The Truth About AR-15 Rifles

Image: Chris Dumm

[Ed: Nick originally wrote this less than a week after the Sandy Hook shooting, but it’s still just as relevant today.]

In the wake of recent events, it’s obvious and 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 (that’s what AR means, not “assault rifle”) design and why it’s the most popular rifle in the United States. Hopefully I can put some of that right.

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 .22 LR) or deer hunting (with a more substantial caliber like .308 Winchester), shooters had to buy a different firearm for each use. That made changing calibers 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 short of paying a gunsmith to modify their firearm. The same was true if you didn’t like the rifle’s trigger or its sights. Changing just about anything was a major pain in the butt.

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

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

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

Hunting

Gun control advocates, the media and many politicians are fixated on the idea that AR-15s are “military weapons” or “weapons of war” that “have no place on our streets.” We hear again 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.

deer hunting with AR-15 rifle

courtesy ar15.com

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 .22 LR cartridge. This kind of caliber swap cuts down on costs and makes hunters more accurate (since they can afford to practice with their hunting rifle all year long).

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 originally 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 originally created as a precision rifle.

And despite plenty of misinformation to the contrary, civilian AR-15 rifles are semi-automatic. That means one round per trigger pull. Actual fully automatic machine guns are rare as hens teeth and prohibitively expensive thanks to regulation that goes back as far as 1934.

A great offensive weapon also makes a great defensive weapon. The AR-15 is an easy-to-use and effective rifle for personal and home defense. 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 that police rely on AR-15s to counter active shooters.

 

comments

  1. avatar RGP says:

    Originally, the Air Force wanted it because it was a modular design and it was sort of stuffed down the throats of everyone else thanks to a one size fits all guy named Robert McNamara who was JFK’s Secretary of Defense.

    Anyone who wants one can have one as far as I’m concerned but I’ll continue to ignore the sales pitches and get whatever I like.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      It has become the small block chevy of firearms – a well polished turd.

      Flawed by basic design, but throw enough cubic dollars at the platform and it can perform acceptably.

      Oh well, to each his/her own and all that.

      1. avatar Chadwick says:

        Or like the sbc it’s a great way for someone on a budget to have a lot of fun. Perfection costs and for many people the ar or a stroked sbc is much better than a cap gun or a 2.8 v6.

      2. avatar Bearacuda says:

        What would you replace it with? Every firearm has its pros and cons.

    2. avatar possum says:

      I too am not enamored with the AR. It’s beginning to seem it’s ” the only rifle”. Almost a Creedmoor joke of its own making.

  2. avatar Elaine D. says:

    And this is why ARs are never gonna get banned. They are the perfect American rifle. There’s too much money in it. Not just the guns but the accessories. Especially the accessories, which quickly outpace the cost of even a really nice rifle.

    We love our options too much. Our giant buffets and 18 different pills for the same condition, 48 kinds of jeans, 390 kinds of lip gloss, etc. That’s the American way! Don’t you try to take away my 14 flavors of tortilla chips, that’s tyranny!

    Not gonna happen. And if for some reason there is a temporary lockdown you know what’s gonna happen? Handsomely priced accessory kits to “convert” your rifle will appear on the market, we will all pay through the wazoo for them, and then after things reverse back, we’ll change ‘em back to what they were before. Well, some of us will, while others will run with the new kits and develop a whole line of new tacticool for them.

    1. avatar CZ Rider says:

      They already have been. The federal one didn’t stick. The state ones did in some cases. Personally, I’ll stop worrying when I don’t know anyone who doesn’t have one in the house and they’re as un-special in the public consciousness as the car in everyone’s driveway. Seeing as they remain a scary mystery to the population at large and are hated and targeted for extermination by dozens if not hundreds of government functionaries from local to federal level, I’ll not let myself drift into complacency, thanks.

      1. avatar ‘liljoe says:

        I don’t know if I agree, cigarette companies owned this country, until they didn’t. And one day it won’t matter how many of us use the product, they will ban and restrict it to protect us from ourselves.

