Let’s Talk About Terminology – “Modern Sporting Rifle”

TFB writers typically receive a lot of e-mails. Often, readers are asking us opinions on various weapons, set-ups, or engaging in lively debate on a myriad of topics. Personally, I love it and just wish I could spend more time getting back to those who take their valuable time to seek our input.

And then, there are times we truly get “hate” mail. An obvious misspelling is worth censure, but the level of passion surrounding the term “Modern Sporting Rifle” is palpable. I’ve personally gotten multiple messages to my usage of the term, some of which have been quite vociferous and truly hateful.

I choose to use the term myriad of reasons:

Breadth & Better Descriptor: Weapons design has expanded continuously from their intermediate cartridge progenitors of the AR-15 and AK-47. Firearms designs have proliferated across calibers, action types, and layout. The term “Modern Sporting Rifle” applies to a whole breadth of product that “AR” or “AK” cannot possibly encompass. Modern Sport Rifles applies to Tavor’s, FN2000, MPAR, ACR, SCAR, and numerous other designs.

Positive Labeling: The term has significant benefits in showing a positive connotation to firearms. I use the weapons for sport (3-gun and hunting) and those are positive uses of weapons. Further “AR”, for better or worse, often has a connotation of “Assault Rifle.” While yes that is technically incorrect for “Armalite Rifle” (and most of our readers understand the difference) there are many who read TFB who are new to firearms and MSR is better descriptor until they have come to understand technical terminology.

Freshens Up Writing: Constantly using the term “AR” or “AR-style” gets boring and repetitive. Its nice to thrown in some synonyms to keep the language interesting to our readers.

Short: We could say “AR-type, AK-Type, and similar weapons” to describe the breadth of weapons, but that’s an unnecessarily long set of syllables and typing for what “MSR” or “Modern Sporting Rifle” works just as well.

Don’t like it? tough cookies.

I am sure that this will generate its own “hate” mail, but I will warn you, it will be a waste of time. I’m armed with a delete button and know how to use it.

*The title photo was borrowed from Gun World magazine. 

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • ostiariusalpha

    “AR” just means ArmaLite, no need for it to be a rifle. There were a couple shotguns in ArmaLite’s product line, and the original AR-18 was going to be a pistol. As for general reference to modern semi-auto long guns, I prefer the term of DSR (Defensive Sporting Rifle) used by the current ArmaLite, as it is more encompassing.

    • Joseph Goins

      C’mon, really?!? Are you seriously saying that! According to Armalite’s own website: “All rifles were designated ‘AR’, short for Armalite Rifle.” See www . armalite . com/history/1952-1954/

      • QuadGMoto

        The problem isn’t with the proper usage of “AR”, it’s with the left’s willful conflation of “AR” with “assault rifle” because it seems plausible to the gullible, low information occupants of our country.

        • Joseph Goins

          What makes you think it’s willful? They could just be stupid.

          But let’s be real. We all know what they mean when they say “assault rifle.” Don’t me pretentious.

          • QuadGMoto

            The rank and file may generally be stupid. Their leaders and those in academia are certainly not. When the facts are presented to them (such as “AR means Armalite Rifle”) yet they insist saying what they now know to be wrong, it’s willful.

          • Joseph Goins

            I don’t think it has malicious intent more than it is equivocation.

            A machine gun is a full auto support weapon (in common usage).
            A battle rifle is full auto with a full powered cartridge.
            An assault rifle is full auto with an intermediate cartridge.

            An assault weapon is not a mechanical device but a manufactured term that started in 1989/1990. The term comprises semiautomatic firearms capable of accepting a detachable magazine with certain cosmetic features (e.g. collapsable stock). It doesn’t need to be a full auto firearm as those are legally machine guns . See this succinct website: www . assaultweapon . info

            The media’s definition of assault rifle is actually “assault weapon in the form of a rifle rather than a pistol or shotgun.” They don’t use the mechanical definition.

          • Evan

            The media’s definition of “assault rifle” is really only “gun that looks scary”. I doubt they know the difference between an AR15, an Accuracy International AX or any similar style of tactical bolt gun, and a Saiga shotgun. They can tell that all of the above are different from a Remington 700 or an over under shotgun, but they can’t differentiate between them and likely would call all of them either “AR15” or “AK47”.

          • Joseph Goins

            They aren’t that stupid.

