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Last Updated: 03/31/2011 7:22:08 PM
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AR-15 Basics for Beginners

By Erik Rodriguez

Tags: buying an AR-15, AR-15 basics, AR-15 scope options, AR-15 accessories, AR-15 ammunition, AR parts, AR platform basics

This article provides information about AR-15 for beginners. Basics of this weapon are discussed and links to related topics are included below.


Until recently, I was mostly a pistol shooter. I never got into the larger assault rifles because the ammo is expensive and I didn't really have a good place to shoot long distances. I got sucked into buying an AR-15 because my local gun shop/range had a sale on the Smith & Wesson M&P 15. I bought one and took it home the same day thanks to our great Florida gun laws.

Of course, my technical nature insisted I take the gun apart to inspect the operation and design. I began looking at other AR-15 weapons as well as aftermarket accessories. I then began the processes of pimping out my AR-15 like I usually do with Glocks and other guns I own. I also have a GSG-5SD which is a very cheap weapon to fire and a ton of fun. The sections below contain my experience as a novice with the AR platform. I discuss things I like and dislike, mistakes I made, and other things to consider when purchasing your first AR-15. I am not a gunsmith, expert, or anything close. I am sure there are a lot more people with more expertise than I, but here is what I know about the AR-15. I also have some content posted about the GSG-5. I welcome all comments and please correct me if anything I have here is not accurate.


Ammunition for the AR-15 is covered in a different article: .223 vs. 5.56.

AR-15 Tools

As you begin to work on your AR, you will eventually need some tools. Some things needed are basic household things such as screw drivers, pliers, etc. However, if you plan on doing some specific things to you are, you will need some special tools. I ended up buying an AR-15 multi-tool from NC star. It's a heavy multi-purpose tool for things like removing your barrel nut, stock, flash-hider, and a few other things. The tools will set you back about $25-35 dollars and is much cheaper than having a gun smith do a single job for you.

Basic AR-15 Architecture


Overall, this rifle is very easy to clean. Not as easy as cleaning a hand gun, but in retrospect, much easier than other rifles out there. You will need the following at a bare minimum:
  • Cleaning rod
  • Nitro solvent (or other cleaner)
  • Gun oil
  • Chamber brush
  • Patch set
I learned the cleaning process (and most things about this weapon) from this ar-15 cleaning video. The first time you clean an AR-15 will take you 25-35 minutes. The hardest part being the re-assembly, but after you complete the process several times it will be much quicker. I can now clean this weapon very well in less than 15 minutes. It also took me a little while to learn the proper use of the AR-15 fowardward assist. The links below contain more information specific to different accessories available for the AR-15 platform:

AR-15 Brands/Accessories

The following companies produce some of the top AR-15 rifles: All of the companies above sell complete rifles, parts, and some sell suppressors. These rifles are generally seen in competition, special ops, and other high level shooting engagements. If you are looking to build an AR-15 from scratch, these companies have the best parts in the world. The companies listed below produce some of the "best" consumer AR-15 rifles: Accessories/aftermarket All of these companies produce very popular and quality accessories for the AR platform. I personally have Magpul and Spike's products on my weapon and love them. Some low quality accessories I would shy away from would be NCstar. I purchased several products and was not happy with anything but the AR-15 multi-wrench. Remember, you get what you pay for here. The pages below contain information on specific accessories for the AR-15:

More AR-15 related content:

Ammunition: .223 vs. 5.56
AR-15 Upgrades: Choosing an optic
AR-15 Upgrades: Stock, Hand Guard, and Vertical Grip
AR-15 Upgrades: Uppers and Bolt Carrier Groups (BCG)
AR-15 Upgrades: Sights, Ejector Door, and Pins
AR-15 Upgrades: Triggers, Breaks, Supressors, Sling Adapter

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