"Hi-capacity magazines", AR-15s, assault rifles, assault weapons, automatic weapons, barack obama, battle rifles, Beto O'Rourke, Eugene Stoner, Gropin' Joe Biden, Harris/Biden, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, President Trump, second amendment, The Constitution
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris—the Harris/Biden ticket—are the most overtly anti-liberty/gun campaign in recent history, perhaps in all of American history. They have repeatedly said they are going to mandate “buy backs” of AR-15 type rifles, which they have repeatedly called “weapons of war that have no place on our streets.” Likewise, they are going to ban “high-capacity magazines,” which they describe as any magazine with greater than 10 round capacity. Harris has gone so far as to say if Congress won’t go along with her gun grabbing, she’ll do it by executive order, so she’s apparently actually running for president, which makes one wonder for which office is Biden running? To see their plans from Biden’s website (I’ll be writing about that in detail next Tuesday), go here.
Joe Biden says he will appoint Beto O’Rourke as his gun czar, Beto, the man who said: “Hell yes we’re going to take your AR-15s.” When politicians say, repeatedly and with evangelistic fervor they’re going to do something, it’s a good idea to take them at their word. They’ll lie about just about anything else, but that’s a promise they fully intend to keep.
I last posted this article in May of 2020, but considering the very real threat to the Second Amendment posed by the Harris/Biden ticket, it might be wise to be prepared to deal with their arguments. Perhaps misinformed people of good will can be persuaded by facts rather than D/S/C truthy narratives. They have to grow up some day. Spread the word, if you please gentle readers.
After any terrorist incident, or even after peaceful exercises of unalienable rights, some D/S/Cs, Deep State Republicans, and most of the media reflexively demand compromise, but compromise requires each side bargain in good faith and be willing to surrender something.Such compromise is commonly presented as integral to “common sense gun safety” proposals, but what will anti-liberty/gun forces surrender? They have nothing to offer, yet demand total surrender.
How may fundamental, unalienable rights be compromised? How does one compromise due process? How does one compromise the right to keep and bear arms? Allow the abridgement of rights every other week only? Perhaps keep the “keep” part, but not the “bear” part?
Professional anti-gun shock troops, the media and Congress have focused on the most popular and widely owned rifle in America, implying that the AR-15 and all its variants are uniquely dangerous and commonly used in mass shootings and crime. This is abject nonsense. Rifles of all types are used in only a tiny fraction of crimes, and AR-15s in only a tiny portion of that already tiny portion of the firearm universe. AR-15s and similar rifles are not, in fact, “on our streets,” and never have been.
The 2016 FBI Uniform Crime Report lists the use of 15,070 weapons of all kinds, but only 374 rifles. Knives were used in 1604 crimes, fists and feet in 656 and blunt objects in 472. The most deadly school shooting in history, Virginia Tech, was done with two common handguns, one in .22LR caliber.
The AR-15 has been demonized, and will continue to be disparaged because the anti-gun movement has, for decades, worked to convince the public that any gun that looks like a machine gun must be a fully automatic weapon (9th paragraph). One of the oldest tactics of these anti-liberty forces is to ban any gun, type of gun or accessory possible in the hope that such bans will be a foot in the door to eventual total bans of firearms in the hands of law-abiding citizens.
For an understanding of the relative size of the cartridges mentioned herein, here is a photo of four of the most common contemporary cartridges. From left to right, the .22 Long Rifle, the 9mm, the .223, and the .308. True high-powered rifle cartridges are on the order of the .308 and larger. The 5.56mm/.223 caliber cartridges used by AR-15 pattern rifles are of intermediate power.
