Meet the “Black Rifle”: An Introduction to the AR-15

The author's Colt 6920 AR-15, which has given him years of reliable service over thousands of rounds of ammunition fired.

The author's Colt 6920 AR-15, which has given him years of reliable service over thousands of rounds of ammunition fired.

It’s no good to discuss how firearms work without also giving the context surrounding the firearms themselves. With that said, let’s talk about the AR-15, its copycats, competitors, and relatives. Together these rifles share space under the loose umbrella of black rifles, a term which references the use of lighter and more durable black polymer gunstocks in place of traditional wood, something that became common from the 1960s onward in military firearms design. Today the term simply means any modern military rifle, or any rifle patterned after a modern military rifle, the two most common of these by far being the AR-15 and AK types. For the purposes of this article, we’ll focus on the AR-15, but much of what we’ll talk about will be applicable to any black rifle.

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Other rifles, like this Bulgarian SLR-104FR, share many characteristics and their general appearance with the AR-15, despite having different origins and being mechanically distinct. Rifles in this class are often called “black rifles”, regardless of their exact type.

 

The AR-15 has its genesis in the 1940s, during World War II. At that time, it was discovered that not only had handheld, mobile fully automatic firepower become a key factor in modern infantry tactics, but also that the ranges at which infantry weapons were being used effectively were much shorter than previously assumed. The result of this was research beginning in the 1950s into smaller, less powerful types of ammunition, called intermediate calibers, which would by virtue of their low power be controllable when firing fully automatically, but which would also still have enough range for the reduced distance engagements expected in the future. At the same time, a company called Armalite began experimenting with new materials previously not commonly used in firearms design, like plastics, carbon fiber, and aluminum. The company was asked by the US government to develop a new, smaller weapon with select-fire capability, chambered for a .22 caliber intermediate cartridge. The weapon the company produced by 1957 was called the “AR-15”, “AR” standing for “ARmalite” and “-15” standing for the fifteenth design produced by the company. This early rifle was extremely lightweight, weighing less than 6 pounds, and extremely controllable on fully automatic, while also being accurate in semi-automatic fire. The US Army, however, had different ideas, and it took a unilateral action from then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to force the Army to adopt the rifle, which they did in 1963 as the “M16”, an act that remains controversial to this day. The M16 was famously beset by teething troubles that resulted in jammed weapons and soldiers unable to fight back against their Communist opponents, which marked the weapon with a reputation it has only recently begun to shake.

Despite its poor start, the AR-15’s virtues and lightweight ammunition set off a firestorm of development. Virtually every national military, including those in the Communist blocs, began development of similar weapons. Even the Russians poached the .22 caliber intermediate cartridge concept, which they implemented in a variant of their older, and world-famous AK design, and that AK-74 rifle is today still the standard arm of the Russian Federation. The AR-15 began to make waves on the civilian market as well, as Colt – who purchased the design from Armalite in 1959 – marketed semi-automatic only AR-15s to the American public beginning in 1964. These rifles, and similar designs from other companies, continued to sell steadily, although more traditional rifles still remained dominant. For those unfamiliar, the difference between semiautomatic, fully automatic, and select fire weapons is explained in the first minute and a half of the video embedded below:

In 1994, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban was signed into law as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which seriously restricted the features that rifles like the AR-15 could possess if they were to be sold legally on the civilian market. The new weapons, compliant with the Act, not only raised the resale value of older “full feature” weapons which were grandfathered in under the law, but it also raised interest in these rifles considerably. Ten years later, in 2004, the FAWB provision expired, just before the Presidential election in that year. Concerns that the ban would be re-enacted if Democratic Party candidate John Kerry took office ignited the American public to buy black rifles as never before, and every election season since then has set off larger and larger firestorms of gun purchases.

From 2004-2010, the AR-15 went from being a niche weapon to the single most popular centerfire rifle in the United States. While political fervor has catapulted the rifle to the top, its superb merits have solidified its position there. It is a lightweight, reliable design that is capable of exceptional accuracy for its class, and it has introduced the American public to an unprecedented degree of modularity in a firearm. Due to its design, the AR-15 can be configured in countless ways, customized easily by any unskilled hobbyist to the configuration that suits them best. AR-15 parts can be bought cheaply, and assembled into a complete rifle in a suburban garage with only a few tools. Homebrewers can even make their own receivers from kits not legally classified as firearms, using nothing more exotic than a drill press. The AR-15’s accuracy and light weight makes it an excellent platform for hunting, and its modularity means that there is no shortage of different caliber options suitable for a wide variety of game. As a result, today the AR-15 is one of the most popular hunting rifles in the country. AR-15s are an extemely popular choice for shooting competitions as well, the basic pattern serving equally well as both a “run-and-gun” weapon for practical shooting competitions like 3-Gun, and as a precision platform capable of great accuracy out to 600 yards in long range competitions like NRA High Power.

USMC-120728-M-VG714-002

Original caption: “Nicholaus Paylor, age 13 from Hester, La., fires a practice round from the 300-yard line aboard Camp Perry, Ohio, July 28, 2012 in preparation for the Excellence in Competition matches. Youths between the ages of 12 and 20 take part in the three day United States Marine Corps Juniors Clinic to enhance their marksmanship skills.” Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

The civilian AR-15 remains controversial, however, despite the fact that these rifles do not possess the fully automatic capability of their military ancestors. Their nontraditional looks and military origins have made them a high profile political football in the US and elsewhere, despite the fact that most other civilian firearms are adapted military weapons, as well.

On the military side, the select-fire AR-15 pattern has secured itself as one of the most well respected designs in the world, yet it too has remained controversial. The bungled initial issuance of the early M16 left a black mark on the rifle that it has only begun to escape, and this was magnified by an industry incentive to replace the design. In the early 1990s, Colt introduced the M4 Carbine, a shortened variant of the M16A2 which at the time equipped US military forces. The US Army adopted the M4 Carbine in 1994 to replace the M16A2 in some roles, and in doing so gave Colt a sole-source contract for the carbine that lasted for 15 years, until 2009. Since other firms had no possibility of winning a military contract so long as Colt retained the rights and technical data package (TDP) to the M4, they instead attempted several times to court the Army to replace it with new rifles of their own design. After 2009, companies could compete against Colt to produce the M4 itself. In 2011, the US Army was ordered by Congress to conduct a competition – called “Individual Carbine” –  to evaluate possible replacements for the M4, a program which concluded after no replacement was judged better enough to warrant adoption. The controversy over the M4 and the results of the Individual Carbine Competition (ICC) continues to this day.

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The US Army’s current rifle is the M4A1 Carbine, which is capable of both semiautomatic and fully automatic fire, unlike civilian variants of the AR-15. Image source: ArmyTimes.com

 

I have written this article from a position of great familiarity with the rifle. My personal AR-15 is a Colt 6920, a civilian-legal 16″ barreled variant of the military M4 Carbine, lacking select fire and thus – like all non-NFA civilian-legal rifles of this type – capable of firing only one shot per pull of the trigger. I have fired thousands of rounds through my Colt myself, and I have taught many others to shoot with it, as well. It is an easy, instinctive weapon to shoot well, with convenient controls and no major flaws that prevent one from using it to the best of their abilities. Recoil is mild, although not nonexistent, the weapon is lightweight, and can be shot for several hours without fatigue. With the four power optic I have mounted on it, it is capable both of shooting quickly at short distances, and accurately at long distances. Reliable and safe ammunition is plentiful and very cheap. It is therefore a near-perfect weapon for civilian shooters who want to be able to participate in many different shooting disciplines and activities (like hunting) without needing to purchase multiple different specialized rifles. For all these reasons, and more, Black rifles – especially the AR-15 – have rightfully become the weapons of choice for the modern American marksmanship tradition.

Flickr_-_The_U.S._Army_-_Shooting_with_the_M-16A2

Original caption: “Nathan Baldwin, 14, concentrates on his target during live-fire training Aug 1, 2009. He is being instructed on the M-16A2 by Spc. Evan Hess, U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit. Soldiers from the USAMU conducted the 2009 Small Arms Firing School, teaching novice shooters the efficient application of the fundamentals of marksmanship.” Image source: commons.wikimedia.org

 



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Anonymoose

    Great article. Unfortunately it’s not going to convince people whose minds are already made up on the subject of self-defense.

    • Sasquatch

      We can only hope.

      • Anonymoose

        The best we can hope for is that pushing for gun/knife control is a sure way to lose elections (at least in the US, and soon to be in migrant-infested Europe).