        Truth is complete disarmament is their end goal, and they won’t stop until they reach it, one bite here, another there. It’s very hard to get rights back afterward, so overcompensating on our part now is the best way to ensure our children will enjoy the same freedoms we have.

        Or do you want national gun laws like NY city, where the average person can’t, not won’t, own one? Or Cali where they restrict new designs and models just because?

        1. avatar Elaine D. says:

          @liljoe

          Nah. That is not gonna happen. People still smoke. You can still get cigarettes in every single grocery and convenience store, just like alcohol. It has gotten no harder to get them at all. The only thing that’s changed is the strength of the warnings on the boxes.

          People are people and cultures don’t change easily. The United States is a gun culture whether people own guns or not. Only a certain percentage of people is ever going to own something like an AR because in general rifles are something only owned by people who are more serious about shooting and willing to put money into it. As such rifle owners of any type are always going to be a minority in the shooting world, with the vast majority of gun owners only being interested in handguns and most of them probably rarely ever even shooting those handguns. That’s just my opinion.

        2. avatar California Richard says:

          @ElaineD

          And people can still buy guns in New York City and New Jersey. We don’t hold those places up as the paragons of firearms freedom, writing off their restrictions as simply a change of labeling.

          Saying that the only restrictions cigarettes have gone through is the addition of a warning label is a gross mischaracterization of the truth. All one has to do is Google “cigarette laws” to see through that one.

          ** I don’t smoke. I think its a filthy habit. I would never begrudge someone for doing it. You have that right, God bless you…. I also have the right to not pay your medical bills. The government thinks defferent on both accounts. They are more than happy to restrict your freedom and take my money.

          Re: rifles…… no. Rifles are and always have been cheaper, easier to shoot, and vastly more popular than handguns. Most homicides (lawful and unlawful) are committed with handguns because they easy to tranport, conceal, and their death to weight ratio makes them more efficient than a rifle…. handguns are also more complicated, harder to shoot accurately, and more expensive than rifles.

        3. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          “The only thing that’s changed is the strength of the warnings on the boxes.”

          not. public perception and tolerance. the tax rate. costs due to liability.
          i don’t equate squares or cast iron ohv v8’s to firearms, but i imagine big stickers that scream “warning not a toy this thing can kill stuff” will not be the end of the road.

        4. avatar Elaine D. says:

          @California

          My point was that it’s not hard at all to get cigarettes. What people are afraid of is something completely going away and no one being able to get it. I don’t think that is going to happen. Are we going to see more ERPO laws, probably. Are we going to see more dollars and paperwork put on getting one, probably. But I’m just not convinced that some kind of unilateral ban is going to happen or even can happen.

          States have the right to impose their own restrictions. I don’t see all the states going for bans. Some will and some won’t. SCOTUS has said they have the right to do that. You’ll see the states and the gov duking it out endlessly. As they do now. It’s messy and inconvenient, but states’ rights are IMO still a better option for this than some kind of national “for,” because a unilateral “for” can more easily become a unilateral “against.” People have different opinions about that, of course.

          I don’t smoke either. So I too am someone who pays for the privilege of others smoking, drinking, and eating to excess. Then again, they’re paying for my asthma. What are you gonna do. You win some you lose some.

        5. avatar CZ Rider says:

          Some people may be focused on that. Meanwhile, those of us who maintain a rational view of reality have noticed that there is a sustained and generational push in progress to try and eradicate civilian firearm ownership by way of creeping incrementalism and cultural warfare. The antis do everything they can to portray guns as inherently evil and bad, and their owners as dangerous “others” in society who should be shunned and shamed. Whenever the opportunity comes up, they push through incremental infringements at every level of government they can, no matter how stupid or ineffective they are, just to get them on the books. As time passes, a new generation comes up having never known any different, and is raised with the notion that things have “always been this way” and there’s no reason to change them.