Battle Rifles: After WWII, the Army sought a replacement for the M1 Garand, a large and heavy rifle, firing an unquestionably high-powered cartridge, the .30 caliber 30.06. This–a high-powered, full-sized cartridge–is the defining characteristic of battle rifles. Because of the power of these long-range cartridges, battle rifles tend to be heavy, weighing in the ten-pound range, and have been historically made of steel, with wooden stocks. Wood has been mostly replaced with aluminum and plastics in the modern era, aluminum and other lighter metals being used wherever possible. The M1 was the first generally issued semiautomatic battle rifle.
General George Patton called the Garand “the greatest battle implement ever devised,” but it did have drawbacks. Loaded, the weapon commonly weighed more than 11 pounds, and it did not use removable magazines, but metal clips holding only 8 rounds. The 30.06 is also a large and heavy cartridge, limiting the number of rounds a soldier can carry. The Garand remains the only widely available firearm actually fed via a clip, which term is commonly misused when one actually means “magazine.”
After WWII, modernization efforts among western militaries nearly led to the American adoption of the excellent FN-FAL semiautomatic rifle in .308 caliber. Unfortunately, the “not invented here” syndrome prevailed and the US adopted the M-14, which was essentially an M1-Garand using the somewhat smaller .308 cartridge, with a flash hider and a removable 20-round box magazine. This choice more or less forced NATO to adopt the .308. At about the same time, the British were experimenting, to good effect, with sub-.30 caliber cartridges, similar to the 5.56mm cartridge NATO would eventually adopt.
The M-14 was the rifle that initially accompanied our troops in Vietnam. Its unsuitability as a general issue rifle for counter insurgency warfare, particularly fought in a jungle environment, quickly became obvious. The need for a lighter weapon capable of fully automatic fire–battle rifles are too light to be controllable in full-auto mode–and firing a smaller cartridge became obvious. One can carry far more .223 cartridges for the same weight and space than .308 cartridges.
Assault Rifles: The first true assault rifle was the German StG-44, first used in combat near the end of WWII. It was this rifle that was part of the inspiration for the ubiquitous AK-47, the most widely produced assault rifle in history. True assault rifles have these characteristics:
(1) Shoulder fired
(2) Gas operated (with a few well-known exceptions)
(3) Single-operator fired
(4) Removable magazine fed
(5) Firing an intermediate-sized cartridge
(6) Semiautomatic and full automatic (and/or burst) capability
Eugene Stoner, working for the ArmaLite Company (hence “AR”—the acronym does not mean “assault rifle”), developed the forerunner of the AR-15, the AR-10, in the mid 1950s. Like the AR-15 that followed it, it was made with aircraft grade aluminum and plastics, and had a very futuristic appearance. Unlike the AR-15 it was chambered for the .308 (finalized as the 7.62 NATO) cartridge. It competed against the M-14 and the FN-FAL in Army trials, but the Army adopted the M-14, and the AR-10 was scaled down to become the AR-15, which would ironically require the kind of intermediate cartridge the British wanted. A more detailed history of the development of the AR-15 can be found here.
It was the Air Force, not the Army, that initially adopted the AR-15, designated M-16, for base security, in the iconic triangular hand guard configuration. The initial flash hider had a multi-pronged, open end, which was quickly found to catch on foliage, and was replaced with a closed end design as depicted above. Eventual redesigns of the rifle resulted in a round plastic, aluminum heat shield lined hand guard, and the heavier barrel now standard on the military family of weapons. The .223 civilian cartridge was standardized as the 5.56mm NATO cartridge. While the cartridges have very similar dimensions, there are some caveats regarding their use. It is entirely safe to fire .223 cartridges in weapons chambered for 5.56mm, but the opposite may be unsafe in some circumstances. Those interested can find more, and definitive, information here.
