The National Shooting Sports Foundation considers the AR-15 as a “modern sporting rifle.” Since its introduction nearly 60 years ago, the AR-15 has become one of the most popular firearms among American gun owners. To understand why the AR-15 has evolved into a firearm of choice for so many, it is as necessary for you to understand what the firearm isn’t as it is for you to be familiar with the rifle’s storied history and practical uses.
Unfortunately, some individuals who aren’t familiar with firearms and people motivated by a political agenda sometimes refer to modern sporting rifles in general, and the AR-15 in particular, using language that is either accidentally or deliberately misleading. Despite what you may have heard in a casual conversation or in a news report, the AR-15 is not an assault rifle, automatic rifle or an assault weapon of any kind.
An assault rifle is a fully automatic firearm, often referred to as a “machine gun.” An assault rifle can fire multiple bullets with just one squeeze of the trigger. Conversely, when you pull the trigger of a modern, civilian AR-15, only one bullet is discharged from the weapon. Civilian ownership of assault rifles has been heavily restricted for decades, but you can buy a modern sporting rifle such as the AR-15 in any state by passing an FBI background check.
Just as the “AR” included in the rifle’s name isn’t an abbreviation for “assault rifle,” it also doesn’t stand for “automatic rearming.” Instead, the letters included in the rifle’s official name simply represent a product titling convention used by the gun’s inventor, ArmaLite. In addition to the AR-15, ArmaLite produced other rifles that shared the “AR,” or ArmaLite rifle, moniker, including the following:
The AR-15 has become a favorite of many gun enthusiasts for a host of reasons, including its light weight, accuracy, modularity and versatility. Not only can the AR-15 be used for a variety of purposes, you can fully customize an AR-15 depending on what you’re going to use the rifle for and your shooting preferences.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives doesn’t share the number of AR-15s sold in the United States annually with the general public, so it’s difficult to determine the number that are owned throughout the country. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimates that American civilians own between 5-10 million AR-15s. This means that AR-15s make up only about 1.6-3.3 percent of the 300 million firearms owned by Americans.
While the number of lawfully owned AR-15s accounts for a relatively small percentage of all of the guns across the country, the total number of modern sporting rifles Americans possess may equal as much as 10 percent of the guns in the United States. Current or former members of the military or law enforcement commonly own modern sporting rifles, such as the AR-15. In fact, people with a military or police background account for about 44 percent of the total ownership. Often, people experienced with guns choose to own them regardless of their professional background. Approximately 99 percent of modern sporting rifle owners possessed some sort of firearm prior to buying their first modern sporting rifle.
History of the AR-15
Popular with active and retired military, law enforcement and civilian sportsmen, the development of today’s AR-15 began in 1954 when ArmaLite was created as a division of the Fairchild Engine and Aircraft Corporation. While ArmaLite was initially founded to create firearms for the general public using modern materials and manufacturing processes, ArmaLite’s roots are deeply intertwined with the American military.
The year of ArmaLite’s establishment, Eugene Stoner, a weapons designer and former marine, became its Chief Engineer. In its first two years, ArmaLite focused on developing the AR-5 survival rifle after receiving a request form the U.S. Air Force. With a receiver and barrel disassembly that could be stored in the gun’s large stock, the AR-5 was waterproof and capable of floating. These characteristics made the AR-5 ideal in aircraft ejection scenarios.
A year after ArmaLite was formed, the United States Army started looking for a rifle to replace the M1 Garand which was widely used by the military in WWII. Although the M1 Garand was a capable gun, its wartime use identified plenty of areas of improvement. At more than 10-and-a-half-pounds, the rifle’s weight was one aspect that the U.S. Army wanted to change, since soldiers had to carry their gear everywhere.
Proposals for the Springfield Armory T-44 and T-48 were based on the M1 Garand, but included updates that resolved some of the concerns the military had with the M1 Garand’s original design. ArmaLite submitted a proposal for an AR-10 rifle, which had the same caliber and performance abilities as Springfield Armory T-44 and T-48. Although the AR-10 was similar to the T-44 and T-48 in some ways, the rifle differed from its competition in several key areas.
First, the design of the AR-10 allowed for modern materials to be used in the construction of the rifle. The weapon had aluminum receivers and stocks and hand guards made out of plastic. Since these materials were used instead of more traditional ones, the AR-10 weighed less than seven pounds, considerably less than the M1 Garand. While its construction materials and low weight made the AR-10 stand out from its competition, ArmaLite was unable to work out some of the flaws in the rifle’s design before the United States Army chose the T-44 to replace the M1 Garand.
Even though the U.S. Army chose the Springfield Armory T-44, the military division recognized the potential the AR-10 had and asked ArmaLite to work on a version of the gun what would fire a smaller caliber than the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge used by the AR-10. The United States Air Force sponsored Project SALVO, which led Eugene Stoner, Robert Fremont and James Sullivan to use the AR-10 as the basis for ArmaLite’s AR-15, a .22 caliber rifle with low recoil designed to make automatic fire more effective.
