The AR15, right arm of the Free World.


For far too long the FN FAL has held the title, “The right arm of the Free World” due to it’s use by over 90 countries in the past. The reign of the FAL has passed. About seven million were made by about fifteen counties.

Between the US, Canada, and China we have made more than eight million AR15s. That doesn’t include all the other countries making them. More than 80 counties have used the M16, or a variant. As far as I can tell, that 80 countries number does not include many users of the M4 and similar.

You have countries like New Zealand, who switched from the M16 to the AUG and then back to an AR, the LMT MARS. France switched to the HK416.

Many countries that don’t use an AR15 variant for their standard army, use them for their special forces. UK Special Forces use the L119A1 (Colt Canada C8SFW), Australian special forces use the HK416.

Derivatives of the AR are seen around the world as well. From the Daewoo K2, Norinco CQ, etc. 9mm AR submachine guns have been used by Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Israel, Malaysia, and others. The SIG MCX, a gun that is based off the AR, but changes even more of the design, has been used by at least 12 countries.

Shawn loves to point out a great argument about the marketability of the AR. Look that companies that make competetors to the AR15. Most of them still make AR15 also. FN makes the F2000 and the SCAR-L. They still make AR15s. IWI just added an AR15 to compete with their Tavor for market share. Stateside, companies that has less popular .223 rifles like the Ruger Mini-14, now also make and sell AR15s. Companies like S&W got into the AR15 market to get some of that massive amount of money being throw around for the AR15.

Companies all around the world make AR15s locally for their respective markets. A couple of examples: Oberland Arms or Schmeisser for Germany. In Russia, Molot made the Vepr-15 aka VPO-240. Now ADAR in Russia is building AR15 from Molot barrels and outsourced parts.

Hell, search the news, you can find articles of shipping containers of AR15 parts made in China being confiscated because of the parts are being imported illegally into the US. Where else did you think some of these super cheap parts were coming from?

The commercial market loves the AR15. These can be found nearly anywhere in the world, and most of the western world has individuals trained and ready with some form of the AR15 to fight on their behalf. You will find that the majority of elite professional gunfights in the Western World are using the AR15.

The FAL had its’ day. It is time to correctly call the AR15 the right arm of the Free World.


  1. Quite probably so.

    The FAL got that moniker during the days of the proxy wars in Africa, where the West and the USSR armed competing tribes and factions in mud holes all over the continent. The FAL has a respectable record from that era.

    But I stand by my estimation that the AR/M-16 platform benefits from the huge wave of innovation in the private sector, whereas the FAL was the victim of one shoddy European government improvement scheme after another. Some real stinkers are derivatives of the FAL…

    • Yup. The 1911 had a resurgence in popularity during the AWB and guns started getting designed around a 10 round capacity, for example the G26 and the G29/G30.
      Not only did design and innovation stagnate, new designs were only based off the arbitrary limits.

      • The other thing that was happening at the same time as the AWB is the loosening of carry laws across the country. IIRC, Florida was 1988, Arizona was 1992, and then there was kind of a floodgate opening after that, right around the same time as the AWB in 1994.

        A 10-round mag limit under law, combined with looser carry laws, combined with a growing acceptance of semiautomatic pistols’ reliability, and boom! Glock 26 and friends. Not to mention the 1911 renaissance. If you’re going to be mag-limited at 10, why not 10 big ones?

        I also recall a late 1990s fashion for things like 7 and 8-shot .357s, which were part of the same trend.

  2. DG–on point re: “But I stand by my estimation that the AR/M-16 platform benefits from the huge wave of innovation in the private sector, whereas the FAL was the victim of one shoddy European government improvement scheme after another. Some real stinkers are derivatives of the FAL…”

    I tell non-gun folks all the time that banning civilian modern sporting arms would be detrimental to our nation’s military for that very reason. Nearly all of the reliability and ergonomic improvements for the AR and most of the innovation on the precision end of the equation too have been adopted by the military from the civilian world, not vice versa. The AR15’s reliability from the beginning of the GWOT to the present day is an excellent illustration of this, particularly better mag alternatives.

    • This would be a feature, not a bug. The only war in the last 80 years that the Left hasn’t wanted us to lose is the one where we were allies with Stalin.

    • RSR, I should add that the use of the .50 BMG as a sniping round was greatly influenced by the work of the Fifty Caliber Shooter’s Association, which was heavily influenced by the late Skip Talbot of Fallon, NV. For many years, Skip was “Mr. .50 Cal.”

      Here’s some photos of dazzling groups at 1,000 yards shot with .50 BMG custom rifles off of benches at the Washoe County range, about 20+ miles north of Reno, NV. (I shot there many times when we lived in the Reno area – it is a near world-class shooting range with a mountain for a backstop).

      Those folks were pioneering “what makes the .50 BMG work” well before the .50 was a common sniping instrument in the US military. The FCSA goes back to the mid-80’s. Maj. John Plaster gave big credit to the FCSA and fifty shooters in the civilian world for the development of the 50 BMG as a sniping platform for the military.

      • The use of the 50 BMG round for sniping goes back to at least the korean war with Captain William Brophy testing and tryingto get the Army to adopt it for sniping and the mounting of the 8x Unertl to the M2, which started in Korea, not Vietnam as so may internet experts claim

  3. As far as I can tell, the “right arm” nickname originated with R. Blake Stevens’ 1980 book (The Free World’s Right Arm). He had a real thing for journalistic sounding names and titles. I don’t believe that anyone called it that prior to that.

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