal favorites, but we can all agree that it is very difficult to settle on one option.
In this article, we will review three of the top choices.
These optics are all great choices, and will serve your weapon very well.
We will talk about all three in terms of pros and cons, and then we will make some buying recommendations.
1. Vortex Optics Strikefire II Red Dot Sights (Editor's Choice)
3. Ohuhu Red Green Dot Gun Sight Scope Reflex Sight with 4 Reticles (Low Budget)
Continue reading for our full review of the best red dot sights for an AR-15.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Vortex Optics, as they are extremely well known and respected throughout the industry. They produce many different optical products, including quality riflescopes and tactical-style red dot sights. They offer an excellent combination of quality and affordability.
The Strikefire II is an internal reflex sight that has very bright red or green reticle. It is extremely easy to use, and offers pretty accurate shooting. The entire system is designed for AR-frame weapons, so it is naturally a great choice.
The optic measures 5.6 inches long and weighs 7.2 ounces. The objective lens is 30 millimeters, and the internals are fully multicoated, which will allow for maximum light transmission. This means that the scope will be extremely bright and easy to see through.
When you’re looking down the optic, there is no parallax and it has unlimited eye relief. This allows for easy shooting with both eyes open. The reticle is a simple dot, but there are 10 brightness levels and you can choose whether it is red or green. The lowest settings are night vision compatible. For these reasons, the sight is extremely fast to acquire targets.
When you power the scope up with the rear-facing controls, it automatically reverts back to the previous brightness setting it was on. If you accidentally leave the power on, it will automatically turn off after 12 hours. This significantly increases the battery life.
The scope itself is also very durable. It is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof. The optic is made from an aluminum alloy , and has been given a hard anodized finish to match this. This optic would be excellent for hunting or any other outdoor shooting, due to how durable it is. Another aspect of the durability of this scope is the fact that it will hold your zero for thousands of rounds.
The adjustments with this scope are very easy to make, and each click results in a ½ MOA movement. This means that your point of impact will move by half of an inch at 100 yards. For an AR-15, this is an extremely precise adjustment, which allows for very accurate shooting.
Overall, this sight is extremely easy to use, and it is packed with features. It offers some of the best bang for your buck we have seen. We found that it was very easy and enjoyable to shoot, and we were able to shoot very accurately with it.
This red dot sight from Bushnell is extremely compact. It measures only 2.4 inches long, and only weighs 3.6 ounces. You will hardly even notice that it’s attached to your rifle.
Similar to the previous optic, this scope has unlimited eye relief. You can shoot it with your head placed wherever you want, and with both eyes open. As long as your zero is accurate, your shots will be on target. Just like with the Vortex, this allows for extremely fast target acquisition.
In terms of light transmission, this scope performs almost as well as the previous Vortex. It has Bushnell’s Amber-Bright technology and the internals are fully multicoated. The front lens of the scope is amber in color, which improves your vision down the sight. However, this scope isn’t quite as bright as the previous one, due to the fact that the objective lens is 5mm smaller. This will slightly limit the amount of light that can enter the optic.
Another similarity to the Vortex is that the scope offers a high level of durability. It is waterproof, shockproof, and fogproof. Once again, this is a great feature for hunting.
However, where this scope starts to lag a little behind the Vortex is in its accuracy. The reticle of this optic, which is a simple red dot, is 3 MOA in size. This is a pretty large reticle, so at longer distances, you run the risk of your target being completely covered by the reticle. As you can imagine, this makes it difficult for precise shooting at longer ranges.Overall, this is an excellent value purchase. It is a quality scope, and will serve your AR-15 well. While some have experienced some issues with the newer version of this scope, we did not have any issues with ours. It was bright and easy to see
Ohuhu is a company that produces many different products in quite a few different areas. One of these products is their red dot style sight, which is one of the biggest sellers on Amazon. This scope is an exposed reflex sight, which means it basically just has one external “window” where the reticle is projected. It is available in a tan color and in black.
Due to the style of sight it is, this scope is extremely small, and the adjustments are extremely easy to get to. They are made with an Allen key. The adjustments of this scope aren’t nearly as precise as the previous ones, so it will not shoot nearly as accurately.
