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How to assemble a self-loading rifle AR – 15

Rifles of the AR-15 / M16 family, including army automatic assault rifles and civilian self-loading rifles, are one of the most common in the world at the moment. These rifles and carbines are produced in hundreds of variants. The range of calibres of rifles of the AR-15 type is also huge and numbers in dozens. The design is highly modular and has a great resource for modernization and changes, due to which it uses cartridges from pistol to powerful rifle cartridges. The largest producer and, at the same time, consumer of these weapons are the United States of America. However, rifles and carbines type AR-15 are available in many countries, including the release for export. So, rifles of the AR-15 / M16 type are produced in Canada, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Turkey, the Czech Republic, China, Ukraine and Russia.

XPR15 BR self-loading carbine, photo by Oleg Volk

Rifles of the AR-15 / M16 type are widely used not only in the armed forces of the United States and other countries, but also for hunting, sports practical shooting, training and training in shooting and handling weapons, for self-defense in the house and the countryside, as well as just for entertaining shooting. Rifles of the AR-15 / M16 type, including both automatic and self-loading, are widely used in police, various special forces and security units around the world.

A brief history of the AR-15 rifle and its current use

The AR-15 rifle was originally designed by Armalite for the US Army. The development of these weapons was launched in 1957 at the suggestion of the United States Government, and in 1958 its first prototypes were submitted for testing. But as a result of a number of problems with the reliability and accuracy of Armalite, Fairchild Co in 1959 sells to Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company all design and trademark rights. Currently, AR-15 is a registered trademark and is owned by Colt's Manufacturing Co, Inc., an American company. This designation can only be used by Colt, but the rest of the rifles and carbines designed and manufactured on the basis of the AR-15 construction in the west are called “AR-15 type” or “AR-15 style”, which means “AR-15 rifle "Or" AR-15 style rifle. " Armalite AR-15 / Colt M16 assault rifles (assault rifles) are also referred to as “AR-15 / M16 type” or “M16 type”. However, they can both differ in the design of various nodes, and can be almost identical. The manufacturer, as a rule, assigns such a weapon a designation that is somehow similar to the AR-15 trademark, such as M & P15 and XPR15. In Russia, rifles of the AR-15 type are often called "AR-ka", or "M-ka".

Self-loading Colt AR-15 Sporter SP1 rifle, externally copying the design of the early assault rifle XM16E1

In 1962, the Department of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency / ARPA purchased 1,000 units of AR-15 rifles from Colt, which they transferred to South Vietnam for testing under combat conditions. At first, the AR-15 rifles were used there quite successfully, replacing the heavy and bulky M14 and the already outdated Thompson submachine guns. The following year, Colt supplied the US Army with 85,000 rifles under the designation XM16E1, for the US Air Force - 19,000 units under the designation M16. At the same time, the M16 did not differ from the AR-15, and the XM16E1 received a shutter rammer. In 1964, the M16 rifle was adopted by the U.S. Air Force; in the army, the XM16E1 is adopted as a weapon of a limited standard.

February 28, 1967 5.56 mm assault rifle XM16E1 was officially adopted by the US Army under the designation "US Rifle M16A1 Caliber 5.56mm." The path of the AR-15 / M16 rifles in the armed forces due to reliability problems was not easy. To equip the cartridges supplied to the aircraft, they began to use cheap gunpowder, which gave a large amount of carbon deposits deposited in the gas exhaust system, bolt group and receiver of the weapon. In addition, for the sake of economy, they also refused to chrome the bore and the bolt group. The Colt company stated that the M16 rifle practically does not require cleaning and maintenance. As a result, soldiers did not receive proper care training for these weapons. All these factors, combined with the humid climate of Vietnam, resulted in frequent delays in firing during combat operations and significant losses of the American army in manpower. The situation was corrected by the investigation of the commission at the US Congress.

Self-loading Colt AR-15A2 Match Target Heavy Barrel rifle, externally copying the M16A2 army assault rifle

The scheme of the M16 rifle

From 1967 to 1970 the following measures are being taken: cheap gunpowder is being replaced with cleaner, gun cleaning kits were urgently purchased, the barrel bore, the chamber and the bolt group began to be chrome plated, the troops began to implement a program to train soldiers in the maintenance and care of M16 rifles with colorful instructions comic book. As a result of resolved operational errors in the troops and improvements in design, in the early 1970s. The M16 rifle was already quite reliable, with the proper level of care, and an effective combat weapon. Currently, rifles and carbines based on the AR-15 / M16 have a high degree of failure-free operation, in addition to excellent firing accuracy, convenience, light weight and modularity. However, owners of AR-15 rifles should not forget about the need for regular cleaning and use only high-quality cartridges and magazines.

