When Exactly Did The Black Rifle Become So Popular?


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vtail
January 14, 2013, 02:40 AM
I'm trying to think back when the AR-15/Black Rifle became so popular and I really can't think when that was.

Was it a gradual thing or was it triggered by a particular movie maybe?

I know in the late 70's it was very rare to even see one, now they are/were sold in Walmart.

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HorseSoldier
January 14, 2013, 02:45 AM
The last AWB really kicked up interest in them -- nothing like telling Americans they can't have something. When the ban expired, black rifles really took off into the mainstream among gun owners, and then the rise of Obama amped that up even higher as people began to fear another ban.

gunnutery
January 14, 2013, 02:47 AM
I would say within the last 10-15 years it's really caught on considering the current AR saturation, including aftermarket parts. I think it's been a gradual thing over the last 3-4 decades though. In light of recent panic frenzies, some would say that "negative attention is still attention."

Shadow 7D
January 14, 2013, 07:11 AM
Last 15 years
they were 'banned'
then you have all the guys cycling through the military (it's what we know'
then all the gamers.....

mcdonl
January 14, 2013, 07:27 AM
For guys like me, who are primarily sportsmen I love the AR because of the versatility it gives me. It is a system, allowing me to add and remove components as needed for the various game and conditions I face.

The proliferation of wild hogs, coyotes and soon wolves has made the need for various accessories almost required and nothing allows this flexibility like an AR.

Don't get me wrong, all of the above can be harvested with a long bow but I like my chances with an AR much better :)

jmr40
January 14, 2013, 08:15 AM
About 2 minutes after the 1994 AWB went into effect.

12131
January 14, 2013, 08:18 AM
The last AWB really kicked up interest in them -- nothing like telling Americans they can't have something. When the ban expired, black rifles really took off into the mainstream among gun owners, and then the rise of Obama amped that up even higher as people began to fear another ban.
That sums it up.

Pilot
January 14, 2013, 08:26 AM
The last AWB really kicked up interest in them -- nothing like telling Americans they can't have something. When the ban expired, black rifles really took off into the mainstream among gun owners, and then the rise of Obama amped that up even higher as people began to fear another ban.

Yep, Horsesoldier nailed it. In the early 90's when I really started to get into target shooting, CCW, and the shooting sports in general, AR-15, and AK's were an anamoly. You only really had Colt producing their "Sporters" and while they were an interesting aside, many, including myself, would just look at them and say "what are you going to do with that?" Even back then, before the first ban, they weren't cheap, around $700 if memory servers, for a standard Colt 20" AR.

When the ban came, all of a sudden interest in them perked up, and many bought the no flash hider, no bayonet lug version and started target shooting with them. They found they were accurate, fun, and a potential hunting, and defensive firearm. When the ban was lifted, people felt good about buying what they previously could not. The rest is history.

Carl N. Brown
January 14, 2013, 08:36 AM
When Exactly Did The Black Rifle Become So Popular?

For the AR, I would peg it at the first semi-auto AR-15 marketed by Colt about 1963. I had been following development of the AR-10 and AR-15 through writings of WHB Smith (author editor of Small Arms of the World). John F. Kennedy owned an AR and shot floating targets from his boat for recreational shooting.

More Important: Why did the black rifle become so popular?

I feel a big part of AR popularity is the fact that people familiarized with the current service rifle after returning to civilian life want a gun that they are familiar with for self-defense, hunting, target shooting, whatever.

We saw it after the Civil War when leveractions replaced singleshots (evolution of the 1860 Henry into the 1866 Winchester).

We saw it after the Spanish-American War 1898 and WWI, when bolt-actions became popular.

We saw it after World War II (side note to history: the Winchester team that produced the M1 Carbine worked afterhours on semi-auto designs for the post-war sports market; David "Carbine" Williams designed a semi-auto shotgun Model 50).

Same thing has occured with the AR platform, starting slowly with the VietNam vets, but snowballing since then. The AR is the 21st Century 1866 Winchester.