The scope itself is decent. It has no eye relief and no parallax, just like the previous sights on our list. When it holds its zero, it is an extremely easy scope to use. However, we did have some accuracy concerns with the sight. Some of the reticles don’t line up with others, and it is known to lose a zero with a little recoil.
As the name may imply, it has four different reticles you are able to choose from, and you can choose whether they are red or green. There are multiple brightness settings, but even at the highest setting, it isn’t always bright enough for normal use.
The scope has some durability concerns, due to how cheaply it is made. There are plenty of examples of this sight breaking after very limited use.At the end of the day, Ohuhu isn’t a rifle optics company. Vortex and Bushnell are. To expect the same quality as the other companies would be foolish. However, if you aren’t going to shoot your weapon much, and you are looking for a very inexpensive option, this optic may be decent for you. We would recommend spending the extra money for the Bushnell, but this might work
Now that we’ve talked about the three scopes, lets make some buying recommendations.
Simply put, the Vortex is the best of the group.
If you are going to be shooting in low-light conditions or under night vision, the Vortex is your best bet. It will allow more light to pass through, and will be easier to see down.
For hunting, the Bushnell and the Vortex are both great options, due to how durable they are.For range shooting, either of these two options is a great choice. They are both good optics, but the Vortex may be slightly more accurate, especially at longer distance.
Hopefully our review of the best AR-15 optics was useful to you. When considering some of the things that we have mentioned, it should be way easier for you to select an optic for your weapon.
Buying a red dot for your AR can be an overwhelming experience. Choosing one of these, especially the Bushnell or the Vortex, will be a great choice for you.
If you are trying to build an AR-15 and avoid having to go through the process of getting an ATF-approved tax stamp, you’re going to need to know the legal barrel length for your weapon.
In the military, M4 barrels are 14.5 inches long. This was a vast reduction in size and weight compared to the 20 inch barrel of the M16.
However, what barrel length is legal in the civilian world?
Putting it as simple as possible, the answer to this question is 16 inches. However, as with many things in the firearms world, there are some workarounds to this.
The first workaround is a permanently attached muzzle device, such as a flash suppressor.
In this situation, you are able to buy a 14.5 inch barrel and a specific muzzle device, and have a gunsmith pin-and-weld the muzzle device to the barrel.
In most of these flash suppressors, it will be specifically stated that you are able to have it pinned and welded, so be sure to check if it’s possible before buying the muzzle device.
Essentially, pinning and welding the muzzle device makes it permanent, which in turn makes it part of the barrel. For that reason, you are able to count the extra length of the flash suppressor as part of your barrel length.
Keep in mind that this will come at an added cost, since you’ll have to purchase the muzzle device and also pay to have it welded on for you.
The 16 inch barrel length only applies to rifles, NOT pistols.
You are able to build an AR pistol in various pistol and rifle calibers, which would eliminate the need for the 16 inch barrel. If it is technically a pistol, the barrel can be much shorter.
However, when building an AR pistol, there are a few laws that you need to keep in mind. Since that isn’t the point of this article, we won’t go too much into them. It basically boils down to the buttstock of the weapon, and there are some specific design features that must be accounted for. Make sure you know your laws if you take this route!
Lastly, if you want a shorter barrel, you can always just get the tax stamp from the ATF. Once your weapon is classified as a short-barreled rifle (often called SBR), the length of the barrel won’t be a problem.
This is a somewhat length and time consuming process, but it is the only way to legally have an AR-15 rifle with a barrel less than 16 inches. Related that, if you are intending buy a scope for your ar 15, you should choose Nikon or Vortex, it’s my favorite.
To make a long story short, the answer to the question is 16 inches. Your AR-15 barrel must be at least 16 inches in length to be considered legal by the ATF. Anything shorter than that, and you will have to get an SBR tax stamp from them.
However, as we mentioned in this article, there are a couple workarounds you could pursue to avoid having to get the tax stamp. But, like with anything, make sure you know the laws about what you are doing.
For many reasons, shotguns are considered the ideal home defense weapon. At short range, they are extremely deadly. For home defense, this is an ideal situation. In the event that someone were to break into your home, a shotgun should be the first weapon you reach for.
However, shotgun shells can be a little confusing. What really is the best shotgun ammunition for home defense?
