Bernie Sanders made sense about guns, once.
Bernie Sanders made sense about guns, once.
A. Origins. The AR-15 Rifle was designed by Eugene Stoner and his team of engineers in the 1960's for entry into U.S. military trials for a new battle rifle to replace the M-14. Mr. Stoner, working at the time for ArmaLite (a division of the Fairchild Aircraft & Engine Corporation), engineered a revolutionary new rifle utilizing non-traditional rifle materials such as aluminum alloys and plastics. It was initially designed around the .222 Remington cartridge. It was later, at the request of the Army, re-chambered in .223 Remington (5.56x45mm) which propelled a 55-grain bullet out of the AR-15 at roughly 3000 ft.-plus per second. With the .223-calibered AR-15 rifle, for the same weight, a soldier could carry more ammunition than the older .308 Win (7.62x51mm) ammunition for the heavier M-14 rifle.
After lengthy evaluation and revisions, the AR-15 rifle was only adopted by the U.S. Air Force for use by its base security personnel. For a variety of political reasons, the Army did not select the rifle. However, as America became involved in the Vietnam War, Secretary of Defense James McNamara cut through the Army Ordnance Department's red tape and selected the AR-15 for issuance to troops. The Army gave it the military designation of "M16".
In the Vietnam War, the rifle initially earned a reputation as being prone to jamming and stoppages. This was, in hindsight, due to three primary factors: 1) insufficient training of the troops on weapons maintenance, 2) poor-to-non-existent distribution of cleaning kits to those same troops in the field, and 3) improperly formulated .223 Remington ammunition which caused heavy fouling (a primary cause of stoppages). Eventually, the situation was recognized and remedied as troops were properly trained to keep their weapons clean and well-lubricated, issued proper cleaning kits, and issued .223 Remington ammunition that was properly formulated to burn cleanly.
B. The AR-15 Legacy. Today, the AR-15 rifle has become really one the most highly engineered and refined battle rifles of modern armies. It has since earned a reputation for reliability and accuracy. It has been in service in all branches of U.S. Armed Forces now for nearly 30 years. In the process, it has been upgraded from the "M16", to the "M16-A1", all the way through the latest "M16-A4". The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) and the U.S. Military Special Operations Command (SOCOM) also currently issues to its troops, the M-4 rifle, which is essentially an M-16 with a 14.5" barrel, collapsible stock, detachable carrying handle, and other special accessories such as laser/infrared sighting systems, reflex-type optics, grenade launchers, flashlight attachments, etc. For these Special Forces, the M-4 has also been in certain instances reconfigured to fire "full auto", as opposed to "tri-burst".
The current generation of military M-16's and civilian AR-15 models differ from the originals in many ways, reflecting the improvements and refinements of the rifle over the last 30 years. Current Military Specifications (Mil-Spec) for the rifle's barrel is for a heavy barrel (HBAR), replacing the original lightweight barrel which was prone to overheating and bending. Nearly all current civilian AR-15's now are built with Mil-Spec HBAR's. The original triangular-shaped, non-perforated handguards have been replaced by rounded, perforated, and heat-shielded handguards for rapid heat dissipation of the barrel. Other changes include; a tri-burst sear on the M-16 replacing the fully automatic sear of the original, adding a brass deflector to keep spent cartridges out of left-handed shooters faces, adjustable front sight and fully adjustable rear sight for windage and elevation, detachable carrying handles, etc.
Today's military contract for the M-16 variants has been awarded to Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerres (FN) of Belgium (though the actual rifles are built here in the United States). Colt's Manufacturing's Co., which lost the lucrative M-16 contract, has retained the smaller contract for the M-4 rifle mentioned above. It has been reported that prior to Colt's obtaining the M-4 contract, Bushmaster Firearms Co. had manufactured a limited run of M-4's. (Note: According to recent firearms industry news, as of December 1997, Colt is currently in the process of acquiring FN.)
