Understanding the AR-15: The Name, the Purpose & the Responsibility

What does AR stand for in AR15? Cover

The AR-15 is a widely recognized firearm in the United States, known for its versatility and popularity among enthusiasts. In fact, here are a couple of interesting stats on the AR-15 from an article published by The Washington Post and Ipsos in 2023:

  • Approximately 1 in 20 Americans have an AR-15; there is an estimated 20 million across the nation
  • It’s the #1 sold rifle in the United States
  • 33% of AR-15 owners have this type of weapon for the purpose self-defense and protection of home and family

In this article, we will help you make sense of the AR-15 in a non-political, purely informative manner, addressing questions such as “what does the 15 stand for in AR-15?” and “what does AR stand for in AR15?”

What is an AR-15?

What does AR stand for in AR15?
What does the 15 stand for in AR-15?

The AR-15 is a lightweight, semi-automatic rifle. Originally designed in the 1950s for military use, it has since become a favorite among civilian users for various legal purposes, including sport shooting, hunting, and self-defense. Its adaptability and ease of use make it a preferred choice for many law-abiding citizens.

Breaking Down the Name ‘AR-15’

A common question we encounter is, “What does AR stand for in AR15?” Contrary to popular belief, ‘AR’ in AR-15 does not stand for ‘Assault Rifle’ or ‘Automatic Rifle’. Instead, it stands for ‘ArmaLite Rifle’, after the company that developed it in the 1950s. This clarification is crucial in understanding the firearm’s history and purpose.

The Significance of ’15’ in AR-15

Another frequent inquiry is, “What does the 15 stand for in AR-15?” The ’15’ in AR-15 is simply a model number, representing the sequence in ArmaLite’s design. It is a part of the naming convention by the manufacturer and does not indicate any specific feature or capability of the rifle.

Design and Features of the AR-15

The AR-15 is known for its modular design, allowing owners to customize it with various accessories and components. This modularity is one of the reasons for its widespread use. Despite its adaptability, it’s important to understand that the AR-15, as sold to civilians, is a semi-automatic rifle, meaning one round is fired per trigger pull.

The customizability of the AR-15
AR-15s are very popular due to their modularity, allowing them to be extremely customizable for each user.

Safety and Responsibility of the AR-15 Owner

While discussing the AR-15, it’s imperative to emphasize safe handling and responsible ownership. We at Concealed Coalition strongly advocate for the safe storage of firearms and proper training. Our concealed carry permit certification courses and curriculums like Concealed Coalition University aim to educate law-abiding Americans on the responsible use of firearms, including the AR-15.

In addition, it’s important that you document your AR-15 using a Personal Firearms Record Form (free template provided here!). This helps you mitigate the impact of firearm theft and improve the likelihood of recovering stolen property. The form provided helps you keep detailed records of manufacturer, model, serial numbers and more if you ever need to do the following:

  • File a police report: Without detailed information about the stolen firearms, filing a comprehensive police report becomes challenging. Having a complete report with accurate firearm details enhances your chances of reclaiming the stolen gun as its rightful owner.
  • Distinguish ownership: If a stolen gun is used in a crime, the lack of documentation can inadvertently involve you, the original owner, in the criminal investigation. Proper documentation helps in distinguishing ownership and responsibility.
  • File insurance claims: In the event of theft, to file an insurance claim effectively, you will need to provide serial numbers and descriptions of the stolen firearms. This documentation is essential for the claim process.
  • Trace the firearm: If a thief is apprehended by police, the ability to trace the AR-15 through its serial number is critical. An undocumented gun may not be identified as stolen, potentially allowing the thief and the firearm to remain undetected and unclaimed.
An AR-15 at an outdoor shooting range


Understanding the AR-15 involves knowing the facts behind phrases like “what does the 15 stand for in AR-15” and “what does AR stand for in AR15.” Our objective is to provide clear, concise, and non-political information about this firearm, emphasizing safety and education.

We encourage all prospective and current firearm owners to seek comprehensive training and education. For more information on safe firearm handling and responsible ownership, check out our FAQS, resources and training programs. Together, we can ensure safety and responsibility in the use of firearms like the AR-15.

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