Colt first launched the AR-15 / M16 type rifle weapons into the civilian market in 1963. This weapon differed in appearance from the army M16 only in marking, and the main difference was the lack of the ability to fire a burst. However, in the civilian arms market, this rifle was not popular until the second half of the 1980s, when the U.S. Army adopted its new modification M16A2, which almost immediately began to be produced in the civilian version, both Colt and other arms manufacturers. Over time, the range offered by manufacturers has steadily expanded and continues to expand at present. Moreover, any manufacturer can make rifles of the AR-15 / M16 type due to the fact that the rights to the construction of these weapons were purchased by the US government from Colt and are not protected by patents, unlike the brand itself.

Colt Sporter self-loading carbine caliber 9mm Parabellum

Barrett REC7 self-loading carbine of caliber 6.8 Remington SPC

The first civilian versions of the M16 rifles practically did not differ from those supplied to the armed forces. These rifles had the same caliber 5.56x45 (.223 Remington). Then, in the 1980s. began to produce versions for small-caliber 5.6-mm cartridge .22LR annular ignition. The use of this cartridge is permissible using special adapters that are inserted into the magazine and chamber. There were also versions for pistol cartridges 9x19 (9mm Parabellum) and 11.43x23 (.45 ACP), which required not only adapters to magazines, but also the replacement of the upper part of the receiver (upper receiver). Currently, there are versions for FN cartridges 5.7x28 and 7.62x25 TT.

Later, rifles of the AR-15 / M16 type began to be produced under the promising 6.8 Remington SPC (6.8x43) and 6.5 Grendel (6.5x38), the old Soviet assault rifles 7.62x39 and modern .300 AAC Blackout (7.62x25) and similar ones .300 Whisper (7.8x34), as well as many others, both more and less widely distributed cartridges. There are also versions for the 7.62x51 rifle cartridge, which are actually the heirs of the original AR-10 rifle designed by Eugene Stoner, developed in 1955 to participate in the competition for the new 7.62 mm US Army rifle and replace the old M1 Garand, which became the prototype of the AR -fifteen. In addition to the most common intermediate and rifle cartridges, rifles of the AR-15 / M16 type from the late 1990s - early 2000s. produced under large-caliber cartridges designed specifically for use in this weapon.

These are cartridges .450 Bushmaster (11,4х43), .458 SOCOM (11,6х40) .499 LWR (12,5х44) and .50 Beowulf (12,7х42). These cartridges have significant stopping power and bullet energy at small and medium shooting distances, which makes it possible to effectively use rifles of the AR-15 / M16 type in these calibers for hunting medium game and even some types of large game. The weight of the bullet in such cartridges is from 16 to 26 grams, and in some versions of equipment even more. Muzzle energy - from about 3,000 to 3,700 J or even higher. Rifles and carbines of the AR-15 family also have a huge assortment of barrel length choices, which on average can be from 406 to 600 mm.

Self-loading carbine Alexander Arms .50 Beowulf

5.56x45 caliber self-loading carbine Smith & Wesson M & P15

In addition, the trunks can have a standard, lightweight and heavy match profile. The upper part of the receiver can be equipped with a forearm of various designs, both with or without Picatinny trims. The lower part of the receiver can be equipped with various butts - permanent not adjustable, or a telescopic butt adjustable in length. Currently, there are many variants of stocks for rifles and carbines of the AR-15 type, not only adjustable in length, but also with a height adjustable cheek, adjustable back plate, made of various materials, lightweight and even with a built-in battery for electronic accessories.


In the United States, a rifle is the most common civilian weapon, i.e. weapons authorized for sale to the public. According to data for 2016, about 10 million copies are in the hands of the population in the United States. The public organization of the owners of weapons, the National Rifle Association of the United States, offers a comic transcript of the name AR-15: "American People's Rifle" (English American Rifle - AR).


The rifle has many commercial clones both in the United States and throughout the rest of the world.