  • Bob Jones

    Its/it’s. Why is it so hard for you guys to learn basic grammar? You chose writing as a profession (or at least active hobby). Why not learn the elementary rules of it and stop making our sport look like it’s squarely for the uneducated? Tech blogs I visit rarely if ever have the mistakes you see on here, and come across as written by much more educated people as a result. Cut the fud once and for all, TFB!

    • TVOrZ6dw

      I looked at every use of its and it’s in the article. I found a single instance of a misuse of it’s. So why so critical? Relax, it’s Saturday. Enjoy the article, don’t grade it and complain because you found a single grammatical mistake. I guarantee you these writers are doing their best. Thanks TFB!

      • To be fair to Bob, it was on only the second line of the article. I should have spotted it.

    • Bob, I assure you I do know how to use “its” versus “it’s”. It is an unfortunate fact, however, that I am human and do occasionally err.

      • KestrelBike

        ^^^ also doesn’t know how to use the three sea shells.

        • Pete M. – TFB Writer

          Hilarious.

    • Sasquatch

      Oh know wee hav uh gwammar natzi!!!!

    • Carl Mumpower

      A little bit of OCD in the mix? It’s a guess most of these folks don’t have a month and a team of editors to check their almost daily posts. Thanks TFB – you keep us knuckle draggers current, stimulated and informed.

    • Spencerhut

      Which publication do you write for?

      • Big Daddy

        LMAO!!!!! Awesome!!!

        • Gecko9mm

          I would like to buy an A?

          • SineNomine

            Ga fack yaarsalf? Must be Norwegian…

      • OK, cool it with the dogpile. It’s just a grammar mistake. 🙂

    • Big Daddy

      It’s a blog, people that write here are GUN people first and foremost. Their grammar is work in progress. What would you rather have an expert on grammar and a work in progress on firearms? I wrote for a football USA style blog, I knew about football first and foremost my grammar is and will always be a work in progress as will my knowledge of all subjects I am interested in and some not some much. I’d much prefer grammatical errors than errors about the subject of firearms.

      • KestrelBike

        Most days I can barely get past the lack of APA formatting before I have to take a break.

        • Well, I was taught MLA, so you’re out of luck. Even moreso because I think those style guides are basically a bunch of hooey. Probably 80% of their recommendations are either relevant only for writing academic papers or completely superfluous.

          • KestrelBike

            I think apa is mostly a vehicle for arbitrary grading.

        • “You didn’t cite your sources correctlyyyyyyy !!!!???!!!!?!”

      • My english teacher mother would be very disappointed to hear you say that my grammar is a “work in progress”, hahah. My job is not only to know about guns, but even moreso to clearly and concisely convey what I do know. Therefore, being able to write with proper grammar is key to my work. Much as I try, though, sometimes errors will slip through.

      • Longhaired Redneck

        In this case it would appear that the controversy is over punctuation, not grammar. But who’s/whose paying attention?

    • Gecko9mm

      Bob, Nathan writes every day in a public facing blog. That means deadlines, that means putting it into a CMS. That means getting images. That means a lot plates spinning on a lot of poles all the time. I’d like you to put yourself in his shoes and write the amount of content he does without a simple typo on deadline. The NYT and WSJ have layers of editors and copy editors and I still see minor errors on front page stories once in a while.

      In other words, lighten up Francis.

      • SineNomine

        Touch my stuff and I’ll kill you. Use “it’s” and “its” incorrectly, and I’ll kill you.

      • Bill

        Hmmm, writing daily with a deadline….if a print or other web journalist wrote to these same standards we’d excoriate their credibility.

        I write constantly and make more than my fair share of errors, but proofreading is fundamental

        • Gecko9mm

          No you wouldn’t. This is how the world works now. Do you not understand that? Newspapers don’t even have copy desks anymore. People don’t pay for content. If typos kill you, expect it to get worse because that’s the only way it’s going to go.

          • Bill

            Wrong. Read the digital editions of those same newspapers. Look at the media available through an academic search engine.

            Please don’t excuse mediocrity, while complaining about media content politically or socially.

          • Gecko9mm

            Let me restate that. Most newspapers. Our local newspaper chain in a major metro area just cut their entire copy desk. I think you understand the Washington Post and New York Times are a little different scale than TFB? If you expect TFB to be as typo free as the NYT, or WSJ, why don’t you pay extra for your Sunday subscription.

          • Bill

            Since when is grammar something that only “big” journalists should utilize? Does that mean small town doctors get a free pass on medical mistakes? I definitely understand that they practice on a different scale than the big city croakers. What other professions get a bye due to the size of their organization?

            If a writer expects to be taken seriously, they need to be able to actually write. I’m really interested in understanding why you think mediocrity is acceptable. If ANY publication, digital, print or any other form of media expects to have any journalistic credibility, they need to watch their house and make sure their writers are doing radical stuff, like applying proper punctuation. The Little, Brown Handbook costs less than a box of ammo.

    • Pete M. – TFB Writer

      I must read over final drafts 10-12x and still miss spelling, punctuation and grammar errors. I appreciate those who cut us some slack when we miss.

      The man knows his stuff; if he misses an apostrophe here and there, so be it.

    • Bob

      Your right. They’re grammer is bad. Man, its painful to intentionally type this stuff…

      • Jim_Macklin

        Their grammar reflects that they’re the products of dumbed down public education. There doesn’t seem to be the emphasis on quality education, rather the teachers unions and government masters prefer semi-literate serfs.

        • I am a product of public school? News to me!

          • Jim_Macklin

            Maybe that’s why it is news to you?

          • Here’s a clue: Not every person in this country went to K-12 public school. That you apparently don’t know this suggests to me that you did go to public school. 😉

          • Pete M. – TFB Writer

            You talk as if you’ve never made a mistake or omission. I’m not sure anyone is capable of living up to your standards.

          • Jim_Macklin

            I’m a terrible typist. The often comes out teh and them or then when the wrong word isn’t underlined with red.
            But There is a time or place, they’re is they are contracted and their is possessive as “It is their car.”
            I was, before I got old, a professional flight instructor. Small mistakes kill people. The wrong word in a Pilot’s Operating Handbook [otherwise known as an airplane flight manual] with details about how to fly that particular airplane, including doing the weight and balance must be perfect.
            Navigation, planning a course starts with drawing a line on a chart and the determining the true course, then the magnetic course and finally the compass heading needed to be flown. There are formula rules reduced to a few words, “East is least, West is Best”
            I had to correct several typos caused by fat fingers. I’m not perfect, but I always try.
            Since this is a gun forum, we have to remember that saying “sorry” doesn’t make an AD OK.

          • Oh yes, I’m certain scores have died already from my careless extra apostrophe, but that can’t compare to the millions massacred by the typos in your last comment! 😉

          • iksnilol

            Maybe i am?

            I mean, all my screwups were on purpose… that’s my story and I am sticking to it 😛

        • Longhaired Redneck

          Grammar ain’t what it used to was!

          • Jim_Macklin

            But it is what the PTB want it to be. They want people that can’t understand laws written in plain English with legal formatting.
            Simple lesson…
            A law…
            includes a paragraph, followed by sentences that all link back to the first paragraph…

            so you have to read and look back. You also have to spell the words and use punctuation correctly. Even city councils make mistakes. A few years ago the City of Wichita decided to outlaw nude dancing in clubs and hotel bars. They wrote it improperly so it was only illegal in hotel bars. When I lived in Oklahoma City they outlaws “massage parlors.” The next day all the massage parlors had new signs that said RAPP Parlor, First Amendment talking.

          • Longhaired Redneck

            I completely agree. Another brick in the wall of tyranny so to speak.

      • Oldtrader3

        “Their” grammer is poor, makes a much better and understandable statement, Bob.

        • Longhaired Redneck

          Reread carefully. It’s (its) sarcasm!

  • TVOrZ6dw

    I am always amazed at how much value we can still get from these old government training films.

    • Geoff

      Agreed. This is from back in the day when people in government believed in America and were actually able to get things done.

      • Jim_Macklin

        During the Vietnam war the M16 training manual was reduced to a comic book because many of the draftees could not read the TM.
        Today only the top students can enlist, those below average are SOL.

        • DIR911911 .

          hahaha , were you able to type that with a straight face? “top students” haha . . . there are plenty of under average that still make it through , just not the non readers

          • Jim_Macklin

            The Army did issue a cartoon book.

          • iksnilol

            Maybe they issued it as a comic because it is easier to read?

            I mean, people love to harp on comic books but they sure are easy to understand. I don’t see why you want the manual for a rifle to be more complicated than what is required.

          • Sweet 16

          • guest

            Here is a Soviet analogy, a comic book showing how a red army soldier can clear jams and other malfunctions in the heat of battle:

            Sorry comrade, comic not found. Rifle is fine.