          • Evan

            It’s not a matter of stupid so much as it is ignorant. To us, who have a trained eye, all the guns I mentioned are clearly quite different. To someone who grew up in New York City, went to some left-wing college somewhere, possibly still in NYC, and then got a job with some leftist media outlet based in NY or DC, not so much. They’ve likely never seen an actual AR, or Saiga, or any other gun besides pistols in policemen’s holsters. They don’t particularly care to learn, either. When I see an airliner flying overhead or coming in to land or whatever, I can’t tell if it’s a Boeing or an Airbus or whatever else, much less what model. To someone who knows about these things, it’s probably quite obvious. It’s very similar for these clowns and guns. The ignorance may be willful, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.

          • Joseph Goins

            @disqus_P87Or3Ru6A:disqus You make a valid point. I still expect people to pick out an AR-15, AK-47, and Glock out of a line up. I can’t even distinguish more similar guns like the AK-47 and the AK-74, the Bersa Thunder and the Walther PP, and the CZ-75 and the Sphinx SDP.

          • Evan

            There are a lot of guns out there that I can’t recognize either. For an AK 47/74, the key is the magazine. The 47 mag is much more sharply curved. But, unlike most journalists, I know what I don’t know. If I see something like a Daewoo that I can’t recognize, I don’t just lump it in under AR15, I admit that I don’t know what that rifle was.

          • RocketScientist

            We do? I don’t. I can’t tell if they mean “civilian-legal semi-auto with military heritage”, or do they mean an arbitrarily statutorily-defined “assault weapon” and they accidentally conflate with the term “assult rifle”. Or was it the second, except they INTENTIONALLY replace the legal term “assault weapon” with “assault rifle” to make it sound more threatening or confuse the uneducated that arent aware there is a difference in those terms? Or do they really just have no clue as to the difference/duistinction between a semi-auto and a full-auto rifle, and arent aware that the term assault rifle specifically refers to a select-fire gun capable of full auto/burst fire, while it does NOT apply to the civilian-legal semi-auto guns without that capability?

            So no, let’s be real, when they say “assault rifle” I have NO idea what they mean, and neither do you.

          • Joseph Goins

            As I said an hour before you posted:

            A machine gun is a full auto support weapon (in common usage).
            A battle rifle is full auto with a full powered cartridge.
            An assault rifle is full auto with an intermediate cartridge.

            An assault weapon is not a mechanical device but a manufactured term that started in 1989/1990. The term comprises semiautomatic firearms capable of accepting a detachable magazine with certain cosmetic features (e.g. collapsable stock). It doesn’t need to be a full auto firearm as those are legally machine guns . See this succinct website: www . assaultweapon . info

            The media’s definition of assault rifle is actually assault weapon in the form of a rifle rather than a pistol or shotgun. They don’t use the mechanical definition.

      • ostiariusalpha

        You know that the current ArmaLite has almost nothing to do with the original company, right? They just bought the brand name in the 90’s. Does it really surprise you that the webmaster (who is obviously not much of a historian) just glosses over the AR-9, AR-13, and AR-17?

        • To be fair, there isn’t a whole lot of documentation on the AR-13.


          • ostiariusalpha

            Yes, but it was clearly not a rifle.

        • Joseph Goins

          I guess you didn’t learn to critically read as the word “were” is in the past tense which does not mean that the rationale still exists nor does it define when it ceased being accurate. The company may have said: “Gee, we’ve been using ‘AR’ this long so we might as well start all of our products names like that.” Do you really think that historians, museum curators, and gun-friendly writers would get that issue wrong so often for so long without being corrected? I’m not saying that people haven’t been wrong before (small arms design isn’t my research background) but my assumption about the discrepancy is a hell of a lot more reasonable.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Except those firearms historians are the very ones that would point out that AR stands for “ArmaLite” not “ArmaLite Rifle,” and that it never stood for the latter in any of the original company’s documents (of which, I have copies of more than a few). ArmaLite never planned to be exclusively a rifle development house, they always had bigger ambitions to invest in an array of weapons packages; pistols, anti-aircraft volley guns, machine guns, etc. These plans were drawn up very early in the company’s life, so they didn’t need to carry on with an acronym that no longer reflected their product offerings, instead the documents show that the AR has always exclusively stood for “ArmaLite.”

      • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

        Then what did they call their shotgun models?

        What about the anti-aircraft cannon they worked on?

        AR is not an acronym or initialism. It’s just a shortened moniker for “(AR)malite”. Nothing more.

  • Captain Obvious

    I personally like MSR to describe…well..the new wave of modern sporting rifles since that’s pretty much what they are. It is certainly more positive than “Assault Rifle” which MSRs aren’t or EBRs (Evil Black Rifles) which they also are not and kind of a cynical label. I suppose one could start using AR to mean “America’s Rifle” but it would take a long time to change the common usage of AR. Now is the time to push the use of MSRs both in language and in fact to the next generation.

