AR-15 refers to the model nomenclature originally given to the select-fire, gas-operated carbine/rifle featuring synthetic furniture and chambered in 5.56 NATO cal., and developed by Eugene Stoner in 1957. At the time, Stoner was under contract by the Armalite division of the Fairchild Aircraft Corp. In 1958, this new AR-15 lost out in military competition to the select-fire M-14 manufactured by Springfield Armory. After losing this competition, Fairchild Aircraft Corp. thought their new carbine/rifle design would never prove to be successful or obtain a military contract. As a result, during 1959 it sold the design and all future manufacturing rights to Colt. In 1962, the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) purchased 1,000 AR-15 rifles from Colt which were immediately sent to South Vietnam for field trials. In 1963, Colt was awarded an 85,000 rifle contract for the U.S. Army (designated XM16E1), and another 19,000 for the U.S. Armed Forces (designated M-16). This new select-fire M-16 was a direct variation of Stoner's original AR-15 design, but had U.S. ordnance markings. In 1963, a presidential order was given to the U.S. Army to make the M-16 its official service rifle. In 1966, because of the U.S. involvement in the escalating war in Vietnam, the U.S. government submitted an order for 840,000 M-16s to be delivered to the U.S. Armed Forces at a cost of $92 million. Today, the AR-15 is one of the most popular rifles on the market and many companies offer an AR-15 platform.
Due to the popularity and prevalence of the AR-15, we have compiled a complete listing of current and recent manufacturers that can be found in the back of this book. We have also created a book on just AR-15s called the Blue Book of AR-15s & Variations, which is also available as an online subscription. Visit our website at for more information.
A specific type of rifle currently produced by many manufacturers.