C. What's in a Name? The name, "AR-15", in general is used by the shooting public in reference to all current rifles (regardless of manufacturer) made to look, function, and swap-parts with the AR-15. Non-military contract AR-15's are also commonly referred to as "clones". The actual and original "AR-15", manufactured by ArmaLite and then Colt (after buying the manufacturing rights from ArmaLite) has been discontinued for political reasons. Each manufacturer of AR-15-patterned rifles now has its own moniker for the rifle these days; like Colt's "Match Target", Bushmaster's "XM15E2", DPMS's "Panther", and the hilarious Olympic Arms' "PCR"'for "Politically Correct Rifle".
The AR-15 series of rifles are the ideal firearms for the purpose at hand. Having been around for several decades and having seen considerable combat and widespread use, the AR-15 has evolved into a reliable, robust, and accurate weapon. It has managed to function under all types of conditions or been improved to do so. The following describe a few of the areas where the AR-15 excels.
The AR-15 is perhaps the most flexible firearm ever developed; in seconds, a carbine can be switched over to a long-range rifle by swapping upper receivers. With options available for almost every part of the rifle, a rifle can be custom tailored to an individuals specific needs and desires.
Today's AR-15's are capable of providing MOA accuracy or better. The AR-15 now dominates service rifle matches.
Current AR-15 rifles are extremely reliable and suffer none of the problems experienced at its inception. Through advanced engineering and manufacturing the AR-15 has evolved into a dependable firearm as capable as any other.
As one of the most widely issued military arms in history, the AR-15 series has proven itself though nearly 4 decades of military service. It has been used by most of the armies in the free world, and is current issue for a large number of these.
The AR-15 quickly disassembles into its major parts without the need for tools. At this point it can be easily cleaned and inspected, and parts replaced.
The long-term success of the AR-15 means that parts are readily available worldwide and relatively easy to come by. These parts are interchangeable with other rifles. There is no other rifle in existence with more available parts than the AR-15.
In December of 1959, Colt acquired manufacturing and marketing rights to the AR-15. In 1962 Colt was able to get the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) to test 1,000 weapons in its Vietnam-oriented Project Agile. An enthusiastic report led to more studies from the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army, and despite strong Army opposition, Defense Secretary McNamara ordered 85,000 M16's for Vietnam, and 19,000 for the Air Force.
However, early reports showed that the M16 was not living up to expectations. These reports, presented to McNamara by the Ordnance Department, showed the M16 having reliability as well as accuracy problems. These reports in turn praised the Ordnance Department's own M14. While the M14 performed well, it was too heavy for the hot jungles of Southeast Asia, and its ammunition also would not allow more than 50-100 rounds to be carried on patrols, severely limiting its capabilities as an automatic weapon.
Further evaluation of the M14 and M16 was done by an independent agency. It concluded that M14 was not as bad as had been suggested by some, that the AR-15 itself was not as good as its proponents had represented it to be. However, they did note that the AR-15 had greater capability for improvement, and that its small size and weight made it a handier weapon in Vietnam.
The M16 was issued w/o proper training and inadequate cleaning supplies. Combined with the humid jungle of Southeast Asia, this caused problems and the rifle gained a bad reputation. Because tolerances were tighter than in previous military arms, the M16 had to be kept extremely clean. War correspondents filed reports where the M16 was jamming, and many were shown on the evening news. It was reported that our soldiers were being killed by a faulty rifle.
This led to Congressional investigations which turned up two related problems. First, the cleaning issue. As training was provided, supplies issued, and some redesign, M16 performed more reliably. The second issue dealt with the use of ball propellants instead of IMR propellants. Remington had developed the 5.56mm round using one type of powder, but the specification was changed during military contract production to allow an alternate. This powder caused more fouling and increased the rate of fire.
The replacement of the powder, combined with a new buffer to slow rate of fire, a chrome plated chamber and barrel to improve rust resistance, a closed prong flash-hider, forward bolt assist, new buttstock w/storage for cleaning kit, and introduction of a 30-shot magazine was adopted as the M16A1 and performed well for the duration of the 60's and 70's. This rifle was also produced by GM and Harington & Richardson during Vietnam era as well as other countries including the Philippines.
In the late 1970's, the Army re-examined it's rifle situation. Existing M16s were well worn, and the current programs that were looking into a replacement for the M16 were not far enough along. So in 1978, the M16 underwent a Product Improvement Program.