Certain facets of the military and various governmental agencies were not supportive of using a smaller caliber. This, coupled with the fact that ArmaLite’s revenue was overly dependent on its ability to sell a single weapon, the AR-5 aquatic survival rifle, forced ArmaLite to enter into a licensing agreement with the Dutch Arsenal to sell the AR-10 abroad. Unfortunately, the Dutch military didn’t adopt the AR-10, and the weapon experienced less than modest international sales.
Facing financial duress, ArmaLite sold the rights to the design of the AR-10 and AR-15 to Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company in 1959. Colt immediately began to market the AR-15 to various militaries, while simultaneously marketing the rifle to commercial buyers as well. Colt Firearms’ efforts began to pay off when the company sold the first 15 AR-15s to the Federation of Malaya, now known as Malaysia, later in the same year.
One of the key designers of the AR-10 and AR-15, Robert Fremont, left ArmaLite to continue working as the design of these weapons at Colt after Colt Firearms acquired the rights to the rifles. Two years later, Eugene Stoner, whose influence on the firearms industry is widely acknowledged to have been as powerful as John Browning himself, also left ArmaLite to work for Colt Firearms as a consultant.
The United States Air Force agreed to test the AR-15 and bought 8,500 units in 1961. After Colt made some changes to the AR-15, most obviously moving the charging handle from under the weapon’s carrying handle to the back of the rifle’s receiver, the U.S. Military formally adopted the AR-15 as the M-16 rifle in 1963. The U.S. Air Force and the United States Army each purchased 85,000 M-16s from Colt Firearms in the same year. Within two years, the M-16 became the military’s chief service rifle and the newly re-named Colt’s Inc., Firearms Division had sold more than 300,000 M-16s to the United States Armed Forces.
The first AR-15 designed for civilian use was the Colt AR-15 Sporter. Introduced in 1964, this version of the rifle had a five-round magazine. The Colt AR-15 Sporter was a .223 Remington semi-automatic rifle.
Since its introduction, the AR-15 has gone through various mutations to accommodate different kinds of artillery and remain in compliance with changing civilian laws. The AR-15 has evolved into the M4 Carbine, CAR-15, SR-47, C7, T65 and the Bushmaster C4. Barrel lengths range from 6.5 inches to 24 inches and the variants of the AR-15 generally weigh between 5.5 and 8.5 pounds.
Early models of the AR-15 could fire approximately 800 rounds per minute and had a muzzle velocity of 3,200 feet per second. Depending on the conditions, the AR-15 had an effective range of 550 yards. The AR-15’s cartridge capability has expanded over the years to include the 300 Blackout, 9mm, .45 ACP, 5.7x28mm, 6.5 Grendel, 6.8mm Remington SPC and the .50 Beowulf.
While today’s civilian AR-15s still closely resemble the M-16 variants used in the military, the guns are distinctly different from one another. Each gun has its own internal hammer and trigger system, and the internal parts of each kind of rifle are not interchangeable. The main reason for this is to prevent civilians from converting their AR-15s to be able to handle full automatic fire, an act banned by the Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act in the 1980s. The M-16 has three-round burst firing capabilities, as well as a fully automatic firing mode, whereas modern AR-15s manufactured for civilian use can only fire one bullet per trigger pull.
Many companies produce a variant of the AR-15 in today’s market, including the following gun manufacturers:
- Bravo Company USA
- Daniel Defense
- Lewis Machine and Tool Company
- Olympic Arms
- Rock River Arms
- Seekins Precisions
- Smith & Wesson
- Spike’s Tactical
- Wilson Combat
Common Uses for an AR-15
While the AR-15 platform has many obvious uses in the military, the rifle is also useful in many civilian activities. The weapon gives people the chance to learn about gun safety and responsibility, for instance. You can also learn about math, science, mechanics and how moving parts work together from an AR-15 as well. This is particularly true if you’re going to build your own AR-15 or you plan to add custom AR-15 parts or tactical AR-15 parts to your rifle to suit your shooting preferences.
In addition to use as a learning tool, an AR-15 is commonly used in the following activities:
- Home Security
- Self Defense
- Recreational Target Practice
- Competitive Shooting Matches
- Disaster Preparedness
Parts of an AR-15
The parts of an AR-15 can be broken down into three groups of components, the upper receiver group, the lower receiver group and the grips. Your rifle’s grips will help you have the firmest possible hold on your gun, giving you a steadier, more reliable shot. Depending on your preferences, your foregrips can be installed vertically at an angle to help you shoot more accurately. Your pistol grip attaches to your rifle’s lower receiver. The likelihood that you’ll hit your mark increases the better your pistol and foregrips are.
