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Mosby: AR-15 gun innovations spreading

Posted: February 1, 2014 - 2:38pm

The changes in the broad category of AR-15 rifles are hard to keep up with these days.

We won’t attempt to cover all the terminology in this short space, but our focus is on the civilian spinoff of the military’s M-16 rifle. Colt first produced the AR-15 for civilian use, and now there are a myriad of manufacturers with the quality and reliability also widely spread, according to firearms experts.

The weapon we are discussing is defined by Wikipedia as “a lightweight, 5.56 mm/.223-caliber, magazine-fed, air cooled rifle with a rotating-lock bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation or long/short stroke piston operation. It has been produced in many different versions, including numerous semi-automatic and selective fire variants. It is manufactured with extensive use of aluminum alloys and synthetic materials.”

That definition says .223 caliber. Today we also have it made in .308 caliber and in 12 gauge shotgun editions. If you have ever shot a .223-caliber rifle, AR-15 style or other types, imagine banging away with a bunch of 12-gauge loads in it.

The AR-15s are fun to shoot, users tell us over and over. They are lightweight and short barreled compare to most hunting rifles, Ammunition is lower in cost than the bigger cartridges. More and more deer are being killed with .223s in Arkansas in spite of some criticisms of its light bullet weight.

A grandson who owns an AR-15 took a deer in the past modern gun season with one shot from his .223 at 75 yards range.

Where the current concern and debate arises with these firearms is their clones and varied configurations. A whole industry has evolved around kits — do-it-yourself construction of an AR-15-type rifle. You buy a bunch of parts, assuming your bank account is healthy, and assemble them. You buy an upper, a lower, a trigger group, a barrel, a forearm, a stock, a rail, a sight, and you put it all together.

OK, you do it. But would someone really want to buy a rifle from an individual who has assembled it? Where is the warranty?

A gun-knowledgeable person a few days ago pointed out some of the potential pitfalls in the broad AR-15 scene. Higher end guns and assemblies have machines steel or aluminum components to go with the plastic stocks and forearms. Cheaper ones have stamped metal parts. There is a significant difference.

Narrowing our focus a bit, a number of Arkansas deer hunters are finding favor with the .308 version of the AR-14.

The .308 is an excellent cartridge for deer. Its origin is also military, developed a half century or so back to reduce weight from the venerable .30-06 rifle and ammunition. The .308’s ballistics are not far behind the well-liked .30-06 and .270 cartridges.

In an AR-15-style rifle, it is easy to see that this .308 model is catching on with Arkansas deer seekers.

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