Preparing kid for military. Should I sell the AK and buy and AR?


November 30, 2012, 10:07 PM
My daughter is seriously interested in joining the military, is thinking Coast Guard or Air Force, but Army is close/next choice.
I've had her shooting since she was 10, but I've never had an AR based rifle. Am wondering if maybe I should sell my AK and 7.62x39 ammo and invest in an AR platform rifle and a pile of .223.
If so, does the military use M4 style rifles or are they more full length AR15's? I'd want her to start learning on the style of rifle she's most likely to encounter in the military.

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David G.
November 30, 2012, 10:23 PM
My best friend went to USCG basic training in Jan-March 2009 and she only shot Sig Sauer p229 .40 pistols. I went to USAF BMT April-June this year and they use 20" M-16A2 rifles.

If she goes the Air Force route and you get her an AR-15, like I did with my S&W M&P 15 Sport, then she'll very likely be Chief Weapons Monitor (of the smurf guns) and will have a great shot at getting the expert marksmanship ribbon. Being weapons monitor is a cush job at BMT, and it gives you a few points towards getting BMT Honor Graduate. :)

With regards more specifivally to the weapon to whatever branch she'll be joining, learn how to dissemble/reassemble it, clean it, what all the parts are called, how to load it, eject magazines and firing it per that branches teachings. Heavily research how that branch does those things with that weapon so she doesn't learn any bad habits.

Edit to add: with regards to 16" [standard?] AR-15 lengths and 20" m-16 trainer weapons and real working m-16s, biggest difference anyone would notice at BMT is the 20 inchers weigh more. Annoying when you're doing entry controller from 0030 to 0230 and you have to have it slung around your shoulder the whole time. Don't worry about it if you want her to learn how it functions, etc. should she decide USAF or US Army.
Also, the US Army shoots WAAAAAYYYYYYY more at boot camp than the USAF does at BMT, or so I heard from some guy I met at church on Fort Sam Houston...

November 30, 2012, 10:37 PM
If so, does the military use M4 style rifles or are they more full length AR15's?Depends on branch of service.
And what the assignment is once there.

But it doesn't matter anyway.

An M4 is an M-16, and an M-16 is a AR-15, as far as handling, cleaning, or shooting goes.

If you can run one of them, you can run all of them.

But regardless of that, any AR is better familiarization then an AK would be.

Ideally though, you should keep the AK-47 and add an AR-15.

Then she will know how to use either common weapon she is likely to encounter in combat anywhere in the world.


November 30, 2012, 10:40 PM
If she goes AF she'll shhot a2 at basic but may get m4 career depending on afsc (air force term for mos). Most get basic a2. Extra prep couldn't hurt, assuming u teach her right, but wouldn't swet it too much. A2's a breeze to shoot u only qual @25m and they spend alot of instruction time. Simple qual's almost a given unless you're REALLY bad, but experience could help get that marksman badge. Side note, don't let her sign up open general or anything like that, pick a guaranteed job otherwise strong chance of geting security forces or services.

November 30, 2012, 10:40 PM
An instructor's biggest challenge is erasing bad habits. Shne will attend the same classes as everyone else, and should pay attention. Let her learn their way.

November 30, 2012, 10:49 PM
If your daughter goes Air Force, she may qualify in basic training and then never shoot again.

If she goes Coast Guard, they use any combination of M16/M4 (I'm not exaggerating when I say that Station Oswego, New York, where I am an Auxiliarist, has probably some of the first M16A2 rifles made).

It will be a benefit to her if she knows how to field strip it; the rifles get cleaned once a month whether or not they have been fired, more often depending on where she goes. Oswego's issued rifles barely come out of the armory.

The SIG P229 DAKs on the other hand, look like they're ready to fall apart, and they're only 7 years old with less than 2000 rounds through each of them.

November 30, 2012, 10:50 PM
Not necessary. When I went through Air Force BMT I saw many people who never shot a gun before in their life qualify expert because they paid attention and did what the CATM instructors told them. Breathing control, trigger control, sight picture. Simple. She is unlikely to need any additional training for combat regardless of AFSC and if she does they will send her to Combat Skills Training with her issued rifle for deployment (M4s nowadays) to become more familiar with it and with crew-served weapons as well. I went through this for my 2010 deployment to Afghanistan but I deployed with the Army so there was more emphasis on combat training than regular Airmen would go through.

November 30, 2012, 10:52 PM
Having experience with an AR15 before going to any basic course is a major assist. There's always plenty to work on, so any learning that can be done early, should be. As long as she doesn't try to show off before the training is given, knowing her way around a 16 or 20" AR can only help.

