Never hit a man with your fist if someone else will hit him with his car.

AR-15 Facts Without Politics

Bayard & Holmes

~ Piper Bayard & Jay Holmes

Big Media, Big Politics, and Big Business all profit financially and politically when they keep the public worked up in fear and/or outrage. They are not our friends. Let’s take some of their power back with a few facts. The current focus for outrage and fear is the AR-15 and “assault rifles.”




Throughout “American” media, a war is raging over the availability of the AR-15.* Some condemn it as an unnecessary “assault rifle” that is killing our children. There seems to be widespread belief that the AR-15 is an automatic weapon used by the US military. On the other side, many praise it as a fine-tooled machine that is actually far less dangerous than most rifles.


*   The AR-15 is a “semiautomatic” rifle,” meaning one trigger pull = one shot.

 *   It fires .223 Remington or 5.56mm NATO ammunition. These calibers are less powerful than most calibers of ammunition commonly used in hunting rifles.

 According to the US National Institute of Justice, the 5.56 NATO ammo is one of the types of ammunition that can penetrate NIJ Tier II body armor (soft armor), but it does not penetrate NIJ Tier III body armor. (See  NIJ Body Armor Protection Levels)

*   Cartridges are loaded into a magazine, not a “clip,” and the magazine is loaded into the rifle.

*   The standard AR-15 magazine holds thirty rounds.

*   The US military does NOT use the AR-15.

*   The AR-15 is considered a starter rifle by many shooters, and kids and adults at rifle clubs often use them for target shooting competitions because they are lightweight, low caliber, and easy to control.


CA-legal AR-15 w/Stag receiver and fixed 10-round magazine Image by TheAlphaWolf, public domain.

CA-legal AR-15 w/Stag receiver
and fixed 10-round magazine
Image by TheAlphaWolf, public domain.


*   The letters “AR” do NOT stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.” The letters “AR” stand for “ArmaLite rifle” after the company that developed the rifle in the 1950s.

*   The AR-15 has no automatic weapon capabilities.

*   Automatic weapons, which are weapons that fire more than one round per trigger pull, can only be acquired legally in the United States in two ways since the ban of 1986. First, a person can get a special tax stamp that allows the purchase of one made before the 1986 ban, or second, they can obtain a firearms manufacturing license and get a conversion kit to modify a semiautomatic rifle for automatic firing. Both processes are expensive and tedious.

*   The AR-15 is frequently referred to by politicians and the media as an “assault rifle.”

*   The origin of the term “assault rifle” is widely attributed to Adolf Hitler. Hitler used the German word “Sturmgewehr” for propaganda purposes to refer to the Stg44, which was a select fire military rifle used by the German Wehrmacht. “Select fire” means it can be switched from firing one bullet for each trigger pull to firing more than one bullet for each trigger pull. The translation of sturmgewehr is “storm rifle,” or “assault rifle.”

*   The AR-15 is not a select fire rifle.

*   The term “assault rifle” has no universal definition and is interpreted differently by each state.

*   There is no special attribute to the AR-15 that distinguishes it as an “assault rifle.” 


Bayard & Holmes Opinion

This is an election year, and the AR-15 is at the center of a propaganda war with much political posturing. We must all keep in mind that just because we might agree with the goal of propaganda, whatever that goal may be, it is still propaganda. In this war of agendas, we are the prize.

We encourage everyone to thoroughly research their topics beyond the click bait and meme fodder of Western media and social media and to remember that conclusions reached in ignorance, whatever those conclusions, only compound the problems.

All the best to all of you as you navigate the Misinformation Highway.

Please Note: This is NOT a gun control post, but rather a post designed to combat propaganda and ignorance. No matter what your opinion is about gun control, please DO NOT share it in the comments.

*We put the word “American” in quotes when referring to media because some of the largest stockholders in “American” media are foreigners with their own political alliances and agendas to push–something to keep in mind when evaluating information.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Piper Bayard is an author and a recovering attorney. Jay Holmes is a forty-year veteran of the military and intelligence communities. Together, Bayard & Holmes write espionage fiction and nonfiction. Their upcoming nonfiction release, SPYCRAFT: Essentials for Writers, covers everything from what the main intelligence agencies do and where they operate to honey pots, sleeper agents, enhanced interrogations, and more. Now on pre-sale at Amazon!

16 thoughts on “ AR-15 Facts Without Politics

  1. on ,
    Michelle Morrison said:

    Unfortunately there is nothing new about government or political propaganda. Thank you for providing information to help when making decisions.

  2. Thanks for this post, Piper. Since my wife buys into the ‘assault weapon’ propaganda, I’m forwarding this link to her. I hope she’ll read it.

  3. on ,
    Ed Gomeau said:

    Nice to hear a voice of competency and reason for a change. All the Way! Keep up the good work.

  4. Pingback: Talking About Guns - Lynette M Burrows

    • Thank you for sharing on FB. I don’t see any links, but since these are just AR-15 facts and not “perspective” or gun control arguments, I’m not sure what comments of ours would be relevant.

