You’ve purchased your firearm, equipped it with a high-quality upper receiver or handguard (from PhantomUSA), and you have mags and ammo; you are now ready for your first trip to the gun range. We’ll cover some typical things to expect while you’re there, like selecting the correct range, range bag musts, etiquette at the range, and post-range cleanup.

Location, Location, Location

Going to an outdoor or indoor range is up to the shooter’s preference. Choosing a gun range isn’t rocket science, but it can significantly impact your experience and even your performance. Still, outdoor shooting ranges offer the opportunity to have the range to yourself, especially in the case of bad weather where fair-weather shooters may opt to stay indoors.

Member-only ranges are also something to consider. Not only will it likely weed out the random people who might do some dangerous things, but other benefits include sometimes getting discounts on merchandise or classes. Another option to consider is finding someone with a decent acreage somewhere in the country and setting up targets that bullets will not ricochet off.

Range Bag

If you currently do not own a range bag, we highly suggest that you pick one up because it offers an area where all your necessary items for the range can be found and organized. Some of the things you’ll want in your range bag will include ear protection such as earplugs or a headset, eye protection, some accessories like grips or rail sections to add to your weapon and some tools. Tools that you’ll want on the range will be a multitool, cleaning kit, an AR front sight post tool, gun oil, and some bug spray/ sunscreen in the case of an outdoor range. Ensuring that everything has its designated place in your bag is vital to ensure you know when you’re low on something and need to replenish it.

Range Etiquette

The very first not on gun range etiquette is being familiar with the four rules of gun safety, which are:

  1. Treat every gun as if it is loaded.
  2. Always ensure the gun’s muzzle is pointed in a safe direction and not at someone.
  3. Have your finger off the trigger until your target is in sight and you are ready to shoot.
  4. Always know what is beyond your target.

Check out our blog on the 4 Key Rules to Gun Safety for more information on those rules. Some other etiquette rules to be aware of is the difference between a hot range and a cold range. A desirable range means you can load your gun and fire it at the designated targets; a cold range means that you need to step away from your weapon and do not touch your ammo for any reason until a hot range is declared again. Ensuring that you do not shoot at the wrong target is also very important as it can cause a very frustrating situation with other shooters at the range. Finally, be polite to both the range staff and those enjoying the range with you. Showing respect and courtesy can come back to you tenfold, making it more critical.

Post Range Cleanup

After a fun-packed day at the range, cleaning your gun is highly recommended to ensure proper functioning for future uses. If you are an AR owner and need some tips on cleaning your weapon, check out our blog on how to clean and lube your AR-15 with photos. Make sure to reload magazines but do not load them into your gun. After cleaning your firearm, check all your consumables like earplugs and the like, reorder more if you’re low. Make sure that everything you’ll need is back in your range bag for the next trip.

The biggest tip for going to the range that we can leave you with is to have fun and use every trip as an opportunity to learn and experience something new!

Answers to Common AR15 Questions

The AR15 is a commonly preferred firearm for law-abiding and self-defense-minded civilians. However, this carbine is the topic of debate in the mainstream media due to its popularity. Some outlets believe that firearms capabilities are far too dangerous for the average citizen. Other outlets will have you believe that this weapon is the cause of a vast amount of “gun violence.” In both instances, this is not the case.

We want to provide some explanations to some common questions that you might hear if you own an AR15 with hopes that these answers might help turn the tides of misinformation while also helping to create a more-educated AR owner population.

Why is “that” on your AR?

ARs can equip very functional handguards, such as the ones available from PhantomUSA, which offer a lot of real estate to attach an array of different accessories allowing for the construction of the best firearm that will fit your needs. One handguard can add attachment locations for various sights, rail sections, grips, etc. The decision of what to equip your carbine with should be practical rather than what “looks cool.” Things like red dot sights, a sling, and a light are the perfect combination of practicality and aesthetics, so there is no worry! Ensuring that your accessories are practical will prevent you from giving the reason, “I got it because it looked cool,” and feeding into the “gun nut” stereotype from those who oppose your 2nd amendment right.

How high is your sight overbore?

For those AR owners who opted to utilize a red-dot sight like what was mentioned above, you know it sits higher on the barrel of your rifle than other accessories. Due to this, if you are shooting at close range, you must remember that you will be offset. Being “offset” means that if the red dot is on the bullseye of your target, your shots will be hitting low, so aiming a tad higher will help compensate for this. Remembering this offset and accounting for it will be critical when the distance between you and your target varies.

What is your Zero?

