I won't go much into technical details, since I've covered this twice already. The technical is the same - accurate, easy to shoot, nice rifle.
Instead, I want to focus on the experience of shooting, I'll also not repeat what I said in a comment over at PDB's, about Appleseed, other than to say that shooting has to be fun for new shooters. Otherwise, they won't go back, and you'll end up shooting alone.
#2 son liked things that I hadn't even thought about. For example, it was really easy for him to load the magazine. This has never been a problem for me, but it has been one for him. Removing the frustration while reloading was a clear win for him.
He also liked the almost total lack of recoil. Both my regular readers hear me whine about recoil all the time, but I'm perfectly comfortable with something packing a little oof, like .30-.30 (mmmm, Lever Gun!). Him, not so much. But even I noticed: between us, we shot 80 rounds of .223 - I had a big old bruise the last time I shot 40 rounds of .30-.30.
But these are "hygiene" features. Removing a bad experience here reduces the chance of that "I didn't have a very good time" experience. But the most important component of fun is hitting the target. #2 son was ecstatic. I won't post a pic, but all his prairie dogs were very satisfactorily perforated.
I'd go so far as to say that the AR-15 might be the ideal gun for a first time shooter. There are two downsides:
- It's a fairly significant BANG, especially when compared to a .22.
- The ammo is quite a bit spendier than .22. Quite a bit.
- The first time shooter might think "I'm shooting a real rifle. I can do this, it's not unpleasant at all."
- The first time shooter might think "Holy cow! I'm hitting the target!"
- The first time shooter might think "What's the big deal with 'Assault Weapons'?"
- The first time shooter might think "This is fun. I should do this again."