Mizokami: Buying an AR-15 is a Modern Mid-Life Crisis

ar15 ar-15 midlife crisis

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Not brand new but it caught my eye…

I built a semi-automatic rifle in my kitchen. I’ll bet that’s one sentence you’d never thought you’d hear. Neither did I, until the day I decided to do it.

In my extended group of friends, seven of us own AR-15-type rifles. Perhaps not coincidentally, we each bought one after turning 40.

Buying this kind of rifle is the modern version of getting a Corvette during your mid-life crisis—but cheaper and probably less dangerous.

– Kyle Mizokami for the National Interest, I Built an AR-15 in My Kitchen

comments

  1. avatar No one of consequence says:

    Pfeh. A real midlife crisis entails a new workbench, every AR-related tool in the Brownells catalog, and enough spare parts to build another 1-2 rifles.

    Guess how I know this…

    1. avatar 16V says:

      Perhaps there was an auto correct typo.
      “1-2” is generally “12”, or more likely, “120”.

      And that’s just for the plastic poodle poppers. When the ‘crisis is actually noticeable there is (at least) one APC in the garage….

      1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

        “And that’s just for the plastic poodle poppers.”

        That one was in .308.

        You classify an inbound NATO 7.62 as a ‘poodle popper’? 🙂

        1. avatar arc says:

          My .308 is my general purpose rifle… the 50BMG, *cough* 30 inch barrel*, is for anything armored.

    2. avatar RedFox says:

      It’s not a midlife crisis when 40+ year olds are buying modular carbine rifles. It’s says a lot about our society. There are people who held off for 30..40..50 years. Now it’s need that, get that. It is not a mid life Crisis. It’s a societal crisis. It’s the fact we have communists in public office trying to destroy the Constitution!

      It’s not rocket science, it’s politics and you know it.

      1. avatar Derringer Dave says:

        You said, “we have communists in public office trying to destroy the Constitution!”
        No, I wouldn’t go so far as to call Trump a Communist.
        Russian agent, yes. Putin’s puppet, yes, Trying to destroy the Constitution, yes.
        Communist, no, because Russia is no longer Communist.

        🙂 /sarc/

  2. avatar Detroit Buell says:

    I have to give him credit for admitting a Corvette is more dangerous than an AR-15.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      The C8 is finally a decent sports car, and the added nannies save lots of OFWGs from themselves.

      Just sayin’

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I recently had the silly idea I could use a vette. After doing a little search I found that people apparently buy them and then don’t drive them. The highest mileage unit I checked out had 75 thousand and it was a 2000 model.

        What brought me back to reality was seeing an old geezer, white headed, rolling hard in a vette with a smoke hanging out of his face.

        He looked totally ridiculous. Cooled my desire to join the ranks of old farts trying to recapture their youth.

        1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

          My sister about 30 years back seriously considered a new ‘Vette after she got a nice promotion at work. Then I told her a set of new tires cost about 1,500 (this was the late 80s) and would be needed every 2 years (she’s no lead-foot). Oh, and every tire was specific to the corner of the car it was on.

          She cooled on the ‘Vette rapidly…

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          Get a WRX or similar. Better millage less than half the cost, capable off road, better handling that gets better the faster you go and more fun to drive.

          Loses to a muscle car off the line and on straightaways but will take the muscle car’s doors off on a winding road.

        3. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

          That was 30 years back, Strych.

          She’s in her Volvo phase now.

          If I were in my 30’s, I’d *love* a WRX. Got to drive my nephew’s 2002 when he was down here.

          *Loved* the way it claws through corners. Handling wise, his mostly-stock WRX handled very much like my 89 Civic Si, after I threw stiffer springs and Tokico Illumina gas-adjustable shocks on it. A very pleasant ‘taut’ feel to the suspension when diving into corners. Then clawing my way out and hearing the waste gate *pssst* open as I let off the gas.

          I totally get the attraction of Subi AWD in a car like that… 😉

        4. avatar strych9 says:

          Geoff:

          They’re pretty much unstoppable with that AWD provided you know how to drive them. I used to take my ’03 winter camping in the mountains here in Colorado. Would plow through 2′ of snow on an unkept dirt road without issue. Never got stuck. I took that thing in places where the guys behind me in Jeeps and pickups were screaming at me over the CB (Yes, it had a CB and yes, it looked like a giant RC car with that antenna. Truckers loved that shit.) that they were afraid they were going to get stuck. I just kept going.

