The Unusual Evolution of the AR-15

Bill Would Require MO Residents to Own an AR-15
Bill Would Require MO Residents to Own an AR-15

Glance at the news lately and you’re sure to see the AR-15 mentioned at least once — for all the wrong reasons. Publicity in the media will convince you that it’s the most commonly used in serious gang crimes and mass shootings all across the country, but will barely skim the involvement of other weapons. If ever there was a smear campaign against one specific weapon, the effort put into the AR-15 is outweighed only by the inaccurate information constantly shared with the public. We thought a bit of history in this popular sporting tool might help clear things up for those who are confused.

Key AR-15 Facts

    • The letters “AR” stand not for assault rifle or automatic rifle, but instead, for ArmaLite. AR is little more than a brand name assigned to many different weapons produced by ArmaLite (and later, Colt) since the company’s original creation in 1954.
    • The first AR-type weapon was not the AR-15, but the AR-5 Survival Rifle. ArmaLite created the rifle after a special Air Force request for a weapon that was not only waterproof, but would float if planes went down over the water.
    • The next evolution in ArmaLite’s history was the AR-10, released in 1956 to the military. The AR-10 gained massive popularity with defense organizations because it was relatively lightweight at just 7 lbs, allowing soldiers to shave off nearly 3 lbs of carrying weight compared to similar offerings. The AR-10, unfortunately, was lacking in other areas compared to weapons like the T-44 and M14.
    • In 1956, the military officially requested that ArmaLite refine the AR-10 into a smaller caliber rifle with more power. Thus, the AR-15 was born.
    • Just a few years later, in 1959, ArmaLite officially licenses the AR-15 to Colt, who continues production and expands sales to what is now known as Malaysia and a larger portion of the U.S. Military.
    • By 1963, the AR-15 became a standard military-issue wartime weapon. Military sales increase to an incredible 85,000 weapons. It isn’t until 1989, when the original AR-15 patent expired, that newly opened company, Eagle Arms, began to produce consumerized versions of the AR-15 for use by civilians.
    • Shortly after the turn of the millennium, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) rebrands the AR-15 as a modern sporting rifle. The AR platform, as a whole, becomes the most widely produced and popular rifle platform in the world. Today, the AR-15 is produced by over 12 million different companies across the globe, making it one of the most readily available semi-automatic rifles in the world.
    • The Ar-15 became so popular that an original Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994 barely impacted sales, instead inflating the value of grandfathered-in pre-ban weapons.
    • Like all guns, the AR-15 is no more or less dangerous than any other type of weapon; safety depends on who, where, and why it’s being used in the first place.
    • Though there are those who assume this weapon should be kept in the military and out of civilian hands, they fail to realize just how many innovations have originated in the military. Jeeps, GPS, cargo pants and even duct tape were all originally designed for military use.
    • Most importantly, the 2nd Amendment affords Americans the right to bear arms. The media would have you believe that an AR-15 is too much of a weapon for any civilian, and at the same time tell you that if you were under attack, the AR-15 would be of little use. You can’t have it both ways.
    • In its current form, the AR-15 is in the limelight of the media, and whenever there is a significant smear campaign about anything, a responsible American will wonder why.

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