      • I don’t know what happened to the link – here it is again: – the blogger is Don of all Trades.
        I’m not inviting you to engage in a gun control argument … I’d be interested in your opinions, because I’ve noticed that most of what you write is fact-based, but as you state that’s a separate issue. Don’s post shares his opinions, but he goes into a fair amount of technical detail about the AR-15, which made it sound more scary than your post does. I don’t know enough to be able to judge whether he’s saying something different from you, or just approaching the data from a different perspective. I asked his opinion on your post in the comments, and he confirmed that what you’d written was essentially accurate… 🙂

  5. on ,
    Jim Finley said:

    Great post, thanks!
    I’m a retired Marine and was a firearms instructor in both the Marine Corps and the NM Corrections Department; I’m also (second career) a retired psychotherapist and public health program manager with four clinical reference books I authored or co-authored in print. My wife and I are gun collectors and target shooters, and she also worked in Corrections and public health. We’re both sold on evidence-based problem solving for public health issues, and from where we stand violence including gun violence is a public health issue.
    As a vet who cut my teeth on AR pattern rifles and shoots them now, I’d like to add some pertinent facts to the useful list you provided.
    A common criticism of AR-15s is that they’re useless for hunting. While the original caliber of .223/5.56mm is not a good hunting round, ARs are now made for rounds in sizes from .17 (a bullet with the diameter of a BB) to .50 BMG (a heavy machine gun cartridge.) That includes most popular hunting cartridges. My wife and I own ARs in .223, 6.5mm Grendel (a long-range target and hunting cartridge), .308 (one of the most popular hunting cartridges – that’s an AR-10, a larger AR rifle), .300 Blackout (a lower-powered hunting round with less recoil that allows a .308 bullet to be fired from an AR-15 sized rifle), and 7.62x39mm, the round usually associated with AK-47s.
    It’s also common to hear “If you need 30 rounds to hit a deer you’re a lousy hunter.” Well, hunting laws usually limit magazine size to 3 to 5 rounds, and hunters using ARs have to use smaller magazines meeting those limits. If a game warden catches a hunter with an AR with a 30-round magazine, that hunter is getting arrested.
    The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America in terms of sales. People like them for a number of reasons. Veterans like me are used to them and their ergonomics. As you noted, they’re good starter rifles because they come in low-recoil, less-noisy calibers like .22 Long Rifle. They’re accurate. In some calibers, ammo is cheap so shooters can enjoy their hobby without it being financially out of reach. They’re easy to maintain, and easy to customize with different grips, stocks, sights, barrel lengths (subject to legal restrictions), and other features; they’re easy to build from parts. The lower receiver, a necessary part, is serialized, requires the same background check as a complete gun, and is considered the firearm for legal purposes. The rest of the parts are more freely available. I’ve built some, and the satisfaction is similar to that of creating a customized car and driving it. Contrary to a lot of what we hear in the media, they aren’t easy to convert to fully automatic capability, i.e. a true assault rifle, because the lower receiver and trigger mechanisms are engineered to make that very difficult. Along with the technical difficulty, anyone caught with an illegally converted firearm faces ten years in federal prison.
    There are a lot of other kinds of semi-automatic rifles, some based on military designs and others not, so there’s nothing unique about the AR-15 other than its notoriety. Although the AR-15 and other semi-automatic firearms have a higher rate of fire than other non-automatic guns, a lever-action rifle is almost as fast (albeit with a smaller magazine), and a skilled shooter can achieve almost as fast a rate of fire with a bolt action rifle, some of which accept the same magazines as AR-pattern or AK-pattern rifles.
    Most gun crimes are committed with handguns anyway, not rifles, and those crimes wouldn’t be affected if all the ARs vanished tomorrow. Criminals tend to use cheap guns. ARs are more expensive than most handguns, starting at several hundred dollars and running into the several thousand dollar range, and handguns are easier to conceal.
    We tried banning AR-15s and other “assault rifles” from 1994-2004 and it had no significant effect on gun crime with these or any other kinds of guns. Violent crime including gun crime had been gradually declining for a couple of decades before the ban, it kept dropping at about the same rate during the years the ban was in effect, and it has continued to diminish at that same general rate in the couple of decades since the ban expired. That’s not opinion, it’s FBI crime data.
    Stats also indicate that the instant background check at purchase (and online sales require the same check, because the seller ships the gun to a licensed dealer who does the check when the buyer picks it up) does stop quite a few sales to people who can’t legally buy guns, i.e. felons, those adjudged mentally incompetent, and people with records of stalking or domestic violence. That system would stop more of those purchases if we made it automatic for people’s names and SSNs to be submitted to the NCIC database by law enforcement and the courts whenever a person was found to be in one of those categories or when mental health providers notified police of a Tarasoff warning situation in which a client had threatened to harm someone.
    There are other public health-type evidence-based solutions we can test and implement if they work. That would be a lot more productive than pro- and anti- people smugly calling each other names. I guess people need to decide whether it’s more important to them to feel superior and righteous or to actually solve problems.
    I hope this info is useful to writers and others. Mistakes in this area can really screw up our credibility as writers; I was reading a novel once and enjoying it until the author had a character insert a clip into a revolver in a caliber that doesn’t exist. My suspension of disbelief burst like an overheated tire – I put the book down, didn’t finish it, and have never read anything by that author since. Too bad, because until then that writer’s work had struck me as pretty good – but that mistake was just plain sloppy and lazy and they lost me on the spot.
    Thanks again for your post! This subject needs more light and less heat and smoke, and you’re providing some of that light here.
    Take care and Semper Fi,
    Jim Finley
    Captain, USMC, retired

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