AR-15 Sporter isn't military weapon: It's civilian rifle

Posted: Mar. 9, 2018 11:10 am

To The Herald-Whig:

James Holford's March 4 letter to The Herald-Whig, "AR-15 a military weapon: Ban it for civilian use," is a baseless argument. First, the AR-15 Sporter is not a military weapon, but a civilian rifle. Furthermore, it is virtually illegal for a civilian to own the M16 (Stoner AR-15 variant) because it is a military weapon designed with an option to fire automatically.

Holford bases his argument on rifling/barrel twist rates. "The lands and grooves in the barrel of the AR-15 impart a much slower spiral on the round. This allows the round to fly straight and true to the target. As soon as it strikes the target, it begins to tumble, causing maximum damage."

Eugene Stoner's earliest AR-15 variants assessed by Holford and the Marines had a slow 1:14 twist rate. These barrels are very uncommon today, with the 1:12 barrel found on Colt's early AR-15 models typically the slowest twist rate found available. AR-15 Sporter rifles come in three barrel twist rates: 1:9, 1:8 and 1:7.

The 1:8 twist barrel is the most versatile of the bunch, the perfect option for 16-inch carbine AR-15 (the most common configuration on the market). This barrel can "comfortably stabilize" up to an 80-grain projectile while still providing enough flexibility for shooters to use lighter ammo for matches like 3-Gun.

The M4 (AR-15 variant) the U.S. military uses today has a 1:7 barrel. Ergo, there is no "maximum damage" effect albeit the M855 5.56mm (.223) round will still tumble but with minimum damage.

Sgt. 1st Class Dillard Johnson wrote in his book "Carnivore" he captured an Iraqi officer with four M4 slugs in him. So much for maximum damage. Holford has no argument to ban AR-15 Sporter rifles. And Johnson backs me up.

He wrote: "Another common complaint about the M16 is the caliber. It is a small-caliber (.22) round, albeit a high-velocity one. Lots of people have referred to the rifle as a ‘poodle shooter' because the bullet is so small, and that was before the Army started issuing the SS109 green-tipped armor-piercing ammunition that doesn't expand and rarely tumbles. How well did SS109 ammo work for me? It worked just fine -- it kills bad guys dead. However, I don't belong to the same school of thought as the ‘magic bullet' people, always looking for the rifle or cartridge that will give them the mythic ‘one-shot stop.' I shot people until they were dead. How many rounds that took depended on what I was using. The most effective weapon I ever used was a B-1B bomber."


Daniel Bastean