What Does the 15 Mean in AR 15?

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Our Associate portal can be found here

AR is Armalite Rifles and Armalite is the Manufacturer. People tend to assume AR stands for Assault Rifle which is very inaccurate as you will see. The 15 represents the model of the firearm and most guns conform to this naming pattern. Unless it is the Russian AK47 which is named after the inventor and the year it was first produced. 

It is the same for other rifles and an example is the M16 military-grade rifle which means Model 16. Therefore the AR 15 is the 15th weapon design to be produced by the Armalite Rifle Company. Here is a list of some of the AR models. 

  • AR1 para-sniper rifle. Bolt action
  • AR3 7.62x51mm select-fire prototype uses a test for design tweaks.
  • AR5 .22 hornet survival bolt action
  • AR7 .22 long rifle survival rifle semi auto.
  • AR9 12 gauge shotgun forerunner of AR17
  • AR10 7.62x51mm select-fire
  • AR11 .222 Remington prototype of a smaller AR3 design
  • AR12 7.62x51mm battle rifle prototype
  • AR13 Hypervelocity multi barrel for aircraft
  • AR14 308 Winchester semi auto sporting rifle
  • AR15 .223/5.56x45mm select-fire forerunner of M-16
  • AR16 7.62x51mm select-fire
  • AR17 semi auto shotgun
  • AR18 7.62x51mm select-fire
  • AR180 civilian model of AR18

What Makes AR 15 a Popular Rifle

The military first adopted the use of the AR 15 rifles during the Vietnam War. It was an alternative to the M-14 rifle, which people considered heavy, difficult to control, and outmatched by the AK-47. In 1959, Colt, a gun manufacturer purchased the rights to the rifle but then suffered a difficulty selling it to the U.S. military. It however received much attention as a civilian rifle.

The AR-15 and its many variants are popular among gun owners, because of the advantages it gives to a shooter. It is a lethal firearm in anyone’s hands. In recent years, it has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Despite several cases of mass shooters using AR 15, we must acknowledge that any firearm in the wrong and untrained hands is lethal.  

What are the Defining Characteristics of the AR 15 Rifle

The reason the military selected the M-16 over the AR 15 is that it is a fully automatic firearm while the AR 15 is a semi-automatic rifle. It means that the M16 fires several rounds with each pull of the trigger. Compared to the civilian counterpart, for the AR-15, the shooter needs to pull the trigger to fire each shot.

The AR 15 design is for speedy reloading in combat situations, and the ability to fire dozens of rounds in seconds. 

The stock, or the butt of the rifle, has a large internal spring that will absorb the shock of each shot. The low recoil makes the AR 15 easier to shoot and therefore more accurate than previous military weapons. It is also easy to customize it as it is compatible with most accessories like scopes, lasers, and mounts among others. 

Reasons You Should Own the AR 15 Rifle

  • The AR 15 rifle fires 30 rounds on tap. It is more than other options.
  • It has better ergonomics than most handguns and shotguns.
  • Better compatibility making it easy to attach lights, red dot optics, etc.
  • Has low recoiling rounds that make accurate follow up shots.

While the AR 15 rifle is not appropriate for everyone, there is a reason most people choose their preferred weapons. Almost always people choose AR-pattern rifles. It has proven to be proven effective and has undergone huge amounts of improvements and upgrades. A modern, high-quality AR-pattern rifle is hard to beat and is among the best choices for home defense.

AR-style rifles are modular so you can build a carbine such as the SBR, or pistol version that is readily maneuverable in close quarters. It gives you better capability and a higher capacity for follow-up shots than with most shotguns or handguns. The AR 15 is a rifle that is more accurate and controllable than handguns.

The AR-15 is an inexpensive 22 caliber semi-auto. People often freak out because of their looks. It has a military look but it is just a gun. It is also considerably affordable. Any number of .22 caliber rifles can be hard, but the AR 15 just looks more menacing to some, regardless of its specifications.

