Over at Shooting Times, John Chapman has all this to say:

Modularity is both a blessing and a curse, and the Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR), also known as the AR-15, has it in spades. The plethora of rails, flashlights, lasers, optics, grips, pressure switches, flare launchers, vertical grips, muzzle brakes, flash hiders, hand stops and accessory mounts designed and produced for the AR-15 is simply mind-boggling—and has turned the MSR into a Lite Bright for bad ideas. The good news is the millions of dollars and man-hours spent in the pursuit of the MSR accessory market have produced some truly inspired designs, which have increased the platform’s effectiveness as a military, law enforcement, defensive and recreational tool.

He then goes on to outline all the accessorizing options, from the basic rifle:

…to a kitted-out version:

All this is well and good, and it’s a good article; but I have to tell you, something is nagging at me about it — and I think it happens right there in the first paragraph.

Look, I know we’re trying to defuse the Left’s obsession with the term “assault rifle”, but let’s be honest, ourselves: the AR-15 is not a “sporting” rifle outside perhaps the realm of 3-gun or smallbore competition. Sure, you can use it to hunt varmints (it’s mostly banned from deer hunting), and as recreation it’s super fun to pop away at the range (paper targets, metal poppers and so on). But once again, neither of these is the core purpose of the AR-15. When it comes to whacking critters, you can do a lot better with a heavy-barreled bolt-action rifle like this Cooper Arms beauty (in .223 Rem, even):

…and when it comes to semi-auto plinking, nothing beats a Ruger 10/22 or Marlin 60 — even with the low-low-low prices one currently finds .223 ammo selling for.

Most damning of all is that Chapman’s suggestions for accessorizing the AR-15 are geared pretty much towards one end only: self-defense / whacking goblins.

Now some of my Readers may suggest that goblin-whacking is a sport — I, for one, think it should be an Olympic event — but almost by definition it cannot be, simply because the occurrence isn’t predictable. You can’t say of a Saturday morning, “My ol’ buddy Cletus and I are going to sit inside his house tonight and whack a few goblins when they try to break in.” Not only is this most likely going to be a waste of time (except maybe on Chicago’s South Side, L.A.’s Compton and most of Baltimore), but some damn prosecutor is doubtless going to start flinging words like “entrapment” and “premeditation” all over the place (because these flunkeys have no sense of humor).

I don’t think that we should attempt to put the AR-15 round peg into a sporting-rifle square hole. In non-military/non-police (i.e. our) hands, the AR-15 is first and foremost a weapon of self-defense — and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t care about the gun-confiscators’ whining about “military” rifles, as though this is a disqualifier for civilian use (it isn’t). I don’t even care that these dickheads find the appearance of an AR-15 to be “frightening” or “threatening”; after all, my Constitutional freedoms are not dependent on how they make others feel.

I just think that we gun owners shouldn’t be ashamed of what the AR-15 is and what it represents. You can call it an assault rifle, or a military weapon or whatever scare term the hoplophobes come up with next. But calling the AR a sporting rifle is akin to calling a switchblade a Boy Scout knife.

Sure, a Scout could use this Omerta “Sons of Italy” cutie for whittling and cutting ropes (if the modern-day Scouts even allow such things anymore [5,000-word rant deleted] ) but that’s not what a switchblade is, really. We all know what it is, and that’s my point.

I’m heartily sick of pussyfooting around with our language and terminology, trying to soften the impact of words to protect the feelings of the timorous, or to disguise the harsh realities of life. Things are what they are: the AR-15 and the AK-47 are assault rifles; Ruger 10/22s and Marlin 60s are plinkers; Savage 110s and CZ 550s are hunting rifles, and that’s it. You can use all the above rifles interchangeably between self-defense, hunting or plinking, with varying degrees of success / cost, but that’s just a lovely side-benefit.

In similar vein, the Colt 1911 Government pistol can be used in IPSC or IDPA competitions; but its original purpose was to kill bad guys (which it did and continues to do very well), and I don’t want to have to justify owning my 1911 by saying it’s a “sporting” handgun — not when I’m carrying it loaded with massive jacketed hollowpoints, it ain’t.

