So you have a A2 sitting around the safe do you? Doesn’t get much sunlight these days huh? I know what you mean. Things have gotten smaller, lighter, more technologically advanced. Time has moved on, and the AR15 has evolved well past the A2 configuration in the last 10 years. That A2 is a classic rifle and you don’t want to break it up… but at the same time she isn’t your daily driver anymore.
So what do you do with it?
Your A2 was designed to be the ultimate known distance qualification gun. When the Marines got a hold of the M16A1, they must have thought it was a sorry excuse for a rifleman’s weapon… and they upgraded everything for the target range. The M16A1 was upgraded with a drum adjustable rear sight and a 1/2 minute finger adjustable windage knob. The barrel profile was thickened at the front for improved strength (which also helped improve offhand scores with the extra weight), and the A1 stock was lengthened for a better sight picture in the prone position. The front sight was squared for a better sight picture. The upgrades also included a three round burst trigger which was apparently terrible.
All of this didn’t do the Marines or the Army any favors when it was time to carry the rifle to war, but dang nabbit she is a dang fine target rifle.
So use it as one. Take your AR15A2 over to the gun range, sight it in at 100 yards with 69-77 grain ammo and, once satisfied with the zero, prepare to go to the nearest High Power match. Use those online fancy ballistic calculators to get a drop table and wind card setup for your rifle, and go forth and compete. Your rifle has everything you need. Those you meet at the match will assist you. They will teach you how to score the frame. They will be excited to welcome a newcomer.
A good starting zero, an accurate dope card, a few 20 round magazines, and the ammo will be all you need. You don’t *need* a sling. You don’t need a jacket. You need motivation and a mastery of the fundamentals of marksmanship. If you do poorly, then you have all the evidence you need to know that you have areas that need some work. Regardless of where you place, you will walk away with an appreciation of your rifle and if you surprise yourself with your performance, then you will walk away with confidence that no amount of gadgets or gizmos can buy.
Train Up the Next Generation:
Your A2 is a smooth shooting pussycat of a rifle. With a few changes, we can further enhance the rifles ease . Consider adding a budget muzzle brake, and add a red dot sight with either a dogleg or a picatinny A2 riser. This rifles new job isn’t to be a up to date war machine, though it could certainly do in a pinch… it is an AR15 after all, but with a muzzle brake and a red dot, you have a low recoil, easy to shoot rifle for beginners. The red dot will simplify the range session by giving the new shooter a simple sight picture. The muzzle brake is much further out from the shooter than on a carbine, so concussion and recoil should be at a minimum and fun should be at a maximum.
This rifle is a stepping stone to remove the unknown and make shooting comfortable, fun, and ultimately familiar as they then lust for a AR15 of their own. The kids can also shoot this rifle sandbagged on the bench without issue.
Is your A2 a HBAR? Lucky you. You have a light machine gun just waiting to get released from its NFA bound shackles. That barrel that you don’t want to lug around can be put to good use for a bullet hose build. That HBAR profile soaks up heat, maintains structural integrity, and will help keep that heavy girl on target. Those drum sights allow a variety of dope adjustments. Those irons are well suited to area fire. Modern triggers such as the Fostech “Echo” and Franklin Armory “BFSIII” allow you to pour lead down range at a ridiculous rate of civilian legal semi/binary fire. Who doesn’t want a third position on the selector? Option 2? A bumpfire stock.
Couple this with a vietnam era clamp on bipod and a Pmag D60 and you have a nice choice when the time comes to grab a gun and bring the heat. With today’s ammo selection, that 20 inch pipe will throw down a world of hurt if you flip that selector to binary and drop in a 60 round magazine. Have someone with glass call your dope, make the necessary adjustments, and throw that lead right down to pound town on whatever is unfortunate enough to be downrange. Once that bolt locks open and your magazine is clear, tip up the barrel and let the rifle suck cool air into the chamber as heat chimneys out the barrel. Does this sound fun to you? It does to me. Using your A2 as a light machine gun substitute can really put good use to all those A2 uppers and 20 inch barrels out there.
I hope you had fun. I sure did. The A2 is a legacy system, but that doesn’t mean it cannot have relevance in your inventory. You can literally shoot it at a match, then give it to your grand-kid or “never shot a gun before” friend(were applicable) and then turn around and rain lead down with a furious anger on to your target of choice. Will it ever be a 7 lb carbine? No. Instead concentrate on what it can do well, what it can teach you, and what it can help you teach others… and if you ever have a chance to create a beaten zone at 800 yards with your 75 grain match ammunition and a binary trigger or bump stock… FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE TAKE A VIDEO CAMERA.