Knowing and understanding what your zero refers to is important because it is the adjustment to the windage and elevation so that your red dot will match the impact of the rounds you are shooting. Typically, your zero of 50 yards should generally be the same zero at 200 yards. Contrary to popular belief, bullets do not climb, but if the shell is shot at a slight upward angle, the arc that the bullet will travel on could be mistaken for a lift. There will be two zero points, in this case, the first being when the bullet arcs up to the line of sight and the second being when the bullet falls back into the straight line of sight further downrange.

Can you effectively transition with your rifle?

It is a universal concept that the time a shooter is most vulnerable is during the transition from an empty cartridge to a full one. Quickly, efficiently, and most importantly, an effective transition is a key to ensuring as little vulnerability on the shooter’s part as possible; staying calm under pressure in a situation, whether expected or unexpected, is a goal to strive for. When your firearm goes “dry,” reloading becomes the most important thing that needs to be done, and until an entire cartridge is swapped in, your AR is nothing more than an expensive club.

When was the last time you cleaned your AR, and how?

Early on back in the day, the AR earned a negative reputation for being unreliable due to remanufactured ammunition with incorrect gunpowder. Since then, these issues have been addressed and, with proper maintenance, is a highly reliable firearm. It was once thought that for an AR to work correctly, it had to be so clean that it would pass the “white-glove” test. Now, the emphasis isn’t so much on removing every trace of gunpowder as it is to ensure that your AR is adequately lubricated, allowing the bolt carrier, charging handle, etc., to operate correctly. Ensuring that you properly take care and do regular maintenance on your rifle will benefit you in the future with years of operating efficiency from your AR 15. As the saying goes, “If you take care of your gear, your gear will take care of you.”

If you still find yourself struggling with answering these questions, we suggest that you seek training from a qualified trainer. They can diagnose your good/ bad habits allowing you to grow and learn safely. No one knows everything and remaining open-minded willing to learn is key to increasing your skillset and knowledge base.

Better Rifle for the Apocalypse? AR-15 vs. AK-47 Pt. 2

For those keeping score at home, the AR-15 is a better option in weight and accuracy. The AK-47 is preferred when it concerns the stopping power, which means it is 2-1 in favor of the AR-15. Read on to see which carbine takes home the title!

Likelihood of Jamming

Trusting your weapon is very important, especially if your life or the lives of your family hang in the balance. The military version of the AR-15 used in the past, the M-16, had a bad reputation among US troops in Vietnam because it was prone to failure in the elements. Today, modern ARs can perform in the harshest conditions, keeping your AR clean to ensure future dependability.

The AK-47, on the other hand, can take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’! It can be thrown in a mud puddle, stomped on, picked up, and it will reliably fire every time you pull the trigger. The AK is made for harsh environments, so in a post-apocalyptic world where you wouldn’t have time to clean your rifle thoroughly, the AK-47 is optimal.


Which rifle shins brightest when it concerns reloading? Swapping out a magazine with an AR-15 couldn’t be easier. Swap out a mag by simply using a quick press from your fingers and your other hand to fetch a fresh magazine. Reloading an AK requires some more work. You must grip the empty mag, thumb the lever, wiggle out the empty old mag, and wiggle in the loaded new mag.

Readying an AR for usage is also a much quicker process. All that’s needed is to switch the rifle’s safety and close the BCG, chambering the round. The AK is slightly slower, requiring the user to sweep down a lever-style control on the right-hand side, then rack the bolt back.

The AR is much faster in terms of reloading, making it the clear winner.


Both the AR-15 and the AK-47 are great weapons that will do the job of defending yourself and your loved ones if there is a disastrous world event. Each carbine came in boasting some stellar pros, and each also had its drawbacks. Still, overall, after considering all factors, we would lean more towards the AR-15 as the better rifle to use in an old-fashioned apocalypse.

If you already own an AR-15, getting modifications and upgrades like a durable handguard, angled grip, etc., can increase your confidence and performance if things get nasty. At PhantomUSA, we offer the best quality for an even better price! Why wait? These days, you never know what tomorrow might bring.

Better Rifle for the Apocalypse? AR-15 vs. AK-47 Pt. 1

After a year like 2020, are you prepared to defend yourself and your family if things, heaven forbid, got worse?! In a year filled with a global pandemic, government-imposed lockdowns and restrictions, tension-fueled riots, and political unrest, the thought of “worse” doesn’t seem so unrealistic.

So, in a “worse” case scenario, what should you opt for in terms of self-defense? Out of all the options available to a civilian, we narrowed it down to the closest someone could get to military-grade weapons, and those would be the AR-15 and the AK-47. We will use some different factors in helping us determine which carbine is better suited for an apocalypse style situation: Weight, stopping power, accuracy, the likelihood of jamming, and reloading.

Let’s look at the pros and cons of each of these weapons.


