My friend and colleague Dan Henderson decided to build his own personal-defense AR-15, from buttplate to flash suppressor. The AR-15 design has long been recognized for its light weight, overall reliability and accuracy in field conditions, offering a wide range of options for customization. Dan is a former DOE SWAT team member, so he had a pretty good idea what he wanted in terms of features, accuracy and reliability. One thing that makes Dan’s build interesting is that, with the exception of the AR-15 lower receiver (which from a legal point of view is considered a firearm and requires the usual background check and purchase through a firearms dealer), all the parts were purchased on the Internet or at local dealers. The rifle was assembled locally.

For fun, Dan nicknamed his rifle the “Prepper’s AR-15.” Building an AR-15 like this has certain advantages when it comes to using it in different environments. Compared with the original, Vietnam-era, battlefield M16, Dan’s AR-15 is much shorter, meaning it’s easier to deploy in confined spaces such as inside residential buildings and cars. Short carbines are also easier to transport in unconventional carry cases, thus drawing less attention to the owner in public places. But perhaps one of the best qualities of a shorter carbine is its center of gravity: It is closer to the shooter, making the weapon a bit easier to hold on target in standing and non-braced kneeling positions.

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