“AR-15.” Two letters followed by two numbers that instantly cause people to react. Both for the good and for the bad. What is it about the AR-15 that makes it arguably the most popular and controversial sporting firearm in Canada? Let’s dispel some of the myths and take a look at how well you actually know the AR-15.

First, let’s address two of the AR-15’s biggest myths: it’s name and purpose. Contrary to how it’s portrayed in the media, the “AR” in AR-15 does not stand for assault rifle, nor is it an assault rifle. It stands for “ArmaLite,” which is simply the original designer and manufacturer of these firearms. When you look at the history, it’s also easy to see why some confuse this modern sporting rifle with a military grade firearm. That’s because the US military’s M16 is an adoption of the AR-15’s platform. but with very different functionality. The main one being its select fire capabilities, which allow it to fire either in fully automatic or in burst fire configurations. Something no AR-15 is able to do.

So what is it that makes the AR-15 so popular in Canada? Simple. It checks all the boxes of a great sporting firearm. Lightweight, soft recoil, small caliber, and easy handling. All of these traits are what top competitive shooters look for in their firearm, as well as what makes it the rifle of choice for new shooters, young adults, and women. Another huge draw to the AR-15 is that it’s simple and easy to customize. No other firearm on the market has the same range of available aftermarket parts and upgrades.

Indeed, what is Canada’s relationship like with the AR-15? Well, as of May 1st, 2020 you might say, “not good.” Canadians own more than 75,000 AR-15’s, which requires a hard to attain Restricted Possession and Acquisition License. But the government has recently decided to ban it, along with 1500 other variants and models. A move that vilified Canadian gun owners for its likely long-lasting impact on businesses and sport shooters across the country. 

There are many reasons why the AR-15 is a popular choice for sport and recreational shooters alike. Will banning the AR-15 really prevent violent crime? Or is the government simply taking away one of the best firearms ever designed for sporting? In fact, a House of Commons Canada petition against the OIC ban is open for signatures until September 2, 2020. To learn more about the popularity and controversy of the AR-15 in Canada, watch the story below.

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