            *grabs popcorn*

          • They made several different comic type books like one titled “Your Sweet 16”.

          • Uniform223

            they still make mini “comic” books on how to care for your M16/M4. I kept one that I snagged from the S4 office. Its floating somewhere around in either my closet or tough box… or basement. I know its somewhere in my house.

          • toms

            The army is more worried about diversity and tolerance than “Top students” nowadays it seems. But your point is taken, most of the current crop can for sure read and write. However, I’d probably rather have a corn fed illiterate farm boy at my back than a highly literate beat poet from New York. At least one has common sense.

        • Steve Skubinna

          Not just for the M16. The Army had a regular publication in comic book format on preventive maintenance on all sorts of equipment. I especially remember the issue on the old Gama Goat.

          The art was drawn by Will Eisner, and the tw major characters, IIRC, were Connie and Bonnie.

        • MichaelZWilliamson

          You still have to read a comic. And they’re more interesting than some non-writer technician’s attempt at prose.

      • Bill

        During the Cold War, the growth of the Military-Industrial Complex, domestic espionage, CIA LSD experiments, the Tonkin Gulf and Bay of Pig Fiascos?

        Maybe NASA and the space program….

  • politicsbyothermeans

    I have started referring to those who own EBRs as “supporters of more liberal gun laws” which makes hoplophobe’s amygdala short out. On my phone, I have a picture of an M-16, an AR-15, a Mini-14 ranch rifle in wood and a wood furniture 10/22 with a 30 round magazine. It’s a good visual aid for discussions with people who genuinely have no idea what the fuss is about. I am very tempted to send them here as well.

    • Anonymoose

      Modern “Liberals” have no connection to real liberalism. They are as illiberal and regressive as people(?) can be.

      • Martin M

        It’s not proper to call them liberals. They’re Leftists. They hide beneath the veil of liberalism and democracy.

        • Evan

          I agree completely. Use of the term “liberal” for leftists who object to virtually every aspect of classical liberalism is obfuscating their actual agenda. We as a country need to ditch the euphemistic Newspeak and return to calling things what they are.

          • Uniform223

            “We as a country need to ditch the euphemistic Newspeak and return to calling things what they are.”

            Communists?

          • Buddy_Bizarre

            @uniform223:disqus

            No, leftist, statist, progressive, authoritarian all work.

          • Anonymoose

            They even fail at that. At least the communists valued strength and technical intelligence. Modern proglibs are even worse than the current generation of materialistic chicom airheads.

        • TheSmellofNapalm

          I’d love to hear more of the things you don’t believe in purely because one side of the table brings them up. I’m sure it would be a gas.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            I’m sure he would end up triggering you into seeking out the comfort of your safe space.

          • Tom

            Ill bring the puppies and playdough. Then we blog about it on Tumblr and start some online petitions.

        • Edeco

          I sometimes use the term “neolib” to kind of be clear. Though, you know, I know its not that useful, I mean overall I try to avoid being mired in word games/name calling. Would only use it like here, with a group who’d get the drift.

      • TheSmellofNapalm

        Please take a moment and read the slogan of this site. Nevertheless since you’ve started, I’ll attempt to finish it. I resent the gun community spouting hatred for people with liberal mindsets. I identify as a liberal in that I support abortion, LGBTQ rights, marijuana legalization, immigration reform (not a ban), equal pay for women, anti-death penalty, and I want to keep religion out of schools (and anywhere else public, for that matter). However I own and shoot guns and totally support the second amendment, but I am rational enough to understand that we need some comprehensive gun reform in this country. Go ahead and look at statistics, or just read the paper. There needs to be a way to preserve responsible gun owners’ right bear while also barring people who shouldn’t own firearms such as terror suspects, the mentally incumbent and general idiots from walking into a gun store and walking out armed to the teeth. I support psychological evals, required training courses, more punishing storage laws, extensive certification processes and anything else that will keep people safer. Now you can either label me as a libtard, or you can admit that maybe some reform might do us some good. And I love ARs.

        • ostiariusalpha

          “…and I want to keep religion out of schools (and anywhere else public, for that matter)…”

          I’m actually an atheist myself, but that is some serious authoritarian b-llsh-t right there, my man. And mandatory psych evals would be a bureaucratic nightmare, even if it was a good idea. If you want to improve public safety, then the simplest method is to focus on those with a record of violent behavior. Have they been convicted of Misdemeanor Domestic Violence? No gun for them. Animal cruelty? No gun. Receiving psychiatric care with violent ideation? No gun for you, crazy! Having better, more secure storage is a good idea, but using punitive measures to enforce it is not. You need to provide incentives instead to promote their use, and make it easier and more attractive for gun owners to obtain secure containers.

        • Jim_Macklin

          The common sense gun reform that is needed is to return arms to the people everywhere that is now a “gun free zone” be it by government law or rule or a corporation work rule. Everyone doesn’t have to be armed and people should not be forced to go armed. Like abortion, going armed should be a choice not a government edict.
          If 5% of the people at any gathering MIGHT be armed, the 1%er killers and terrorists would pick a softer target, in other words, lives would be saved.
          AS for drugs, all drugs should be legal for adults, over the counter at CVS or Walgreens, with ID at actual cost, $10.00 for a months supply of certified drugs. Anybody, who provides recreational drugs to children should be executed. Such a policy will put the cartels out of business.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          So, you are another statist hiding under the guise of “Liberal”?

        • Martin M

          The problem with attaching ‘requirements’ with a constitutional right is that before you know it nobody can meet those ‘requirements’.

          So you want a gun? You must be ‘crazy’, er, mentally incumbent. Denied.

          Storage? Certification? They’ll just make the requirements out of reach of all but a few.

          That’s the hook. Leftists just want ‘reasonable’ reforms. Using this language they trick plenty of people into supporting their position. Before you know it, it’s all a catch 22 that deprives citizens of their constitutional rights. They make seemingly innocuous laws in public, and then modify them in committee when nobody is looking.

          That isn’t reform.

          • TheSmellofNapalm

            We can debate the original intent of a bunch of slave-owning white guys who wrote stuff down on parchment over 200 years ago, or we can all agree that we live in a very different time now and the Fathers could not possibly have known how many people we’d have in the country, let alone how much more capable our weapons are. What about walking into a gun store/show without ID is “well-regulated,” and how many of us can seriously claim that we’re part of a “militia?”

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Holy Hell, you really are a far-left statist! I suppose you use that as a reason to not read any of the Founder’s documents or Federalist Paper #46. Every American man between the age of 17-46 is a member of the militia. It isn’t like the Founders didn’t know of repeating rifles or the Girandoni rifle (.46 cal semi-auto with 22 and 30 round magazines) Thomas Jefferson bought one. You clearly have never gone to a gun show and if you have you are intentionally lying about “no identification” BS.

          • Far from being outside their conception, high capacity repeating weapons existed during the time of this country’s founding, and the Founders were themselves were not only aware of these weapons, they were fans of them.

          • George Griffin

            Umm, we are a “militia” in times of need, whether the need is to defend ourselves, our homes, our friends or our county, the right to bear arms is the only thing that makes us a “militia” when the need arises. The well regulated part is where the debate comes in, since we have a standing army, there are no state organized militia, where once it was the duty of each state to organize and train militias, now days that well regulated part falls to the individual gun owner to be well trained in the use as well as the laws pertaining to their particular weapon of choice, the 2nd amendment starts with “A” not a “The” which shows the founding fathers were looking to the future when the people might once again have to form “A” militia to defend themselves from a tyrannical government again. Without the 2nd amendment we wouldn’t be able to do that, that is why our weapons should be as capable as the government weapons since that is who the founding fathers fought against and knew that we may have to fight against in the future.

          • TheSmellofNapalm

            Nukes for everybody, then! You people have truly lost it.

          • George Griffin

            Now you are getting it!

          • Bill

            Really? Just how well regulated are the vast numbers of firearms owners as a militia? Can you sketch out the TOE for me real quick?What’s the call-out procedure? Are on-duty injuries covered by Worker’s Comp? Who’s in charge here?

            Bottom line is that the “militia” position no longer applies to our society. If you’re meaning a revolutionary force to overthrow a government, those aren’t militias.

            Some states actually have state militias – bring your own gun.

          • George Griffin

            The American Revolution was fought primarily with militia groups so yeah a revolutionary force to overthrow a government were militia and God forbid may be again.

          • Bill

            Indeed it was, well over two centuries ago. There’ve been some improvements since then.

          • iksnilol

            Guerilla warfare still works tho.

          • Bill

            As described in “The Turner Diaries?”

            Some people are determined that an apocalypse will happen, even if they have to cause it themselves.

