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When Weight Matters: Should You Lighten Your AR 15?

When Weight Matters: Should You Lighten Your AR 15?

March 30, 2018

There’s a reason the AR 15 is so often referred to as a “Lego gun.” Given how compartmental the AR is, changing out one component for another is generally about as difficult as making sure the new part is compatible. Sure, you’ll have to figure out how to actually install the new piece, but if you’re already consistent about taking apart your AR and thoroughly cleaning it, replacing a component should be no sweat. Of course, the relative level of ease for replacing parts means that many AR owners find themselves outfitting their firearms about as abundantly as a Swiss Army Knife. If you have the strength to hoist your AR after it’s been kitted out — and the accessories don’t impede your ability to shoot safely — then no problem. However, there are some times that keeping the weight to a minimum can be more beneficial. Today, we’ll dig into a question we hear a lot: Does weight really matter when outfitting your AR 15?

It’s All Relative

When we talk about appropriate weight for an AR 15, the biggest factor to be considered is your comfort. That’s a powerful piece of machinery, so making modifications that help you get a firm grip and shoot without almost-instant fatigue will be important factors for safety. That being said, when we talk about weight, we’re talking about the overall poundage including accessories because, when you’re taking your AR out hunting, every ounce can make a difference. What we aren’t going to do is tell you a specific weight range. What’s comfortably light for one owner might be too heavy for another; it’s all relative to your own height, weight, and strength. For example, a ten-pound firearm may feel light to someone who is six feet tall and 200 pounds of solid muscle, but that same ten-pound AR might be taxing to someone who is five feet tall and a hundred pounds soaking wet. That being said, there are some times that a lighter AR will be more beneficial and times when a bit of extra weight can be a boon — just remember that light and heavy will be relative to your physical abilities.

Shooting Stationary

As we’ve mentioned in past blog posts, choosing custom AR parts and accessories will vary based on intended use. Likewise, the weight of your AR 15 can and will vary based on usage. If you’ll be primarily using your AR at an indoor range, you’ll probably shoot from a standing position. However, if you’re at an outdoor range, there’s often a lot more flexibility. You can choose to shoot from a standing position; prop your AR up on a sand bag, shooting sticks, or other rest; or you can shoot from a prone position. Overall, range time gives you a lot more opportunities to shoot from a supported position than, say, hunting.

Logic says that shooting from a supported position means the weight of your firearm doesn’t matter as much. And, to an extent, that’s correct. When you prop your AR against any kind of rest, that’s less weight for you to physically support. However, you’ll still have recoil to deal with and you’ll need to make sure you can still get a firm grip on your firearm, so if weight is an impediment there, it might be time to invest in a few lighter components.

Shooting On The Move

Shooting on the move is in a different ballpark entirely compared to shooting stationary (supported or unsupported). A big part of weight when shooting on the move is going to be how quickly you can go from a safe at-rest position to a ready stance — and how frequently you can do so. Especially if you’re planning a day out hunting, the weight of your AR will start compounding when you have to go from resting to ready a dozen or more times. That being said, there’s something to be gained from a bit of extra weight. Heavier rifles can help compensate for any small tics or twitches better and can also help with the kick you’ll feel when firing. But that will depend on your strength and level of comfort.

Reducing Weight

It may not seem like much, but the generous handful of ounces for your optic and other accessories can add up pretty quickly. Before you dive into custom AR parts to lighten your load, start with some of the simpler things. A heat-protective AR15 rail grip can add a lot of weight in order to provide the heat protection you seek — but it doesn’t have to. At RailScales, we believe in AR15 rail accessories that help you get a better grip and provide heat protection without huge amounts of weight or bulk. Explore our proprietary M-LOK and KeyMod rail scale options to help you get a firm grasp on your AR rail system without adding much weight or bulk. Explore more online and grab yours today!