          I never took the 2016 out like that but then that car didn’t live long thanks to the massive hail storm we had here last year. Did you know car insurance pays out completely differently for hail than for any other type of damage? I didn’t. They dicked me out of $12,000 on that one. Thank God I owned the car free and clear or it would have been a nightmare. I was going to replace it with a 2018 Premium model but after insurance screwed me I ended up with a 2004 Rav4.

          I guess it worked out. I’ll get another WRX in a few years and this Rav is something I can beat to shit and not really care about. Decent “fish machine” car.

        5. avatar Grant. says:

          People with WRXs are dilwads. Plus, you’d be driving a SUBARU. The MOST liberal car on the road. Not to mention it’s Jap Crap.

    2. avatar barnbwt says:

      Most vettes are fully automatic. AR’s are only full semi-auto.

      1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

        “Most vettes are fully automatic.”

        As I understand it, unless it’s personal preference (it would be for me), there’s no real performance advantage with a stick anymore. The ‘slushboxes’ are better at shifting than most drivers.

        Still, I’d want the damn stick. Memories of driving my ’71 240Z are burned in my brain. Bilstien shocks, massive bars front and rear, urethane body bushings, and an aluminum flywheel…

        1. avatar jwm says:

          I preferred the stick until my first experience with rush hour commute on a CA freeway. I haven’t driven a stick in better than 30 years now. In theory I could still do it. But the first couple of times could be embarrassing.

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          “I preferred the stick until my first experience with rush hour commute on a CA freeway.”

          I’ve never understood this but then I grew up driving stick. Heavy traffic never bothered me and probably never will, at least in terms of the transmission.

        3. avatar Mark N. says:

          The modern sport automatics are actually faster and more efficient than a stick. My boss has a 2003 BMW M3, and using the autoshift lever (rather than allowing it to shift for itself) it shifts gears in a blink of an eye. And they never miss a shift. Very F1….But I would never buy a Miata (I have a 99 Special Edition) with an automatic, that’s half the fun (and makes it harder to steal because most kids these days never learn how). I have the same feeling about Mustangs; if it isn’t a manual, it isn’t a muscle car.

    3. avatar arc says:

      I still think my chainsaw is more dangerous than a rifle, at least to my person. Fuckup with a rifle and its limp, limp, scream, drive self to the hospital. Fuckup with a chainsaw and its WHERES MY LEG!?! *pass out*

      1. avatar jwm says:

        I saw a guy mess up with a chainsaw once. Cost him an arm.

        1. …and I bet when he got to the hospital, it cost him an arm and a leg!

  3. avatar Ugly95 says:

    Does this mean I get to buy another AR and blame it on a midlife crisis? Great excuse to tell my wife thanks ;).

    1. avatar No one of consequence says:

      Only if it’s a new caliber…

    2. avatar RMS1911 says:

      No but it’s a green light for a new upper possibly in .204 Ruger.

  4. avatar IN Dave says:

    Good to know. I had my first mod life crisis at the age of 18. And I thought your were only supposed to have 1 mid life crisis, I have had…well…um….many

    1. avatar RCC says:

      IN Dave
      I’m with you bought my first AR style rifle when I was 20 (over 30 years back) and we used to see feral pigs in mobs of a 100.

      No midlife crisis just “O ***** I need a faster gun” the first time I found that many animals at once.

  5. avatar Brodirt says:

    In 2018 I bought an AR and a Mustang and Im over 50.
    No question that my Mustang is more dangerous.

  6. avatar Shire-man says:

    Bought first in 2007 after moving to a free state. I was 20-something. The only thing holding me back was a desire to not own one of those bastardized slave rifles. Sure, they work and all but it’s a constant reminder that some asshole perched in a corner office at the capitol thinks you’re a piece of shit.

    1. avatar Stuart K says:

      Yanno that’s a really great way to phrase that. They do think we are pieces of shit. Well the feeling is mutual!!

  7. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Once you’ve tripled the speed limit on a motorcycle corvettes seem a little docile. Then again, so does the 5.56 cartridge.

    1. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

      The author of the original article actually built an AR-10, not an AR-15, because his build is chambered in 7.62 X 51 NATO. So he’d probably agree with you on that.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Well then, the .308 is solidly in the muscle car arena of cartridges.

        1. avatar Jonathan-Houston says:

          You know, I’ve never owned or even fired a rifle in that caliber before. I came to firearms from the handgun side of affairs, though I’ve been dabbling in rifles for years now. Sounds like a rifle no arsenal/cache/stockpile should be without.