          • iksnilol

            I was thinking more about what happened in my homeland (Bosnia) about 20 years ago. But yeah, sure whatever.

          • Bill

            You don’t think there are significant differences in the historical and cultural arcs between Eastern Europe and the USA? I’m also certain that there were no shortages of firearms in Bosnia at that time, nor Chechnya, nor any of the breakaway Republics or Autonomous Areas, or the Horn of Africa now.

          • iksnilol

            That lack of an shortage was kinda helpful… unofficially of course, officially there were no weapons there due to the arms embargo.

          • Bill

            No, my point is that this idea of a “disarmed populace” is largely a fiction, born out in our revolution, the war in Bosnia, Masada, the French Revolution, Nam, Somalia and Syria and just about every conflict I can think of. The idea that the US gov will, or even could, flip and “take our guns” is just so fantastically impossible, yet some people insist it’s just over the horizon. On top of that, it’s laughable to consider every male of a certain age to be a “militia member.” That may have been possible in the cultural and social milieu of the 1770s, but today? When we have riots in the street after college football games? It’s ludicrous.

          • iksnilol

            To be fair… people were killed in university sports games on a semi-regular basis back in the day.

          • Jim_Macklin

            Back in the early 70s, Illinois voted on a new constitution. The bait to get the whole state to ratify the new, Chicago written constitution, was there was an individual right to keep and bear arms included in the Illinois constitution for te first time. Article 22 had a kicker though. the first words were a trap.

            SECTION 22. RIGHT TO ARMS
            Subject only to the police power, the right of the
            individual citizen to keep and bear arms shall not be
            infringed.
            (Source: Illinois Constitution.)

            Police power is overriding and for years the Illinois Supreme Court allowed
            many infringements.
            Finally after HELLER and McDonald, the 7th Circuit ruled most of Illinois’ gun
            laws to be unconstitutional since both open and concealed carry were banned and felonies.

            You have to watch politicians and they will lie. I was an Illinois resident in 1970 and asked about the police power part. I was told that it was just so cities could have laws against shooting stoplights.

        • Standard Velocity

          Thank you for this. We (people who enjoy shooting as a hobby and use guns responsibly) are only adding to the polarization by being so reactionary to the fears of those who do not share our views. People who don’t understand guns are frightened by gun culture and mall ninjas (who isn’t anxious when they see a non-military/LEO playing dress up in public).

          Educate those who do not share your views and you can begin to have a productive conversation. Rant about anything and people tune out or see good reason to react contrary to your platform.

          • Aramaki

            Since you’re part of gun culture, you don’t freak out when Military/LEOs are in public, but to most people, the concept of even a cop having a gun in the room is existentially terrifying.

          • Nicks87

            That doesn’t make any sense. People who are tasked with keeping order have been carrying weapons for thousands of years. Regardless of your background, ethnicity or culture why would anyone be “terrified” of a well trained and vetted person carrying a gun? I think some people in Orlando would’ve been very appreciative if a military member or LEO with a gun had been in the room when Omar Mateen started his shooting rampage.

          • Bill

            “Most people?” In a 30-plus year career the only people Ive found terrified of me are criminals. I didn’t count the number of people who thanked me for being on the job this past week, post-Orlando.

          • iksnilol

            In Norway:

            My friend complained when the police were investigating something at her house (break in I believe) that the police constable had a “big” pistol on his hip (HK P30).

            So yeah, some people might be frightened. I am too frightened of armed police. Mostly because the police I’ve seen are incompetent with firearms for the most part.

          • Bill

            Ok, that’s two, from outside the U.S.

          • Uniform223

            Its a personal/cultural thing it would seem. I feel safer around a bunch of foul-mouthed ornery vets on a high-carb diet with guns that know how to use them than a gun free zone with hipsters and pacifists /apologist sheep.

            One of my usual hangouts is a veteran sponsored/themed/owned bar. One day I walked in had my lunch, had a few drinks, and saw that more than half of the people there (men and women) were armed one way or another. You know what. I felt DAMN SAFE there. Some of them bring there kids… no they don’t sit at the bar. Sometime local police and sheriff come in on their off duty time.

        • Anonymoose

          The site’s slogan applies to the posters, not the comment section. I agree with you all those things except the “gun reform” and “equal pay” for women. JFK signed equal pay for women into law 50 years ago. Women can not have equal lifetime income unless they skip pregnancy, raising kids, and early retirement, and get STEM degrees instead of gender studies or art history. The only gun reform we need is to remove everything but actual machineguns from the NFA, get national open and concealed carry reciprocity, and remove the import restrictions of GCA68 and the Hughes Amendment. If you place psych evals, mandatory training courses, or other licensing schemes on gun ownership then YOU and everyone who isn’t some politician’s or CEO’s nephew will never be able to jump through enough flaming hoops to get a license, and the crazies and gangsters will still be able to get salt waffles and hi-cap clipz on the black market.

        • George Griffin

          I support doing the same for voters. There needs to be a way to preserve responsible voting rights while also barring people who shouldn’t vote, such as terror suspects, the mentally incumbent and general idiots from walking into an election site and walking out a voter. I support psychological evals, required training courses, more punishing voter fraud laws, extensive voter certification processes and anything else that will make informed voters. Now you can label me a right winger, or you can admit that some people shouldn’t vote. And I love voting.

          • TheSmellofNapalm

            If you seriously think that voter fraud is actually a statistical issue in this country, FOX News has done their job very well.

          • George Griffin

            If you seriously think that gun violence is actually a statistical issue in this county, MSNBC has done their job very well.

          • TheSmellofNapalm

            You can keep playing that game in your little cave as long as it entertains you, but actually gun violence is a very serious issue in this country compared to practically every other country in the world. If you’re too blinded by the NRA to see that, I really don’t think there is any hope for this country

          • George Griffin

            You might actually have a valid point if you had actual facts to back it up, the truth is more people are killed by knives and automobiles in this country and only 3% of gun deaths are from any type of rifle much less the ar-15. And you are, right there is no hope for this country or any other for that matter but it has nothing to do with guns.

          • Bill

            Then compare our rate of gun deaths to other First World nations.

            A lot more people are killed in car crashes because a lot more people drive and it’s a heck of a lot more common activity that using a firearm. Apples and oranges.

          • George Griffin

            “A lot more people are killed in car crashes because a lot more people drive and it’s a heck of a lot more common activity that using a firearm.”
            Really, there are an estimated 253 million automobiles on the road in the U.S. and an estimated 360 to 245 million fire arms so your point is not valid sir, as many as or more people use firearms as drive.

          • Bill

            No exactly; the metrics don’t compare. How many miles/hours/years are spent behind the wheel, versus behind the trigger. Add in a definition of “use:” I’ve driven to the grocery store thousands of times while carrying a gun, while never needing to shoot it. Does that count as “use” of a car or firearm, or both? How many guns sit in drawers and are never fired, or fired during deer season only? I’ve carried on- and off duty for over thirty years, and fired 100’s of thousands of rounds in training, qualifications and instructing, but never had to shoot anyone. Does that count as “use?” I own two cars, and more than 2 guns, so that metric is skewed. Again, it’s apples and oranges.

          • George Griffin

            I’m not a statistician so I am not able to quantify the percentage of deaths per rounds fired or the percentage of deaths per miles driven but there is an estimated 3.5 deaths per 100,000 by firearms and an estimated 10.2 deaths per 100,000 by automobile so when you compare rates of death you can compare apples to oranges.

          • Bill

            I’ve had several years of graduate studies in statistics and research methodology and while rates per population is one measure there is still a constellation of uncontrolled variables that have to be addressed. If all you consider is the rate per population you might as well include cancer, bear attacks and BASE jumping deaths.

          • George Griffin

            And that is my point, so many deaths by other means but the left always points to gun deaths as being somehow worse, the only conclusion is they want control, which when you think about it, for a liberal to want more control does’t really make sense does it, they want to expand all other amendments except the 2nd.

          • Bill

            They perceive them as worse because they ARE worse. Too many of them are caused by stupidity or criminals, which also explains the high number of BASE jumping deaths while contained to a very small subset of the population. The same applies to deaths related to motor vehicle- related deaths, except a much larger subset of the population drives, while the largest number of deaths are caused by stupidity, lack of knowledge or skill in driving or criminal activity such as DUI, speed, reckless operation, texting, failure to use restraints, etc. And yet we title cars, register them, and require training and permits to operate them. And if you don’t think people get mad about those you haven’t been paying attention. Next time you’re on the road count the number of anti-texting and anti-DUI billboards compared to the number of anti-gun billboards. We have NHTSA, and entire federal agency devoted to nothing but traffic safety, yet nothing regarding gun safety other than a do it yourself form and a stupid-simple background check. While it still sucks, driver’s ed and licensing requirements have improved, as has the safety technology in vehicles. But mention designing in safety features such as the Smart Gun concept or mandating training and testing and look at the reaction you get from the gun community. I’m amazed that orthopedic surgeons aren’t making bank replacing all the jerked knees. And yes, the Constitution does address our freedom to move about in that pursuit of life and liberty part, so the old cliche about driving not being protected by the Constitution doesn’t hold water, and we routinely restrict that right in people who’ve proven that they can’t handle the responsibility.

