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Best AR-15 target rifles

Rifle Tips by Donald K. Burleson

October 2010


Disclaimer:  I am a student, not an expert in AR rifles, and these are my learning notes.  If you see a mistake or addition, please e-mail me at the address below and I will update this page!

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Long distance shooting experts tell me that it is critical to get a 223 AR-15 with a 1 / 7" twist if you want to be accurate to long distances.

Experts say that "Compass Lake" makes a super-accurate AR.

Choosing the best AR-15 target rifle for you

Also see my  notes on the most accurate .223 target rifles and making a match grade AR-15. and mounting a rifle sight on an AR-15.

My expert says that White Lake makes the very finest match grade AR-15.

 I wanted a new AR-15 target rifle, but I wanted a versatile gun with these characteristics:

  • Switch to cheap ammo:  The colt AR-15 Match Target AR15 rifle offers .223 caliber for long range with a .22 conversion kit (About $230) for cheaper ammo.  For a .22, you cannot beat the Federal .22 40 grain target ammo which costs under 5 cents per round and packs  a wallop.

  • Fast switch between manual sight and scope:  Good manual sight up top 500 yards with a way to change sights from manual sight to a high-powered scope without loss of zero.

  • Smooth trigger:  a good target rifle must never have a sticky or hard to release target, and it's important to choose rifle that allows you to swap-in a target trigger.

  • Bolt Action:  Experts say that the bullet has not yet exited the barrel when a semi-automatic mechanism kicks-in, and hence, a bolt-action rifle will always be more accurate than a semi-automatic for long-distance sniping.  They are also a safe buy used because there is no risk of buying a jamming gun, and the only issue is the trigger pull weight.

  • Floating barrel:  a good target rifle has a thick "bull barrel", and it "floated" to improve the harmonics.  You can tell if a target rifle has a floated barrel buy slipping a dollar bill under the barrel:


The best AR target rifles

The best rifle to fit my needs was a Colt AR-15 heavy barrel match target rifle.  The AR-15 MT 6700 Colt (Match Target) is the perfect assault rifle for home protection, especially since you can quickly swap-out the bolt carrier unity for a .22, allowing you to kill a home intruder at up to a third of a mile away.

AR-15 Match Target rifle fitted with .22 caliber magazine

It's also called the "Blue label box" with the heavy barrel (8 1/2 lbs) for high accuracy at distances greater than 500 yards.

The salient characteristics of the AR-15 are:

  • Looks like an M-16:  While it might be "cool" to have a gun that looks like an M-16, it's not cool at all if your opponent has a real M-16.

  • Very versatile:  The AR-15 is super easy to clean and you can swap-out toe .223 bolt with a .22 bolt in less than 60 seconds (see below).

  •  Jerky trigger pull:  I found the trigger to he jerky and unsmooth, with a high force pull to discharge, something I can tweak to make smoother.  The trigger on an AR-15 is designed like a shotgun, with high trigger force, and it make an “expert smooth pull” is difficult.  See this AR-15 forum discussion for AR-15 trigger smoothing, and here are compete instructions for AR-15 rigger smoothing.

BEWARE:  Too much trigger manipulation can be dangerous.  You might cross the line between a hair trigger and a machine gun, and making an AR-15 fully automatic (into an M-16) is a felony.

AR-15 shooting yardage

NRA High power rifle competitions are done with AR-15’s at 200, 300 and 600 yards.  These NRA rifle competitions are shooting with open sights - no scopes.  Scopes and red dot sights are for grandma.

At 800 yards and beyond, the AR-15 does not have the muzzle velocity for a clean kill, and it’s like lobbing a cannonball. Military distances for marksmanship competition.

Military qualification as expert with the rifle (M-16/M-4) requires 35 to 40 hits out of 40 rounds (on various sized silhouettes, simulating targets at different ranges.

The military rifle targets are placed at 25 meters away, with silhouettes simulating targets at 50 meters, 100 meters, 150 meters, 200 meters, 250 meters and 300 meters. Ten shots are fired each from these positions:

1 – Standing
2 – Kneeling
3 - Prone-supported
4 - Prone-unsupported

Save a bundle by swapping out .223 ammo

This video shows how easy it is to change out a Colt A-15 .223 bolt with a .22 Long rifle bolt.

This gives you 10x the range time for the same money (40 cents for a .223 bullet vs. 6 cents for a 22. bullet), and you can have great fun with the manual sights on the AR-15 at 100 yards.


Note: The opinions expressed on these pages are the sole opinion of Donald K. Burleson and do not reflect the opinions of Burleson Enterprises Inc. or any of its subsidiaries.

Suggestions?  We are always seeking new tips for the professional at leisure, and any suggestions would be most welcome.  If you find an error or have a suggestion for improving our content, we would appreciate your feedback. 

Copyright � 1996 -  2010 by Donald K Burleson. All rights reserved.