The AR-15 is perhaps the most popular rifle in the United States. In fact, there are around 10 Million A5-15s, and it’s variations in circulation in the United States, and the NRA claimed that these rifles are so common that the AR should stand for “America’s Rifle”
So, what does the AR, actually stand for. Well, there are many misconceptions and many people believe that it stands for either “Assault Rifle”, or “Automatic Rifle”. However, the AR actually stands for “Armalite Rifle”
Though hundreds of companies make AR-15 style rifles these days, the original rifle was made by a company named Armalite, and hence named the Armalite Rifle. Armalite developed the design for the AR-15 in 1956, as a lighter version of the AR-10 rifle.
Armalite was a child company of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, and when the army did not adopt the rifle and it wasn’t making any money, the company decided to sell the entire patent for the AR-10 and AR-15 rifles to Colt for $75,000 and 4.5 percent royalties.
Colt wanted to develop this rifle for the military, however, at that time, the M-14 was in production, and the army wasn’t looking for a rifle. At that time, the president of the fairchild company, was friends with Curtis Lamey, who was the chief of staff of the Airforce. At a party at the generals home, the president of fairchild along with some people from colt showed the rifle to Lamey, who really liked it.
At that time, the Airforce was using old M2 carbines, which it needed to replace because of the lack of spare parts for the rifles. So, Lamey requested a former testing of the AR-15, where the rifle did really well. The AR-15 was then adopted by the airforce and some were also sent to vietnam for testing. A few years later, the entire US Military adopted the AR-15 rifle with the military designation of M-16, and from there on, the popularity of the rifle grew immensely.
Colts patents expired in 1977, and other firearm companies also started developing AR-15 rifles for the civilian market as well. Initially Automatic AR-15s were made, but after an Assault weapons ban in 1986, AR-15 is a designation specifically reserved for civilian semi automatic rifles, made by colt.
These days, almost every major firearms manufacturing company in the US makes AR-15 style rifles. However, they have their own names for the rifle. The original name, AR-15 is still owned by Colt. These days, the term MSR (Modern Sporting Rifle) is also used for rifles following the AR style.
Because of their immense popularity, AR-15 style rifles now have an incredible aftermarket, there are loads of accessories for them, and many companies make amazing custom style AR-15s as well.
So, to sum it all up, the AR-15 is one of the most popular rifles in the US and the entire world. It was developed by the Armalite company, which is why the AR stars for Armalite rifle, and not “Automatic rifle”. In fact, all modern AR-15s are Semi Automatic. There are people who really like the rifle, and people who are against it, however, one thing is certain that the AR-15 is one hell of a rifle.