In this article, we will go over some of the best options, and talk about what makes them so great.
Shotgun ammunition can be a little confusing. There are three different main types, and beyond that, there are sizes for each.
The primary types of shells are buckshot, birdshot, and slugs. Birdshot has more, smaller pellets. Buckshot has fewer pellets, but they are significantly larger. A slug is one solid piece of metal, and they are usually very large in size. This turns your shotgun into a crude rifle, and is very effective for taking down big game.
Next up, there are numbers associate with each type. For example, there is 00 buckshot, #4 birdshot, 4 buckshot, #8 birdshot, and many more.
As the number increases, the number of pellets within the shell increases. However, this also means that the size of the pellet decreases.
So, for example, #8 birdshot has hundreds of pellets that are .09 inches in diameter. #2 birdshot has 90 pellets that are .15 inches in diameter.
#4 buckshot pellets are .24 inches in diameter, and 00 buckshot pellets are .33 inches in diameter.
Make sense so far?
As you can imagine, buckshot is the best for home defense. Birdshot has more pellets, but they are very small in size, and usually don’t penetrate deep enough to be effective against a human target.
Buckshot penetrates much deeper, and it has larger pellets to damage more critical tissue.
Slugs would be effective in bringing down a target, but they require much greater accuracy, and they penetrate too deep. If you were to miss your target, that slug would travel through anything in its way for quite some time. This can be dangerous in a home defense situation.
In general, 00-1 buckshot are more than effective rounds for home defense. If you aren’t interested in buying ammo specifically for home defense, any of these buckshot shells will work. In fact, the military and many police departments use simple 00 buckshot for their shotguns.
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However, there are some ammo choices available that are made specifically for home defense. Keep reading to check some of these out.
As previously mentioned, shotguns are absolutely key to home defense. However, due to how confusing shotgun shells can be, it is difficult to choose one specific ammo for home defense.
Generally speaking, buckshot is a great choice. While there are fewer pellets, they are much larger. However, if you are looking for a shell that is specifically for home defense, there are a few out there. Winchester specifically makes a great shell for personal defense.
You can’t go wrong with most buckshot, but getting a more specific shot for home defense certainly wont hurt. The extra cost will be worth it in the event that you need it.
Obviously, ammo is round in shape. However, what really is one round?
I’m sure most people have the general idea right. One round is one cartridge or one shotgun shell. However, the term is commonly mixed up with the term “bullet.”
So, in this article, we will cover the absolute most basic parts of ammunition. In doing so, you will understand what exactly a round is, and how it is different from a bullet.
When looking at a handgun or rifle round, they are really pretty similar. These rounds are composed of a bullet, which is located inside a casing, which is filled with a propellant.
The bullet is the “front” of the round. It is the actual projectile that will fly through the air. It is also the part that will enter the target, whatever that may be.
This bullet is crimped into the casing, which is the larger brass part that makes up a good portion of the round. This casing will be ejected from the weapon after the trigger is pulled.
The casing has a primer on the very back of it. When you pull the trigger, the firing pin in the weapon will strike the primer. The primer has a very sensitive igniter in it, which will light the propellant.
The propellant is located inside the casing. It is never seen by the normal shooter, because it is contained within the casing and is completely consumed after firing. After the primer is struck, the igniter lights the propellant. The propellant, or gunpowder, burns rapidly, which creates gas pressure. This gas pressure is what actually fires the bullet downrange.
All of these components added together are referred to as a cartridge. One “round” of ammunition is simply one cartridge.
Shotgun ammunition is slightly different. Instead of having a brass casing, shotgun shells have a plastic hull. These plastic hulls are crimped at the end opposite the primer.
Instead of one bullet, shotgun shells have “shot” in them. Shot refers to the pellets that are located within the hull. Shotguns traditionally fire many pellets, as opposed to only one bullet. The shot is actually inside of the hull, as opposed to rifle ammo, where you can see the projectile.
Shotgun shells also have what is called a “wad.” The wad is located between the powder and the shot. Its purpose is to protect the shot and trap the gas behind the shot, which allows the shell to work.
Other than these terminologies, shotgun shells work very similar to handgun and rifle ammunition. They have a primer, which ignites the powder and propels the shot downrange.
