Is This The ULTIMATE AR-15?


One of the biggest benefits of the AR-15 is also one of the biggest downfalls …

It’s so versatile and there are so many options!

You can choose barrel lengths, optics, handguards, grips, triggers, gas systems, and on and on and on it goes …


A theme we’ve explored here before is the “1 rifle for everything concept”. I think this is it.

Is This The ULTIMATE AR-15?

In the video below, “Garand Thumb” describes his Recce Rifle setup.

Now, keep in mind, I don’t think that Garand Thumb’s personal rifle setup is THE ultimate setup.

But, I do think the “idea” is the ULTIMATE setup for the AR-15 because it gives you so much versatility.

Like he says, you can do everything from CQB type room clearing/home defense to taking shots at 500+ yards with a setup like this.

I think that’s ideal.

With that said, from the video, here are the specs I got …

Garand Thumb Recce Rifle Setup:

* 14.5″ BCM 1/7 Barrel
* BCM Alpha KMR Lightweight Keymod Rail
* Magpul Mbus BUIS
* BCM Kinesthetic Angled Grip (KAG) when using NOD stuff
* Streamlight Protac Light
* Arisake Mount for light
* Steiner M5Xi 1-5×24
* Bobro scrope mount
* BCM charging handle
* B5 Systems Stock with storage
* Frank Proctor Way of The Gun Sling

More On The “1 Rifle For Everything” Concept

In the past we’ve talked about a similar setup.

Check out How To Have One AR-15 For Everything From 0-600yds for more info on how Frank Proctor, US Special Forces vet and USPSA Grandmaster shooter sets his up (you’ll see a lot of similarities).

You can also see How Special Operations Soldiers Setup Their AR-15’s for another active duty guy who gradually modified his rifle over multiple deployments until he had what is basically a very similar setup.

What do you think? Do you setup your AR-15 for various uses or do you have multiple ones that each have a specific role?

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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. I think it depends on your budget. I’m not made of money. So, I need the most bang for my buck. The recce concept is what I’ve been looking at for my own set up. Yeah, id like to have a special upper for varminting with a 22-24″ barrel, a CQB upper for home defense/truck gun with a 14.5″, and a .458 SOCOM upper just because I like BIG bullets. But, let’s get real. I have a wife and daughter to take care of. I can justify 1 AR with a 16-18″ barrel and a decent scope. That will satisfy 90% or more of my shooting needs. I don’t have a need or even a place to take shots out past 500 yards. So, the extra velocity from a longer barrel does me no good except for a few extra ft.lbs. of downrange energy. If the revolution starts or the zombie apocalypse happens, I may regret not having that extra barrel length or that dedicated sniper upper, but I think the odds of that are low.

    • i agree with you but someday i will set u[ a very accurate 24 inch barrel from a good barrel maker. one to do everything is an all right idea, but if something fails you are out of luck until you fix it. i love the bigger bores also. the 50 Beowulf i got is killer and very accurate. i do have the 458 socom but have not had time to break it in or go shooting in a year and a half. i love the 6.5 Grendel. the BC’s you can get out of that round makes it a great rifle. also the ar10 is great having the 308 and i have the 260 remington which is a 308 case necked down to the 6.5 and the wonderful BC. the 308 is more powerful then the 260 remington out of the gate but with the great ballistics at 1000 yards the 260 has more power. one gun is not right even for me single. if you have family it is nice to know you can supply everyone with a gun just in case and at least an extra couple for break downs. one gun to do everything is all right, i am not a one gun guy. shooting,, my favorite pass time. you really have to reload those big bullets, i certainly can’t afford $3 a bullet. i always thought the ar’s were ugly, but beauty is skin deep and i love the platform now

  2. • My only thought is …. for “real life” CQB situations, extra inches & lbs. translate into a few extra seconds (or milliseconds), & if I’m really that up close and personal, I want every advantage I can get (especially if my life, or my familys lives hang in the balance) – Inside my home, (pretty tight & narrow doorways & hallways.) I’d want/need a very short (10.5in) barrel for room clearing &/or to engage multiple assailants quickly & efficiently indoors. (Not a lot of room for error or compromise in that kind of situation, *where any mistake is permanent & likely fatal!)
    •• For most ppl, an extremely versatile gun, is probably the most cost effective & overall the most efficient/synergistic way to go about things!!! # 💩
    • >> Whether 14.5in, 16in, or 18in. – for 95% of the time it will be perfect, the remaining 5% of the time: A shiny, new, reasonably priced- Upper Receiver(with matching optics) will be all that’s required to satisfy your desire for a change, your interest in a new/different caliber, or your changing situational requirements. The real question is: what can it NOT do?! …to It’ll handle most anything and everything you can throw at it.
    (Any barrel – 14.5in (w/ pinned muzzle device) & up should be 100% legal & EZ-Peazy! No extra ATF forms to file,fees to pay, or delays to wait for…. & while the longer barrels are not “The Best” necessarily for tight CQB, 16in is still completely do-able + the extra velocity & further reach is a good trade off, imho. (Although a bull-pup would be my ‘go to’ if I was req’d to keep a 16in barrel length.