There are still some reservists, even ones deployed to Afghanistan, using M16A2s. At OSUT Basic in late 2001, I was issued a M16A4. M4s are more common in theater, but there are a few A4s. (An A4 is a 20" barrel with removeable carry handle and full-length rails. Horrible, heavy, nasty thing.) I returned from my last deployment in Oct, so I'm speaking from recent personal experience.


David G.
November 30, 2012, 10:56 PM
Regarding open general, it's not the horror it was years ago. Almost everyone who gets Security forces comes in with it being a guaranteed job, and people who get it while being open general put it near the top of their choice of AFSC picks during second week. Anecdotally, I went in open general and got Medical Laboratory, over a year long tech school, earning ~80 college credits, But let's not derail the topic...

RE Bad habits: Yep, you can certainly get her an m-16/sig sauer depending on USAF/USCG but like I said, make sure you teach her exactly the way the branch teaches it...

Edit to add again: Time would be better spent on PT or memorization of stuff the recruiter will provide. That's the plain ole honest truth, however unfortunate!

November 30, 2012, 11:00 PM
The M&P 22 would be a great way to introduce her to the AR system without breaking the bank or you needing to sell your AK.

November 30, 2012, 11:02 PM
Getting an AR-15 prior to basic really doesn't do much unless she goes Security Forces, or some other AFSC that actually handles weapons. Considering she is a female, Security Forces is about the only way she will ever handle a weapon outside of a deployment and the refresher training.

The qualification for most AFSCs is simple. The Expert Marksman ribbon gives no points for promotion consideration, neither does BMT Honor Graduate. They are fluff awards, IMO, that really don't mean anything.

Basically, what I'm getting at is this: Unless she is going in as a cop, there is virtually no reason to need extensive experience on a weapon that the CATM instructors go over bit my bit, inch by inch, in their way. Knowing the rifle extensively will single her out, like the guy who shaved his head the day before leaving for basic.

Now, things have changed in AF BMT since I was in. The Smurf gun, for example, is not something I was issued in BMT. But, I know that in the real world, I never would have seen an M-16 until I deployed, or had a refresh, had it not been for being an SF Augmentee. I simply don't see it being a career-based asset unless she goes in the SF.

December 1, 2012, 08:51 AM
The best thing you can teach her is to continue to be a student of firearms and shooting after she leaves the nest and joins the AF.

Outside of a few narrow career fields, the USAF is not a service with a small arms culture. The CATM Qualification course for any of the service issue firearms is little more than a basic familiarization course. There won't be a lot of continuing training and practice beyond that (again, unless in a specific career field that uses a lot of small arms on a day-to-day basis for mission accomplishment).

If she has basic firearms-sense, and some experience prior to taking the Qual Course, about the best you can hope for is that she shoots Expert and has another ribbon to wear on her blues. There probably is not any danger of not qualifying given her current experience anyway.

If you are concerned about actual tactical combat skills with small arms (as in, in the future she is deploying to a theater with a threat), that is another topic entirely.

December 1, 2012, 09:02 AM
First I am ancient and so unaware of the "way things are today"

That said, I am a former lightweapons Infantryman AND later an Cannon Battery Officer.

ABout devloping bad habits....... You can do that learning the standard PT and you can even do that "memorizing the material the recruiter gives her" for such can change from day to day and dispite the efforts of standardization from post to post.

If you get an AR -15 keep in mind its guts will not be the same as an M-16(x) or M4 in that the selector and related components will be different.....but she shouldn't be messing with those according to "the book" anyway.....of course when I got to my first actual Infantry unit,despite showing folks the manuals instructins to leave internals alone, we were required to strip ye old M-16A1
down to an empty lower.

I can not see how learning to do a basic strip of the AR15 system (seperte upper and lower, remove handguards, remove bolt carrier group, dissassemble group carrier group into bolt, carrier, Firing pin, FP retaining pin, and bolt cam pin (or whatever they are called now)) can hurt her.

Just have her not try to do the same things BEFORE the instructors in basic. They may want a different order for instance. At one time I was taught the handguards came off first and another time I was expected not to remove them until upper and lower were seperated.

Still having experience doing it in any order beats fumbling around ignorant in my book. As pointed out, in the coast guard and USAF she may not get much training in either OR ENOUGH TO RETAIN IT FOR WHEN SHE MIGHT REALLY NEED IT. (caps intentional) After a year of breaking down Dad's AR she is likely to retain it a while.

Learning to shoot is not going to hurt. Again just because she learns "your way" does not mean she can not learn "their way" if she does not just decide your way is the only way and fight what her instructors are saying.

