The Evolving AR Platform
Kevin Felts 06.07.17
It seems like every couple of years a new rifle caliber hits the market. Take something from this cartridge and combine it with that; the result is something that is supposed to be better than the original parts.
In all honesty, the rifle market has been saturated for decades. When cartridges like the 6.5 and the 300 Blackout are released, I ask myself, “What niche does this cartridge fill?” What can that rifle cartridge do that this one can not?
What is causing these new cartridges to hit the market? Maybe it is a changing rifle market? Over the past decade or so, there has been a gradual shift from classic bolt and lever action to the AR platform.
Classically, the AR has been chambered in 223 Remington/5.56mm. There were a few companies that chambered the AR in 308 Winchester, but they were few and far between. Due to the AR being mostly chambered in 223 Remington, it was relegated to predator hunting and target shooting.
Then along came the 6.5 and the 300 Blackout. Now we have the AR chambered in cartridges that can be used for Whitetail Deer and wild hogs. While on a hunting lease several years ago, another member told me how the 6.5 was great for wild pigs.
Why are we shifting from the classic hunting rifle to the AR platform? I suspect it is because of customization.
Let’s face it, bolt and lever action rifles are boring. The only real customization someone can do is change the stock and optics. Besides that, just about all bolt and lever action rifles look the same.
The AR platform allows the shooter to customize their rifle in a number of ways – stocks, grips, rails, optics.. etc. Then we can have multiple uppers in different calibers. In just a few seconds an AR can go from 223 Remington to 6.5 or 300 Blackout.
A lever action 30-30 will always be a lever action 30-30. A bolt action chambered in 270 Winchester will always be a bolt action 270. The AR is not always a 223 Remington. or 6.5, or 300 Blackout, or 9mm. Nor is the AR always a rifle. Change out a few parts and you have an AR pistol. Get a permit and the AR can be a short-barreled rifle (SBR).
The AR platform is spurring innovation in the firearms market in ways our grandparents never thought possible. No longer are we stuck with a rifle chambered for one caliber.
If we look at the animal kingdom, what helps ensure the survival of a species? It is their ability to adapt.
The lever and bolt action will never go extinct. However, they are slowly inching into the shadow of the AR-15.