            I don’t have an answer for any of this, and am liberal enough to understand that bad things happen as part of life. Guns aren’t the problem, but that also means that they aren’t a solution either.

          • George Griffin

            We also restrict who can purchase and own guns, as for me I will gladly lay down my arms as soon as the world is at peace and there is no longer a need for one, but as long as criminals have them and there is a need for government to have them, I will keep mine, so in the world that I live in guns are a solution.

          • Cymond

            “I will gladly lay down my arms as soon as the world is at peace and there is no longer a need for one.”

            My primary interests in firearms are recreational and as a matter of principle. Defense is a factor, but a footnote compared to more common users for me.
            If we ever achieve that utopian dream of a world at peace, there won’t be any need to lay down firearms. Rather, in a world of peace, there would be no justification to support any restrictions on guns at all.

            So I’m keeping my guns either way.

          • Cymond

            I’ll give you that a violent death delivered with malice is worse than an accident, but I don’t think that gun deaths are inherently worse than any other violent death. Arguably, they could be swifter and less painful.

            And the comparison to cars isn’t quite right. As far as I know, there is no significant restriction on owning a car, the restrictions you speak of are required for operation in public. How much that applies to somebody who just keeps a car the garage, collecting dust? Or somebody who only drives around in the woods behind their house (like an ATV)? We operate cars in public, mere feet away from where children play. We operate them in close proximity to where others are operating theirs, and often on opposing directions and with intersecting trajectories.

            So yeah, we have to make sure that people are qualified to operate these high-powered, high-speed death machines in public, as well as assuring the machines are in good, working condition.

            I’ll accept similar restrictions on my guns when we have shooting ranges on every corner.

          • Bill

            Out of curiosity, which would you rather have:

            1) Complete, unfettered access to any small arms – Class 3, SBRs, cans, AOWs and the ability to carry them anyplace, as long as you completed a 40 to 80 hour course on firearms laws, use and safety and had to take a test measuring your knowledge and ability to a reasonable degree, say 70%

            OR

            2) The status quo, relatively unfettered access to certain arms with minimal government oversight.

          • Cymond

            You ask that question as if #1 were an option. When have politicians ever genuinely compromised on guns? Sometimes they “give” (give back, really), usually they take. I’m reminded of this: thelawdogfiles.blogspot dot com/2013/01/a-repost.html?m=1
            The only way I will ever agree with additional restrictions is if I believe the benefit to society outweighs the cost to tens of millions of gun owners, and if it is guaranteed, iron clad, unbreakable that it will not be used as a foundation for further restrictions at a later time. So far, everything I’ve seen proposed fails both of those tests to me.

            The only true compromise (as in an exchange where both parties gain some and lose some) that I know of was the Firearms Owner Protection Act of 1986. The final version included the Hughes amendment which closed the machinegun registry but guaranteed several (6?) protections for firearm owners. However, over the decades, various agencies have eroded those protections. Interstate travelers are arrested for violating state gun laws in states like NJ. The ATF maintains a database of 4473s, arguing that it doesn’t violate FOPA because it is not a complete registry/database. I could go on, but the point is that the FOPA promises have been eroded to the bare minimum.

            Fwiw, I personally would take option 1, but I know that those requirements would be too much for many others. Remember, I’m already a devoted gun owner, even a “gun nut”. Some people would call me obsessive. However, when I started getting into guns 10 years ago, that much training and education would have been overwhelming. I can’t imagine that a 40-80 hour course would be cheap, and seriously, who has 40-80 hours to spare? If the class was only a few hours a day, it would take months. If it were 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, that’s still a week or two. (That’s a lot of time off work.) The average college class lasts 18 weeks and has about 40 hours of actual class time. Your proposal would end gun ownership except for the most devoted, and criminals. Most of all, it would be an extreme barrier to entry that would ensure that very few new gun owners would enter the community. How is a first-time gun owner supposed to pass a skill test? That sounds like a catch 22. You can’t buy a gun unless you already know how to use it.

            I think Cowboy Action shooting looks really interesting, but I don’t own any appropriate guns, equipment, or costumes/clothing. I would need to spend several thousand dollars just to try it, and I’m not sure I would enjoy it. It makes much more sense to spend my money on things I know I like.

            How many people are going to spend hundreds (thousands?) of dollars and months of their time to try a hobby?

          • Bill

            People who fly planes, own boats , play golf, do photography, ride motorcycles, have drug habits, race drones…,there are plenty of expensive hobbies . And plenty of occupations put the onus for obtaining required training on the applicant, like medicine, law, skilled crafts, etc.

          • Cymond

            Occupations have the tendency to repay the cost of training and education.

            There are cheap drones, cheap boats, cheap cameras, etc. If a person loves the hobby, then they can upgrade to better gear eventually. None of those require 40-80 hours of class time which would cost thousands of dollars. Additionally, if someone spends money on a boat or whatnot, and decides they don’t like it, they can sell the boat. They’d lose some, but not a total loss.

            But you’re right, many hobbies are expensive, and some are expensive to get into. Those with high entry costs, such as flying private planes, tend to be reserved for the wealthy.

            That’s what you’re proposing to do to gun ownership.

            To the best of my knowledge, there are very few people who oppose photography, flying, boating, etc. Those hobbies are not under any kind of attack.

            A generation later, gun owners would be so few and far between that all political lobbying power would be lost. The next generation of antigunners would easily trample them.

            And I think that’s the eventual goal, their long term strategy. Erode gun ownership by degrees.

          • Bill

            There are plenty of inexpensive guns on the market; they are mocked here routinely. ARs have tumbled in price over the last several years, yet there are still plenty of companies who are selling all the high end rifles they can make. The people who populate this blog are an example, how many own Tavors, SCARS, custom ARs, FNs, cans or other high end optics or accessories? I took at least 40 hours of photo classes last year on my dime, and will routinely squirrel away some money from each paycheck until I can afford a new lens or body. I am FAR from wealthy, but manage to keep up. If people want something, they’ll find a way.

            It takes 12 hours of training to get a CCW permit in my state and classes are still routinely full, and I’ve gotten a half-dozen calls this week to put more on or assist other instructors. I went to college while working full time and got a grad degree, paying for it myself or with scholarships and tuition reimbursement, so a part-time 40 – 80 hour adult ed evening class is eminently doable, assuming someone is willing to put forth the the effort. I’ve also done budgets for training programs, and while I don’t doubt some people would charge thousands of dollars for a 40 or 80 hour class, it could be done for a couple hundred bucks. The academy I’m affiliated with charges less than $5,000 for an 800 hour Basic Police Academy. I also pay out of pocket for a lot of my own training and continuing ed, I guess because I’m motivated

            And really, the day after the House fails to pass ANY of the four pieces of proposed gun legislation drafted within 8 days of one of the worst mass killings in US history, before even all the bodies are buried, you think the government can roll in or back new legislation? After the AWB sunset and Heller decision? Now go ahead and cite the outliers like Cali, CO and NY. The rest of the Union has shall- or can issue CCW provisions, are relaxing laws on suppressors and there are more ARs, AKs and other military-pattern autoloaders in private hands now than at any time in our history. It’s like Prohibition in reverse. You’re worried that the antis will come back for more? More what, failure to accomplish anything?

          • Cymond

            You’re right, the antis are powerless, at least for now.

            Politics seem to happen on a cycle. Are you really so certain that the pendulum will never swing the other way? Remember, Heller was a 5-4 decision, and one of those 5 is dead now. The Senate can block the president’s nominee for a while, but there’s an election coming. What if that seat is filled with an anti-gun Justice? What about any future cases? Yes, the Senate voted against 4 anti-gun bills recently, but it was 53 to 47. You don’t think the balance of power in Congress could shift at some point? Arguably, it is the constant vigilance and pushback that manages to keep the antis at bay. What would have happened if we hadn’t pushed so hard these last 12 years? All of our pushing, and all of their “failure” mostly maintains the status quo, with moderate gains in some states, dramatic losses in a few, and no real change federally. For all the “failure” of the antis, I can’t think of a single relaxation in federal gun laws, except for the expiration of the AWB 12 years ago.

