Chicago Sun Times-AR's Simple & Accurate


Matt King
September 5, 2007, 05:54 PM
Positively straight shooting
CONTROVERSIAL GUNs | Test of ARs shows them to be accurate, simple to use

September 2, 2007
BY DALE BOWMAN Staff Reporter
BONFIELD, Ill. -- They're scary. That's the crux of the gun debate spurred by the AR platform.

The AR platform looks like a machine gun.

That's why Kent Peacock, president of Firearm Safety Training Inc., invited outdoor media to a tactical rifle open house at the Illinois State Rifle Association range Aug. 28. I was the only one who took the opportunity to be enlightened.

''The mass media has the majority of the population thinking ARs are machine guns,'' Peacock said. ''This myth couldn't be further from the truth. They also have the majority of the population thinking the federal gun ban from '94 to '04 made these firearms unavailable. In actuality, many AR manufactures came into existence during that time.''

There's a more basic issue: the prominence firearms should play in our social, political and ideological lives. I want a go at that biggy, but that's another Sunday.

Here is what I learned, and my thoughts and reactions to ARs, now the most popular new firearm sold in the United States. And, though it was the first time I had shot one, I can see why it is popular.

The AR, designed by engineer Eugene Stoner, was first popularized as a civilian rifle.

The design is incredible in its simplicity. There are two main parts, the upper (the barrel section) and the lower (the trigger area that is essentially the gun). Two pins connect the sections, making uppers virtually interchangeable. The gun can be disassembled easily, thus cleaned easily.

FST instructor Patrick Ellanson, who also works at Mega Sports in Plainfield, said, ''When we sell one of these, I tell the customers, there is no reason you shouldn't take this apart and clean it.''

It's that simple.

The trigger box is simplistic perfection. I shot four ARs, and each was identical around the trigger. That's quite a change from using a new shotgun and having to figure out where the safety is and how it works. With ARs, the important stuff is the same, even when I changed guns. The safety was on the left (I'm right-handed), and the magazine catch button was on the right. Magazines are standard.

The magazines, which might be part of the image problem because they look like machine gun clips, are a snap to load. I shot .223 55-grain bullets, ''an affordable plinking round,'' as Ellanson put it.

First I shot an Armalite A4 with a scoped 24-inch, heavy stainless steel barrel. Then a Rock River Arms Varmint A4 with a scoped 24-inch heavy barrel.

''These are target guns,'' Ellanson said. ''You're not going to lug them around.''

They're for shooting as shooting, and made for it. I shot good tight groups (for me). There was virtually no kick. The engineering is designed to use some of the would-be kick to eject shells and otherwise disperse that energy.

Then it was a Wilson Combat UT-15 Tactical Rifle with Aimpoint red dot sight. It was a 4-minute dot, which covers 4 inches at the 100 yards we were shooting. Again, a nice easy gun to shoot, and I had tight groups.

It got trickier with the iron sights on the Armalite A2 National Match. Even with my bad eyes, I grouped well within the target. We were shooting off a bench with a rest.

''It boils down to it is fun to shoot,'' Peacock said.

It was. Will I shoot an AR again? Probably not. My shooting, even target practice, is always related to hunting and, though the AR platform can be used for hunting, it is not one that appeals to my sense of hunting aesthetics.

Some of that distaste has philosophical baggage that has clotted on ARs. But will I save the targets I shot? You bet.,CST-SPT-bowman02.article

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September 5, 2007, 06:47 PM
We're quick to write letters when journalists do bad work, I think its important we give the good ones a little pat on the back from time to time too.

Mr. Bowman I wanted to write and commend you for trying out an AR15 and
allowing some experts to talk to you about them. Many of your peers are
either intentionally deceptive or willfully ignorant about the firearms
they work to get banned. Its refreshing to see a journalist take up an
offer to learn more about the subject they're writing about even if its a
little disappointing that none of your peers took Mr. Peacock up on his

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