Since the 9 mm vs. .45 ACP has been solved to everyone’s satisfaction, it’s time to settle another big controversy.
America is the country of iconic rifles. The American Long Rifle has the name right in it. Then there was the Spencer Repeating Rifle, the Winchester lever-action, and the M1903 Springfield to name a few. However, two stand out as candidates for the real “America’s Rifle.” Those would be the M1 Garand and the AR-15.
As a quick background, the M1 Garand (pronounced “geh-rund” more or less) is technically named the “U.S. Rifle, Caliber .30, M1.” But saying “Garand” or “M1 Garand” saves a lot of valuable breath, so that’s how most people refer to it. The basic design dates back to Garand’s T3 rifle tested back in 1926. After more testing, tinkering and a caliber switch from .30 to .276 and back to .30 again, the then current T1E2 rifle became the M1 Garand. By 1936, the Army officially adopted it for broad-scale service.
As for the AR-15, most know that the “AR” part doesn’t stand for “Assault Rifle” or even “Apoplectic Ruin.” It’s the model designation of the company that originally built it – Armalite. As you can likely guess, it was the company’s 15th model. Yep, it’s that simple. After a series of other unrelated rifles, Eugene Stoner came up with the AR-10, which was more or less a bigger version of the AR-15 we know and love today. The Zoomies decided it was pretty cool and by 1964 the AR-15 (or rather the AR-15’s select-fire cousin, the M16) had entered official military service. By 1969, it was the standard-issue rifle of the U.S. Military, taking the place (for the most part) of the M14.
To solve the question of which is “America’s Rifle,” we decided to set up a panel discussion staffed by three gun writers of questionable repute. Please welcome me, myself and I. Hey, the budget isn’t infinite around here so sometimes we have to work with what we have. Deal with it, OK?