    • Given the vast plethora of unique shooting scenarios that may reasonably present themselves, (or be conjured up with a few hours + a Home Depot run!) the relatively limited amount of time most ppl have to spend training, & the unfortunate situation that somehow most of us have misplaced our $9,747,738 fortunes, & therefore exist in a reality where limited budgets sometimes restrict our ‘fun gun collections’. “We” are probably best served by training, plinking, hunting, etc… on just 1 really good system!!

    • The AR-15 , AR-10, etc… allows the use of almost any caliber imaginable, with Uppers that can be quickly & easily swapped- even if you can’t quite limit yourself to just (1) setup, you can at least keep yourself operating within the same platform (controls, feel, & action: all stay 99% consistent)

    • This ‘1 Platform Methodology’ -by design, is constantly, consistently, & singularly, reinforcing our muscle memory and “best practIces” to keep us ‘fresh’ and responsive, so that in the event of a REAL REAL emergency, if all else fails ( bad night vision, lighting, your adrenaline spikes thru the roof, you have to shit reeallly reallly bad, anything…)& your normally highly developed cognitive & fine motor functions –suddenly go to shit!, hopefully your muscle memory & repetition reinforced training responses will take the reins & get you thru it alive & in 1 or 2 piece(s)!! ).

    • Just my .02cents. (opinions are only as valuable as the asshole they’re attached to!!)

    & you don’t have to take my word for it, but, when I was a kid: we had to walk 5 miles, barefoot, in the snow, each way just to go to school, it was uphill both ways, in only my old, hand me down tee shirt- it was -90 degrees & always blizzarding! But we didn’t complain, because we weren’t rotten, spoiled, entitled lil shits like ya’ll today! We shared a raisin for lunch every day! Got a cut?! Rub a little dirt on!! & see— we turned out just fine! ::cough:: …”Hand me my Diet Pepsi & those 7……No, 8 bottles of meds from Walgreens?” & “Where’s my .44 magnum?”, “Stop! Trying to take my guns!” – “Your like those damn Democrats!” “Those are my God Damn hand grenades, keep your greasy mits off off of ’em!!”

    • #Sooo i guess, what I’m saying is YES! I do love tits, but I’m more of an ass guy myself!

    • That was the most schizophrenic yet valuable comment to a blog post I’ve ever read in a long time. Kudos and bravo sir.

    • But we didn’t complain, because we weren’t rotten, spoiled, entitled lil shits like ya’ll today!

      (That’s just great!)

  3. Just my opinion: the “All-in-one” platform is a unicorn. I love the bolt-action 30-06 with scope that I got for medium-large North American game; but it is not a practical battle rifle. My AR-10 is a very practical battle rifle; but is really awkward for everyday carry. (applies to the AR-15 as well) My 1911’s are literal showstoppers for “traditional” gunfights but geeze-carry that hunk-o-iron concealed! Long story short; I personally have a bunch of things that go bang, thwack, whoosh, zzzzz, etc. and each one has a specific role to play in ensuring my continuing to respirate. Everyone has a responsibility to examine their own circumstance critically and make the best determination for their personal needs. Get the expert’s opinion, complete with explanation of the reasoning; make your personal decision based on your unique situation.

  4. The SEAL’s wanted to upgrade the M4 to get a bit more range and added a better optic – they went to SS 16″ mid weight “SOCOM PROFILE” barrels 1 in 8 twist carbine gas system and a free float barrel/hand guard system and H2 buffer. This is how the RECCE came to be.

  5. I’ve never been a fan of mounting the whole damn tool box to the front of the gun. I think a lot of these accessories are more luxuries than necessities. For 0-100 yards a simple red dot is sufficient. Even an OEG will work fine. From 100 yards out a simple scope with good glass especially for us folks with older eyes. As for lights, lasers, this, that, and the other thing is not necessary. Night vision and/or thermal for night shooting and a good sling with reliable and quiet hardware is fine. Accessories depend on the mission and of course budget. Keep your weapon as light and as simple as possible.

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