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Modern musket

ar15Bob Owens

The AR-15 has been sold to civilians in the United States for 50 years. During that time—and especially in the past 20 years—it has become extremely popular. It is the best-selling rifle in the United States, used by men, women, and carefully supervised younger shooters. Why?

AR-15s are known for being accurate rifles. Even in their most basic configurations, off-the-rack ARs are capable of shooting 2 minutes of angle (MOA) or better, without modifications, which translates into 2″ groups at 100 yards. Versions designed for long range shooting easily shoot sub-MOA groups of less than 1″ at 100 yards.

The AR-15 is modular in design, and the multiple-positions of a collapsible stock mean that shooters of every size and shape can quickly adapt the length-of-pull (LOP).  For example, at 6’3″, I’ve occasionally found the stock design of some traditional wood-stocked rifles to be a little short. With an AR-15, I can extend the collapsible stock to its full-length and add an extender which makes it perfect for me. I can then turn my rifle over to one of the exceptional teen shooters I know, a 16-year-old, and she merely needs to take a few seconds to shorter the LOP to fit her 5’5″ frame, and she’s ready to shoot.

Like the stock, pistol grips can be adapted to various hand sizes, and for different purposes. Shooters who prefer a more compact stock often tend to like more vertical grips, while others simply prefer to adapt a grip that suits their hand sizes.

The ability to adapt AR-15 furniture such as grips and stocks to different sizes and shapes of people is part of the reason for it’s popularity.

The  modular nature of the AR-15 design that lends it to being so easily adjusted for comfort also makes it adaptable for other roles.

Dedicated upper receivers (an “upper” is the modular top-half of the rifle that consists of the barrel, front handguard, operating system, and bolt) can be chambered in different calibers and/or barrel lengths for different kinds of shooting. By pushing out two pins, a shooter can remove one upper receiver (for example, a standard 16″ .223 Remington barrel useful for most general purpose needs), and replace it with another (a dedicated .22LR upper receivers or a .22LR conversion kit allow shooters to target shoot or hunt with inexpensive .22LR rimfire ammunition, a scoped upper receiver with a 24″ 6.5 Grendel barrel for long distance shooting, or a match upper with 20″ 5.56 NATO barrel for servicerifle competitions, etc.).

Keeping the same trigger, controls, stock and grip, the user can perform almost any task a rifleman or riflewoman could desire.

The relatively recent adoption of picatinny rails enabled shooters to customize their AR-15s even more, adding, as Wikipedia notes, “tactical lights, laser aiming modules, night vision devices, reflex sights, foregrips, bipods, and bayonets.”

Heavy-duty or lightweight, short distance or long range, air-rifle, rimfire, or centerfire, the AR-15 is the most useful, adaptable rifle in America.

Modern Musket
While the accurate, comfortable,  and modular nature ensures the AR-15 excels in many roles, like most of the popular firearms in civilian use around the world, it can trace its roots to a military heritage in its cousins, the M16 rifle and M4 carbine.

Important for it’s role as the firearm of the unorganized militia (a real thing, under 10 USC § 311 – Militia: composition and classes that encompasses almost all of us), most civilian AR-15s have many parts, controls, and usage procedures in common with their military cousins. Those AR-15s chambered for 5.56 NATO also share the same ammunition and magazines.

This means that the AR-15 and the 30-round magazines that are standard to it are the modern firearm system that is most useful for militia use, meaning they are the rifle and magazines in “common use” (20-30 round magazines) are clearly protected under the original intent and plain meaning of the Constitution, as well as the Miller (1939), Heller,and MacDonald Supreme Court decisions, and the lower court cases that have followed those precedents.

The AR-15 rifle is America’s rifle, the modern musket, one of the arms that clearly meets the role the Founders intended filled.

Attempts to restrict its use and function are unconstitutional.

Tread carefully.

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11 Responses to Modern musket

  1. NC says:

    I wish I had bought one a few months ago before Sandy Hook. Now it’s impossible and if you do find one, they charge almost the price of a used car for just one of them. I’ll just have to stick with the guns I got for now.

  2. m_astera says:

    Just pay the price and be happy you have one. Where I live (South America) you can’t buy ammo anyway. Not legally. Coming your way soon?

  3. Steve says:

    Then you’re OK with banning semi auto versions of the AK-47. Originally when the M-16 was first fielded by the military it used a 10 round mag. That goes back to the old marksmanship training used by the military. Slow, controlled, aimed fire to lead on target accurately over long distances. The M-16 is a rifleman’s rifle. It is made to tight tolerances to ensure the accuracy you mention. Looking at the select fire switch on the M-16 you will notice it goes from Safe, to Semi, to Auto. Soldiers were trained to shoot in semi auto mode and to make every shot count. The Soviets had a different idea. On an AK-47 the select fire switch goes from Safe, to Auto, to Semi. It is made to loose tolerances and is not nearly as accurate as an M-16.

    In the confines of the jungles of Viet Nam the army realized the needed to change their marksmanship training. Being able to shoot accurately at 300 yards isn’t of much value to a soldier when due to dense foliage he can’t see more than 50 yards and targets pop out and disappear quickly. The army changed up the training and went to the Quick Kill method of point shooting to address this.

