AR-15 Basics and Features: Everything You Need to Know

As the most popular rifle in America, the AR-15 has captivated the public’s imagination. But, with the seemingly endless variety of features and options, it’s hard to know where to start. That’s why we’re here. We’re here to provide you with all the information you need to know about AR-15 basics and features. We’ll cover everything from the calibers to the optics to the ergonomics of this fan favorite firearm. So, gear up and let’s learn about the AR-15!

Understanding the Features of an AR-15

Understanding the features of an AR-15 can be a daunting task for any gun enthusiast. Despite its intimidating capabilities, it is one of the most popular and timeless rifles on the market. To help navigate through the many features associated with the rifle, one must first become familiar with its components and what makes this type of arm unique.

One of the advantages of owning an AR-15 is that it is customizable. There are limitless options available when it comes to grips, stocks and magazines, as well as optics and other external factors. Some individuals feel that too much customization can come at a price, as too many changes can impact accuracy or cost more than initially anticipated. Those who have embraced customization argue that personalizing a rifle will increase performance and create a better shooting experience overall.

Changes must be made responsibly to ensure reliability and accuracy. Always use high quality rounds to reduce ricochets and misfires, especially when upgrading parts like triggers or bolts. This attention to detail will keep your AR-15 in great condition so it can serve its intended purpose over time.

  • An AR-15 typically has a semi-automatic action, allowing for multiple rounds to be fired with a single trigger pull.
  • The magazine capacity of an AR-15 can vary from 5 to 30 rounds, depending on the type of magazine inserted.
  • The barrel of an AR-15 typically ranges from 7.5″ to 20″, with longer barrels providing increased accuracy at longer distances.

The different Parts of the Rifle

After understanding the features of an AR-15, it is important to know about the different parts that make up the rifle. The three main part groups are: Sight / Optics, Stock, and Upper Assembly.

Beginning with Sight / Optics, this is essentially everything from the front of the barrel moving back toward the shooter’s eyes. This includes everything such as mounts, sights, and scopes. Rear sights are typically adjustable staples on top of a rifle while front sight posts can be either post or bead style. They help serve as reference points for alignment and aiming downrange when shooting. Optics are extra magnified pieces added to rifles for precision.

Stepping over to the Stock group, this component largely affects how comfortable you are when firing your rifle. Whether it is collapsible or fixed is the primary decision; however, even within these two types there are highly adjustable options like length of pull, cheek risers, or butt pads.

We have the Upper Assembly which is composed of essentially every component from after barrel all the way to where the magazine fits in place. It houses components such as a bolt carrier group, charging handle, handguard, forward assist (optional) and dust cover (optional). Other minor aesthetic additions like rail panels or a vertical grip can also be found here.

From each part group discussed comes an inevitable debate between customization and simplicity due to budget constraints. Although customizing a rifle may seem appealing and detracts from basic models, they do not always guarantee performance improvement or cost efficiency. It is important to research extensively before investing hard-earned money into any product regardless of its appearance. It should also not deter anyone from making their own modifications as long as they understand what parts will have what effects on their particular build.

Operating and Firing the AR-15 Rifle

Once all the components of the AR-15 have been assembled, and double checked for proper fit and function, you can begin operating and firing the firearm. After checking for any visible signs of defects in the rifle, such as cracks or burrs on metal parts, loading the magazine with ammunition, and ensuring that the chamber is empty prior to loading a round into it, you are ready to start shooting! If you have never fired an AR-15 before, you may want to practice your stance and aiming with an unloaded rifle first.

Once you are comfortable and confident in your position, grip, and line of sight down the sights of the rifle, it is time to load a round into the chamber. Follow all basic safety protocols in regards to firearm handling. Make sure that your finger is off the trigger until you are aiming at a designated target and you are ready to fire. Once you pull back on the charging handle located near the upper receiver of the rifle, this will cycle a round from the magazine into the chamber so that it is ready to fire. You can now manually switch off your safety lever depending on whether your particular model has this feature, and then gently squeeze your trigger until a round is fired.