          Oh, by the way, I’m here at Sam’s Club. Their wifi connection bans TTAG. Who knew? Any other site comes up fine on their system, while TTAG comes up fine on mobile network connection.

      2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        .223 is like your rascal mobility scooter.
        sam’s: cabot’s vintage aged extra sharp white cheddar. yuengling’s beer bratwurst, (3 ingredients: pork, beer, spices).

  8. avatar FirstBubba says:

    My “midlife crisis” didn’t hit until my late 50’s!
    …well, as far as “kitchen” AR’s go a way! LOL!
    I worked in a gun shop about 2 years.
    The best thing I learned was to stop “BEFORE” you got in over your head!
    AR “assembly” fits right in with my “latent” gunsmith desires.
    Thanks to “YouTube”, I’m now quite adept (no expert by ANY means!) at AR assembly!
    I love it!
    I have about 10 under my belt with 3 in the safe and 2 more under construction!
    NOTE:
    Before attempting AR10 assembly, do your homework!
    All AR15 parts are “mil-spec”!
    AR10 parts ARE NOT!
    I ended up with an upper and lower that did not match. A non specific LPK would not fit my DPMS cut lower!
    Either buy all AR10 parts from the same manufacturer or “know” exactly “what” parts you are ordering!
    P.S. I learned the hard way!

    1. avatar 58marine says:

      I noticed you wrote “assembly”. I usually keep my pie hole shut but, it irks me a little when people put together pre-made parts and then call it a build.

      1. avatar ‘liljoe says:

        Unless you mine the ore, smelt it, cast it etc do you even build bro?

        1. avatar Esoteric Inanity says:

          58marine once saw a man “assemble” a house. Poor guy planed and processed all his 2x4s and plywood, but alas, he didn’t cut down the trees. Pedanticism

  9. avatar Ken says:

    I got mine not because of a mid-life crisis but because of my 2nd. childhood. I bought my AR-15 shortly before I was 70 and my first true sports car after I was 70 (a Miata, but still).

    1. avatar FirstBubba says:

      My eldest started me down the road!
      My youngest put me on the DIY path!
      Love ’em both!
      (kids AND guns! LOL!)

    2. avatar Art out West says:

      C.S. Lewis once wrote an interesting essay in the 3 ages of bicycle riding. Fun little essay.

      In short.
      First time you get a bike as child. Lots of fun.

      Later riding bike to school or work. Drudgery

      Midlife or later – get another bike, lots of fun
      again

      My dad is in his 70s, and totally enjoys riding his electric power assist bike every day. Half the effort and double the speed 😀

    3. avatar Sora says:

      More people race Miata on any given weekend vs any other cars.
      Most Corvettes are garage queens while Camaro are too afraid to enter any corner (due to low visibility)

  10. avatar former water walker says:

    No crisis with me. Just a natural progression from pistols,revolvers and shotguns. If I “build” an AR it’ll be merely mating an upper & lower. My desire for fast cars waned years ago😏

    1. avatar FirstBubba says:

      Dear fww,
      If you have the faintest glimmer of “gunsmith” in your blood, try as least ONE full assembly!
      It’s awesome to go from “pile of parts” to “functioning rifle”!
      Especially when you progress from “pile of parts” to “reload ammo” to “meat in freezer” to “venison chili”! LOL!

      1. avatar former water walker says:

        Sorry fella but I’m not particularly mechanical-gunsmith or not. I’ve spent many years fixing and refinishing furniture as an antique dealer. About to turn 65 and I DON’T CARE. I’m tired … I’m completely self taught too. I could do a build but I’m not interested beyond mating uppers and lowers. My S&W Sport is fine and cost under 400 bucks “new” used. All I plan on adding is a forend and a red dot sight…

  11. avatar FirstBubba says:

    BTW! I walked into a gun shop to purchase a scope for a new build.
    I was met at the counter by a late 20’s, double Y chromosome ape with a 5 o’clock shadow, a Mr. T starter kit around his neck and a fistful of hair sticking out of the neck of his “store emblazoned” golf shirt!
    Things went downhill from there!
    1. The scope I wanted to see wasn’t in stock.
    2. No, he wouldn’t sell me the next up model out of the display at a discount.(5-10%)
    3. Had no idea IF or WHEN they might refill their stock.
    4. Hard glare!
    5. No smile!