The Civilian AR-15: The AR-15 is the best-selling rifle family in America. However, it is not an assault rifle, and certainly not a non-existent “assault weapon,” which is best defined as any firearm anti-gun forces want to ban on any given day, particularly if it is black, or scary-looking to the uninformed. The term “assault weapon” has been inserted into some laws, but that does not make the term any more accurate or descriptive of an actual class of firearms. The definitions accompanying the term in various laws are notorious for vagueness, because they seek to ban virtually any and everything. Military rifles have barrels of 20” or less, but the most popular civilian configuration resembles the military M-4, which is a short-barreled, fully automatic carbine with a collapsing stock. Civilian equivalents are not fully automatic firearms–they are NOT assault rifles–and have barrels of no less than 16” to conform to federal law.
This AR-15 rifle is a Colt model LE6940. It is representative of the modern sporting rifle, which is easily adapted to a variety of configurations to meet a variety of needs. Among the non-factory accessories I’ve added are a Magpul stock, a single point sling attachment, a folding rear sight, a trigger guard enlarger (handy in cold climates where gloves are necessary), a Crimson Trace red-dot sight, a laser sight, and a flashlight/mount. The four-rail accessory fore end is standard on this model, and common on all but the least expensive AR variants available. Like most AR owners, I do not own a bayonet.
Visible on this left side view is a Sure Fire flashlight in a quickly removable VLTOR mount.
This photo provides a better view of the laser sight and its activation pad.
This photo provides a better view of the flashlight. It is activated via a momentary button on the rear of the flashlight that falls easily to the thumb of the supporting hand. I’ve found this less cumbersome than using a wire and pressure pad.
It is possible to own a fully automatic weapon, but since 1934, ownership has required onerous federal permissions and requirements, including exhaustive background checks, payment of a large tax and restrictions on storage and travel with such weapons. Permission to own an automatic weapon is not transferrable to others.
In 1986, by dishonorable means—take the link–congressional D/S/Cs made the sale of any newly manufactured fully automatic firearm to American citizens illegal. Only weapons manufactured prior to 1986 remain legal for private ownership, making them scarce and expensive. Obviously, D/S/C wanted to make, and want to keep, ownership of automatic weapons expensive and difficult.
If D/S/Cs have their way, America would not vet hordes of illegal immigrants that include jihadists and soldiers of drug cartels, but it absolutely vets any citizen that wants to own a fully automatic weapon, or any new firearm for that matter. Due to their rarity, such weapons are expensive indeed, and it’s a very safe bet that any AR-15 seen anywhere is semi-automatic only.
Popular Features: The AR-15 is one of the most versatile rifles ever invented. Because it is highly accurate and has very low recoil, it is useful for target shooting and competitions. Because it is lightweight and has excellent ergonomic design, it is suitable for men, women and even children. Even so, the AR-15 can be cheaply and quickly adapted to the individual without the time consuming and expensive ministrations of a gunsmith.
In July of 2020, I reprised an article on a reporter identifying as male who suffered terribly to tell the tale of the all-powerful, Earth-shattering AR-15. It’s a hilarious story of a “man” emasculating himself in print by shooting a rifle little girls find easy and fun to shoot. It’s informative, not only about the AR-15, but the political controversy surrounding it, and the kinds of people that keep the anti-liberty pot boiling.
Anti-liberty cracktivists often claim the collapsing buttstocks of AR carbines are somehow dangerous or sinister. In fact, these stocks collapse all of about 3.5” inches. These carbines are not useful as concealed weapons, and are virtually never so used by criminals. Their real purpose is to allow quick and easy adjustment of the length of pull–proper fitting of the rifle to the shooter–for people wearing thick clothing, tactical gear such as bullet resistant vests and load bearing equipment, and people of smaller stature. This easy adjustability makes AR carbines very user friendly for women and children. The aluminum tube on which the buttstock slides contains the rifle’s main recoil spring and buffer, part of the design, with the gas action, that produces such light recoil. Another factor is the chamber/barrel and stock are oriented in a straight line, so recoil is more a gentle backward push than an upward movement of the muzzle.
