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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

AR-15 (for Armalite model 15, often mistaken for Automatic Rifle or Assault Rifle) is the common name for the widely-owned semi-automatic rifle which soon afterwards became the fully automatic M16 and M4 Carbine assault rifles, which are currently in use by the United States military. AR-15 was the original name for what became the militarily designated M16, the assault rifle first used by the U.S. in the Vietnam War. The name AR-15 is now used almost exclusively to refer to the semi-automatic (commercially available) civilian version(s) of the M16 and M4 assault rifles.

All standard AR-15 rifles accept detachable magazines of widely varying capacities, and have a pistol grip that protrudes beneath the stock. AR-15 rifles are highly configurable and customizable, and are commonly fitted with several accessories, including bipods, bayonet lugs, folding or collapsing butt stocks, threaded barrels for the attachment of a flash suppressor or other accessories, and a Picatinny rail in place of the fore grip for the attachment of vertical grips, flashlights, laser sights, telescopic sights, and other accessories.

The AR-15 consists of separate upper and lower receiver assemblies, which are attached with two through-pins and can be quickly interchanged with no tools. Under U.S. firearms laws, only the lower receiver is considered a weapon and subject to purchasing restrictions. The upper receiver assembly is simply considered a part, and may be freely purchased and mail-ordered in most locations. This is a very attractive feature for enthusiasts, who often purchase a number of upper receivers (often in different calibers) and interchange them with the same lower receiver. However, one must be thoroughly familiar with firearms laws before doing this as it is possible to make an illegal configuration. For example, an 11" barrel with only a pistol grip is a legal handgun in most locations. Adding a shoulder stock, however, makes it a "short-barreld rifle" under NFA rules. It is a felony to assemble or possess such a weapon without prior Federal approval.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "AR-15" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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