    • Joseph Goins

      MSR is pretentious in similar fashion as your comment about the MSRs and EBRs not being assault rifles. You know damn well what non- and anti-gun folks mean when they use the term assault rifle to refer to semiautomatic variants of fully automatic firearm.

      • Captain Obvious

        Which is why we have to change the definition. I submit that one problem with pro 2A people is that we have no sense of how politics/media work. If we are ever going to beat the antis, we are going to come to a consensus on strategy, terminology etc. Instead we let the enemy divide and define us by splitting hairs.

        • Joseph Goins

          How does that explain why we have to change the definition? I guess people aren’t as comfortable saying “yeah, we have military-esque guns and so what?”

  • Blake

    Aww bummer, I thought this was going to be a moronic hate mail gallery.

  • TFH

    The thing I don’t like about the term “MSR” is that “sporting” really plays right into the hands of the anti freedom folks. Note, I did not say anti gun, because most “anti gun” folks actually want lots of guns, they just seem to think that only Mil/LE should have them.

    Guns aren’t the issue. Liberty is the issue. Guns are just a pretty darn good litmus test for Liberty, as a “modern musket” in the hands of a free man is one of the very physical things on the planet that can help keep him free.

    I propose we coin, and push, the term “MUR”, as in “Modern Utility Rifle”. We don’t want to tie such important tools of freedom to concepts like “sport” because if we do it won’t be long before we hear the same BS we hear currently about these rifles not being suitable for “hunting” from ignorant folks, or folks who simply wish to pursue an agenda.

    “Modern Utility Rifle”. Covers it all. Non political, non scary, and refocuses the discussion on the fact that there is no one use for these very important tools.

    • Joseph Goins

      “Modern Utility Rifle” is just a ridiculous name. Why not just say semiautomatic centerfire firearm?

      1) Pistol variants of rifle designs (AR, AK, Bren 805 to name a few) aren’t rifles and would be excluded.

      2) There is nothing modern about the AK or AR platforms (the two most commonly available platforms in the world) as they are approaching seventy/sixty years old. By comparison, the Remington 700 is more “modern” than either of those designs as it came out in 1962.

      In all sincerity, I get the point your were trying to make; I think that the argumentation was weak. The term you used was limiting.

      (Don’t forget that hunting isn’t the only sport in the shooting world. 3-Gun and others are still sports.)

      • TFH

        The issue is the same when you lump any other “sports” into what an AR or AK is. Don’t hitch the wagon to things that can be misconstrued as trivial when the real reasons they should not be regulated are much more serious.

        With regard to your other points, they are not wrong, but are semantics none the less. Just because the ATF arbitrarily draws lines and calls an AR will a barrel of less than 16″ and a weird piece of furniture on the buffer tube a “pistol” doesn’t make that item any less of a rifle in the world outside ATF/legislative bizzaro world.

        And claiming that modern is an inaccurate word is also splitting hairs. When a platform is still in use by a good chunk of the world’s first world militarizes the fact that they are evolutions of a very mature design does not in and of itself make them not modern themselves. Besides, modern is all relative… we’ve been flying F15s since the early 1970s, but they are sure as hell modern in their current form over the originals, and certainly modern as compared to the F-111. Just as a Mk12 SPR is certainly modern compared to the M16A1 it is evolved from.

        • Joseph Goins

          Don’t hitch the wagon to things that can be misconstrued as trivial when the real reasons they should not be regulated are much more serious.

          My term (semiautomatic centerfire firearm) doesn’t focus on sports but on the firearm itself. I made my comment about 3-Gun just because many people resort to hunting as being the only sporting purpose for firearms when it is not.

          Just because the ATF arbitrarily draws lines and calls an AR will a barrel of less than 16″ and a weird piece of furniture on the buffer tube a “pistol” doesn’t make that item any less of a rifle in the world outside ATF/legislative bizzaro world.

          The ATF didn’t do that; Congress did with the National Firearms Act of 1934. Getting back to the point, you are correct: they are operationally the same as the full size firearms they were modeled after. However, we live in a society with laws. You originally were talking about bans, liberties, and politics that are by nature legal topics. Therefore, the language used should conform to the legal definitions already provided to us by the NFA for the reason I already said: pistol variants would be excluded from the category of “Modern Utility Rifles.”

          Just as a Mk12 SPR is certainly modern compared to the M16A1 it is evolved from.

          Now who’s talking furniture upgrades? The action isn’t any different than what Eugene Stoner designed in the 1950s.

