Flashback: ‘Superb hunting partner’ (1964)

The AR-15 rifle turns 65 this year. Designed in 1956 by the ArmaLite division of Fairchild Aircraft and based on Eugene “Gene” Stoner’s AR-10, it was produced in select-fire (full-auto) trim by Colt from 1959 until 1964.

After that, and to this day, it’s been produced as a semi-automatic rifle.

About the time that the derivative M16 was adopted by the US military, Colt began to market a de-fanged (semi-auto) AR-15 to civilian customers. In a 1963 ad (pictured), which ran on page 19 of the November 1964 issue of Guns Magazine, the company’s target was clear:

“With Colt’s new AR-15 Sporter you’re ready for a new hunting adventure. … If you’re a hunter, camper or collector, you’ll want the AR-15 Sporter.”

(Colt’s Firearms ad for the AR-15 Sporter, 1964)

The ad showed the rifle — billed as a “superb hunting partner” — laying across a rustic and dimly lit table, as might be found in a hunting cabin, accompanied by a Coleman white-gas lantern, a wool hunting cap, binoculars, a topographic map and a box of cartridges.

The copy didn’t mention using the AR-15 Sporter as a defensive firearm. I’m pretty sure that the term “tactical” wasn’t a thing in 1964.

My point in posting this, beyond the delicious nostalgia, is to present Exhibit A in the case that the AR-15 does, indeed, have a sporting purpose. Its manufacturer said so 57 years ago. Millions of Americans — including hunters, campers and collectors — who own a Colt AR-15 or one of myriad clones can testify to that as well.

Yes, an AR-15 can be used by born-free citizens for personal defense. It’s a gun — almost any gun can be used for that righteous purpose. This gun happens to be well-suited for such duty.

Yes, it can be used in the commission of crimes. It’s a gun — almost any tool can be used to commit armed assault. As we know, however, rifles are relatively uncommon in violent crime.

But no, “AR” doesn’t stand for assault rifle.” Those two letters represent ArmaLite, the original designer. The term “assault rifle” is an invention of the political Left, the enemies of Liberty, in an attempt to inspire weak-minded and gullible people to harbor irrational fear of an inanimate object.

Ditto “weapon of war” and the rest of the leftist lexicon.

Wise up, People. And let’s all wish a hearty Happy 65th Birthday to the AR-15.

(To read the entire November 1964 issue of Guns Magazine in which this ad ran, click here for a pdf.)