AR stands for “Armalite Rifle”, named after the company that developed this firearm. Contrary to popular beliefs it is not “assault rifle” or even “automatic rifle”.
History of the AR
The rifle was first used during the Vietnam War as an alternative to the M-14 rifle.
Ok, lets back up a bit here’s a short history of it.
In the late 1950s, the gun manufacturer Colt purchased the rights to the rifle but had difficulty selling it to the U.S. military.
The ArmaLite Division of Fairchild is the first phase of the company’s history and where it built the first AR-10 Rifles.
In 1959 the ArmaLite company sold the design to Colt.
In 1963, the U.S. military selected Colt to manufacture the automatic rifle that soon became standard issue for U.S. troops in the Vietnam War. It was known as the M-16.
Armed with that success, Colt ramped up production of a semiautomatic version of the M-16 that it sold to law enforcement and the public, marketed as the AR-15.
When Colt’s patents for the AR-15 expired in the 1970s, other manufacturers began making similar models.
Those gun makers gave the weapons their own names, yet the popularity of the AR-15 turned it into a generic term for all types of AR-15-style rifles.
Differences between an AR-15 and Military version
The military version is currently the M4, AR’s are the civilian version. What’s the differences?
AR-15-style weapons are semiautomatic, the shooter must pull the trigger to fire each shot from a magazine that holds 30 rounds.
On the auto side, a shooter with a fully automatic assault rifle can pull and hold the trigger and the firearm will keep firing until the ammunition is gone.
To be more technical here’s the U.S. Army standard definition of “assault rifle”:
This is where journalist miss their mark when citing AR-15 as an “assault rifle”. AR-15 (civilian version) do not have selective fire capablity. In other words the AR cannot select to shoot full automatic or on semi-auto.
Is there a significance meaning to AR?
Answer is no, there isn’t any decoding ARs, the number simply refers to the model number of the rifle, not to a barrel length, capacity, or anything else.
So there you have it you know better than to believe news media say that AR’s are assault rifles, and you really know what an assault rifle actually is.