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The United States and the world has come a long way to get to the performance you'll find in the 223/5.56x45 calibers on shooting ranges today. In fact, rifles have a history dating back to the early 1600's when the first flintlock rifle was loaded for King Louis XIII of France. Since then, engineering and innovation have helped rifle shooters carry lighter firearms that shoot more accurately with each passing decade.
In the early 1700's, it was long rifles that started to become popular among early American settlers. At a stout seven to 10 pounds, these firearms, called Pennsylvania or Kentucky Rifles, were used in both the American Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.
One of the next major developments was the concept of a repeating rifle. Invented by Christopher Spencer in 1863, the Spencer Repeating Rifle held seven rounds in its magazine and came equipped with a lever under the trigger. Several years later, the concept of a lever action would be among the favored rifles of one of the most popular presidents known to be a firearms fanatic, Theodore Roosevelt. At that point, more and more Americans started to appreciate firearms for their potential in bringing down large game to feed their families.
From there, the rifle evolved into bolt action, centerfire models. These included the rifle of choice in World War I, the 1903 Springfield designed for use with 30-06 ammo. Of course 30-06 is not uncommon to see being fired at ranges even today.
Shortly after the first World War, things became a little more familiar to today's modern shooter. In World War II, servicemen used semi-automatic Garand rifles (known as M1). These .30 caliber rifles could fire one round of ammunition each time the trigger was pulled.
Today, America's rifle of choice is clearly the AR-15. Chambered in either 5.56x45 NATO or the .223 Remington civilian round these rifles are light-weight with minimal recoil and are an absolute joy to shoot. While there are few calibers that can touch the 223/5.56's popularity, shooters have diverse tastes. Calibers like .308 (or 7.62x51) and 300 AAC Blackout are all extremely popular among plinkers with each rifle caliber bringing its own set of benefits to the shooter based on his or her needs. On the other side of the world, 7.62x39 is the preferred caliber of AK-47 shooters while the smaller and lighter AK-74 is best loaded up with 5.45x39 ammo and is very popular in Russia and other areas of Asia.
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