The times have changed, and so have American sporting rifles.
To understand the evolution of American sporting rifles, it's important to look at how they evolved during the 20th century.
Consider first that all American sporting rifles are the direct descendants of US military service rifles. The military was always been obsessed with making American rifles as accurate and efficient at shooting as possible. Eventually, all that technology trickled down to the civilian market, and into the hands of sport shooters.
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The first significant modern American sporting rifle was the .30-06, which was used extensively during WWI. More than a century later, the .30-06 is still used by American hunters and sport shooters.The .30-06 later evolved into the semi-automatic rifle.
With the introduction of the semi-automatic rifles, gun designers like Armalite were able to push the envelope even further. Armalite designed the original AR-15, which was later adopted by the military as the M-16. The AR-15 was later modified for the civilian market, and evolved into the modern AR-15 sporting rifle platform that is now considered "The American Rifle."
This infographic from the National Shooting Sports Foundation features some interesting facts about the history of American rifles. Did you know that the AR in AR-15 stands for Armalite, the corporation that designed the original AR-15 model? Check it out to learn a thing or two about the history of the American rifle.