A countryFirmWith pistonWithout piston
GermanyHeckler & kochHk416
GeorgiaSTC "Delta"G5
IsraelSilver shadowGilboa 14.5
IranDIODIO S-5.56
Khaybar KH 2002
Fajr 224
CanadaColt canadaDiemaco C7 / C8
ChinaNorincoNorinco CQ 5.56
UAECaracalCaracal CAR 816Caracal CAR 814
The Republic of KoreaDaewooDaewoo K2
RussiaVyatka-Polyansky engineering plantVepr-15 (VPO-140)
RampSkat GM-15
Industrial TechnologiesOrsis AS-15Orsis M-15
USAArmaLiteArmaLite M15
Smith & Wesson Smith & Wesson M&P 15-22
Barrett firearmsBarrett rec7
Bushmaster firearms internationalBushmaster MOE
Bushmaster xm15
Colt’s Manufacturing CompanyColt AR15A4
Colt LE6920
Colt LE6940
Colt IAR6940
Colt M4 / ACC-M
Colt scw
Colt M16A4
Daniel DefenseDD MK12
DPMS Panther ArmsDPMS .223
Fnh usaFn 15
Rhino armsRA-4R
Knight’s Armament CompanyKAC SR-15
LWRC InternationalLWRC IC
Primary Weapons SystemsPWS MK1
Sig sauerSIG 516SIGM400
Sturm, Ruger & Co.Ruger SR-556
Z-M WeaponsLR-300
TaiwanTaiwan's government arsenalT65 / T86 / T91
UkraineZbroyarZbroyar z-15
PhilippinesUnited Defense Manufacturing CorporationUDMC F5-PVAR
FerfransFerfrans SOAR PFerfrans soar
MontenegroTara perfectionTara TM4
CzechLUVO ArmsLUVO LA-16
SwitzerlandAstra defenseAstra StG4

The device and functioning of the rifle family AR-15 / M16

The AR-15 / M16 rifles have an automatic design by Eugene Stoner, working according to the scheme for removing part of the powder gases from the barrel bore into the receiver, through an opening in the barrel wall through a gas tube. Part of the powder gases during the shot is diverted from the barrel through a transverse hole into the gas block, in most cases, which is also the base of the front sight. Next, the powder gases enter the gas exhaust pipe made of stainless steel, which is located above the barrel. This handset goes directly into the receiver. In the receiver itself, the back of the gas tube enters the nozzle located at the top of the shutter frame. From the exhaust pipe, the powder gases pass through the nozzle channel into the internal cavity of the shutter frame. Gunpowder gases expand inside this cavity and push the bolt frame back, but the bolt is pressed against the breech of the barrel, which slightly relaxes the load on the fighting stops, with which the bolt engages with the breech of the barrel and locks its channel.

When the bolt frame moves back, the interaction of its spiral groove with the cross pin rotates the bolt. When the bolt rotates, its combat stops disengage from the breech of the barrel. Next, the bolt together with the bolt frame are moved back, during the course of the course, the spent sleeve is removed from the chamber and thrown out through the window in the receiver. At this time, the cock is cocked and the return spring is compressed. After the bolt group has reached its extreme rear position, if there are still cartridges in the magazine, under the action of the return spring, it goes back forward, sending the next cartridge from the magazine to the chamber during the course of the move. Closer to the extreme forward position, the bolt frame rotates the bolt, locking the barrel and stops in the extreme forward position until the next shot. Since the barrel bore is locked behind its breech, the receiver is not subjected to stress during firing and is therefore made of less durable than steel, but with a lower mass of light alloy based on aluminum.

The first rifles of the AR-15 / M16 family and many modern versions have a forend, butt and pistol fire control handle made of black plastic, so this weapon is nicknamed the “Black rifle” in the USA. However, today in the civilian arms market there is a wide selection of accessories for rifles of the AR-15 type with a huge number of options in size, configuration and color, which can be camouflage, dark green or sand. Aluminum forend is gaining more and more popularity. It has one, two, three or four Picatinny rail guides (“Picatinny rail”) of Mil-Std 1913 standard. Using these guides, a wide variety of accessories can be attached to the forend — tactical lights, bipods, front hold handles , laser designators, various sights. There are two main types of stock - a permanent non-adjustable stock and a telescopic adjustable in length. Non-adjustable butts are mainly supplied with rifles with long barrels, and adjustable - carbines. The stocks themselves are also produced in a wide range of different designs.

The cocking handle of the shutter has a T-shaped section and is located in the back of the receiver, above the butt. During firing, the cocking handle remains stationary. On the right side of the receiver there is a forward assist valve designed to manually close it, in case of insufficient return spring force. The window for ejecting spent cartridges is closed by a spring-loaded dustproof shutter, which opens automatically when the cocking shutter. Civilian versions of rifles of the AR-15 type are self-loading small arms that can only fire single shots and do not have the ability to fire bursts.

A set of PWS receiver tops (“appers”) with gas exhaust systems having a gas piston for installation on any standard “rover” rifle or carbine type AR-15.

