The Sporting Use of ARs is Nothing New


The Sporting Use of ARs is Nothing New

I recently saw the image above on Facebook and thought it was interesting. It’s called “The very first AR15 sales ad,” but since I haven’t seen any proof of that, let’s take that part with a grain of salt. But it’s safe to say that it’s a fairly old advertisement from a magazine.

The photo was posted with the following blurb:

The very first AR15 sales ad ever, marketed to the public as a sporting and hunting rifle. Note this was before the military adopted the full auto version, the actual assault rifle, the M16. People are trying to rewrite history and claim the inventor never intended it for civilian use.

Well, it was sold for civilian use first!

Well, not so much.

In 1959, Colt bought the rights to these guns from Armalite, and before the end of the year they had sold the first of them to the military of Malaya. But it wasn’t until 1963 that Colt created the semi-auto-only version, labeled it the AR-15, and began trying to sell it to civilians.

Clearly, military marketing came first. But whether it was first “sold” to civilians is beside the point.

And to me the point is that the AR-15 (like each of its many clones) is merely a tool, neither military nor civilian until it is owned by one or the other. But I did find it interesting to recall that just a few years ago (February 2007), fellow outdoor writer Jim Zumbo decried the use of AR and AK rifles for hunting. He was fired for his trouble and learned a lot about “black rifles” in a very short time. The offending post is quoted below, in part:

Sorry, folks, in my humble opinion, [AK and AR rifles] have no place in hunting. We don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them, which is an obvious concern. I’ve always been comfortable with the statement that hunters don’t use assault rifles. We’ve always been proud of our “sporting firearms.”

This really has me concerned. As hunters, we don’t need the image of walking around the woods carrying one of these weapons. To most of the public, an assault rifle is a terrifying thing. Let’s divorce ourselves from them. I say game departments should ban them from the praries [sic] and woods.

This well-known gun writer had been blissfully ignorant of the sporting use of such firearms and had swallowed the government/media bias against them, so much so that he called for a ban on their use by hunters! He and those who agreed with him apparently believed that the sporting use of these guns was somehow new or weird, but this ad shows that decades earlier (I’m guessing 1960s), Colt was marketing the AR-15 to hunters.

Are ARs “death machines” or “assault weapons?” No more than a machete, match, automobile, or chainsaw. All have the potential for mass destruction, but all can be used for good and ARE used for good, far more often than not.

And hey, wouldn’t you love to buy a truckload of Colt AR-15s for that $189.50 retail price?

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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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