Gah. All this whining by the Left about the scawwwy AR-15 “weapon of mass destruction” is having a bad effect on me.

I don’t own a poodleshooter AR-15 because I already have an AK-47, thank you. But as the wailing from gun-fearing wussies intensifies, I might very well end up owning one soon. Because fuck ’em.

And if I do, it will all be Chuck Schumer’s fault. (How’s that for an example of Lefty-style blame deflection?)


  1. One of the way the gun culture (and the right-side of the nation as a whole, including most especially the Stupid Party) has failed is we’ve allowed the Left to set the terms. We’ve accepted that semi-autos that aren’t “sporting purpose” weapons oughtn’t be imported. We’ve accepted that weapons below a certain size have no “sporting purpose” and therefore can be more heavily regulated than their larger brethren. We’ve accepted that we need to show a particular weapon being used in a sport for it to be one we may legitimately own.

    Horse droppings.

    As we’re fond of pointing out, the Second Amendment isn’t about duck hunting, John Kerry (spit) to the contrary.

    And now China, CHINA! has said the US needs to adopt Chinese-style gun control to protect human rights. Yeah, the nation that’s had some 90 million of its people killed by their own government is telling US we need to ban guns to protect human rights.

    Someday I’m moving to America and an AR-15 will be on my short-list, just because.

  2. I spent a good chunk of my 20’s and some of my 30’s carry an M16A2 everywhere I went night and day.

    Liked – once zeroed, I could hit a man sized target just about every time out to 500 yards.
    Hated – the direct-impingement system that had me scrubbing carbon off the bolt constantly.
    Wanted – a more appropriate caliber for combat. Something like .243 or one of the 6.5 calibers would have been perfect.

    I don’t own an AR because I have a .308. I’m tempted to buy one for target shooting because they are fun and now there are choices with a piston. But, for some reason, everyone has decided to saw off the barrel. I never felt that my M16 was too long and I don’t want a 16″ barrel.

  3. First off, as noted above, sporting or not makes no difference to the 2nd amendment. Actually, one could make the argument that sporting arms could be banned while self defense or militia arms are protected by the 2nd amendment.

    However, you are confusing an action with a caliber. An AR15 pattern rifle in 300 AAC/BLK or 6.8SPC would be fine for deer or most other mid sized game. Like this say: http://www.smallarmsreview.com/display.article.cfm?idarticles=2242

    Or how about one in 458 SOCOM for hogs?

    And of course the humble 223 is a great target shooter, which is certainly a sporting purpose. http://bulletin.accurateshooter.com/2017/02/zediker-examines-long-range-shooting-with-ar-platform-rifles/

    My main hunting rifle is a 75 year old Mauser, but I have no issue with those who like a semi-auto, including an AR. I have an AR too, but it is just a plinker for me.

    1. That was my whole point. Sure the AR can do all those things; it’s just not what it is. Almost every rifle comes in several chamberings, but the different calibers don’t define the rifle.

  4. Thanks for this, Kim. I cringe every time I see a gun writer use the Orwellian term “Modern Sporting Rifle” when referring to an AR-clone.

    If ever there was a term that sounds like it was concocted by the sleazy Public Relations firm of Dewey, Cheatham and Howe, “Modern Sporting Rifle” has to be it.

    And the reason we all know that this “MSR” term is BS is because I have never – EVER – heard shooters use the term amongst themselves. Customers don’t walk into gun stores and say “hey, I’d like to check out one of those Modern Sporting Rifles.” They say “where are the ARs?” or “I want to see that Bushmaster M4 over there.”

    We’re NEVER going to be as invested in this kind of public-relations inspired NewSpeak as our opponents are, and using this kind of terminology just makes us look like slimy PR flacks.

    It also makes us look like we’re afraid to stand up for what we believe in because we feel like we have to hide behind innocuous sounding euphemisms.

    I might as well refer to my gas guzzling SUV as a “refined hydrocarbon recycling device.”

