The Truth About the AR-15 Rifle

In the wake of the post-Sandy Hook media frenzy, it’s unfortunate that the vast majority of pundits have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to guns. Especially with a firearm like the AR-15 (a.k.a., “Assault Rifle”). Scanning the press coverage, there’s no end of misinformation about the ArmaLite Rifle (AR) design and why it is such a popular firearm in the United States. Hopefully I can put some of that right . . .

1.Versatility

Before the AR-15 rifle made its way onto the market gun owners needed to buy a different gun for each caliber and application.

Whether they wanted inexpensive target shooting (with cheap ammo like .22lr) or deer hunting (with a more substantial caliber like .308 Winchester), owners had to buy a different firearm for each use. Changing calibers was expensive, time consuming, and generally a one-way process.

Shooters were also stuck with their rifle’s ergonomics. If the stock was too long or too short there wasn’t much they could do—except pay a gunsmith to modify the gun. The same was true if you didn’t like the rifle’s trigger or the sights. Changing anything was a major pain in the butt.

With an AR-15, gun owners don’t need a qualified gunsmith to modify or customize their gun. The average shooter can order the parts online and perform the work themselves with little more than a screwdriver, a wrench and a hammer. [Click here for a how-to.]

In fact, there’s only one part of the gun that an owner has to buy through a gun shop: the “receiver” (pictured above). It’s the serialized part. Technically, as far as the ATF is concerned, it is the gun. I’ve assembled all of my own AR-15 rifles from scratch, having purchased only the receiver through a gun shop.

Everything about the AR-15 platform can be changed to fit the specific end user and their intended use. Long range shooters might add a longer barrel and big scope to the gun for increased accuracy. Those interested in home defense might choose a shorter barrel and add a flashlight to the gun. You can even change the grip to fit your hand exactly and make shooting more comfortable.

2. Hunting

The gun control advocates, the media and a certain President are fixated on the idea that AR-15s are “military weapons” that “have no place on the street.” Again and again we hear that they’re not suitable for hunting.

Not true.

Hundreds of thousands of hunters use the AR-15 platform (which is often sold in complete configurations specifically designed for hunting). The gun is rugged, reliable, portable and accurate. What’s more, the ability to quickly and easily change the rifle’s caliber offers American hunters a huge advantage.

I use an AR-15 that fires the relatively new 300 AAC Blackout round for hunting in Texas. When deer aren’t in season I swap my AR’s upper receiver for one that shoots the much cheaper .22lr cartridge. This kind of caliber swap cuts down on costs and makes hunters more accurate (since they’ve been practicing with their hunting rifle all year long).

3. Self-defense

The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 rifle, as adopted by the U.S. armed forces. The M-16 was developed in the wake of World War II. Generals wanted a rifle that would allow U.S. servicemen to put rounds on target accurately at extreme distances (as they did with the M1 Garand in WWII).

That’s the reason the rifle came with a bulky stock and precision “aperture” sights. The Powers That Be wanted their troops to take precise aimed shots from the shoulder. So despite what the media would have you believe, the AR-15 was not “designed” to “spray” bullets. It was created as a precision rifle.

A great offensive weapon makes a great defensive weapon. The AR-15 is an easy-to-use and effective rifle for self-defense, both at close and distant ranges. If someone was defending say, a school, and they were positioned at the end of a corridor, an AR-15 would give them the speed, repeatability (i.e. ammunition capacity) and/or accuracy they’d need to eliminate a lethal threat. Or threats.

Which is why so many Americans depend on the AR-15 for the self-defense. It’s also the reason the police rely on AR-15s to counter active shooters.