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The Top 5 AR 15 Myths, Debunked

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Let’s clear the air a bit here. There are a lot of myths floating around about the AR 15 as a rifle. These myths often derail discussions about the AR 15 from both the pro- and anti-gun sides.Today we are going to look at the 5 biggest AR 15 myths and lay them to rest:

1. AR 15s Aren’t Reliable

This is likely the biggest AR 15 myth in existence. The reason it’s grown and persists to this day is because of the original M16 roll-out. To summarize the issuing and use of both the M16 and ammo in Vietnam as a failure is an understatement. It was a boondoggle if we can borrow Grandpa’s favorite phrase, and the stigma of the M16’s failure in the far east tropics has stuck with the AR 15 today. To be sure, the black rifle is more reliable than ever.

But how did the original rifle fail? The M16 was designed for IMR powder, but the Ordnance Corps loaded it with ball powder. This caused the rifle to shoot at a higher firing rate than what it was designed for, causing excessive fouling and lots of failure-to-ejects. On top of that, the chamber wasn’t chrome plated, which caused extractors to stick and rounds to stovepipe. And on top of all this, the troops were initially told the rifle didn’t need to be cleaned and so they were not issued cleaning gear in the first place. Any rifle needs to be cleaned to function, folks. No gun will shoot with mud shoved inside the receiver.

Today, AR 15s are incredibly reliable - in fact, they're as reliable as you want them to be. Picking the right AR Lower Parts Kit, the right AR Upper, that all contributes to making a reliable weapon. They’re the choice of elite military and police units for a reason. We think that says enough, so we’ll leave it at that.

2. AR 15s are Assault Rifles

This has been a very popular meme among anti-gun activists. They associate or outright call the AR 15 an assault rifle. This is a tactic designed to make the weapon seem little scary (and worthy of 2nd Amendment-killing legislation). It’s a buzzword used to grab attention and to push a particular thought process on people.

The U.S. Defense Department’s Small Arms guide defines assault rifles as, “short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.”

AR 15s are not select fire weapons. They are semiautomatic weapons designed for civilian use and do not fit the definition of assault rifles.

3. AR 15s Can Fire (Insert Absurd Number) Rounds per Minute

Another claim that often comes from the anti-gun side is that an AR 15 can fire (Insert any ridiculous number) of rounds per minute. We’ve heard 700 round a minute (thank you Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida), we’ve even heard 30 rounds per second (thank you Sen. Kevin De Leon of California) and we’re sure you’ve heard something similar. An AR 15 is a semi-automatic weapon. IT shoots one round per trigger pull. It is not guaranteed to fire any number of rounds per minute. The number of rounds it fires per minute is based entirely on the skill of the shooter. Shooting quickly isn’t effective when compared to aimed shots, though, so this myth is moot.

But let’s kill the myth either way: Round-per-minute rates do not truly represent the amount of round the gun can fire in one minute. AR 15s use magazines that have to be changed, usually after 30 rounds. An AR can only hold one round at time, with the rest stored in the magazine. You have to swap mags to keep shooting. Regardless of how fast you are, regardless of how smooth your mags are, you can squeeze that trigger and conduct speed reloads all day long and you won’t cook off 700 rounds a minute. Ever.

4. What “AR” and “15” stands for in AR 15

Breaking down the black rifle’s name means debunking a two-part AR 15 myth. First there is a myth that AR stands for “assault rifle”. Wrong. Second, there is a lesser known myth that claims that the “15” designator means it can fire 15 rounds a second. Also wrong.

AR stands for “Armalite Rifle”, not assault rifle. Armalite was the company that initially designed and built the rifle before selling it to Colt. Armalite still exists in name and the firm still produces AR 10 and AR 15 rifles.

The 15 is just a model number. It doesn’t stand for anything in particular.

5. AR 15s Aren’t Hunting Rifles

This is one of the few myths perpetuated by both anti- and some pro-gun voices. The idea that AR 15s aren’t hunting rifles is due to their look. They aren’t outfitted with wood stocks and forends - well, they can be, they just aren’t commonly. The AR 15 is like any other rifle. Pair it with the right ammo and it can be an effective hunting rifle. The AR 15 is an excellent gun for hunting medium game, varmints, and pest animals. 


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