(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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Although AR-15-style rifles have been sold commercially since the 1960s, for a long time there was barely a market for them. In 1990, they accounted for just 1.2 percent of all firearms manufactured in the United States.

But starting in the mid-2000s, after the assault weapons ban expired, their appeal grew. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq gave AR-15-style rifles a certain cachet — people wanted the same guns the soldiers were using. The spike in sales was also influenced by politics, including the election of the country’s first Black president. Concerns about new gun-control measures, coupled with fears about where the country was heading, caused a surge in demand.

According to a recent poll commissioned by The Washington Post, about one in 20 Americans now own an AR-15-style rifle. The Post cited a gun-industry estimate that there are currently around 20 million AR-15-style rifles in private hands, although that number was not confirmed independently.

They have become so popular that they are often referred to these days as “America’s rifle.” Representative Barry Moore, an Alabama Republican, recently introduced legislation to designate the AR-15 “the national gun of the United States.” Some Congressional Republicans have taken to wearing AR-15 lapel pins.

— Michael Steinberger in The Lawyer Trying to Hold Gunmakers Responsible for Mass Shootings

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  1. Accuracy, reliability, and near endless versatility – the product of near endless American tinkering. That’s why they are so popular.

  2. “The spike in sales was also influenced by politics, including the election of the country’s first Black president.”

    Propaganda. The spike in sales had nothing to do with the election of the country’s first half white president who identified as black.

    • The fact that BHO was the most radical leftist elected to the highest executive position since Roosevelt is rarely mentioned when his melanin content can be referenced to paint everyone who opposed his marxist positions as a racist instead. Race-baiting is a favorite pastime of the radical left.

    • The fact that he was 100% Marxist was the issue.
      Just the usual lies from the NYSlimes.

      If Thomas Sowell, Allen West, Ben Carson, or Clarence Thomas was elected president the big seller would have been Xanax purchased by all the Democrats who claimed they want diversity.

  3. And they gave us things like thumbhole stocks. I still think they look ridiculous but I find people whop came of age during that period think they look cool. I do enjoy my LEO marked mags and the look on people’s faces when they read it.

    I also think another factor is all of the extra people who went into the military during the 90’s and 2000’s. If not for the wars in Iraq, the post 911 enlistment boom, and what my brother calls the “Uncle Sam Stan tour” (he says he’s been to all the nicer “stans”) then it might not have become America’s rifle.

    It wasn’t so much that people not in the military wanted to have the same gun as our soldiers. That didn’t happen in all the previous decades that it was our soldiers rifle. It was half that under the AWB you could get it more easily and with less concern than an import, and half that our soldiers came home and wanted to have as close to the gun they used in the military as they could get. They were intimately familiar with it, formally trained on it, and experienced with it. Why would they invest time and expense in learning an entirely new platform. And for a non military wanting a semi auto magazine fed rifle between 1994 and 2004 you didn’t have to worry about when something was imported, or the 922R parts game or any of the other complicated legal issues.

    I had the pleasure of playing “count the parts” and “when did this get imported” when at the range. The AR guys never had to do that.

    • And many of the guys coming back from the Middle East tours decided to teach others what they learned. It’s funny that the “anti-gun” (for you) pro-war, liberal establishment had a hand in making America’s Rifle more popular. Obviously there’s the forbidden fruit aspect as well because of the ban and the constant rhetoric.

    • Very true about returning servicemen. After WW1, with the Springfield and the M17, a demand for bolt action rifles. After WW2, with the Garand and the M1 carbine, a surge in semi-autos. History has a habit of repeating itself.

  4. The contract is awarded to the candidate that meets the most requirements at the lowest cost.
    -Defense Acquisition University

  5. My neighbor spent $557 on S&W AR15. No scope. Why are they popular? Affordability comes to mind. Flexibility…aftermarket…of course. But the initial investment makes the AR15 very attractive.

    That being said, I still do not own one. My Mini 14 fills that niche. Next purchase, after I hit my next target on mortgage reduction, will be a 10mm carbine ( Bear Creek).

    • My S&W cost 373 +7%tax=400 used but never fired from a pawn shop. He had 4 never fired &as new. Never planned on an AR but here we are. Yes satan died🙄

      • I’ve put together several Palmetto State ARs. They are very reasonably priced and work great.

    • “after I hit my next target”

      With a Mini14? I am skeptical.

      Again, accuracy is a MAJOR part of the AR story.

  6. America shouldn’t be mourning two of the biggest sellouts, likely only eclipsed by Biden, this country has ever seen.

  7. America’s rifle is whatever works, 1903 Springfield, M1, M14, M16, M4 all have been produced in civilian versions. As far as jerks like Dianne Feinstein and Bill Clinton, they are of no influence, Feinstein is worm food and Clinton is still playing with himself and a cigar. Nobody cares.

  8. The more Democrats threaten to take them away, the more people want them.

    As the left grows more insane, the US population buys more guns.

    If the Clintons, Biden, and the rest of the Deomcrat party had just left it alone then most of the people that have spent money manufacturing and buying them likely wouldn’t have.