          • TFH

            The actions may be fundamentally the same, but there have been, in no specific order, changes to receiver dimensions, barrel profiles, twist rates, materiel, finishes, magazine construction, capacity, enhancements (bolt upgrades) and actual added capabilities (1913 attachments and muzzle devices).

            Going back to the F15… the modern “E” series strike eagle, while bearing a striking resemblance to the original, is a completely different animal. Avionics, engines, weapons packages and air frame enhancements.

            We could argue semantics on this all day. fact of the matter is, if we’re going to start calling the AR15 anything but modern, we need to point to something that has supplanted it in a meaningful way as “state of the art”. I’m not sure anything has.

          • Evan

            The E model F-15 isn’t all that new, we’ve had them since at least Desert Storm, and most of the changes are due to the fact that the A-D models were designed solely as air superiority fighters whereas the E was designed as a strike fighter.

          • Klaus Von Schmitto

            I went to work at McDonnell Douglas in January 1986. I worked on the master models for the E. The designs were done by the time I got there. Well, mostly.

      • n0truscotsman

        I like the term ‘repeater’ since its old school. 🙂

        • JLR84

          It’s too bad the term “autoloading” fell out of favor.

          • n0truscotsman

            oooo thats a good one!

    • Vitsaus

      I agree with the first half of what you say. The constitution never mentions sporting as a reason for the people to be armed, and trying to convince marxists that AR15s are sporting rifles is a losing battle. I am not ashamed of my modern firearms, and I generally refer to them, as self-loading, automatic, or “service” rifles.

      • Joseph Goins

        That’s the whole point I’m trying to make. There is no reason to shy away from the true history of the rifles. The AR platform was designed to win a government contract; civilian sales were an afterthought. We can hold our heads high and say we own military-style rifles. I don’t know why people feel like that’s a bad thing; we should double down on it.

      • The entire justification/rationalization for restricting silencers and short-barreled rifles and shotguns in the National Firearms Act was that such devices had “no practical military use”, and thus were not protected by the Second Amendment. None of the dinguses railing away at ZOMG WEAPON OF WAR!!1! even understand the concept of militia service, which has always been that a community must be able to protect itself from violent attack in the event that social order breaks down.

      • gunsandrockets

        I vote for Self-Loading Rifle. Even idiot newscasters would have a tough time mixing that up with machine-guns.

        • Chrome Dragon

          It’s really a good term – I wonder why it ever fell out of broad use in the first place?

          • gunsandrockets

            A time of flux and new things and ideas, with all kinds of language competing for describing the new technology, I’m guessing. I suspect that the simpler (and very inaccurate) term “automatic” won the contest back in the pre WWII years. Winchester may have been calling such rifles “self loading”, but you had FN and Colt calling shotguns and pistols “automatics”.

          • Juanito Ibañez

            Of course, in your cited examples “FN and Colt calling shotguns and pistols ‘automatics’,” the term ‘automatic’ refers to the manner of reloading the chamber — not that it continues to fire ‘automatically’ when the trigger is pulled.

            Want to really embarrass a gun control ‘expert’?

            Tell them that the ‘military’ Colt Model 1917, the ‘military’ Smith&Wesson Model 1917, and the ‘civilian’ Smith&Wesson Model 25 are all ‘.45 Automatic’ — then ask then whether or not they should be banned as ‘deadly assault pistols.’

    • Evan

      Good idea, good term, I’m going to start using it.

    • gunsandrockets

      One problem with MUR, is these are not modern firearms.

  • LazyReader

    How about calling it what it is…a..*ahem* *drinks water*
    *opens envelope* A RIFLE!!!

    • Twilight sparkle

      That could be a little too general at times, I mean there’s a big difference between an m107 and a 10/22 but they’re both rifles

      • raz-0

        how about semi automatic rifle?

        • Joseph Goins

          You stole my line! j/k

        • Twilight sparkle

          That still doesn’t eliminate the m107 or the 10/22…

      • JLR84

        Sure, and a “pistol” could refer to a revolutionary-era flintlock pistol. But we understand the term to mean that you’re talking about a modern semi-automatic, unless you state otherwise.

        • ostiariusalpha

          Except we do use different terms when talking specifically about modern polymer frame semi-auto pistols.

          • JLR84

            Do people still say that? I suppose it made sense when polymer framed semi-autos were novel, but they’re pretty much the default now.

            Even then, I just don’t see a need for some all-encompassing term. If you need more detail, then just add more detail: semi-automatic, polymer framed, striker fired, caliber, double-stack vs single-stack, etcetera.

