Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Your AR or hers?

It's the age-old question....

Are you lucky enough to have a significant other who likes to shoot? Or are you a female shooter yourself? If you're like me, you're a little protective of your gear and you think there's nothing wrong with the Misses having a gun of her own.

You could have the next Annie Oakley sitting next to you

What should you be looking for in an AR for a female shooter? Is she going to pick yours up and immediately love it and try to steal it away from you? Maybe, but more than likely no. Medically, males and females are separated by the difference in 1 chromosome, but in reality, we really couldn't be any more unlike, and preference for weapons is no different.

Women are built differently. They are generally smaller in stature, to include shorter arms, smaller hands, smaller body mass to absorb recoil, and less muscle mass resulting in quicker fatigue (all generalizations). Therefore, handing your wife or girlfriend your 10 pound AR-15 with a bipod and 100 round beta-mag might not be the most enjoyable experience. She might be able to hold it for about 5 rounds and then it's the end of your fun range-date.

Here are some things to consider when you are considering purchasing an AR-15 for your female companion:

1) Enjoyability is of the utmost importance. If she shoots it one time and hates it, you just spend $1000 on one range trip. Start with the basics of safe shooting, or even sign up together for a class so that she gets the basics of safety and weapon handling from a qualified instructor. You might not need the instruction, but doing it together will make it more enjoyable for her and hopefully for you too. Who doesn't need a safety refresher anyways?

2) Lightweight is almost equally important. The longer she is able to shoot the more proficient she will become with the weapon, and that translates into enjoyability. A lighter rifle will cause less muscle fatigue.

3) A smaller/shorter weapon will easier to manipulate: You have to keep ATF laws in mind with relation to short barreled weapons, but a 14.5" barreled AR with permanently attached flash hider to stay legal will save some weight and length for her. Also, if you already have an ATF stamp for a short barrel AR, she may enjoy shooting that more than a carbine length rifle.

4) Minimize recoil as much as possible. The 5.56 AR-15 is a relatively light round and does not produce much recoil; however, a rifle with a mid-length gas system will help even more. Other options for reducing recoil in standard AR-15's are adjustible gas blocks and hydraulic buffers. Short-Stroke piston rifles such as the fine offerings from LWRC will minimize recoil also. The less damage the rifle does to the shooter, the more enjoyable the experience will be.

In my opinion, a great first AR for the new female shooter is the Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22. This rifle is chambered in .22LR, a round with literally no recoil at all. It's also extremely light, being made primarily from polymer (just around 5 pounds loaded) and functions almost completely like a 5.56 AR-15. Many of the same parts and gear are interchangeable between an AR-15 and the M&P15-22. This rifle is affordable and very cheap to shoot. It's a boatload of fun as well.

If your Misses is ready for 5.56 action, consider a lightweight AR such as the completely awesome Colt 6720MP Lightweight AR-15. Weight from the factory is 6.0 pounds and this rifle comes outfitted with  Magpul sights, stock, pistol grip, and handguard. You don't have to add a single piece to this rifle in order to shoot it and shoot it well.

This is on her Christmas list....

So if you are thinking about getting your significant other into shooting, be mindful of the choice of AR, as choosing some key features may make the whole experience a lot more enjoyable for both of you. Keep in mind that just because you like a certain rifle or a certain assortment of gear, your lady may not. Have her try out different things before settling on a purchase, and hopefully you'll both have a new hobby (and you'll have an excuse to buy AR gear)!

Be safe and see you next time.

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