Magazine September 30, 2019, Issue

To Build an AR-15

(Ilana Panich-Linsman for the Washington Post via Getty Images)
On getting to know the rifle of endless possibilities

The AR-15 is the most popular rifle in America. It is also the least well understood. In the press, and in the more hostile corners of our politics, AR-15s are routinely cast as egregious superweapons, the extraordinary potency of which has been made possible by the advent of modern precision engineering. “There is no way,” those who would see the gun banned like to say, “that James Madison would have been okay with this.”

I disagree with this assessment, not least because, armed with just a hammer, a vise, a wrench, a set of hex keys, a couple of punches, and

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