The AR platform is one of the most widely chosen types of firearms for militaries, police, and civilians all over the world. Many of the same things that make it popular in those settings also make it, in our view, an excellent platform for preppers.
While AR-15s may all look the same, different upper receivers and barrel lengths can change the rifle’s purpose. This is just one of reasons, in a wide range of reasons, that speaks to the genius of Eugene Stoner’s original design. We make the case that the AR is one of the best platforms for preppers because it works for a wide variety of people and missions all over the planet, as it has for half a century.
The Best Things About The AR-15
One of the best things about ARs is that they’re relatively light. While it’s certainly possible to get a rifle well into double-digit pounds of weight with a lot of accessories, a relatively reasonable setup that has a collapsing stock, a 16” barrel, and an optic is still likely to be shy of ten pounds.
The more weight you can save in your prep, the better. If for no other reason, you will be less fatigued by carrying a lighter rifle around. Second, less weight on the gun means you can carry more ammunition should you need to defend yourself.
The AR is an exceptionally flexible weapon. With a red dot sight and a standard length barrel, you can clear rooms up close and personal and, just as well, engage targets out to 500 yards. This is assuming, of course, that you put the time into learning how to shoot well.
The AR-15 Is Versatile
More broadly, the AR is not only excellent for self-defense but is also a great rifle for game animals of all sizes, so knowing how to use one can keep you alive in several different regards. Practice is key, however, if you want to get the most out of this weapons platform.
ARs are rugged weapons, assuming you do your part in maintaining them. But, like all machines, their parts wear out, break, and occasionally need replacing. This is where the AR shines in the American prepping context in particular.
Because the AR is such a popular platform, you’ll likely be able to find parts for it nearly anywhere you go, whether things are relatively normal and you can buy parts, or things have gone severely sideways, and you have to scavenge parts from other people. Either way, being the most popular kind of rifle out there ups your odds at keeping your rifle up when it counts.
Similarly, ammunition for the AR is widely available. Here we would make one specific recommendation: get an AR that is rated to shoot 5.56mm NATO. Most .223 caliber guns will chamber and shoot 5.56mm just fine, but it may result in excessive chamber wear.
Assuming your AR is fine with shooting 5.56mm, you’re in luck as it is one of, if not the, most widely produced cartridges in the military world. This makes it an attractive option for preppers.
The AR-15 Is Customizable
You can also customize your AR for your specific needs. For instance, I live in an urban environment but one that is near a lot of rural lands with a magnifier that snaps into place instantly. This gives me the kind of flexibility I need, but you might find yourself needing something totally different.
I could see someone who was prepping for a totally urban bug-out bag going with a suppressed AR pistol with a much shorter barrel, to save on noise signature and weight. I don’t happen to care too much about noise, so I didn’t bother. The point is, you get to take the time now and make the gun yours.
Overall, we think that an AR is an excellent platform for preppers. Because it’s so popular, you’ll be able to find parts and ammo to keep it up and running, and many of the things that have made it popular with militaries, like weight savings, also make it an awesome choice for preppers.
Our personal choice for prepped weapons are ARs, so this advice comes from a place of thinking through what we might need a rifle for on the worst of days: we hope you find some of these reasons compelling, too!