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I think its a no brainer to want to have a firearm that is just like the assault rifle used by the military, save for lacking a feature. The military service gives a lot of validation for the rifle. I think the modularity and ease of use that others describe is partly why it has been a success in military use, except for during the period of its rushed initial fielding.
 

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Some reasons for the AR15 and it's many variants is simply due to the fact that they work as they should, quite accurate, easily assembled by most shooters to any configuration desired, economical to shoot versus other calibers, low recoil, and the world is full of aftermarket items to fit the rifle. It is estimated that there are more than 150,000,000 of such rifles in the hands of the general population. There may well be, but I know of no other firearm that popular.
 

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When you get down to it, most all of the comments in this thread are true and accurately reflect why the AR is such a popular rifle. I only have two, but I still prefer my M14's. Then again, I'm one of the older guys. I remember when qualifying with the M1 Carbine, the instructor demonstrated the new M16 that the AF was switching to. That was back in '65. They wouldn't let us shoot them... In '77 I started shooting the M14 with the National Guard and the rest is history.
 

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Some reasons for the AR15 and it's many variants is simply due to the fact that they work as they should, quite accurate, easily assembled by most shooters to any configuration desired, economical to shoot versus other calibers, low recoil, and the world is full of aftermarket items to fit the rifle. It is estimated that there are more than 150,000,000 of such rifles in the hands of the general population. There may well be, but I know of no other firearm that popular.
I think you've got an extra 0 in there.
 

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People who are intimidated by the size/weight/recoil of an M14/M1A can enjoy shooting an AR15 and do pretty well with it.

They can be very accurate.

It's cheaper to buy ammo or reload ammo for an AR15 vs. and M1A.

They are easier to build if you want to build your own.

They have a much larger after market/customizing parts availability than the M1A.

What they do lack is a "soul." I have have more AR15's than I do M1A/M1 Garands, but I don't have an attachment to any of the aluminum/steel/plastic guns that I have for my M1A and M1 Garand.
 
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Discussion Starter · #28 ·
1. They are cheap.

Why are they cheap?

They are cheap because there are many places that make the parts, so assemblers, both "in the business" or "not in the business", can source from the least expensive place, and even those like Colt, BCM, etc are forced to price competitively. Nobody can make a stripped bolts and price it too far above the $50 range (unless they have some "special sauce" added).

Why can so many places make parts that are interchangeable?

Because somebody accidentally or intentionally released the data package.

2. They are easy.

If an engineer only has a hammer, all of his designs will be nailed together.

Armalite did not have access to the plethora of machine tools Springfield did, so when it made the first prototypes, they were made on a few vertical milling machines, jig borers, lathes and a small broaching machine. As the design became more refined, it was still made on these basic machines. So, if you have access to a mill, lathe, and a hand broach, you can make most of the parts too.

3. The are accurate.

They can be. The nature of the design makes it silly easy to make more accurate.
 

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1. Through military service, M16 was the very first firearms experience of any kind for many, many people over the last 50 or so years. The "modern sporting rifle" is completely normal to them. How many people under 30 today would have any idea how to use a rotary phone, or a typewriter?

2. As Stalin famously said, "Quantity has a quality all its own." When something works well at an affordable price point and gains a certain level of popularity, the popularity will snowball as aftermarket goodies arrive and more popularity ensues, which breeds more mods and accessories, and so on and so on. We've seen this in the firearms world with the 1911 and the 10/22, just to name two, and in the car world with the Ford flathead V8, the small-block Chevy, the VW Beetle, and the 5.0 Mustang, to name a few. I'm sure there are examples in other realms, too.

When I went looking for my first "assault rifle" around 1985 or '86, the AR was at the bottom of my list. I'd done six years with them as a USAF small arms instructor, so they had no exotic allure for me; I thought they had no "soul." The Galil and HK93 and Valmet 76 were at the top of my list, with the FNC as a dark horse candidate. But the Galil was heavy and didn't seem to have the accuracy I was looking for, and I couldn't find a Valmet to even handle or examine (or an FNC). The HK93 fit me perfectly and actually seemed to whisper "Buy me!" in my ear, and then I asked about extra magazines and was quoted an absolutely eye-watering price. Didn't want any of THAT. The AR goodies boom hadn't quite taken off yet, but I knew you could hardly walk through a gun show without having to kick cheap surplus M16 mags out of your way. I ended up with a nice one-owner Colt SP-1 (with the original Colt 3X scope, no less!) at a reasonable (not cheap) price, and I'm glad I did. And I still have it.
To me, the AR-15 is the Harley Davidson of firearm's. You can "make it yours", just like a Harley. And making this possible, the "Evo powerplant" made it "easy for the copycats to jump on the band wagon"!
 

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When the Colt SP1 hit the market in 1964 there was nothing else on the market like it. It was light, powerful, had a hi cap mag, flash hider and a pistol grip. It was the rifle you saw GIs carrying in combat on the nightly news. Millions of GIs shot it in basic training and carried it in combat. The Colt SP1 was to firearms what the Chevy 265 ci V8 was to automobiles in 1955. Both were game changers and the rest is history.
 

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Good post-

As a collector, shooter, armorer and instructor-

I have always appreciated the "concept" of this design in its infancy. Eugene Stoner/Armalite revolutionized this concept
and as we all know, the rest is history.

Personally, it took awhile for me to "jump on the AR wagon". As an avid enthusiast of the M1 Garand action and all rifles
in similar function, (M1 Carbine, M14, M1A, Mini 14, etc.) the ease of maintenance, mail order parts support and overall popularity
bit me hard.

Having the blessed capability to be involved locally with LEO's and GS owners allows me to purchase trade ins and many other
availabilities. (See my post in the Bargain section BTW)

Great replies here folks! Have a safe/great day.:)
 

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I have recently come to appreciate the 'abomination' for the strengths stated by others. It will never be my favorite, but there is a whole lot of utility, flexibility, and ease of assembly/customization. As a friend told me once, compared to getting an M14 together from scratch, "They go together like Legos."
 

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and the world is full of aftermarket items to fit the rifle.
This is a huge reason, How many of us like Magpul? The slim line stuff made a noticeable difference on mine and it feels more like it was made for me. I still like the more mainstream Magpul MOE furniture also. There dozens of end plates to fit to your way to sling it as well as on the buttstocks and there are dozens upon dozens of those, I just got a minimalist buttstock and really like it too. Tons of different kinds of charging handles to fit you. My favorite aftermarket part is a nice 3 Lb self contained trigger. Plus better performing parts are coming out all the time.
Also aftermarket optics support, there are tons of red dot and others either made for or easily adaptable to the AR. I was sold on the AR by my friend's having an ACOG on it and it was a nice system together so I got one.
m14brian
 
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