8 AR-15 Myths That Still Exist in 2024

AR-15 Myths

Have you ever noticed that no matter the hobby, there’s always a bunch of bad info out there surrounding what should be the basics? Well, things are no different in the world of firearms. Fudd thinking abounds, and gun counter wisdom is too often anything but wise. As a new AR-15 owner, it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of bad advice, opinions, and concerns.

With so much information out there, it can be challenging to discern what’s important and what’s not. At AR15discounts, we hear our fair share of bad info and thought it would be helpful to share what we’ve learned. Here are the common myths and misconceptions you shouldn’t worry about when it comes to your new AR-15.

1. AR-15 Myths – Brand Name Above All

With ARs, you often do get what you pay for when it comes to hard-use rifles. Quality control, the type of parts, and how they are put together matters. That said, there is often an unnecessary fixation on brand. While there are numerous reputable manufacturers out there, the reality is that most modern AR-15s are made to similar specifications and standards. The real key is doing your research on the front end when it comes to reliability, quality control, and the care in which your AR is built or in which your parts are manufactured.

    When it comes to brand names, what matters more is the quality control and warranty offered by the manufacturer. Many lesser-known brands produce excellent rifles that stand up to rigorous use. Instead of focusing on the name stamped on the lower receiver, concentrate on the rifle’s build quality, customer reviews, and the company’s reputation for service and support. Remember, your favorite company produces lemons, and your Gucci rifle is not immune. Get out there and shoot, observe fit and function, and don’t accept anything less.

    An example of a rifle with little brand recognition that is miles ahead of many more well-known manufacturers.

    2. AR-15 Myths – Barrel Length Matters

    Another common worry is the barrel length of your AR-15. While barrel length does influence certain aspects of performance, such as velocity and accuracy at longer ranges, the differences can be minimal for most practical purposes. A standard 16-inch barrel is the most common and offers a good balance between maneuverability and ballistic performance.

    Yes, there’s not much cooler than the looks of a short-barreled rifle or AR pistol, and you should get what you really want. However, for most shooters, the difference between a 16-inch barrel and a slightly longer or shorter one won’t be noticeable in everyday use. If you’re not planning on competing in long-range shooting competitions, any standard barrel length should serve you well for home defense, hunting, or recreational shooting. Remember, practice and familiarity with your rifle are far more important than a few inches of barrel length. Also, remember that many houses have been successfully cleared with 16″ and longer ARs.

    3. AR-15 Myths – Caliber Concerns

    The AR-15 platform is incredibly versatile, and one of its standout features is the ability to change calibers with relative ease. While the standard AR-15 is chambered in 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington, there are numerous other calibers available, such as the newer 6mm ARC, .300 Blackout, 6.5 Grendel, and even 7.62×39. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and worry that you might not have chosen the “best” caliber.

    For most new owners, sticking with the standard 5.56 NATO/.223 Remington is a smart choice. This caliber is widely available, relatively inexpensive, and offers excellent performance for a variety of applications. As you gain more experience and confidence with your AR-15, you can explore other calibers and even consider building or purchasing an upper receiver in a different caliber to expand your rifle’s capabilities. For now, focus on a decent 5.56 rifle, buy some ammo for target practice/training, and seek out some decent 5.56 for defensive applications.

    4. AR-15 Myths – Optics and Accessories – The “Tacticool” Trap

    Another big area where myths abound is around optics and accessories for the AR. The world of optics and accessories for the AR-15 can be daunting, with countless options ranging from budget-friendly to incredibly expensive. New owners often worry about having the “right” optic or the perfect setup. While having quality optics and accessories can enhance your shooting experience, they are not essential for enjoying and effectively using your AR-15.

    If you’re betting your life on an optic, consider spending a bit more on something like an Aimpoint or Eotech.

    Start with the basics: a set of iron sights that might have come with your AR, or a reliable red dot sight. These options are generally affordable and sufficient for most shooting scenarios. As you become more familiar with your rifle and your shooting style, you can gradually add accessories that meet your specific needs. Remember, it’s not about having the most gear but rather understanding how to use what you have effectively.