The parts included in the upper receiver group of AR-15 parts include the following components:
- Upper Receiver
- Muzzle Device
- Gas Block & Gas Tube
- Bolt Carrier Group
- Charging Handle
- Forward Assist
- Rail System & Handguard
- Ejection Port Cover
- Lower Receiver
- Trigger Groups
- Lower Parts Kit
- Buffer & Buffer Spring
- Buffer Tube (Receiver Extension)
- Butt Stock
Ways to Customize an AR-15
While an AR-15 needs some basic components to be a working rifle, you still have many options for the parts you want your gun to have. For instance, barrels come in an assortment of lengths and weights, so you can choose the one that suits your preferences. You also have plenty of choices when it comes to selecting a butt stock, trigger and many other AR-15 parts.
In addition to offering a wide array of fundamental AR-15 parts, Wing Tactical offers some of the best AR-15 accessories on the market. Taking advantage of this, you can customize your rifle with AR-15 tactical accessories to reflect both your shooting preferences and personal style. One common AR-15 upgrade is changing the grips. We offer pistol grips and foregrips manufactured by some of the nation’s most trusted gun and gun accessory companies, including:
- Arisaka Defense
- Daniel Defense
- FAB Defense
- Fortis Manufacturing
- Mission First Tactical
- Strike Industries
- Tyrant Designs
One of the best AR-15 accessories is an extended charging handle latch. An extended charging handle latch enables you to engage your charging handle more easily than a standard one does, even if you’re wearing gloves, using your weapon during the night, or dealing with a high-stress situation. If you’re in a defensive position, an extended charging handle latch allows you to charge with your foot because it has a larger surface than a standard charging handle latch does.
Another common AR-15 upgrade is to change your rifle’s trigger. Enhancing the performance of your gun’s trigger can improve a poor shooter’s accuracy. It can also give an experienced shooter a noticeable advantage when firing. We offer a variety of triggers that can help improve your accuracy and increase the level of comfort you have with your AR-15. Whether you want a single-stage, two-stage, competition or tactical trigger, we have what you’re looking for.
Given the modular design of the AR-15, the rifle is compatible with a nearly endless list of aftermarket accessories, including lighting systems, night vision devices, laser targeting equipment, muzzle brakes, flash hiders, sound suppressors, bipods and much more. This compatibility is what makes it easy for you to customize your AR-15 to your exact specifications.
To learn more about the AR-15 parts, accessories and upgrades we have for sale, we encourage you to look through our inventory online. We offer convenient, next day shipping on all of the orders we receive so you won’t have to wait long to start customizing your AR-15. We also accept hassle-free returns within 30 days if you’re not satisfied with your order for any reason.
Our mission is to always provide our clients with exceptional customer service, quality merchandise and real, lasting value. Give yourself the edge you’ve been looking for by shopping with us today.
Looking for AR-15 Accessories? Wing Tactical Has Got You Covered
If you’re in the market for AR 15 parts, you’ve come to the right place.
At Wing Tactical, we understand how much you love your rifle. And we’re committed to making sure that you find the AR-15 tactical accessories or custom parts you need in order to love them that much more.
We’re certain you’ll find what you’re looking for in our comprehensive selection of AR 15 accessories. Whether you’re looking for upper receiver parts, lower receiver parts, magazines or other accessories, we’re confident you can find the accessories you need on our easy-to-navigate website.
High-Quality AR-15 Custom Parts
We know how much your guns mean to you, and we also know that if you’re reading this, you’re looking to enhance your AR 15. We won’t sell you anything that we wouldn’t put on our own rifles.
We put our products through rigorous tests prior to offering them on our website, so you should be confident that the accessories you’re adding onto your rifles are of the highest quality.
Our expansive catalog includes the following AR 15 parts:
- Furniture kits: Sometimes, you’ve just got to have it all. Our Daniel Defense furniture kit include a rubber overmolded pistol grips complete with a built-in oversized trigger guard, a enhanced stock, and a vertical grip that mounts directly onto your picatinny handguard. Get all of the gear you need in one place.
- Handguards: A superior addition to the front end of your rifle, the Strike Industries Viper Handguard is designed to do more than just give you a better grip. Built with ventilation holes, the guard won’t get hot when you’re steadily firing your rifle. M-LOK system allow user to mount their favorite accessories.
- Lower parts kits: Whether your rifle needs some new parts or you want to have backups on hand just in case they are needed, we offer a variety of lower parts kits. The kits include pistol grips, hammers, magazine catch buttons, front pivot pins and so much more.
- Magazines: We also sell a variety of magazines, including the Mission First Tactical Polymer Magazines. Sturdy and reliable, the magazine is the perfect fit for your rifle no matter what kind of environment you’re using it in.
But our catalog is wide-ranging, so be sure to browse it accordingly.
You’ll Love Wing Tactical’s Superior Customer Service
At Wing Tactical, we pride ourselves on offering customer service that simply cannot be beat. We want our customers to feel comfortable when they decide to buy anything from us, so we enthusiastically offer hassle-free 30-day returns.
In other words, if you buy it and you don’t like it, we’ll take it back - no questions asked.
We’re confident that we can help you enhance your rifles with our high-quality AR 15 accessories. So don’t hesitate to contact us today and give yourself an edge!