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Extinction of the AR-15 A2 variant?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by coloradokevin, Mar 20, 2015.

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  1. coloradokevin

    coloradokevin Member

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    Anyone who has owned any variant of these very popular black rifles knows how versatile and customizable these guns are… stocks, barrels, uppers, lowers, calibers, grips, muzzle devices, and the list goes on and on. You can really change just about anything you want to on these guns.

    But, one thing I've noticed in the past couple of years is that the A2 variant (the one with the built in carry handle) has all but completely disappeared from the AR-15 scene, at least around here.

    Now, I fully understand the advantages of a flattop picatinny rail upper receiver, and I use one at work. That rifle has an Eotech mounted to it, and Troy flip-up iron sights as a backup. It's a good gun, and I really don't have any complaints with it.

    But, when it comes to shooting a strictly open-sighted rifle, I've always enjoyed the classic A2 design. I still have one of these rifles in the safe (a 20" barrel fixed stock variety), and I previously carried a carbine at work with an A2 upper. I've always felt that these sights were more durable, simple, user adjustable, and accurate than the open sights that are typically employed on later variants of these rifles (again, ignoring optics, holosights, etc). My Troy flip sights work well, but I think "standard" sights still have an edge on them.

    Anyway, these days it seems that you can hardly find a new production A2 rifle out there. Sure, the uppers are still made, but I haven't seen such a gun in a store for years now. I never even realized this fact until I was talking to a guy at a local store the other day, and he pointed out that we've finally reached the point where the only guy with a unique AR-15 is the guy walking around with an A2 setup… I actually think he's right!

    So, do you AR-15 aficionados still enjoy the older designs, or do you see these merely as obsolete relics from the past?
     
  2. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    I spent four years in the Marine Corps infantry and I was issued the M16A2. I loved the rifle, but I absolutely HATED the carry handle. We weren't allowed to actually carry it by the handle, so it served absolutely no purpose but to add weight and get in the way. Sure, the sight on the carry handle is great, but you don't need the whole handle for that.

    When I bought my first civilian AR it was a Colt with a removable carry handle. The first thing I did was remove the carry handle. To me, the handle only adds weight and makes it almost impossible to properly mount an optic. If you like the rear sight on the carry handle, there are fixed sights that attach to a flat-top receiver and mimic the carry handle sights but without the useless handle part that only gets in the way.
     
  3. coloradokevin

    coloradokevin Member

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    I can see what you're saying, particularly if you aren't allowed to use the carry handle at all.

    But, the carbine length AR-15 I carried previously at work was the lightest and most streamlined variant I've used. Granted, it had the pencil barrel, no optics, and no reasonable provision for mounting optics. That's the reason I ultimately switched to a flattop design, and a quad rail (optics, lights, and slings are all easier to mount on that setup).

    Anyway, maybe I'm just partial to the old design out of a sense of nostalgia. It wouldn't be my everyday carry gun these days, but I still like shooting them for some reason!
     
  4. USAF_Vet

    USAF_Vet Member

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    I too cut my AR teeth on the A2 variant in Basic Training as well as having an A2 issued for two of three tours in Iraq. I didn't dislike the carry handle, although we couldn't carry the rifle there, either. But, our CATM instructors told us it was to carry optics, not for the user to carry the rifle around like a brief case.

    I currently have two flat top ARs, and even with optics and flip up sights, I find myself wanting the A2 rear sight. The height of the rear sight, for some reason, felt higher than my current sights. With what I have now, I feel like I have to tilt my head that much further at an angle to get a good sight picture. With the A2 sight and carry handle, my neck wasn't cocked over so far, and I could hold my head more upright. My next rifle build will probably use an A2 upper and fixed stock lower using a 20" barrel chambered in .450 BM.
     
  5. ifit

    ifit Member

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    Absolutely a huge fan of the retro fixed A1 and A2 variants, built couple A1 variants. But only have one all original Colt A2 match hbar picked this up before the great gun panic...as is. traded for my bolt action. I like bringing this to the range...all my friends with their latest tactical builds etc...their like.....why? I tell them cause "I" can:)
    003-1_zpsffce3837.jpg
     
  6. Kaeto

    Kaeto Member

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    I am in the process of building a A1/A2 variant. Uses the A2 upper, but has the triangular A1 handguards
     
  7. MrBorland

    MrBorland Member

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    There are a lot of NRA/CMP Service Rifle shooters who still feel it's the right tool for the job:

    ServiceRiflehoriz_zpsd96e89db.jpg
     
  8. ifit

    ifit Member

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    Cool project kaeto, would like to see the outcome of the rifle:cool:

    Couple years back, just trying on some A1 furniture on my colt A2
    023-1_zpsf8bb5b7c.jpg
     
  9. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Member

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    ^^^^
    Nice.

    I don't miss the A2 that was current when I enlisted much, but have had most of the parts for a Vietnam retro build floating around for a while that I haven't quite gotten around to yet.
     
  10. ifit

    ifit Member

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    Thanks HS, that furniture resides now on my NDS-15 build
     
  11. agtman

    agtman Member

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    Look at it this way ...

    ... in another 5 or 10 years, the A2 variant with its 20" HB and oh-so-long fixed stock will be considered so "retro," it'll be seen as cool to own again and especially to collect.

