Should You Buy an AR-15?
I want to talk with you today about gun ownership from an investment perspective.
That's because a gun really is an investment — or perhaps, better yet, a type of life insurance.
And there is no gun that's under more media scrutiny right now than the AR-15.
The AR-15 is a lightweight, magazine-fed, gas-operated semi-automatic assault rifle. And yes, I'm calling the AR-15 an “assault rifle.”
There's a lot debate over the semantics of AR-15s. Some people will say that an “assault rifle” is only a fully automatic rifle or one with select firing capabilities. And the AR-15 is only sold standard with semi-automatic firing capability.
Call them “tactical rifles,” “defensive rifles,” “assault rifles,” or whatever you want. Let's not get bogged down with semantics — this is what we're talking about:
The AR-15 is the civilian version of the military's M-16. There are a few differences between them. But the major difference is that the M-16 has select firing capabilities. The M-16 can fire a single shot at a time or in bursts, usually two or three. But, as you know, the AR-15 can easily be converted to fully automatic fire.
Before I begin to really get into it, let me say that I have been around guns my entire life. And I personally own all types of guns, including AR-15s.
Let me also say that I'm not going to focus on whether Americans should or should not be allowed to own AR-15s or any other tactical rifle. The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution already guarantees your right to own one.
But here's the thing...
Just because you have the right to own an AR-15 doesn't necessarily mean you need to own one. The fact is, you have a right to own a lot of things you don't need. There's nothing stopping you from sinking your life savings into anything from baseball cards to Beanie Babies.
Ultimately, the question you should ask yourself before investing in an AR-15 is, “Do I need this weapon?”
Should You Buy an AR-15?
There are many reasons to own an AR-15. Some folks buy AR-15s simply for recreation — to shoot for fun. And honestly, the AR-15 is an awesome gun to fire. It's a great target-shooting weapon. But before you buy an AR for recreation, you should really consider the cost versus how often you're actually going to use this weapon.
I live in the heart of Baltimore City. From the roof of my apartment building, I could hit Baltimore's World Trade Center with a golf ball. There's nowhere in my immediate area where I can safely or legally go to fire off a few rounds.
I have a property in West Virginia in the mountains where I go to shoot. I don't keep my AR in my apartment in Baltimore. But if I did, it would mostly sit in a closet collecting dust. In fact, that's what my AR-15s are doing now. I very rarely have time to drive four hours to West Virginia just to shoot.
Another reason some people buy AR-15s is for killing farm vermin. Foxes, groundhogs, gophers, and large rodents can be harmful to crops. But if you don't live on a farm, there's no reason to own an AR for killing vermin.
And for hunting other animals like deer, the AR-15 is not a great option. AR-15s fire either a .223 Remington or 5.56×45mm NATO, depending on the model. These powerful rounds will blow a small deer apart, leaving a massive exit wound. They are not ideal for hunting for meat or trophy.
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And then there's home defense...
Home defense seems to be the #1 reason people give for owning AR-15s. Of course, owning an AR-15 is a much better option for home defense than owning no gun at all. But assault rifles are really not the best option for home defense.
First is the size and length of the barrel. Most people's houses have small hallways and rooms. A large weapon like the AR-15 is not ideal for defense in such close quarters. A much better suited gun for home defense is a semi-automatic tactical shotgun with a short barrel, like the 12-gauge Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 tactical shotguns.
But then there's the cost. An AR-15 can cost up to $2,500. And prices are only going up. For the price of one AR-15, you could buy a few really nice shotguns. Or, better yet, for the price of an AR-15, you could buy one shotgun and a security door.
I find it ridiculous that people will spend thousands of dollars on guns, then buy the cheapest door and door lock they can find at Home Depot. In fact, I'm willing to bet that some of you reading this right now don't even lock your doors when you leave the house on most occasions.
Along with security doors, there are other very affordable options to deter criminals from entering your home. Every police officer in the country will tell you that one of the best deterrents from home invasion is a large dog.
But you don't even need to own the dog. You only need to set the appearance of owning a large dog. This can be done by simply putting up “Beware of Dog” signs and leaving large dog bowls out for everyone to see.
Another good deterrent is an obvious CCTV camera system. You can buy a complete camera security system for under $500. Or, again, you really only need the appearance of a CCTV camera system as a deterrent. You can buy a set of dummy cameras for $20.
The short of it is, an AR-15 is really not the best option for home defense. And for the price, you can buy other deterrents against home invasion.
But there is still another reason people buy AR-15s: political reasons.
First, some people want to own an AR-15 to be part of the anti-gun control movement. But I think there are better ways to support the pro-gun cause.
You can donate money to or become a member of pro-gun associations like the NRA. These associations pool power to support your Second Amendment rights. You can also vote for pro-gun politicians. Or you can buy and hold shares of gun manufacturer stocks like American Outdoor Brands Corp. (NASDAQ: AOBC) or Sturm, Ruger & Company (NYSE: RGR).
But there is still one last political reason some people buy AR-15s. And in my opinion, this is among the best reasons to own one...
A population armed with assault rifles is a population prepared to handle government tyranny. There are currently about 5 million AR-15s owned by private citizens in the United States. If a tyrannical government were to usurp the country, they'd have to deal with this population. This helps put government oppression in check.
As I see them, guns are tools. And an AR-15 is nothing more than another tool in the tool chest.
Do you need to own one?
At the end of the day, I'd say that depends on your needs. If your goal is home defense, I'd urge you to buy a nice semi-automatic tactical shotgun and strong security door instead of an AR-15. If your goal is to support the pro-gun movement, the best option is perhaps supporting pro-gun politicians and associations, as well as owning shares of gun manufacturer stocks.
A gun is an investment tool. Make sure you're going to get the most out of your investment.
Until next time,
As an editor at Energy and Capital, Luke’s analysis and market research reaches hundreds of thousands of investors every day. Luke is also the investment director of Angel Publishing’s new Secret Stock Files newsletter, which helps investors leverage the future supply/demand imbalance that he believes could be key to a cyclical upswing in the hard asset markets. For more on Luke, go to his editor’s page.
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