OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
For more material from Christoper Michaels, visit his website.
The AR-15 is an iconic firearm. Ask any gun enthusiast, and they will tell you they are either a fan of the AR platform or the AK platform, but rarely both. For the record, the AK has too much muzzle flip for my liking.
The AR platform has an exciting history. “The initial plan was to produce fine sporting firearms for the commercial market. It was considered likely that in due time, some of the concepts used in the commercial firearms would have acceptance by the military.”
In the 1950s, the manufacturer, ArmaLite (hence ArmaLite Rifle, or AR), built the AR-5 in .22 hornet as a bolt-action rifle for the Air Force. That weapon was intended to function as a stowaway in the survival kits of downed bomber crewmen.
Without spending too much time on its history—fascinating as it is—the AR-15, or its military brother rather (the M-16), became the primary service rifle for the U.S. military in 1965. The weapon overcame early misgivings in Vietnam’s jungles as the military’s central platform to this very day (with updates and variations over the years).
Whew. The history of ArmaLite and their products can fill books. I wanted you to understand where the AR-15 came from to see why it is so beloved across the United States.
There were at least sixteen million ARs in American patriots’ hands in 2018. That number is undoubtedly higher because of the uncertainty we’ve experienced in the last few years. Also of note, ARs built from something referred to as an 80-percent-lower are not tracked as finished firearms because they are, in fact, not yet finished.
“The AR platform is available in more calibers and configurations than any other firearm.” [Shooting Times] The versatility of the platform means regular folks like you and me can buy aftermarket parts from just about any local gun shop or online outfitter. My rig is a combination of a Palmetto State Armory mid-length base in 5.56mm NATO (shout out to the boys at PSA!), with MAGPUL and Hexmag components like handguards, grips, and magazines. I have a Streamlight tactical light angle-mounted to the handguard and a Swampfox red dot sight mounted on the main rail above the magazine box. I still have a couple of additional items I want to purchase, but my wife has thus far nixed the idea.
I told you all of that to say to you the AR-15 comes in all price points. Between the base price and aftermarket additions, my rifle was around $1,200. They can be found or manufactured at about half that price. They can be custom-built for about $4,000. It’s the Miller Beer of guns, with a product available for every budget and taste.
The main reason I love the AR-15 is the government doesn’t like me having one. Uncle Sam hasn’t found a way to make them illegal yet. My state of residence does not permit registration, as firearm rights are expressly written into our state constitution. For the record, I never want to fire my rifle at anything but paper or steel targets.
Sadly, bragging to my friend about my accuracy is bested by seeing his shots through thermal scopes (he was a sniper, that’s all I’ll say).
Americans love firearms because they are the gatekeeper for ALL of our rights. If elites in Washington and their lackeys across the country ever get froggy, they know the rest of us live under a peace ensured by men like Samuel Colt. As far as I’m concerned, any rifle good enough to protect our brave armed forces for over fifty years is good enough for me. That’s why I love the AR-15.
As always, this has been the World According to Chris.
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