          The driving force behind it, and the main problem I have with your idea that it’s all fine and we’ll be okay and calm down it’ll never happen, is apathy. It works because people don’t know or don’t care to resist. The great grandparents of my generation didn’t know or didn’t care, so we got the NFA. The grandparents didn’t know or care, so we got the GCA. My parents didn’t know or care, so we got the Hughes Amendment and the 1994 AWB. Now, I fear my generation won’t know or care either, and we’ll get red flag laws, bump stocks (and probably braces, give it time), and maybe even an outright semi-auto ban. And within a generation or two after that, they’ll win. All thanks to people who sat around waiting for the Gestapo to roll up for the national confiscation program and then patted themselves on the back when it never happened.

        6. The government doesn’t care if you smoke yourself to death, drink yourself to death, drug yourself to death (they’ll even buy you needles). They DO care if you have something that gives you power/control over your own life.

        7. avatar t. c. white says:

          the difference between banning tobacco and banning guns.
          is the tobacco doesn’t shoot back.

        8. avatar Geoff "Mess with the bull, get the horns" PR says:

          “sustained and generational push in progress to try and eradicate civilian firearm ownership by way of creeping incrementalism and cultural warfare.”

          Cigarettes are legal, but it has become culturally un-acceptable to do so. They outright ban it in public in many places, and smokers themselves are demonized for doing it.

          They are using the cigarette model to attack gun ownership.Demonize it And here’s the blatant hypocrisy – Progressives don’t mind other Progressives that own guns, even ‘Evil Assault Rifles’. That’s why Elaine’s social circles don’t give her any shit for the evil guns she owns.

          But were you to ask her Progressive friends what they think about Trump supporters who own ‘Evil Assault Rifles, they wouldn’t like it one bit…

        9. avatar Elaine D. says:

          @Geoff

          Cigarettes are frowned upon because they literally make other people sick. Like people with asthma, little babies, and old people. That’s why they’re banned in certain places. You can’t get away from someone else’s smoke even when they’re 15 feet away from you.

          Disagree that my liberal friends would have a problem with conservatives owning guns, because they own guns. They just wouldn’t like some of their views, but guns wouldn’t be part of it.

          I live in Texas remember…where just about everyone has, and has always had, guns. Guns have been part of this state since before it was this state since Mexicans also always had guns in this part of the world. To us it’s not a big deal, just part of life. Can’t speak to how it is in other places, but here, guns ain’t a thing to argue about.

        10. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          Want to know what the result of the high per-pack cig taxes, the ones designed to stop people from smoking, has been?

          Roll your own cigarettes. There are shops catering to smokers who don’t want to pay the absurd per-pack taxes. You can roll-your-own cigs for about $2/pack, or less.

          Same thing will happen here. Reloaders will reload, people will make DIY guns. An AR-15 lower isn’t the most difficult thing to make – the upper is probably more difficult, but it isn’t a serial numbered part. People have been making AR lowers from techniques that can be done with a table-top mill. Make the lower in two halves, glue/screw the halves together, drill the fire control system holes through on the mill, and you’re done.

        11. avatar Big Bill says:

          Elaine D. : “The only thing that’s changed is the strength of the warnings on the boxes.”
          Oh, no. You haven’t been paying attention, probably because you don’t smoke.
          Neither do I, but I pay attention to what’s going on around me, even though it doesn’t affect me personally.
          The places where you can smoke have been severely cut back. It used to be pretty much anywhere, now not anywhere near as much. In a restaurant? Nope. In a store? Nope. In fact, it’s easier to name the places where you can smoke, like in your own home. Outside? Maybe, often in only designated smoking areas.

