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

The rifle that preceded the M16 in combat in Vietnam was the Colt/Armalite-produced 601/601. Issued with a green Bakelite stocks, the 601 featured a hard-chromed bolt carrier group and prong-type flash suppressor. It lacked the forward assist that was added two generations later to the M16A1 series, and the case deflector that appeared on the M16A2. The case deflector has definite merit, which cannot be said of the forward assist.  Left-handed law enforcement M16s need the addition of an add-on to protect the shooters’ faces from cartridge case burns.

The rifle that preceded the M16 in combat in Vietnam was the Colt/Armalite-produced 601/601. Issued with a green Bakelite stocks, the 601 featured a hard-chromed bolt carrier group and prong-type flash suppressor. It lacked the forward assist that was added two generations later to the M16A1 series, and the case deflector that appeared on the M16A2. The case deflector has definite merit, which cannot be said of the forward assist. Left-handed law enforcement M16s need the addition of an add-on to protect the shooters’ faces from cartridge case burns.

There is one disadvantage for the C15A1 or any basic A1-pattern upper, and that is the lack of a case deflector when the gun is used by a left-handed shooter. If you want an A1-style AR and are left-handed, you will need to secure a bolt-on cartridge case deflector. They mount through the hole in the carry handle, don’t obstruct the operation of the weapon, and save your face from being burned beyond recognition by hot brass. Dillon Precision carries them for around $20.

Full-length ARs with the original pencil-thin barrel profile are rather hard to find these days, since everyone seems to want an M4 profile for the advantages they feel they gain with the shorter barrel and adjustable stock. DPMS is cataloging one that is very close to the original rifle format, the A1 Lite 20.

Not really a true A1 nor an A2, it is sort of a hybrid. The Lite 20 weighs in at 7.3 pounds (still heavier than an A1, but not by much), compared to the nine-pound heft of the standard A2-style rifle. Weight is saved by using a lightweight barrel and the A1-style carry handle and sight system, which drops nearly two pounds off the basic weapon load is significant.

There is a case deflector and forward assist, as well as a bayonet lug. The handguards are the modern round format, and the buttstock is the longer A2 style (can someone please start producing A1 buttstocks again?), which is a little long when body armor or heavy winter clothing is worn. In any event, the fixed A1 or A2 stocks have one final advantage over any collapsible M4-type stock, and that is the capability of delivering a last-ditch defensive strike with the buttstock.


Gun Digest Book of Survival GunsThis article is an excerpt from the new book, Gun Digest Book of Survival Guns

Learn About:

- Methods of carrying firearms
- Defense techniques to use while you “bug out” and travel quickly
- Layered defense strategies
- Right firearms and ammo for the need/situation

One thought on “Survival Guns: Advantages of the 20-Inch AR-15

  1. ourichie

    I believe Magpul’s MOE Rifle stock is roughly the same LoP as the A1.

    This is a great article. It was very informative and shows that the full size AR15 is still extremely viable in today’s world. It is what I prefer to the shorter carbine.

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