The AR-15 rifle is a semi-automatic,
gas operated, rotating bolt, rifle designed by Eugene Stoner in 1957.
The AR-15 is the civilian derivative of the select fire, military
version, the M16. The weapon comes in many sizes, calibers, and
lengths ranging from a 26” free floated, bull barrel, .308, target
model with a fixed stock to a 7” barrel, 9mm pistol, to a somewhat
common 16” heavy barrel .223 carbine with a collapsible stock.
Because of its military origins, the
rifle and many others like it have been mislabeled as an “assault
rifle”. And some would say that that is what AR stands for. This
is however false and that AR actually stands for Armalite, the
manufacturing company that held the original rights on the design. In
1959 Armalite sold the rights to the AR-15 to Colt who immediately
started marketing the rifle to military forces around the world. When
the U.S. Army got a hold of it in 1964 it was redesigned as the M16
replacing the M14 as the standard service rifle in the jungles of
Vietnam. Colt continued to market to the civilian market with
semi-automatic versions of its now military counterpart.
The rifle started with many flaws, and
things that are now standard on an AR-15 took a long time to catch
on. Before all of these upgrades to the rifle it was prone to
frequent fouling, overheating, and many other failures. Having a
service life of over 50 years and counting it has had a lot of time
to “work out the bugs”.
The rifles main flaw is said to be its
direct-impingement gas system. Because the gas system blows directly
onto the bolt and carrier as well as into the receiver, fouling and
jamming can very easily occur if not properly cleaned and lubricated.
There are variants on the market today that do not use a direct
impingement system and instead opt for a gas piston/operating rod
Today hundreds of manufacturers make
the AR-15 rifle for military, civilian, and law enforcement use and
hundreds of variants exist, each more customizable than the next.
With the now standard picatinny/weaver mounting system, one can find
accessories that include slings, flashlights, red/green/infrared
laser sights, bipods, vertical foregrips, and magazine holders, even
attachments to mount other weapons to the rifle like pistols, short
barreled shotguns and grenade/flare launchers. There are fixed
stocks, collapsible stocks, adjustable sniper stocks, and even some
pistol versions have no stocks at all. There are hand guards with or
without rails, quad rail hand guards, ultra light hand guards and
free-floated hand guards. And with a carry handle or without, scope
options are almost unlimited, ranging from holographic sights, to
magnifiers, to full power scopes, even night vision.