          “Only a certain percentage of people is ever going to own something like an AR because in general rifles are something only owned by people who are more serious about shooting and willing to put money into it.”
          You simply aren’t into guns enough to know better. Check someplace that sells guns online (you don’t have to buy, but looking is free) and check out the prices. Rifles are very often less expensive than handguns. It’s hard to find a .357 that’s less expensive than, say, a Ruger 10/22. Unless you want to go with a handgun company that’s known for lower prices (with a concomitant lower quality), you can usually find an equal quality rifle for less than a handgun. The calibers will differ, but the rifle will usually (in terms of muzzle energy) be far above that of the equally or higher priced handgun.
          Of course, you will find a lot of truly spectacularly priced rifles, but the same can be said of handguns, too. As an example,I recently bought an ATI .45 1911, and got change back from $400. I added about $200 for a new beavertail and hammer, and now the gun is extremely pleasant to shoot, and more accurate than I am. Check out the prices for some other bone stock .45 1911s, and they are hundreds more than the $600 I spent. Check some of the custom and competition 1911s, and they are thousand$ more.
          In your previous posts, you told us what you are into guns for; and that’s fine. But you seem to be making the same mistake that a lot of other Dems make: because you know a little, you think you know a lot. The problem is, you simply don’t know what you don’t know.

        12. avatar Elaine D. says:

          @BigBill

          It depends on where you live. I live in a city. The only people I know who own rifles are serious “gun people.” Most of the people I know own handguns. Definitely I don’t know any new gun owners who own anything other than a handgun.

          Rifles are too big and bulky to store for most urban folk. Handgun ranges (25 yards) are more available than rifle (100 yd) ranges, you have to drive a good way to get to most of those. So even if you want a rifle, practicing with it is a pain in the ass. And most small handgun owners don’t want to have to buy a big gun safe to store their weapon. They want to be able to lock it up in a smallish secure location and transport it.

          If you can show me some data that proves that people own more rifles than handguns I’d be interested to see it. From what I have seen in my city that is not the case at all. Especially with new gun owners.

        13. avatar Big Bill says:

          Elaine, it would be extremely difficult to come up with any proof that more people own rifles than handguns, as no survey could possibly be counted on as accurate.
          Besides, I never made that claim.
          What I did do was challenge your claim: “Only a certain percentage of people is ever going to own something like an AR because in general rifles are something only owned by people who are more serious about shooting and willing to put money into it.”
          And that’s just not true, as I showed.
          And by the way, you also demonstrated what I mean when I said, “You simply aren’t into guns enough to know better.” Without going out of your way to meet more people who might be outside your own little part of the world (a city), you’re missing far more than just knowledge about guns. Those people who live different lives than yours (or mine) have very different habits and outlooks than we do.

    2. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      Featureless AR15s are all you can get in California, for now. I expect California will ban the AR15. They will try to at least.
      And that handgun roster keeps getting smaller and smaller in the state of California.

    3. avatar Ams says:

      Um, no, there’s not too much money in ARs, there’s too much money in the politicizing of them. Want to drum up cash for your struggling campaign? Shout gun ban and the funds will rain down upon you. The government happily sacrifices revenue streams for reelection purposes.

  3. avatar Docduracoat says:

    Lil joe hit the nail on the head with a perfect analysis!
    The left is trying for complete disarmament of the population.
    That is why our policy has to be “not one inch of ground”!
    Bump stocks, silencers, bayonet lugs, magazine capacity, all are traded away as compromise until finally all semi autos and and then all guns are gone.
    We cannot appeal to reason, logic and safety.
    No one needs any of these type arguments are to be countered with resistance, not compromise

  4. avatar t. c. white says:

    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). ”

    technically not true. the M-14 was supposed to fill that role.

    ” That’s the reason the rifle originally came with a bulky stock and precision “aperture” sights. ”

    the m-16 never had a bulky stock … and the first sights were just simple two position aperture sights.

    ” The Powers That Be wanted their troops to take precise, aimed shots from the
    shoulder. ”
    true.

