How to Avoid Making your AR Cringe: Opinion

Are you a new gun owner? Maybe someone looking to pick up their first AR-15? Do you want to avoid being made fun of on social media when you inevitably decide to show it off? Well, you’ve come to the right place. It’s really easy to make mistakes, and we all make mistakes, but making mistakes with your firearm can be a bit of a pain. Not only will you get made fun of, but you could actively run into performance issues. Most of those performance issue-inducing mistakes will also make your rifle look cringey.

Let’s avoid all that mess, keep your rifle from getting made fun of, and prevent unforeseen performance issues. I’ve seen lots of AR builds, including some really bad ones. If you need an example, go to the Palmetto State Armory review pages. There are some winners there.

Don’t feel too bad. I’ve seen some of the big companies in optics, rifle furniture, and even gun manufacturers release major ad campaigns with glaring mistakes that put off that secondhand embarrassment. Maybe a few ad companies can stop by this article and learn a thing or two.

Don’t Bridge Your Optics

Bridging optics is what happens when part of the optic is connected to the handguard. Sometimes, it’s a long QD mount. Other times, it’s two scope rings, with one on the optic’s rail and one on the top rail of your handguard. This will rightfully get you roasted by anyone who knows rifles and doesn’t have a filter between their brain and their mouth.

Bridging optics
Don’t do this!

Handguards move during the shooting process. If you don’t believe me, go watch some slow-motion footage of a rifle firing. The handguard flexes and moves and doesn’t always index at the same position. This will cause issues with your zero, and honestly, you won’t have much of a zero.

To tag along on the optics bridging, you also shouldn’t mount your optic entirely on the handguard. Again, it doesn’t hold zero, and you’ll rightfully receive a bit of flak.

Avoid Bright Anodized Colors

This one won’t necessarily affect your rifle’s performance, but avoid those bright anodized parts. They look absolutely terrible, and they are often made of poorly made materials. Also, why are some of these sets so expensive? I won’t name names, but one company releases these brightly anodized furniture sets and charges hundreds of dollars for them.

cringey furniture
Skeletonized and anodized and way more expensive than quality furniture.

These sets are gaudy and ugly. They might not affect your weapon’s function, but I’ve never seen KAC put out a bright red handguard. It’s not quality manufacturers putting this stuff out.

Double-Check Your Optic’s Quality

You can get really nice optics for very little money these days. With that said, I don’t see a reason why so many no-name, airsoft-grade optics show up on real rifles. Optics like the Holosun 403, a SIG ROMEO5, and the TRS-25 are all adequate for most users. They are very simple red dots, but they will hold zero, resist water, and can take some tumbles without falling apart.

crappy optic
This is not a quality optic.

Cheap, optics aren’t dependable enough for a .22LR. I know you’ve seen those ads with some obnoxious scope, a top-mounted red dot, and a laser, and boy, the fact that people still buy these amazes me. These things are often sold for more money than any of the three budget optics mentioned cost and won’t last a few range sessions. These will get you made fun of, and rightfully so, when there are so many great options out there.

Double-Check Your Iron Sights

I see two major issues with new gun owners and AR-15 builders, and that’s how they arrange your iron sights, namely flip-up iron sights. I see tons of people mounting their iron sights backward. That’s not a great way to do things. Mounting flip-up iron sights backward will make zeroing fun.

Sights on right
Take note, this is how sights are supposed to face.

Another issue is the placement of the iron sights. Your front sight should be as far forward as possible, and your rear sight should be as far rearward as possible. Do not place the rear sight in front of the optic, and do not place the front sight on the optic’s rail.

Avoid Those Stupid Magwell Things

There are these weird stick-on magwell things. They are often plastic and made to add a design like a Skull or Knight’s helmet to your magwell. They look terrible, and you’ll get some funny looks for a reason. It seems like just an aesthetic choice until you use the dang things. Not only will you look stupid for using them, but the cheap adhesive will wear out.

fab defense magwell knight
A 1099 is what I get to pay taxes…

Not a big deal. It’s better if it falls off, but it’s sure to leave behind some unwanted sticky residue. Plus, the attachments tend to sag and get in the way, and you’ll go to conduct a reload and have half a skull fighting for room in your magwell. Not only are they cringe aesthetics, but they will get in your way eventually.

No Comic Book Crap

Will this one get you killed in the streets? No, but the Punisher and Deadpool accessories have entered a realm of cringiness I can’t comprehend. Maybe it’s their respective fanbases, but your gun is no place to advertise your comic book obsession, especially if it’s a cheap plastic stick you can order on Amazon.

punisher on ar15
The Punisher has been taken over by some not-so-cool people.

These will look silly, you’ll look silly, and your money is better spent on ammo than silly sticks and Publisher logos.

No Politicians

Politics are always fun to talk about, and guns are the perfect place to show off your favorite politician, right? Probably not. The number of people I’ve seen purchasing guns with anti-gun politicians on their firearms boggles the mind. This doesn’t seem to have any problems with function, but man, I get a big serving of secondhand embarrassment when I see Facebook-tier political memes on guns.

Staying Classy

I might have chapped a few bums, and in reality, I can’t hate anyone’s choices when it comes to their own firearms. Do what you want. They are your guns. I would just encourage you to really think about what you are doing and if it makes sense in the long run. Run your guns and get a little experience, and you might see and understand why bridging optics is a bad idea and why we should aim for high-quality optics and accessories that make sense. Make it make sense before you try and make it look cool.

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine Gunner and a lifelong firearms enthusiast. Now that his days of working a 240B like Charlie Parker on the sax are over he's a regular guy who likes to shoot, write, and find ways to combine the two. He holds an NRA certification as a Basic Pistol Instructor and is probably most likely the world's Okayest firearm instructor. He is a simplicisist when it comes to talking about himself in the 3rd person and a self-professed tactical hipster. Hit him up on Instagram, @travis.l.pike, with story ideas.

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