I "learned to shoot" with your basic open tangent sights like on your AK. Then I really learned to shoot at 14 in High school JROTC using peep sights on a Remington 513T bolt action. Now that 513T is NOTHING like an AR, but sight alignment, sight picture, eight steady hold factors BRASS and trigger control are sort of generic.....

When I went in I was fortunate to have had about four hours of handling and stripping the M-16A1 thanks to a local unit loaning the highscholl program ONE rifle and me taking advantage of that by becoming the assistant instructor for that rifle. I likley took it appart fifteen times in that little time for various classes (including one for a local Nation Guard outfit). By happen stance I got to fire TWO rounds from an SP1 Colt civilian AR15. Stil I feel that put me way ahead of other Trainees and I ended up being noticed and while otherfolks were doing nasty work here and there I found myself detailed to helping the "bolos" (those that could not qualify and qualification was not a option in Army BCT in the VN era (error?). Just an added plus for me knowing more already.

After my enlisted service I went through COllege ROTC while at college on the GI bill. In those days COllege ROTC varied greatly from college to college. I learned that many colleges did little more than class room and drill days. Ours did more. We spent most drill days doing hands on training, and had Field training excercises (FTX) with both day and night training and an over night near the end of the year at the Florida Ranger Training Center out near Fort Walton and Egland AFB.

Our seniors actually planned and did most of the non classroom training and about half of the classroom training based on what the Juniors would face at Advanced ROTC Camp at Ft Bragg over the summer for eight weeks. My senior year I was assistant Training officer and determined that folks needed to learn to shoot M-16A1s. Unfortunately at this time Most COllege ROTC units and mine had no service rifles. We did have 513Ts available though and I was abble to get some "rubber rifles" (Graphic Training Aids from Ft. Benning that were non functional solid "M-16s") I used these in classes to have the cadets learn the various positions (Stand, Kneel, sit, prone, and supported) and the hold factors for these positions. Then they moved to 513Ts and shot. They only got about 50 shots total over a couple of weeks (one day a week) because of time constraints. I then borrowed M-16A1s from a reserve unit and the CObray made .22 Adaptors and repeated those two classes combined (ROund robin style) allowing each Cadet to fire 20 rounds of .22 LR in an M-16A1 (The old 1-12 twist gave better accuracy with the adaptors than one gets now) at scaled down type E targets much like Appleseed uses and the then standard Canadian bull zero target. I had them use 9 to 12 rounds to zero and then shoot the silhuette. Finally I had them on a later day trip to a local police acadamy where they zeroed with 5.56mm M193 ball ammo at 25 meters and fire at Type E silhuettes at 100 meters with 20 rounds.

Dispite being spread out among the many companies at Camp and dispite shooting with different instructors from different units the qualification scores of my university at that summers Camp were highest that summer and rumored to be highest in quite some time.

Later as a COmmisioned officer I rarely found that my troops that "learned to shoot" having no experience before BCT were as good as those with ANY decent marksmanship training before service. I had YMCA and BSA shooters as well as Kwanas club BB gun shooters that all performed quite well.

I fail to see how having your daughter learn all she can about caring for and shooting an AR15 can hurt her nor indeed do anything but help her.

But as I said, I am old and out of touch with modern traing theory.......


December 1, 2012, 09:33 AM
I fail to see how having your daughter learn all she can about caring for and shooting an AR15 can hurt her nor indeed do anything but help her.

Nobody said anything about 'hurt'.

The OP was talking about taking the effort and $ to buy an AR and ammo. What we were saying was that the benefits wouldn't really be worth the time and money, since the 'hurdle' is relatively low for someone who all ready has some idea what they are doing around a firearm.

December 1, 2012, 09:38 AM
An instructor's biggest challenge is erasing bad habits. Shne will attend the same classes as everyone else, and should pay attention. Let her learn their way.
Agreed. It's not necessary to get an AR to prep someone for the military. I've been a part of thousands of recruits' marksmanship training and the easiest one's to teach are the one's that haven't had a chance to develop bad habits and are receptive to instruction. I can't speak for the other service's marksmanship training but I'd imagine it's the same.

December 1, 2012, 09:49 AM
Thank you all for your responses, she and I appreciate it. Regarding her shooting, she's a better shot than I am. She's steadier and has better eyes.
No matter what I put in her hands, she can pretty much out-shoot me.
Regarding open sights, she's in JROTC for three years now, and has been on the Marksmanship Team since she joined. They don't allow freshman to join Marksmanship, but I wrote her instructor a letter and sent in a few of her range targets and they made an exception to the rule.
Open sights: no problem here.