People familiarized with the current military service rifle as conscripts or volunteers, want a gun they are familiar with when they return to civilian life.

The fact that the AR is modular and adaptable don't hurt either. An AR and accessories is like a box of Legos and an Erector Set bundled with a Tinkertoy set.

cfullgraf
January 14, 2013, 08:50 AM
I agree with what has been posted but will add...

In the early 90s or so, the military, I think the Marines were first, started to use the M-16 for Service Rifle competitions. Folks found that the rifle had exceptional accuracy and it was easy to build it that way and easy to keep it accurate. Unlike the M1 and M-14 which take alot of effort to keep at high accuracy levels.

It opened up a whole new market for the rifle platform than the tactical/home defense crowd.

I was not interested in the AR-15 platform until I learned how accurate they could be. I got my first in 2000 for Service Rifle competition. My long, heavy barreled ARs are superbly accurate and not finicky about ammunition. Great rifles.

bri
January 14, 2013, 09:05 AM
When did Magpul open it's doors?

hso
January 14, 2013, 09:09 AM
After the '94 AWB the growth in popularity shot up.

Sav .250
January 14, 2013, 09:15 AM
I think the "look" got folks wanting one. It also has some sort of "macho" appeal.

Roadkill
January 14, 2013, 09:23 AM
I agree with all the above but will add that the economic boom under Regan provided more disposable income for expensive toys. Simply put more people could afford one.

jmr40
January 14, 2013, 09:25 AM
After the '94 AWB the growth in popularity shot up.


Not "After", but during. Remember the AWB actually banned nothing, but simply defined rifles. Finding mags for most guns was simple enough, albeit a bit more expensive. Every manufacturer simply made slight modifications to existing rifles and production skyrocketed. There were far more black rifles made and sold between 1994-2004 than during the previous 20-30 year period combined.

That growth coninued post 2004, but now with flash hiders, telescoping stocks, bayonette lugs and reasonably priced magazines.

shep854
January 14, 2013, 10:18 AM
What makes this thread interesting to me is that the ARs were so long denigrated as unreliable junk, based on its early troubles in Vietnam. When intermediate-caliber rifles became popular, the AK was king, due to its legendary reliability.
The ease of customizing and tuning ARs, plus (belated) recognition of its reliability and accuracy under harsh combat conditions helped it take off in the last decade. It's historical significance as the US combat rifle also helped its appeal.
Poking the anti-gun leftists and possibility of a ban are of course drivers of sales as well.

Isaac-1
January 14, 2013, 10:57 AM
I would say it is a more complicated trend, starting to build with cheap SKS's and AK's that showed up on the market in the early 90's, sure the AR's were out there before then, but I remember going to gun shows in the mid 1980's and seeing a handful of AR's at the tables, but there certainly was not an AR in every home mentality. I think this popularity for the AR slowly grew through the 90's during the AWB years we still had some neutered options, then the real popularity took off in the last 8 years since the ban expired.

beatledog7
January 14, 2013, 11:14 AM
The EBR, also known as "the closest thing to a military infantry long gun that's legally obtainable by the non-wealthy civilian," began to be popular in the 15th century.

The fact that these matchlock muskets were not made of black plastic is irrelevant. The ones the average European citizen could own were as lethal as anything their armies wielded.

j.kramer
January 14, 2013, 11:16 AM
i bought my ar 10s in the 80s when true value hardware sold them
they were to the right side of the bazookas behind the counter

ar 10 is very light ar 15 to wimpy for me

Justin
January 14, 2013, 11:33 AM
When Exactly Did The Black Rifle Become So Popular?

Late September of 2004 when the old ban expired and a decade's worth of pent-up demand was unleashed.

vtail
January 14, 2013, 11:34 AM
The last AWB really kicked up interest in them -- nothing like telling Americans they can't have something. When the ban expired, black rifles really took off into the mainstream among gun owners, and then the rise of Obama amped that up even higher as people began to fear another ban.
I agree with telling someone not to do something only to have them want to do it even more.

