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AnIntroduction To The AR-15 Rifle
Contributedby Ken Russo
Jeff Cooper has said that “Personalweapons are what raised mankind out of the mud, and he has referred tothe rifle as the Queen of Personal Weapons”. What does this mean?

The AR15 based family of weapons arenot a new weapon design since it dates back to 1959. Eugene Stoner designedand developed Armalite Rifle models 10 and 15 (where the “AR15” designationoriginates) and it was Armalite who first produced the weapons in both.308 Winchester (AR10) and .223 Remington (AR15) calibers. The creationand manufacture of the AR family of rifles was at the time a revolutionaryconcept since this
was the first US rifle made in an assaultrifle format using aircraft grade aluminum and synthetic components.

Although the initial rifle warrantedsome improvements before being accepted by the US military, it was notinitially well received. The US service rifle (M14) was only in servicefor a few years and was based on the successful M1 Garand action and firedthe powerful .308 Winchester cartridge. Normal development of service riflesfor the US Military went through government contract with established firearmsmanufacturers and the relatively unknown Armalite rifle company was a subsidiaryof Fairchild Aviation. Eugene Stoner being a relative unknown in the militaryfirearms industry was up against some resistance with his ultra moderndesign.

Military acceptance of the new modernrifle in the diminutive .22 caliber cartridge was a difficult thing forthe US military establishment to warm up to. For over half a century, theUS military had gone to war armed with either the 30-06 Springfield cartridge(1903 Springfield/1917 Enfield/M1 Garand) or the shortened version of the30-06 Springfield known as the .308 Winchester (7.62x51mm NATO) in theM14 developed after the Korean conflict. Due to the proven performanceof the .30 caliber service rounds in use, the US military was very reluctantto drop the .30 caliber round from service. The Military believed verystrongly in the stopping power and downrange capability of the 308 andits belief in the 223Â’s capability was hard won.

Helping the acceptance of the 223 Remingtoncartridge were studies during WWI and WW2 and Korea that revealed thatmost common soldiers had chosen to wait until the enemy was within 200yards to engage them and the extended range performance of the 308 becamea moot issue. In fact it wasn't until later that the military discoveredthat the 223 Remington was capable of causing severe tissue damage.The advantage of the AR15 was that the infantryman assigned a rifle in223 was capable of firing the AR15 in full auto. The M14 service riflein 7.62 NATO was virtually impossible to handle in this capacity.

One of the deciding factors on the selectionof the AR15 was the benefit of being able to carry nearly three times theamount of ammunition. Adding up the AR15Â’s lighter weight coupled withthe added ability to fire it in full automatic mode with increased ammunitioncapacity per soldier, the eventual demise of the M14 was set into motion.

In 1959 Fairchild sold the rights toproduce the AR10 and AR15 rifles to Colt. Eventually, after some refinementsand acceptance by the US Air Force, the AR15 was adopted into the US Militaryarsenals. It was designated the M16 service rifle and variants like theshorter barreled “Commando” model became available to Special forces groups.During the following years the AR15 underwent some minor changes and waseventually adopted by the US military to replace the M14 service rifleand continues to this day as the US service rifle known as the M16. Manyvariants of the AR15/M16 rifle exist and have found themselves to be usefultools to the law enforcement community.

Article contributed by Ken Russo
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