How Much Do You Know About the AR-15?



By: John Miller

5 Min Quiz

Image: Test Hero Credit

About This Quiz

America loves its guns. And these, days, Americans are head over heels for the AR-15, a semi-automatic rifle that’s become one of the best-selling firearms in recent decades. This incredibly sophisticated gun has a unique customizable design, a high degree of reliability and an aura unlike other weapons. Ready to take aim at this high-speed AR-15 quiz?

The AR-15 is more than just a typical gun. It has some unusual capabilities that make it very appealing to a wide range of shooters, from weekend warriors, to women and even youths. It is exceptionally popular on gun ranges and and shooting competitions.  Those retired from the military often add the AR-15 to their gun racks due to its similarity to a military weapon they probably carried frequently. Do you know what that famous rifle, used in combat since Vietnam, is called?

In popular culture, there’s no escaping the fact that the AR-15 has generated jaw-dropping controversy. Multiple gunmen have used AR-15s (or very similar firearms) in copycat mass shootings around America. At times, it’s been outright illegal for manufacturers to sell these guns. 

Lock and load for this full metal jacket quiz! Let’s find out how much you really know about the legendary AR-15 rifle!

The AR-15 is what sort of contraption?

The AR-15, both legendary and infamous, is a semi-automatic rifle. It’s easily one of the most popular weapons in the United States.


In 1959, ArmaLite sold the rights to the AR-15 to which famous company?

In 1959, facing major financial problems, ArmaLite sold the AR-15’s rights to Colt. Colt then began selling the rifle in a semi-automatic version in the mid-‘60s.


What does the "AR" in the name AR-15 stand for?

The "AR" portion of the gun’s name is from "ArmaLite," the weapon’s original manufacturer. These days, many companies produce guns based on ArmaLite’s specifications.


Colt marketed its semi-automatic version of the gun to which audience?

Colt’s M16 was already successful with the military. So it tweaked the AR-15 a bit and began targeting law enforcement agencies and the public ... and the gun became a hit.


For what purpose did ArmaLite design the first AR-15 rifles?

ArmaLite built the AR-15 expressly for military purposes. But there was just one problem — no one really wanted to buy it.


How were other gun manufacturers able to use Colt’s design in the 1970s?

In the 1970s, Colt's patent expired. That means that these days, all sorts of companies can manufacture weapons called the AR-15.


About how much does a basic version of the AR-15 cost?

The AR-15 is a high-performance weapon that’s actually pretty affordable. Basic versions can be had for less than $1,000. But many people spend thousands to upgrade and customize their guns.


About how many AR-15s are there in circulation?

The AR-15 is a fabulously popular gun. There are at least 8 million in use today. Some estimates are higher, at around 15 million.


True or false, is the AR-15 an automatic rifle?

The AR-15 is a semi-automatic weapon, meaning you have to pull the trigger after each shot. In a fully automatic rifle, you only have to pull the trigger once to unleash every round.


What’s the purpose of a "bump stock"?

Bump stocks vastly increase the firing rate of semi-automatic weapons, including the AR-15, by harnessing recoil. This makes it easier to crank off rounds much faster.


Why did ArmaLite design the AR-15 to use lightweight ammo?

ArmaLite had battlefields in mind during the design process. The idea was to make it easier for soldiers to carry more ammo.


A basic AR-15 can shoot about how many rounds before the shooter must reload?

Basic versions of the AR-15 can shoot about 30 rounds before running short of lead. That means you can blast a lot of holes before you have to reload.


True or false, are all AR-15-style guns based on the AR-15 design?

Since Colt’s patent expired in 1977, other gun makers have used AR-15 in their marketing materials. But many of those guns hardly resemble the original design.


Which U.S. president signed a 1994 that outlawed the AR-15 and similar assault-style rifles?

In 1994, Bill Clinton signed legislation outlawing assault-style rifles like the AR-15. The laws have shifted in the years since.


In what year did the Clinton-era weapons ban expire?

In 2004, the Clinton-era ban expired. Weapons manufacturers immediately jumped at a chance to profit again from the AR-15.


The AR-15’s rear sight also serves which purpose?

It’s one of the gun’s most recognizable traits. The rear sight also bends into a handy carrying handle, all the better to tote your AR-15 wherever you go.


What’s the effective firing range of the AR-15?

The AR-15 has enough firepower to accurately strike targets at a range of 600 yards. That’s only if you have a very steady aim, though.


How did Colt’s sales of the AR-15 fare during at the gun’s introduction?

No one really wanted the AR-15 first. One reason? That handy carrying handle on the top made it very hard to mount a scope.


Why does the AR-15 have a dubious reputation in the U.S.?

The AR-15 (or its derivatives) have been used in a number of high-profile mass shootings. Many legislators have called for the guns to be banned.


How old do you have to be to purchase an AR-15 in the U.S.?

Laws vary by state. But in most places you can buy an AR-15 when you’re 18 years old, with no waiting period.


What’s one of the AR-15’s unique characteristics?

Originally, the AR-15 was meant for battlefields, and ArmaLite made its design very modular. In short, it means you can quickly swap out certain parts for unique customization or repair.


ArmaLite purposely used lightweight ammo for the AR-15. How many rounds can a typical soldier carry?

The AR-15’s lightweight ammo is tremendous advantage in some situations. An infantryman can carry roughly 210 rounds.


The original ArmaLite AR-15 used what sort of cartridge?

The company’s original design called for either a 5.56mm or .223 Remington cartridge. Both proved to have plenty of stopping power ... but not enough for most military purposes.


In 1996, a gunman used an AR-15 in the Port Arthur massacre. Where did that happen?

In the ‘96 massacre in Australia, a mentally unstable man killed 35 people and hurt 23 others. Notably, Australian legislators passed laws restricting guns like the AR-15 in the wake of the shooting.


The AR-15 falls into which category?

Manufacturers understand that the AR-15’s aggressive looks make it seem like an assault rifle. They invented the phrase "modern sporting rifle" as a means of acknowleding that these are sporting rifles ... with an edgy aesthetic.


What’s one notable characteristic of the AR-15?

The AR-15 is noted for its low recoil. That makes it very comfortable to shoot, even for people who are sensitive to recoil.


True or false, do AR-15s make up the majority of firearms owned by Americans?

There are roughly 300 million guns in America. The 8 million AR-15s in circulation make up only a tiny percentage of guns in the country.


As originally designed, how powerful are AR-15 rifles?

Those little 5.56 mm rounds that ArmaLite meant for use in the AR-15? Compared to a modern big game rifle they don’t really pack all that much punch.


About how many gun makers currently sell AR-15 (or copycat variants)?

There’s no downplaying just how popular the AR-15 is with consumers. There are about 500 companies making these firearms.


Roughly how many AR-15s does the U.S. military have for war zone deployment?

The AR-15 was never adopted by the U.S. military. Because it doesn’t have full auto capability, it’s not desirable for close-quarters combat.


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