          • ostiariusalpha

            LOL! Yep, they still say it. Mostly by people with metal frame handguns, but I know plenty that refer affectionately to their polymer frames as such.

        • Twilight sparkle

          Umm noooo… when you say rifle most people are going to think something like this

  • Joseph Goins

    I don’t like the “Modern Sporting Rifle” moniker. I still prefer to say “semiautomatic centerfire firearms” or “military-style firearms” as they don’t have to be rifles and they almost always originate from some military need.

    The MSR term was started by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) and Randy Luth (founder of DMPS) to mean “AR-15” so that the platform would become “acceptable firearms in the field, the woods and on the range” (see www. goo . gl/toc488). That push by Luth and NSSF (as well fear of our Salesman-in-Chief) has done a great job at expanding the gun community’s view on the platform. Part of that was getting RSOs, hunters, long range shooters, and other traditional bolt action people to be ok with semiautomatic centerfire rifles. Part of that was changing the terms to be less “scary” and so people wouldn’t have to worry about getting PTSD if they every asked to fire it once out of curiosity at the range (looking at you, Gersh Kuntzman).

    That being said, my dissent focuses on the air of pretentiousness that surrounds the users of the term. “Gun elitists” (typically, not singling anyone out) hold to the term in a “holier than thou” fashion and get pissy when people don’t use their specific nomenclature. The same thing happens when people refer to “magazines” as “clips,” “cartridges” or “rounds” as “bullets,” and “red dots” as “sights” (they are, in fact, optics). Everyone knows what is meant by each of these terms and softening the rhetoric doesn’t change the functionality or lineage of the weapons.

  • thedonn007

    MSR is just fine.

  • QuadGMoto

    An obvious misspelling is worth censure

    Only misspellings? Not other kinds of typos, like, say…

    I choose to use the term myriad of reasons:


    All kidding aside, I generally prefer the use of “Modern Sporting Rifles” over “military style firearms.” After all, without the ability to use full auto from time to time, the rifle most people think of when describing that “style” of firearm just strikes me as rather mediocre for military usage.

    And as TFH properly pointed out, the 2nd Amendment is supposed to protect military grade arms. Read the decision in Miller v. U.S. sometime. They allowed the short-barrel shotgun restriction to stand because they erroneously thought there was not a military use for it.

  • Sabertooth88


  • nova3930

    I like MSR because it tweaks the twits out there who what to characterize ARs/AKs/etc as “OMG DEATH DEALING WEAPONS OF WAR.” News flash, granddaddy’s hunting rifle based on a Mauser action was a prime weapon of war at one point. Great great great granddaddy’s muzzleloader was the same. The knife you cut your steak with used to be a weapon of war. And on and on and on….

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    “MSR” instead of “semi automatic rifle” is like “african american” instead of “black”, or “person of short stature” instead of “midget”…

    • RocketScientist

      Well, no, I think there is a distinction. The MSR term is used to apply typically to the modern crop of mostly-intermediate-caliber, pistol-gripped, detachable-magazine-fed, carbine-length guns like those mentioned in the article (AR, AK, Tavor, vz58, FNS2000, etc etc etc). I do not think anyone would apply the term to a whole host of semi-auto rifles that aren’t of that style/type. First examples that come to mind are ruger 10/22 in stock form, Browning BAR (the hunting rifle, not the M1918), Remington 750, Remington 7400, etc. All of these are semi-auto rifles, but I’ve never heard anyone use the MSR term to refer to them, nor would I expect them to (I’d be confused as hell if they did). Heck, I think a lot of people would even say the ruger mini, SKS and M1 garand/M14 dont count either in their original form (though they have some overlapping features, especially with aftermarket stocks/chasses).

  • Pete – TFB Writer

    You know you’ve arrived when you receive hate email. I say raise a glass and put your feet up. You’ve earned it.

  • stephen

    I think that MSR is a good tactic – its a play from the progressive handbook.

    Change the label of a thing and the overall perception changes.

    For example you at one time had ‘abortion clinics’ and ‘abortion rights’ however that was perceived as offensive as abortion (cutting up babies and removing the parts is violence & offensive). So they ended up changing the label to ‘pro-choice’ which is less offensive. After that there was a surge in acceptance of abortions.

    The same tactic can be used with the 2nd Amendment and firearms. You say ‘assault rifle’ and for most non-2A people, its offensive and implies violence (we know it does not). However if we change to ‘MSR’ (modern sporting rifle) its plain and more acceptable even though the firearm has had absolutely no changes whatsoever.

    Maybe we should play using the libtards rules to our advantage?