Weight is a significant factor as you will need to carry your weapon and, if required, wield it for long periods. An original AK-47 with an empty magazine weighs just over 8.5 lbs. A stock AR-15, without any modifications or add-ons equipped, weighs in at 6.5 lbs. A difference of 2 lbs. may not seem like much, but remember, every pound will count if the circumstances require you to carry or wield your weapons for long periods. The weight difference may allow you to equip high-quality handguards or accessories for your gun. The AR-15 takes this score for the best rifle.

Stopping Power

Neutralizing the threat at hand is the next important factor. Comparing the size of the round that goes into each carbine, AK (7.62×39) and AR-15 (5.56/.223), there is no real debate that the larger round will pack a much harder punch. However, one way to compensate for the disparity in firepower would be to load the AR-15 with hollow-point rounds. Nevertheless, AK-47 gets the nod for this one.


Firepower does not do too much without accuracy coupled with it. When a situation is dire, hitting the mark is crucial. When it concerns the AK-47, the ammo that many shooters use and the looser tolerance of the rifle’s design have earned it the unfortunate reputation of being inaccurate, according to some experts. The AK-47, however, does remain a reliably accurate rifle for targets that do not exceed outside of 400 yards, but a good sharpshooter could take push this rifle to its total limits!

As for the AR-15, its tighter tolerance makes it a much more accurate weapon than the AK-47. While boasting an impressive range of 600 yards of effective shooting range, an experienced shooter can again push those limits while hitting the bullseye every time. Chalk another one up to the AR.

Be sure to check out the second part of AR-15 vs. AK-47 to find out which rifle has what it takes to help you survive a post-apocalyptic world.

Vertical vs. Angled AR-15 Foregrips: Which one is best?

From handguards to red dot scopes and foregrips, every modification you decide to add or not to add can affect your overall shooting performance and experience. Considering that every shooter is different and has specific needs, there is no wrong or right way to customize your AR 15.

The most important thing is personalizing your rifle to make it feel comfortable in your hands. When it comes to foregrips, there are two common types: vertical foregrips and angled foregrips.

Not sure which option best suits you? Here is some information on each grip type to help you make the best decision.

Vertical Foregrips

Vertical foregrips are grips that extend straight down from the barrel of the AR 15. Some shooters prefer this grip style, sometimes called “broomstick,” because it gives the shooter more control over the rifle with the off-trigger hand.

These vertical grips are best suited for shooters who may need the maximum vertical stability possible or shooters who anticipate firing through a large quantity of ammunition quickly. When firing over a hundred rounds, the barrel and handguard can become extremely hot, making it virtually impossible to touch them with a bare hand. The position of vertical grips ensures that they do not absorb much heat at all, allowing you to keep your focus on the target.

Though the vertical grip does have some upside, they do have the potential to get snagged onto your gear or other equipment, so every moment and your form while shooting should all be considered to ensure no unfortunate situations arise.

Angled Foregrips

With human physiology in mind, angled foregrips offer substantial control over the AR 15 & many consider them to be more comfortable for a natural hand positioning. Shooters who opt for the angled foregrip have stated that the grip allows them to aim more precisely with significantly less tension.

By placing the off-trigger hand closer to the handguard and barrel of the rifle, your form is naturally drawn more firmly into your shoulder while less tension on the hands. This results in very little to no muzzle climb and greater precision throughout the rapid firing of rounds.

It juts out from one spot on the handguard with a vertical grip, taking up very minimal space. In contrast, the angled foregrip may require more room on the handguard, meaning less available space for additional modifications.

Which grip is better?

At this point, it truly comes down to personal preference and what feels the most comfortable in your hands. We recommend that you try both styles out to ensure that you decide on the best option for you! If you have tried both types and prefer an angled foregrip, PhantomUSA offers a high-quality angled foregrip for a quality price!

AR 15: The best for Home Defense

No one wants to imagine someone breaking into their home. Still, if this unfortunate situation occurs, you want confidence in your home defense. So, what weapon do you use to protect yourself and your family? A pistol? A shotgun? What if multiple targets try to enter your home?

There are so many things that will rush through your mind in this situation; wondering if you have the correct firearm should not be one of them. Opting for a gun designed for multiple encounters will give you the secure feeling you’re looking for, and that is an AR-15.

The AR-15 makes for a perfect home defense weapon for various reasons: ease of shooting, low recoil, ease of customization, great accuracy, and much more!

Ease of Shooting

The low recoil of the AR makes it is much easier to shoot than a shotgun and even a pistol. This, along with the easy-to-hold design, allows gun owners of all experience levels to shoot this firearm with little to no trouble at all.

Great Accuracy

With virtually no kick when fired, the AR-15 has excellent accuracy. In a high-pressure situation where every shot counts, having an AR-15 will deliver. If needed, the AR-15 can easily reach a firing distance of about 300 to 500 yards accurately, whereas the pistol could only accurately reach about 25 yards for the average person.

