Survival Guns: Advantages of the 20-Inch AR-15

On the left, the Del-Ton AR-15A2, on the right the Century International Arms C15A1. Note the shorter overall length of the C15A1 versus the A2 Del-Ton. The C15A1 has been set up for multiple patrol and entry duties with the addition of an Inova carbon fiber tactical light on a Midwest Industries tower sight rail adaptor. A SIG mini red dot sight has been mounted on the carry handle via a Tapco carry handle rail adaptor. The author used the lightest weight red dot and light available so as not to destroy the near perfect weight and balance of the original M16A1 rifle configuration.

On the left, the Del-Ton AR-15A2, on the right the Century International Arms C15A1. Note the shorter overall length of the C15A1 versus the A2 Del-Ton. The C15A1 has been set up for multiple patrol and entry duties with the addition of an Inova carbon fiber tactical light on a Midwest Industries tower sight rail adaptor. A SIG mini red dot sight has been mounted on the carry handle via a Tapco carry handle rail adaptor. The author used the lightest weight red dot and light available so as not to destroy the near perfect weight and balance of the original M16A1 rifle configuration.

20-Inch AR-15 as a Survival Gun

My primary survival rifle is the C15A1 produced by Century International Arms. Using an original surplus M16A1 upper receiver—forward assist, no case deflector, birdcage-enclosed flash suppressor, original triangular handguards, and fool-proof sights, Century added a new 20-inch, 1:9 barrel, a new forged lower receiver, and topped it off with an original, shorter, exactly-right-the-first-time A1 buttstock.

I’m here to tell you, this is the gun I would keep if I could keep only one for civil survival. I keep it absolutely stock, just as it came from the factory , and it rides in my personal vehicle as my primary off-duty arm. With it I can respond to active shooters, barricades, warrant service, or entry. The C15 snaps quickly up to the shoulder, swings like a lively field shotgun, can be carried all day with a basic weight of 6.5 pounds (you gotta love that) and, because of the 20-inch barrel, retains the full ballistic potential of the 5.56 round.

If the Marines hadn’t gotten their way in the development of the A2 version in terms of adding the longer buttstock, heavy barrel, and overbuilt sight system (as a corps of riflemen, their reason for the changes wrought was the enhancement of long-range accuracy and so I find no fault with the concept), there would have been much less need for the M4 carbine, which is replacing the full-length rifle in all branches of service.

Other advantages of the 20-inch C15A1 include:

  • It is much smoother shooting than M4-type carbines with their short gas tube. There is definitely less abruptness to the operation.
  • Heat buildup is not as bad, due to the longer distance that the tapped gasses follow back to the bolt carrier during firing.
  • It gives a longer sight radius for iron sight use.
  • It gives longer reach with a bayonet mounted.
  • There is no fooling with stock adjustment, it is always right.
  • If you desire, electronic sights can be mounted on the carry handle or with a forward scout-type system.
  • A weapons light can be added with a front sight tower adapter. (Midwest Industries is a great source for these.)

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