The press would lead you to believe that the “AR” stands for “Assault Rifle”, but in reality it stands for its manufacturer and model . A is for ArmaLite, the designer of the weapon. R represents rifle, and the model type 15. So its like Ford’s F-150. The AR-15, and derivatives, are some of the most popular semi-automatic rifles in the United States, with estimates as high as 5 million produced.
The AR is the civilian version of the ubiquitous M-16, the military version of the rifle that is designed to shoot full-automatic as well as semi-automatic. Why so many variants of the AR-15? Well, ArmaLite was hurting for cash so they sold the patent to Colt. The patent expired in 1977 allowing other manufacturers to produce knockoffs of the rifle. Colt did retain the “AR-15” designation.
Background – Battlefield Proven
I have carried the M-16 the M-4 in combat and the AR-15 in the field. These “black rifles”, called so for their lack of a wooden stock and black matte finish, have been the mainstay of the US military and police for decades. The look, the feel, the weight of these weapons are very familiar to me and to the millions of American Veterans and civilians who rely on these incredibly well-designed weapons for accuracy, lethality and durability.
These weapons are legendary and have a pedigree that spans back to the 1950’s when the US Government was researching and developing the next generation battle rifle to replace the M1 Garand and M-14. The M-16 came alive on 26 May, 1967 and replaced the M14 on the battlefield in Vietnam.
The rifle challenged the legendary AK-47 with it’s high-velocity, flat shooting, 55 grain bullet that caused catastrophic wounds and shock induced death. The lighter weapon could deliver more accurate semi-auto shots and more controllable machine gun fire than the AK or M14. The smaller bullet and lower recoil allows for quicker and more accurate, full-auto accuracy. The M16, M4 Carbine and their baby brother, the AR-15 have had a proven track record on the battlefield in Vietnam to the hinterlands of Afghanistan to homeowners defense of life and property on the streets of America. This legendary rifle will serve the military, police and public for generations to come.
.223 Remington/ 5.56 mm NATO
Civilian and Police
6.55 lbs (with 20 round magazine)
10, 16 and 20”
Gas Operated with rotating bolt
Max effective range
General Review – The Best Multi-Purpose Rifle
There are three main applications for the AR-15, and its many variants – home defense, varmint hunting and target shooting. Primarily, the rifle is a good, in the bedroom, or, ready to go in the closet, weapon. Why? Primarily because it’s accurate and reliable and provides a lower than average recoil in a compact rifle package that can be easily modified or upgraded to meet your shooting needs. The weapon is easy to clean, with battlefield style take-down (I’ve been able to fully break-down and build-up the M4 Carbine in under 20 seconds while serving in Afghanistan) which reduces the chance of screwing up the re- assembly of the rife.
At the range, the AR provides a tough-to-beat platform for highly accurate shooting. Firing the 5.56 mm or .223 Remington will demonstrate tighter groups on paper than most cartridge/rifle platforms. Remember the 5.56 mm cartridge was designed for war and the .223 was designed for civilian applications like hunting – you will get better accuracy and performance out of the former. If you’re looking for sub-MOA, three shot patterns, the AR-15, firing the 5.56 mm NATO, is the way to go.
Many states have a minimum caliber requirement for big game hunting set at .243 caliber, or 6mm, So your AR probably wouldn’t be legal to field in a big game hunting scenario. However, these weapons perform exceptionally well when hunting for varmints and predators. Many hunters prefer the inexpensive and easy to load .223 paired with the semi-auto operation and manageable recoil of an AR-15 platform to bring down coyotes and burst prairie dogs at long ranges.
Cost – Affordable Defense Platform
I hate to talk about money when it comes to firearms, but it is a significant factor in choosing the right weapon that fits your needs and budget. The AR-15, and its variants, are marketed as price flexible and you don’t have to spend “used car money” on a reliable self-defense rifle.
A quick Google search will reveal, online and brick and mortar retailers, listing models for under $500. Since the election of President Trump, the tactical semi-auto industry has seen a slump in sales. They have reacted with marketing “budget” firearms with remarkable engineering and true “dual caliber” capability. These weapons are ready to field or have ready for self defense when you compliment them with a $150 red-dot sight and a $10 box of 20 5.56mm rounds.
Models – Diversity at its Finest
There are a dozen models available in the AR-15 Series platform that come in names like AR-15 Lightweight and AR-15A3 Tactical Carbine. Most rifles are chambered in .223 Remington/5.56 mm NATO with a few in 9mm NATO. They come in 3 barrel lengths to include 10, 16 and 20 inches. Depending on you application, the shorter barrels allow for a lighter and more nimble weapon with a shorter swing to bring the barrel to action on an aggressor.
Sights come in the A1 and A2 style, open-iron sights with windage and elevation controls at your fingertips. The A2 is similar to the A1 except the A2 offers more granular settings for shooters engaging long range targets. The flattop models give you a rail to mount hi-tech optics or a standard carrying handle with A2 iron sights.
The rifles also come with standard light, pencil barrels, or the HBAR or, heavy barrel which is claimed to provide higher accuracy. Muzzle compensator (or brakes or flash suppressors) are offered on all models to minimize muzzle flash and dirt kick-up. The jury is still out on which model, the A1 or A2 variant, is most effective.
You can get your hands on our toy miniature AR-15 at Goatguns.