Obviously my XXL posterior is no longer regularly required to hump a ruck, rifle, and gear all over God’s great green, brown, and tan creation while looking for someone who desperately needs to be dispatched from said creation. (The squids, including jarheaded squids, can keep the blue parts.)
This being the case, my requirements for how I setup my personal rifle now should be expected to be drastically changed from my ideal setup as a warfighter. But are they?
There were five main types of rifle I carried in the Army. Two of those were belt-fed machine guns. The M60/M240b Crew Served MGs and the M249 Squad Automatic Weapon. A third type, the sub-MG, was represented by the 9mm MP5 and .45ACP Grease Gun. These first three types are really speciality guns. They’re not all that useful for the self-defense, hunting, and competitive shooting I can see myself engaging in now. Fun to shoot but expensive to purchase and feed. These aren’t really what I’m looking for now.
The last two are more practical for my needs. The heavy caliber long-range rifles like the M24 and M14 and the shorter range but more versatile rifleman’s M16 and M4 rifles.
While I must admit that my first inclination was to get a Remington 700 in .300 Win Mag and build up my own version of an M24, I can’t ignore that I am far more experienced and skillful with the M16. The M16 is also more useful for hunkerin’ down after a hurricane should that happen to me yet again.
The what finally tipped the scales in favor of the AR15 was gun-hater rhotic against the “evil black assault rifle with its mass murder clip”. The goggles do nothing folks. The stupidity for these anti-rights zealots still burns.
Not being tied to the military supply system means that I have more choices for accessories, parts, optics, ammo, and other stuff than could be listed on the expansive menu at SuperWok. It also means that it comes out of my wallet, not yours. (Thank you for spending your tax dollars to make me a better shooter.)
Reliability is still paramount. It doesn’t matter if you are faced with a coyote, alligator, boar, or even a two-legged varmint; if the rifle goes click rather than bang when you squeeze the trigger, very bad things can happen to you.
Ruggedness is closely related to reliability but there are factors that distinguish the two for one another. In the army I used my rifle-stock to break my fall as I dove into the dirt many thousands of times. We used rifles as splints, chairs, pry bars, sledge hammers, clubs, walking sticks, pikes, exercise equipment, and even to occasionally launch rounds down-range. I have no plans to abuse my civilian rifle regularly in similar fashion. That said, I will still occasionally bang my rifle in to a tree, knock it around, and yes… drop it. Parts that can’t take a pounding have no place on my weapon but there are some places where I can accept something less than infantry-proofed durability to reduce costs or add practical functionality.
Functionality is a key factor but this is another place where the military mission and my personal mission have subtitle differences. For example, I’m not going to have to use night vision compatible sights or parts that put off a neutral I/R signature. I don’t need the ability to mount a grenade launcher or even a bayonet. The ability to switch a few components to change calibers is a huge plus for a civilian AR. The .300 AAC Blackout uppers are looking quite interesting especially if I get a can later. Like the military M16, the AR15 can easily interchange optics between iron sights, non-magnified reflex/red dot sights like the AimPoint, low power magnified optics like the ACOG, and higher powered precision scopes.
Accuracy requirements are also similar to an extent that a short to mid-range rifle should be 1.5 MOA or better to allow for lethal accuracy from 300 to 600 meters. Around 300 meters the decision to use magnified optics really becomes a no-brainer.