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A Lesson on the 'Assault' Rifle

March 5, 2018

Why is this important? Why do we need to know anything about “assault” rifles?
It’s important to be able to combat liberal hysteria. Knowledge is power, and if you’re the one in the room who knows this stuff, the rest will be forced to shut up and listen, or leave, lest they reveal their ignorance. There is nothing more important in discussions like these than to arm oneself with indisputable facts.
So what’s an "assault" rifle? Truth be told, there is no such thing. It’s an arbitrary term that has been adopted, yet essentially has no meaning, except for terms assigned to it for the express purpose of scaring people. After all – an “assault” rifle could only be used to “assault” the innocent - never for defense. See how this works?
Well, if this is the case, why is the AR-15 thusly named? What does the AR of AR-15 stand for? Most claim it of course stands for “Assault Rifle” or Automatic Rifle – right? Well NO, no is does not, because, as I stated, “assault” rifle is an imagined term, and “automatic” rifle should be self-explanatory. If not, I’ll get to it.
The AR-15 stands for ArmaLite Rifle, model 15. ArmaLite is the company that originated the AR-15 all the way back in the 1950s. But ArmaLite makes a variety of other rifles like the AR-10, AR-30, 50, and the M-15. These are also black and scary, pistol grip rifles.
The sporting AR-15 is merely a scaled down, less powerful version of its military big brother, the M4, which is a slightly shorter and lighter variation of the M16A2. The M16 was made popular during the Vietnam War. However, don’t ask any Vietnam vets about the M16, especially the early ones. They were crap. Far too over engineered for the jungle.
Now, these weapons may all look the same, but they most certainly are not.
First, without getting too far into the weeds, let me clarify one thing. Modern military rifles are not necessarily automatic rifles, despite what we see in the movies. Full-auto, or fully-automatic mode, is when every bullet loaded into the weapon's magazine is fired by depressing and holding the trigger - the gun fires until out of ammo or until the trigger is released.
Firing on full-auto mode can be a waste of ammunition, and unless you’re only trying to hit the broad side of barn, is also a waste of time. The rifle will jump all over making it very difficult to concentrate fire accurately, without it being braced with a bi-pod, or such device, which isn’t going to happen.
Military rifles are select-fire rifles, normally consisting of three modes, although sometimes it may be four. The three may include safety mode, single shot, and automatic. In some cases the three may be: safety, single shot, and burst. The weapon itself will be imprinted: safe, semi (or fire), auto, or: safe, semi, burst. Four mode selectors will be: safe, semi (or fire), burst, auto.
Safe mode effectively locks out the weapon making it impossible to fire. Semi-auto or fire mode means one shot fired for each trigger pull. Burst mode is three shots fired for each pull of the trigger. It is more accurate than full auto and is adequate for suppression of the enemy. 
Special operators rarely use full automatic mode. As I said, it is generally impractical and is a monumental waste of ammunition (ammo), particularly if a team is remote located (in country or down range) and has only the ammo they can carry.
Sporting ARs have a simple on/off switch – safe and fire – that’s it. Neither burst nor auto is an option.
Regarding ammunition – the sporting AR and military M4 do not even necessarily use the same ammo. The M4, M16, and the newer HK416 utilize a military or mil-spec 5.56 mm diameter x 45mm long NATO cartridge, whereas the sporting AR15 can be chambered for either the 5.56 or the .223 cartridge (or actually other calibers). Although these rounds look identical, they are not, and it comes down to pressure, as well as a slight difference in size (5.56 slightly larger).
The more chamber pressure that is created when firing the cartridge, the bigger the boom, for want of a term. And in the case of firing a military-spec 5.56 x 45mm NATO cartridge in a .223 AR-15, that boom could prove disastrous. 
The .223s are loaded to lower pressures and velocities compared to the 5.56mm. Most sporting ARs cannot accommodate the pressures created by the military round. Because of this, the over-pressure of the 5.56 round could damage or destroy the .223 rifle and injure the operator. So caution must be observed in purchasing the correct ammunition for the gun in which it is intended to be used.

There you have it – some differences between a military “select fire” rifle and the sporting semi-automatic rifle. I hope this is helpful the next time you find yourself debating a mindless leftist about guns.

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Brent Smith, "The Common Constitutionalist," offers not just conservative commentary and analysis, but a blend of politics, history, arts, science, and humor. Whoever said conservatives aren’t funny? Yeah, I know…most people. Brent is a contributing writer for numerous online publications. When he is not burning the midnight oil writing his insightful commentaries, he is raising his two teenage sons to be patriots and Conservatives.
Visit Brent Smith's website at www.commonconstitutionalist.com