            It’s really great that you took 40 hours of photography classes last year. Do you like photography? Are you good at it?

            Because you’re basically saying that 40-80 hours of education should be needed before a person would even be allowed to own a camera.

            It’s great that you work with such an affordable training academy, capable of providing the training you propose for a few hundred dollars. It sounds like economies of scale at work. However, most people don’t live near major tactical training academies. All of the firearms training classes that I’ve looked at cost a few hundred dollars for a day or two of instruction. I guess the cash-strapped rural resident are just SOL. They would have to drive several hours to a major academy numerous times, pay a private instructor, or give up their guns. That’s a huge burden for the rural poor.

            Let me tell a couple little stories. There was once a young man. He had grown up with guns in the family, but hadn’t shot a gun in many years after his parents divorced. Then, one day, he drove out to the shooting range. He didn’t have a gun, but just wanted to see, smell and hear them again. A few years later, he joined the college gun club. After a few range trips with them, he walked into a sporting goods store, put down $180, and walked out the proud owner of a Ruger 10/22.

            A young woman grew up in quiet suburbia. No one had ever taken her shooting, or even offered. She’s never seen a real gun before, and doesn’t know anything about them. Eventually, through friends, she gains some experience and buys her own 22 rifle.She only fires a few boxes of ammo a year, but it’s a nice time, even if she isn’t a hardcore tier 1 operator.

            What are the odds of either of those stories happening if they started with the requirements you propose? To a young college student, those classes are time out of an already busy schedule, and money out of an already tight budget. Heck, just the $180 for the gun is a luxury that many students can’t afford. Some of my college friends struggled to pay for gas to go to the grocery store. Many of my friends didn’t even have cars.

            “There are plenty of inexpensive guns on the market; they are mocked here routinely.”

            Yes, HiPoints and Sigmas are heavily mocked, but I’ve seen very little mockery of a Ruger 10/22, except when equipped with stupid tacticool stuff. That’s not the point. Your proposal would add hundreds or thousands of dollars to the cost to buy the *first* gun. “I guess because I’m motivated.” It’s an economic barrier to entry. Why don’t you get this? It’s a significant obstacle for a first-time gun buyer, one who is *not yet motivated*. Sure, I’m motivated enough to overcome it, but would 20 year old Cymond be motivated enough? How would that have changed the course of my life? Maybe I’d be obsessed with billiards or something else.

            Heck, I’m just now getting around to filling out my first Form 4 after years of wishing. I kept putting it off because I couldn’t choose one, or I couldn’t spage the money, or I was going to move in a few months, or I got stuck in California for 3 years, or when I spent 2 weeks in the hospital in 2015, or whatever else. Life can be hard, not everyone has it as good as you seem to. Shooting should not be limited to the wealthy, fortunate, or devoutly motivated. The fact is that ten of millions of gun owners are not violent or malicious.

          • Longhaired Redneck

            Spit out the Kool-aid aead FBI crime statistics. No, actually r-e-a-d them. These figures are actually reported by your beloved Big Brother government.

          • Bill

            Violent crime is going down, but it’s still high compared across countries and disproportionately represented throughout the US.

            Deaths by terrorists of any ilk are infinitesimally rare, but look at the impact they have.

        • Nicks87

          Pro-abortion but anti-death penalty? I never could figure that one out. I would rather take a chance on letting a child live and hope that they don’t become a s**t bag (or be raised by s**t bags), instead of letting s**t bags live and paying for their food, shelter, clothing, etc.

          • Uniform223

            Some how it cost more to execute a violent nonrepentive criminal than to keep them alive. Can someone tell me why Charles Manson is still alive? Give me a damn good reason too!

        • toms

          There is no way you can keep your guns and be a leftist too. They will get rid of the “guns” one small step at a time. It’s their strategy, its been discussed in the open by the democratic leaders, it’s what they will do given power. They will not stop until the right to keep and bear arms is completely abolished. I imagine your not very old. Those who have been down this road before remember the song and dance. You cannot have both. Once they get what they want they will cast your support in the garbage heap of history. I am sorry but that is it. Do you really think banning this or that will stop the madness? France, Mexico, Canada all have very restrictive gun laws, they still have shootings dude. Every shooting will end in more laws.

        • You’re certainly the exception to the usual.

        • Cymond

          I agree with Martin. The problem is that once we agree to restrictions, it becomes easy to slowly tighten those restrictions little by little. We’ve seen it in anti gun states. First they ban ‘assault weapons’ then they slowly start expanding the definition and ‘closing loopholes’.

          What I really wanted to say, though, is that (IMO), the reason so many gun owners are “spouting hatred”of liberals is because the liberals labelled us as enemies long ago. Like you, I support many socially liberal goals that you mentioned, except I oppose many of the left’s nanny state authoritarian agendas. Despite my views on some issues, I can never support the party because they are the ones who labelled me as their enemy. They constantly tell me that society would be a safer, better place without me and people like me. Support is a two way street.

      • Uniform223

        Thomas Jefferson is perhaps the most famous Liberal…

      • Bob

        we NEED a new term to define democrats.
        how about RE-Gresives?

      • Darren Hruska

        The “classic liberal” is what we now refer to as “libertarianism.” As typical, a bunch of totalitarian/authoritarian saboteurs hijacked and ruined the term…

    • Bob

      I’m not sure I understand what you’re saying here about EBRs and liberal gun laws… I’m sure it’s obvious, but…

      • M.M.D.C.

        It isn’t immediately obvious because the term “liberal” had been distorted, which might be the source of your confusion. He’s using ‘liberal’ in the classical sense of the word which has more to do with generosity and latitude than much of what is being peddled by American democrats, particularly with regard to the right to self defense.

  • Sasquatch

    Nathaniel I have much respect for you posting these articles. A lot of us would just tell ourselves that “everyone knows that”. These are great info for people who just don’t know and for those who are new. Bravo my man bravo.

  • Bub

    I see on your personal rifle you have an Acog. Do you prefer a fixed power optic on your carbines over the current 1-4 or 1-6 variable powers which seem to be popular these days?

    • I like both, honestly. I don’t have that much time with VCOGs and similar optics, but I’ve been really impressed with them. But of course, I am super super pleased with my ACOG.

    • DrewN

      Just my opinion, but for me it’s much much easier for me to adapt to a fixed power than to fiddle with a variable anywhere but on the square range or from the bench. I find a 4x good to quite a distance in the real world, where I’m probably walking it in anyway (because honestly, by the time you twiddle your turrets you could have walked in a 10 shot string), yet still quite sufficient for a deliberate aimed shot if the need arises. I like my sight picture to be the same every time under stress.

  • Brian Peterson

    Hear hear! Loved this article and shared it with some of my friends who know very little about the AR platform or guns in general :-).

  • Cymond

    To the uninformed, the AR-15 is a scary military assault weapon, only good for spraying bullets into crowds of people.

    To those of us that know the rifle, it may be the most perfect general purpose civilian rifle ever designed (largely because of the huge aftermarket and ease of customization). It’s nice to be able to change barrel lengths and profiles without needing a professional gunsmith to make you a custom barrel. It’s nice to be able to tinker with the gas system and recoil system using off the shelf parts. It’s nice to change calibers with a simpler upper swap. It’s nice to modify your trigger with drop in parts instead of hitting a gunsmith and never knowing what to expect (I’m looking at you, Remington 700).

    Plus, as Nathaniel said, it’s light weight, soft kicking, accurate, and reliable.

    • Jim_Macklin

      Fifty years ago if you wanted to buy a rifle off the shelf that could shoot minute of angle, 1 inch per 100 yards, you had to buy a Remington 49X Target rifle or similar target or “varmint” rifle. The ordinary and common high quality hunting rifle, the Winchester Model 70 or a Remington 721 was a 2 MOA rifle, the lever action Winchester 94 or Savage 99 was a 4 MOA.
      But the AR started out as a 2 MOA rifle but soon became a 1 MOA rifle with better barrels and then by redesigning the handguard to be freefloat the barrel, the AR in off the shelf form became a 1/2 MOA rifle. Target shooters, small game hunters, and farmers and ranches adopted the AR, not in military configuration, but with the civilian developed enhancements. Then the military adopted many of the civilian improvements in accuracy and that has kept the M series of military procurement with the basic AR/M16 appearance.
      The early M16 troubles in Vietnam were due to changes in the powder types used in VN war ammunition. A switch to gun powder that could be made more quickly, but burned with more residue combined with a failure of the Army to issue gun cleaning materials and training to front line troops combined with the wrong headed belief that the gun did not need to be oiled caused many soldiers to die when their rifle ceased to function.
      Better standardized ammunition and gun maintenance solved the problems.

