What is an Assault Rifle? thumbnail image

What is an Assault Rifle?

80 Percent Arms   |   Oct 30th 2019

Perhaps no other firearm on the market today is as controversial as the AR-15. Online, among 2nd amendment supporters, the AR-15 is praised. In other circles, including those who want to eliminate gun rights, it's villainized, and the constant target of gun control legislation or looming bans.

With the widespread availability of the internet, everyone with an opinion on firearms is welcome to share their thoughts via social media. Unfortunately, more often than not, their views are factually incorrect. Fictitious claims are made and inaccuracies are spread. It’s time we shed some light on the common AR-15 misconceptions that are often argued about.

What does AR stand for?
History of the Assault Rifle
Assault Rifle Definition
Assault Rifle FAQs
Start Your Next AR Build with 80% Arms!

What does AR stand for?ar-15 assault weapon

This is probably the most common myth spread online (or in the news) and the most damaging. Certain groups claim the “AR” in AR-15 stands for “Assault Rifle.” They use this term to call for tightened gun control and gun confiscation programs.

In reality, the “AR” stands for ArmaLite Rifle. ArmaLite is the original company and manufacturer of the AR-15, from way back in the 1950s, before selling the design to Colt.

History of the Assault Rifle

AR-15 Rifles are a popular firearm in America today. In fact, according tothe National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the AR-15 model falls within the category of “Modern Sporting Rifle,” which is a grouping of semiautomatic rifles that are incredibly popular among Americans today, for a variety of reasons. The uses of AR-15 Rifles range drastically, allowing them to have a large audience interested in obtaining one for their own needs.

These firearms have been a part of America’s history for at least sixty years, though these firearms were not available for civilian use until 1963, when Colt, the manufacturer of the AR-15, introduced a semi-automatic civilian version of their military style firearm. While their military firearms were produced to have three separate firing modes (semi-automatic, fully automatic, or burst fire), their civilian counterparts were only made to be semi-automatic, with many features of the firearm being changed or remade to ensure it could not be converted to a fully automatic or burst fire rifle. The civilian version of the rifle also had features changed to ensure it was in compliance with the National Firearms Act, making it legal to sell this rifle to any American interested in owning one.

Today, the AR-15 Rifle remains one of the most sought after semi-automatic firearms amongst gun enthusiasts, hunters, competitive shooters, and average citizens, truly showing the kind of appeal it has amongst Americans as a whole.

Assault Rifle Definition

not an assault rifle

The United States military defines an assault rifle as something that meets all of the following requirements:

  • Capable of select fire
  • Has an intermediate-power cartridge: more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle
  • Has ammunition supplied from a detachable box magazine
  • Has an effective range of at least 330 yards

Is the AR 15 an Assault Rifle?

When looking at the list above, I would agree that the AR15 meets all of the following criteria except the capability of select fire. The AR15 does not, and never has, had the ability to switch from semi-automatic fire to fully automatic fire like its big brother: the M4.

What is an Assault Weapon?

An “assault weapon” is a made up term and that can be reflected in how the verbiage only shows up in a few states’ laws regarding gun regulation and not the majority of the country. On the federal level, you may refer to the Assault Weapons Ban from 1994 which was in effect for a decade. Any assault weapons ban laws you see today on the state level were inspired by the original legislation from ‘94 and that essentially prohibited the civilian use and ownership of certain semi-automatic firearms. It also defined magazines as “large capacity” if they were capable of holding over a certain amount of rounds.

The mainstream media also likes to heavily use this term to further propagate dissenting opinions of guns and gun ownership for Americans.For example, a handgun with a threaded barrel in California is considered an “assault weapon.” Using a normal A2 flash hider, vertical foregrip, pistol grip, being able to remove a magazine from an AR15 or having a retractable butt stock would all designate an AR15 rifle as an “ assault weapon.” According to the newer terms set by anti-gunners in the state legislature, standard capacity magazines only hold 10 rounds and anything above that is considered “large capacity” or illegal.

Assault Rifle FAQs

These are some frequently asked questions about the AR15. If you have any burning questions you can also let us know in the comments below or send us an email!

Is the AR 15 a “Weapon of War”?

Claims of the AR-15 as a weapon of war stem from its appearance. To many, the AR-15 is a “scary black rifle.” Pair its stock appearances with a few tactical attachments, like fore grips and sights, and you have a firearm many find terrifying, because of its obvious resemblance to the M4/M16 family of weapons.

Despite the rumors, the AR-15 is not a weapon of war. It is not fully automatic, nor is it used by any armed forces around the world. Its brethren, the M16 and M4, are, however.

However, we do understand this argument. The basic platform WAS designed to be an infantry weapon. Though, this doesn't change how we feel about it. Civilians should have the same access to weapons that the military does in order to keep the balance of power between a government and its citizens. If I could, I’d honestly drive a tank to work.

Can You Hunt with an AR 15?

Yes, you absolutely can hunt with an AR-15. Many hunters throughout the country forego the traditional bolt-action rifle of old for a newfangled AR-15 in the field. It’s a reliable and accurate weapon capable of putting down numerous types of big and small game during the appropriate seasons.

Both .223 Remington and 5.56 — the most common AR-15 calibers — can stop most varmint and larger predators as well. Alternatively, you may swap your upper and barrel to fire a larger caliber, which will help to more effectively take down deer, hog and other medium to large sized game. For prairie hunters, who are shooting at many small targets, often several hundred yards away, that only pop-up for a few seconds at a time — it's the ideal rifle choice. For hog hunters, who have multiple fast moving targets once the shooting starts, it's really the best tool for the job.

Start Your Next AR Build with 80% Arms!

Are you ready to take your 2nd Amendment rights into your own hands? Get started on your next AR15 with an  80 lower! Browse through our tactical accessories and attachments that will make your build one of a kind. If you’re more interested in bigger calibers, check out our AR 10 Lowers. For a pistol caliber carbine build, we have 80% AR 9 lowers as well.