    It was then I realized his assumption that a GOF* couldn’t have ANY idea about what goes on an AR, much less HOW to assemble one – – – CORRECTLY!

    Bought the same scope online $10 cheaper, no shipping, no judgement!

    *GOF – grizzled old fart!

    1. avatar StLPro2A says:

      +1 for GOF…..it takes a long time and a lot of life’s hard knocks to get a PhD Magna Cum Laude in Life. Proud of these scars and chrome dome……unlike those pansy ass millennials with their flaming pink hair, Twinkie tats,. body piercings, and tender feelings.

  12. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    I think it depends on your disposition. If you like to tinker and build things, then I strongly encourage you to build your own AR-15 rifle. And if you are the type that can run down and verify a lot of details, go ahead and try building an AR-10 rifle.

    1. avatar Brandon says:

      My first build was an AR. It was challenging and has been the most difficult of my rifles to tune. I also built it before lots of companies jumped on the AR10 game and prices started to drop so it ended up being far more expensive than it would be now. I learned a lot from that build, and there are several things that I would do differently now, but it is still one of my favorite guns in my safe. Subsequent AR15 builds have been much more straightforward and probably more thought out, but there is always something about that first love…

  13. avatar Ralph says:

    For me to have a midlife crisis now I’d need a life expectancy of 140 years.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Wait? What? 140? I thought you was already there.

      How does somebody get that snarly and cantankerous in only 70 years?

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Yes, but it takes decades of practice.

  14. avatar Kyle Mizokami says:

    Well, this is certainly interesting–I finally made The Truth About Guns. It’s not often I see my own name in my RSS feed.

    I think it’s pretty clear–or it was until my then-editor (who I no longer work with) chopped the hell out of it–that my remark ARs are for people going through mid-life crises applied to my friends and I. It certainly was in my case. I did not mean it as a dig against gun owners.

    This article is several years old and has been syndicated across the internet. The 80 percent lower actually ended up not working–the bolt catch position was out of spec–which was a real bummer. While the rest of it worked, not being able to lock the bolt back–particularly on a AR-10–was an obvious safety hazard.

    I ended up buying an Aero Precision M5 lower instead and building off that. The gas system gave me problems but nothing an adjustable block wouldn’t fix. A Geissele DMR trigger and Criterion barrel paired with a SWFA optic makes it a very nice shooter.

    1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

      “Well, this is certainly interesting–I finally made The Truth About Guns.”

      Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

      And before this article, what was your overall opinion of TTAG?

      1. avatar kyle mizokami says:

        “Well, this is certainly interesting–I finally made The Truth About Guns.”
        >Is that a good thing, or a bad thing?
        I was in discussions to have my writing appear for TTAG in 2013. It didn’t work out. With this article, I finally “made” TTAG.

        “And before this article, what was your overall opinion of TTAG?”
        There are articles I like, which is why I follow it in my feed. I like Leghorn’s reviews. I’m not into the culture wars and really have no interest in whether or not someone, somewhere is dissing gun people.

        1. avatar Geoff "Bring the EDIT button back, will ya, TTAG?" PR says:

          Leghorn pops in from time-to-time, he’s currently working on his airline transport pilot rating. Keeps him busy logging hours…

  15. avatar Bill says:

    Considering I bought my first Colt AR-15 h-bar a few hours after I turned 18 I don’t believe the author is correct.

  16. avatar NORDNEG says:

    Nice,,,, can never have too many weapons,,, I prefer big bores myself, but I can choose several different calibers if I want, I got a bunch, & not one of them, not one ever got up & shot someone who didn’t need to be sh…. oh I better shut up.

  17. avatar AlanInFL says:

    He is an idiot writer from SFO. I have read some his articles and he has no clue what he is trying to write about.

  18. avatar StLPro2A says:

    No longer having an AR crisis……got tired of another one…..but, do have a gun crisis….often a scope crisis….every week or two. Yeah, had that traditional red Corvette crisis at 42. Survived the Over The Hill 50 Crisis by riding over the hill…aka The Continental Divide….. 4 times that day on a new black Harley. Had a 55 or 57 crisis with first Barrett M82……now have a crisis rainbow each of Barrett M107A1s and MRADs……damn Ronnie started makin’ ’em in colors!!!! Just turned 70 late December (it does go fast….money is a renewable commodity, heartbeats not; spend those heartbeats wisely), confronting a Late Life Crisis involving a Class A tag axle diesel pusher……makin’ the Barrett crisis look like lunch money. Obviously, no adult supervision in my life. It WAS worth providing goods and services for 47 years to those who could and would pay well for my value added visionary perspective. AW, LIFE IS GOOD!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 No, let’s see what I found at the SHOT SHOW……

  19. avatar David Deplorable says:

    A midlife crisis is realizing you only have a single AR15. And only 5 magazines.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      I have one AR 15, and only 3 mags. I never understood why I would want more than one. I can’t shoot more than one at a time, and I am not equipping the neighborhood.