    • Tom

      But I heard those things could be fitted with a shoulder thing that goes up making them a million times more deadly.

    • Longhaired Redneck

      You forgot “high-powered death merchant killing machine”!

      • iksnilol

        Man, “Death Merchant” would be a good name for a plane. I am thinking a ramshackle AC-130 with a pin-up on the side now.

        • Phil Ward

          Nah, got to be a Rock band!
          “Hello Springfield, we are Redneck Death Merchant!”
          m/

  • Jacob

    But, but the politicians and media say that the AR-15 is a high powered right! How can it be low power? Thank you Nathaniel, I was pleased with this article.

    I swear if the M16 had wood (or wood looking) furniture and was called a Defender Rifle we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

    • Anonymoose

      Go high-powered or go home.

      • Nicks87

        Oh baby that’s hot! A 300WM AR style rifle is on my wish list too.

        • Anonymoose

          The BN36 comes in .25-06, .270, 7mm Rem Mag, and .300 WM now (down from their old .300 WM built on their .338 Lapua AR platform). They’ve also got a semi-auto .408 Cheytac and a 16″ BN36 carbine (.30-06 only).

          • iksnilol

            isn’t 3006 out of a so short barrel kiinda pointless compared to .308?

          • Anonymoose

            Pretty much, yeah.

          • iksnilol

            I’m just thinking it would be way more decent in 308 with such a short barrel. Cheaper ammo + the entire thing would be slightly shorter/handier.

  • VonKarmanIsTheMan

    Nathaniel,

    What’s the object on the forend? Light?

    What model of ACOG is that and how do you like it? I’d like to read your review of the various flavors of ACOG and AR brands.

    • The object is a Streamlight TLR-1. ACOG is a TA01NSN, and it has been nothing short of fabulous.

      • VonKarmanIsTheMan

        Thanks and keep up the good work on the articles.

  • anonymous

    #BlackRiflesMatter

  • DanGoodShot

    Great article

  • SineNomine

    Isn’t irrational fear and hatred based on color racist?

    • pieslapper

      Not if you’re progressive, statist, liberal, or suckle at the government teat.

  • pieslapper

    Great article! Probably would have converted many anti-gunners except for, you know, the bad grammar. /sarc

    Seriously though, good work.

  • Evan

    Nice article, but I think you should’ve gone a little farther to hammer home that this is 1960s technology here, and only because of the forged aluminum alloy. Otherwise it’s 1940s tech, just like the AK.

    • ostiariusalpha

      And also because of the internal piston, that was pretty space age in the late 50’s. The all synthetic polymer furniture was a relatively new development too.

      • Anonymoose

        I finally found someone else who says internal piston instead of DI!

      • marathag

        Ljungman used that ‘internal piston’ in 1941, and in a handful of French MAS rifles before WWII

        • ostiariusalpha

          No, they didn’t. There is no piston on those rifles whatsoever, much less one internal to the bolt carrier group.

        • Incorrect. Gas impinges directly off the bolt carrier in both of those designs, unlike an AR-15 where it is tapped into a chamber formed by the bolt and carrier where it can expand, pushing the bolt and carrier apart.

    • So, since I’ve been writing for a while now, it’s become obvious to me that some level of abridgement is necessary, even for very comprehensive works like Canfield’s magnum opus on the M1. For me, then, the challenge in writing an article like this becomes choosing the appropriate scope. I decided to focus on the AR-15 and all but ignore previous developments as part of the scope, because my purpose was to introduce complete neophytes to the subject, not to give a grand sweeping view of history. So then the AR-15’s basic story can stand in for all the rest – and hopefully an article like this could generate enough interest to get the reader to go look up some of the rest of that history for him or herself!

      • Evan

        You make several really good points I hadn’t thought of.

        I was looking at it solely from the standpoint: “this is the same level as microwave ovens technology, there’s no reason for irrational fear” stressing the second part.

        Again, good article and thanks for the reply.

      • marathag

        To me, Melvin Johnson should be mentioned just as much as Eugene Stoner for the origin of the ‘Armalite Rifle’
        so you could say it has ‘1930s tech’ since Johnson’s rotating bolt was done in 1937

        • Well, I mentioned neither person. Again, this was meant to be a rough introduction, not a thorough history. I could have written 3,000 words instead of 1,600, but then I’d start losing people for length. The shorter it is while conveying the basic point, the better.

    • guest

      No alu parts of the AR are “forged”, they are all cast and milled. At least as far as the older models are concerned. On the newer ones some parts are extruded.

      • ostiariusalpha

        No, milspec type receivers are indeed drop hammer forged from heated aluminum billets, with the cavities milled out afterwards. You can even tell which forge did the work by looking for the forge markings.

  • Al Wise

    The USAF was the first branch to adopt the AR-15. Gen. LeMay was highly impressed with the performance and had it adopted for the security forces. It was a select-fire AR-15 and retained that designation until the 1980’s when they adopted the M-16a2. Worth noting also, early M-16s and M-16a1s retained the Colt’s AR-15 roll stamp on the left side of the mag well but were stamped M-16a1. So, AR-15 does not always mean semi-only.

    • Yes; I left out the Air Force’s adoption to save on length.

      I also don’t recall saying “AR-15” means semi only.

      • Bill

        That’s kind of an important point to leave out. After all, the AR was essentially birthed as a defensive weapon for AF LEOs, which put’s it supposedly death dealing origins in an entirely different context.

        • crackedlenses

          It was also used and praised by the US special forces and the South Vietnamese as well, if I recall correctly….

        • That isn’t correct. While the Air Force was the first customer, as I said in the post, the AR-15 was designed at the explicit request of CONARC, which is a US Army command.

          • Bill

            You whiffed a softball: so you’d rather consider the AR as a military assault rifle of mass destruction made for killing little Asian people than a defensive tool used to protect life and maintain the peace and public safety?

          • DIR911911 .

            no one is trying to follow the retarded political views that only serve to confuse the truth.

          • Nope. I reject the entire dichotomy.

          • Look at our logo at the top of the page: See how it says “FIREARMS NOT POLITICS”? That means we don’t take sides. In my case, I am not even political in my personal life and I do not care to write a political narrative. All I care about is history and the truth; what I’d “rather” an AR-15 be considered is entirely irrelevant.

            And you know, maybe those who find themselves mutilating the actual history of a firearm to try to prop up a political cause should reconsider their actions.

          • Bill

            “History and the truth” don’t always go together. History by definition includes the social and political climate in which an event occurred. You don’t get to have it both ways.

            ALL weapons are the product of a social and political narrative; that of having more power than the adversary.

          • What? I just said I don’t take sides, not that I ignore the political factors that are involved in history.

            I find this all very strange coming from someone who insists that I “whiffed a softball” (screwed up), because I didn’t twist the history to suit some political agenda.

  • TheSmellofNapalm

    Great article as always!

  • Oldtrader3

    Golly, American education deserves the credit for much of the mind-bending Liberal nonsense and lack of grammatical skills. I can handle it. Most people that we characterize as Liberals in the country are really Communists like Obama. Just don’t be confused about that?
    As for black rifles? I am too old to be an adopter. When I returned from Military Service in 1964, I went back to my 1/2 to 1 MOA bolt action Model 70’s and Mauser rifles.
    I believe in live and let live and would rather have all of us gaining skills as shooters than to worry about assigning cultural values to the type of rifle that you like. It is really a more generational thing than a style thing. Have fun shooting everybody. That is really what it is all about?

    • DIR911911 .

      if that’s what it’s all about then how about skipping the hyperbole . . . y’know like the site requests.

  • Don Ward

    Ahem.

    They’re called MODERN SPORTING RIFLES or Emm Ess Arrs for short.

    *Smugly types*

  • Tyler

    I wish we can talk about Eugene and what he really thought about commercializing the AR-15 from Armalite all the way to Nights Armament. 😉

  • john4637

    Just one man’s opinion, but does anyone think that maybe the liberals would not be as upset and hot on gun control if less of these macho man AR-15’s were out there?!? What is the attraction of a weapon that has to be a copy cat to appear as a “man killer,” when all that it is, is a glorified dream gun used to feed certain types of personalities. Hey guys it is not an M-16 and you never hear any liberal politician’s call them that. Maybe I’m getting a bit old and out of touch but I was issued a BAR, but I sure as hell don’t want to own one now! I can’t wait read the thumping I am going to get after I send this. Anyway hang in there and keep hammering your Representatives about this gun control crap.

    • The attraction is that ARs are far cheaper, more accurate, and much more reliable than Mini-14s, for a start. They are also far easier to take apart, much more corrosion resistant, and much more customizable.

