Top 10 Common AR-15 Mistakes to Avoid while Shooting

   01.25.23

Top 10 Common AR-15 Mistakes to Avoid while Shooting

AR-15s come in many shapes and sizes, but the shooting fundamentals remain largely the same from model-to-model. The potential for mistakes also multiplies when handling a complex firearm compared to a pistol or shotgun. So, with all of that being said, here are the Top 10 most common AR-15 mistakes you need to look out for whether you are recreationally shooting at the range, hunting, or potentially competing.

AR-15 Mistakes – 1# Improper Lubrication

Shooting starts with the AR-15’s lubrication which is critical before firing a shot. Shooting with an unlubricated gun leads to rusting and the metal corroding. It’ll also harm your performance and impact your firing down the line. Put your AR-15 on a cleaning schedule – an excellent way to remember is every 250 to 300 rounds. Cleaning your gun leads to smoother firing and extended life for your AR. When in doubt, over-lubricate your AR-15 to ensure everything works as it should.

AR-15 Mistakes – #2 Shooting with Misaligned Sights

Even if you’re a good shot, your accuracy ultimately depends on the gun’s sight. Many inexperienced shooters forget to check their scopes or iron sights before hitting the range, leaving them frustrated and confused when they don’t hit their mark. Make sure your sights are aligned and clean them regularly so no debris impacts your vision.

AR-15 Mistakes – 3# Installing the Wrong Buffer

The buffer is an AR-15 part that is underrated. It’s integral for lowering the recoil and making it more fun to shoot. But some gun owners – especially those with DIY AR-15s – install the wrong buffer. After-market buffers can be helpful, but can quickly compromise your shot if you’re not careful. Incorrect buffer sizes can disable the AR-15 and significantly damage the firearm. Some upgrade to a carbine buffer which is slightly shorter and allows the bolt carrier to go too far backward. Unfortunately, the gas key stops the carrier and ends up breaking.

AR-15 Mistakes – 4# Incorrect Grip

First-timers and seasoned veterans can make mistakes when shooting an AR-15. It takes proper training and practice to ensure you’re holding it incorrectly and avoiding common errors. For example, some people choke their hands on the magazine, leading to limited movement and an unbalanced gun. Also, avoid locking your arms because they will become pinched and more difficult to rotate.

AR-15 Mistakes

AR-15 Mistakes – 5# Weak Trigger Control

When beginners first shoot an AR-15, the triggers are always heavier than they expect. As a result, their trigger control is often too weak. You need to keep consistent pressure on the trigger throughout the pull – firm trigger control will directly lead to better accuracy. Practicing without bullets is a simple way to get used to a weapon’s trigger if you’re still uncomfortable (utilizing dummy rounds).

AR-15 Mistakes – 6# Using Light Triggers

Some AR-15 owners have weak trigger control because they try to fix it with a light trigger. Light triggers are functional if you’re shooting for sport at the gun range or in your backyard, but it’s sub-optimal if you’re in a scenario where you must defend yourself. They also make it easy to discharge the gun accidentally, leading to worse issues. Each AR-15 owner should test different triggers to find the most comfortable one.

AR-15 Mistakes – 7# Flinching When Firing

Contrary to popular belief, AR-15s aren’t all that powerful and have limited uses. They don’t blow up cars or break through walls like you see in the movies. So, there’s no reason you should flinch while firing one. You should be able to control the recoil easily if you have good posture. The noise also won’t be an issue if you have earmuffs.

AR-15 Mistakes – 8# Obsessing Over Accessories

AR-15s don’t need fancy scopes, stocks, slings and other accessories. They’re nice to have, but they’re not essential. Stop getting new attachments and focus on developing your skills. Once you become a proficient shooter, you can start fooling around with different modifications. Until then, stick with a basic scope or iron sights.

AR-15 Mistakes – 9# Overloading the Chamber

Most AR-15s carry 30 rounds, but that doesn’t mean you have to fill the mag fully. Some owners manipulate the mags to fit 31, but overloading can quickly lead to malfunctions. Try using 28 or 29 rounds in the AR-15 – you’ll find the seating is more reliable if you have a closed bolt. Thirty works better for open bolts, but you may find better luck underloading the mag.

AR-15 Mistakes – 10# Shooting With a C-Clamp

Some AR-15 owners use a c-clamp for better grip, stability, and recoil. It may work for some, but for others, it has drawbacks. For example, the c-clamp can block a significant portion of your view when aiming. Another con of the c-clamp is it takes away one of your arms in combat. If your AR-15 malfunctions, you’ll need your other arm for defense. The c-clamp requires an extended arm, preventing you from using your gun as a melee weapon.


These ten mistakes are common for a reason – only a small percentage of people know how to handle firearms properly, especially AR-15s. With lots of practice and smart safety habits, you can become a part of this small percentage and master every inch of your AR-15 from stock to barrel. So, what are you waiting for? Hit the range and get to work! As always, let us know all of your thoughts in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.

***All of the instruction and thoughts within this article are the opinion of the author. They are not the representative opinion of AllOutdoor.com as an entity.***

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Martin Banks is currently a writer for AllOutdoor who has chosen not to write a short bio at this time.

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