Safety when Handling an AR-15

Safety when handling an AR-15 is of paramount importance. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced shooter, it’s necessary that you practice safe gun biosecurity when shooting to prevent injury. The most important rule to remember is to treat every firearm as if it were loaded at all times. That means making sure to always point the firearm in a safe direction—away from anyone, property and animals. Never put your finger on the trigger until you’re ready to shoot and ensure the safety switch is on prior to loading.

It’s also vital to know your target and beyond—assessing not only what’s across the line of fire but what’s behind it as well. Bullets can ricochet and travel a long way once they leave the barrel of the AR-15. If a bullet passes through its target or misses its target entirely, it can strike something else far away that the shooter might not even be aware of. When firing at the range, make sure you have a suitable backstop that is both reliable and nonflammable.

Essential Manuals and Tips for Loading and Unloading

After learning about the essential safety tips and precautions when handling an AR-15, it is important to also be aware of the necessary preparation for loading and unloading. Many manuals provide detailed guidance for this process which is vital to know before proceeding. This can range from simple steps such as ensuring an empty magazine is inserted into the rifle or checking that the chamber is empty after unloading, to more complex sequences if a specific item requires routine cleaning or oiling. There are some economic conclusions that need to be considered; for instance, it is more cost effective in the long run to buy inner parts and magazines from a reliable source at one time versus buying multiple small items gradually as needed.

Regardless of experience level with firearms, it is imperative that all aspects of handling, storing, and transporting all guns are done correctly and safely. The National Rifle Association or NRA offers certifications that can give participants knowledge on the best practices when working with firearms and ammunition. In addition to giving insight on topics such as maintenance and safety protocols, these certifications offer an immense amount of resources that can be used throughout a person’s career with guns.

The Different Calibers Available For an AR-15

After learning the essential manuals and tips for loading and unloading, it is important to understand the various calibers available when selecting an AR-15. The caliber of an AR-15 refers to the size of ammunition it can use, with a variety of different calibers available. While there are multiple approved calibers, some stand out as the most common and popular among those used in AR-15s.

The two most well known calibers for AR-15s are .223 Remington (also known as 5.56 NATO) and .308 Winchester (also known as 7.62 NATO). These two popular cartridges produce high accuracy at long range due to their aerodynamic properties, making them both ideal for target shooting and hunting. These two calibers are the most widely used in the sport shooting industry due to their availability and reliability.

Another caliber widely used in AR-15s is .300 Blackout (also known as .300 Whisper). This cartridge is slightly less common because of its relatively newer invention, created primarily for military applications. It is also considered a subsonic round, making it optimal for suppressor use and stealthy hunting/tactical operations – it has become increasingly popular in recent years due to its increased flexibility compared to other cartridges.

Besides these cartridges, there are numerous other popular and effective AR-15 calibers such as 6.5 Grendel, 6mm ARC, 7mm-08 Remington and 9×19 Parabellum (9mm Luger), providing shooters with even more options to choose from when picking out an AR-15 rifle. Although each caliber offers a unique combination of accuracy, power, range and recoil management; some arguments may be made about which calibers are better suited for specific shooting applications based on factors such as personal opinion or intended application(s).

No matter which caliber you choose for your AR-15 rifle, deciding what type works best for you depends on how and why you plan on using the rifle. You should select a caliber that provides enough power or performance that meets your desired needs while allowing you to remain safe and enjoy your shooting experience.

Captain Hunter is a seasoned hunting mentor with over 20 years of experience in the field. His passion began as a young man on trips with his father and grandfather in the Colorado mountains. Today, he shares his unmatched skills in survival, tracking, and marksmanship through his website When he's not volunteering with youth hunting programs, you can find Captain Hunter providing expert hunting tips, gear reviews, and answers to your most pressing questions. His decades of experience make him the trusted guide to help any outdoorsman master the sport.

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