    ” So despite what the media would have you believe, the AR-15 was not designed to “spray” bullets.” It was originally created as a precision rifle.

    actually … it was given full auto capability so that it could ” spray and pray ” when needed.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      It’s been decades since I used an AR of any type. The m16 I carried in the service had the sights that needed a tool to adjust. We normally used the tip of a live round for this. We had triangular hand guards and the 20 inch thin barrel on it. If you fired at any rate at all that barrel would heat enough, quickly, to ruin any accuracy.

      Full auto was useful a time or two. But it was overused in my opinion. Especially in that platform.

      1. avatar California Richard says:

        “Full auto” in small arms was built in for 2 reasons:
        (1) have the capability of a submachinegun or shotgun at close range. The Germans did that in the MP43/STG44 so their troops could have the capability of a K98 at combat distances and the the close in fighting capability of an MP40 all with one ammo type and gun. Ditto russians (AK47 = Mosin+PPSH), Americans (M16 = Garand+Thompson *the M14 was intended to do this but failed), and everybody else (compact/select fire weapon = battle rifle + adopted submachinegun).
        And, (2) give a small unit the ability to break a human wave attack at the point where volume-of-fire matters most (FPF-final protective fire).
        Using full-auto outside of these perameters is extraordinarily wasteful and violation of sound doctrine and design.
        An AR-15 is simply a cheap, compact, semi-auto ONLY rifle with a detachable box magazine… that kind of rifle has been around for over 100 years. Heck, the AR15 has been around for 60 years.

        1. avatar RGP says:

          Germans were inclined to open up with machine guns on anything and everything. Ask any WW2 vet who served in Europe. Ok maybe not a lot of them around to ask any more but there were a lot of them not too many years ago…

        2. avatar Alex says:

          Channeling your ASL knowledge in that comment?

  5. avatar former water walker says:

    The truth is I’m picking up an AR15 next week. Right now I’m sitting in a tire shop with a cracked/ broken rim. I hate winter😩

    1. avatar MLee says:

      Slow down.
      So…what AR style rifle you looking at getting?
      Inquiring minds want to know.

      1. avatar former water walker says:

        Smith & Wesson AR15 M&P Sport II. On layaway at my favorite pawnshop. New but “used” never fired. He had 4 from the same guy. 373 +tax=$400. He’s overloaded with guns at Highland,Indiana pawn so they’re dealing😄Got a new rim…the roads suck and it’s not even winter!

        1. avatar MLee says:

          We had a nice blast of winter last night. It was coming down hard. So many people crash on the first snows.

          That’s a pretty good price for a new unfired “used” M&P. List is way up there and online sellers look like they have in the mid six bills range, like Buds. ($653 cash) So $400 out the door is good.

          Have your alignment checked.

        2. avatar Jon in CO says:

          People frown on pawn shops, but I’ve gotten ridiculous deals on stuff that they paid little for, and just needed to make some profit. I’ve routinely picked up gen4 Glocks in all calibers for $350. They also carry new guns, so I use the “as long as you make a payment of some sort every month, we don’t care” layaway time limit to buy new and used.

        3. avatar UpInArms says:

          I have the S&W M&P 15 v2. I can vouch for it– great little rifle for the cost. The furniture it comes with is not so hot – for my tastes, anyway. I put down another $75 or so beyond purchase price to really make it mine. I’m surprised how accurate it is, given the price.

    2. avatar Chadwick says:

      Yeah winter finally hit us here (Utah) too. Oh well winter is a fun shooting time. Big fires and we don’t have to worry about them getting out of control. Plus it’s an excuse to cook food and coffee while shooting.

  6. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Soooo….. what does a 22lr upper and barrel cost?

    Everyone I know that has Barbie black rifles ends up assembling another for each caliber.

    “Well…I had an upper for 300AAC so I went ahead and put together a rifle.”

    Not knocking it, bit modularity is usually a novelty. (The Sig 2Sum was soooooo popular)

    The exception is probably a Glock in 40 or 357. Most I see wear a 9mm barrel after a while.