A number of arms manufacturers currently offer rifles and carbines of the AR-15 / M16 family and separately sold tops of the receiver with a gas piston instead of a gas pipe. This solution eliminates the most well-known drawback of the AR-15 family, which is the accumulation of soot in the bolt group and receiver due to direct gas exhaust when shooting with cheap low-quality cartridges. The piston can have both long and short strokes, and is located inside the forearm above the barrel. When fired, the piston pushes the bolt frame back, acting on it with a long rod. These designs are advertised by manufacturers as improved versions of the AR-15, which have significantly greater reliability, but also require less effort to clean and less heat when shooting. But there is also a minus in this solution, namely, when using some conversion kits that have shutter frames of the usual standard of the AR-15 family, increased loads begin to influence the receiver due to asymmetric forces applied to the shutter frame, and the desire bolt group to skew, which leads to accelerated wear of the receiver. The solution to this problem is the comprehensive use of components for converting a standard rifle into a “piston” one, for example, acquiring the top of the receiver assembly with a barrel, a gas outlet assembly with a gas piston and a bolt group.

Trigger mechanism (trigger) serial rifles type AR-15 trigger type, has a descent without warning. At present, there are match USMs for high-precision shooting on the market, which have a descent with a warning and adjustment of its course and effort. The lever of the manually operated safety lever is located on the left side of the lower part of the receiver. The fuse positions are indicated as Fire (fire) - shooting and Safe (safe) - the fuse is on. On the rifle type AR-15 / M16 can be installed double-sided fuse levers.

Ствольная коробка винтовок и карабинов семейства AR-15/M16 состоит из верхней и нижней частей, которые в англоязычных странах именуют «upper receiver» и «lower receiver» соответственно, а в русскоговорящих - «аппер ресивер» («аппер» или «верхний ресивер») и «ловер ресивер» («ловер» или «нижний ресивер»). В винтовках типа AR-15 оригинальной конструкции эти части изготавливаются методом ковки из легкого сплава 7075-T6 на основе алюминия, а после проходят механическую обработку и анодирование поверхностей. There are also receiver boxes made from aluminum blanks on numerically controlled machines (CNC) and made from plastic. The upper and lower parts of the receiver are connected using two transverse steel pins, which are located in the rear and front parts of the lower part of the receiver. When disassembling weapons, these pins remain in the receiver in order to eliminate the risk of their loss. Almost all of the top and bottom parts of the AR-15 rifle receiver currently being manufactured have standard landing dimensions for unification, due to which they are interchangeable within a whole family of rifles and carbines of this type. In the upper part of the receiver is the barrel, bolt group, cocking handle, as well as on it are the front sight and mount the base of the pillar. The lower part of the receiver integrates the store’s receiver, trigger mechanism with a fuse, mount a buffer tube backflow, bolt stop assembly, butt, pistol grip fire control and the trigger guard.

Rifle Knights SR-M110 SASS

Most manufacturers of high-quality rifles of the AR-15 type make trunks with a chrome chamber and a channel, but high-precision rifles for shooting at long distances can have trunks with a non-chrome channel made of stainless or ordinary steel, which have a relatively lower operational life, but greater accuracy firing. In weapons of the AR-15 family, the barrel is attached to the upper part of the receiver by means of a threaded sleeve. The design allows you to relatively quickly and easily replace the barrel yourself, with little skill and the right tool. This allows the owner to convert his rifle for certain tasks, setting, for example, a heavy match barrel, a short barrel, or a barrel with a different pitch and rifling profile.

The ammunition type AR-15 is powered from detachable box-shaped detachable magazines. The early stores of the Vietnam War are direct and hold 20 rounds of ammunition, but it was recommended to equip it with no more than 18 rounds for greater reliability in harsh operating conditions. Later, by 1970, they began to produce elongated and downward-curved stores with a capacity of 30 rounds, but it was recommended that these stores be equipped with 28 rounds. Currently, the civilian arms market has stores for rifles and carbines of the AR-15 / M16 type with a capacity of 5 to 150 rounds. The most popular are 30 rounds stores. Modern stores are made of impact-resistant plastic, but are also available in steel and light alloy based on aluminum. Most preferred are stores with a plastic and steel case, but in any case, with rifles of the AR-15 / M16 family, only high-quality stores must be used for the smooth functioning of the weapon. On the right side of the lower part of the receiver, behind the store receiver, there is a button latch store. As with the fuse, there are options on the market with magazine latch buttons on both sides of the receiver. When you click on the latch button, the magazine drops down from the receiver of the receiver of the receiver under its own weight. Free fall of the store accelerates the reloading of weapons in battle, but using this method during training firing is unacceptable, as the store may suffer damage that will result in delays in firing.

