So you donít have a MBR (Main Battle Rifle) yet? And you arenít sure what to buy? Well, like everything else in life, itís a matter of personal opinion more than anything else. But I can give you a few pointers in the right directionÖ
- Number one, the rifle you choose should fit you. When you hold the rifle, you should be comfortable looking through the sights. If the stock seems too long or too short now, it will only seem worse as time passes. Consider how the rifle is balanced. (And donít forget to factor in a loaded magazine.)
- Choose a rifle that is the right length for you. A taller person can comfortably handle a longer rifle than a shorter person can. Most rifles are available in a carbine version, which is shorter.
- Are you left-handed? This can be a major factor in choosing a rifle. Remember that some rifles can be modified to move the safety catch for left handed operation, and some cannot. Also some rifles will eject the spent brass right into your face if you shoot them left handed, so check it out before you buy!
- Are parts and accessories easily available? (With all the recent bans and restrictions, some supplies for some rifles are getting very expensive, and hard to get.)
- Is ammunition readily available? Is it reasonably priced?
- If at all possible, borrow, rent, or otherwise get ahold of a rifle similar to the one you want to buy, and try it out. (This can usually be done by spending some time at the local range, most people are happy to show you their guns.)
- Do you plan to put a scope on your rifle? This is much easier on some rifles than on others, ask your gun dealer about it if it is an issue for you.
- Can you find a good source of magazine pouches for the rifle you plan to buy? You will need to carry your mags right?
So what rifle do I recommend? Well, in my opinion most military type rifles are well made and fairly well balanced.
- The AR15 (5.56x45mm also called .223cal)type rifles have gotten lots and lots of bad press, due to their shortcomings durring the vietnam war. However, many of the new AR15's are excellent rifles. I have a Bushmaster AR15A2 carbine, and I have never had any of the bad things happen with it that everyone associates with these rifles. They are very light weight, have tons of accessories and parts avaliable, and are one of the easiest rifles for a left handed shooter to use. Bushmaster makes a kit to convert the safety catch to ambidextreous, for about $30. The spent brass is ejected forward, thanks to the brass deflector (which is part of all A2 AR15's and M16's). These rifles are also very accurate.
I beleive that part of the reason that these rifles have a bad reputation is the fact that the M16 may be unreliable, while the AR is not. (the AR's have a lot less moving parts in the trigger group to break). This theory is based on several military peoples opinions of both guns.
- The Ruger Mini14 (.223 cal.) or mini30 (7.62x39mm) is another great rifle. Although you should beware not to buy a stainless steel model, because the barrels heat up too fast, causing your sight picture to be distorted. There are many companies making accessories for these rifles as well. I would recommend however that if you want one of these rifles, you had better buy magazines for it now, as they are getting scarse and expensive. This is the only rifle I know of that comes equiped with an ambidexterous safety from the factory.
- The AK type rifles: (7.62x39mm) these rifles are legendary for their simplicity and complete lack of malfunction. This is one of the most reliable rifles you can buy. However they are not overly accurate (4 MOA at 100 yards) and they are somewhat front heavy. Also, the safety is difficult to use if you are left handed, and noisy no matter which hand you use. Ammunition and magazines are about the lowest priced on the market. If you are on a budget, this is probably the MBR to buy.
- SKS: (7.62x39mm) This is as inexpensive as a MBR gets. They are reliable, accurate, and fairly well balanced. However many people feel that the factory stock is too short. You can buy an aftermarket stock for them, solving this problem. Some also have the problem of not having a detachable magazine, which means you have to reload the magazine with stripper clips. (know before you buy!)
- FAL type: (.308 cal) These rifles seem to be very well made. They are balanced nicely and not as heavy as they look. They are very accurate (although this depends on the manufacturer, ask around). Ammunition is plentiful, and about the same price as the other rifles listed here. Due to the gas buffering system, there is very little felt recoil, making them comfortable to shoot.
- Springfield M1A: (30-06 OR .308 cal.) This is probably the best MBR ever made. It is the design that the Ruger Mini14 is based upon. It is one of the most accurate semi-auto rifles ever made. And is still widely used as a competition rifle. The only real problem I have found with these rifles is that only one company,McMillian, makes a 'pistol grip'stock for the M1A. And they are rather expensive, so keep that in mind as you look at these rifles.
There are many other rifles avaliable that would fall into the MBR category, but I am only listing those that I have experience with, and that fall below a $1500 hit in the pocketbook. One word of caution, don't buy a rifle because of how it looks! Many ugly rifles exist that will out shoot a 'pretty' rifle any day:)