    If i buy an AR, it will be basic and probably a Ruger or S&W. The attraction is the cheap magazine compared to my mini14.

    1. avatar Elaine D. says:

      @Specialist

      Totally true; I’ve seen that too. But, ya know, the idea of options is never going to lose its appeal for us American gun owners. The fact that actually INSTALLING the options is a huge pain in the ass is a far distant secondary matter. We want to be able to have the choice, even if we’ll never use it. Which is why my smart sports watch does about 189 things that probably, seriously, are only truly useful to someone on their way to the Olympics. But those options are a huge selling point.

      What always amazes me (they’ll holler at me after they read this) are my shooting friends who have 12 different AR builds that don’t work. I’m like, “you do know that for the price of all those builds, you could have bought one rifle already put together that actually, you know, works.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a range with someone who had a “new build” that kept jamming, or wouldn’t zero properly, or SOMETHING. But options!!!!

      1. avatar Jedi Wombat says:

        Ok Ma’am, I have listened to your different viewpoints on everything from diet to guns to mental health, but now I have simply had enough. I have never had any kind of issue assembling or modifying an AR of any ilk, DPMS/whatever the other 7.62 pattern notwithstanding. Who is it that you know that has multiple rifles that dont work? I assume that all their furniture from Ikea is structurally unstable? Do you allow them near power tools? Do they push on doors marked pull? Seriously, if you have the right tools and a basic understanding of how the rifle functions, building/modifying/troubleshooting ARs is pretty easy stuff.

        I hope you took the intro as tongue in cheek as I meant it. While I may disagree with some of your views, it shouldn’t preclude us from talking and listening. And tell your friend with the non-functional rifles that I know someone who will give them a home so your friend doesnt have to sit surrounded by failure. I wouldn’t want them to suffer from feelings of failure or inadequacy 😉

        1. avatar Elaine D. says:

          @Jedi

          Haha! Thanks. Well pointed. And I don’t get it. Sometimes I think it’s because if it actually worked…you’d have to stop tinkering with it and I’ve noticed that my friends who have this issue like to tinker. Nothing to work on if it works!!! I figure it’s kind of like that vintage project car that’s gonna work someday, just not yet….

    2. avatar Binder says:

      Exactly, no “converted” 22 lr AR is not bested by a 10/22 in cost and performance. The only reason they exist is for training, but that purpose is dubious at best.

      And given the cost of the receiver vs the cost of the upper, the whole swap the upper thing is kind of a wash, when spending a little more gets you a second working gun.

      And you can “spray and pray” a semi auto ar in a heartbeat. Anyone can easily get 300-350 RPM out of a semi automatic.

      1. avatar Kenneth says:

        Going by Binder’s prevalent attitude that statistics and answers to math questions are all to be made up on the spot, I would take his opinions with a very large sized grain of salt… Like an iceberg sized ‘grain’ of salt.

    3. avatar Bearacuda says:

      I’m a sample of one but I tend to look at my uppers and lowers differently–a lower can be built for a specific purpose, such as target shooting, as can an upper, but they don’t have to be joined at the hip. I have an SBR lower with a collapsible stock and a BCM PNT trigger and a lower with an A2 stock and a lighter trigger. I can put a 16″ upper on either depending on what I’m using it for and have the same upper profile but different ergonomics. It’s true that the modularity is lost most of the time, but it’s also true that the versatility is there for some, just in different ways.

  7. avatar William says:

    >there’s no end of misinformation about the ArmaLite Rifle (that’s what AR means, not “assault rifle”)

    So the AR-17 shotgun is an armalite rifle? It appears “AR” is merely two letters chosen for a model name.

    1. avatar ‘liljoe says:

      AR = armalight

      Not armalight rifle
      Thus AR rifle, or AR shotgun

      Class dismissed.

      1. avatar t. c. white says:

        actually … The AR in “AR-15” rifle stands for “A”rmaLite “R”ifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s.
        now … class dismissed.