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As you can see, ammunition is pretty simple. One “round” simply means one cartridge or one shotgun shell. It’s really that simple.
Ammunition can get a little confusing, but understanding the basics will give you a better grip on ammunition as a whole.
Alright, so you’ve just got yourself a firearm. Awesome! You get home with your new weapon and a box of ammo, excited for a trip to the range. But…. Shoot. How can you store the ammo?!
Not to worry! This is a pretty common question to people that are new to the firearm scene. As you will see, ammo is relatively durable, so you don’t have much to worry about.
In this article, we will go over some tips for storing ammo, and make some general recommendations.
The Three Factors: Temperature, Moisture, and Location
It’s really this simple. These are the extremely simple factors that you need to keep in mind when thinking about storing ammo.
If you are storing ammo, we are going to assume it is for longer term. Most people don’t buy ammo to shoot it the very next day. Many people, like hunters and survivalists, will have a large quantity of ammunition stored up at any point in time.
So therefore, we are going to assume that preserving your ammunition is in your plans as well.
First and foremost, your ammo should be stored in a cool environment. If it is stored in a place that is too hot, the excessive heat can negatively affect the gunpowder inside the bullet.
It will be a slow process, but high heat can affect the actual chemical composition of the gunpowder. This will negatively affect your ammunition, and could make it unusable.
Next, your ammunition should be stored in a dry place. Water and moisture can rust the case and affect the propellant within the cartridge.
If the propellant is wet, it may burn slower, or not at all. This will degrade the effectiveness of the ammunition.
One thing to keep in mind with this, once your ammunition has been exposed to the outdoors, it is \ likely that it has experienced some moisture. This is multiplied if it was in a swampy area, or brought along on a rainy hunt. Any environment with high humidity has high moisture.
When we say location, we are talking about a couple of different things. The ammunition should be stored in a safe place, where no one will be able to get to it if they shouldn’t be able to. For example, children shouldn’t be able to get to the ammunition.
The ammo may also be stored in a secure spot, or under a lock and key. While not everyone will do this, it is a pretty common practice.
Another factor of the location is exactly what you are storing the ammo in. The cardboard boxes that ammo comes in aren’t meant to be a long term storage solution. These should be secured in a safe, or even better, in an ammo can.
Storing Ammo – Don’ts
Storing Ammo – Dos
Some people don’t like storing ammunition with the weapon. I don’t really have any issue with it, but it is something to keep in mind. I do store some ammunition in my gun safe, but not everyone likes to do this.
Following these extremely easy considerations will allow you to store your ammo effectively. Storing the ammo effectively will ensure that it lasts for a decade or more. For most people, this is a huge pro.
When in doubt, just think about the temperature, moisture, container, and location of the container. As long as you are thinking about these factors, you will have no issues.
Don’t get me wrong, AR-15s are awesome. They are an extremely popular weapon system, because they are very easy to build and use. They are extremely customizable, and are available at inexpensive prices.
However, some people may not like them for a variety of reasons. They are extremely common, so maybe you are trying to stick out at the range.
Whatever, the reason may be, there are some excellent alternatives available to the classic AR-15. While these may be slightly more expensive for the most part, they are still fun weapons. In this article, we will go over a few examples of these AR-15 alternatives. Let’s get into it!
First and foremost, let me say how much I love the AK47. There are hundreds of different variants available, and I’ve enjoyed every one that I have shot.
Compared to an AR-15, AK47s aren’t quite as accurate, but they do shoot a larger bullet. For hunting and defense purposes, this could be a good feature for you.
I think the weapon is pretty sleek looking, especially with wood furniture, and they are notorious for their reliability.
Anyone who has spent some time playing video games is familiar with the SCAR. It is used by some militaries, and is an absolutely excellent weapon.
Similar to the AK47, this rifle also shoots a larger bullet. While the AK shoots 7.62×39, one version of the SCAR shoots 7.62×51. This is an excellent round for big game hunting or defense purposes. The other version of the SCAR shoots the same round as the AR-15.
However, for as high quality as this weapon is, it is also worth mentioning that is about five times as expensive as the least expensive AR-15 weapons. If that is not a problem to you, definitely check out this weapon!
Bushmaster makes a version of the SCAR, called the ACR, that is slightly less expensive.
