The AR-15 Pistol : Why Bother?
Posted by Arthur Adler on May 12th 2023
The AR-15 industry is always changing. With new trends and gear to keep buyers and DIYers looking for more, it’s no surprise that the AR-15 platform itself would also go through some immense changes. One of these changes is expressed in the AR-15 pistol platform. Let’s dig a little deeper into what gives this firearm its and what doesn’t
Why Is It Called A Pistol?
The AR-15, in all its glory, is a rifle and carbine platform. It’s already a generally compact firearm, and especially during its conception, was up against the long rifles of The Cold War and WW2: The M1 Garand and the M14.
The legalities that go into what gives the AR-15 pistol its name predate these rifles, with the National Firearms Act of 1934. This industry changing piece of legislation laid the groundwork for what could legally be defined as a rifle, pistol or Any Other Weapon(AOW).
In order for any firearm to be deemed a pistol, it must have a barrel length under 16 inches, must be without a stock, and a few other accessories that might qualify for the AOW or Short Barreled Rifle category. If it classifies as an AOW, then a Title II tax stamp is required in order to legally own it.
And that really sets up the foundation for the AR-15 pistol. It’s a way to use the platform in its most compact form without requiring a tax stamp to own.
Per a natural course of events, a lot of debate has sprung up regarding the accessories of the AR-15 pistol, as well as their legitimacy in being their in regards to the NFA. The debates have been mostly perpetuated by the idea of the “pistol brace,” a design for the pistol which has the ability to be shouldered.
However, with multiple letters from the ATF either confusing or clarifying the debate, it is at this point legal to shoulder a brace for the idea that it cannot be deemed a rifle simply because it can be shouldered. Either way, be sure you know if the accessories you are using are legal to use with an AR-15 pistol.
What’s Good About The AR-15 Pistol?
The AR-15 pistol wouldn’t be much if it wasn’t popular. So besides skipping a tax stamp, what is the platform’s real appeal? Well one thing for sure, its compactness makes it much more maneuverable, and along with the .223/5.56 round, it is a great option for home defense without posing a big threat to anyone but the attacker.
One thing many do not consider about the AR-15 pistol is that it is legally a pistol. And while that may seem counter-intuitive, since they are generally more regulated than pistols, it is a viable option for vehicle defense. Generally, rifles are illegal to have in a vehicle without the firearm being loaded, however, for the pistol variant, it is legal to have in a vehicle while loaded, making it a great option with a little more bang than its 9mm counterpart.
What Can’t It Do?
Well there isn’t much the AR-15 pistol can’t do. In fact it will do what it’s designed to do. However, because you are changing a platform that was designed to be a rifle carbine, there are some things that would be considered drawbacks:
The AR-15 pistol has a significantly shorter barrel length, and this creates a lot of muzzle blast because the powder from the cartridge cannot fully brun up inside the barrel This might create a flash of flame either bigger or smaller depending on the type of powder the cartridge uses.
It is slower
Because it is a shorter barrel length, a lot of wound up time is lost when firing. The max range of the firearm will be severely reduced, as well as the velocity of the travelling round.
It Is Less Durable
The shortened barrel and constant firing will do a number on the gas system which is not really designed for the cartridge. You have to remember that everything about the AR-15 was proposed around the round it fires. Changing the platform can pose some challenges when executed. But that doesn’t make it a wall hanger.
The AR-15 pistol is great for what is: a variant of a platform made famous for its customization, light weight, and maneuverability. And the pistol does capitalize on the dexterity required to handle it.However, you sacrifice performance for handling. As with most if not all firearms, it is simply a matter of sacrificing and changing for the features you need.
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