    • Actually knowing how to shape a narrative or craft language to one’s benefit is above and beyond many pro-gun people’s heads. Pretty sad, honestly.

  • Vhyrus

    Personally I call them civilian assault rifles or militia rifles… but then again I *am* an asshole.

  • Ron

    I like Support-Utility Rifle

  • I’m quite the fan of “Modern Sporting Rifle” myself. Not all shooting sports involve three round magazines or O/U shotguns. In fact, we need to take “sporting” back from the regulators who use it as a flimsy pretext to ban imports. Three gun is most definitely a sport as are other tactically themed events. Sports are often mock preparations for war, after all.

    • Evan

      I think we need to scrap all the “sporting” nonsense in its entirety. I agree that three-gun is a sport, though I’m no fan, but the fact that they’ve invented competitions for modern rifles shouldn’t be our justification. The Second Amendment is our justification. Instead of trying to shoehorn sports into a ridiculous and unconstitutional regulation, we need to work through litigation or through elections to get rid of these onerous rules.

      • Joseph Goins

        That’s been my point for years. We need to double down on it and of be afraid of owning guns. “Yeah, I have military-type guns. So what?”

  • Pete Sheppard

    Do you have a tax stamp for that deadly ‘delete’ button? Sounds like it should be an NFA item. :p
    The Anti’s have talking points for every type of firearm, and try to frame the debate with the scariest, most emotionally-charged terms they can find. Refusing their rhetoric is one way to muzzle them.

  • Bill

    Looking at the magazine cover posted kind of defeats the whole “MSR” schtick:

    A Home Defense Beast
    Tactical Night Vision…
    Battle Rifle…
    Tactical Lights, Slings and Scopes…

    Then again some women identify their profession as “escort” instead of “prostitute.”

  • Is the AR-15 really a Modern Sporting Rifle? It was designed in 1957. The year Sputnik was launched. FORTRAN was the Computer Language of the day. They finally made a Vaccine for Polio. And they discovered that baby monkeys got sad when separated from their Mommies. That was 1957. We’ve come so far since then – can we really call the AR-15 “Modern”?

    • RocketScientist

      The generally accepted definition of the Modern Age is from the end of the Clasical Period in Europe until now. That started in the 16th century. Further broken down into early modern (16th to mid-18th centuries) and late modern (mind-18th century to contemporary times). Of course by that defintion pretty much ALL guns are modern. Maybe a more appropriate definition to use might take the distinction of modern as being considered non-obsolete, state of the art, in common current use, etc. I think by all those definitions the AR and AK platform still are very much “modern”. Armies the world over, including some of the very best, still use those platforms. while newer designs certainly exist, and have gained varying degrees of popularity, I don’t anything has quite supplanted the AR and AK platforms.

      • Joseph Goins

        As a professional historian, I can say we generally agree that we are now in the Post-Modern Period. Proper “Modern History,” as you correctly stated, it is after the Classical Period and started in the 1490s. An appropriate word would be contemporary or contemporary.

        The design of the AR-15 itself is older than the Remington 700. That being said, I think that it will be around as long as we still have ammunition in its current form. It is as game-changing of a design as the Browning tilt barrel.

      • Take all the fun out of it…

  • Badwolf

    Meh… I’m a purely tactical guy. So if it ain’t got the word tactical on it I ain’t using it.

  • Sasquatch

    I like anything but assault rifle. The military has assault rifles because get this…. They are used for assaults….. Imagine that.

  • Goosey

    I don’t much care for “modern sporting rifle”. The term was created for political purposes. It’s a PR term. That’s my main issue.

    (and does this blog’s slogan not read “Firearms, not politics?”)

    I suppose one could nitpick—many of these “modern” semi-automatic designs date back decades, and there have been many newer (if mostly derivative) manually-operated sporting rifles—but that seems pedantic.

  • Mitlov

    I like “tactical rifle.” I think “modern sporting rifle” is relatively inaccurate, as they’re not necessarily modern (the AK-47 is nearly 70 years old) and not just for sport (many people use them for practical defensive use, for practical predator control, etc).

    • Joseph Goins

      No. Reminds me too much of Tactical Response.

  • A Fascist Corgi

    I personally hate how the gun community loses their mind over people calling military-style rifles like AR-15s “assault rifles”. They’re so terrified of losing their gun rights that they’ve come up with these absurd alternative names for scary-looking firearms. If you really think that calling a semi-automatic AR-15 a “modern sporting rifle” is going to prevent the public from wanting to ban them then you’re pretty stupid.

