Get the Facts About AR-15-style Rifles: Today’s Modern Sporting Rifles

NEWTOWN, Conn.—Whether you're a hunter, target shooter, own a firearm…

NEWTOWN, Conn.—Whether you’re a hunter, target shooter, own a firearm for self protection or don’t own a firearm at all, the National Shooting Sports Foundation asks you to be informed about AR-15-style rifles.

These rifles are often mislabeled “assault rifles” or “assault weapons.” They are neither.

Nevertheless, many hunters and shooters and the general public confuse AR-15-style rifles, which are civilian sporting rifles, with military rifles because they look similar to each other.

“Groups wanting to ban AR-15-style rifles have for years purposely spread misinformation about these firearms to aid their cause,” said Steve Sanetti, president of NSSF. “We must work harder to help protect the right of hunters and sports shooters to own the firearms of their choice, including semi-automatic rifles, pistols and shotguns, for lawful purposes. Gun owners everywhere can help correct the misinformed, whether it’s a friend, fellow hunter, elected official or the media. NSSF is assisting this nationwide campaign by issuing the Modern Sporting Rifle Fact Card as a resource.”

Use the fact card for your own reference, pass it on to individuals or groups, or post the information on blogs and Web and social media sites.

The pocket-size fact card is available to read or download as a pdf at

Here are the facts:

—AR-15-platform rifles are among the most popular firearms being sold. They are today’s modern sporting rifle.

—The AR in “AR-15” rifle stands for Armalite rifle, after the company that developed it in the 1950s. “AR” does NOT stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.”

—AR-15-style rifles are NOT “assault weapons” or “assault rifles.” An assault rifle is fully automatic — a machine gun. Automatic firearms have been severely restricted from civilian ownership since 1934.

—If someone calls an AR-15-style rifle an “assault weapon,” he or she either supports banning these firearms or does not understand their function and sporting use, or both. Please correct them. “Assault weapon” is a political term created by California anti-gun legislators to ban some semi-automatic rifles there in the 1980s.

—AR-15-style rifles look like military rifles, such as the M-16, but function like other semi-automatic civilian sporting firearms, firing only one round with each pull of the trigger.

—Versions of modern sporting rifles are legal to own in all 50 states, provided the purchaser passes the mandatory FBI background check required for all retail firearm purchasers.

—Since the 19th century, civilian sporting rifles have evolved from their military predecessors. The modern sporting rifle simply follows that tradition.

—These rifles’ accuracy, reliability, ruggedness and versatility serve target shooters and hunters well. They are true all-weather firearms.

—Chamberings include .22, .223 (5.56 x 45mm), 6.8 SPC, .308, .450 Bushmaster and about a dozen others. Upper receivers for pistol calibers such as 9 mm, .40, and .45 are available. There are even .410 shotgun versions.

—These rifles are used for many different types of hunting, from varmint to big game. And they’re used for target shooting in the national matches.

—AR-15-style rifles are no more powerful than other hunting rifles of the same caliber and in most cases are chambered in calibers less powerful than common big-game hunting cartridges like the 30-06 Springfield and .300 Win. Mag.

—The AR-15 platform is modular. Owners like being able to affix different “uppers” (the barrel and chamber) to the “lower” (the grip, stock).

—And, they are a lot of fun to shoot!

Load Comments
  • Bob

    This is great. They did put a link to a PDF file for a pocket that we can download and permission to send it to others, which I hope includes print publications. I took the liberty of copying the article to a Word document that I can send to newspapers, who tend to have an anti-gun bias, so that their readers can become educated. Naturally we would be “nice” when sending it so as not to be branded as troublemakers.

  • Alex E

    I like this article.
    I am shooting aficionado and looking to get an AR but afraid of what would the government do. The last thing is have my house full of banned firearms. Firearms is not the problem is the criminals who use them are.

  • Steve

    Well it’s about damn time someone made the comparison and laid it out there! This article needs to be print in post card format and left at every gas station, restaurant, shopping mall across the country.

    You have to agree by posting here – it’s kind of like preaching to the choir.

  • paul

    Hear, hear!