Osprey Scopes Beginners Guide to America's Most Popular Weapon: The AR-15

Jun 14th 2021

Osprey Scopes Beginners Guide to America's Most Popular Weapon: The AR-15

I got an AR-15. Now what?

America's love affair with the AR-15 is stronger than ever. It’s the icon for gun control on both sides of the political fence. It is the single most customizable weapon available. Don’t you like the handguard or free-floating rail? Change it. Want a different length barrel for a different application? No problem. Want it in a different caliber? No worries, they can be made into anything from AK rounds to 6.5 Grendel. 

You can buy the parts and build it yourself. You can choose the color, shape, distance, and look and feel from the ground up. You can swap the trigger for precision shooting or add a flashlight combination for self defense. Osprey scopes supply numerous options for customizing your AR-15.Now more than ever we have an influx of begginer shooters into the world of guns and many don't know where to start or what they need. As a beginner AR-15 owner it can be a confusing world to navigate and what is necessary.

Osprey Global makes scopes, red dots, slings, boresights, and a plethora of other things for all your shooting needs. If you hunt or target shoot or just enjoy being in the great outdoors then Osprey scopes have something for you. That being said the most popular weapon that ospreys scopes end up on is the AR-15 platform. So we created a list of what you need when you first get an AR-15 and why.

“It is like leggo for adults” - Anyone building their first AR


What is the AR-15?

The AR-15 is the bold and popular offspring from the M-16. It is a lightweight rifle that has upwards of a 30 round magazine that is quickly detachable and replaceable. It is commonly ran on .556 and 223 ammunition but that is like saying cars come in black. AR platform now comes in pretty much every caliber you can imagine and there is a perfect Osprey scope for each of them.


What an AR-15 is NOT:

An AR 15 is NOT an assault rifle. Let me put it another way. It is an assault rifle but that is not limited to AR 15. An assault rifle is a selective-fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. This means that 9mm carbines, M-4, Mini 14 and the AK-47, and a bunch of other weapons are assault rifles. The AR in AR-15 does not stand for “assault rifle”. The AR stands for the weapons original manufacturer ArmaLite. I know you didn’t come to Osprey Scopes for a history lesson but it’s a fun fact to bring up when your next getting lectured by your red-faced liberal friends.



Why is the AR-15 so dang popular?



Osprey global makes so many optics and scopes for the AR-15 cause it is so popular. Add into the mix all the magazine loaded carbines, AK variations and other assault rifles osprey make scopes for, we have over half our products based on them alone. So why are they so sought after? It’s not just cause they are always threatening to ban them, though that is a driving factor.

The fact is the AR is both fun and useful. You won’t get a sore shoulder shooting your AR, you can deck it out to do a thousand yards or get an AR pistol and run an osprey red dot on it for fifty yards all day long. You want to hunt, do targets or build them up from scratch to match your favorite superhero it’s all possible with the AR platform.

Out of the box, most AR-15 will need at least a new handguard to attach accessories. Osprey handguards come in three colors and two styles and various lengths depending on your purpose. You can replace the barrel, the upper and the lower. You can attach lasers, iron sites, and your favorite Osprey scope. They are popular because they are personal, interchangeable and because the options are limitless.




Can I use my AR-15 for hunting?

Heck yeah you can. You can get a blackout or an AR-10 (308 calibre) for some more put down power but the 223 is fine for most medium range hunting and soft game. In fact if you are hunting hogs they are excellent because you can get more rounds off on a pack of those pesky critters. For hunting hogs you will want an optic that has a big eye relief and tracks well. This is important because it gives you speed and allows you to get on them quickly and to make shots on a moving target. Two popular Osprey scope options for the AR-15 when hunting hogs include the osprey AR-Optic Compact3-9x42 IRF/MDG and the Osprey red dot selection.


Osprey scope AR 15 essentials? What are the first stop essentials when you get an A-15?

So you got an ar-15, and there are about a million things you can put on it, dress it up with or bolt to it to modify it. Osprey Global makes over a hundred scopes and other products exclusively for the AR platform. So what are the essentials for an AR-15? Following are a few must haves for decking out your new AR-15. Some you can get at Osprey Global but a lot of them are made by specific manufacturers.


AR-15 Optics From Osprey Global:

The first thing you need is a way to aim your new weapon accurately. You can get a long-range riflescope like the osprey scopes Elite 8-32x56 precision optic. You could get a short-range quick target acquisition site like something from the Osprey reflex sight range. The Osprey scopes RSMR reflex site is popular for carbines and the osprey global red dot with a green laser is the number one seller amongst the osprey scopes red dot selection.

You can also get a simple option like some iron sites. Iron sites are simple metal alignment devices you clip onto your AR-15. You line up the front and back shaped sites and use it for aiming. They are a good, inexpensive option until you decide exactly what you want to do with your AR-15

For the record, Osprey scope’s most popular AR optic is the Compact 3-9x42MDG/IRF because it has a great mixture of zoom and retains fast target acquisition. Fast target acquisition is important amongst the AR platform because most people want to be able to get on target quickly and keep your AR tactical. After all, if your AR is tactical and your optic is not then what’s the point?

The point is make sure you have some kind of aiming option on your AR-15. Without an AR optic or iron sights, most ranges won't even allow you through the door. So check out Osprey Scopes AR Optic range and see what you think will suit you best.



Osprey Global Tactical Sling:

This is an essential piece of kit that is often overlooked: The Osprey Global Tactical Sling. A sling is essential for both the beginner AR-15 enthusiast and the seasoned vet alike. They solve two problems in one simple sling. You can “wear” your gun as opposed to carrying it everywhere. Sling it over your back while you walk to the deer stand or navigate through the brush. Free up your hands for scrambling over rough country or using binoculars.

