According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the firearms trade industry association, modern sporting rifles, like AR-15-style rifles, are the most common firearm in the country.
The NSSF's research shows that there are over 16 million AR-15 and AKs in America today. That number might actually be higher because firearms built from 80 percent lowers are not tracked by the firearms industry.
Part of the reason the AR-15 is popular has to do with the customization factor. They're modular, meaning
"They are offered a wide variety of calibers and the design of the firearm allows beginners to quickly master safe and accurate marksmanship skills,” Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president, told Guns.com. “Modern sporting rifles are the choice for millions of Americans for hunting, recreational target shooting and self-defense.”
Some fast facts about the AR-15:
• "AR" stands for ArmaLite rifle, after the company who initially developed the firearm in the 1950s. It does not stand for "assault rifle" or "automatic rifle."
• Despite what the media may tell you, AR-15s are not fully automatic. They're semi-auto meaning they only fire one round per trigger pull.
• The AR-15 can be used for various types of hunting as well as target shooting and competitions.
• AR-15-style rifles are no more powerful than other hunting rifles of the same caliber and in most cases are chambered in calibers less powerful than common big-game hunting cartridges like the 30-06 Springfield and .300 Win. Mag.