Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Awful Truth About the AR-15

After my post on banning Assault Rifles, I had a few people grouch at me for listing the AR-15 as an assault rifle. I listed it because most people are familiar with it, and most people, particularly those I hope would read that article do classify it as an assault weapon.

But the more I have thought about it, I have come to realize that this was inappropriate. Just because It is an accepted fallacy does not justify my perpetuating the fallacy.

So here is a follow-up with a few facts about the AR-15 (Note, I am not a "Gun Nut"). It is possible there are mistakes here, if you see an Error, please let me know so I can correct it.

1. True or False The "AR" in AR-15 stands for "Assault Rifle".

False. It stands for ArmaLite Rifle. ArmaLite is a firearms manufacturer. they designed a number of guns, including the AR-5, AR-7, AR-10, and AR-15.

2. True or False, the AR-15 is a civilian remake of the military M-16

True and False. The original AR-15 system was developed by ArmaLite, driven by military research which determined that most hit in combat were at close range and random. As such, they were looking for a small caliber, high velocity  weapon which would deliver a salvo of projectiles, either all at once (Shotgun style) or in rapid succession. The AR-15 was ArmaLite offering, which was Rejected in favor of the Colt M14, a larger caliber weapon which was already in service. Some years later, ArmaLite sold the Design and Name to Colt, who then successfully marketed the Weapon to the Military as the M-16. Colt then manufactured a semi-automatic variant of the M-16 under the AR-15 moniker for sale to the civilian population.

3. True or False, the AR-15 is a "Heavy Weapon".

False. The AR-15 is considered a light rifle. This is not a reference to bullet size, but the gun itself. With respect to Bullet size, most AR-15's are designed to fire the .223 round or the 5.56 mm, which are small. There are variants of the AR-15 which fire larger rounnds (such as .50 BMG rounds).

4. True or False, the AR-15 is an automatic weapon

True and False. The original Armalite AR-15 was designed to be a selective fire weapon. This was then relabeled the M-16 by colt. Colt then created a semi-automatic version, using the original AR-15 name. Most of the time, when people are talking about an AR-15, they are referring to this reincarnation of the AR-15, which is not automatic.

5. True or False, the AR-15 is only good for killing people

False. Yeah, I was a skeptic on this one. But the AR-15 is generally rated with a maximum effective range of 600 yards. And I have read enough anecdotes from people who hunt with AR-15's (Feral Boar seems to be of particular interest, though there are plenty of Deer, Coyote etc. stories as well), that I am now a believer.

So... yeah.... There is the awful truth. Sorry for my previous error in editorial judgement.

a couple references:

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