    I also hate it when supporters of gun rights are ashamed of the fact that they own guns to protect themselves. No, I don’t own guns to hunt or to shoot at targets. I find hunting to be barbaric and target shooting bores me to tears. I don’t even really like shooting. Going to the range is an expensive chore for me. The reason I own guns is to defend myself.

    And if you’re an American that supports the 2nd Amendment, then you should be frank about what the intent of the 2nd Amendment was. The intent of the 2nd Amendment was to make it easier to overthrow the government if the government ever lost legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry.

    • Terminology is kind of a big deal, since the people who want to deprive you of the right— and ability– to protect yourself are actively using terminology-based propaganda to do so. There is precious little difference between “assault weapon” and “inner city thugs” and “violent video games” and “the Jewish problem”; people who want to destroy your Constitutionally guaranteed rights and force you to be a victim instead of a survivor are tricking other people who just don’t know any better into thinking that the simple tools you use to protect yourself are BABY-MURDERING DEATH MACHINES!!1!, and empty propaganda terms like “assault weapon” are how they’re doing it.

    • gunsandrockets

      One should be frank. But one should also fight lies. Calling a self-loading rifle an “assault rifle” is frequently a lie said by liars, and it is always inaccurate no matter who says it.

  • Bob

    Terms are funny. I have no problems with assault weapon (semi auto version of assault rifle, got it), and MSR is OK by me, but I dislike weapon of war. Most assault weapons/MSRs are made by companies that have never made anything for the military, and are specifically made for the civilian market, not the battlefield. My Wasr 10 is not a weapon of war, but my Lee Enfield is. It likely saw combat and may have killed Nazis. Can’t come any closer to a weapon of war than something made specifically for soldiers to kill each other and actually was issued to men in a real war.

    • gunsandrockets

      anti-gunners apply the demonizing term “assault weapon” to handguns, shotguns, and rifles which never had any military or any full-auto counterpart. This goes back to the very beginning. Back to the first ‘bad gun’ list included in the first law banning so-called “assault weapons” in California in May, 1989.

      • I’d have to do more research than I have give-a-damn to spare right now, but I’m pretty sure the first gun to get regularly labeled an “assault weapon” was the Tec-9, and there aren’t enough LOLs on all the interwebs for the idea of a trash-ass gat like that having any kind of military usefulness.

  • gunsandrockets

    I don’t like “MSR” because it is a calculated euphemism almost as deceptive as the calculated witch-hunting term “assault weapon”. The term MSR is also rather inaccurate and imprecise.

    Are MSR actually modern? No, they are quite old, frequently those designs are older than most of the Americans who own them. MSR aren’t even modern in terms of civilian sporting purposes, as witnessed by the Winchester Model 1905 Self-Loading Rifle.

    Is one to assume an MSR is only for ‘sporting purposes’? Of course not. And we shouldn’t be ashamed of the legitimate uses such firearms have for legal self-defense purposes.

    No, I don’t like the term “MSR”. I prefer the neutral, accurate, and traditional term: self-loading rifle or SLR.

    • I usually call them “scary-looking black rifles that frighten people who are afraid of blacks” when talking to Antis, because it suuuuuper gets on their nerves to have one of their main unspoken motivations laid out in bare language like that.

  • The one thing I always point out when anyone gets all hot under the Abercrombie & Fitch collar about “semi-automatic assault weapons” at me is the fact that according to FBI statistics, semi-auto rifles are used in less than 1% of homicides in the US every year. More people are murdered every year by literally being punched to death with fists than are murdered with scaaaaary black rifles. If I really wanna tick ’em off, I point out that if they were sincere about being “progressive” and wanting to save lives, they’d be stumping for mental health care reform, since two thirds of deaths by firearm are suicides.

  • Jim_Macklin

    A rose is a rose by any other name. AR is Armalite Rifle, Ruger has several SR models but that includes some handguns. To this day, the US military uses off the shelf WWI vintage bolt action rifles for sniping duty although the self-loading rifles such as modified by special gunsmiths who convert M14 30 caliber rifles into M21 sniper rifles or the Barrett 50 caliber M107 and M82 are replacing the Winchester Model 70 and Remington 700 & 40X rifles.
    Your Uncle Joe’s Winchester 94 lever action 30/30 will penetrate the body armor a police officer wear 98% of their time on duty. Basically any centerfire rifle and some handguns will defeat the Class II and Class III body armor worn by patrol officers because the other types of armor are too bulky, too hot to wear on an 8 to 12 hours shift.
    I’ve often thought MR would make a good name, militia rifle, since few rifles do not in some manner have a MILITARY PURPOSE.
    Before WWII the Army’s Springfield Armory manufactured a .22 Long Rifle bolt action rifle for training and practice by soldiers. The military adopts rifles from civilian uses and civilian companies find that rifles designed for military use are desirable for civilian purposes such as target shooting and in many cases for hunting.
    The big changes in arms have been the use of aluminum and composites rather than steel and walnut. The other change since WWII is the use of lower powered, medium range ammunition because a soldier can carry twice the combat load as compared to the WWII .30/06. Military planners have decided that rifle combat will happen at less than 600 yards and having a heavy 1,000 yard rifle for every day use is not needed.
    When longer range is needed, the newer high power rifle and cartridges such as the 338 Lapua or the 50 caliber Barrett are used by designated riflemen, know as snipers.