  5. Thank you for putting into words something that’s been rolling around, partially formed, in my head for a while. I hate the constant dickering over terminology, “the 223 isn’t that powerful”, MSR, etc. It’s as close to a weapon of war as I can get without NFA foolishness because I may have to fight someday and I want to win. Sure, we can discuss gun control…let’s roll back some legislation so I can upgrade without begging permission to exercise my rights.

  6. I disagree. And, to be extra-disagreeable, I’ll do some virtue signalling of my own and proclaim my No.1 as the ultimate sporting gun! 🙂 Your ghastly bolt guns are only good for killing people!!!!!!

    When the left tries to fuddle definitions by defining the difference between “good” guns and “bad” guns, the game has already gone sideways on us. You want to twist definitions, Lefty? Go for it and we will too! Yes my AR is so a valid hunting gun PROVIDED you chamber it in a decent round, and keep your range close. We finally have a ‘do it all’ gun, we should all have one and we should be buying them for our families too. The AR is right at home in the field if it is properly accoutered and used with the right ammunition.

    I would like to remind everyone that memberships in the NRA make excellent gifts for the gun grabbers in your family that you love to hate.

    1. LOL Ferg. And your #1 is a modern abomination, compared to my 1885 High Wall…

      1. Okay. That’s just mean… sob…

        Do you have an 1885, Kim? Pics! And a range report!!! I love the 1885 and the Sharps and was going to get one in 45-70 for BPCR… but they just didn’t sit right in my hands. I ended up going to a rolling block… but it just isn’t the same. Oh well, ya make do with what ya got I guess…

  7. This last year, 2017 deer season I went out with my son-in-law to meet up with my grandson who had spent the day with a buddy on a deer stand outside of Utopia Texas. Both boys 17 years old and grandson had a .308 and his buddy had an AR 6.5 Creedmoor with incredible optics, a great generation III nightscope just in case they saw hogs after dark. This kid’s dad is in the gun business doing Cryogenic Treatment of Firearms and the boy had a $2.5 optic set up that was great, we played with it in the dark with no moon light. In Texas ARs and AKs can be used to shoot critters and I have done a little bit of that.

    I have ARs in 5.56 and 6.8 SPC which is good for hogs and with some tune up these old prairie dog guns work rather well for small game. Of course it goblins come along the Magpul 30 round magazines and lots of affordable ammo might come in hand too. And for plinking there are a lot of .22 LR AR types and you can also get nice after market bolts for around $300 to drop into ARs and shoot some .22 LR.

    I like to remind folks that the Armalite was sold to civilians in the mid 1950’s long before the military started using them. Just saying.

  8. I still prefer to stick with the original definition of assault rifle being fully automatic. So the AR isn’t. As a semi-auto, in modern usage where true military versions are full auto, its at best a “Military Style Rifle”… But yes, MSR is a pretty ‘politically correct’ term.

    My M1 Garand is a battle rifle. Now that is a proper name.

    1. Full auto, or Selective Fire, the AR platform is an “Assault Rifle”;
      Semi, it’s (in the current vernacular) an “Assault Weapon”.
      And, Yes, we’ve allowed our opponent to set the language rules;
      but, I’ll give them that since they’re hopelessly lost in the weeds anyway. As was noted above, only gun-writers wishing to be PC, and spokesholes from the NSSF (industry) and NRA (owners) use the abomination “Modern Sporting Rifle” – funny how you never hear about pre-Modern Sporting Rifles (would that be an 1866/1873 Winchester?).
      Battle Rifle?
      I’ve got a 6-slot, 90-degree, rifle-rack that holds “Battle Rifles” that each hold more than a Garand: Enfields!, from #1Mk3 to #5, and variations in between, including one in 7.62×51.

      1. Didn’t say it was the only Battle Rifle 😉

        Its just one I happen to have (along with a Springfield and an RIA 1903 rifle, and a full length 1896 Swede… I love my battle rifles. Even though those 1903s kick hard. I missed out on the Enfields when they came in cheap or brand new/affordable (they didn’t seem affordable back then) but I’m glad to not have yet another caliber to feed!

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