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My first AR 15 was an entry level pencil barreled model that I bought just to have one. I did not expect great things from it, figuring it would just be a plinker. It surprised me by being a very accurate carbine. An accurate firearm is an interesting firearm. My experience with this rifle made me a fan of the platform. But, can we improve on accuracy?

Accuracy in any rifle is basically due to the alignment of the bolt, barrel, and the receiver. A quality barrel that is free form outside influences is a plus. Lots of money has been spent on bolt action rifles in an attempt to improve this alignment.

The AR 15 consists of a bolt, barrel extension and barrel. The receiver is nothing more than a housing that is connected to the barrel assembly at the barrel extension. The bolt carries floats in the receiver and the bolt floats in the carrier. This allows the bolt to achieve perfect alignment with the barrel.

My pencil barreled carbine, while accurate, did have issues with a shifting point of impact. It would group differently depending on how it was being shot. For example, shooting using a tight sling would move the group significantly verses shooting off a sandbag rest verses shooting with a bipod clamped to the barrel. The reason for this is barrel flex. The pencil barrel has a lot of it. It can easily be demonstrated by clamping the reciever into a vise and applying downward pressure to the muzzle. Most will be surprised by the amount of flex.

The cure for this is to not attach anything to the barrel. Slings should not be attached to the front sight base. Use a single point sling. Clamp on bipods are verboten. Even clamping to the handguard can be a bad thing as most are attached to the barrel at the Delta ring and forecend cap. Pressures to the forend can transferred to the barrel.

A solution is a free float forend. These attach to the receiver and have provisions to attach accessories to the forend leaving the barrel truly free floated and free of any outside influences.

Another detriment to accuracy can be the very popular adjustable stock. Most have some degree of wobble. A fixed stock is generally preferable for accuracy. These can vary from the basic A2 style stock to stocks with all kinds of knobs and wheels to adjust fit to the individual user.

Another thing to look at is your muzzle device. Sometimes removing it will increase accuracy. Sometimes not, but it is easy enough to try.


Finally, the trigger This is another area that will usually improve accuracy substantially. A standard trigger can have a pull weight of over 6 pounds and 9 pounds is not unheard of. They are just hard to shoot accurately. A decent varmint grade trigger with a pull weight of around 3 pounds is about right for most.

So there you have it. The AR 15 is an inherently accurate rifle that can be made even better with just a few tweaks.
 
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