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Top 10 Myths About AR-15s

AR-15 gun on tree stump outside

One of the most popular firearms currently sold in the United States, AR-15s are also one of the most misunderstood. Misinformation has run rampant on various communication outlets, especially on the internet and in the news. Regardless of the origin of the myths about guns or the reasons behind the spread of misinformation, learning the truth behind AR-15s is important for responsible gun owners and other everyday citizens. We’ve laid out the top AR-15 myths to help sort fact from fiction with this iconic rifle.

Myth 1: “AR” Stands for “Assault Rifle”

Perhaps one of the most commonly perpetuated AR-15 myths is that the “AR” in AR-15 stands for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle”. While the rifle is associated with these designations, neither of these are true. The “AR” actually stands for Armalite Rifle, the original manufacturer of the firearm. The number 15 refers to it being the 15th version of the original Armalite Rifle design.

Myth 2: The AR-15 is a Machine Gun

Another AR-15 myth is that the AR-15 is a machine gun or an assault rifle. A common misconception, AR-15s are not fully automatic, and they are not machine guns. In fact, civilian ownership of machine guns has been highly regulated since 1934. Federal law has prohibited the possession of newly manufactured machine guns since 1986.

Myth 3: They’re Fully Automatic Guns

AR-15s are not fully automatic; they’re semi-automatic. Unlike fully automatic firearms that fire multiple rounds when fired, the AR-15 can only fire one round when the trigger is pulled.

Myth 4: The AR-15 is a Weapon of War

This AR-15 myth isn’t quite true due to a technicality. No, the AR-15 itself isn’t designed for military usage. However, it’s the semi-automatic civilian counterpart of the M16, which is a military standard-issue burst-fire/automatic rifle. The M4 is the carbine-length version of the M16 (and, by extension, the AR-15), which means it has a 14.5-inch barrel compared to the M16’s 16-inch barrel. So while the official AR-15 isn’t a weapon of war, it is virtually identical to the M16 and M4 that are based on its design.

Myth 5: AR-15s Aren’t Good for Hunting

 AR-15 on pile of green leaves

A common AR-15 myth that many believe that the rifle isn’t suitable for hunting. Thanks to their incredible customizability, AR-15s actually make for great hunting rifles. AR-15 owners can choose upper parts compatible with calibers typically used for hunting. The most popular hunting calibers are 5.56 Nato/.223, 6.5 Grendel, .450 Bushmaster, .300 Blackout, and .350 Legend. This versatility proves the myth about the gun to be false.

Myth 6: AR-15s Are Extremely Powerful Rifles

The AR-15 myth that they’re extremely powerful rifles is a routine misunderstanding. The AR-15 isn’t like what may be perpetuated in the movies or misinformation found online. AR-15s of any caliber are no more powerful than other rifles of the same caliber, debunking this common myth about the gun.

Myth 7: AR-15s Aren’t Good For Self-Defense

Another AR-15 myth is that many do not believe that the rifle is ideal for self-defense. In actuality, the versatility and lightweight design of AR-15s makes them an ideal choice for home self-defense. There are even AR-15 pistol kits that make the firearm a true leader among close-quarters weapons.

Myth 8: It is Easy to Legally Get an AR-15 Online

One of the most common myths about guns is that they are easily obtainable by anyone. The purchase of guns is regulated in the U.S., meaning one can’t buy an AR-15 online like they would a pair of shoes. Federal law requires background checks to be conducted on citizens that want to purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer. Firearms purchased online need to be transferred to the purchaser by a licensed FFL dealer, who will still conduct a background check.

Myth 9: It’s Quick and Easy for Anyone to Build an AR-15

assembled AR-15 in case

An AR-15 myth that is spread is that they’re quick and easy for any person to build. While they do have a modular design and are relatively easier than other firearms to replace the parts of, AR-15s are not toy building blocks. Build kits still require you to pay close attention to what you’re doing so you don’t make mistakes in the build process.

Myth 10: The .223 and 5.56mm are Interchangeable

This is a bit of a tricky one, as it’s not 100% false. .223 Remington is smaller than the 5.56 NATO. Since the 5.56 NATO is larger, that means it can’t be shot with an AR-15 chambered for the .223 — they aren’t interchangeable. However, a rifle chambered with 5.56 NATO can shoot both .233 Remington and 5.56 NATO rounds of ammo. There is also a new chamber called the .223 Wylde that is designed to fire both more effectively.


There are countless AR-15 myths that are spread by word-of-mouth, the internet, and other forms of communication. To prevent the spread of misinformation, it’s vital that we’re made aware of the myths about guns. Separating fact from fiction is paramount to addressing the misconceptions that many have about AR-15s in the U.S. and abroad.

8 thoughts on “Top 10 Myths About AR-15s

  1. I recommend Durkins build kits 100%. I have bought 8-9 from them and not have a single issue with any of them. Great company.

  2. .223 is NOT a caliber ! it is a chamber designe.

    1. Um, “.223” IS a caliber [bullet diameter] (as in .223 Remington). It is “.223 Wylde” that is the chamber design and not a caliber. (The devil is in the details.)

  3. Great article! I would love to know, on the very first picture, who makes that magazine in that rifle? Never seen anything like it. Thanks!

  4. Really liked the 10 myths debunked.
    Someone needs to send this to obiden and every other DC dweller on a weekly basis.

    The only correction would be that Wydle is a chamber, not a cartridge in Myth 10.

    Thankz for the great info.

    1. No, not weekly but daily and make it mandatory reading daily!!!

  5. .223 is 3 THOUSANDS of an inch larger in diameter than a 22LR round. To put that in perspective – a human hair is 1 thousandth of an inch. As to being a good self defense weapon – just ask the Koreans on the rooftop defending their businesses during the LA riots… 2 & 3 are essentially the same – leaving room for a new #10 – It is the most widely used rifle in the United States!

  6. GREAT company & GREAT PRODUCTS & GREAT PRICES….now about that guy Tim Durkin
    Bill in RENO….HI Tim

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