    There has always been a portion of the American population that likes to emulate the military to some degree. This made the Jeep and the Hummer popular. Lots of folks have owned camo because of it. But Hollywood drives much of this too. AR15’s have been made desirable in large part because of so many being used in movies and tv shows.

    • Not unlike the ‘War on drugs’ and Prohibition. If you want people to ‘Want’ something. Tell them they can’t have it.

  9. Remember back when getting a Mini-14 was the cheaper option over an AR? Nowadays you can almost buy two new budget AR’s for the price of one used Mini-14.

    • Yeah, what’s up with Ruger.
      I suppose they think a Mini14 is in the same category as a 1970’s Colt Python.

      • Its called competition, one company makes the mini, and they also make a few AR pattern rifles. How many other companies are competing in the AR game. The AR platform is a win for the consumer by all accounts because of the scale of market competition and diversity of design. It’s absolutely example of a market that innovates, like the Fox body Mustang or the build your own PC phenomenon.

        • The only computers I’ve ever owned are ones I’ve built. Including servers. For the only exception of 2 laptops and a Cromebook. I consider it a better way to go. I also think that for the money, a home built AR is better.

        • After 30 years of building my own PC’s I upgraded with a Mini-PC that clips to the back of a monitor.
          Probably 95% of peoples existing PC’s would by an upgrade with just the 35Watt versions.

      • AKs and SKS rifles also use to be way cheaper than ARs. Now the ARs are incredibly affordable.

  10. I didn’t GAF about AR-15s for years, but with the left showing more and more lunacy since the election of The Anointed One in 2008, I purchased one. I now own several in various calibers.

    The Dems are a bunch of f*ing lunatics. Their authoritarian tendencies show more and more every day. Even some so called “liberals” are waking up, but usually because they’ve been the targets of the left’s various freakish interest groups.

    Just ask Bret Weinstein.

  11. The AR is the low end Honda Civic of the gun world.
    Cheap. Reliable. Lots of aftermarket parts.
    What it will never be is a FNH SCAR, or HK.
    I had fellow Marines think the M16 was the best weapon ever. But they also have never shot anything else.

    • Lol. The SCAR is no better than an AR-10, which was the original chambering of the rifle, and HK is no better than anybody else. Oooh, a gas piston. Been done since the 60s.

      • The SCAR trials:
        1st place, FNH.
        2nd place, a very close HK.
        A very distant 3rd place, Colt.

    • More accurate is to compare it the Chevy 350. Can build it into anything you want from a reliable stocker to a full on racer.

      Civic is a disposable.

  12. That and Colt let the patents run out. It used to be the mini-14 that was popular, mostly because it was cheaper. Now it’s twice as much as a lower end AR-15 and has cemented itself as a niche alternative rifle now.

  13. Another contributing factor was that many Americans despised being told by the government as to what they can own. Yes, there was also a HUGE F-U factor in this. There were three major manufacturers of ARs at the time of the so-called “AWB”, Colt, Olympic and Bushmaster. Now there are many, many, more, basically saving manufacturing as a concept in America. Around 1988 the uni-party, and leftists decided that they would push for wholesale gun bans, clowns like Josh Sugarman, starting unleashing garbage “research” and ridiculous terms like “assault weapon”, in order to confuse the American public.

    The GWOT caused many Americans to tool-up, and they wanted the appropriate means to protect themselves. Moreover, the GWOT expanded the concept of the AR as a symbol of America, and freedom itself. Returning veterans wanted a similar platform that they were familiar with and were comfortable handling. Both veteran and non-veteran alike, figured out that the AR was the firearm of choice for them and their families.

    Technological and material upgrades have made the AR platform simple to customize, and the affordability of certain brands have made the AR rifle/pistol reasonable to own. It has become the go to gun for the rich AND the poor. It is the go to firearm for everyone. The genie is definitely out of the bottle. The consciousness of the American people about the 2A has expanded to the point where bans on firearms are considered antithetical and anathema to the concept of civil rights and liberties.

    • “Another contributing factor was that many Americans despised being told by the government as to what they can own.”

      Egg-zactly, no different than alcohol during prohibition or drugs during the ‘War on Drugs’.

      Tell them they can’t have it, and they want it. Make it illegal, they want it even more…

  14. aside from the growing crime in general, among the other hostile threats rising in the country which the ordinary law abiding armed citizen, and all citizens, will need to start facing in the next few years is a combined militant-trans and antifa (they have already joined together with a stated goal of mass murdering not-trans biological females and waging warfare), and a few hundred thousand (so far) military aged male ‘migrants’ from various countries already armed that came across Bidens very insecure southern border unchallenged although detected and vanished inside the country, and an increasing amount of violent mentally ill people, and a cartel led durg-war against our citizens and specifically targeting children to get ’em hooked young, and democrat politicians enacting laws making ‘gender reasignment assessments and training’ required for any child age 6 and up and if parents object the state takes the child away.

    Thanks Democrats.

  15. In the twisted and perverted minds of the drug legalization crowd who have been always anti-Second amendment, anti-civil rights.