    And if you've got one that's been well-maintained, it'll command a re-sale premium, just like the old, original Colt SP-1s do now. We're talking crack-smokin' GunJoker prices, which, despite all the snarky talk about these gun auction sites, do attract some buyers who will pay the asking price.

    In my case, I'll continue to hang on to my old pre-ban R6601 Colt Match H-Bar rifle that's been cleaned and oiled and stored in its original Colt factory box, along with all its factory accessories and a bunch of Colt 20-rd mags. :)

    Yep, can hear the sound of cashy money appreciating everyday. :D
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2015
  12. HankB

    HankB Member

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    Just out of curiosity, were you given a reason for this, other than "Because I said so!"?
     
  13. minutemen1776

    minutemen1776 Member

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    I also like the A2 rifles. I've own a couple in the past, but I only have flattops right now. I've been thinking of getting another carry-handle upper, but there are almost no options for buying an assembled upper in A2 configuration. I know Model 1 Sales still offers carry-handle uppers. Are there any other sellers who offer these new?
     
  14. Sergei Mosin

    Sergei Mosin Member

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    I'm not tacticool enough for anything other than a carry handle. ;)
     
  15. LeonCarr

    LeonCarr Member

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    I believe the M16A2s are now referred to as "Muskets" in the US Military :).

    I still like them, my primary is a 20 inch BCM.

    Just my .02,
    LeonCarr
     
  16. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    I was taught to carry the weapon at a ready port position no matter what. Therefore the sling was useless and the carry handle never used. We were instructed to remove the sling and if we were seen by our Drill using the handle we'd get remedial upper body training to reinforce carrying it at a ready port arms.

    You can't shoot a weapon quickly in the field, in combat, slung or suitcase style.

    Since then I only carry high or low port no sling no carry handle and I don't have those two things to use as an excuse kicking out whitetails under 30 yards. Three this fall alone.

    Carry handle use was OK in Vietnam as many pictures attest, by 1983 it was considered REMF support behavior. Combat arms didn't carry handle or with a sling.

    It's not one monolithic brotherhood, most don't serve combat arms, and many never see combat regardless. Those closer to the line of fire adopt habits and attitudes meant to increase their survival.

    Carry handles and slings can get you killed in that sort of extreme black and white view.
     
  17. strambo

    strambo Member

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    I have no use for the carry handle either. There is no downside to the flattop even w/o an optic and you can have an A2 fixed sight if that is what you want. Just dremel off the handle from a removable one and have a rugged fixed A2 rear sight.

    The only reason I would get an A2 is for nostalgia as I also was first issued one in Basic many moons ago...but then the practical side takes over and I realize I have no use for a "musket." Now, an A2, but with a flattop instead, VLTOR A5 stock, 18" barrel and a FF handguard? Sure...but that isn't an A2 anymore! :neener:
     
  18. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    Only ideal use for it is now NRA and CMP service rifle competition.

    Rules still require the handle.

    The integral handle offers a little more range of adjustment for elevation than the clip-on can provide.
     
  19. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    "It's not a [expletive] briefcase!!!"

    But no, there was never any real explanation; there rarely is in the Marine Corps. I doubt many people who enforced that rule actually knew why. Though I've always suspected it had to do with weapon retention and the fact that you're more likely to flag people in front of you if you carry it that way. Either way, to this day I'm still actually repulsed when I see people hold it by the carry handle.

    You don't need the whole useless carry handle to have that rear sight:

    [​IMG]

    LMT makes a rear sight that's just the A2 but without the carry handle part. Or you can cut off the handle part of a removable carry handle and keep the sight part. There's really no reason whatsoever to have a carry handle other than aesthetics or competition rules.
     
  20. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    Much impetus in service rifle circles to allow optic in service rifle class.

    The A2 will be officially buried as soon as AMU works out the best optic allowed under a new rule.
     
  21. DPris

    DPris Member Emeritus

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    My USAF issue for four years was a 16.
    No A1, no A2.

    Was not allowed to carry by the handle, but the sling was perfectly fine.

    My oldest AR is a 1984 20-inch Sporter A2, sorta a transitional model, without A2 sights.
    The 16-inch carbine I carried at my last PD was a Lightweight Carbine, with carry handle & 4-power scope.

    I kinda like the attached handles. They work fine with the optics I have for them.
    Maybe more nostalgia than anything else, but my flattops just don't "look" right.

    And....I've been known to suitcase an AR when out in the brush rabbit hunting. :)
    Denis
     
  22. Onmilo

    Onmilo Member

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    Army doctrine did not allow carrying the M16 by the carry handle either.
    At least during training, nobody cares during combat operations.
    Anyway, if you were caught doing so you would spend a lot of quality time doing push ups...

    I have an A1 style upper with a govt. profile barrel ala Canadian C1 style with an old Colt 3X scope installed, nice set up.
     
  23. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    For us, it was drummed into us hard enough during boot camp and SOI that by the time we got to the fleet we never even thought about carrying it that way, even on deployments.
     
  24. DPris

    DPris Member Emeritus

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    Hey!
    Don't you be blamin' ARMY talk on ME!!!!! :D
    Denis
     
  25. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    I like the A2 sights, I left them on my 6920.

    My current build is with A1 sights and a fixed carry handle.
     
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