  • hellofromillinois

    The word is simply a disguise meant to make the firearms more tolerable by the uneducated public. Go to any major gun event and these weapons are clearly advertised as military “assault weapons” with phrases like “battle hardened/tested,” “milspec,” “tactical,” etc.

    We don’t need these guns to be “sporting rifles” for them to be legal, and we shouldn’t need a “sporting” use for them to be acceptable to the public. The 2nd Ammendment protects our right to own them just as much as it protected my granddad’s right to own the same rifles he used in Korea and his dad used in WWI.

    To me a more honest phrase would be to simply call them modern rifles. That is what they are, and it encompasses multiple uses beyond sport.

  • Klaus Von Schmitto

    I don’t know. You can call yours an MSR. I’ll keep calling the ones that have 18″ or longer barrels “rifles” and the one that’s somewhere in the floorboard of my truck a “carbine”. I don’t own an M1 carbine so there’s no confusion when I tell one of the kids “go get my carbine and clean it will you?”. I’m probably turning into a fudd.

  • iowaclass

    “MSR” shows that “political correctness” is not limited to the Left. Both sides use euphemisms to soften hard truths.

    Is a semi-auto AR used as a patrol rifle by police an MSR? No.

    Is a semi-auto AR used by a designated marksman in the U.S. Army an MSR? No.

    Why then, is an identically-configured weapon owned by a civilian for the express purpose of home defense called a “sporting” rifle? Is shooting burglars a new “sport”? If so, will it ever be included in the Summer Olympics?

    This use of the term “sporting” to describe weapons optimized (within the limits of the law) for security just acquiesces to the anti-gun trope that non-sporting purposes for gun ownership, like self-defense, are illegitimate and unprotected.

  • Tess

    “Freshens up writing”? Sounds more like pandering or something YOU need to keep yourself focused on writing (they have drugs for that– just typin’). However, taking your lead, I’m going to submit an article to a few Pharmacy Journals. The term “pain-killer” seems so violent for a class of drugs that provide so much benefit. To blur the lines I’m changing the term antibiotic to “germ-killer”. Antibiotic is such an antiquated term known to put readers, and writers, to sleep. Yet “sleep-aid” is not a known side effect of “germ-killers”. [Huh, maybe I can get a grant to further explore off-label benefits to “germ-killers”?] Anyhoo, now I can help end the demonization of “pain-killers” and bring pizazz to “germ-killers”!

  • MyFifteenthAccount

    I always like Sport Utility Rifle, too, but MSR seems to be the one that caught on.

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    How about ‘boom boom pipe’?

  • Tim Pearce

    I drop the “sporting” and just call them modern rifles. Because that’s what they are. They’re the product of over a hundred years of learning what makes a rifle work better for the shooter.
    In other words, I don’t really need to play the name game. According to the infallible internet, the first successful semi-automatic rifle was introduced in 1885. They’re nothing new, yet the goal of banning them is.
    Logic, not name games.

  • AirborneSoldier

    Good article. Words matter. What is the difference between “seize” and “secure”. Potentially, lives. Dont let people call you a consumer, civilian, etc. Insist on citizen, you know someone with God given rights.

  • carlcasino

    Your Delete button is as effective as my caller ID and even my answering machine has a delete and block button.

  • Chrome Dragon

    Because anyone calling the “devensive/utility rifle platform” by acronym is liable to soon coin the acronym “DURP” (A broader version of “AR platform” and similar terms, I think) and I don’t think that’s a great thing to say about your gun. XD

    Still, the name conveys exactly what needs to be said without sensationalism, so I +1d you for that.

  • Garmanarnar

    Why did you put a possessive apostrophe on “Tavor’s” ? That’s not how you indicate a plural. You’ve shown that you can properly pluralize other words..

  • RickOAA .

    I just say “Aar fifteen” with my best southern accent…though sometimes it comes out more pirate. At any rate, it’s just a damn rifle.