This essay is about an artifact I find important that represents our culture today – the artifact I
chose is the assault rifle. I will be giving details on the assault rifle – the general description of
an assault rifle, how it relates to our values and beliefs of our culture today, the cultural roots of
the assault rifle, the historical roots of how it came into being, cultural influences, how it can be
passed to future generations, and what changes the assault rifle could undergo as culture changes.
Assault rifles are the primary defensive weapons for people at home, as well as the top
offensive weapons for troops. Today’s AR’s (assault rifles) have calibers (or rounds) ranging
from 5.45mm to 7.62mm, with a magazine capacity of 20-30 rounds and sometimes more.
Shooting the gun – there is full auto or single shot modes and in some ARs there is a choice of 2-
3 rounds burst shots. Effective range of fire is about 600 meters or so – with an effective rate of
fire about 400-500 rounds per minute in the full auto mode. Most ARs have either a bayonet,
optical or night vision scope, and some of them even have an under barrel grenade launcher or a
rifle grenade launcher. Today most ARs are designed with hard plastic and lightweight alloys, as
well as built in holographic (collimator) or optic scopes with magnification of 1x – 4-6x. Most of
the ARs nowadays are designed in bull-pup configuration – which means the butt plate is
attached directly to the receiver and handle with the trigger placed ahead of the magazine veil.
Today, assault rifles I believe are a strong part of our values and beliefs. Our values are
things that we deem important and can include concepts like equality, honesty, education, effort,
perseverance, loyalty, faithfulness…etc. ARs are an important value because they help us to stay
safe – and I believe owning an AR is important. The two strongest reasons for civilians to own
assault weapons are self-defense and defense against tyranny. Here are a few examples when
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having an AR can be valuable – There were armed Korean storeowners who successfully
defended themselves because assault rifles are the pre-eminent self-defense weapons. Assault
rifles look and sound intimidating. When you fire a 9mm handgun, it makes a popping noise.
When you fire an AK-47, it sounds like thunder. Most assault rifles were designed to be
effective up to 400 meters. Most handguns are accurate only up to about twenty-five yards.
Rifle rounds have twice the velocity and four times the muzzle energy of handgun rounds. Their
accuracy and power make assault rifles very effective against multiple attackers. In a riot
situation, an assault rifle levels the playing field.
A second self-defense situation to consider is defending against a home invasion. Home
invasions, in the public definition, generally involve more than one attacker. Two facts can’t be
ignored: one, assault rifles are the best weapon against multiple attackers, and two, eight minutes
is the average police response time for life-threatening calls in medium-size cities. A lot can
happen in eight minutes. In Harris County, Texas, a fifteen-year-old boy was home alone with
his twelve-year-old sister when two burglars broke into the house. The young boy got his
father’s assault rifle and shot one of the burglars. The boy and his sister were unharmed, and the
burglars were apprehended. Assault rifles can take lives, but as shown in this case, they can also
The history of the concept of the assault rifle started in the early 1910’s when a famous
Russian armorer Colonel Fedorov, designed a small-bore selective-fire rifle with a detachable
box magazine. At first he designed the AR with a small caliber 6.5mm cartridge, but because of
WWI he switched it to the Japanese 6.5mm arisaka load which sadly was less powerful that the
Russian 7.62x54R and was available in quantity. This rifle was used by the Russian army in
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1916 and the Soviet Army up until 1925. The design of selective fire rifle wasn’t unique, but the
concept of the “lightened” cartridge was more suitable for full-auto fire and new. The colonel
was the one who invented the idea of infantry weapon families like AR, light machinegun,
medium machinegun, etc. Germany was next in history of the AR – in the 1930’s they began
research to develop a medium-powered cartridge, which is lighter than the 7.92mm German and
is supposed to be easier to fire more accurately in the full-auto mode.
The United States also put in some effort to this idea, and before WW2 developed, they
had developed a special less-than-medium powered cartridge .30Carbine and a rifle for this
cartridge – a so-called “baby-Garand” in semi-auto M1 and selective-fire M2.
But the largest stride forward was made by the USSR in 1943, when the Soviet Army adopted a
new cartridge – the 7.62x39mm medium-power load. In 1945, the Soviet Army adopted the semiauto SKS rifle in this chambering, and, in 1947 – the AK (known for the West as AK-47). The
AK was Worlds’ first successful assault rifle, and one of the most widely used. The Last major
step on this road was made by US again – in the late 1950’s, the US Army adopted a new (for
the US) concept of military selective-fire rifle using a small-caliber cartridge. The first of such
weapons adopted was the Armalite AR15/Colt M16, designed by Eugene Stoner. This adoption
lately set the new world trend for small-caliber (5.45-5.56mm / .22in.) high-velocity cartridges.
As you can see there were many different influences as it was changed throughout the
years. Different cultures made changes to the ARs based on their culture and testing, based on
what they knew. They used past experience with the guns they used and even came into contact
with in the different wars, then changed the weapon into something more and eventually made a
whole family of assault rifles all different and unique in their own way.
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The assault rifle has been handed down through the years and has been improved slowly
using different materials and different set-ups to make the gun work better, faster, and more
accurately. The future generations will make their changes to the different ARs, even make better
ones that could be lighter, have less recoil, and maybe even shoot faster or more accurately.
Each generation has tweaked an AR to make it better, creating a new gun and I believe this will
continue to happen, especially since Obama’s Assault Rifle gun ban didn’t pass.
In conclusion, changes to this gun could come in many forms, as I explained above, and
it is up to our future generations to see to that and to see to keeping our second amendment rights
– so we may brighten our future and develop better ways to defend ourselves and our country.
This I believe strongly and even though not everyone has the same opinion and thinking, I
believe in our right to have a way to defend ourselves and to make a better future the only way
we know how to – as Americans.