I remember when we were about three or four years old, my cousin and I were watching our parents sort through a pile of dried beans before cooking them to remove rocks/bad beans, when someone told us to don't even think about putting one of those beans up our nose.

Of course, the first thing my cousin did was stick one up his nose, which resulted in a trip to the ER to remove it.

Now if they hadn't said that, I don't think he never even would have even thought of sticking one up his nose.

nathan
January 14, 2013, 11:42 AM
I almost bought a Colt SP1 with the pencil barrel used from a USAF sgt in 1998. We met at a parking lot and he showed me the gun. It didnt have the forward assist and in VG condition. THe upper and lower were so loose that kind of turn me off. He was asking $700 for it. I passed it in a heartbeat.

benEzra
January 14, 2013, 02:17 PM
I wasn't into AR's at the time due to lack of funds, but as I recall, AR's were something of an enthusiasts' rifle by the early '90s. They were common enough to be occasionally seen at the range, and our local Walmart carried them, but they were *very* expensive and there weren't many options; I knew a guy with a couple of Colt 20" HBARs around 1989, but they were ~$1K, were very front-heavy, and your optics options pretty much sucked. SKS's were all over the place and AK's were reasonably common, but the AR was somewhat elite due to its price point. In perspective, a $1K AR was the equivalent of 14 $69.95 SKS's, or 3 mini-14's or AK's.

I'd say the surge in popularity began in the early '90s due to the Feinstein/Schumer mudslinging and really took off after 1994. I think it was in the mid 1990's that the "M4gery" configuration became dominant, and flattops followed soon after. I'd say by the time the 1994 AWB non-ban expired in 2004, if the AR was probably in the top 3 selling centerfire rifles in the USA and may have even been #1, I don't know.

One thing that happened in the '90s was that the market exploded with new manufacturers. In 1990, I can't remember any other manufacturers besides Colt, but that number had increased to 30 or so by 2004.

heavydluxe
January 14, 2013, 03:01 PM
While I know that video games have been a whipping boy of late, I think that a factor in the popularity of 'black rifles' has to be linked to the rise of these weapons in entertainment.

jimmyraythomason
January 14, 2013, 03:05 PM
After the '94 AWB the growth in popularity shot up.
That when I bought my first one. Didn't really want one until then and truthfully still don't care a whole lot for them. Just don't tell me I can't have one.

clutch
January 14, 2013, 03:23 PM
I'm thinking the spike in popularity came after the 94 AWB sunseted.

I was in the Marines in the mid 70's so the AR platform has a connection. You consider people that served from Vietnam to current times and that is a huge number of people that are comfortable with this firearm.

For some that were not gun people to start with, the AR platform is all they have known so it is logical for them to buy one for self defense, and other purposes.

Another thing it has going for it is compared to shooting my Garand or 03a3, an AR in .223 is very reasonable in terms of expense to feed and shoots far enough for most peoples shooting pleasure.

Clutch

Zoogster
January 14, 2013, 03:43 PM
The average non firearm enthusiast does not have a lot of knowledge of firearms.

What they do know is that they were suddenly told they could not have something.
At the same time that something is what those they view as the professional firearm users (even though most have less time shooting than the average enthusiast), the military and police, were shifting over to as the standard platform.

There has always been a trend of civilians to adopt what the police are using, and that is probably a safe bet for many that have little knowledge of firearms because what the police are using is going to be something reliable, durable, and typically easy to maintain.
Civilians are also aware of what the military uses and a segment of the population has always been attracted to that, even more so now with the popularity of interactive video games.


Combine popular culture, movies, games, veterans wanting thier familiar platform, and the population seeing them with most military and police.
Then for the remaining segment still not drawn from those influences add in how modular the AR has become adding to its appeal and you have a strong base of consumers.
The modularity of the now standard flat top variants and a standardized rail system, and how easy it is to mix and match parts allows it to be more easily customized to meet an individual's needs for a particular application than most other firearms.
Internally it is also simple and can be easily maintained and understood by even the less mechanically inclined while having a receiver that easily comes apart and goes back together encouraging people to become more familiar with it.

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