One merely pushes a pin through the lower receiver to allow the hinged upper receiver to open. Pulling back the charging handle removes the bolt carrier group. The pin is retained in the lower receiver to prevent its loss, an important feature in a military design. The bolt group breaks down into just five primary parts, which makes cleaning rapid and relatively easy. Cleaning requires attention to detail, but is easily done. All the disassembly required for normal cleaning can be accomplished with nothing more than the point of a bullet. Even a toothpick will suffice.
Hunting: Hunters choose weapons in large part for the cartridge they fire. Smaller cartridges like the .223/5.56 mm are generally unsuited to large game. The .223 is best suited for small game up to and including animals the size of a coyote. While it can be used for game the size of deer, most consider the cartridge marginal for that purpose. Honorable hunters always seek to take game animals as quickly and humanely as possible.
The AR-15 is uniquely suited to hunting. The rifle’s rugged construction and corrosion-resistant parts and finish help to prevent rust while eliminating shine. Its accuracy, light weight, mild report and recoil are also positive factors for the hunter.
The AR-15 is not limited to the .223 cartridge. Because its upper receiver–essentially its barrel, hand guard, charging handle and sights–can be easily removed and replaced, a number of additional calibers have been invented and adapted that greatly expand the usefulness of the AR-15 family. All that is required is a cartridge that will fit the dimensions of the AR magazine, adapted magazine internal parts and feed lips, and an upper receiver chambered for the new cartridge. Uppers chambered in pistol calibers from .22 LR to 9mm and .45 ACP are available as are rifle cartridges as large and powerful as the 450 Bushmaster, 458 SOCOM and the 50 Beowulf. A general (not complete) listing of the current calibers available for the AR platform is here. Most AR family manufacturers also make at least one AR-10 model, a scaled up version of the AR-15, which fires the .308/7.62 NATO cartridge. The magazines of AR-10s are usually limited to 20 rounds for reasons of size and weight. A 30 round magazine for 7.62 rounds is heavy, long and unwieldy, particularly when trying to fire from the prone position
Accessories: As previously noted, innumerable accessories have been invented for the AR-15, and more are being marketed all the time. These accessories, such as red dot sights, laser sights, flashlights and more make the AR family excellent choices for home defense and personal defense where the size of a rifle is not prohibitive.
The standard 30 round magazine is also a popular feature. This reduces reloading time on the range–-more time for focusing on marksmanship/training–-and is an essential feature for competition shooting where multiple targets and courses of fire are required. Anti-liberty cracktivists call such magazines “large capacity,” and claim they are uniquely dangerous, demanding magazines of ever-smaller capacity. The truth is the magazines of any magazine fed firearm can be changed in a few seconds even by untrained shooters. Even in the few mass shooting situations where AR-type rifles have been used, smaller capacity magazines would have made no real difference. Law enforcement agencies have recognized the advantages of semiautomatic carbines and have begun replacing their shotguns with AR-type carbines with standard, 30 round magazines.
Feeling a lack of trust in Barack Obama’s willingness to uphold the Constitution, Americans responded during the Age of Obama by buying up every gun and round of ammunition available, particularly AR-type rifles. This caused a serious shortage of guns and ammunition, which worsened when it appeared Hillary Clinton might be elected. She promised to focus on gun control every day. Since the election of Donald Trump, guns and ammunition quickly became readily available as supply caught up to demand, which relaxed. But during the D/S/C primaries of 2019-20, demand again outstripped supply as D/S/C candidate fell over each other to proclaim themselves greater gun banners than the rest. The Harris/Biden ticket inherited that infamous claim to fame. D/S/C enabled and encouraged rioting, looting and general lawlessness have alarmed the public, as have their attempts to emasculate and abolish the police, leading even some D/S/Cs to become first time gun owners. Circa Fall, 2020, guns and ammunition are again rare and expensive throughout much of America.
Additional Reading: Other, related articles readers might find useful are a long gun primer 2020, an article on magazine capacity, an article on the reality of the Clinton gun ban (which dealt with “large capacity” magazines), an article on the Smith and Wesson M&P 22-15, a .22LR caliber AR-15 clone, and an article on the laser sight depicted in this article.