        1. avatar t.c. says:

          reference armalite.com

        2. avatar Big Bill says:

          Armalite was never “Armalite Rifle.” It was incorporated in 1954 as Armalite Corporation, a subsidiary of Fairchild. Fairchild divested itself of Armalite because of poor profits. It went through a series of owners until 1996 when it was bought by Mark Westrom, and incorporated as Armalite Inc. It is now owned by Strategic Armory Corps.

  8. avatar Lynn says:

    Very interesting article. I have heard of the AR-15 but never fired one. I have fired an M-16 when I was in ROTC in college. I did not know that you could change things out to use different calibers though. Very useful feature. As far as active shooters, it’s not the gun that makes them dangerous. They were dangerous before they got their hands on a gun. Denied a firearm, I’m sure some of them would have used a knife, or some other object to commit mayhem. The gun just makes it easier. Thanks for writing this very informative piece on the ArmaLite-15.

  9. avatar Timothy V Noecker says:

    At 16V, My RUGER AR-556MPR with a Leupold VX-R Patrol 1.25-4x Scope Mounted via a Burris P.E.P.R. Mount, Viking Tactics 3 Point Sling with Lancer 30rd Smoke Magazines Filled With 77gr .223 Ammo From Hornady is the PONTIAC of AR-15s (Better Than a Small Block Chevrolet V-8), LMAO…

  10. avatar daveinwyo says:

    I don’t have much use for the AR pattern/platform. If you like it, great. I was in the last basic class to carry the M14 at Ft. Lewis. I loved that heavy B. Broke the walnut stock on the bayonet course. M16 class had no bayonet program. Just something about smacking something/one and knowing they will stay smacked. I never had to, any one out there not Mel Gibson, actually use one with a bayonet in combat? I don’t care if someone smokes, but I HATE the filters on the ground! Unfiltered Camels for all!

    1. avatar possum says:

      I roll my own, only way I could afford to smoke and buy ammo.

  11. avatar BLAMMO says:

    There sure are a lot of haters here. For better or worse, it’s the state-of-the-art of the modern rifle.

    1. avatar LazrBeam says:

      Haters are gonna hate, I guess. It’s what they do.

    2. avatar jwm says:

      If state of the art is 60 years old, then yeah, it’s state of the art.

      1. avatar LazrBeam says:

        Or perhaps, conversely, art of the state.

      2. avatar Specialist38 says:

        The price is state of the art.

        ARs were always pretty pricey until the last 10 years or so.

        While I prefer the Mini14, if i was looking to get into a semi auto 223, i would lean harder to a basic AR.

        Minis are a little too pricey these days when compared to ARs.

        I guess modern manufacturing is what drives state of the art.

        And PMags.

      3. avatar BLAMMO says:

        Until something like caseless ammo or magnetic rail rifles come along, modular, gas-operated semi-automatics will probably remain the state-of-the-art. The previous state-of-the-art (more than 60 years ago) was non-modular and blow-back semi-automatics. Before that (>100 years ago), bolt-action repeaters. Before that (150 years ago), Lever action repeaters.

        Funny how almost nothing becomes completely obsolete.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          My go-to rifle at home and in the truck is a 94 Trapper.

          May be obsolete but it is damned quick and effective.

  12. avatar Charlie says:

    What the author says about AR pattern rifles is perfectly true with this addition: They are virtually immune to bad weather and indifferent care!

    On my 24th birthday I wandered out into the wet drippy woods with my beautifully finished Winchester M-70 in search of deer. Six hours later I had my deer. I also had a swelled stock, and about a square inch of bluing stripped from the receiver. Did you know that blood is amazingly effective at removing gun blue? I dressed my deer and stripped my rifle, but the damage was done.

    in late 1984 H&K has a sale on their rifles. For $399.00 plus $6.00 shipping I got a brand new HK-91 A2 with one 20 round mag. They say that modern rifles are the barbie dolls of the gun world, and mine acquired every accessory in the book! Light bipod, heavy bipod, wood (Nigerian?) stock, scope mount, A3 stock, you name it.