    If you’re on the fence about irons vs. dot, we’d highly recommend the red dot. You can read more on that here:

    After that, if this is a rifle for defensive purposes, your next purchases are simple and straightforward—a sling and a light. That’s it. Fight the urge to load your new AR down unnecessarily, and consider that for most shooters out there, less is probably more.

    5. AR-15 Myths – Red Dots are Dead

    This one gets a bit tricky. Let’s cut to the chase: In 2024, a quality red dot is probably your best bet. A common myth among new AR-15 owners is the debate between red dot sights and low-power variable optics (LPVO). With the rise of the LPVO in recent years, there is even talk that the red dot is obsolete. We can tell you that this is an absurd idea.

    While both have their advantages, many believe they need an LPVO for their AR-15 to be versatile and effective. The truth is, for most users, a red dot sight is an ideal choice. Red dots are simple, lightweight, and fast to acquire targets, making them perfect for home defense, recreational shooting, and close-quarters scenarios. Unless distance shooting and target identification are your primary concerns, a red dot sight will serve you well and keep your rifle lightweight and easy to handle.

    6. AR-15 Myths – Download to 28 and Keeping Magazines Loaded

    Here’s a good one—keeping magazines loaded for extended periods will damage the magazine springs and cause feeding issues. We call B.S. This concern is largely unfounded. Modern magazine springs are designed to withstand being compressed for long periods without significant loss of function.

    The primary cause of spring wear is the repeated compression and decompression cycles that occur when loading and unloading the magazine. Keeping magazines loaded will not significantly impact their reliability. In fact, having loaded magazines ready is crucial for quick deployment in defensive situations. Therefore, don’t worry about keeping your magazines loaded; focus instead on ensuring they are clean and properly maintained.

    7. AR-15 Myths – “ARs Are Like Legos”

    Grabbing a bunch of parts randomly is not a recipe for a good time or a good build. Unfortunately, a prevalent myth in the AR-15 community is that ARs are just like Legos—easy to assemble with no special skills required. While the modularity of the AR-15 makes it possible to mix and match parts, this process is not as straightforward as snapping together plastic bricks. The late Will Larson, an expert gunsmith and respected figure in the firearms community, emphasized the importance of proper assembly and understanding the mechanics of the rifle.

    Building or modifying an AR-15 requires knowledge, attention to detail, and specialized tools. Incorrect assembly can lead to malfunctions or even unsafe conditions. It’s essential to follow detailed guides, watch instructional videos, or consult with experienced builders if you’re new to assembling AR-15s. Taking the time to do it right will ensure your rifle operates reliably and safely.

    8. AR-15 Myths – Cleaning and Maintenance

    One myth that will simply not disappear is that AR-15s require an excessive amount of cleaning and maintenance to function reliably. While it’s true that regular maintenance is important, the AR-15 is a reliable platform that doesn’t need to be cleaned after every single use. Modern AR-15s are built to withstand a fair amount of fouling and will continue to operate even under less-than-ideal conditions. Bottom line, clean it every few thousand rounds, run a bore snake every so often, and above all, keep it lubricated.

    If you want to be even more careful, simply establish a reasonable cleaning schedule based on how often you shoot and the conditions in which you use your rifle. A good rule of thumb is to clean your AR-15 after every few hundred rounds or after a particularly dirty shooting session (e.g., using dirty or corrosive ammunition). Focus on keeping the bolt carrier group, chamber, and barrel clean and lubricated. There’s no need to obsess over every speck of carbon; your rifle will continue to function well with routine care.


    Myths still abound when it comes to the AR platform, and they die hard, even in 2024. Yes, owning an AR-15 is an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s easy to get bogged down by concerns that ultimately don’t matter much. By focusing on the essentials—quality construction, reliable performance, and regular practice—you can enjoy your rifle without unnecessary worry. Remember, the most important aspect of owning an AR-15 is becoming proficient and confident in its use. Get shooting and seek training!