As a Dad, I just want her to do the best she can, and if getting familiar with an AR/M4 provides her with a little more confidence in what I'm guessing is going to be a stressful time of her life, I'm just trying to do the best I can for her.

December 1, 2012, 09:51 AM
Keep your AK. When your daughter enters the military service of her choice she will be instructed in the use of whatever small arms that service has in use. Unless she goes into the Marines or Army, once she completes her basic training which would include small arms familiarization she will most likely never handle a small arm again during her active duty tour.

December 1, 2012, 10:41 AM
A weekend at Appleseed and CMP Service rifle clinic would likely be valuable, I think a 22 lr rifle with M16 style sights (10/22 with tech sights or dedicated AR trainer) would be a great tool to invest in before an AR. Shoot AS with the 22 and use a club rifle at a CMP match, then decide if it is worth buying an AR or let Uncle Sam fund the range time and ammo.

December 1, 2012, 10:56 AM
little more confidence in what I'm guessing is going to be a stressful time of her life,

Confidence is a big part of any endeavour IMO. I like the idea of her learning to field strip and become familiar with the AR platform (confidence) but that can be done at a range that rents ARs and that would probably be happy to have you and the daughter come by and clean a few? Even a few friends that own the platform and would allow or demonstrate form and function of the AR( to including field striping a few times and shooting before she goes in) would probably suffice. Balance between the AK and AR are not the same at all IMO but if the girl is already a good shot she understands how to get stuff lined up and hit what she is aiming at. No reason not to purchase an AR but not really a big deal IMO if you don't. Let her play with a few at a range (confidence) and she may ask you why you did not already have one (?) or figure she is good to go with such a simple platform to shoot, clean and maintain.

December 1, 2012, 10:56 AM
It's easier for the Services to teach weapons handling from scratch their way than it is for them to un-teach something the shooter has learned some other way. And they will insist on having it their way. Sounds like she'll pick it up very quickly anyway.

Have your daughter hit the gym and the track instead of the range. Physical fitness will serve her better than weapons "familiarity."

December 1, 2012, 11:09 AM
If she already shoots, she's probably got enough bad habits for a lifetime. They'll teach her how they want her to shoot.

As beatledog7 comments, the track & gym will do her far more good than a million rounds of .223.

December 1, 2012, 11:33 AM
I'd worry more about PT or attention to detail. I had never fired a weapon prior to BCT, and I shot 32/40 on my first qualification, all I did was do what the Drill Sergeants taught us. Like other people have said, whatever branch she joins, she will be taught their specific standard, and as bad as this sounds, the less she messes around with any M16 series rifle, the fewer "bad habits" she will have to break.

December 1, 2012, 11:40 AM
They will teach her what they want her to know.................

December 1, 2012, 11:56 AM
...attention to detail...

I wholeheartedly concur. Basic military training requires one to adapt to and adopt some seemingly silly procedures, but there's a point to all of them--teaching candidates how to pay attention to detail and evaluating how well they learn it.

Make sure your daughter recognizes going in that she'll be ordered to do things that make no sense, and that the better and more enthusiastically she does them, the more she'll impress.

Tim the student
December 1, 2012, 12:12 PM
I don't think it matters much, honestly.

If I were in your shoes, and I wanted to prep my daughter for the military, I would work on the fundamentals with a nice .22, and help make sure they are in shape. Running, pushups, pullups etc.

Regardless, if she is smart, motivated, and not a fat body she will do just fine, and likely be ahead of the majority of her peers.

December 1, 2012, 12:19 PM
Well like I said, what do I know. I just based my opinions on my own experience without draging in any of what I heard or what it seems like from outside.

My experience is of course limited to teaching highschool cadets while in high school in a rural area where everyone already knew how to shoot, helping company mates at the Citadel when our freshman class company took best marksmanship freshman class cup (forgots its name) for the 16 companies, helping others pass that otherwise would not have in basic and Infantry AIT, Serving about a month as an AI "White Hat" doing mostly small arms at Ft. Polk La (Tiger Land) for infantry trainees, working as small arms instructor for my Infantry Company in Europe, and the company "Project Partnership" small arms instructor teaching Brits Canadians Germans and French to use the M-16A1 and M-60 GPMG, WOrking as a Cadet assistant Training officer in a southern university full of folks that hunted and plinked, and as the officer responsable for the marksmanship skills of a 220 +/- 10 battery that had both men and women in it. Of course as an NRA Rifle Instructor I occassionally run into folks in our rural area that have a little bit of shooting experience.

