AR-15 Rifle is a name used to describe a timeless assault rifle. Some people better know it as M-16, which is the weapon used by the U.S. Military. In full, the AR-15 is originally called ArmaLite 15. In this article, we’ll go through the history of this famous American weapon and all the stages of its creation in 1959 to how it has evolved.
There’s a common belief that the AR in AR-15 means Assault Rifle. It is a phrase that originates from the German word ” Sturmgewehr,” meaning Storm or assault rifle. It was used in World War II in propaganda posters and later used for military-style weapons. However, many confuse this with ”Assault weapon”, a legal phrase used for a certain category of illegal firearms used from 1994 to 2004.
The irony is that AR-15 is suitable for these descriptions, a military-style rifle considered illegal in the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1984. AR represents ArmaLite, the manufacturer’s name.
1950’s: The ArmaLite Company was Created
The simple origin of ArmaLite Company’s beginning is traceable to Hollywood, California, in the early 1950s. This company was created by George Sullivan, the former patent counsel of the small arms company Lockheed Corporation, now called Lockheed Martin. The company got funding from the Airplane Corporation and Fairchild Engine, a brand of the Fairchild Republic. The company’s initial focus was on weapons design and not manufacturing. ArmaLite concentrated on weapons designs, not production. Eugene Stoner was the chief architect for ArmaLite’s weapons design, a young man with a passion for weapons design.
1954-1956: ArmaLite started Designing Rifles
ArmaLite produced its first weapon design in 1954, and this firearm was called AR-5. It is a firearm action rifle developed as a survival rifle with a .22 Hornet round. It was originally designed for the U.S air force flight crew. ArmaLite manufactured other rifles like AR-5, AR-10 and lots more. Check for more options for ar-10 scopes.
ArmaLite sold their rights to the patent of the AR-15 to Colt because of financial challenges and production capacity limitations, and workforce. Colt made modifications to the rifle and rebranded it as the Colt 601, although it still carried markings of ArmaLite. Colt sold these redesigned arms to military services worldwide, and the US military adopted it as the M-1616 rifle; thus, its production started in March 1964. The AR-15 trademark was sold to law enforcement and civilian customers as Colt AR-15. But, the parent rifle of these M16 and Colt AR-15 variants is the AR-15.
Eugene Stoner left the ArmaLite company for Colt to become a consultant. During that period, the U.S air force tested the AR-15 and commissioned about 8,500 for the Air force.
1963: The birth of the M-16
The AR-15 in possession of the Air Force birthed the M-16, the standard rifle model. It is the commonest United States Military service weapon. The United States needed a rifle for its operations, and when presented with the AR-15/M-16, they adopted it. After the second world war, the U.S military began to look for an automatic rifle in place of the ammunition they already had. They experimented with certain rifle versions, which failed. After facing logistical challenges and headstrong enemies during the Korean War and WWII, senior American commanders insisted on developing a new rifle. They carried out a series of testing on different rifles: M1, M14, AR 10 etc. The United States defense needed a rifle that would serve all four service areas, so they adopted the M-16. The military used it as opposed to the AK-47, a major contender for the M-16.
1965: The M-16 is adopted as the Primary Service Rifle
In March 1965, The first set of M-16 was issued. American troops faced the Vietnam War with 300,000 new M-16 rifles purchased from Colt. The troops experienced cleaning problems as they didn’t have cleaning kits. These AR-15 models have a bad reputation for not having the ability to handle rough terrains. The major downside of this rifle is the failure to extract, so the cartridge would jam in the chamber after firing the rifle. A new version of the M-16 was developed, known as M16A1. The rifle came with a book on how to clean the rifle and take care of it.
1989: Production began for AR-15’s for Civilians
After the expiration of the patent for the AR-15, Jim Glazier and Karl Lewis began manufacturing the AR-15 version for civilians, and it was introduced into the market from 1989 to 1994.
1994-2004: Halting of Civilian Production
According to the Federal Weapons Ban, the legislature halted the production of civilian rifles after civilian assault weapons were termed illegal. However, there was no visible decrease in cases of gun violence with this legislation.
2012-Present: Media Controversy
Recently, the AR-15 has made the media spotlight as it is reported to have involvement in many deadly civilian assaults in the U.S. it has triggered a heated debate on the future of AR-15 for civilians, as well other rifles. Statistics, however, point to handguns, not rifles, in most deadly assault cases.
Today: The M-16 and Militaries Around the World
The AR-15 is still used as the United States’ service weapon until the M4 Carbine phases it completely. The M4 is designed based on the M-16 but is lighter and shorter. Nonetheless, the M-16 is still being used by militaries all over the world. It remains a top choice for most countries. More than eighty countries and 15 NATO countries use the M16. Canada, the United States and China still manufacture the M-16. The M-16 may have been replaced in the U.S, but it remains relevant. Hunters, gun enthusiasts and hobbyists still use it as their top sporting rifle option.