What Does AR stand for in AR-15?

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”:

  • Capable of selective fire
  • Has an intermediate-power cartridge: more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle, such as the 7.92×33mm Kurz, the 7.62x39mm and the 5.56x45mm NATO
  • Has ammunition must be supplied from a detachable box magazine
  • Has an effective range of at least 300 metres (330 yards)

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.

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Here are some other AR-15 FAQ’s

What are the 2 types of AR-15?
Gas Piston. Though ARs come in all shapes and sizes, there are primarily two distinct operating systems the platform employs, gas impingement and gas piston.
What is the difference between AR and assault rifle?
The “AR” in “AR-15” rifle stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s. “AR” does NOT stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” AR-15-style rifles are NOT “assault weapons” or “assault rifles.” An assault rifle is fully automatic, a machine gun.
What caliber is a AR-15?
.223/5.56mm NATO
Is AR-15 same as M16?
The AR-15 is basically the civilian counterpart to the M16. The AR-15 came first, in 1947; the M16 a decade later. They have the same magazine capacity: 30 rounds. The former is heavier, with a shorter range and slower rate of fire, but these are subtle differences.
Is M4 or AR-15 better?
The M4 and AR15 are basically the same thing. The military M4 is slightly shorter and the ability to fir in full-auto.
Can a civilian own an M16?
You can own an M16 as a civilian depending on your state laws, however, since there are only so many of them available (none available for civilians after 1986), the price is high.

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