I mentioned to my son in New York that I had bought an AR-15 rifle. He expressed some curiosity (and skepticism) as to why I had bought it, but we were interrupted before I could go into it. So, this one is for you, J.

First, what it is: An AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle which shoots a 5.56 x 45 mm round. Some people call these ‘assault weapons’ because they are a semi-automatic civilian version of the military M-16 rifle. Semi-automatic = 1 bullet fired per trigger pull, just like my pistol. Full automatic is what the military guys use, or at least, have available. For the record, it would be a felony for me to own a fully automatic weapon. That requires a special license, which I do not have, and not all that many are in the hands of the law-abiding public.

The AR-15 is widely configurable, with literally thousands of options and attachments available. It is not a work of art – it is a utilitarian gun. But I can tack on most anything I want to put on it. (How about that cup-holder, George?)

The bullet in the 5.56 x 45 mm round is a bit less that 1/4“ in diameter. The ammo I currently have is 55 grain. Muzzle velocity is on the order of 3100 feet per second, depending on which specific variation of the ammo you use. This bullet is roughly half the diameter of my pistol round, .45 auto, which is a 230 grain bullet traveling at about 850 feet per second.

Effective range of the pistol is much less than the rifle. Pistol = heavy bullet traveling not especially fast. Rifle = smaller bullet going about four times faster. The pistol as a defensive weapon is peachy – as long as somebody isn’t shooting at you with a rifle. Why do I carry a pistol? Because I haven’t figured out how to get a rifle in my pants.

Why did I buy this gun?

Well, first, I do like to shoot. History – when I turned 13, my Dad gave me a Browning .22 semi-auto rifle. I used to wander down the creek bottoms looking for cottonmouth moccasins to shoot. I had a lot of fun doing that. I’m not much interested in hunting, but plinking is fun. However, due to the motorcycle injury to my shoulder when I was much younger, I’ve avoided long guns. My other rifle is a .30-.30 and it has a pretty stiff kick. Friends at work told me the AR-15 doesn’t kick much, and it really doesn’t. So if I want something with more power than a .22, this looked kind of interesting. Even though I don’t have it sighted in yet, shooting it is a hoot. You can really have some fun with a couple of 30 round magazines. I’m thinking about spending some time sitting in a lawn chair on the roof and shooting gophers. < Snort >

Second, for personal and home defense. You know about my interest in pistols for personal defense, of course. A pistol is an effective weapon. But if you have time to get to it, a rifle or shotgun is far more likely to stop a threat. I considered a shotgun, but the shoulder thing is still an issue. And an AR-15 can be configured with flashlights, red-dot scopes, lasers, etc. So it can be set up to be very effective for home and personal defense. And you know how it is with me and utility. I’m not about pretty – I’m all about what can do the best job at whatever I’m trying to do.

What with hurricanes sending evacuees fleeing the coast every three weeks, it might be useful. Check out paragraph 16 on this entry at Bayou Renaissance Man. Also paragraph 2 in his Second Post a bit further down the page. J, you’ve lived your whole life in civilization, and so have I; but I don’t think you understand in your gut how fast it could dissolve. Think about what would happen if a general war happened in the Middle East, or another World War happened, or even another Great Depression. Look at the situation on the ground in New Orleans just after Katrina. Effective weapons of self defense could become very, very needful. Be aware of the trap of thinking it can’t happen.

By the way, just as a reality check, my best friend and neighbor R feels the same way. We’ve talked about what to do in the event of.

I had been thinking about this for a while; however, the timing of this purchase was affected by the upcoming elections. If Barrack Obama wins the election, he will do everything in his power to minimize the viability of the Second Amendment. He can’t rule out the right to own guns, but he could do a lot to make them much more expensive, parts and ammo hard to get, etc. His voting record makes this plain, no matter what he says now.

I’m encouraged by the sudden upswing in gun purchases here in Texas, and the corresponding sudden increase in applications for concealed handgun licenses. Real statistics prove that more guns equal less crime.

So, anyway, that’s the story.


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