    I didn’t see any 30 round mags for the M-16 issued until about 1985. That was a Reagan thing, because dammit, if the Soviet soldiers had 30 round mags than the US soldier would have 30 round mags too!

    In what I’ve seen at the range, high capacity mags are usually a crutch to compensate for poor marksmanship skills. People just like to make a lot of noise fast, and if you aren’t putting lead on target then that’s all you are doing.

    • GoodOleBoy says:

      When running drills, it is a lot easier to not have to change mags 3x as often, especially when going through a few thousand rounds. You also decrease what you can carry on your vest by a factor of 3. They make 60 and 100 round mags but the 30 round is the best combination of weight and effectiveness for most situations. As far as the M16 with 10 round mags, try telling our soldiers today that they only need 30 rounds because they are a bad shot. As for civilians like myself, when transitioning from cover to cover I can put lead on target and don’t have to worry about changing in the middle. It is a matter of convienence. A good marksman will do the job with 10 or 30 rounds or even a bolt action. It also helps when dealing with multiple attackers or laying cover fire for a teammate.

      Fully automatic fire is almost completely useless except for providing cover or for breaking away from combat with maneuvers like the Australian peel. Accuracy with full automatic is almost non existence. Even though the AK was designed the way it was, the operators soon found out semi was better. More likely to be used and much more effective, burst fire is what is used on most select fire rifles. That would empty a 10 round mag in 3 bursts.

      Now, for the AK. One of the best rifles ever built. The piston system of the AK gives it extremely long life and durability, which is why they are starting to incorporate it into the AR. There are still AKs being used in combat made 40 years ago. As for accuracy, it being inaccurate is a myth. The sight system is more difficult in my opinion but the bigger round is better for shooting through brush or jungle. When shot side by side by a professional with similar optics they are equally effective. Former Delta Force arms instructor Larry Vickers proved as much in one episode of his show, TacTv.

      Bottom line is it is not the gun or the mag, it is the shooter. Limiting round capacity will not make anyone safer and there are possible scenarios where multiple 30 round mags might be needed.

      • Steve says:

        This isn’t a debate about what’s better the AR-15 or the AK-47. The last four paragraphs of the original post states the AR-15 is the modern musket and it has to be available to civilians because it is comparable to what the military carries. Extrapolating from there we must come to the conclusion that since the AK-47 is not issued to US forces then the government has every right to ban it. But there are plenty of crappy, inaccurate AK’s out there that were made in factories in third world countries.

        Sure I will tell soldiers that they are not trained to the same level of marksmanship as their predecessors. Is that a bad thing, I don’t know. I see an awful lot of optics on the weapons of soldiers currently serving. Every war is different a weapon that is good in the confines of a jungle or an urban environment might not be that great for a wide open desert.

        I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people resting a weapon on the 30 round mag while firing prone of from a bench.

  4. tom thumb says:

    i hear if the us congress doesnt pass obama’s much sought after gun ban, he will either wright an executive order (AGAIN!) or implement the upcoming (3/18/13) UN small arms treaty. WE.R.FCKED.PEOPLE

    • Jolly Roger says:

      We’re not F%$#ed, they are, and they know it. That’s why they’re constantly resorting to scare tactics and psy-ops to disarm people, and have been for decades. It’s the only ammo they have.

      • Jolly Roger says:

        They stated their desire to kill us, so why don’t they just go ahead and do it already?

        They know they’re the ones who are f%$&ed, and they’re grasping at straws to convince you otherwise.

        What they’re going to do is flee the country when there are no more straws to grasp at.

  5. Jolly Roger says:

    This article sounds like an advertisement for AR-15’s when they’re being sold more quickly than they can be made.

  6. Joe says:

    Steve, can you show me one photo of a mil-spec 5.56mm 10 round M16 Mag made before 1980?

    Or point me at an article that details what years those were used?

    I’ve never seen one, not even in the US Army Ordnance Museum at Aberdeen where I grew up. This museum (since moved to another base) has the honor of exhibiting every major weapons system fielded by the US Army.

    When I went through basic in the early 80s the smallest mag we had was 20 rounds. Most of us qualified with 30 round mags.

    • Steve says:

      No, I can’t show you a picture of one. It doesn’t mean they didn’t exist. It may have been a prototype. I may have seen it in one of those old Colby Books. There are 25 round mags too. When I was in the army in the late 80’s my duty carry was .38 Ruger revolver. One of the guys in my unit was even issued a snub nose .38 revolver. We were a pretty low speed unit. I was dating a female MP for a while. When she found out I was issued a .38 she said, “that’s a girls gun”. She broke up with me a short time later. I saw armored vehicle crewmen that were issued M-3 grease guns! In 1989! These were guys who drove the armored recovery vehicles and wrecker cranes. While some units had Blackhawks for several years already (even some reserve units) we still had a B model Huey that we finally traded in for an H model. So just because you had a 30 round mag in basic training in the early 80’s doesn’t mean they were fielded army wide.

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