Why Your AR-15 Needs A Sling, Light, And Optic

Why Your AR-15 Needs A Sling, Light, And Optic

These three accessories are essential when putting together an AR-15 for personal protection

The AR-15 is undoubtedly America’s most popular rifle, and for good reason. It does a ton of things well. It offers a fun day at the range without much recoil or muzzle blast, it is a good choice for hunting (when chambered correctly), and it serves as my top pick for home defense. While it doesn’t really matter how an AR is set up in those first two scenarios, any AR-15 used for self-defense needs a sling, weapon light, and optic to effective.

The Sling

A sling on a rifle is like a holster for a pistol. Without a sling the rifle must reside in your hands and that’s going to get old if you need a rifle for very long. I can think of a couple of instances when I would want an AR-15 handy: a Hurricane Katrina scenario or when something goes bump in the night. A sling is almost mandatory in both examples.

There was limited rule of law following Hurricane Katrina. A good friend of mine was serving with the National Guard during the aftermath and he recounted a couple times where he was fired on just for being there to help clean up. His first order of business upon returning home was to purchase a rifle for self-defense. We had both served overseas and understood the importance of having a rifle in a combat zone, but never assumed a rifle would be needed here at home. Hurricane Katrina changed both our minds. If you’re ever living through the aftermath of a natural disaster and the local criminals decide to come shopping in your neighborhood, it’s a good idea to always keep a rifle handy. The most comfortable and convenient way to do this is with a sling.

A two-point padded sling allows the shooter to let the rifle comfortably hang, leaving both hands free for other activities or to just stick in your pockets. The ability to comfortably wear a rifle like an article of clothing cannot be overemphasized. When life has reached the state of uncertainty where we feel like keeping a rifle handy, a sling offers such convenience and peace of mind it would be almost criminal not to have one. They are not expensive and take only a few minutes to attach.

Weapon Lights

The next order of business is a quality weapon light. Never assume it’ll be broad daylight when it’s time to defend yourself, so have a plan to make sure you know exactly what you’re about to shoot. A weapon light makes this possible, even on the darkest night. I’ve seen folks slap a regular flashlight on a rifle and just use the tailcap switch to turn it on. That arrangement is better than nothing and works, but it won’t work for long.

Weapon lights have circuitry designed for recoil and regular flashlights don’t. Over time the dedicated weapon light will continue to function, while the same can’t be said for a re-purposed flashlight. There are a handful of brands that make weapon lights, so pick one of those, put it on your rifle, and make sure it goes on every range trip with you. The best way to gain confidence in a piece of equipment is to use it, so don’t be shy about leaving the light on the rifle.

Optics

Don’t be fooled into thinking iron sights are a good choice for shooting in all lighting conditions. Iron sights are not a good choice at nighttime and even tritium inserts pale in comparison to a battery-powered optic. An illuminated aiming point ensures that you’ll be able to see it all the time. Red dot sights are the simplest and offer the most reliable and inexpensive form of an illuminated aiming point, so these get my top pick for self-defense.

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