What is an AR-15

What is an AR-15?

The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in the United States and was originally developed for military service by engineers at Armalite. Something many people misunderstand about this rifle is that the “AR” actually stands for “Armalite Rifle”. 

Let’s take a closer look.


It was first designed in the 1950’s, but did not achieve much success at the time. ArmaLite sold the rights to the AR-10 and AR-15 to Colt. 

Colt made changes to the design before beginning to manufacture them for the US Military. The version they sold the military was a modified version known as the Colt M-16. Colt Manufacturing also provided the US Military with the M-16, M-16 A1, M-4 and various other versions of the rifle system. The M-16, in particular, was the gun of choice for American soldiers who fought during the Vietnam War. 

In the 1970s, Colt’s patent for the AR-15 expired and several other companies began producing them.

The Rifle Itself

The AR-15 is not an assault rifle, despite this being a common and mistaken designation it is often given by the media and popular culture. Assault rifles are only available to the military and operate in three-round bursts and with two modes: fully automatic and select fire. Fully automatic means that, when the trigger is pressed down, it keeps firing until the entire magazine is empty. The AR-15, however, only has two settings, “safe” and “semi-automatic”. Semi-automatic means only one cartridge is fired when you pull the trigger.

The AR-15 is also known as the “black rifle” because it comes from a factory with black furniture and an upper and lower receiver that is anodized black. The rest of the metal is usually parkerized in a dark grey finish. 

Both the military M-16 and the civilian AR-15 have robust safety features and are considered the safest rifles on the market for hunting, competition shooting, and other activities. The AR-15 is made up of the upper and AR lower receiver, barrel and muzzle device, sights, gas block and gas tube, furniture, the fire control group, charging handle, bolt carrier group, magazine, receiver, extension, buffer, and buffer spring.

There are eight steps in the AR-15 cycle of operation. These are: 

  1. feeding 
  2. chambering 
  3. locking 
  4. firing 
  5. unlocking 
  6. extracting 
  7. ejecting 
  8. cocking 

Feeding is the first step, involving the forward momentum of the bolt carrier group and the bolt stripping a cartridge from the magazine as it travels forward. Chambering follows, and the cartridge is loaded into the barrel. 

Locking occurs when the bolt is locked into the lungs of the barrel extension. Then, the gun is fired which is caused by pressing the trigger. After this, the bolt is pushed in a rearward direction and unlocked. 

Extracting, ejecting, and cocking then occur, pulling the shell from the chamber, and causing it to fly out of the receiver before the hammer compresses the buffer spring fully. One reason for the AR-15’s popularity is that it can be easily customized. As parts are sold individually, such as from E2 Armory, you can build one yourself.

E2 Armory

Are you a firearm enthusiast or just curious about the exciting world of semi-automatic rifles? Visit E2 Armory and discover our expertly crafted AR-15 components, so you can start building your own rifle, today!

Related Tag: AR 15 Lower

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