AR-15s have been the favorite among marksmanship shooters, personal preservation users, and training shooters because they are customizable, easy to use, inexpensive, accurate, and dependable. So, if you’re looking to buy your first rifle, you’re probably interested to know “how many rounds can an AR-15 fire in a minute?
That’s an interesting question considering it is the most popular rifle in the United States, and one of those reasons is its ability to let shooters get their shots off faster than other rifles. In this article, we’ll talk about the firing rate of an AR-15 and other important things you should know.
What is an AR-15 rifle?
Okay, first things first. This rifle is a semi-automatic rifle, or also called a self-loading rifle, which has been called America’s Rifle. No wonder, there were more than 19 million of it sold in 2019 alone.
This weapon requires its operator to pull the trigger to fire every shot, and then it will reload automatically versus an automatic rifle that’ll continue to fire provided you keep holding its trigger down.
The AR-15, which is highly adaptable, lightweight, and easy to maintain, itself is a style and not a specific model, as many might have thought initially. AR means ArmaLite rifle, not automatic rifle or assault rifle.
It’s the civilian version of the ArmaLite AR-15, which is a variant of the AR-10 that was initially designed in the 1950s by Eugene Stoner.
The company, ArmaLite, sold its patent to Colt that had developed an automatic version meant for military use. They called it the M16. But when their patent ran out, other gun manufacturers started making their AR-15 versions.
How Many Rounds Can An Ar-15 Fire In A Minute?
Before we discuss this, let’s get familiar with an important term: rate of fire.
Rate of fire (rounds per minute) is the frequency at which your AR-15 can fire or launch projectiles; however, it can be affected by several factors, like mechanical limitations, operator skills and training level, weapon condition, and ammunition availability. Thus, rate of fire is a particular weapon’s ability to fire a specific number of shots per (unit of time).
At the very least, an AR-15 can fire approximately 60 rounds per minute without any alterations or modifications to the bump stock. A 30-round magazine is MSR standard, but drums/magazines holding up to 100 rounds can be modified fast. However, there are states that cap its capacity from 10 or 15 rounds.
So, how fast can you fire an AR-15?
One that is chambered in .223/5.56mm can shoot 45 rounds per minute (RPM). Using this allows you to adjust and even compensate for the center mass as you’re firing. Binary triggers and full autos can help increase this firing rate.
Meanwhile, a lot of modern rifles can fire about 300 RPM, meaning you’ll be able to shoot 300 rounds from one.
Globally, the AR-15 is the most popular rifle because it is versatile for different purposes like ranch and farm use, self-defense, hunting, tinkering, and competitive shooting, among others. This rifle can fire from 800 to 1200 rounds per minute, depending on the gun’s version, trigger, and caliber.
On the other hand, the semi-automatic AR-10 has a lower firing rate, shooting at approximately around 330 rounds per minute.
Meanwhile, the AR-308 has an average firing rate of around 450 rounds per minute. The .308 is the top choice of sporting and gun enthusiasts using their rifles for hunting and long range shooting. It’s a semi-automatic rifle that is like the AR-15 but only with a slower rate of fire.
An AR-15’s fire rate is 700 to 900 rounds per minute (5.56 NATO) or 550 to 750 rounds per minute (7.62 NATO).
The AR-15 can shoot from 700 to 900 rounds per minute, while the M16A1 can fire up to 600 RPM and the M21 sniper rifle or M14E2 was known to fire up to 750 RPM.
The gas system, which can be adjusted for any ammunition type, affects the fire rate of the AR-15 rifle. For instance, an M16A1 has a higher firing rate than an AR-15 because of the lack of a buffer tube in the stock and the more powerful 5.56×45 mm NATO ammo.
The rate of fire (per caliber)
- 7.62 NATO is 1000 RPM
- 6.8 SPC is 1150 RPM
- 10mm auto is 800 to 900 RPM
- 5.56 (.223) is 1200 RPM
- 9mm is 950 to 1000 RPM
How about a fully automatic AR-15?
Having the ability to fire more than one bullet with every pull of the trigger, a fully automatic, also called a machine gun, is NOT ILLEGAL to own in the United States.
However, one must complete requirements and processes involved before owning one. And yes, it is a tedious, long, and expensive process. Some requirements include an applicant NOT being classified as a prohibited person and is legally eligible to buy a firearm. Applicants must also pass a BATFE background screening, and so on.
Nevertheless, civilians looking to buy an automatic weapon like the M16A2 must obtain a license from the ATF.
But aside from restrictions, civilians looking to own a machine gun or automatic firearm might find it hard to find one because of supply and demand.
A fully automatic AR-15 can shoot between 800 and 900 rounds per minute.
Does bullet speed affect the rounds per minute of an AR-15?
Yes, it does.
Your bullet’s speed is linked with the number of bullets to fire per minute. The more force your caliber has, the harder it is for the recoil spring of the gun to absorb the energy.
The firing rate of an AR-15 or a high caliber weapon will be slower than it will be for a handgun or shotgun.
How fast a weapon will be able to cycle rounds also have to do with the weight and length of the barrel.
A longer barrel has more space to allow gas to expand; thus, the operation rate will be higher than a short barreled gun.
Then, the wider tubes in a rifle can let more gas expand. In this case, the resulting operation rate and velocity can be higher.
However, know that such sometimes doesn’t happen because a wider tube can lead to the increased friction inside the rifle’s chamber and choke off the gas, especially when firing specific calibers fast, including 5.56mm rounds.
But then, there’s one truth you need to know. There’ll be a faster firing rate with a faster bullet.
In addition, a gun can also fire faster if it has a longer barrel, like in the case of a 20-inch barrel when compared to a 16-inch one. The longer barreled firearm will send the bullets faster.
Bottom line: Use larger caliber ammo with high velocity, or the rate of speed that it can travel, if you want to get your firearm, like an AR-15 firing faster. It’ll also help if you’ll use an extended barrel length.
An AR-15’s firing rate (rounds per minute) is affected by several factors that I’ve discussed earlier. A higher rate of fire is equal to the faster rate that your firearm will shoot. If you want to improve your AR-15’s firing rate, you can always personalize it to match your shooting preference and style.