For those of you who don’t plan on hunting or trekking with your AR-15 and want it primarily for its tactical purposes then it is even more essential. It helps you control your weapon at all times. Control of your weapon is probably the MOST important thing in owning a gun. Imagine you are clearing a house and you need to open a door, how are you going to do that while retaining your tactical advantage? If the threat is on the other side of the door and that's the point you submit control of your weapon to open the door. You hold it by the barrel, or some other one arm carry that robs you of your ability to keep the gun aimed and ready for action. Add an Osprey scope tactical sling to your weapon and you can leverage and stabilize your sling against your shoulder allowing yourself to keep control of your AR-15 while releasing a hand for opening doors, calling the police or using a radio.



What is a handguard on the AR-15 And Why Do I Need One?

AR-15 platforms usually come with a standard handguard. A handguard is exactly what it sounds like, it is where you hold your AR with your non-trigger hand. The standard handguard comes without any rails or attachment points and has a very basic look and feel.

You can swap this out for a handguard of your choice. They come in different colors, lengths and different rail configurations. You can get as personal as you like here and it's where the full customisation of your weapon begins. The rails dictate where you can attach your accessories and how your set up looks and feels. If you know you want a vertical grip, then get a handguard with under rails. The osprey scope tactical battlegrip is a popular upgrade and needs rails under the handguard to attach. You can attach tactical lights to a side rail or you can have now rails to keep your setup sleek, ergonomic and lite.Osprey scopes make a selection of AR handguards. Browse the selection of Osprey Scopes handguards here

What Rail Systems Are Available On Osprey Scope Handguards?


There are three main types of rail system available for AR-15 handguards. There is the traditional quad rail which is a drop in style handguard that has its entire length covered in 4 rail systems. The top, bottom and both sides are covered with dedicated rails where you can attach an assortment of AR accessories. This is the simplest of the AR-15 handguard systems. Osprey scopes make the 7 inch handguard in this style in three different colors.

The other two systems are M-Lok and Key Mod. These AR-15 handguards have the entire top rail but on the side and bottom they have a cage like attachment system. The shape of the attachment system is where they get their name, the keymod slots look like key-holes whereas the M-Lok is a thinner uniform slot. Either way, these slots allow you to insert a rail wherever you need one and just the length you need it. You can get a two inch rail for an Osprey battle grip or get one on the side for a tactical flashlight.

The benefit of having the M-lok or Key-Mod system is that it is completely interchangeable and customizable for your handguard rail set up. This means you will only have a rail where you absolutely need one. So instead of having four full length chunky rail systems like on the traditional handguards, you will have only the essential rail fittings. This means it is more ergonomic when holding it, it becomes lighter and is more efficient in general. The only downside is that swapping out the rail systems can be a little bit fiddly until you get used to it. It's like working on your car, there are easier paths to success but doing it yourself is that much more rewarding.



What is the difference between free float and drop in Handguard?

A handguard is either a “free-float” or a “drop-in”. The difference between them is simply how they attach to your AR. The drop in is the easiest to install and understand. It has four screws holding it together and it pops apart in two pieces and “drops in” over the barrel. It connects at both ends of the barrel. The “freefloat” is a handguard that only attaches to the body of the AR. Osprey Global handguards come in both “Drop-in” And “Free-float”.

One is not better than the other, it just depends on what you need in your setup. The “freefloat'' is going to be heavier as it needs to support itself from a single point of attachment whereas the “drop in” handguard can afford to be lighter due to it connecting at the top and bottom of the barrel. If you have a built-in A2 sight or other permanent front sights, then the “free-float” is a bit harder to install as you need to slide the handguard over the front barrel and the front sight needs to be removed before you can do this. The “drop-in” just drops over the top letting you avoid having to mess with the gas block or the Iron sights. If you are going for precision accuracy then the “free-float” is your best bet due to the fact that it is only attached at the body of the AR, and does not touch the barrel at all. When you shoot the recoil shakes the gun and the handguard, and if it is attached to the barrel then it can affect your accuracy. The effect is minimal but if you care about differences of a bee fart of an inch, then the “free-float” is the best option.

Osprey Scopes makes both options of the drop-in and free float handguards. Osprey global handguards come primarily in key-mod and quad rail and are an inexpensive way to trick out your AR platform.



AR-15 essentials : Osprey Scopes Hearing Protection.


Hearing protection is absolutely necessary when shooting. Regular shooting is going to affect your hearing and without good hearing protection you will risk serious hearing loss. Yes you can use 9mm bullets in your ears or foam insert ear-buds but we suggest getting something with a good NRR rating and osprey scopes hearing protection has a decent NRR rating and it also increases the ambient sound so you can talk while you shoot. For more information on Osprey Scopes hearing protection read "Osprey Scopes : Hearing Protection For Shooting."

Shooting Glasses: Why you need them.

Osprey Scopes do not offer any eye protection but we would be amiss if we did not mention the importance of eye protection while shooting. With hot brass flying around you need to protect not only your eyes but also your hair and body. Wear sensible clothes and a baseball cap and shooting glasses. Low hanging shirts and slouching pants are a painful place for a flying piece of hot brass to nestle. So be aware, cover up and shoot straight.


“Hot hot hot, get it out, get it out get it out” - Someone shooting without a hat and a low cut top.


Osprey Scopes AR-15 Beginners Essential Pack. Conclusion:


So you need a sling, something to attach the sling to like an Osprey Scope handguard. You will want a quick target acquisition AR optic like the compact 3-9x40 or the green laser red dot. You need safety equipment like decent hearing protection and sensible clothes. Make sure someone shows you how to load and clean your weapon and what direction to point it. Everyone was a beginner once and we are all beginners compared to someone so enjoy the journey.