I REALLY like the idea of going to an Appleseed event. Tech sights on a 10/22 if you have one or a Marlin 60 even will really get her onto aperature sights as opposed to the open tangent type sights on most non Isreali or Finnish AKs and if you already have the .22 will cost about $70 and maybe fifteen minutes to install following the directions. A set of slingswivels that will handle the GI web sling of old will be nice for Appleseed as they base their instruction on ancient USMC and more ancient USA obsolete shooting techniques that would only allow most folks taking a two day class to qualify expert in the service these days.

True that on the idea of simply borrowing an AR and letting her strip it ten or fifteen times on several different days would be a help. Be aware of the differences with Sporting rifles and select fire ARs though and the need to do a few things differently. Also avoid Colts that have their sporting style front pivot rather than a takedown pin.

If it were my daughter I would also, whether the military still does it or not, teach her the old Daisy Quick Skill or US Army Quick Kill techneques for close range unsighted effective target engagement. This works in the dark and changing light at close range when you really need to get there "furstest with the mostest"

You might also want to atleast familurize her with a red dot sight, even an el cheapo Wal-Mart chepo in a .22 just so she knows how they work and what to expect.

I guess my statements are the way they are because I am more interested in your young lady being able to use an AR based weapon when she REALLY NEEDS TO than just allowing her to do well in basic and get a good shooting record and keep a grumpy military marks manship instructor happy by using whatever he or she demands today of their trainees.

These last decades ladies in all sorts of "support" and "Non-Combat" positions have found them selves in spots where they really needed to be able to use an AR15 or Baretta M9 better than just qualifying. One of my surviving High school buddies was an assitant to the CG USAF a bit this last decade and was partially responsible for getting additional marksmanship training for USAF folks about to be deployed or once they were deployed partially for this very reason.

I now leave you to the younger and wiser folks......


December 1, 2012, 12:21 PM
The military will train her with what she will be using. However, if you train her with the enemy's gun, she will be more versatile.

December 1, 2012, 03:32 PM
With two kids having gone through Army Basic Training in the last few years I can share some observations;

The Army issues both M-16's and M-4's to recruits during basic training. My daughter says the lucky ones get the M-4.

Qualification is done wearing combat gear including the helmet. Both of my kids were trained shooters before entering the Army and both of them commented how difficult it is trying to shoot with a helmet on.

I'm sure you consider yourself a instructor par to none but the Army has it's own way of training. A frequent comment seen on this forum is how much easier it is to teach women to shoot because they are willing to listen unlike men who already know it all. Why try to make the Instructors job harder by them having to retrain your daughter?

After your daughter is issued her weapon she is required to keep it within arms reach at all times.

The Army likes for recruits to walk...a lot...everywhere during basic carrying the rifle.

The best thing you can do to prepare your daughter for Army basic training is for her to walk/march/jog/run a lot carrying a rifle. Your Ak with a sling will be fine for this as it will get her use to carrying it. And since she is required to keep it within arm's reach at all times it will teach her to carry it to the table when eating and to the bathroom.

As for confidence the Army will teach her plenty of that. That real issue is whether Mom and Dad will be able the more mature self confident daughter that will come home after her basic and AIT training.

December 1, 2012, 05:56 PM
It wouldn't hurt to get him or her used to the Ar/M16 platform, but I'd never even held an M16 when I enlisted, but I did have lots of time to familiarize with an AK and I did just fine. My lowest marksmanship score to date is 36 out of 40 and there were plenty of guys who'd never held a gun at all do just fine.

So it's really up to him. If he understand the basic principles of marksmanship, he'll do fine, besides all of that stuff is taught in BCT, from stance, to grip, to breathing and trigger pull, sight picture etc.. and sight picture on the M16 was alien to me at first, but doesn't take long to learn.

December 1, 2012, 08:15 PM
Unless she's a very confident, strong spirited sort, the military isn't a good place for many women.

And on top of that...depending upon her desires upon leaving the military, I'd encourage her to take up some technical MOS that has a strong marketability on the civilian/DoD side of things.

As far as weapons training...having some familiarity with the AR15 will help but it's certainly not vital.

December 1, 2012, 09:25 PM
The best thing you can do to prepare your daughter for Army basic training is for her to walk/march/jog/run a lot carrying a rifle. Your Ak with a sling will be fine for this as it will get her use to carrying it. And since she is required to keep it within arm's reach at all times it will teach her to carry it to the table when eating and to the bathroom.

Heh, a couple weeks ago, just for grins, I carried my Colt AR while I took about a half hour walk on my treadmill. No sling, so I just carried in my hands and shifted position a lot. Didn't bother me during and immediately after, but the next day my lower back was KILLING me. I don't envy soldiers at all! :D

Of course:

(1) my rifle was the 20" heavy barrel version
(2) your kid's probably a lot younger than me!

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