The AR-15 rifle, also known as a "black gun" or "modern sporting rifle," has endured a great deal of controversy over the years. It may be because these firearms look very similar to the ones used by the military, which some folks find intimidating, but the truth is that they function just like any other semi-automatic rifle and can only fire one bullet per trigger squeeze. What's more, this much-misunderstood design can make the perfect first long gun for women. Here's why:
1. They work for just about any body size One of the toughest challenges for a woman who wishes to get into shooting long guns is finding one that works with our anatomy, not against it. A gun that's too big is difficult to shoulder properly, which is not only uncomfortable to hold, but can result in increased felt recoil. Most long guns (except those designed specifically for smaller-statured shooters) are designed to fit a person of approximately 5'8" or up...a full five inches taller than the average American woman. What's more, women tend to have necks that are longer in proportion to our bodies than men do, which makes getting a good cheek weld difficult on a gun that's too big. However, the AR-15 design features a stock that can be adjusted as easily as a car seat, and as quickly.
2. They are fun and easy to customize Although many women are perfectly happy to own and shoot guns that look exactly as they did when they left the factory, some of us prefer to own a firearm that's uniquely our own style. With literally thousands of different accessories available from retailers like Brownells, it's easy to make your AR-15 perfect for your specific needs. Many AR-15 owners also enjoy painting the guns to reflect their unique aesthetic sensibilities. (For a rundown on how to do that, click here.)
3. They offer reduced recoil Of course, many women, even beginners, tolerate recoil well. However, some of us-especially those new to shooting-find that a hard-kicking gun seriously ruins what should be a good time on the range. This is where the AR-15 really shines. The semi-automatic action absorbs much of the recoil, keeping it from impacting the shooter's shoulder and face. Furthermore, the AR-15 is commonly chambered in .223 (or 5.56mm), which is a smaller caliber that doesn't offer a great deal of recoil, although it's still quite effective for target shooting and self-defense. Finally, as mentioned above, the fact that its fit is easily customizable allows the shooter to properly shoulder the rifle, which also reduces felt recoil.
4. They are extremely versatile As with men, women enter the world of gun ownership for a variety of different reasons. Some are concerned about self-defense. Some wish to learn to compete in shooting matches. Others want to reduce animal pests around the house, or to hunt. Often, as time goes by, the new gun owner will decide to expand her horizons and try different aspects of gun ownership. The beauty of the AR-15 is that it's capable of being the one gun that you use for all of the above. It's an effective self-defense tool, accurate at long ranges for shooting competitions, and (depending on the laws in your specific jurisdiction) capable of cleanly taking predators and pest species.
If you're a woman looking for your first rifle, give the AR-15 a try. You just might find it's the perfect gun for all your needs.