  20. avatar strych9 says:

    I got my first one at less than half that age. One of us is doing g this wrong.

  21. avatar Jross says:

    I’ve built a semi automatic rifle in my boxers. It’s not a big deal.

  22. avatar Wally1 says:

    So I did it backward, got my first AR-15 in about 1987, bought my 1969 427 Corvette in 1989, it was in sad shape and restored it over the years. Hardly ever drive it but it is nice for a summer day. Both can be given to someone else after I pass. Didn’t have a midlife crisis, already did that in my 30’s and 40’s. It’s good to have a hobby, stops you from doing stupid crap.

    1. avatar Rocketman says:

      I had a 1968 Corvette convertible that I customized myself back in 1973-74 when I was just 21 years old. Went to a friend’s wedding and got phone numbers for 4 of the 5 bridesmaids there. Made out like a bandit back then because the women wanted their other friends to see them driving around town in it. Life was good back then.

  23. avatar Kendahl says:

    I am both amused by and contemptuous of this bullshit about “mid life crises”. You spend your youth preparing for adult life, work for decades providing for your family and, once your children are self sufficient and your debts paid off, you can finally afford to indulge yourself in the things you always wanted but put off because you were responsible. This is a crisis?

  24. avatar Mark N. says:

    Yes, I was over 50, but no, it wasn’t a mid-life crisis. It was Senator Kevin “Machine Gun” De Leon telling me I couldn’t have a “Ghost gun.” So I bought a polymer lower and Dremeled/Drilled it out in the garage. Surprisingly enough, the completed rilfe actually worked!

  25. avatar HandyDan says:

    So the author and his friends all got into an interest at the same time, and because they all happened to be 40+ they decide it is a midlife crisis. Got it. I guess anything you develop an interest in after a certain point is now considered a midlife crisis.

  26. avatar Erik Weisz says:

    I think the “mid-life-crisis” theory is a myth for the most part – it’s something people who can’t afford things or accept responsibility for ownership say about people who can. A guy in his 50’s or whatever who buys a nice sports car isn’t reliving his childhood, he’s fulfilling his dreams. Chances are he couldn’t afford a nice sports car in his childhood, and then family took precedence over indulgences – now he can finally afford something nice for himself and people want to give him shit for it because they don’t have one. How many 20-somethings do you see driving $120k Corvettes etc.? People who get into guns who didn’t grow up that way are simply growing up and recognizing their need to be self-reliant and responsible for the safety of themselves and their loved ones.
    The theory that one’s mortality suddenly dawns with the realization of all you haven’t done or bought or screwed or whatever and now all of the sudden time is running out holy shit – it’s bullshit. That’s every day of every man’s life his whole life, unless he’s a soy-boi Gillette man.
    In any case, I’m good – I got my first shotgun when I was 5, started driving when I was 10, got my first rifle when I was 12, drove legally at 16 in my first car (which was a Camaro), have had guns and done my own smithing all along the whole time, and have absolutely no intention of ever leaving my wife because I’m as in love with her as I ever was. If I’m an old guy who buys a Corvette, good for me – I’ll drive it like I stole it and fuck anyone who doesn’t like it. I don’t care.

  27. avatar Wally1 says:

    Well said +5. You Sir, are a poet.

  28. avatar 61north says:

    I’m over 40, but I bought my toys because Hillary and Obama said I shouldn’t have them. I’m just a rebel like that.

  29. avatar Jimmy the Jackoff says:

    “Would plow through 2′ of snow on an unkept dirt road without issue. ”

    Bullshit from a lying pretender . . . what are you? A baby killing Democrat?

    [email protected]

  30. avatar BummerDude says:

    A five speed Firebird with a slightly leaky gas tank, a recall on the seatbelts older than I am, one airbag that prolly doesn’t work anymore, a propensity to slide on corners like nothing else even on new tires vs the humble AR…

    Yup, I think range day is safer on the whole.

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