This being my first post to the site, I’d like to first say that out of the 4 of us, I’m the LEAST knowledgable about weaponry, ammunition and specs. That being said, I’m not new to guns at all. They’ve always been a part of my life. I just never paid much attention to them as a hobby until a few years ago.

So this series of articles is as much a learning process for me as it hopefully will be for you. The least I can do is pass the information I’m learning and researching along to our readers.

This isn’t my first AR. I didn’t know much about the one I used to own and sold it well before I should have. So for the purposes of this series, we’ll just say that this one is my first.

A couple weeks back, I traded in a rifle that I never used because of the cost of ammo and purchased a new Smith & Wesson Model M&P 15 Optics Ready rifle. Retail price is over $1000, but you can find this model at most gun stores for under $900.

I had a few reasons for buying this particular model. First was the price. It cost me just over $50 after my trade in. Second, and most important, was that I am familiar with the brand and their reliability. And third, was that since it is pretty bare bones in configuration, I wouldn’t be wasting money replacing/upgrading a perfectly adequate part.

My goal with this project is to see how good of a gun I can build with add on parts without breaking the bank. I can’t justify dropping close to 2k on a new rifle and then another 2k on parts, add-ons, and accessories. Also, I really wanted to have a good topic to write on the site with and thought this would be a good beginner article to discuss with our readers and get feedback and questions as the series goes on. So this is the first article on the site that we’re turning on the comments below.

First thing I did the day i bought the rifle was bring it over to Whitey’s workshop for a proper cleaning.

This particular rifle’s handbook says it requires a cleaning before use. Most new guns need it, BUT, always check your manuals on new weapons.

After learning how the parts go together and what their purposes was etc etc, I’m pretty confident with a little bit of practice I can clean this gun in well under 1/2 an hour. It’s not too hard, but something every gun owner should be good at to keep the equipment performing correctly. Properly maintaining and cleaning a weapon ensures proper performance for years to come.

The first step in this build would have to be some sort of optics, since this model didn’t even come with iron sights. After checking a few websites and doing some google searches (as well as talking to Whitey, Monkey and Superbowl), I decided on flip up sights from Magpul: The MBUS® Magpul Back-up Sights (gen2). This particular brand was decided on based on price and quality. The other guys have parts from Magpul, so I trusted their opinion. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find good gear.

So, I’m going to pick those up this week. I’ll add a detailed video on installation and sighting for those of you who haven’t put sights on an AR before (myself included). It should help close that knowledge gap.

The next few posts in this series will focus on proper AR cleaning, purchasing and installing rails, and a few smaller accessories.

Photos: Smith & Wesson Website

Current Specs (as of 3/10/2012)
Smith & Wesson Model M&P15OR Rifle
Suggested Retail $1,069.00
Model M&P15
Caliber 5.56 mm NATO / .223
Barrel length 16”
Action Semi-Auto
Barrel twist 1 in 9”
Front sight none
Rear sight none
Overall length 35” extended / 32” collapsed
Stock 6 Position CAR Stock (S&W)
Weight 6.5 lbs