Survey: black rifles are the most popular gun since the lever 30-30

   07.29.13

Survey: black rifles are the most popular gun since the lever 30-30

Like so many things these days it’s quite ironic: the so-called “black” rifles that have caused such a stir since the Clinton Administration are now proving themselves some of the most popular shooting tools among active shooters today.

Once mislabeled as “assault rifles”, the AR platform firearms name actually came from the original company that developed the rifle design back in the 1950s — Armalite Company created the AR-15 design which eventually became the military M-16 and the current M-4 in a fully automatic version intended for military service.

The commercial or civilian version of the rifle most often referred to simply as the AR-15 is not a “machine gun”, a fully automatic weapon. It is a semi-automatic rifle design meaning that it fires one round for every single independent pull of the trigger. In this respect it is no different from the Remington 742-7400-74 classic deer rifles, the famous Browning BAR, or the prolific Ruger 10-22 rimfire rifle.

Even so, because the exterior color finish of most AR models is predominately black, it long carried with it a sinister shadow of misconception. But the AR has now broken free of this stigma as demonstrated recently by a national survey of active target shooters.

A new nationwide survey conducted for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) was an attempt at the first comprehensive look at ownership and use of modern sporting rifles indicates that 8.9 million Americans went target shooting with AR-style rifles in 2009. The survey also reported that these participants in sport shooting using the AR rifles were the most active shooters among all types of sport shooters.

The wide-ranging survey conducted by Responsive Management indicated that 15 percent of the American population, or 34.4 million people nationwide, went target shooting in 2009. This included hunters sighting in, friends going shooting with friends who own firearms, to women practicing self-defense skills. “The study measured the full range of shooting activities across America,” noted Responsive Management’s Mark Duda.

The survey showed that an estimated 8,868,085 people shot a modern (AR) rifle in 2009, doing so on 22.9 days on average. Regionally, those who lived in the south shot an AR on 29.6 days, the west 21.1 days, the northeast 20 days, and the midwest 15.5 days. While I am not at all surprised by the rate listed for the South, I was a bit surprised at the rate listed for the Midwest. I would have thought more folks would have been active shooters in the “Heartland of America”.

So who are these modern AR rifle shooters? Most of them reside in small towns or cities (25 percent) and non-farm rural areas (25 percent), compared to 19 percent living in urban areas, 16 percent in suburban areas, and 15 percent on ranches or farms.

Sixty-four percent of the modern sporting rifle users are aged 18-44. Race makeup is as follows: white 86 percent, and Hispanic at 5 percent. Men represented 84 percent of the group, and women 16 percent. Thirty-four percent had some college education or a trade school degree, 29% a bachelor’s degree and 27% a high school degree or GED.

AR platform rifles are legitimate hunting rifles. They can be bought factory chambered for the .243 Winchester, 7mm-08, or the .308 Winchester and many others. Hunting gun stalwart Remington evens makes ARs now. The classic .223 round is ideal for varmint hunting — coyotes, fox, and other nuisance animals defined by state statute or other targets of opportunity like beaver, crows, or raccoon when legal.

The AR rifle makes for a perfect defense firearm for farmers, ranchers, timber cruisers, and property owners of all kinds. Some people shudder when I mention this role, but given the world we live in today, confronting trespassers, poachers, and thieves is not all that uncommon in rural areas.

Sales of AR rifles continue to be brisk. So, black rifles are officially out of the closet. I think the minute you shoot one you will be hooked, especially now that the same rifle can be configured to fire cheap .22 rimfire ammo. They are fun to shoot, and fun to deck out with accessories. Check one out at the next gun show or local dealer.

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