This is the first of the so called “bullpup” rifles we will talk about. These types of rifles have the action behind the trigger, which shortens the overall length of the weapon. Essentially, these are similar to the P90, except they are in rifle calibers.
The AUG is used in the Austrian army, and is available with multiple different optics and rails from the manufacturer. The rifle is extremely easy to breakdown, and shoots extremely well. Its distinct styling is sure to stand out, and the performance will be there to back it.
It shoots the same NATO ammunition as the AR-15, and is a pretty lightweight weapon. The trigger pull is slightly heavier than some others, but it is a great weapon to shoot.
However, similar to the SCAR, this weapon is significantly more expensive than the AR-15. Relevant to it, if you are looking the best scope for ar-15, i highly recommend the Vortex :).
Next up is another bullpup rifle. The Tavor X95 shoots the same NATO round as the AR-15. It cycles extremely smoothly, and has an excellent trigger pull. It’s got a great rail system, and is a very accurate weapon.
It is available in a few different colors, and has some excellent stock sights. The front folding sight has tritium inserts, so they are extremely easy to use. In my opinion, this weapon is slightly better looking than the AUG, and is also available at a less expensive cost.
In my opinion, both the AUG and the Tavor are fun to shoot. The difference between the two is almost negligible.
The last bullpup rifle on our list is the FS2000. Similar to the SCAR, this rifle is made by FN, and it is an extremely high weapon. It shoots 5.56x45mm NATO.
This weapon only has one rail, as opposed to some of the others, which had more. In my opinion, this rifle isn’t as sleek looking as the other bullpup rifles, but it is still a cool looking weapon. In terms of action, this is a good weapon. The FS2000 is also significantly less expensive than the other bullpup rifles.
Last up is a modernized predecessor to the AR-15. The Springfield M1A is a modern tactical M14. It is an extremely high quality weapon, and is a great AR-15 alternative. It shoots 7.62×51 NATO, so it is a larger cartridge than the AR-15.
This weapon has been around for a long time, and the modernization is a welcome touch. There are multiple models, so you will be able to meet your needs. Overall, this is a great quality weapon.
The purpose of a sunshade is to shield the amount of light that enters the scope. Essentially, it does a lot to minimize the glare, which can help your eyes and improve your accuracy.
Sure, that sounds great, but is a sunshade really worth it? In this article, we will talk briefly about the pros and cons of a sunshade and whether or not you should use one.
For starters, we will talk about the basics of a sunshade.
Sunshades are extremely basic and simple to understand. It attaches to the scope on the objective lens side. For anyone confused, it attaches to the side that you don’t look down. It is literally just a hollow tube that will help to reduce glare in your scope.
The biggest pros of a sunshade are the reduced glare and ease of use. A quality sunshade will make a very significant difference in the amount of glare that you experience. Additionally, it will not change anything about the optic, and will not limit your field of view.
They are extremely easy to use in that they are very easy to install. That is literally all you have to do. It couldn’t be any easier.
Lastly, they are available at very inexpensive price. If you are experiencing glare, a sunshade is a very cheap fix to improve your problem, and help improve your accuracy.
The only real cons associated with a sunshade are the increased length and bulk. It will increase the length of the scope, which may make it more difficult to fit on some rifles. However, they are available in different lengths, so odds are that you can make it work.
With the increased length comes some additional weight, and the fact that the sunshade is often not the most aesthetically pleasing thing you can add to a rifle.
If you are doing any type of shooting in sunlight, a sunshade is not going to hurt. If you are able to fit it on your rifle, it is an easy and inexpensive addition to your rifle that could be very helpful. Whether it is hunting or target shooting, if you are shooting in the direct sunlight, a sunshade could be useful for you.
However, if most of your shooting occurs indoors or out of the direct sunlight, a sunshade won’t do much for you. It is an extra, bulky piece that will serve almost no purpose.
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As you can see, sunshades are extremely easy additions to weapons, and could be very useful to you, dependent on the type of shooting you do.
The term “match grade barrel” is thrown around a lot in the firearms industry. If you are building or improving a firearm, I’m sure you’ve come across this. However, is this just a way for manufacturers and retailers to charge more for the same firearm, or is the barrel actually that much different?
