In recent months,
I have received many emails from Gunblast readers regarding weapons
for personal defense. These inquiries are not just of the "which
pocket pistol do you recommend?" type of question, but lean
more towards the defense of the home against determined intruders.
Also, many people are concerned about the need for a bit more firepower
that is portable enough to store in the family car, since most people
spend a great deal of their time away from home, whether at work
or on the road.
law enforcement agencies are now equipping their officers with,
or allowing them to furnish on their own, a handy carbine chambered
for a more powerful round than their sidearm, while providing a
greater useful range than the typical police shotgun. After the
infamous shootouts in Miami and Hollywood in which the police were
carrying underpowered firearms for the situation, many agencies
are finally waking up to the need for a better weapon. A handgun
is a weapon of convenience; one that can always be at your side,
but many social situations can be better handled by a long gun.
For those of you
who have read my article on Homeland
Security, you already know that I am a fan of the AR-15
family of weapons. Recently, I also wrote an article reviewing heavy-barreled
AR-15 rifles. The AR15 system has proven itself worldwide
in many different environments and situations. What they lack in
beauty, they make up in reliability and ease of use. You wont
find polished steel and oiled walnut on an AR, but you will find
an ergonomic and beautifully functional weapon.
Unlike the article
on the heavy-barreled ARs that are perfect for long range varmint
hunting and precision target shooting, this article will deal with
the AR-15 carbine: a weapon that has few rivals as an all-around
rifle for self defense when the fertilizer hits the fan. The carbines
are handy, easy to shoot well, accurate, and very reliable. They
use surplus military thirty-round magazines and plentiful 5.56mm
ammunition, along with any commercial .223 ammo. The guns are very
simple to strip for cleaning, and require very little maintenance
to keep them up and running. Also, the market is filled with parts
and accessories to modify your AR to suit your particular preferences.
For review in this
article, and to give our readers an idea of what is available, we
gathered a sampling of several different AR-15 type carbines. This
is by no means all of the brands and variations available on the
market, but represent a variety of some of the weapons available
from a few of the better manufacturers of the AR-15 carbine. We
received test guns from DoubleStar, DPMS, ArmaLite, and Rock
River Arms. We also had a Colt available, but it was
the twenty-inch HBAR model, and didnt fit with the short-barreled
carbine configuration that we are reviewing here, so it was excluded
from this article, as was other heavier and longer-barreled ARs.
Each gun reviewed
here was tested with a variety of ammunition, from surplus military
ball to commercial soft point and hollow point hunting ammo. The
guns were supplied with ten-round magazines, but were fired using
military thirty-round magazines, as this is the proper magazine
for this type of weapon, regardless of whether or not the US government
wants us to have a magazine of this capacity. Every gun tested
exhibited flawless functioning with every type of ammunition that
we could try. Each gun was fired in a normal hand-held position,
in addition to being fired with the gun rotated to either side ninety
degrees, and even upside down. The guns fed, fired, and ejected
perfectly. This is a very good testament to the design of the AR-15
system, and to the care with which each manufacturer assembled these
weapons. Each of the guns reviewed also exhibited very good
accuracy with quality ammunition.
Each weapon reviewed
here is basically a short, handy carbine with a nominal sixteen
inch barrel, but there are differences in the style and features
of the guns that may or may not be desirable to any given shooter.
All of the guns featured here are of the flattop design, to better
facilitate the mounting of an optical sight. A couple of the guns
are supplied with detachable carry handles with integral rear sights.
Some of the guns have front sights, and others do not. The barrel
weights and diameters are another variable to consider when choosing
an AR, as are the design of the buttstock, pistol grip, and hand
guards. In addition to the sampling assembled here, each of these
manufacturers also offer an almost endless variety of features to
configure the weapon to suit the needs of the user.
A few measurements
were taken of each gun, and are listed below. If the gun wears a
muzzle brake, that device was included in the barrel length. As
can be seen in the pictures, there is a good variety of barrel configurations
represented here, from very light to heavy bull barrels.
As can be seen from the chart, even though each of these weapons
is an AR-15 type carbine, the list of features varies. Some shooters
prefer a muzzle brake to lessen felt recoil, while others prefer
the clean lines and quieter report (from the shooters position)
of a plain barrel. Some shooters like the CAR-type stock (which
is no longer collapsible on post-ban guns), while others like the
smooth A2 stock. The DoubleStar Critterslayer Jr. has a unique
shortened A2 stock with a fully adjustable butt plate. This feature
would be very useful to a person with a shorter pull length, such
as a youngster or small adult. While some will want a detachable
handle, others have no use for one, preferring to mount a low scope
such as the rugged and reliable Trijicon
The choices are
almost endless as to the ways to set up your AR-15 carbine, but
it is one of the best weapons ever developed for battle, whether
it be across the room or out to a few hundred yards. The guns are
relatively light, handy, rugged, and reliable. Their ammo offers
more power and penetration than most commonly carried handgun ammo,
and the carbines make hitting the target much easier at longer ranges.
The high-capacity and easily changed magazines make for a rate of
sustained fire that is superior to most hand-held weapons, and the
recoil is relatively light.
Check out the complete
specifications online at the following websites:
Rock River: www.rockriverarms.com
The AR-15 carbine
is state-of-the-art for a personal battle weapon. I would not be
without one&..at least one.
Got something to say about this article? Want
to agree (or disagree) with it? Click the following link to go to
the GUNBlast Feedback Page.