Today I’m talking about my concept of the Minimum Capable Carbine. If you’ve been reading for a while, you might recognize this as my suggestion for your first AR-15. In truth, this episode is a chance for me to say things out loud that didn’t come across very well in written format.
I don’t want to spend too much time here summarizing what I said because you might have already read it in my article on the topic. I’ll be embedding this episode’s player in that article as well. But as a reminder, I believe most people are well served by a basic quality rifle configured as a general-purpose weapon. That means 16″ lightweight barrel, plastic handguards, mil-spec trigger, basic stock, and not much else.
Of course, I think adding lights, sights, and a sling is important- but no more.
The intent is not to hobble anyone or make you feel like you’ll end up dead in the streets. Instead, I’m a firm believer that if you start with something simple (but high quality), then you will grow with the rifle over time.
But What About Specialization?
Everything is a compromise. Every step you take towards a specific use case, such as competition or close quarter battle, then the rifle gets worse at others. As an example, a full on match rifle with a long heavy stainless barrel is too heavy to want to carry day to day. It’s also got a gas system finely tuned for low recoil with a specific ammunition load. It might choke with the wrong ammo or with too much time between cleaning.
On the other end, the Mk 18 CQBR is fantastic for entry work and shoot houses, but its ballistics simply aren’t on par with a 16″ or 20″ barrel at 200 or 300 yards and beyond.
Stick to something general-purpose, trust me.
As a reminder, these were the specs I laid out in both this episode as well as my written guide
- 16″ Lightweight mid-length chrome lined barrel with a fixed front sight base
- Either quality plastic handguards or a basic free float rail
- Quality collapsible stock
- Quality pistol grip of choice
- Standard trigger or something close to it like the BCM PNT or ALG ACT
- Quality rear sight, with or without adjustment
- If you have the money to buy an optic, then do so- but buy one of good quality. If you don’t have the funds for a good one, then rock the irons until you save for it.
- Bonus: If you plan on using the weapon for defensive purposes, then you should mount a good light on it
- Bonus: You should get a sling, because retention matters
Taken together, this rifle will last anyone a long long time.