Today I’m starting a new series here on the BLD blog (don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about that promised article on weapon selection) entitled “Fact vs. Fiction”. We’re going to debunk or affirm various myths and rumors about firearms and self defense.
In the wake of the horrible events of the past week, the AR15 rifle has come under attack in the media. Therefore, let us take an honest look at the facts and fictions surrounding the AR15 platform.
Rumor: “AR” stands for “assault rifle”.
Reason: The AR15 rifle was developed by Eugene Stoner, who was working for the ArmaLite corporation at the time. “AR” stands for nothing more than “ArmaLite”. All firearms developed by the ArmaLite corporation have a model number starting with “AR”. Once the AR15 platform was sold to Colt (who then sold it to the military), Colt needed to make up a new definition for “AR” to avoid using the name of their competitor. Hence, Colt said it stood for “automatic rifle”.
Rumor: The AR15 is an automatic weapon / machine gun.
Reason: The standard AR15 is a semi-automatic firearm. One pull of the trigger fires one round. Only the military variants of the rifle (e.g. M16, M4) have select-fire capabilities, and those rifles are not available to civilians without extensive federal and local background checks, registration, and regulations, along with costs that are out of the practical range of most firearm owners.
Rumor: The AR15 was originally designed as a military rifle.
Reason: The AR15 was developed under the United States military’s search for a new rifle which started with Project SALVO. However, it should be noted that even bolt-action “hunting” rifles were originally designed for military use. The AR15 is no different in this regard.
Rumor: The AR15 fires a “high-power” round.
Reason: Actually, the AR15 fires a .22 caliber round, the .223 Remington or NATO equivalent 5.56x45mm. This round is small enough to be prohibited for deer hunting in some states (it is legal for deer hunting in our home state of Minnesota).
Rumor: The AR15 can have a bayonet fixed on it.
Reason: There is indeed a bayonet lug on the AR15.
Rumor: It is simple to turn an AR15 into a fully automatic rifle.
Status: FICTION AND FACT
Reason: The mechanics of the change are simple enough, but I won’t provide them here. However, just buying or making the parts and changing an AR15 into an automatic rifle is extremely illegal, with probable penalties of 20+ years in federal prison. You can go to prison for simply owning the parts without the proper paperwork and registration. It is often stated in the media that you can find the parts you need for such a conversion at gun shows. I’ve been to more gun shows than I can count, and I have never seen any of the restricted parts for sale…not a single part, not even once.
The truth: Rifles that are accepted as “hunting” guns today had their time in the military just like the AR15. The AR15 is considered to be a modern sporting rifle. The caliber is effective for deer hunting with a properly placed shot, and the buffer system reduces the recoil to make the rifle extremely comfortable and safe to use for even young shooters. Ammunition is inexpensive compared to the higher-powered calibers, meaning that target shooting and hunting become more affordable.
The features that are touted in the media as dangerous are either cosmetic or simply for the comfort of the operator (e.g. adjustable stock, pistol-style grip). The inclusion of the bayonet lug in the 1994 assault weapons ban is silly to me. I’ve yet to hear of a murderer yelling “fix bayonets” before committing a crime. It was included by politicians to ensure that the maximum number of firearms would qualify for restriction under the ban.
You will continue to see half-truths and full falsehoods spread through the media and even within the gun community about the AR15. Feel free to use the above points to have meaningful and truthful conversations about this extremely versatile and useful platform. We just ask that you give Blue Line Defense copyright credit if you quote directly from us.
As always, if you have questions or would like to discuss training on the AR15 or any other platform, please call or email us.