The results were an increased barrel diameter, and one whose rifling was changed from 1:12 to 1:7 to accommodate the new round, developed by Belgium's Fabrique Nationale, the SS109. This round extended the range of the rifle, and propelled a 62gr bullet with a steel core at over 3000 fps. The rear sight was modified to allow more accurate adjustments of windage by hand, as well as for elevation calibrated out to 800 meters. It incorporated a case deflector to prevent brass from hitting left-handed firers, and new round handguards to replace the older triangular design. Also, full-auto capability was replaced with a three-shot burst. This allowed for more controlled firing, as well as greater accuracy as all three rounds are downrange before the effects of recoil can impact their path. This new rifle was adopted as the M16A2.
In 1994, the U.S. Army officially adopted its second carbine of the 20th century. Though carbine versions of the M16 had been used all along (as the XM177 as well as the CAR-15), demand for these was limited to select groups. With the increase in the use of Special Operations forces during and after the Cold War, the demand for a shorter, lightweight weapon was increased.
The M4 was developed by Colt's Manufacturing Company, and is intended to be used by Special Operations forces as well as other select members of the military. It is designed to replace a variety of carbines and SMGs in the Army's arsenal, as well as to repeat the accuracy and reliability of the M16A2. It uses a 14.5" barrel, and a four-position telescoping stock while maintaining the ability to mount an M203 grenade launcher. In the collapsed position, it measures under 30 inches, and weights just over 5 1/2 pounds, with an effective range of 600 meters. The M4 is available with 3-shot bursts (M4) as well as full-auto capabilities (M4A1).
Both versions of the M4 are equipped with a Picatinny-Weaver Rail system to replace the carry handle. This allows for a variety of sighting systems to be mounted atop the receiver, from the standard handle with A2 sights to night-vision devices, scopes, and lasers.
Current military inventory includes:
In 1948, the U.S. Army established the Operations Research Office (ORO) to analytically study a number of problems associated with ground weapons in the nuclear era.
One of ORO's early projects was ALCLAD, a search for better infantry body armor. During this search, the ORO discovered just how little was known about how individuals were wounded in combat. ORO looked into several questions regarding the manner in which soldiers were struck by rifle projectiles and shell fragments, including:
Answers to these questions were obtained by evaluating over three million casualty reports for World Wars I and II, as well as data from the Korean conflict.
ORO's investigations revealed that in the overall picture, aimed fire did not seem to have any more important role in creating casualties than randomly fired shots. Marksmanship was not as important as volume. Fire was seldom effectively used beyond 300 meters due to terrain (WWII, Korea) although sharpshooters in WWI frequently saw 1200m shots, and it discovered that most kills occur at 100 meters or less.
From this data, ORO concluded that what the Army needed was a low recoil weapon firing a number of small projectiles so in 1957 the United States Army Continental Army Command (CONARC) sought commercial assistance in the development of a 5.56mm military rifle.
CONARC sponsored the development of a .22 military rifle and asked Winchester and Armalite to come up with designs for a high-velocity, full and semi auto fire, 20 shot magazine, 6lbs loaded, able to penetrate both sides of a standard Army helmet at 500 meters rifle. The competing rifles were:
The Armalite Division of the Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation, Costa Mesa, CA was established in 1954 for the sole purpose of developing military firearms using the latest in plastics and non-ferrous materials. It's team of Eugene M. Stoner - key designer, Robert Fremont - prototype manufacturing supervisor, and L. James Sullivan - who oversaw drafting work had been they key developers of the AR-15.
