Guts, Harleys, initiative, fast cars, the CycoCycle, fireworks and possibly the Les Paul guitar are on a short list of the things many in our government and certain bluebloods do not wish us to have. It is a wonder we are able to produce fighter pilots, military intelligence officers and skyscrapers!
Rifles with a military look are among the things they do not want us to have. The anti-gunners have been trying to cultivate a bad impression of the gun owner since at least 1930, and that is the same mentality in a different dress that we fought against during the American Revolution and other wars.
Some wish we had not won those wars, I am afraid. Evidently, not all the Tories escaped to the Bahamas. In our own country, freedom reigns so, conversely, we tolerate elements within it who do not want to allow us our freedom as we now enjoy it. Those elements are sometimes called socialists, although that is possibly too mild a tag.
To avoid the horrible situations that have occurred—such as British rule in Ireland—and still occur worldwide, we need to be aware and awake and always vote and promote our beliefs.
That brings me to the AR-15 rifle, and gun owners who sometimes shoot themselves in the feet, figuratively speaking, of course.
A generation ago, more than a few gun writers took the old line that the AR-15 was flimsy and unreliable. A certain group within the Army had almost managed to ruin the AR-15, despite the protests of the brilliant Air Force General Curtis E. LeMay, a gun person and man of vision.
Not many men flew over and bombed both Berlin and Tokyo. The wrong gunpowder and wrong rifling twist did not make the AR a target gun; it made it a maintenance nightmare.
Well, shame on them.
A few have been retired because of those comments. The finest tradition in America is for those not in uniform to own and use military rifles for hunting. Sure, General Custer preferred sporting rifles to the Springfield Trapdoor—who could argue?
Once we had the Krag, then the Springfield; the military gave us the greatest hunting and all-round shooting rifles in the world. However, there was a distinction at the time. Citizens sometimes preferred the lever-action rifle. The Arizona Rangers liked the hard-hitting .30-40, then adopted the lever-action rifle out of familiarity.
If you were in an infantry squad back in the day, what was important was that massed fire could drop an Indian war pony at 200 yards. Your buddy had your back. A scout traveling alone, attacked by superior numbers of aboriginals or bandits at close range, preferred the fast-handling Winchester rifle.
The civilian needed more firepower than the Army did, not less. Civil disturbance and the lone man led to such choices.
You cannot own a single AR-15 once you get the bug.
Soldiers have backup. You and I are on our own. Later, as self-loaders became popular, plenty of cops and civilians adopted the Remington Model 8 and Winchester .351 SLR. Those were not powerhouses and not particularly accurate, but they were reliable rifles that saved a lot of skins.
And while Hollywood loved the Thompson submachine gun, there were probably a hundred Winchester .351s in cop hands compared to the Thompson. The .351 hit harder, too, but that is another story. A new Ford was about $600, a Winchester .351 perhaps $30 and the Thompson about $300. You and I may not have owned a Thompson. The Winchester gave the owner plenty of pride of ownership. So do the AR-15 and PTR 91, if you know how to look at them with an appreciation of design principles.
There are those who prefer blue steel and walnut and will have nothing else. That is fine; my Colt Series 70 has that appeal, and so does the AR. Sometimes folks groan and say, “There are millions of AR-15s.” Sure there are—because you cannot own just one.
We absorbed millions of M1 Garand rifles and even more M1 carbines. We have room for the AR-15, and the fact is it outshoots many traditional choices. I once compared the AR-15 to a pair of .223 bolt guns. A heavy barrel .223 would place three Winchester 69-grain JSP bullets into a 0.5 inch at 100 yards. The shorter bolt gun would do 2.0 MOA on a good day, although it was a youth model. The Daniel Defense rifle will put the same load into 1 inch on demand.
I did not need that heavy-barrel bolt gun, although it was twice as accurate by some measures. It was a process of elimination, a walk up the logic ladder. The AR performs more chores, including personal defense, which is pretty important to me. The AR-15 solves problems with a minimum of shots, and nothing handles like it. The shotgun is a great weapon as far as it goes, but it kicks a lot. It is not as versatile as the rifle and puts a lot of buckshot out in a crowded house. The AR-15, for the sake of argument, is a better choice for public safety than a shotgun.
Yes, I like the AR-15, whether I need it or not. In my climate, I really do not need my 4×4 truck for snow travel, and I like to get muddy sometimes. I really do not need the Corvette, but the technology is fascinating. Going up the Saluda grade in fifth gear at 63 mph with the tachometer reading 1,200 RPM and the digital readout indicating we are getting 23.9 MPG is exciting.
By the same token, getting three .223 bullets into a 0.5 inch circle is exciting. Those things add to my life, although none of it is cheap. The Corvette demands Mobil 1 oil and the highest-octane gasoline. With almost 200,000 miles on the odometer, that treatment has paid off for longevity.
By the same token, the Daniel Defense rifle has perhaps 10,000 rounds on it with no sign of slowing down and no degradation in accuracy or function. It is a handy rifle, a lot of fun at the range, and I am never far from the pretty girl.
I used to gauge expenses or investments by an ounce of gold. Now, it is a tank of gas. Do not laugh. A trip to the beach or a day at the range may cost about as much as the other. There are a dozen feature articles about how to survive and find ammunition during times of shortage. Others are about how to use the box method and avoid expending ammunition when properly sighting in a rifle. It works, and you save ammunition.
How far would I get asking you to slow down on firing the AR-15? Not far!
When you buy an AR-15 rifle, it is good for many parts of the industry. You need more than one magazine (10 is a realistic minimum). I have quite a few for the AR and PTR 91.
When it comes to the self-loading rifle, I like the convenience, although pride of ownership is another factor. In addition, it is not just the AR they do not want us to have, so the Governor and I have the same rifle.
With all due respect to Winchester, there is nothing better made than the PTR 91 in the sporting line. In some areas, the technology is amazing. There is a roller cam set up in the rifle. Another reason they are popular is that Americans are good riflemen. We pay attention to precision rifles. We like to help interested youngsters. A significant number of the kids at church have had their first experience with one of my AR-15 rifles.
Now the AR does not do everything, and the Corvette does not push a snowplow. But the AR-15 does many things, and introducing youngsters to centerfire shooting is one thing it does like no other rifle.
Firing at targets of different sizes at unknown and known distances is the true test of a rifle and, as a marksman, I have taught them. Many of those youngsters, later in life, traveled to some exciting places with names such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Korea—another good reason for owning the AR-15.
They respected—not feared—the rifle when they first went to the training range and progressed quickly. One was the best shot in his class at Paris Island. That was worth the expense of the rifle and a few rounds of Winchester USA ball ammo.
Never underestimate the AR-15. Those rifles will outshoot many of the best bolt-action rifles. In a world filled with expensive cars, trucks, games and other gear that depreciates quickly, the AR-15 will not become worthless overnight. I think a $1,000 rifle and an Army locker filled with magazines and ammunition is an excellent investment in the economy, maybe more than the Corvette or that reel-to-reel sound system; you get the point.
Having had the privilege to train quite a few riflemen, my goals are self-discipline and mastering the rifle. That is a good reason for owning something I do not need.
Before you cave to the anti-gunners, remember, every loss diminishes us. If they outlaw the AR-15, then the gun and ammunition industry, and many good makers of fun accessories, will take a very hard hit. What guns do you own that you do not need? Tell us in the comment section.
Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooters Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.
Trackback from your site.