I often get questions about the very popular AR-15 Rifle. This happens even more often now that Sealed Mindset is coming out with a completely custom, hand-built rifle.
Just as the popularity of this weapons system rises, so do the questions and the confusion.
With this post, I will give you a basic understanding of the history of this rifle and the naming conventions, so that the next time you are at a dinner party and conversation shifts to sporting rifles, you can be the star.
The AR-15 is a fully automatic or semi-automatic, magazine-fed rifle. The AR-15 traditionally shoots a .223 caliber round.
I can imagine the comments already! “Larry you are wrong, the AR-15 shoots a 5.56 round!”
Actually, the .223 caliber round and the 5.56mm round are the same thing. Both refer to the diameter of the bullet that leaves the rifle, one is a standard (caliber) measurement and one is a metric (mm) measurement.
There are now many different AR-15 style rifles that shoot calibers from .22LR to .308 caliber / 7.62 mm.
Traditionally the AR-15 was a gas blow-back, direct impingement design. This means that the gasses that are pushing the bullet down the barrel are redirected and used to directly push the bolt of the rifle toward the rear.
Some AR-15 rifles are now gas pistol or operating rod designs. This means that instead of the gasses hitting the bolt directly, the gases are used to press a gas piston to the rear. This design can improve reliability by not pushing dirty, hot gasses into the bolt.
Let’s get into naming confusion now…
The name AR15 comes from orig manufacturer ArmaLite and stood for ArmaLite Rifle model 15. Colt bought the rights from Armalite around 1959.
Now a CAR15 is generally understood to refer to a carbine version of the AR15.
The term carbine traditionally refers to a shorter / smaller variation of a full size rifle.
There are no official specifications as to what separates a AR15 from a CAR15.
What I mean is that if you have a 20″ barrel on your rifle, that does not mean it is a CAR15, and if you have a 21″ barrel you now have an AR15.
Then to muddy the naming waters even more, enter the U.S. Military.
When Colt first sold AR-15 rifles to the U.S. Military, their designation was M16.
The main difference between a AR-15 and a M16 was that the military version had selective fire from semi-automatic to fully automatic.
The M16 is being replaced with the M4 which is a carbine (shorter) version of the M16. There are a number of other upgrades that have occurred over the years to improve the M4 over the M16.
There you go, a beginner’s course in the awesome AR-15 rifle. If you have one and want to learn how to use it, let us know. Sealed Mindset is considering hosting an AR-15 course in July, but we want your feedback on interest levels.