Prior to the AR-15, Armalite had developed:
AR-1 - 7.62 NATO parasniper rifle, extremely lightweight, using Mauser-type bolt action; only prototypes built in 1954
AR-3 - 7.62 NATO self-loader using aluminum receiver, fiberglass stock, and multiple lug locking system similar to the one later incorporated into the AR-10
AR-5 - .22 Hornet survival rifle developed for US Air Force and officially designated the MA-1
AR-7 - .22 long rifle self-loader, receiver and barrel store in plastic stock. (1959-1960)
AR-9 - 12 gauge self-loading shotgun with aluminum barrel and receiver (5lbs) 1955
AR-10 - 7.62 NATO auto-loader, aluminum receivers, led to AR-15 design
The AR-15, designed around slightly enlarged version of the .222 case firing a 55gr projectile at 3300fps, and weighing in at 6.7lbs, took some of the best features from earlier designs:
Project SALVO, a number of studies conducted by the Operations Research Office at Johns Hopkins University and supported by several contractors chose the AR-15 as the best small caliber weapon and it was adopted as the M16. The AR-15 had met all of the CONARC requirements, and AR-15 production could be highly automated, making it inexpensive to manufacture. It's 5.56mm cartridge fired a small 55gr bullet at nearly 3000fps, and it was accurate and effective to 350 yards. That small cartridge combined with the buffer system and inline stock made it far more controllable in automatic fire than the M14.
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From CBS News Website.
As America reels from yet another mass shooting, inevitable questions resurface about guns laws and the nation's pervasive firearm culture. Here is a look at per capita weapons data, based on the ATF's National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record, and 2013 data from the U.S. Census.
While the ATF's National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record is the only accessible list of its kind, it is not all-inclusive. NFA firearms only include the categories regulated by The National Firearms Act of 1934: machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, suppressors, destructive devices like bombs and grenades, concealable devices with the ability to discharge a shot through the energy of an explosive, and any firearm with a bore over half an inch that has not been determined to have a legitimate sporting use.
Warriors and Weapons with Tomi Lahren
Most gun guys know the history of the .223 Remington and that it—like so many of our popular cartridges—started life in the military. Because the military switched to metric designations sometime in the 1950s, this little .22-cal. cartridge was later called the 5.56x45 mm NATO (commonly referred to as “5.56x45 mm”).
The 5.56x45 mm surfaced in 1957 as an experimental cartridge in the AR-15 rifle. The concept was to develop a smaller, lighter military cartridge that would still be traveling faster than the speed of sound at 500 yards, and this was accomplished by using a 55-grain boattail bullet. The AR-15 evolved into the select-fire M16 rifle that was adopted by the military in 1964.
Even though it would ultimately kill off its own .222 Rem. and .222 Rem. Mag. cartridges, Remington was quick to act, and very shortly after the military adopted the 5.56x 45 mm cartridge the firm brought out the civilian version, called the .223 Remington. Confusion followed.
The common misconception is that the two are the same; that 5.56x45 mm and .223 Rem. are the same dance partner, but with a different dress. This can lead to a dangerous situation. The outside case dimensions are the same, but there are enough other differences that the two are not completely interchangeable.
One big difference is pressure. It becomes a bit confusing, as the pressure for the two is not measured in the same way. The .223 Rem. is measured with either Copper Units of Pressure (c.u.p.) or—more recently—with a mid-case transducer in pounds-per-square-inch (p.s.i.). The military 5.56x45 mm cartridge is measured with a case mouth transducer. The different measuring methods prevent a direct comparison, as a case mouth transducer gives lower numbers on identical ammunition when compared to those from a midcase transducer. That’s because the pressure is measured later in the event, after the pressure has already peaked. According to Jeff Hoffman, the owner of Black Hills Ammunition, military ammunition can be expected to hit 60,000 p.s.i., if measured on a Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI) mid-case system. Black Hills loads both 5.56x45 mm and .223 Rem., and Hoffman was a tremendous help in researching this article. He also provided these pressure specifications for the cartridges. The .223 Rem. mid-case transducer maximum average pressure is 55,000 p.s.i., while a 5.56x45 mm measured with a case mouth transducer has a maximum average pressure of 58,700 p.s.i.
While the 5.56x45 mm chamber is slightly larger than the .223 Rem. chamber in just about every dimension, the primary difference is throat length, which can have a dramatic effect on pressure. The 5.56x45 mm has a longer throat in the chamber than the .223 Rem. The throat is also commonly called the leade, which is defined as a portion of the barrel directly in front of the chamber where the rifling has been conically removed to allow room for the seated bullet. Leade in a .223 Rem. chamber is usually 0.085 inches, while in a 5.56x45 mm chamber the leade is typically 0.162 inches, or almost twice as much as in the .223 Rem. chamber. Also, the throat angle is different between the two chambers, and that can affect pressure rise and peak pressure.