In this article, we will talk about some of the features of a match grade barrel, and whether or not it is worth it for you.
At its core, a match grade barrel is supposed to be a barrel that allows for match grade accuracy. Essentially, this kind of barrel should allow you to be accurate enough to shoot in competitions with it.
What this means, is that the manufacturer should have tighter tolerances for the barrel. The barrel should fit extremely tightly against the chamber, to increase accuracy. These barrels are generally a little bit thicker and heavier, but are also sometimes made from different materials or treated differently.
However, there are some issues with match grade barrels.
For example, keep in mind that there is no set tolerance for a specific barrel for most weapons. What this means to you is that a match grade barrel made by one manufacturer may not be as good as other manufacturers.
Basically, one manufacturer’s match grade barrel may be worse quality than another company’s normal barrel, dependent on what their normal tolerances are.
Another thing to keep in mind is that firearms manufacturers tend to use the words “match grade” pretty loosely. If you are buying a weapon that is manufactured on a large scale, odds are that the internals are large scale manufactured as well. In this case, the match grade barrel from the factory may not actually be that high quality.
If you are going to buy a match grade barrel, make sure you do so from a well known manufacturer that custom makes each barrel.
Honestly, if you aren’t exactly sure what a match grade barrel is, odds are you probably don’t need one.
A true match grade barrel is very important for competitive shooting, but that is about it. There’s nothing stopping you from getting one for other uses, but you are probably spending a lot more money than you need to on a barrel.
A true match grade barrel from a reputable manufacturer can greatly increase your weapon’s accuracy. However, make sure you actually need to spend this extra money before buying one.
If you are just doing some casual shooting or hunting, you are going to be fine with any barrel. However, if you are doing competitive shooting or extremely long range hunting, a high quality barrel is going to vastly improve your abilities.
If you are upgrading or building an AR-platform weapon, I’m sure you’ve run into the term free float handguard. However, if you are relatively new to firearms, it may be a little difficult to decipher what that actually means.
So, what is a free float handguard? What is a drop-in handguard? Which one should you use? In this article, we will go over some of the basics about handguards, and make some general recommendations about when each type is better.
The handguard of an AR-platform weapon is the part that surrounds the barrel. It is what you hold onto if you’re shooting correctly.
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Having a handguard at all is necessary because the barrel heats up significantly, but choosing between a free float and a drop in can be a little difficult.
We will start with the easier one. A drop-in handguard is essentially just a two piece guard that is held in place by what is called the delta ring of the weapon. The delta ring is spring-loaded, so it will hold the handguard in place. To change it, all you have to do is take the tension off the delta ring, and remove the old handguard.
Drop-in handguards are extremely easy to install. They are also relatively inexpensive, because it is a very simple system. These are often polymer, but there are also plenty of drop-in handguards that have a rail system to them.
A free float handguard is mounted directly to the upper receiver of the rifle. It doesn’t even touch the barrel at all, and there is no delta ring on the weapon. The term “free float” comes from the fact that the handguard doesn’t touch the barrel.
Free float handguards offer much more in the way of customization. You can get multiple different rail systems, such as KeyMod or M-Lok, and you can get a handguard that is the full length of the barrel. However, most of these options come at a much greater cost. They are also more difficult to install.
If you are looking for an extremely sleek, tactical-style weapon, you are probably envisioning a free-floating handguard. Due to the wide variety of options available, you are able to customize the weapon to meet your exact look.
If you are doing any type of shooting that requires extreme accuracy, a free-floating handguard will be better for you.
When you use a drop-in handguard, it has a little wiggle to it, since it is only held in place by the delta ring. A free-floating handguard won’t move when you are shooting. The fact that it doesn’t touch the barrel also improves the accuracy.
If you’re looking to attach a bunch of accessories, the free-floating handguard can offer more real estate for you. However, you can get drop-in handguards that have four-sided rail systems, and will work just fine for attaching accessories.
If you are just a casual shooter, a drop-in handguard will work just fine. They are easy to install and use, so there is nothing to worry about.
If you are just looking for a simple home defense or survival rifle, a drop-in will also be fine for you.
As you can see, there are actually a few significant differences between the two types of handguards. While both will work great for you, there are certain circumstances that warrant the use of one type over the other.