    They have said that having drugs illegal makes some some type of “secret thing” that young people want to try just because it’s illegal. So their rationale argument has been to make drugs legal, to demystify them, to people who haven’t used them.

    But in their sick perverted minds. They will use that reverse argument to say that all guns must be illegal and banned. And children must be prevented from being exposed to firearms.

    These utopians in the drug legalization crowd will be the death of us. They will be comfortable if all of our civil rights are destroyed. As long as they get their drugs, legalized and guns banned.

  16. “Although AR-15-style rifles have been sold commercially since the 1960s, for a long time there was barely a market for them. In 1990, they accounted for just 1.2 percent of all firearms manufactured in the United States.”

    That 1.2% had much to do with the inflated price of the then Colt produced AR-15’s and the often dubious quality of other brand knockoffs. The other was the development of the Picatinney Rails and associated handguards (Swan) a military equipment to utilize the rails.

    Taking inflation into account, the price for a quality AR-15 with greater flexibility is lower now than in the 1980’s.

  17. The revolution in manufacture, the drying up of surplus from WW-II and the government messing with imports that has happened in the last say 35ish years has driven a huge part of it. Back in the day you’d pick up an AK or a Mini-14 because they were cheap and reliable, now the price on both of those just doesn’t work in the equation for entry level. If you want a budget semi auto rifle it’s going to be an AR these days if it’s not rimfire. The days of getting a Mosin or Mauser and a couple spam cans of 54R for a pair of benjis are gone now. So are sub-$300 SKSes.

    If Norinco and Russian imports were still a thing I’d suspect the arsenals would be a lot more diverse, more like Canada of all places.

    The reliability, accuracy and a plethora of cartridges for a variety of niches also didn’t hurt anything either.

  18. “Gun Controllers Like Dianne Feinstein and the Clinton ‘Assault Weapons’ Ban Made the AR-15 America’s Rifle”

    Well, that, plus being able to buy one for well under $500 when a new Win 94 is the same price, the aftermarket accessories parts for customization, cheap but somewhat effective Chinese optics, and (for a while) cheap ammo. Had the same kept up for AK platform pieces, they’d be almost as popular.

  19. Of course, they had to inject race into this. Commies can only see people as individuals with God-given rights, only sheep to be sheared.

    According to FBI data, the number of NCIS background checks began to surge in 2006, long before Obama was elected, and continued to expand long after he left office. From 1999-2005 there were about 9 million checks annually, and by 2020 it had reached 38 million! You can see, in the data, a brief surge before Y2K, then again after 9/11, and in 2006 there was a big cultural shift, followed by the big Obama-led gun control push that stated in December 2012 and lasted throughout 2013. And of course the numbers went haywire in 2016 and 2020.

  20. I got interested in guns because I thought they were cool. I got interested in evil black rifles because the state I grew up in didn’t want me to have them.

    Things that in my youth formed my adult outlook: Waco, Democrats dragging 2LiveCrew through the mud, Democrats killing Saturday morning/after school cartoons, “because I said so” prohibitions.

    Because of these things happening in my formative years and later learning about their Klan, segregation and anti civil rights histories I can never support a Democrat nor can I understand how anyone else could.

    • They killed Saturday morning cartoons? I’ll have to look that one up. I was always the first one up on Saturday mornings. Sometimes cartoons weren’t even on yet.

      • Just read about it. Interesting. And they did it for the children!

        “Sometimes cartoons weren’t even on yet.”
        It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Saturday morning TV sucked without cartoons. Everyone else was asleep. Sometimes I’d walk over to my neighbor’s house, and they’d feed me breakfast lol. They probably wondered about my parents. Those neighbors were retired without any kids in their home.

        • I remember back then Tiny Toon Adventures and Animaniacs had several episodes mocking the cause taken up by DC Dems. Today just about everyone involved in the production of those two shows carry water by the tanker load for Democrats. The recent Animaniacs revival was essentially one long form DNC advertisement. As if they have no recollection of the treatment they received. Just like Dee Snyder can’t seem to recall being dragged before Congress by Democrats and blamed for all the ills of the world.

  21. Since Di Fi was such an effective promoter and I agree she is partially responsible for the AR’s proliferation, my first thought was that some manufacturer should produce a memorial engraved Diane Feinstein edition AR with perhaps her visage engraved on the receiver!

    Then I came to my senses and said: NAW! That is just wrong!

  22. Feinstein wanted a total ban on private ownership of firearms with a few exceptions for her favored elites and government officials. And she favored most of the far left agenda her entire tenure in the Senate.
    Not sorry to see her gone. She should have retired and spent a few years at home with family. What is it with many of the politicians, especially the left wing, who just can’t retire and give up the position and grift/corruption?

  23. “The Washington Post” says. Could you possibly find a less reliable reference? (other than the NYTimes)

  24. Well, certainly had nothing to do with the import bans that artificially raised prices on AK patterns. Let’s just blame the cryptkeeper and her family that kept her in office long after she should have retired.

    LOL, the witch is dead!

  25. She was also an Israeli citizen. This is not an antisemitic statement.

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