The History of the AR 15
Designed as a lighter version of the AR-10, the AR 15 was built to meet the needs of soldiers after WWII. While working for the Armalite Corporation, Eugene Stoner not only created the AR 15, but the .223 Remington cartridge for which it is chambered. The .223 Rem. comes from the development of the .222 Rem. cartridge. The .223 Remington was favored because it is lightweight, yet accurate and powerful enough to penetrate a helmet per U.S. specifications. Although many calibers are now available of the AR 15, the .223 Remington is the “standard” round.
The rights to the AR 15 were bought out by Colt Industries, who is now the owner of the “AR 15” name. Technically, the term AR 15 should only be used to refer to Colt products, but many companies produce rifles of similar designs, which are also referred to as AR 15 rifles in everyday speech.
The AR 15 was taken even further with the development of the 5.56x45mm round, also known as 5.56 NATO. A smaller size than the .223 Rem., the 5.56 mm compensates with a higher velocity when leaving the muzzle. The AR 15 rifles that use the 5.56 mm round are reinforced to handle the higher pressures produced by the increased velocity. Rifles chambered for the 5.56 NATO can shoot both the 5.56 NATO and the .223 Remington. The U.S. Army version of the AR 15, known as the M16, uses the 5.56 NATO round.
Hugely popular in the United States, the AR 15 has faced opposition in many states, although the “assault weapons ban” has been lifted in many states. Most notable of these states is California, in which the lower receiver still must meet certain specifications. Known for its accuracy and lethality, especially at close-range, the AR 15 is now one of the most popular rifles in the world.