What it’s like to shoot an AR-15, if you’re not trying to generate propaganda while describing it

(TFC) – The New York Daily News ran an article titled “Firing an AR-15 is horrifying, menacing and very very loud”. Before beginning a piece on a topic like this, it’s probably worth explaining my personal relationship with firearms. I don’t own one. I haven’t owned one in about a decade. Prior to that, I carried almost every day of my adult life. My career demanded it. So, I’m not a “gun nut”, but I understand firearms better than most and have put more rounds down range than most “gun nuts”.

Gersh Kuntzman (yes, that’s really the name on the byline) penned a piece that described almost combat like conditions with hot brass flying across his face and even said he suffered a “form of PTSD” from firing the killing machine on a range. He’s described the AR-15 as “high powered”. He claims the recoil bruised his shoulder. The audible report from the rifle was apparently the equivalent of a bomb blast. He said it felt like firing a bazooka and the smell of “sulfur and destruction” made him sick. All of this surprised me.

It surprised me because… well, it’s a lie. The physical descriptions of his experience are completely fabricated, or the gun store owner was having a bit of fun with him. If the recoil from an AR-15 bruised his shoulder, the most likely culprit is that he’s anemic. It’s that, or he didn’t seat the butt of the rifle in his shoulder. If brass was flying in front of his face, he was either shooting from the wrong shoulder or it was perhaps bouncing off a nearby wall. The photos show neither of these are the case. Either way, he’s lying or the person showing him how to shoot was intentionally trying to make it tough on him. What’s more disturbing is that a piece of brass coming near him left him “disoriented”.

So what’s it really like shooting AR-15? Well, the recoil of the weapon is pretty low. That’s probably because it’s a pretty light round, and even though the round is basically a supersized squirrel round, the weapon has a recoil buffer. Brass doesn’t fly in front of your face. Every time you pull the trigger the spent casing is ejected away from your body. It isn’t a particularly loud weapon because it isn’t “high powered”. Some competitions designate it as “high powered” because it’s the highest range of caliber they allow in the competition. Take a look at this image (.223 REM, fifth from the left) and this image (5.56mm, Number 16 in the top row) to get a feel for where the normal AR-15 rounds rank. It’s not a complicated weapon. It’s so easy a child could use it. It uses an operating system that was designed to be effectively used by a kid straight out of boot camp. The joke is that because it is a standard issue rifle, it has become one of the most (if not the most) popular rifle in the US.

Image Source: Pixabay

Image Source: Pixabay

It’s easy to hold, easy to aim, easy to load, and relatively easy to clean. It’s not a particularly great weapon, but it isn’t bad. It’s the Camry of modern rifles. It will get the job done, but it’s nothing to write home about. That job could be killing coyotes, defending your home, overthrowing a government, conducting a mass shooting, or stopping a mass shooting.

The ultimate joke is that people who do not understand firearms often say that people don’t need an AR-15 for home defense. They suggest a shotgun. If a bullet that is 0.223 of an inch wide triggered PTSD in Mr. Kuntzman, a load of buckshot coming out of a bore more than three times as large might send him into cardiac arrest.

People all over the internet have insulted Mr. Kuntzman’s masculinity. I come from the school of thought that doesn’t believe a firearm makes you masculine. I have a different theory. These are the reactions he had according to his article:

He was “disoriented”.
He was “terrified”.
He felt like the report was “deafening” (even though he was wearing ear protection).
He felt like he would be “sick”.
He was “anxious”.
He was “irritable”.

In other words, he was having a panic attack. It’s a common reaction while confronting an irrational fear. That irrational fear is typically created by not understanding something. This is the story of man who has bought into his own propaganda. I strongly encourage Mr. Kuntzman and anyone else who doesn’t really understand firearms all that well to read this article. 

I’d also like to know what the “smell of destruction” is, and how he can compare the AR-15 to a “bazooka”.