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Review: The Gun Digest Book of The AR-15
By Joseph D'Alessandro Editor | RealGuns.Com

One of the most appealing aspects of owning and shooting an AR-15 is also one of its more problematic aspects; in a quest for accuracy and the perfect fit, a knowledgeable owner can change out almost any part, including the barrel. Recognizing the market opportunity, shops have sprung up around this demand, providing and endless and ever changing supply of cosmetic and functional replacement parts and assemblies. The Gun Digest Book of the AR-15 addresses the substantial areas of the AR-15 and AR-10 which do not go out of date and, with a late 2005 publishing date, it is current enough to provide useful information on trends in modifications and accessories. The language and illustrations are clear and concise, all arranged in a logical fashion, making it easy for people just coming to this platform to get a quick and practical education. The author knows the subject well enough to hi virtually every key point.

Patrick Sweeney, the author, covers the subject firearm beginning with history, theory of operation, detail on the critical subject of various types and selection of barrels. Then more mundane is covered; testing, cleaning, routine maintenance are also well illustrated and detailed in text. Not a generic formula piece, Sweeny even sheds light on the AR-15 magazine, a weak spot in the AR-15 if not properly attended. It is nice to see myths debunked, a head to head comparison with the AK, as this seems always the opposing appreciation camp.Legalities, as a section, is substantially current with the exception of some more recent California law that permits fixed and limited capacity magazines to be sold.

When I was researching for a purchase of an AR-15, the round up sections covering every major manufacturer was extremely helpful offering objective and subjective assessment of most every major brand, pointing out supplier history, strengths and weaknesses of product and personal experience. This area is a bit dated, but substantially valid. There is nothing wrong with what is presented, the issue is more what is more recent news that is not present. As an example, Bushmaster abandoned the .308 AR-10 type gun when the company was recently sold and there is no reference, of course, to the new 45 Bushmaster. However, Bushmaster products as presented are well detailed and defined. There are new players in the market. A company that has been producing M-16 rifles and now has moved into the AR-15 civilian market is not listed; High Standard, a Texas based manufacturer. Olympic Arms now offers super short magnum and short magnum chambered models, as does Armalite. There is coverage of cartridges that were launched in the AR-15 platform but faded away, the 502 comes to mind, but no mention of the commercially successful 50 Beowulf and 6.5 Grendel or Alexander Arms. The 458 SOCOM is also absent. This may be the changing, or at least expanding face of the AR series rifles that will require another well written book.

I ignored the AR-15 until recently because it was not chambered in a cartridge that had big game hunting potential. The AR-10 in 308 Winchester was too heavy and presented too many compromises to be a good recreational and hunting piece for me. Cartridges like the 50 Beowulf and 25 WSSM open the door to a lot of us who are not primarily interested in security or LE application finding a real useful purpose for these highly accurate and versatile firearms. "The AR-15" is a great foundation book and one that should be owned by anyone interested in the AR-15 or AR-10; it is more than a great place to start and education.

Book Info & Summary:
  Retail Price: $18.50   Author: Patrick Sweeney
  Publisher: Gun Digest Books   Publish Date: September 2005
  Format: Paperback 288pp   Available: Amazon
  Quality of information (1-5):                   4   Quality of Presentation (1-5):              4
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