    So I was an early adopter of black rifles. I don’t shun blot action rifles, but even they are black. The english walnut and high polish blue stuff hit the road a long time ago.

    Charlie

    1. avatar Geoff "Mess with the bull, get the horns" PR says:

      “Did you know that blood is amazingly effective at removing gun blue?”

      Your blood, or the deer’s?

      I’m kinda inclined to believe the blueing wasn’t applied properly…

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Blood will spot the blueing quickly.

        My guess is that the salt and metals in the blood act on the steel and thereby the blueing.

        Got a couple of spots guns over the years from squirrel and deer blood.

        The old school Winchester and Remington blues were rich and deep and spotted to a matte blue or grey color.

        The H&R rusted immediately.

      2. avatar Charlie says:

        “Geoff “Mess with the bull, get the horns” PR says: Your blood, or the deer’s?”

        I took the deer at 50-60 yds in dense timber. It didn’t fight back. lol

        Charlie

  13. avatar Geoff "Mess with the bull, get the horns" PR says:

    I’m finding out that being gay in today’s world is pretty rough, but you guys are so supportive. Thanks so much fellow POTG…I’ll see you at the range. I’ll be the one wearing the XXX sequined jeans firing the pink, bedazzled Taurus Spectrum!

  14. avatar Kap says:

    AR rifles are a Heavy, noisy, especially in the woods while still hunting, Magazines are bulky, Hard too cock with a low mounted scope attached. Hard too handle in a CQB setting unless you have an SBR.
    Butt stoking with an AR could be a problem, {cracks the back of lower receiver, from recoil tube on down}, personally do not like direct impingement.
    Its true you can embellish this POS any way you want, but at what cost?

    1. avatar Matt says:

      The great thing about low mounted scopes on an AR is the cheek weld. I broke my recoil tube and I can’t find them listed anywhere online. At least I have a cool laser etched dust port shield cover.

    2. avatar Bearacuda says:

      Literally everything you pointed out is either a non issue or it’s been fixed by the aftermarket. Most ARs won’t weigh more than a standard bolt action unless you start festooning it with crap. Low capacity magazines are a thing, as are extended charging handles. I can’t see how much louder an AR would be than, say, a mini-14. If you want to buttstroke something, go with a fixed stock or a UBR stock. 16″ ARs maneuver just fine and way better than a Garand or a 22″ bolt action.

      The modern AR is reliable, accessible, accurate and here to stay. I realize you said you don’t like DI, but what would you replace it with???

  15. avatar PeterK says:

    Not many (any? someone help me out if there is) other rifles that I could have bought piece meal as I had money. Just barely rode the black friday train to get the last bit of stuff needed to finish my bulid. I am stupidly excited. Now I can finally stop telling people I own one and a half guns!

    1. avatar Bearacuda says:

      Don’t worry, you’ll be at 2.5 rifles status soon enough! :p

  16. avatar Chris Dumm says:

    That’s my AR in the headline photo! After several thousand rounds fired, she still shoots about 1.2 MOA with good ammo. In more than 7 years she’s had so few failures that I can’t remember the last time she went ‘click’ instead of ‘bang.’ Still a great gun after all these years.

    https://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2011/11/chris-dumm/gun-review-armalite-16-flattop-upper/

  17. ELAINE D wake up please, New York city confiscated them all. first they said register them that is all we want then a month after that they confiscated them. and now your loving democrap Andrew Cuomo is trying for the whole state. so don’t say this will never happen. you have it trying to start here and in califonia and it will work it’s way towards the center. they won’t stop until they have them all. that they were caught actually saying. actually admitting that that is their goal. and all you need is a democrap president and a democrap controlled senate and house. then they will succeed. then we will see the 2nd the 1st and the 4th amendment go bye bye first.then the others will follow. this is how venezualla came to be the wonderful place it is today.

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