AR-15 pattern rifles are produced by a variety of companies, including Colt, Smith and Wesson, Ruger, Daniel Defense, DPMS,Yankee Hill Machine and others. One of the most popular manufacturers of magazines and other AR accessories is Magpul, whose products I’ve found to be exceptional in design and function. Their polymer AR magazines have become the industry standard.
Final Thoughts: Virtually everything the media and D/S/C anti-liberty cracktivists have said about the AR-15 is false. It is the most common semi-automatic rifle of intermediate power sold in America. Most common hunting rifles are far more powerful, and accurate over greater ranges.
AR-15 pattern rifles from a variety of manufacturers currently sell beginning in the $600.00 range–good luck finding one that inexpensive–up to well past $2000 for more customized, specialized rifles. Another factor that makes the rifle so attractive is one may begin with a lower priced weapon and gradually outfit it with accessories such as fore end rails, red dot or other optical sights, etc.
The Supreme Court, in its Heller and McDonald decisions, made clear the Second Amendment applies to the weapons most commonly used for self-defense. The court specifically mentioned handguns, the most common action type being semiautomatic. The AR-15 semiautomatic rifle family is the most common and usual type of rifle used for self-defense, marksmanship training, competition, home defense and hunting, among other lawful and reasonable pursuits. It likely enjoys the protection of the Second Amendment, at least with the current Supreme Court, and hopefully more so if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed. A D/S/C dominated court would quickly render the Second Amendment fading ink on yellowing paper with no application in the lives of Americans. A Court that will actually hear Second Amendment cases has the potential to elevate that Amendment to first class status among American’s other unalienable rights.
Another factor in the success and popularity of the AR-15 is the number of former members of the military that purchase civilian-legal versions of their service weapons. This is long been an American tradition, and an essential part of our culture, regardless of how the effete, self-identified elite might wish to deny it.
Few firearms of any kind are so versatile. The AR-15 is not only useful for self-defense at short and long ranges, it is also a highly accurate precision rifle out to 300 yards and more, yet its cartridge, in the home and self-defense roles and with proper ammunition, does not excessively penetrate as high powered rifle cartridges tend to do.
A large part of the popularity of the little black rifle is its ease of shooting, and shooting well. People, particularly women, firing it for the first time, are delighted by the low recoil, and surprised by how easy it is to shoot accurately. Its ergonomics are extraordinarily good—stoner got it right–and all controls fall easily to hand for virtually any shooter.
Finally, the Second Amendment exists not to protect hunting, target shooting or any other pursuit, but to enable citizens, should it become necessary, to overthrow a repressive government. D/S/Cs love to accuse anyone recognizing this essential truth of history of being radical and dangerous, but danger lies in trying to destroy any portion of the Constitution, never in defending it.
D/S/Cs falsely claim weapons like the AR-15 are weapons of war, yet could never be useful in resisting a modern army. This reveals nothing so much as their ignorance of history and war. If AR-15s are so ineffective, so useless against a modern army, why are they so determined to ban them?
D/S/Cs expect American military members will be willing to murder their fellow Americans, their husbands, wives, children, relatives and friends, to disarm them. In this, and so much else, they have no idea who the Americans they seek to rule with an iron fist are. They also have no idea of tactics or logistics. A visit to this fine article by author Larry Correia may be instructive on this issue.
They do realize that as long as honest men and women possess arms, they can never establish their utopia on Earth. They want to do away with firearms in the hands of law-abiding patriots not to prevent Islamist terror attacks, not to ensure the safety of innocents, but to ensure their safety in imposing tyranny.
That’s more than enough reason to appreciate and own an AR-15, America’s most popular rifle, and to vote for whoever is willing to support the Second Amendment and the rest of the Constitution.