3 Questions to ask yourself when buying an AR15

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Its no wonder AR15’s are the most popular firearm in America, it is the most customizable, like an erector set for adults.  Because of all the options, buying an AR15 can be overwhelming.
 
Parts to customize AR15’s are available from hundreds of dealers across the country.  These parts run the spectrum from cheap everyday parts to high end or custom variations.  Everything you need can be conveniently delivered right to your front door.  
 
If you are good with your hands, you can even build one at home from the ground up.  The only part you will need to get in person at an FFL is the Lower Receiver.  This is the only part the ATF is worried about, it has a serial number and is considered a firearm under federal law.
 
With all the available options on the market today, the choices can be a bit daunting.  The most popular choice however is buying an AR15 complete rifle then change or add parts to personalize it.  This is ultimately a bit more expensive but certainly the easiest.
 
If you have never bought one before you may not know where to start.  You just have to ask yourself a couple of questions to start moving in the right direction
The Big Questions
Why am I buying an AR15?
What will it be used for? Hunting, protection, target shooting, competition, or a combination of all four, or maybe just because it looks cool.  The answer to this question will oftentimes determine many factors like the caliber, the barrel length, attachments, sights, and furniture.  
 
For example, competition shooting could require a higher level of accuracy so a good fit between the upper and lower would be important.  Or maybe quick mag changes are needed.  For hunting, weight may be a factor for carrying it long distances.  On the range you might be plinking at steal, this is cheaper with a 22LR rather than a .223 or 5.56 round.
 
What is my budget?
How much will you drop?  This can range from around $500 to over $5,000.  They say you get what you pay for, in some cases this is true, in others, not so much.  Generally, a range between $1,000 and $1,400 will get you good quality to price ratio.  We have found the biggest difference in quality is in the $500 to $1,000 range and then after $1,400, the quality difference ramps up very slowly so the benefits are marginal.
 
Build it or Buy it?
Do I have the tools, the knowledge, and the time to build an AR15 from the ground up?  As mentioned earlier, you can get a big box of parts delivered to your doorstep and make one, (even the receiver can be delivered if you buy an 80% lower and do the last 20% yourself).  But ask yourself, what am I going to benefit from this experience?  If this is your first one and the answer is to save money then this is not the option for you.
 
You will need a set of special tools and a place to work on the project.  Secondly, you will need the knowledge to know how to assemble the rifle properly and quality control your work. Lastly, you need the experience to know what modifications to make when things are not working properly.
 
These skills are something that can be honed over time if you work at it, do you have the time to devote?  If you plan on building more than one or enjoy the challenge then this is a great option for buying an AR15
 
Personally, I think this is a great skill to have and work on.  Like cars, you should know basic maintenance like changing the oil and fixing a flat tire.  Knowing how to clean and take the rifle apart is a great start, then work up from there.
Narrow it down
Some other questions to ask will narrow down your choices.  
 
Will this be for long-range or short-range?  If you plan to shoot at the range no more then 100 yards, a long scope is not needed, but if you are planning for longer distances iron sights may not work the best.
 
Do you have any medical condition that could change how you use the gun?  For example, some ARs have less recoil then others so if you have a shoulder condition this can be very beneficial. 
 
What color do you like? While not much of a factor, most are black, there are other options like anodizing and cerakote.  The buttons and levers can also be in various colors.
Do Your Research
While these questions will help you know what to look for, it is important to choose your rifle from a reputable company.  Ask questions and read reviews about the rifle and the manufacturer.  
  • What is their warranty?
  • Are they going to be around in 10 years?
  • Are they known for quality?
Lastly, make sure you trust the dealer you are buying from, they should offer service and support after your purchase.  The best ones listen and are invested in how this purchase will benefit you, not their bottom line.
What are some factors you use when buying an AR15?  What is your must-have component?

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