When a crowd broke down the gate next to his home, a St. Louis man, who had been having dinner with his wife, emerged from his house bearing a rifle, and it made the national headlines. After scrutiny of the many news reports, it appeared to be an AR-15, likely a Colt made in the 1990s judging by its furniture. A product of that era, it was in the A2 configuration, with a 20" barrel, glacier handguards, a fixed carry handle and no bayonet lug.
At a time when firearm sales are at a record high, month after month, there are guns being sold that some manufacturing executives thought would still be in the warehouse when they retired. It is a level of sustained demand no one anticipated. And guns sold years ago are emerging from closets and gun safes—one maker had a distributor request for .45 GAP magazines for one of its pistols that hadn’t been manufactured in more than a decade, and even then, never in large numbers. And there are more requests coming into our offices about AR-style rifles, both new and old, than ever before.
In addition to being the top-selling rifle today, there are estimated to be at least 13 million modern sporting rifles in civilian hands in the United States. And they run the gamut from the latest version of Springfield Armory’s Saint to early original SP1s sold by Colt in the 1960s. More and more Americans have realized that, when it comes to defense of oneself, a carbine might be the best solution. That means guns with seemingly “outmoded” features, such as fixed carry handles and iron sights, are being re-evaluated for defensive use.
I received a call from an NRA member who recently bought his first AR—the only one he could find—and he needed to know how to zero it and what options he had for mounting an optic. The gun was a Colt AR-15 Military Classic series rifle, a dead ringer for the guns made by Colt in the late 1960s.
It is a new-made, semi-automatic-only rendition of one of the first ARs, and it had a premium price tag—as well it should—because Colt and Curtis DeBord made sure it was perfect in every way. Although those guns, in my experience, shoot very well and have a handling dynamic lost on heavier, later guns, the only easy way to mount an optic is on top of the carry handle. For new AR owners looking to zero their iron sights, we have a helpful video at americanrifleman.org/arzero.
For new AR owners looking for information and training, NRA has the right programs already established. The best place to start is with the NRA Basic Rifle Shooting Course, which you can find at nrainstructors.org. If you are interested in going beyond the basic class, there is another NRA program for you.
“The AR family of rifles and pistols continues to rise in popularity with millions of gun owners. The AR in all variations is in extremely common use, with shooters employing them for both recreational and defensive purposes. It truly has become an excellent manifestation of the Second Amendment. Recognizing this, the NRA has developed America’s Rifle Challenge (ARC), a venue for shooters to test and grow their shooting skill in the proving ground of competition.”
This is a relevant and useful program developed by the NRA Competitive Shooting Division with two different levels of matches, and “ARC is both for those looking to learn measured shooting standards and knowledge for the first time, and for those seeking to push their performance to the limits.” You can learn more about it at arc.nra.org.