How To Have One AR-15 For Everything From 0-600yds


If you would like to setup your AR-15 to perform from 0 to 600 yards — in other words — one rifle for practically everything you need, then this article will show you how.

Call my crazy, but if I’m spending good money on a rifle I want to get the most use out of it.

The fact of the matter is that the AR-15 is way more capable than most people give it credit for … as long as … you set it up correctly.


Here’s how to do that:

The 1 Rifle For Everything Concept

This is somewhat similar to the “Recce” concept rifle that the SEAL teams developed …

You want a rifle that’s still around carbine size (meaning not too long, no 20″ barrels) for up close CQB work, but still able to reach out and make good hits at distances out to 600 yards (or more) reliably.

In the video below, Frank Proctor, US Special Forces vet and USPSA Grandmaster shooter explains the concept of 1 rifle for everything and his preffered setup:

The Three Keys To Having An AR-15 That Does It All

As you can see, to get the full long-range benefits of a quality AR-15 not much in the way of upgrades is needed — primarily a free floated barrel, a good magnified optic (preferably variable from 1x for CQB to as high as 6x-8x for long range) and good ammo.

At around 500-600 yards the 5.56 is right at the edge of its ballistic effectiveness even though many people have made hits out at further distances — even 1,000 yards — with stock M4’s.

Heck, as far as I know the U.S. Marines still make you qualify with a stock, iron sighted M16 at 500 yards so the platform is more than capable at this distance.

Is a Magnified Optic as Fast As a Red Dot For Close Quarters?

The answer, as far as I can tell, is yes. Or at least close enough not to matter too much.

First, 3-gun guys have been running a variable optic setup for this reason for many years now for this very reason. They can smoke the up close targets on 1x power and then quickly get some magnification power — up to 6x these days — for long range targets when needed.

Second, with practice it appears that you can be just as fast as with an unmagnified red dot optic up close with a variable optic.

In the video below Steve of Sentinel Concepts and Jeff of Armed Dynamics compare Red Dots (Trijicon MRO) in timed shots versus Magnified Optics (Trijicon Accu-Power) (warning: NSFW language if you care).

Most of My Personal AR-15’s Are Setup This Way

I really think a variable optic has a lot of benefits over a non-magnified red dot and for this reason and as you saw in the videos most of my personal AR-15’s are setup this way too.

I like a 16″ free floated barrel, 1-6 variable optic, and good ammo — an AR-15 setup this way can be used for home defense just as easily as trekking through the woods hunting or making long range shots as needed.

What do you think? Do you run red dots on your AR-15’s or do you like variable optics too? Or something else?

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Caleb Lee is the #1 best-selling author of "Concealed Carry 101" and founder of He is a civilian (no law enforcement or military experience) who shares information about self-defense and becoming more self-reliant. He's a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo, NRA Certified Basic Pistol & Personal Protection Inside The Home Instructor, Concealed Carry Academy Instructor certified & also a graduate of the Rangermaster firearms instructor course. He's also the author of numerous online courses including the course.


  1. Shoot whatever you want, But I personally feel that the little 5.56/.223 round runs out of gas too badly at far less than 600 yds to be considered a viable choice. If I HAD to get a shot off at 600 yards and all I had was an AR15, I might very well take it, but it would be an act of desperation. And shooting anything cpable of performing well at 600 is going to be over penetrating at inside the house ranges. Again, if I had to take the shot, I would, but with severe misgivings.

    • As long as you’re hitting it … IMHO it’s fine right?

      Let’s pretend the 5.56 is “only” hitting like a 9mm or even the lowly .380 ACP at 600 yards (I’m over emphasizing to make a point) — that’s still probably pretty effective. And a 30 rd mag gives you lots of chances to make it work and then finally, the “threat” is still 600 yards away — giving you lots of time to move, flee, or prepare to dump more rounds in — with higher ballistic effects — the closer the threat gets.

      Anyways, plenty of shots made at long distances in Afghanistan with the lowly 5.56 these days ….

  2. I am right handed and have lost the use of my right eye (retinal melanoma.) I use a red dot on top of a handle on my AR and roll it left so I can use my left eye. Works great. Do the same with my AK 74 Tantal (wire folding stock.) Because of the wire stock I can get a low cheek weld.

  3. Or just buy a POF p-415 with a 18″ or even their 16″ Rock creek 5r barrel and mount a bushnell smrs 1-6.5×24 btr2 reticle and call it good. The horseshoe and dot are super fast up close even under mag and dialed up you can make precise hits the the crosshairs

    • Yeah basically that’s the idea … though I’m not a fan of the piston driven AR’s. I’d much prefer regular DI

  4. Oh yeah and ya got ak reliability to boot! 77gr smk for distance 60plus gr bonded Bullets for most else.

    • Meh, as I said DI’s are quite reliable — no reason to go piston with the AR — but to each his own 🙂

      p.s. totally agree with your bullet choices though! good stuff!

  5. I’m thinking application would have a bit to do with it. I use a red dot on my .223 upper, being on a fixed income, most of the optics in your video are a ways out of my price range. I also run a suppressed .300 Blk out, for night hunts. I recently saved up the money( which wasn’t an easy chore) and purchased an ATN day/night digital optic. I have found that at magnification, it pixilates a bit, giving a grainy sight profile, but up to about 6x it’s fine and works great. the .300 uses a Wilson combat 10.5 in barrel with an intigrated can of 11.75 in, to an overall length of 17.25 in. Have fun figuring that one out. lol Thanks for the informative video Caleb Oh BTW, the can is a home built form 1 stainless steel front to back.

  6. Thanks, yeah I still like the di rifles too! But have had bad luck with several, some of them respected brands. I’m not a shill for the above brand but I am lazy and like the easy maintenance and reliability is above what I’ve experienced with other di ar rifles. Especially with surplus or com bloc steel ammo which I believe any rifle for Shtf should be capable of eating even if your stacking deep good u.s. Or Israeli. Also it doesn’t have a return spring over the oprod which is one piece. Very similar to the proven fal

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