With the current run on firearms, the notion of a range-ready and in-stock AR-15 style rifle seems more like wishful thinking. The stock photo I saw of $500 Aero Precision rifles on sale is pretty much mythical now as well.
The Most Modestly Priced Model
The “architecture” of Eugene Stoner’s brainchild leads to a plethora of customized approaches as well as “vanilla,” off-the-shelf solutions, kinda like how some folks prefer to build their own gaming PCs while others go for a turnkey solution.
S&W and Ruger offer solid, good-to-go rifles in the ~$700 “entry” price range, and Palmetto State Armory has built a name around even more inexpensive kits and complete firearms. I went with a complete upper and lower assemblies from PSA, which required a rear sight and magazines, but the total bill came out around $500.
All Dressed Up but (Almost) Nowhere to Shoot
I don’t have a lot of options on where I can practice with a 5.56mm rifle. The gun range I (used to) frequent only allows rifles one evening a week, and they’ve been closed since the pandemic shutdown. There are other, rifle-friendly ranges, but I haven’t bothered to join them (the required NRA membership is a show-stopper).
With all that said, I’ve taken the AR out to shoot twice so far, putting all of 80 rounds through it, which admittedly isn’t much. But like any engineered mechanism, one should perform the rites of maintenance, lest the Machine Gods become offended.
Teaching from a Distance
The Liberal Gun Club has an on-going series of “Distanced Learning” training sessions, and one of them focused on basic firearm maintenance:
In the latter part of this recording, Bench Doctor Scott goes over how to field strip and clean an AR-15. This video came in handy for addressing the one part of the AR which hadn’t been cleaned since all the light use that it’s seen: the bolt carrier group.
Now Pay Attention, 007
I think the notion of disassembling and reassembling a piece of machinery is a daunting prospect for most of us, and while the loads of how-to blog posts and YouTube videos can be an invaluable help, you still need to do the darned thing. And the thought of taking apart a bolt carrier group had been something I’d been putting off, because… well, it looked complicated.
Do It, Just
And like everything else that looks complicated at the outset, cleaning a BCG really isn’t that big of a deal. I guess it helps that the design is time-tested and that there’s scads of village knowledge available for newbies, and thanks to Scott’s video, I finally got around to properly cleaning said BCG.
Turns out the parts weren’t all that grungy, but then they hadn’t handled all that many rounds. Anyway, I got this done as part of a lunch break, so yeah, this isn’t rocket surgery at all.
Now I’ve got a hankering to do some hole-punching with this (and zero in a red dot sight while I’m at it).