The Black Friday weekend is the most popular shopping time of the whole year, so named because this one weekend can move a company from the red (losing money) to the black (profitable). Like capitalism, the modern sporting “Black Rifle” is part of what it means to be an American. Since we have permission to spend money, why not take our favorite firearm from boring to brilliant?
Unless, of course, you don’t have an AR-15. In that case, everyone from your local gun store to the mega online firearms retailers like Palmetto State Armory will have more deep discounts than you can point your muzzle at, including sweet AR-15 build kits. The great thing is that with Palmetto State you have multiple kits to choose from, starting as low as $319 (50% off regular $619). Since the kits do not include the lower (firearm), they can ship directly to you without having to deal with dudes at the gun store. (I am a dude at the gun store and sometimes even I don’t want to deal with it.)
If a build kit is out of your price range, don’t worry! It’s said that you can never have too many magazines, and magazines fit right into stockings. A bad magazine will instantly turn a reliable firearm into a dumpster fire of problems. The great news is that you can get some great trusted name brand magazines from $7-$12 each. For polymer mags, look for names like Magpul, Hexmag, Lancer, and Amend2. For aluminum metal magazines, think OKay industries, Colt, Duramag, and Brownells.
How about some lumens? Illumination is key to self-defense—you need to be able to identify the bad guy so you can neutralize him. When it comes to weapon-mounted lights, build quality is so important. This is not an area you want just buy any old flashlight, because they cannot take the recoil of a centerfire, and will break. This is the reason good quality weaponlights from companies like Surefire, Streamlight, OLIGHT, and InForce start at around $100, and they’re not your Granddaddy’s D-cell flashlight. Not only are these weaponlights up to 100 times brighter, they’re also smaller and lighter weight than even one D sized battery! The sky’s the limit when it comes to price and options, so your best bet is to shop local and talk to a knowledgeable gun store employee. Set your budget in advance, because you’ll get different options at the $100, $150, and $200 price points. My advice? Ask for a rifle mounted flashlight with at least a couple hundred or more lumens, with either Picatinny or M-lok mounting and (if in the budget) a tape mounted switch.
Let’s talk optics. After 22 years of the Global War on Terror, generations of shooters have now accepted that electronic sights give the shooter an edge over iron sights. Companies like Sig Sauer, Holosun, and Vortex have lowered the price of quality sights to the point that they are offered as free incentives when buying a firearm. The Romeo 5 from Sig Sauer is arguably one of the popular red dots around, and when on sale, can range from $75-$100. On the higher end of things you have options from Trijicon, EOTech, and Aimpoint, made so tough that they are used by the military.
If the shooter you are buying for is more of a precision or long-distance shooter, your giftee might like a scope better. (The difference is that usually a red dot has no magnification, whereas scopes have magnification.) An old saying is that you can pay more for the scope than you do the firearm—and that can be true. I own some scopes that cost three times the price of the rifle they are mounted on. That said, today’s technology and manufacturing tolerances and quality has never been better. Low Power Variable Optics (LVPO) are the standard for AR-15s. They give you enough magnification that you can shoot further, but also in a range that you can use it to shoot close as well. Sig Sauer, Vortex, Burris, and Leupold make great LVPOs at multiple different price points.
One of the most often overlooked AR-15 upgrades is the trigger. Let’s be honest—most shooters just shrug at the factory trigger and adjust their technique to the rifle. Thing is, even the nicest factory AR-15 triggers won’t be quite as nice as the ones that you tend to get on bolt-action rifles. That’s where companies like American Trigger Corporation (ATC), Geissele, Timney, and Rise Armament shine.
Think of an aftermarket trigger as like a supercharger for your rifle. With a nice crisp trigger you can concentrate on other things like aiming and breathing. The trigger pull becomes second nature. I know so many shooters who instantly tightened their groups up simply by adding a better trigger to their AR build.
While Black Friday is not traditionally known for sales of firearms and firearms accessories, it seems more and more of the firearms industry is getting on board. It only makes sense when you have the biggest shopping weekend and people are opening their wallets. Don’t forget your local mom and pop gun store! Though they don’t have huge advertising budgets, they do have the same opportunities to buy from distributors as the big box stores. You might be surprised at what goodies you’re able to score at competitive prices while shopping local. It also offers you the advantage of a face-to-face interaction and get specific advice. I know in the small-town gun store where I work, we have several customers whose spouses come in to ask us what products their loved ones have been ogling. The hard part is that we then have to remember whose Christmas dreams already came true, and keep our mouths shut when they come in!
James the “XDMAN” Nicholas Mr. UnPewFessional Himself!
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