Reasons the AR15 is Suitable for Home Defense

First, let me dismiss some of the commonly cited misconceptions. 

Contrary to popular opinion, the 5.56 does not over-penetrate. Over penetration is of less concern when you are using the AR 15 than when using a pistol. The reason is that with an AR-15 rifle, you are most likely to hit your target. When using a handgun or shotgun of the same ammo this is not assured.

A caliber that is suitable for self-defense always runs a risk of over penetration. Look at it this way, if a round cannot penetrate drywall how can you trust it to put down an assailant? But for the .223 ammo, it poses less over penetration risk than other common home defense calibers. It is the reason the FBI recommends it as the caliber of choice of most urban operations.

The AR 15 is not too long and a typical 16-inch AR 15 is no longer than a pistol held traditionally. In a home defense scenario, spaces are not as tight as a tunnel in Vietnam.

Nobody can take the AR 15 from your hands. A rifle has three solid points of contact with your body compared to the handgun that has only one. Anybody who attempts to grab the barrel is on the deadliest side of the AR 15.

Problems of Using the AR 15 for Home Defense

It is loud

 A rifle is a bit louder than a handgun, and when used indoors it can cause hearing damage. I think the efficiency overrides the loudness and there are ways to suppress the sound as well.

Safety and Storage

It is harder to find quick access but secure storage for the AR 15. On the contrary, there are many high-quality, compact, quick access handgun safes on the market. There are limited secure storages that are appropriate for the AR 15 rifle. 

Other reasons include:

  • If you have not yet received training and is unaware of safe use of a firearm
  • If one has not attained the legal age to own a rifle 
  • Have you been recently or ever been adjudicated as mentally incompetent?
  • If you are a felon and your legal status prohibits you from owning firearms
  • If the intent of purchasing the firearm is to commit murder or suicide
  • Are you a current user of illegal drugs? (including marijuana as it is still illegal on the federal level)
  • If the reason to purchase a firearm is to give it to someone else. A straw purchase is illegal and can get you five years in federal prison.
  • If you do not have sufficient funds to purchase one.  
  • If the AR-15 is illegal to own in your State.

If you do not meet any of these criteria, you should probably abandon the idea of owning the AR 15 for whatever reasons whether it is hunting or shooting at the range. 

What are the Laws Surrounding the use of AR 15 Rifles

Gun advocates and the firearm community maintain that semiautomatic weapons such as the AR-15 should not be classified as assault rifles. It is true, they are not fully automatic and because the guns have other recreational uses, such as target shooting and hunting.

As for the gun-control advocates, they have an opposing view and feel the distinction is arbitrary and that the AR 15 is dangerous. The main reason is that the AR 15 rifles are designed to kill a large number of people quickly. 

The point out is that the AR-15 has a high muzzle velocity, and when combined with the small .223 round, it may produce a violent ricochet through an animal body if it hits a bone. See other calibers that are suitable for the AR15 other than the .223 here.

Who Can Purchase an AR-15

It is legal to own semi-automatic weapons in some states in the US but they are heavily regulated. Some states prohibit ownership of the AR-15.

It depends on the state you live in. In states like Florida, you can purchase and own an AR-15 by anyone older than 18 and with a clean record. There is no waiting period. Handgun purchases will typically require only a three-day waiting period for anyone older than 21. 

Most Popular Rifle Accessories

[amalinkspro_table id=”2682″ aff-id=”” new-window=”on” nofollow=”on” addtocart=”off” /]


AR-15-style semi automatic weapons are civilian versions of military weapons. A popular trend shows that it is a favorite for the firearm community. It has many uses and the most common is that the AR-15 rifles are for hunting, target practice, and shooting competitions.

The AR-15-style weapons are semiautomatic and should remain legal. The shooter must pull the trigger to fire each shot from a magazine that often holds 30 rounds. In contrast, a shooter with a fully automatic assault rifle should only hold the trigger and the weapon will keep firing until the ammunition supply is exhausted.

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.

Scroll to Top