Some of you have probably heard the term “black rifle” being used by the main-stream media to describe the civilian carbine known as the AR-15. The AR15 normally has a matte black metal finish, which is how the nick-name “the black rifle” came to be. The media and anti-gun crowd would say that these guns have a scary or menacing appearance because of their military inspired design and history. In fact, all variants of this rifle are based on a very popular military rifle, the M-16 service rifle, which was designed in 1956 by Eugune Stoner and introduced to the military in 1963. M16 styled rifles are among the most widely used rifles by military, law enforcement personnel and small game hunters in the world, and it is the most produced firearm of its caliber. With its recent high demand (due to the looming Feinstein gun-ban) and its limitless accessories, it’s become sort of like the Apple iPhone of the rifle community; meaning they’ve become expensive and hard to come by.
These rifles are typically gas or piston operated; magazine feed to fire .223 or NATO 5.56x45mm rounds, and are semi-automatic with a solid or telescopic stock. The military only versions of these rifles fire semi-auto, full-auto or in three round bursts and these are not for sale to the public without a special class 3 weapons permit from the ATF. Again, it’s very important to point out that the civilian versions will only fire semi-auto; which means only one round exits the rifle per each trigger pull just like many other standard hunting rifles and hand guns. A true military assault rifle will fire full auto.
Even though the recoil from this centerfire rifle is minimal, the AR-15 is known in the military and competitive shooting community as being a “high-power” rifle due to the velocity of the round it shoots. To the untrained, the term “high power” may sound very intimidating; but in reality the rifle is not that powerful when compared to most common hunting rifles that shoot much larger and more powerful rounds. Most of the actual tissue damage that is caused by the relatively small .223 (5.56 mm) “varmint” bullet, as observed through ballistic testing, is believed to be caused by the “tumbling” and fragmentation of the bullet and not the sheer power of the round. It’s important to note that the .223 (5.56 mm) bullet is used in many common non-military styled rifles for a variety of purposes, such as target shooting, home defense and small game hunting. In reality, many common hunting rifles used all over America shoot more powerful and damaging rounds than the AR-15. Never the less, due to it’s proven design, history and customization abilities, the AR-15 has soared in popularity all across the world, but especially in the United States. According to 2010 statistics from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, there were over 2 million AR-15’s (semi-auto) made by manufacturers for civilian sale within the US and about 20% of all rifles manufactured in the US are of an AR-15 pattern weapon. With the looming weapons ban included almost all AR-15 designed firearms, time will tell if this proven design will be something that our children and grand children will ever be able to enjoy and embrace.
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© 2014 The Ballistic Blog
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