Civilian versions of the AR-15 / M16 family of rifles are equipped as standard with mechanical sights identical to the M16A1 or M16A2 army automatic assault rifles. The front sight is attached to the base, which is a gas block. Entirely flip-flop, diopter, is installed inside the carrying handle, which in basic versions is one with the case of the upper part of the receiver. But by the beginning of the 2000s. such handles for carrying were practically pushed out of the market by receiver boxes with the so-called flat top “upper receiver”, on the upper edges of which there is a Picatinny guide, with which the owner can attach to the weapon a variety of types of sights and other accessories based on their own requirements and tasks. Collimator (for example, Aimpoint or EOTech), various optical (including small sights, such as Trijicon or ACOG) and night sights, laser rangefinders and target indicators, or their combined assemblies can be attached to such an “apper”. In addition to Picatinny rails on the receiver, AR-15 rifles can be equipped with guides of the same standard, located on the gas block instead of the front sight. Using guides on the “upper receiver” and on the forend or on the gas block, removable mechanical sights can be attached to the weapon, which can be folding. To replace them with a collimator or optical sight can be a very short period of time. On the guides of the "Upper" can also be installed handle for carrying type M16A2.

Comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of rifles type AR-15

The AR-15 / M16 family of rifles and carbines, like all other small arms, has its own advantages and disadvantages.

One of the main advantages of AR-15 rifles is the modular design of this weapon, so that its owner can assemble a rifle or carbine from the widest selection of components for a wide variety of requirements and within a very different budget. Rifles of the AR-15 / M16 family can be assembled in a huge number of options, including high-precision sniper rifles, carbines for practical shooting and police, rifles for a powerful cartridge for hunting, carbines for a small-caliber cartridge for training and recreational shooting, specialized automatic carbines for cartridges with high ODP for special forces.

An important advantage of AR-15 rifles is their high ergonomics. Moreover, the ergonomics of rifles and carbines of the AR-15 / M16 family can be improved by equipping the weapon with various additional elements, such as a pistol grip for fire control with an even more ergonomic shape, a front holding handle, a butt with a high cheek, a double-sided safety lever, etc.

An equally important advantage of the rifles of the AR-15 / M16 family is the high accuracy of shooting, the basis for which is laid in the design and layout of these weapons. Rifles of the AR-15 type in the presence of high-quality cartridges and high quality workmanship, using optics, have stable performance in accuracy of fire of less than 1 MOA.

Another important advantage of rifles of the AR-15 / M16 type in the standard 5.56x45 caliber is the very low recoil force and insignificant barrel throw during firing, which is achieved not only by the used cartridge, but also by the linear arrangement of the weapon - the axis of the barrel channel is in line with the butt that reduces shoulder recoil. Insignificant recoil and tossing up the barrel can significantly simplify the initial training in shooting, they do not tire the shooter, making shooting comfortable and as a result, accuracy is maintained during long-term shooting, and when firing with a burst of fire, dispersion is less than that of weapons with larger caliber cartridges and non-linear arrangements.

Rifle JP LRP-07

In addition to advantages, there are disadvantages, however, they are largely exaggerated by Soviet propaganda and the myths created by it.

The main disadvantage of the AR-15 / M16 family of rifles is the design of the gas exhaust mechanism, in which the powder gases discharged from the barrel bore directly into the bolt group and the receiver, which, in the case of firing of cartridges with low-quality gunpowder, a non-chrome bolt group and barrel bore, leads to accumulation of soot and, as a result, to delays. But even in the case of using high-quality cartridges and with a chrome bolt group with a bore, rifles of the AR-15 type require more thorough care than AK and its variants. At the same time, high-quality rifles of the AR-15 type with high-quality cartridges can shoot about 2000 or more shots without cleaning. The procedure for cleaning rifles and carbines of the AR-15 / M16 family is not much more difficult than cleaning the AK, given even the more miniature details of the bolt group. It is necessary to clarify that rifles of the AR-15 type as a whole “love” cleanliness and high-quality ammunition, so it’s better not to use cheap cartridges for firing from this weapon and regularly look after it.

The disadvantages of the AR-15 rifle family are the not strong construction of the early magazines, which were very susceptible to mechanical stress, which resulted in delays in firing. Currently, there are many options for reliable plastic magazines for rifles and carbines of the AR-15 / M16 family of various capacities, which have ample strength and reliability. Just don't use old thin-walled aluminum stores.

A design flaw in the AR-15 family of rifles is also the back-out buffer tube (which contains the buffer itself and the return spring) protruding from the back of the receiver, which makes it impossible to use a full folding stock on this weapon without major changes in design.

A relative disadvantage is the placement of the cocking handle in terms of ergonomics, but when shooting the owner does not need to pull this handle every time you change the magazine to reload, as rifles like AR-15 / M16 have a shutter lag.