You know the AR-15, but what about the AR-1? How about the AR-9?
The “AR” in each case does not stand for “assault rifle” as those who are uninformed often think. It is, in fact, short for Armalite, the firearms company that employed a generation of incredible forward-thinking gun designers, engineers, and inventors including Eugene Stoner, Charles Sullivan, Charles Dorchester, Arthur Miller, Daniel Musgrave, Robert Fremont and even the great Melvin Johnson (inventor of the M1941 Johnson rifle series).
Established in the early 1950s as a division of the Fairchild Airplane Corporation, the latter perhaps most famous today for their A-10 Warthog tank buster attack plane, Armalite leveraged aviation industry’s advances and applied them to firearms. Their engineers registered some of the first firearm patents incorporating foamed plastics in both stocks and handguards, aluminum receivers, self-lubricating alloy gun barrels, folding synthetic buttstocks, and other developments.
Before the original Armalite company tanked in 1983, they made it from the AR-1 to the AR-180, with lots of interesting stops in between to include bolt-action rifles, 22s, and even shotguns.
A better look at the whole AR lineage in my column at Guns.com.