How Much Does An AR15 Weight [Where To Cut Weight]

A standard AR15 weighs about 6 to 7 pounds without any attachment assuming it just has all the standard parts without a magazine. If a fully loaded magazine with 30 rounds is loaded, it weighs about 8 to near 9 lbs give or take.

When considering the durability and reliability of the AR-15, the trend of accessorizing with the latest, lightest components has spawned a niche market focused on minimizing part weights, employing advanced materials like carbon fiber for barrels or even skeletonizing the receiver.

Of course the rifle can get heavier as more accessories are added such as a weapon light or an optic system.

An standard military issue M16A4 weighs about 10 lbs, and now people are on this trend of going back to a lighter rifle. Just to provide some perspective, here is the weight chart for standard military issue rifle:

m16 rifle weight chart

The M4 Carbine, introduced in the early 1990s, reduced the unloaded weight to 6.5 lbs with its shorter barrel and collapsible stock. As modern technologies improve for making firearms, a lightweight 6.5 lbs AR15 is durable and versatile enough for everything from self-defense to hunting and open conflict.

psa jakl handguard

Since we have so many more accessories available to mount on an AR15 rifle today, we have to watch the weight of the rifle without it affecting our shooting performance. Especially for those who carry their rifle for real world scenarios, where a heavier rifle is never a good thing. 

If not careful selecting accessories, a rifle will suddenly weigh more than 12 lbs or more. So we have to carefully select our parts to add to the rifle. Look at the weight and decide if it should go on the rifle or not.

Weight And Shooting Stability

A rifle that is front-heavy feels heavier but remains more stable when fired. Conversely, a rifle with a rearward balance is quicker to aim and maneuver but loses stability with each shot.

raptor charging handle ar15

Some individuals chose heavier stocks for their ARs to move the balance towards the rear, despite this adding to the overall weight. Others preferred a slightly heavier handguard to minimize muzzle flip. As long as the weight remains within a comfortable range for you, it's acceptable, and it's not an exact science.

Where You Can Save Weight On An AR15?

There are many places you can save weight, and here is a general guide to reference:

Stock

There are many lightweight AR15 stocks available, and for the most part they all do the same thing. In this case, compare their weight and buy the lightest option if you like the ergonomics. I personally wouldn't trade for ergonomics over weight if the weight difference isn't too significant. 

Please check out this reference chart for the lightest stock

Handguard

modlite plhv2 ar15

Now we have very durable 7075 T6 aluminum MLOK handguard systems that shed so much weight compared to a traditional M1913 quad rail. Buy a handguard that provides just enough length that you actually need can shed a few oz off the rifle.

Handguard Accessories

Only mount what you need. For most users, a durable weapon light and an ergonomic foregrip is enough to have a high performance rifle that is easy to handle.

Companies like MODLITE, Surefire, Unity Tactical, and many others offer a wide range of flashlight and switch configurations. While some products are impressively innovative, they can also add unnecessary weight to the handguard if they're not essential for your needs. 

Barrel

The AR15 barrel is the heart of the rifle, and personally I would pick the best barrel to use and not compromise accuracy over barrel weight savings.

Optic

unity tactical hotbutton m1913

There are tons of optic available for the AR15 platform, and not all are lightweight. For a modern red dot sight with a durable lightweight mount. It should not exceed 4 - 5 oz. A lightweight red dot sight mount like the Scalarworks are my favorite.

Receivers

While there are many lightweight forged AR15 receivers on the market. Personally I will stick with a forged receiver set. Some have lightening cuts to shed weight, but stay away from skeletonized receivers if possible. I rather want durability than a gimicky ultralightweight rifle.

Gas System

psa jakl long stroke piston bolt

If you want a lightweight rifle, stick with a direct impingement gas system. A piston rifle system is generally much heavier up front than in the rear because there is no buffer system. For example, the PSA JAKL is very cool but very heavy.

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