Ammunition & Magazine Capacity 

Having a firearm with a 30-round magazine capacity might sound a little over the top for a household firearm but having the most amount of ammunition available when you truly need it is something people can understand and get behind. The AR’s most desired ammunition, the .223/5.56 NATO, is also a huge benefit when using it as a home defense weapon as it penetrates less than many other firearms. No need to worry about a bullet going through the wall and hitting the neighbors home or worse.

Easy to Customize

Changing out the stock plastic guard on your AR-15 for something like a PhantomUSA handguard which will give you move surface area for your hand, and the ability to equip other upgrades like a red dot sight, laser sight, QD sling, etc. can help give you the confidence to defend your home. The durability and quality of the handguard will also provide you with comfort, knowing it can handle any situation.

The AR-15 may not be for everyone; there will be those who still prefer a pistol or shotgun for their home defense weapon. We encourage you to test out and compare what weapon you currently have or are thinking about utilizing against the AR-15 and see the benefits for yourself.

AR 15 Terminology Guide Part 2

This editorial continues with the AR 15 terminology every shooter should know.

Action: This term describes the portion of the firearm, typically referring to rifles OR AR 15 specifically, that is the focal point of the rifle. The components involved with the action consist of the barrel, the magazine, the trigger, the buttstock, and the bolt action. The process of the “action” includes the bullet going from the cartridge into the barrel, firing the shot, retracting the bolt to eject the spent casing, and closing the bolt to feed in another bullet.

Full Metal Jacket: This form of bullet is the most “benign” type despite its depiction in the 1987 movie. The lead portion of the bullet is completely enclosed with a copper jacket, hence the name, that prevents the bullet

Locked and Loaded: A commonly used phrase that refers to the locking action of the bolt when a bullet is loaded in the chamber. This phase lets everyone know that the person is saying the term “ready to fire.”

Repeater: The ability for a AR 15 with a cartridge that can hold more than just one cartridge at a single time.

Single-shot/action: Refers to a AR 15 that can only be loaded with one bullet directly into the chamber at a time. Single action contrasts with automatic rifles where pressure applied to the trigger can continually fire round after round.

Stock: This term does not refer to factor standard components. A stock is an accessory of a rifle that consists of two essential parts, the forestock, and the buttstock. The forestock surrounds the barrel and gives the shooter a space to place their non-trigger hand. The forestock can be replaced or upgraded and can also be referred to as a handguard. The buttstock is at the rifle’s rear and is braced against the shoulder for stability when shooting the firearm.

The list of AR 15 terminology is constantly being updated and changed, but for now, you have the knowledge you need to not only look like a pro shooter but sound like one too!

AR 15 Terminology Guide Part 1

Terminology can sometimes be the differentiator between an experienced gun owner and a novice new to the scene in the firearms world. Regardless of skill level, knowledge of rifle terminology is something that everyone should stay current on. We will be going over standard AR 15 terminology that will assist you when you’re in the presents of other rifle owners.

Bullet Button: This term refers to a device that disqualifies a AR 15 as an assault rifle by removing the detachable magazine from the rifle due to the Assault Weapon Ban. The Bullet Button must be engaged to allow a magazine to be inserted and requires a slender tool such as a bullet to depress it. The Bullet Button satisfies the AWB requirements and is considered a legal loophole but is currently banned in California.

Centerfire: Sometimes synonymous with the term “high-power,” centerfire refers to the placement of the primer on the case head. This style of placement allows more powerful cartridges, thus gaining the “high-power” synonymous term.

Evil Features: A term that defines the six features of an assault rifle band under the AWB. These six defining features are: flash hider, bayonet lug, grenade launcher attachment, detachable magazine, pistol grip, folding/ telescoping stock. The Evil Features terms also make it easy to differentiate a military-grade firearm from one that is primarily used for sport or recreation.

Longarm: The term Longarm is used to describe a AR 15 length that has been designed to be brought up and fired from the shoulder. As indicated in the term, much of the overall length and weight come from the barrel. The standard length of the barrel falls between 18 to 26 inches.

Military weapon: Vague term that is used to try and distinguish between firearms that have been manufactured and used specifically for military purposes and those firearms that civilians may own and use for sport, recreation, self-defense, etc. This term is typically used when ragarding assault rifles and specific modifications to handguns.

“Poison Bullet”: A design of a bullet produced to maximize damage from fragmentation or tumbling. The tumbling or fragmentation happens by leaving a space inside the bullet with a mass that is allowed movement. Once the bullet makes an impact, the mass inside it is thrown forward, throwing off the projectile’s center of mass, causing excessive damage wherever it strikes.

Check back to see the second part of this AR 15 terminology blog and learn more about the lingo and meaning.