AR-15 Review

The name AR-15 brings to mind the civilian model of the M16.  The name AR-15 actually came before the M16 designation was made by the US military.  The AR in AR-15 is for the company that created the rifle ArmaLite, and it is model 15 for the company.  When Colt released the civilian versions of the rifle the AR-15 name was used.  Currently AR-15 is the name of any semi-auto only variant of the M16.  The M16 has gone through multiple changes designated as the M16 (original triangle grips), M16A1 (added forward assist), M16A2 (added round handguards, barrel thickness increased, changed from full auto to semi/three round burst), M16A3 (full auto version of M16A2), M16A4 (Same as M16A2 with changes to handguards and flattop upper receiver for optics), and the M4 the carbine version of the M16A4.  The M4 barrel is shorten  for better use in urban enviorments and the buttstock is collapsible for better movement in confined spaces (ie buildings). 

The AR-15 has been the service rifle for the United States Military for close to 50 years.  The first version of the AR-15 simply wasn’t ready for combat when first placed in the hands of US Military members.  The rifle had not been properly tested and the misconceptions about the design led to improper maintenance by the troops.   This led to the AR-15 (M16) rightfully earning a bad reputation as an unreliable weapon.  The mistakes in the design and field maintenance on the original shipments of AR-15s were addressed and the reliability of the firearm was increased greatly.  Additionally, a forward assist was added to the rifle design and troops were issued cleaning kits with instructions on how to maintain the weapon.  Although the issues with reliability have largely been addressed, the stigma still sticks to the AR-15 and it’s variants to this day. 

Brief AR-15 History

The AR-15 started out chambered for the .308 round and was called the AR-10.  The AR series of rifles were designed by Eugene Stoner while working for ArmaLite, the AR-15 design was later sold to Colt in 1959.  When the military decided to switch to the smaller .223 round the AR-15 was born.  Offering a much lighter platform when compared against the competition, the AR-15 was years ahead of the rest of the designs of the time. 


From the Marine Corps field manual, the M16 is described as “a 5.56mm, magazine-fed, gas-operated, shoulder fired weapon. It is designed to fire either semiautomatic or a three-round burst through the use of a selector lever.”  The gas system is called direct gas impingement system; the design redirects the excess gases created by the firing of the round and sends it through the gas tube, which deliveries the energy needed to cycle the bolt.  When the bolt is cycled to the rear the spent cartridge is ejected, the hammer is locked in the firing position and as the bolt carrier group is cycled back to the chamber by the buffer spring, and a new round is chambered by the bolt carrier group.  By using the excess gases to cycle the bolt, the chamber tends to foul much more quickly than gas piston designs. 

Most Popular Civilian Manufacturers

  • Colt
  • Bushmaster
  • Smith & Wesson
  • Stag Arms
  • ArmaLite Inc
  • Rock River Arms
  • Wilson Combat
  • CMMG
  • Sabre Defence

Comparable Firearm Reviews

  • AK-74
  • AK-47
  • FN FAL
  • Steyr AUG
  • FS2000
  • Bushmaster ACR


  • Every piece of the firearm is available through the aftermarket
  • Standard Magazines are extremely cheap and easy to find
  • DI gas system offers one of the most accurate designs
  • Offered in almost every modern caliber
  • Parts are interchangeable among different firearms
  • Buffer spring system offers little-to-no felt recoil
  • Available in multiple configurations
  •  Reliably accurate out to 500 yards


  • Stock trigger is “sloppy”
  • Not as reliable as other offerings
  • DI gas system is much dirtier than other systems
  • In standard configuration (5.56mm) the round is under powered

Rifleman’s Creed

“This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life. My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will...

My rifle and myself know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit...

My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage as I will ever guard my legs, my arms, my eyes and my heart against damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...

Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and myself are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life. So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!”