SAAMI regulates cartridge overall length, but not bullet ogive design. The shape of the ogive can significantly affect how far the bullet jumps before contacting the rifling. Some 5.56 mm bullets have an ogive suitable for 5.56 chambers with the longer throat, but if they were chambered in a .223 Rem., it could result in very little, if any, “jump” to the rifling. This can increase pressures. Remember, the 5.56x45 mm already starts out at a higher pressure. If the higher-pressure 5.56x45 mm cartridge is then loaded into a .223 Rem. firearm with a short throat, the combination of the two factors can raise chamber pressures.
If you are a handloader, you must also consider that the 5.56x45 mm cartridge case may have a thicker sidewall and a thicker head, which were designed to withstand the stresses generated by the higher chamber pressures. This reduces the powder capacity of the case. If the 5.56x45 mm case is reloaded with powder charges that have proven safe in .223 Rem. cases, this reduced internal capacity can result in much higher chamber pressures.
Bottom line? It is safe to fire .223 Rem. cartridges in any safe gun chambered for 5.56x45 mm. But, it is not recommended and it is not safe to fire 5.56x45 mm cartridges in a firearm chambered for .223 Rem.
In fact, the 5.56x45 mm military cartridge fired in a .223 Rem. chamber is considered by SAAMI to be an unsafe ammunition combination and is listed in the “Unsafe Arms and Ammunition Combinations” section of the SAAMI Technical Correspondent’s Handbook. It states: “In firearms chambered for .223 Rem.—do not use 5.56x45 mm Military cartridges.”
There is no guarantee, however, that .223 Rem. ammunition will work in 5.56x45 mm rifles. Semi-automatic rifles chambered for 5.56x45 mm may not function with .223 Rem. ammunition because they are designed to cycle reliably with the higher pressure and heavier bullets of the 5.56x45 mm—particularly with short barrels. While problems are rare, they do not indicate that the ammunition or rifle are defective. Like some marriages, they are simply incompatible.
When shooting .223 Rem. cartridges in a firearm chambered for 5.56x45 mm, it’s likely that there will be a degradation in accuracy and muzzle velocity due to the more generous chamber dimensions. That’s not to say that a firearm chambered in 5.56x45 mm won’t be accurate with .223 Rem. loads, only that, on average, the .223 Rem. chambered firearms will be more accurate with .223 Rem. ammunition than rifles chambered for 5.56x45 mm firing .223 Rem.
Another issue is the twist rate of the rifling. The SAAMI specification for .223 Rem. is a 1:12-inch twist, and most non-AR-15-type rifles will use that rate. But, this is a cartridge that crosses a wide spectrum of uses, and as a result there is often a wide deviation from the 1:12-inch twist rate, particularly in the very popular AR-15-style guns. There are bullets available for the .223 Rem. that range in weight at least from 35 grains to 90 grains. With that wide of a spectrum, one twist rate is not going to be enough.
Firearms chambered for 5.56x45 mm often have a rifling twist rate of 1:7 inches to stabilize the long, sleek, heavy bullets used in long-range shooting. Any rifle with a 1:7-inch twist rate will work best with bullets heavier than 60 grains.
On the other hand, a 1:12-inch twist rate (most bolt-action .223 rifles) will stabilize most bullets up to 60 grains, however some longer 60-grain bullets will not shoot well with that twist rate. Many firearms use a 1:9-inch twist, which is a very good compromise that works well with most bullets up to 70 or 75 grains. The great thing is that if you have a good barrel and quality bullets, the 1:9-inch works well with even the lightest bullets.
What does all this mean? If you have an AR-15 type firearm with a 5.56x45 mm chamber you can shoot either .223 Rem. or 5.56x45 mm safely. If your twist rate is 1:7 inches you should use bullets weighing 60 grains or heavier. If you have any rifle with a 1:12-inch twist you should shoot bullets of 60 grains or less for best accuracy. If you have a .223 Rem. rifle of any type, it is not recommended that you use 5.56x45 mm ammunition.