A heavy gun can be a burden when you’re hunting, both to carry and to aim. Depending on your preferred style of hunting, and your preferred prey, you could be missing out on some great shots due to a rifle that is just not comfortable to shoot.
The AR-15 is a very popular rifle option, and thus, it has a lot of options in terms of how you can customize its weight. Here are 7 ways you can get it lighter.
1. The Barrel
Barrels come in many different weights and profiles to choose from, but some AR-15 barrels can clock in at 40 ounces or more. That’s a lot to account for when you’re upping your accuracy, which is why most people will recommend first looking at the barrel profile when you want to cut down on your AR-15’s weight.
Shorter barrels tend to be lighter, with options like a 16” carbon fiber mid length HBAR barrel coming in at 25 ounces, which is a world of difference. Longer options, like the 16” Super Light Weight, come in at 23.5.
2. The Stock
Stocks make a big difference in terms of weight as well, with some coming in at 25 ounces, and others being comfortably at 17 ounces. While larger aftermarket stocks may have a lot of “features” that are boasted about in the marketing, you have to personally determine whether that extra weight is worth what you’re getting from your shooting experience.
Options like the Magpul CTR stock are not only extremely light weight, but offer nice features like a friction lock to cut down on “rattle.”
Coming in at just under a pound in most cases, your fore-end can help you to save a few ounces as well. Looking for shorter Fore-Ends, and in general, avoid full length rail and cover options. The idea is to go as short as necessary for this part of the AR-15, but not to go too short.
Optics can be anywhere from 12 ounces, to 2.3 ounces. Use your best judgment as to which will work best for your hunting; the aforementioned 2.3 ounce option is a Red-Dot Sight, which doesn’t give you the same long range accuracy as something like the 12 ounce, Trijicon TR21 Accupoint.
As with your fore-end, it’s a “what you need, not what you don’t” scenario, and with such a huge difference in weights, it’s pretty easy to figure out whether your accuracy is going to be helped or hindered by both the optics and their weight.
Keep it simple. Most military issue slings are made to be used for long distance movement, which means they should be durable, and they should be light weight. Differences in sling weights could be anywhere from 12.5 ounces, as in the case with the Turner AWS Match Sling, and 0.25 ounces, in the case of a Kreig Sling.
6. Vertical Grips
Again, go low as to what you need, but not past it. Vertical grips can come with all sorts of extras, like QD levers, but those can also mean adding more ounces to your overall carry weight. Something simple and stable should suffice, and there are many options that will fill the role.
7. Extras and Accessories
Finally, if you’re looking at cutting down on your AR-15’s overall weight, you should probably be looking at what you don’t need on the rifle. Something even as simple as the type of optic that you use, and whether or not it needs a large sized battery, means extra ounces.
The bells and whistles of your gun will likely have to go if you want it to be slim and trim.
As a final word, if you’re looking to cut down on the weight, the magazine and rounds that you use will also obviously play a role. Lightweight magazines aren’t always 10 round models, either; some 20 to 30 round magazines can weigh as little as four ounces, while there are 10 round magazines that are 5 and a half ounces.