Build/Review: Bushmaster Optics Ready Carbine in .223/5.56

Everyone under the sun has an AR-15, right? Well, I have one as well and I’m gonna tell you about how I chose it, what accessories I have gone through, how some people think the brand sucks and why I believe, and have proven, otherwise.

The Purchase: I was on a pretty strict budget because I knew that I wanted to trick it out when I bought it. After a good amount of research I landed on one of the most popular brands out there, Bushmaster. They have been in the game for quite a while, and they clearly have a ton of different models. With the knowledge that I was going to put optics on it and that I was going to swap out some parts, I settled on the XM-15 Optics Ready Carbine chambered in 5.56/.223. This model has a flat top upper, and a chopped front sight/gas block. I picked up the firearm for right around $900. Not too shabby if you ask me.

Bushmaster XM-15 Optics Ready Carbine

Upgrades: Now, like I said, I had full intention to get optics and to upgrade the furniture on the rifle. So along with the rifle purchase, I bought a new quad rail by UTG, Magpul MBUS, Magpul BAD lever, and an Eotech XPS2-0 holographic sight. These are basically just bolt on items, but that was the goal. I wanted a fairly light firearm that could take a beating if necessary. There is quite a misconception most AR owners have regarding the amount of shit that needs to go on an AR. Truth is that when you do that, you are screwing yourself. You are just making it heavier and are going to wear yourself out when carrying/shooting it. Have you ever held an AR with optics, light, quad rail, foregrip, and lasers on it? It sucks donkey dick. There is no reason for all that unless you are working in the sandbox as a billy badass operator.

UTG HandguardMagpul MBUSEOTech XPS2Magpul BAD Lever

First Iteration: Below is a horrible quality cell phone picture of what I ended up with. I was actually very pleased with the outcome….until I went to a tactical carbine training class.

Finished AR Build

The Class: I realized at a tactical carbine class that even though the rifle doesn’t have much on it, it was still hard for me to manipulate all day because I weigh 155 and and am built like a preying mantis. So I knew I needed to change some things. More importantly though, I came away with the knowledge that my rifle can operate flawlessly over a day of high round count and cold weather. Every other person there had issues of all sorts with their weapon systems. These failures weren’t from cheap rifles either. There was plenty of talk from the other guys in the class about how much they spent and what they were running. Almost everyone had rifles that I would consider high end. Multiple times Bushmaster got bashed in conversation, and I kept my mouth shut. But the proof is in the pudding. I didn’t have one failure to feed, jam, part break or issue of any sort. And guess what, they noticed that at the end of the day. Because of the weight though, I decided that I should swap out some of the furniture with something more lightweight.

Second Iteration: I decided on ditching the UTG handguard/rail and moving to the Magpul AR-15/M16 MOE Stock Set offered by Brownell’s as well as the Magpul Angled Foregrip. Once installed, it was clear that there was a weight savings associated. As a last item, I decided to swap out the chopped gas block with a full sight / gas block that has a gas adjustment…but that process is for another post. In the end, I have been very pleased with what the rifle has turned out to be. It shoots like a dream, is reliable like no other, and is lightweight. I couldn’t ask for anything more.

Magpul MOE KitMagPul Foregrip

Thanks for reading!

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