This is the gun that started it all - the Colt-Armalite semi- and full-automatic saga.

I cut my teeth on the M16, and I own a civilian version of the same gun - the Colt AR-15.

In my humble opinion, you won't find a more affordable, home defense, plinker or varmint gun.

Just don't try to buy one between Republican presidencies, when the Democrats are in office.

To buy an AR-15 in a fear-driven market - like the days leading up to Y2K or after the Obama Administration supplanted George Bush - is sheer folly, guaranteed to cost you a ton of dough. Wait till the panic subsides, if it ever does, and get a semi-auto, commercial version of the AR-15 in .223.

I know. I bought mine in the 1990s when the price was sky high - like now, post Barak Obama.

Political debate aside, between the pros and cons of so-called "black" guns, in the tree-hugger vernacular, "assault weapons," the AR-15 is simply a fun gun to shoot. It has virtually no recoil, it's affordable, and the ammunition is easy to find. That's assuming the fear factor - "Oh, my God, the liberals will take my guns away," doesn't raise prices. I do share my fellow 2nd Amendment devotees' fears of political and legislative overreaction on guns, but c'mon. There's the 2nd Amendment, right?

Eugene Stoner, creator of the AR-10, a superb, sniper-quality rifle chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO (.308), is responsible for the AR-15 - he and the company he worked for - ArmaLite.

But to ArmaLite's misfortune, the company sold Colt the rights to the AR-10 and -15 in 1959.

Doubt they'd want to, but consider the revenues lost to Colt in the past 50 years! The numbers are surely staggering, considering the AR-15, the M16 and AR-15 variants have been many, up to and including the currently fielded M4 and M4A1 (Iraq and Afghanistan) and their civilian clones.

The AR-15 has been around since 1958. On average (accessories and variants aside), this gun weighs 6 pounds. Variants include a 20-, 16- and 14 1/2-inch barrel. So sporterize your AR-15!

This gun is way modular. Consider the ways it can be modified - swap out the upper for another caliber - anything from .22 LR to .458 SOCOM! Slap a rail(s) on the AR-15 and add any number of lighting, optical and telescopic sights. Remove the buttstock and add a folding or telescoping stock; replace the factory barrel with a bull barrel, or one with threads to mount a bayonet lug; better yet, slap a forward hand grip on your gun and go tactical, kick down some doors.

But first, check your local gun laws. Don't want BATF kicking down your door!

The range of ammo you can shoot through the AR-15 and the mags you can use - from 30-round see-through to 150-round plastic drum magazines, and the ammo you can shoot (soft and hollow point, tracer, etc.) staggers the mind. This gun's still legal - so what are you waiting for - go buy one!