A good article and brief history of the AR's development.
I'm going to try to sum up my experience with the platform, in the hopes it'll help someone venturing into it, a complete Newbie.
I became an AR owner 9 years ago. I knew next to nothing about the platform, and as usually happens, I received good and bad advice. I ended up buying a cheap AR (DPMS Oracle), and within no time discovered the conglomeration of MilSpec and Commercial grade parts had its problems. By the time I was done correcting the problems, and getting the gun up to MilSpec standards, I had more than doubled the original purchase price of $460. A Springfield Saint, Ruger 556, or any of the other better quality guns might have originally cost me $600 to $800 9 years ago, but any would have been a better choice in the long run. Even a better quality DPMS would have been less costly.
My advice to any Newbie, is to research, review, join forums and ask a lot of questions before you plunk your hard earned money down.
I'm not angry about my experience at all. It made me a lot more knowledgeable about the platform, maintaining it, and even building an AR (to date I've built 3). My Oracle is now a good gun, but only the receivers and barrel are original. Everything else has been replaced. The barrel is the only weak link left, but I might as well keep using it until its shot out.
Thank you for Armory Life. A great site IMO.