      Maybe if someone had designed and successfully marketed a classical looking rifle that was worth a damn and didn’t cost an arm and a leg, ARs wouldn’t be as popular as they are, but nobody did.

      • john4637

        Ok, that makes sense.

      • Timmybadshoes

        This is exactly my dilemma. I like classical rifles but the inability to customize or work on them as easily as an AR makes it hard to pick one up. If I am stuck with what I get, I would rather buy something with history like a M1 or M1A.

    • iksnilol

      I’d say the attraction towards the AR-15 (in the US) is simply how common it is. If you say “centerfire semi auto rifle” it is most likely to be an AR-15

      Also, Mini-14s are simply horrible.

      • john4637

        OK, I will take your word on that.

    • Cymond

      “maybe the liberals would not be as upset and hot on gun control if less of these macho man AR-15’s were out there?!?”

      That didn’t stop them before the AR-15 was popular and common. Both of our most frustrating antigun laws were pressed in an era dominated by revolvers and bolt action rifles (NFA, GCA).

      The antigunners have merely chosen a different target.

  • Guys to much in the way of politics in this thread……..

    • DIR911911 .

      ya think : /

    • ArlingtonVA’s_Finest

      Phil, perhaps you’re right, EXCEPT that under the current political climate (forum trolls excluded), it’s very difficult NOT to discuss some politics here.

      And, yes, this is a good article on the AR-15 development and design.

  • ostiariusalpha

    Your definition of internal is incorrect. The piston and cylinder of the AR-15 gas chamber are internal to the bolt carrier group at all times during cycling, there’s no technical definition of internal that allows for direct exposure of the gas chamber to outside elements; and the gas tube nipple isn’t even part of the bolt carrier group, so that’s not even close to what is meant by an “internal” piston. The AG m/42 and the MAS rifles don’t have enclosed actions to protect the impingement components either, they’re exposed actions. Though I will give you that the gas tube and receiver cup are a piston and cylinder, but that simply means there’s no mechanical transfer element (operating rod), thus it is a direct impingement fixed piston. In order to qualify as an internal piston, there’s no necessity for the bolt and piston to attach to each other as in the AR-15, but the bolt carrier group must contain the gas chamber.

  • Bill

    I don’t think mentioning nukes is out of line – it’s a logical, albeit extreme extension of the argument. And the gun community is indeed hostile to liberals, as simple glance through any forum will bear that out. I’m as liberal as they come and yet still manage to believe that guns are fine and have a bunch. You can bet I don’t discuss politics at work.

    • Uniform223

      “And the gun community is indeed hostile to liberals”

      In my experience it goes both ways.

      • Bill

        Of course it does, and that doesn’t make either side more right than the other.

    • crackedlenses

      “I don’t think mentioning nukes is out of line – it’s a logical, albeit extreme extension of the argument.”

      It is also impossible to mistake for small arms, which is what the 2nd Amendment refers to.

      • Bill

        Heard of a suitcase nuke?

        • crackedlenses

          Does the suitcase nuke count as a small arm? I didn’t think so.

          • Bill

            It’s small, and it’s an arm.

  • roberto ribas

    I came to this blog to learn about ar15 style guns. Im not interested in the political musings of a bunch of teatard losers

    • ArlingtonVA’s_Finest

      Don’t cry, junior.

      And, judging by your comment, you’re lying when you say “I came to this blog to learn about ar15 style guns”.

      Save your tears, and perhaps you should obtain your information from MediaMatters or the DNC. It will be easier on your feelings, and far more along what you really wanted to hear.

      • roberto ribas

        ahh a loser online tough guy! the title of this post was “intro the ar15” and that’s why I read it. I’m sorry you are too stupid to understand that.

    • crackedlenses

      Then don’t read the comments section.

      • roberto ribas

        I’d think the comments section on an article “buying your first ar15” might have some practical experiences others have buying an ar15, and recommendations. Silly me, I should have known it would be full of morons raging about Murica and liberalls!

        • crackedlenses

          I don’t see anything in the article about buying an AR-15, just a very brief introduction to the weapon. That said, I’m not really sure why the political crap-fest broke out myself.

  • 1Zoo1

    Ah, “weapons of war have no place in civilian hands”.

    I would wager that, with the exception of the double barreled shotgun and double hunting rifles, pretty much every single firearm was once a weapon of war or a derivative of one. From falling blocks (eg Martini Henry) to any bolt action with an internal magazine (eg Mosin Nagant, Mauser etc, etc) or external magazine (eg Lee Enfield), to every single handgun sold.

    I recently had a debate with an anti-gunner who considered it simply wrong that a person could own a gun which could shoot 50 rounds per minute. Considering that the lowest rpm is a musket with 3rpm, up to aimed fire with an SMLE at about 30 rpm (see Mad Minute) I was interested in what his maximum rate of fire would be.

    I’m not expecting an answer this century, but I sure hope he stops foaming at the mouth a bit sooner.

  • supergun

    Every American Family should have one, or two, or three Black Guns.

  • vpats

    You may have missed the point of the Progressives, Liberals, Marxist and/or Socialist it the constant attack of the AR family of rifles. They have spent three decades (or more) demonizing the AR, the evil black rifle .. its scary looking, so it must be bad. It has a “Pistol Grip” thus enhancing the ability to “spray bullets” .. say what? this ain’t no garden hose.
    The end game of the Progressives, Liberals, Marxist and/or Socialist is the complete and total disarmament of the United States Citizenry. They like to say code words like “common sense gun laws” translation is complete and total confiscation of our weapons, not just the ARs but all guns, even your single shot, bolt action .22LR, because it was at one time a “Military Design” and a “Weapon of War” which we can’t have on our streets. When one stops and considers firearm design ..hasn’t all been used by the Military?
    We have today, a President of questionable origin, telling us in 2008 he’s only 5 days away from “transforming America” and that the United States Constitution/Bill of Rights are a charter of “negative rights,” it says what the government can’t do to ..ooops .. I mean for you on your behalf. Now I’m positive that every two-bit Dictator would agree with that. The little people should have no rights at all .. just what I [dictator] allow them to have and those may change without notice, depending on the mood of the Dictator on any given day. He claims to be a Constitutional Professor, but he, as usual, didn’t say who’s Constitution, it surely wasn’t ours. He pampers our enemies and insults and downplays our allies. He bows to Kings and calls Dictators his friends. He condemns the United States for a war that occurred over 70 years ago for an act that saved thousands of our military.
    Our Fearless Leader, once stated “I’m not after your guns…..” and … “if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor.” Frankly both of these statements were false .. well, no they were out and out lies.
    It ain’t about the black guns … it’s about the corrupt politicians and their corrupt agenda. It’s called a Power Grab.

  • RickOAA .

    Anti propaganda:

    • Nobody needs these weapons of war.
    • Nobody needs a 30 bullet clip to hunt deer.
    • The inventor never meant for the public to own these.
    • Military style semi automatic assault rifles have no place on the streets.
    • Terrorists should not be allowed to purchase AR-15’s.
    • AR-15’s are WMD’s designed to mow down as many people as possible.
    • The founding fathers only meant muskets in the 2A. They never envisioned this kind of firepower.
    • These guns shoot 30 bullet clips a second.
    • Ten shot clips will cause a shooter to stop to reload, stopping the carnage.

    What did I miss?

    • ArlingtonVA’s_Finest

      – Hillary Clinton is determined to take away ALL guns from Americans. No matter WHAT they are. Period. By whatever means necessary.

      Reason?

      Let’s cut to the chase, and say exactly what NO media outlet will say:

      We are well on our way to a fascist dictatorship, but, because there still exists (for now) a Second Amendment, and that the fact that we have a well armed populace is the one stumbling block that remains for the Progressive Left in implementing their ultimate goal.

      When the guns are gone, no matter how difficult and bloody of a task that may be, welcome to an oppressive dictatorship from which you will never escape.

      You might want to brush up on your Russian or Chinese for future use, depending upon what side of the Mississippi you reside.

      Keep this in mind when you hear your loveable wench wife, girlfriend, co-worker, relative, etc say “I’M voting for Hillary because she’s a woman, and she has experience”……

  • Oldgringo

    A thought can to me that when Americans choose a symbol of freedom the Feds try to ban personal ownership.
    Bald Eagle
    Fireworks
    AR15

  • Mac

    How about Eugene Stoner ?

  • Art Nickel

    Thank you. You might want to follow this with a story about the Swiss and show what they issue to every house after their required Military service. It might help to see a rifle that is capable of full automatic fire…
    You might also do something about the claim that the rounds for the M-16 are against the Geneva Convention because it tumbles on entry…

  • Geoffry K

    Thought maybe you could spread around this meme on the AR-15.