Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

A rose by any other name…

The misunderstood AR-15

Marketing gurus call it “re-branding” — taking a product the public isn’t really sure about and renaming it in a way that renews or generates interest.

Take, for instance, the venerable AR-15 rifle.

Last year, people in the shooting-sports industry tried to re-brand it by calling it the “modern sporting rifle.” The label didn’t stick.

Another year, another label — this time it’s the “sport utility rifle.”

Let’s get something straight here. I have absolutely nothing against the AR-15. While I don’t personally own one, I believe the AR is a highly accurate and pretty darned versatile firearm that can be used for everything from target shooting to hunting light-skinned game. I also believe the model would be much more widely used were it not for two things — the “AR” prefix and the gun’s military-like appearance.

People see the letters “AR” and assume they stand for “assault rifle.” Not so.  The AR prefix refers to Armalite, the company that developed the semi-automatic AR and its fully automatic mil-spec lookalike, the M-16.

Re-branding the AR-15 might someday help overcome the “black rifle” stigma some purists have associated with it. I suspect, however, that changes in public perception — if or when they occur — will take place slowly.

That’s a shame. As noted before, the AR is a fine firearm that has never deserved the raps it’s received.