History of the AR-15 Rifle.

History of the AR-15 Rifle
An American advisor with a very early model of the AR-15 (note no forward assist and original-pattern mag) while his South Vietnamese partners carry M1 Garands.)
The ArmaLite 15 is a classic assault rifle. You might know it better as an M-16, the U.S. Military’s version of the weapon.
A common misconception about the AR-15 is that “AR” stands for “assault rifle,” a phrase that stems from the German “Sturmgewehr” (“Storm” or “assault” rifle) used in World War II propaganda posters and later applied to military-style weapons. This shouldn’t be confused with the term “Assault Weapon,” a legal term for a specific class of illegal firearm during the years 1994 to 2004.
Ironically enough, the AR-15 fits both of these descriptions: it’s a military style rifle that was illegal during the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. The “AR” in the name, however, stands for the name of the manufacturer: ArmaLite.
The ArmaLite Company traces its humble beginnings back to the early 1950’s in Hollywood, California. The company was founded by George Sullivan, who worked as the patent counsel for the Lockheed Corporation (today Lockheed Martin). The small arms company received its funding from the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, the company that would soon become Fairchild-Republic, a major manufacturer of military aircraft for the U.S. Military.
Originally, the company focused on weapons design, rather than manufacture. Instead of producing weapons themselves, ArmaLite focused on weapons design. The chief architect behind ArmaLite’s weapons designs was Eugene Stoner, a young man in his thirties with a knack for weapons design. Sullivan quickly promoted Stoner to the position of chief design engineer for ArmaLite.
In 1954, the first weapon design from ArmaLite was produced: the AR-5. This bolt-action rifle with a .22 Hornet round was developed as a survival rifle for the flight crew in the U.S. Airforce.
Despite the company having the backing of two of the largest military aircraft manufacturers, ArmaLite originally intended to focus on making civilian weaponry, rather than craft weapons for the military.
These early ArmaLite designs were built to be taken apart into pieces and put back together; making it something that could be stored on an aircraft or vehicle for emergency survival situations.
In 1955, the United States Military decided it was time to replace the tried-and-true M1 Garand, the staple of World War II that had served admirably at the time, but was limited in regards to its ammunition capacity. The M1 Garand only held eight rounds and weighed over ten and a half-pounds, making the elegant firearm a bit of an antique.
Despite the company having the backing of two of the largest military aircraft manufacturers, ArmaLite originally intended to focus on making civilian weaponry, rather than craft weapons for the military.
In 1955, the United States Military decided it was time to replace the tried-and-true M1 Garand, the staple of World War II that had served admirably at the time, but was limited in regards to its ammunition capacity. The M1 Garand only held eight rounds and weighed over ten and a half-pounds, making the elegant firearm a bit of an antique.
The AR-10 prototypes were designed with a straight stock, elevated sights, an aluminum flash suppressor, a recoil compensator, and a gas system.
Most of the military had positive things to say about the AR-10. It was lightweight, and many of the testers thought it to be one of the best rifles they’d ever shot.
Unfortunately, the barrel could not past the “torture test,” bursting under pressure. Although ArmaLite quickly introduced a steel barrel to counteract this damage, it was too late, causing the Springfield Armory to advise the military not to adapt the AR-10 rifle, reporting that it would take five or more years of testing to bring the weapon up to date.
Instead, they chose the T44, now known as the M-14, which was adopted in 1957.
On the fourth of July, 1957 the Dutch weapons company Artillerie Inrichtingen bought rights to produce the AR-10 for five years.
In 1957, the international arms dealer Samuel Cummings secured a weapons contract with Nicaragua, the chief military commander of which was General Anatasio Somoza, the same Anatasio Somoza who would later become famous as the dictator of the country, until the Nicaraguan people had enough, overthrowing him in 1979. Anatasio Somoza tested the AR-10 rifles himself. While firing the rifles, the bolt lug over the ejector broke, nearly slicing the general’s hand. This ended all deals with Nicaragua.
Meanwhile, Artillerie Inrichtingen kept finding factory defects and problems with the new AR-10 rifle, which meant that the rifle received very distribution. Most of the AR-10 rifles made their way to Sudan and Portugual.
In 1959, ArmaLite finally catches a break, striking a deal with Colt. The company manages to sell both the AR-10 and the new AR-15 designs to Colt Firearms.
At this point, Robert Fremont, who had been one of the major players on the design team for both weapons, heads over to Colt to help oversee production.
At this time, the AR-7 gets launched full scale, marketed as a civilian survival rifle, although it also saw some military use.
The first AR-15 weapons were sold by Colt to the Federation of Malaya (modern day Malaysia).
At this time, Eugene Stoner leaves the ArmaLite company, taking a position as a consultant at Colt. Around the same time, the United States Airforce tests the AR-15, commissioning 8,500 for Air Force use.
With the AR-15 in the hands of the Air Force, a standard model of the rifle is born. They dub it the M-16, the most famous service weapon of the United States Military.
General Curtis LeMay saw a demonstration of the AR-15 in 1960. Impressed by the prowess of this new firearm, when General LeMay became the Air Force Chief of Staff in the Summer of 1961, he placed 80,000 AR-15’s on order for the U.S. Air Force.
In 1961, ten AR-15’s were sent to South Vietnam, as the United States continued to penetrate into the jungles of Indochina.
Despite a great deal of success, US Army wasn’t enthusiastic about adopting the new rifle.
Although test after test was ordered, even demanding the attention of President John F. Kennedy itself, two things were clear. First, the United States was outmatched and outgunned by the AK-47 in South Vietnam. Second, the U.S. Army was too rigid and opposed to change to replace the clearly inferior M-14.
With the AR-15 in the hands of the Air Force, a standard model of the rifle is born. They dub it the M-16, the most famous service weapon of the United States Military.
In 1961, ten AR-15’s were sent to South Vietnam, as the United States continued to penetrate into the jungles of Indochina.
Despite a great deal of success, US Army wasn’t enthusiastic about adopting the new rifle.
Although test after test was ordered, even demanding the attention of President John F. Kennedy itself, two things were clear. First, the United States was outmatched and outgunned by the AK-47 in South Vietnam. Second, the U.S. Army was too rigid and opposed to change to replace the clearly inferior M-14.
Did the legislation ultimately fail? In light of the growing number of public mass shootings in recent years, the debate between gun enthusiasts and anti-gun activists continues.
The AR-15 continued to be the service weapon of the United States in the years to come, until finally being phased out for the M4 Carbine, a weapon based off the M-16, but designed to be shorter and lighter. Nevertheless, the M-16 is still used throughout the world by militaries all over.
Even though it’s starting to be phased out in the United States, it still remains a popular choice for militaries across the world.
The M16 remains in use in more than fifteen NATO countries and over eighty countries across the globe. Manufacturing continues in the United States, Canada, and China. It has also become the focus of civilian gun enthusiasts who have developed new markets for accessories like AR red dot scopes and other optics systems.
The M-16 might have been replaced in the United States Military, but it’s far from an antique. Production continues, as the M-15 models continue to see use in militaries around the world. Likewise, the AR-15 continues to be a favorite of hunters and gun hobbyists, making it one of the most popular modern sporting rifle choices on the market today.
The Giant Killer book & page honors these incredible war heroes making sure their stories of valor and sacrifice are never forgotten. God Bless our Vets!🇺🇸Story by Sam Bocett

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